I kid you not, “Rose Photo Flame” is the most common name that I have found for this model. I’m assuming it was supposed to be Rose Photo Frame, but… it is what it is. It’s also in a package that seems to be branded 3D Matal Model Kits (I spelled that exactly as shown on the box). It’s supposed to be a Microworld-branded model, which I bought from the Microworld Store on Amazon. It looks like a knockoff, but I’ve not gotten bought/built a Microworld model before. I wanted to try out some other model brands, and this model was gorgeous looking, so I went for it.

This is the first model I’ve built post-depression-funk-sabbatical, and I chose to build it for a couple of reasons. First, because I bought it to build for my wife, and she has been there for me through my doldrums, lethargy, and general malaise. So it seemed only fitting to start back up by doing something to say thank you to someone who helped get me through this dark period. The second reason was that it looked like an easy one to build, from a technical perspective.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot going on here. Lots of pieces, lots of metal, lots of detail. You get quite a bang for your [metaphorical] buck, here. And it is beautiful. The brilliance of creating a mosaic painting in metal art form is just… wonderful. It’s not overdone, and not oversimplified. I am very impressed with the results, and my wife absolutely loves it.

And you get all that without a whole lot of technical demands. Because there’s no curves to worry about. No complicated geometry. Nothing super-intense to trip up on. There’s a lot to do, but most of it is just plain and simple folding. The majority of which is just folding flaps down around the edge of each “shard” in this mosaic art piece. The most challenging folds* are actually in the frame itself, and that’s just because they are long folds that are close together. And they are not even that bad.

*most challenging folds that are not a result of a manufacturing mistake… more on that in a bit.

I suppose the real challenge to this model is in aligning / inserting tabs into slots. The correct slots. I can’t tell you how many times I messed up and put a tab through the wrong slot. Not because I put a shard in the wrong place, no. They were very clever with the design and the pieces are all quite distinct, and you build the model in an almost spiral-from-the-center-out approach. So it’s fairly easy to put it together without referencing the instructions much at all (after you knoll out the pieces in order, that is).

No, it was adjacent slots along the edges between two shards that goofed me up time and time again. I would be focused on getting the slot on one side aligned using my “convincer” (dulled / blunted hobby knife), and completely pass over the fact that the tab that went “right in” was in the wrong slot. Then I’d flip over to the back and start securing the tabs before it fell loose, only to discover that I had missed the slot I was supposed to use and instead used the slot for some other shard I would need to attach later. Then I had to pry it back through, finagle it through the correct slot, and re-secure. I wouldn’t have felt like such a fool if I didn’t do it so many times throughout the entire build. I didn’t learn my lesson, no… I did it at least a dozen times, from near the beginning of the build and through to the end.

Speaking of my build process, I started out forming a single shard, then attaching it, then forming the next, then attaching, and so on. But eventually I got tired of picking up one tool, then putting it down to grab another, then another, then back to the first, and around, and around, and around. So eventually I decided to just go through and shape every single remaining shard and placing them, completely formed, back onto my magnetic knolling sheet. It was so worth it. I got in a rhythm forming them, and then I found a good rhythm attaching them.

When attaching the pieces, I did a twist-and-fold technique. The twist to make it secure, and the fold to make it safer to handle. Because when you are done, there are millions of exposed tabs on the back of the model, and those tabs can be kinda stabby. To make life a little easier, though, I would do a twist and bend-over action for a bunch of shards, then come back and push them down flat with either a tool or my fingertips (yes, I used both). Lot’s of unnecessary work, but I feel better knowing it is less likely to draw blood.

So how was my experience with this new brand? Mixed. While the design made the instructions almost useless, there were definitely some issues with it. For one thing, they mis-labelled 3 of the parts in the sheet diagram. I managed to catch this while knolling out the parts because I just couldn’t find part #68. As it turns out, that part was labelled #89. Assuming that the real part #89 was probably found elsewhere with the same label, I went searching. And found that there were also 2 instances of parts labelled #98. I then used the mosaic diagram to figure out which of those was #98, and which was #86. It just felt so… icky/sloppy. The instructions were cheap and looked like photocopies of photocopies, and looked like they were cut up from larger sheets. Really gave me the knock-off vibe.

The metal itself was better than I was expecting, fairly sturdy stuff. There were some folds that verged on snapping off easily, but I put that more to their size and/or my mishandling than the metal itself being weak. The most annoying part of the build was that one of the pieces was missing one of the fold-lines / perforations completely (part #76). I ended up scratching the line in the place where it should be (not that deeply, in the battle between hobby knife and steel sheet, the hobby knife may leave scars, but it’s going to lose in the end) and then just doing my best to fold where it should be. It didn’t help that it was a fold where it needed to fold tighter than 90 degrees. But I was able to get it to work, and since it was on the side of a shard, you can’t really see it in the completed build.

I’ve got a few more Microworld models to build, so I’m not going to make a judgement at this time. In addition, I don’t know if I got a knock-off or not. But it would be weird if the official Microworld Store on Amazon was selling knock-offs. Of course, that’s assuming it is actually official. Ugh. Knock-offs are so annoying.

Seeing as this was a build of mostly simple folds, I decided not to record it. My build station has accumulated a lot of junk that doesn’t really belong there, and I didn’t feel like cleaning up enough to get my laptop over there to record the build. But I did set a timer going. I make no statements as to the accuracy of this, because I took a break and forgot to stop the watch, but then also forgot to start it again later, etc. But I think it took me somewhere between 2 hours 45 minutes and 3 hours to complete this build. Of course, that doesn’t include the nearly 2 hours (guesstimate) that I spent clipping out and knolling the parts.