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Cardboard models of birds (Birdmobile & Johan Scherft)

Started by brontodocus, September 04, 2013, 05:06:13 PM

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Something I had in mind for quite a long time (and having finished two more kits quite recently made me think now is the rigth time): Cardboard models of birds! :)

Probably the most important artists who published kits of birds are Malcolm Topp (UK) who made the famous "Birdmobile" series of life-sized British birds in the 1970s and early 1980s, Johan Scherft (Netherlands) who was inspired by Malcolm Topp (but who, I think, has even surpassed him now) and makes his models in life size, too, and Ikuo Anazawa (Japan) who also makes phantastic paper sculptures (although the feathers are not drawn by hand) either life size or scaled down (especially super large birds like eagles, cranes, swans and such). However, I haven't built any of Ikuo Anazawa's models, yet.

I'll start with Malcolm Topp's Birdmobile, here is the complete series, all models are 1:1 scale... all are printed on quite rigid cardboard, approx. 160g/sqm. Despite their age (some kits are as much as 40 years old) they are still widely available at cardboard model dealers.

Birdmobile European Series:

No. 1 (1973): Hirundo rustica Linnaeus, 1758; Barn Swallow. Length approx. 200 mm, wing span approx. 316 mm.

No. 2 (1973): Alcedo atthis (Linnaeus, 1758); Common Kingfisher. Length approx. 176 mm, wing span approx. 250 mm.

No. 3 (1973): Athene noctua (Scopoli, 1769); Little Owl. Length approx. 228 mm, wing span approx. 380 mm.

No. 4 (1978): Motacilla flava flavissima Blyth, 1834; Yellow-crowned Wagtail. Length 187 mm, wing span approx. 245 mm.

No. 5 (1978): Erithacus rubecula (Linnaeus, 1768); European Robin. Length 146 mm, wing span 227 mm.

No. 6 (1978): Sitta europaea Linnaeus, 1758; Eurasian Nuthatch. Length 142 mm, wing span 266 mm.

No. 7 (1978): Dendrocopos minor (Linnaeus, 1758); Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Length 145 mm, wing span 255 mm.

Birdmobile Birds of Prey Series:

No. 1 (1976): Falco columbarius Linnaeus, 1758; Merlin (male). Length approx. 270 mm, wing span approx. 530 mm.

No. 2 (1983): Pandion haliaetus (Linnaeus, 1758); Osprey.
This one is the masterpiece of the collection and quite impressive at approx. 520 mm length and 1520 mm wing span! The neck is movable and the model is also dismountable for transport, the wings and legs can be removed. The trout (it's a Brown Trout, Salmo trutta f. fario) too.

Edit 2014-12-02: Updated broken image urls.


These are really lovely, though I wouldn't have the patience to construct them myself!  :-[



They came flying from far away, now I'm under their spell....


 Eurasian Nuthatch  ^-^ my favorite passeriform bird  ^-^.
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Yay, thank you all! :)

So here are the incredible cardboard models by Johan Scherft, at least the ones I have built so far... He initially made his kits for Leon Schuijt, a Dutch cardboard model publisher, but now he mostly offers his models on his own website. Some of the smaller birds are even free downloads! :o ^-^

Otus scops (Linnaeus, 1758); Eurasian Scops Owl. Height including base 191 mm. The model can be bought from the artist's website:

Tyto alba guttata (C.L. Brehm, 1831); Central European Barn Owl. Height 327 mm. Published by Leon Schuijt ("De Kerkuil") and available from cardboard model shops.

Garrulus glandarius (Linnaeus, 1758); Eurasian Jay. Length approx. 330 mm. Published by Leon Schuijt ("De Vlaamse Gaai").

Alcedo atthis (Linnaeus, 1758); Common Kingfisher. Length 139 mm, total height of model 144 mm. Published by Leon Schuijt ("De Ijsvogel").

Upupa epops Linnaeus, 1758; Hoopoe. Length approx. 275 mm, height including base 209 mm. The model can be bought from the artist's website:

Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758; Common Starling. Length 183 mm. Published by Leon Schuijt ("De Spreeuw").

Passer domesticus Linnaeus, 1758; House Sparrow, male and female. Lengths 138 and 125 mm. Published by Leon Schuijt ("De Huismus").

Regulus ignicapilla (Temminck, 1820); Common Firecrest, male (foreground) and female (background). Length 88 mm. Available here (as a free download):

Parus major Linnaeus, 1758 and Cyanistes caeruleus (Linnaeus, 1758); Great Tit and Blue Tit. Lengths approx. 135 and 120 mm. Published by Leon Schuijt ("De Koolmees en de Pimpelmees").

Troglodytes troglodytes (Linnaeus, 1758); Eurasian Wren. Length approx. 95 mm (if tail was stretched out). Available here (as a free download):

Lophorina superba (Pennant, 1781); Superb Bird-of-Paradise. Female (length approx. 240 mm) and male (length approx. 245 mm). Available here (the female is a free download):

There are even more which I haven't built yet, e.g. the newly released Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus and his other Kingfisher. Johan Scherft is also working on other kits, e.g. a life-size Archaeopteryx.

Oh, and for the dinosaur enthusiasts: about a year ago he also released a "Microceratops" (=Graciliceratops)...

The model is approx. 605 mm long and 200 mm high. Available here:

Edit 2015-10-17: Updated broken image urls.


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Incredible models, Brontodocus, and beautifully photographed (as ever) :) Could I ask how complicated they are to assemble and how long each model takes to build? I would love to have a go at building them but I fear I haven't got the knack of it.


Quote from: Battatitan on September 08, 2013, 11:36:24 AM
Incredible models, Brontodocus, and beautifully photographed (as ever) :) Could I ask how complicated they are to assemble and how long each model takes to build? I would love to have a go at building them but I fear I haven't got the knack of it.
Oh, sorry for my late reply, Battatitan... :-[ It depends, the hardest of all the ones I posted above may be the Birdmobile Osprey because it is not easy to handle these super size parts. I remember that the wings had a huge surface that needed to be glued together in one single step, I used spraying glue for that because I was fearing anything else might completely soak the paper and cause ugly wrinkles before the glue is applied completely. For everything else I only use white glue. The smaller of the Birdmobile models like e.g. the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Wagtail, Nuthatch, or Robin may be the easiest since they are simplified, symmetrical, and only consist of very few parts. Those took only a few hours each. But on the other hand the best idea would probably be to get one of Johan Scherft's free models first since you can download them and look at the templates first - and he has uploaded some manuals to youtube, too. :) Personally I found the firecrests very easy (despite me having quite huge hands) but they are very small, of course. I haven't built his free downloadable Kingfisher, yet, but I guess it won't be too difficult as well. I would also recommend to have good equipment for cardboard modelling at hand, i.e. self-healing cutting mat, x-acto knife, good and sharp small scissors, white glue, skewers to apply glue... oh, and I made the experience that whenever I had too much coffee I should do something else instead of cardboard modelling... ;) ;D

EDIT: One thing I forgot: Some examples for how long it takes to build such a model... The osprey took me about four days if I remember correctly, the small Birdmobiles like the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker about three hours, the Scops Owl about five and the Hoopoe about eight hours including cutting out the templates and colouring the cutting edges. But these weren't completed on the same day that I started them since some parts had to dry overnight.



Quote from: HKHollinstone on October 26, 2013, 12:55:13 PM
These are amazing, I love the scops owl.
Thanks, Harriet! There are even more releases (which I already have but I haven't built them, yet):
The latter of the two, the kit with the North American birds, comes in two versions, on the photo there is a kit with enough sheets for 12 birds (three of each of the four species) but I've got a version with 4*4 kits, so it's 16 models altogether! :D It's just been released a few days ago and is widely (probably virtually worldwide) available via bookstores or amazon.


From Johan Scherft's new set "Beautiful Paper Birds: Easy-to-make Lifelike Models" (available worldwide through e.g. amazon and highly recommended, enough sheets for sixteen birds and even the glue is included), here is the first one I've built (okay, I built it twice but I only kept one):

Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis (Linnaeus, 1758). Length approx. 205 mm. The kit itself includes stands that have to be be mounted to a wall but there are additional stands like the ones here in the photo available for free via Johan Scherft's website. Building time was about four or five hours each.

Edit 2015-10-17: Updated broken image urls.


Pretty cardinals :) Is this the book you were talking about? And does it include the birds of prey, or just the songbirds? Thanks :)

They came flying from far away, now I'm under their spell....


Yes, that's the one (although it's rather a box with glue, a manual in booklet form, and the templates as loose sheets of cardboard). The kit includes the four birds seen on the cover - but each of them four times so you could make sixteen birds altogether with one kit. Previous models are not included, though. The availability of his other models remains the same as it was, either through his website (his newer models) or via cardboard model shops (his kits published by Leon Schuijt).


Quote from: brontodocus on December 02, 2013, 11:22:43 PM
....... here is the first one I've built (okay, I built it twice but I only kept one)

He, he, I have the other one :). The Cardinal is so cute. He makes me smile each time I look at him.
Thanks for that beautiful birthday present :).


You're welcome, Helge! :) And I'm glad you could fix the dent on the chest it received during transit.


It's been a while... but in the meantime, Johan Scherft keeps on releasing new paper models.

The smallest one so far is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris (Linnaeus, 1758). Total length is only approx. 90 mm long (including the almost 20 mm long bill) which makes this one a bit harder to assemble:

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is available through Johan Scherft's website and can be downloaded for free. A larger (supposedly easier) version exists, too, but of course I wanted to go for life size. The stands were made from XOR polyester resin and 1.3 mm brass wire.


And slowly, slowly, my collection of paper birds is growing...

Just two weeks ago, Johan Scherft has released yet another life-sized cardboard model of a bird. This time, it's one of the most well-known birds of Australia, the Laughing Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae (Hermann, 1783). Needless to say, I had to get this model on the spot. Yesterday I finished it:

This is also one of his larger models (standing height approx. 300 mm). The large size makes most (but not all) parts rather easy to assemble, however, I think attaching the head is trickier with the bigger models. On the other hand, the larger models usually take longer to cut out and assemble. I can only estimate since I didn't build mine continuously, but in the end it may have taken me about ten hours. The Laughing Kookaburra is available through Johan Scherft's website:


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