The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Andrzej Ziober

Added to museum: 8/27/08

Trained as a scientific researcher, a love of modeling led to a lifetime career in building and writing about model aircraft

Andrzej Ziober is seen in his model workshop. Constantly striving to improve the quality of his work and add additional detail has kept him ahead of the competition for over 30 years. (Click on photo to view larger image.)

Introduction

Andrzej Ziober gave up a promising career in Poland as a scientific researcher to pursue his life’s passion—building the most detailed aircraft models he could produce. He doesn’t do it for money—his models are not for sale—but for the passion of it. He makes his living writing about models and model making, so for over 30 years his life has been dedicated to this passion. His models include an incredible amount of detail for their small scale. Even the interiors are filled with structural detail, but once glued together they can only be seen in the photos that Andrzej presents with the model. Each model can take years to build. The results of is efforts are reflected in the many gold medals and trophies his models have won, but also in the satisfaction he obviously gets from producing such fine models. Here is his story.

An award winning German Junkers tri-motor in 1/72 scale by Andrzej Ziober is displayed on a mirrored base. (Click on photo to view larger image.

A lifetime of building winning aircraft models starts with a bold decision

Andrzej Ziober was born in Czestochowa, Poland. He attended to school with great aviation traditions—4th Henryk Sienkiewicz High School. Many of its students became pilots and Second World War Polish national heroes. These traditions played a very essential part in his life story.

As a young boy he wanted to become a pilot as well, but it turned out to be completely out of reach in contemporary Poland. He could “only” become an airplane modeler, but he didn’t want to be just one of many. He wanted to become a “famous modeler”. He was about 14 years old at the time, and it soon became apparent that becoming a well-known modeler wasn’t such an easy thing to do. He started building small, simple kit models as millions of people do worldwide. In the meantime he graduated from the university where he studied biology and started to work as a natural scientist at one of the Polish universities. He obtained the doctor’s degree but soon understood that a scientific a career wasn’t as fascinating to him as building models. He made a decision then that would change the direction of his life. Despite having trained to be a scientific researcher he decided to spend the rest of his life building models. Many of his friends couldn’t understand his choice, and he was also afraid of the selection he had made.

At age 53 (2008) he still doesn’t regret this decision. He still makes plastic models, but not the “kit ones”. He didn’t want his models to be just “toys” but he wanted them to be a kind of fine art. He wanted people to speak about them not as “toys” but as a “work of art”. The basic structures are augmented by custom made components and details showing precisely everything that a real plane has—from engines to such tiny elements as toilet paper, a towel in the Junkers G-23 aircraft’s restroom or ashtrays in the passengers’ seats. Even smaller elements like electronic lamps are visible after opening the radio station in the Lancaster model. Of course all the wires, installations and cockpit panels as well as all the other construction elements had to be created in his models. Normally it wouldn’t be surprising but you must realize that all these miniature elements are made by him in a typical plastic models’ scale—1:72. Moreover, he makes them all by himself without using any ready-to-use factory-made parts that can be purchased in every modeler’s shop throughout Europe. Building such a model requires not only enormous precision but also a lot of patience.

Creating an aircraft model with such a level of realism takes him about five years of constant work, working approximately five hours a day. Once he began building such models, he started to take part in competitions—first in his own country and then in Europe. By now he has participated in all the biggest and the most difficult competitions organized in most of the European Union countries. He has won in every competition he has taken part in so far bringing home gold medals, “Best of Show” or “Best Aircraft” awards from each. Overall he has won more than 130 gold medals and more than 100 special cups or other trophies in Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovak Republic and, of course, Poland. Most recently he won a contest in Lithuania—the first foreigner to do so. There is no other modeler in Europe who builds such models or wins so many prizes in so many countries.

This Lancaster bomber is displayed as an aircraft under repair in the hanger with panels open, skin removed in areas and tools on the hanger floor. A mirrored "floor" helps the viewer see the detail on the underside. Photos are used to display the hidden details inside the fuselage. (Click on photo to view larger image.)

His results merit prestigious awards not usually accorded to model makers

In Poland he received a Golden Modeler’s Badge with Three Diamonds, the premier order granted by the National Aero Club. Four times he has been the recipient of a very prestigious plebiscite among the most meritorious people in Polish aviation for Polish aviation history promotion through his modeling achievements, and he was awarded the highest Polish aviation reward—the title of the honorable winner of “the Blekitne Skrzydla” (the Blue Wings). This title is given to the most eminent Polish aviation sportsmen, aircraft constructors, military pilots and others who have earned a special place in Polish aviation history. He is the only modeler in this prestigious group. In addition, for his modeler’s achievements, his life story has just been printed in a special historical album published in honor of 100 years of world aviation and the Polish aviation 85-year anniversary.

The prestigeous Blekitne Skrzydla aviation award has never been awarded to a model make before it was given to Andrzej Ziober. (Click on photo to view larger image.)

He has not only been able to make his childhood dreams come true, but also his professional life has finally led him to the real aviation through the modeling. For many years he has worked for Skrzydlata Polska, the Polish oldest aviation magazine. It has been published for 79 years now, and it is one of the oldest such magazines in Europe. Currently he is the chief editor of The AeroPlan, another Polish aviation magazine. He is still building models, and he’s still taking part in European modeler’s competitions...and he is still winning them!

In 2014, Andrzej Ziober began to take part in modeling competitions with his new Mi-6 helicopter model. In May, he participated in the Monza competition, Italy, and his Mi-6 won the Best of Show award there – the most important award of this modeling exhibition. In October, Andrzej was invited as a special guest to take part in Modeler’s Expo competition in Japanese Osaka, where his Mi-6 won the Gold Prize prestigious award. It was given to a foreigner modeler for the first time in the history of Japanese modeling.

He has never lost a single competition in the past thirty years and has received a prize for second place only when he has had two models in the same class and received awards for both first and second place. He describes his competition impressions and suggestions in the magazines he is working for. (He has been the author of hundreds of articles devoted to modeling, from model building technology to serious psychological aspects of achieving success in modeling.) In his articles he tries to emphasize that modeling doesn’t have to be just a hobby, but it can be a great life passion and a very serious activity leading to the real modeling art and gaining international appreciation.

Smaller and smaller details draw the viewer's eye into the project. (Click on photo to view larger image.)

Building traps” to draw the viewer and contest judges into his models

In one of his articles Mr. Ziober explains in his own words his concept of model building:

“Against the appearance it is not only an abstract idea of absurdity. It has also a logical explanation. Well, let’s imagine that we stand 5 meters from an unknown model. What can we expect when we slowly approach to it? From the distance of about 3 meters we will see groups of construction’s elements. If the model is well done, we will perceive more and more details. We will notice painting Ovcare and decals, interior elements, opened hatches etc. In other words, the attractiveness of the model will increase gradually as we see more elements. I also know, that from the certain point of approaching it gets easier to see shortcomings of gluing, inaccuracies in symmetry of the details, I mean everything that the modeler didn’t make correctly. Such is well known and coded in brain’s nooks reality. I decided to make my model in such a way, that described “world seeing” turns over about 180 degrees. I was trying to bring the precision of the details to such a level of perfection, that from the small distance, a spectator could perceive still smaller and smaller details, instead of previously mentioned mistakes! It was a kind of trap for a judge estimating my model. The judge looks and asks himself in his mind: What is that? – Oh! That’s a woolen cap of the pilot. I can see it’s sheepskin lined... Wait a second! There is something shining... Oh! His glasses... and at the back of the glasses, there is something else – a rubber belt buckle of the glasses! I was trying to deliver him a lot of joy in discovering “strange” things pulling him deeper and deeper in my trap of interest of this model. These are some other examples of this kind of traps: a judge sees from a distance a small, orange thing that doesn’t fit to Liberator in any way. Curiosity tells him to approach and suddenly, the orange “thing” appears to be a dinghy on the wing. Still approaching he can see paddles and a container with compressed air for the dinghy automatic pumping. The same rules I used with the opened wings yellow elements. First, they are only yellow stains, then in a close up, he can see the wings construction, and then, when he bends over the model, he can see lines, ribs and pulling rods and even diminished rolls for pulling rods, which decrease a resistance in the time of their move. There are still more “traps” in this model. The whole “tiny element” thing should make the judge think, that it would be a great model, if the whole interior section was reproduced with the same accuracy! And then I give him my documentation where he should see the pictures of the model’s interior! He will also learn that it was made by hands of a modeler, not a machine to produce toys for sale.”

Without a reference to size, it can be difficult to appreciate how small some of the parts Andrzej makes actually are. We asked him to place a 1 Euro coin in a couple of photos to give the viewer a size reference. Click on the above photos to enlarge them to see how small 1/72 scale actually is. (A Euro coin is just slightly smaller than a U.S. quarter.)

A 2009 Update of International Competition Success

In 2009, Andrzej Ziober competed in the USA with two of his models in the biggest competition in North America. In the class of "civil aircraft" he competed with the model of Junkers G- 23W, and in the "multi-engine combat aircraft" class with the Lancaster model. Both models won first prizes and for the model of the Lancaster, Andrzej was the first European modeler in the history of the competition to be awarded with the "Best Aircraft" title. In 2011, during the great contest which took place on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Turkish aviation the Lancaster won again in the international competition in the Masters class. In 2012, after the Melbourne Model Expo, the biggest competition in Australia, he brought to Poland a victory in the "aviation models" category again for the Lancaster, as well as the Best of Show and additionally the People's Choice Award. In June 2013, he competed in South America, winning major awards for the Lancaster and the Liberator during a Brazilian competition, which took place in Rio de Janeiro.

 

In 2013, Andrezj submitted a number of photos of his latest model—a Russian Mil Mi-6 Helicopter in the markings of the Polish Air Force. See many detailed photos of this incredible model in the photo section below. (Click on photo above to preview a larger image.)

After six years work, a Russian Mil Mi-6 Helicopter is his latest winner

For the past six years Andrzej has been building a model of the Mi-6 helicopter in 1:72 scale. Designated the "Hook" by NATO, the Mi-6 is a heavy lift transport helicopter first flown in 1957 and produced up until 1981. Many are still in service. The model is a true miniature of the original aircraft, which is flying in the colors of the Polish Air Force. This miniature features an exact reproduction of all details, not only outside but also including all the interior equipment. The model was made ​​in the "stripped-of-sheets” convention to show its structural details. It consists of hundreds of thousands of miniature parts made by Andrzej Ziober himself, without using any commercial kits for the valorization. The model is presented in a diorama that includes the panels and other details removed from the model. It is lighted with multiple LED lamps so it can be presented as a night flight line scene. A mirror under the aircraft allows viewers to see the detail underneath. All the jacks, supports and related equipment were also custom built. The level of detail is simply astounding, and it shows the untold hours it took over the six years to create the model of this historic craft.

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Articles and contact information

There are some Lancaster images to be found on the Polish modelers’ forum at http://www.kartonwork.pl/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7545

Andrzej's latest model, a 1:72 scale Mil Mi-6 helicopter is one he has been working on for six years. It can be seen at http://www.kartonwork.pl/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10257.

There are also many articles devoted to model building technology, strategy of participation in competitions, etc., published in the Polish Internet (unfortunately everything is in Polish only). See http://www.softland.com.pl/aerojac/dane/modelarstwo.html. (Note: This web address is apparently no longer working.)

Andrzej has devoted many of his articles (published in the Skrzydlata Polska and the AeroPlan—the magazines he works for) to “serious issues” such as physiology and ergonomics in modeling. Here he puts his “biological education” to use. He has also dedicated many of his articles to the psychological aspects of building very complicated models. During many years of writing about modeling he has written a lot of articles. It would be quite a thick book. He says maybe one day he will publish them as a book, but for now he is concentrating mainly on building new models. Each one has to be better and more complicated than the one before.

Andrzej has given permission to publish his e-mail address in case any other model makers would like to correspond with him in English or Polish. He can be reached at aziober@wp.pl.

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Here are some photos of Andrzej Ziober's models.

(Click any photo to view a larger image.)

Junkers

This model of an amphibious German Junkers tri-engine passenger plane includes full interior detail plus many open structural details where panels have been removed or hatches opened.
A front view shows the engines and landing floats.
Side view shows the open passenger door.
More wing and engine detail can be seen in this view.
Top view showing mirrored display base.
Another side view shows some of the tail details.
Engine covers are shown open so complete engine detail can be seen.
A close-up of the installed engine.
Interior detail is there, but the judges can see it in the documentation only once the model is closed up and assembled.
A typical engine before installation.
A cigarette puts some of the fine detail into perspective as to how small this work really is.

Liberator

Top front view on the port side shows some of the parts and tools used to work on the bomber.
Top front view, starboard side.
Rear view, top.
Suspended on a glass frame above a mirror, the details on the bottom of the wing can be seen in the reflection. Note how the model seems to be suspended in mid-air.
An "A" Frame with hook is ready to remove the engine for repairs.
A close-up view of the top of the aircraft shows the fuel doors open and some of the hatches open. Inside one hatch is a life raft.
Details of the nose and bombardier's glass nose canopy.
Tail gun turret details.
Interior bulkheads of the bomb bay can be seen during initial construction.
Cockpit and nose landing gear bay during assembly.
Details down to the first aid kit on the side panel can be seen here in the center part of the fuselage. Once the two fuselage halves are glued together, the judges can only see these details from the photo documentation Andrezj takes before final assembly.
More installed details in the interior. The gunner's position includes oxygen masks and bottles.
Instrument panel, oxygen bottle, first aid kit and a Mercury Altimeter before installation.
Navigator's position equipment panels. In the lower left above the number "10" on the metric scale, note the scrolling map.
One of the Liberator's four engines during detailing and prior to installation.

Lancaster

Overall exterior photo of Lancaster display shows the bomber in a partial hangar diorama with hatches open, engines on stands and extraneous equipment on display.
Nose of the plane
Another angle showing detail of the nose turret and some of the open hatches and wing structure.
A straight-on view of the nose.
A more distant view of the display shows the mirrored surface, making it possible for judges and spectators to see some of the underside surfaces without picking up the model.
An open engine cover with detailed engine inside the cowling.
This top view shows some of the fuselage structural detail and top views of the exposed engines.
Details like the life raft with inflation air supply and survival kit are what catch a judge's eye and turn a model into a winner. Andrzej goes the extra mile to get those details noticed.
Rear gun turret detail.
From under the wing you can see some of the landing gear mechanism with the gear doors open.
Inside the wing the fuel tanks are shown with their holding straps.
Getting into the interior of the plane, some of the seats and other cockpit details can be seen before installation.
Gun turret details. Note the cartridge belts.
Left and right interior details show hundreds of custom made parts from parachutes to crew stations. This shot explains why it took Andrzej over two years to complete this portion of the model.
The cockpit area.
Tiny instruments each have a detailed face. Keep in mind this is 1/72 scale and how small these details really are.
Every hydraulic line and fitting in the real aircraft is duplicated. Model making not only requires skill and patience, but also a lot of research to get the details right.
First aid kits, fire extinguishers, parachutes--it's all there.
More interior details including racks of supplies and pressure bottles.

Mil Mi-6 Helicopter

In 2014, this model won the "Best of Show" award in the Monza, Italy contest and also won the Osaka, Japan model competition "Gold Prize". It was the first time the top award to go to a non-Japanese competitor.

The model's fuselage is first measured and marked so the "skin" can be removed, revealing the basic support structure.

Removal of the outer skin continues and a floor is added.
More detail is added to the rear fuselage and tail structure of this massive Russian helicopter.
A matchstick provides scale reference in this photo of the rear fuselage and floor with auxiliary equipment mounted. Note the level of detail in the custom built accessories.
The turbine engines are exposed with opening panels.
Landing gear and more forward fuselage exterior and interior detail.
Details show the side fuselage structure and the main rotor with two of the five blades removed for display.
The rear cargo doors are shown in the open position. A high angle view shows the diorama base under constructions. Expansion joints in the "concrete" base look quite realistic.
Front and rear views as the diorama starts to add details.
A detail of the jet engine compartment early on in the build before the exterior paint or access panels were added. A later photo shows many of the removed panels and parts to be displayed on the ground.
More details as the diorama takes shape.
Note details like the tarp and ropes draped over the fuselage components to the left of the first photo.
The completed model in its staged diorama with LED lights burning in a very realistic night scene.

Two posters  put together by Andrzej Ziober show many more details during the build. This model is destined to put many more trophies on Andrzej's shelf.

Well done!

Awards

The walls in Andrezej's studio are lined with some of his many award plaques and trophies.
Andrzej Ziober wears the four gold medals awarded for his Junkers G-23 and Liberator models during the Austrian competition in the Aviation Museum at Graz.
After winning the Modeling Championship of Denmark during a ceremonial meeting at Polish Ambassador's office in Copenhagen. Andrzej Ziober is at the far right.

Awards from the international ModelTroya competition in Portugal including the famous European award, the Crystal Swarovsky Dolphin.

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