Some Andrea followers have asked why the first figure inaugurating the catalogue is coded S2F1; in other words, whether there was ever a Series 1. The question is now unveiled for the first time, and the answer is 'yes', there was a Series 1 and a figure coded S1F1; the one and only figure ever edited in this series. This miniature, the original of which is also shown in these pages, was the first Andrea figure ever released. It is the only model to date designed by the company in 110 mm , and the only figure to be dropped from the catalogue.
The importance of this model in launching the company cannot be overlooked in this story. The year of release was 1983. It was only 8 years after the death of General Francisco Franco; his supporters still played an important role in the ruling and upper classes of Spain , which was immersed in the deep sociological and political change that drove the country to the parliamentary monarchy of today. The Spanish miniature market of the era was almost non-existent, and much slanted toward politically right-wing buyers, who were nostalgic for the old general who ruled Spain for almost forty years.
In an attempt to generate the financial resources that were essential to initiate the new company, the Andrea brothers released this figure, which was sold both as a kit and painted. Dozens of copies, painted by the brothers and by Concha, were sold at the time. The operation was a success by the standards of the period, and made possible the creation of subsequent models.
When then young company began exportation shortly thereafter, the figure was dropped due to the difficulty in casting such a large piece with the available resources and to the low foreign demand for a piece still able to exude some political meaning.
The model itself could be qualified as a transitional sculpture in which several modelling techniques are combined. The head, for example, was carved from a bit of chalk, and Das Pronto, Body Putty and Plumber's Seal (a sort of two-component paste) were used for the body and finishing details.
By 1985, some changes for the better had taken place in the small company, which still counted exclusively on the work of the three founding partners. They finally found their first premises, a 20-square-meter workshop in a Madrid suburb that could be rented on the company's meagre income.
So it was thought that the time had come to release a first class model displaying the modelling skills acquired throughout the early period of full dedication to the creation of figures. The choice was to design a 54 mm figure based on the character of King Charles the Fifth (Charles the First of Spain), using the armor by Bartolomé Capri, that was on display at the Royal Armoury in Madrid (It is still there nowadays). The figure was begun when a terrible fact was noticed: the reference material available was simply insufficient for the accurate representation that Fernando Andrea had already undertaken. In accordance with Fernando's demand for detail, every bolt and relief on the original piece should be rendered in the miniature.
There was only one solution, to seek access to the original piece in the museum. This was finally achieved after two months of arduous negotiation. Finally, the piece could be photographed completely, from every possible angle. The outstanding result, after almost six months of painstaking work, unfortunately did not have the expected success and the piece passed unnoticed at the time.
It was 1986 when they felt the time had come for a mounted figure. By this time, the Andrea models had undergone considerable evolution. Unlike the first figures, which were modelled in fresh paste, they were now carved almost entirely with blades and files, like marble. The models from this period are easily identified; they tend to be on the slim side, as most adjustments were made by carving out material. On the other hand, they present a clean, crisp finish that is only possible to achieve by using the carving technique.
The basis of the figure was a well-known photograph that was reproduced to the smallest detail after innumerable hours at the workbench.
From the production point of view, it was a real challenge since it was a complex kit with many pieces. This required additional effort at the small company, which had only produced 54 mm figures up to that time.
It is interesting to notice that all the models from this period were made of epoxy two-component putty, including belts, straps and other elements that many designers make from scratch. There was a real concern about the modelling material and its treatment, a consequence of an intense desire to fully control of shape and volume.
By 1988, things were a bit better. There was a new larger workshop ( 40 square meters ), the company had settled a little thanks to an international sales network, and the Andrea brothers were dividing their modelling efforts between their own production and the one for Verlinden, for whom they designed a few dozen figures.
The market is at this time focused strongly on WWII figures. A new series on this topic was started, and the first 'German Walking Set' was launched. Fernando Andrea was responsible for this outstanding tour de force, in which three figures composed of 48 separate, fully interchangeable parts allowed many variations. The candid charm of the little soldiers is balanced by a difficult to match finish. It was a state-of-the-art piece that was admired worldwide. The miniature was almost completely modelled in paste, and was entirely handmade with no use of any mechanical tools. It was a peak in Fernando's artistic career, who showed with this piece a mastery of the craft rarely seen before.
The romantic and eccentric figure of Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence appealed many people long before David Lean's epic film on this man was released.
Carlos Andrea had already been considering the creation of a Lawrence miniature for many years when the decision was taken to start working on the figure in 1988. The model was within an inch of never being released because of the many doubts as to its commercial viability, but it was finally resolved to go ahead. Incidentally, Carlos' good friend Cathy Mark, eventually the company's official corrector for most English texts, happened to have a life-long interest in Lawrence and played a significant role in the final decision. She also supplied Carlos with many very useful books, photographs and trivia on Lawrence 's life.
As usual, no detail in the miniature was underestimated and in every aspect, from the dromedary (based on a real animal at the Madrid's Zoo, photographed extensively after a few problems with the guards) to Lawrence 's dagger, maximum effort went into creating the model.
Happily, the figure was a great commercial success. It was released on the 100th anniversary of Lawrence 's birth, and was seen in many international competitions that year and afterwards. The piece was honored with the prestigious Model Fan Award to the best figure of 1988. The model is a true exercise in delicacy and proportion.
It is now 1994. The company had moved recently to a small village in the Guadarrama mountains near Madrid . In the search for a new challenge, the idea of a mounted 90 mm figure soon arose. This kind of piece was rarely seen at that time (or even now) due to the huge costs and technical difficulties derived from mass production, premises that make most manufacturers dismiss such pieces.
It was again mainly the achievement of Fernando Andrea, who locked himself up into his workshop at the new Andrea studio for seven months of arduous work until the piece was finally finished. Somewhat reminiscent of the work on the Charles the Fifth figure, this miniature is a superb piece of art with a serene, balanced beauty that leaves nobody indifferent.
The work was done entirely by hand using a mixed technique of modelling and carving. There is no metal at all in the original piece; the highly polished finish was made possible by many hours of careful sandpapering. This may be hard to believe when you look at particular areas such as the coat of mail on the horse's neck, but it is true.
In another sense, the piece marks the end of a long period in Fernando's career and the beginning of a new modelling tendency involving movement and composition in miniature. This trend would lead him to the later creation of another modelling hit, his Carthaginian War Elephant in 54 mm , but that's another story.
The company had grown and several world hits had been produced when the moment arrived to try something really big, something rarely attempted before in the business. In fact, more than one member of the company's staff and most of the sales agents tried to stop this colossal project . In spite of all the difficulties, however, Carlos Andrea decided to carry it through.
It caused a kind of revolution at the Andrea studio. For many years now, other sculptors besides the brothers had done commissioned work for the company, but this was the first time a large team had to be formed specifically. They developed the more than 170 pieces composing the miniature and all the items related to the piece, including photoetched and resin parts, the sophisticated instruction booklet and so on. An exceptionally gifted artist who was also an old Andrea friend, Baldomero Sáiz, had a leading role in producing this kit, which would open the way to similar large productions. It was a nightmare of work and stress for the company, but when the first copy, painted personally by Baldomero, was presented, the only general regret was that John Ford wasn't there to enjoy the piece.
1994. With the company now growing at a good pace, management responsibilities were progressively taking Carlos Andrea away from modelling. Rather ironically, there were now not many opportunities for the brothers to work together on a project, as they had done for so many years. This piece was one of the few exceptions, and epitomized in many respects the joint work of the duet formed by the two artists.
Behind its apparent simplicity, this knight that stares at the viewer holds a deep knowledge of figure design, obtained only after many years of full-time dedication to a life's passion. The miniature was an immediate success and a real source of inspiration for modellers and manufacturers alike.
The U-Boat 7C was released in 1996 as part of the series of big kits inaugurated by the Stagecoach. It was the most complex project to the date, involving white metal, resin castings and photoetched parts.
The kit drew a lot of attention on its release and was much celebrated, especially by modellers and collectors interested in WWII topics. Another significant aspect of the U-Boat was the major role played by commissioned artists in the kit's creation. Although commissioned sculptors had designed models for the company for many years now (the first had been Julian Hullis in 1990), this was the first time that mainly other modellers developed a kit under the supervision of the Andrea studio.
To keep pace with the high volume of releases, more and more commissioned artists would come to stay at the studio and work for Andrea on different projects. Some would later gain international fame. As time went by, a kind of internal modelling revolution had progressively taken the Andrea system from the personal work of few artists to a rather large group of skilled designers and craftsmen working in equilibrium. Even many single figures are the work of more than one person, beginning with the initial design, which is extensively discussed by the design department as a whole.
Back to the submarine, all the boat work was performed by Baldomero Sáiz; without him, the boat might never have been possible, as Baldo's combination of modelling skill and knowledge of U-boats is simply very difficult to match.
The figures were modelled by the celebrated sculptor Raúl Latorre, who spent quite a few months working under Carlos Andrea's close supervision.
Fifteen years after the first Andrea figure was released, the company moved again to newer, much larger facilities, but figure production continued at the pace that had now been established.
Inthe Name of the Rose could be kind of a 'latest generation' figure, a result of the typical Andrea combination of daring and careful design. The work of Angel Terol, it is also one of the first in the non-military series the company have recently favored, in a venture to open up the hobby of 'model soldiers' to younger modellers who are interested in more general subjects such as this one.