All posts by fossiljellyfish

I'm a biologist who enjoys building scale models... I write popular science articles in my spare time, play World of Tanks, and publish scale model reviews in Armorama. I have decided to start a blog to show the work I've been doing; any comments are welcome. Please subscribe to the blog, and give regular feedback; this would greatly help me to improve both my skills and my blog.

AK Interactive Acrylic Primer – Dark yellow

 

Well, this thing gave me the hardest times for a long time… it just did not come out right out of the bottle. It is supposed to be a primer you can spray right out of the bottle, and even after extended shaking, it came out all runny and thin; hardly something you would like to have with a primer.

But last week I gave it another go. I shook the bejesus out of the bottle, and tried it again.

The results were quite satisfactory. Unlike the Vallejo primer, which forms a thin membrane of paint over the surface (kind of like the Mig Ammo paints), this goes on like “normal” acrlyics, more like a Tamiya paint, and dries absolutely flat. Both are great, it is only a matter of preference.

Overall, I really like this primer now. The only downside is that the bottle is designed in a way that makes it difficult to see the bottom; it is hard to tell if the paint is mixed up correctly.
So all I can say is that you have to shake it, shake it, and shake it some more before using, and with this thought I will leave you with a relevant video clip.

 

 

 

 

Vallejo Acrylic Polyurethane Surface Primer – German panzer grey

Since the post about the gear acquisition syndrome I thought I might as well make a more conscious effort to write short reviews of the stuff I bought. (There are a few, but they were never the main focus. Nor will they become the focus, but I might as well write about them in a more organized manner.) I do not intend to write long reviews; just my impressions with a couple of photos included. (If you have products you want to have reviewed, just contact me.)

Let me know if this idea works…

 

So. Vallejo Primer.

What can I say? It’s great. So far I had no issues with it; it works like a charm. It is a thick liquid, which can be applied straight from the bottle by brush or airbrush -a big plus, in my mind. Simple, no chance of mucking up the dilution, safe.

It forms a really tight gripping surface on the model for paint to stick on, and can be used for pre-shading in one step. Several colors are available; I only have this one. The German Grey can be used as “scale black” in many cases, by the way. I also use it as a chipping color when I don’t feel like adding rust browns to the model; if you use the hairspray technique with it, the results are pretty convincing.

It dries quickly, but you really should wait a day before applying further coats of paint.

See examples from this blog: FV4005, Turtle, T-55AM, Straussler. FT-17.

In short: recommended.

Conondrum – how to move forward?

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I’ve been writing this blog in my spare time for a while now; and since my online storage allocated by wordpress is filling up, I have to think about what direction I should be moving to. Maybe you, dear reader, could help with some pieces of advice.

  • I would love to make an informative blog; this has been the idea to begin with. To show lesser known models, write short reviews, and demonstrate techniques -from the point of view of an average Joe (hence the name). I am trying to move to product reviews as well; however I do not have the funds to actually pay for running this blog. Is there a way to generate some sort of income so that I could get a larger storage? (It would be nice to start a youtube channel, but with this small human sharing our home now I have barely enough time to play with my tanks, let alone do heavy-duty recording and editing…)
  • I would like to increase the visibility of this blog. Many cases when you search for something the first non-commercial hit will be this particular blog, which is cool, but it does not translate to subscriptions.
  • I would like to create an overview page: a page where all the posts are arranged into categories: 1/72 reviews, 1/35 reviews, Warhammer, product reviews, whatever. It would be neat if this page could always stay on top of the page, but so far I have been unable to figure out how to do it.

What else should I do, or change to make this blog into a better one?

 

Rye Field Models Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf G with interior Part 3.

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Part 1.

Part 2.

Since I started both Panthers (RFM and Takom), I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.

Engine and transmission

These are pretty straightforward bits; nothing major. The detail is nothing sort of amazing.

The central rod which holds the controls (handles and pedals) is somewhat awkward to assemble, since it is made up by tiny parts of the bar. Due to the small sections it is kind of difficult to make a straight rod. Not to mention the narrowness of the hull makes it difficult to keep it straight. (It bent further when I dry-fitted -or rather, attempted to- the transmission into the hull. Tried to straighten it out but I was worried it would break.)

 

Issues with the hull

Well, there is one issue, which kind of causes a whole subset of issues. The hull is too narrow. Simple as that. This causes the torsion bars to not to fit properly (as mentioned in part 2 of the build), and it means the PE brackets on the floor of the hull will also not fit.

The torsion bar issue could be solved with a simple sanding. Tedious, and a bit annoying, but doable.

The hull brackets, on the other hand, are a whole different matter.

The PE is thin, and bends easily -it also warps easily. And this is not a good thing when you are trying to install a delicate, multipart PE bracket system into a too-narrow hull. I did my best, but the results are far from perfect. At places the cross-brackets had to be trimmed to fit them into the hull, which threw some of the alignment of the longitudinal brackets off a bit. This caused further cascades of misalignment. The model has been engineered to such a tight fit, even the smallest deviations will make it difficult to install further parts (such as seats, the cabin floor, ammo holding bins). See the above photo: the seat of the driver sits on molded-on bars which had to be trimmed so that the platform fit into its place due to a tiny bit of deviation of the placement of the underlying PE brackets. At this point I was seriously feeling the model was actively trying to fight me.

Filling up the hull…

Where to start? This is where the lower hull starts to look kind of complete.

The tight fit caused further headache. The instructions would have you install the ready-bins first, and then add the sqare-shaped floor panel which holds the rotating turret floor. Take a good, long look at the panel itself: it has all the space for the read-bins pre-cut; mostly just on the sides, but one is completely enveloped by the floor panel.

The fit, as I said, is extremely tight; test-fitting the bins on their own showed how difficult it was just to push them into place. (Perhaps some sort of a lubricant would make it easier…) However, when these bins are attached to the bottom of the hull (and PE brackets), it means you have to push several of them through the panel at the same time, while the panel itself is a tad too wide to fit inside the hull comfortably, so you have to keep pressing. It is not the case of “just drop it straight down”. Without some serious pushing you cannot install the the panel in its place even when the hull was bare without anything installed yet. The fact that there are things in the way complicates matters tremendously.  You have to install the floor “sliding” (=pressing hard) through five bins, and the side of the tank -plus the firewall. Oh, and the bins are a tiny bit misaligned as the PE brackets made it difficult to attach them exactly to where they were supposed to go.

I ended up removing the bins, installing them into the floor panel, and cutting off the pegs that supposed to attach them to the bottom of the hull. After this I pressed the panel down in its place while trying to pry the walls of the hull apart to create more space for it, and once this was done I tried to force everything in its place. Needless to say this sort of manhandling is not exactly what you want to do to a delicate model… I did manage to damage the paint on the side of the tank.

And there it is. This was finished in August, but I did not have the strength to touch the tank again. Will have to plow on soon, I guess. Not looking forward to painting the ammunition for this and the Takom kit…

ICM 1/350 Markgraf part 2

In the first part I reached a stage when I could make a diorama, something like the sunken Hindenburg, and call it a day…

This would be an interesting diorama idea, however, I have a ship to review. So I went on to working on the turrets.

I cut away the same length of plastic from the kit barrels as the metal barrels were, and I fixed the metal barrels onto the resulting stump. Carefully filed away the moulded-on ladder detail from the turrets, and used PE instead. The bases of the turrets also were a bit improved with PE replacement ladders. The turrets remain movable, however they do not fit snugly, and there’s a little play in the movement; I think I will glue them in place once I decide on their position on the model.

I also built the boats; they are fine as they are, but the PE set provides some serious improvement. (Rudders, oars, propellers, railings…)

 

Due to the peculiarities of battleship building, you build and paint in sub-assemblies. Now I need to paint… which requires me to set a big chunk of time aside. Until then the ship building is suspended.

(The next steps will be the painting of the decks, the hull, and the superstructure. Once that is done, I have to add the small details, the boats. the boarding ladders, the railings, etc, and paint a lot of this by hand… I think armor will stay my favorite subject.)

Games Workshop Abaddon… old-school

So I like Abaddon, and have several figures of him. (More coming up later.) It’s not like I have a problem or anything…

Anyhow, since the new Games Workshop figure is coming out, the original, the real figure suddenly appeared on the market for much lower prices than before. This is THE figure of Abaddon- the one spawning memes and ridicules: Abaddon the Armless, Failbaddon and the rest.

I had to have this figure, and for a small sum of five Euros I did get him (from Greece, of all places.)

This is the ebay photo that made me fall in love with him… This is what a five Euro deal looks like…

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I basecoated it with Vallejo German Grey primer, and started working on the details. The dark grey primer is dark enough to be black; however the Heavy Metal style of painting demands highlights everywhere… something I did not look forward to.

So I did the best I can. (Obviously.) In this case I went with the flaming sword look, since the previous Abaddon had a bluish-purplish daemon sword.

Games Workshop – Thousand Sons space marines

Well, two Thousand Sons space marines, both post-Heresy. The first one is a Rubric marine belonging to Ashur-Kai (Talon of Horus, The Black Legion).

Pre-Herey colors with one pauldron painted black, indicating his aliance to the Black Legion.

The other is just your run-of-the-mill Rubric Marine.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome

 

This post is the missing pair of the “Should you hoard?” post…

It’s about the well-known syndrome all hobbists suffer from regardless of their chosen hobby: the gear acquisition syndrome.

Simply put we are very much prone to buy newer and newer additions to our respective hobbies, even if we do not actually use them. This is more of a problem when you sink in thousands of dollars in new lenses you will use once or twice, than for model builders – our trinkets cost way less. But this also means we can buy them more often. An exciting, new product to stimulate rust? Sign me up even though I have not learned to use the previous new, exciting product yet! New line of acrylic paints? In with the new, even though I have similar colors still in their bottle! They will make all the difference, after all! Special filters to simulate aging? Bring it on! …And the list goes on. I think companies bank on this tendency when they roll out the newest and bestest(est) products which promise to help you achieve professional, award winning results with minimal effort on our part. More often than not I have been very disappointed in these products. In some cases I could not use them -no user’s guide is usually provided-, so the results were not as spectacular as I was led to believe, and often my old-school methods worked better. (Once learning to use them I usually found that the results were no better or worse than the techniques I used before.) Sometimes the product was simply not good – acrylic filters that jumped into small droplets even on the flattest surfaces, for example, or acrylic fillers that shrink and do not actually fill cavities. (Acrylic weathering products, in general, are somewhat difficult to use, due to the high surface tension of water. They do not spread as easily as the solvent-based products; the price you pay for being friendlier to your brain cells.) They might just cost more than the repurposed non-modelling product you have been using before – I’m thinking about odorless mineral spirit, for example, or, and I say this with great tepidation, acrylic pencils which you can buy in art stores; but artists’ oil paints are also on this list, among a million other items you used to go to artists’ stores before.

The truth is this: only practice will produce great results. Putting something out of the bottle onto the model will not achieve the expected effect, even though this is what you see on the label. (Many times what you see is the result of using multiple products -a very prominent issue with the different “mud” products*- ; an advertising technique I find somewhat dubious in morality.)

I am not saying you should not buy the special filter set for tonal modulation or a specific rust set with all sorts of colors (in fact, I do have a set of rust colored paints I really like); what I am trying to say is that do not buy everything that strikes your fancy (I also have a set of rust filters I do regret spending money on). Buyer’s remorse will be the result more often than not, and having stuff lying around you have forgotten to try. (I was really surprised the other day to find that I do have a couple of dust-products I did not have a recollection of buying.) Always think if you need something, always read reviews, watch youtube videos before buying. These products can make your life simpler and help you achieve great results, after all.

 

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*I was really excited when the first mud-in-the-bottle products arrived, especially seeing the labels with photos of muddy tracks and wheels (realistic dust and mud is still a holy grail for me), only to get a product that was a somewhat thick, greyish-brownish slush. When you apply it, it looks uniform and unrealistic. Then you learn you also need the resin beads, the special grass imitation, and three other tones of mud, plus the same tones in “splashed mud” configuration to produce the results you see on the photo -a significant investment, and not at all what was promised by the photo on the product. Using plaster, pigments, sand or even real soil will yield the same results; the only thing the ready-made product makes it easier for you -and this is a big thing I do admit- is that you don’t have to fret about the colors and tones.

ICM 1/350 Markgraf part 1… opening the box and starting the build

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ICM has sent me their 1/350 Markgraf kit for a review… so here it is – the build itself. Once done I will submit it to Modelshipwrights as an article with more information, photos of the sprues and a lot of research. Ships last a long time, so they undergo several rounds of refits, renovations and repairs –  if you want absolute accuracy, you have to do a lot of research. Fortunately WWI German battleships have not much information available, and even that is often contradictory. I say fortunately because this allows me for some leeway while building… I did a lot of reading, but ultimately I build for fun, not for absolute and total historical accuracy. (I have had enough of the two Panthers for now. I will go on with the builds, but I felt increasingly like the RFM one was fighting me. The Takom needs to be cut up for a cutaway, and it that is also a major source of stress.)

Since PE is necessary I also review  (and use) two sets. One is Tom’s Modelworks, and it’s pretty basic, the other is the GMM set.

The model itself is surprisingly simple, but well detailed; a lot of surface detail is so fine it takes a while to actually notice it, but it’s all there: hatches, portholes, covers, everything. I wonder how this will look after painting and washes.

I started with the superstructure and funnels. Since I decided to try my hands on rigging, the kit masts are too thin and weak; I replaced the thinner parts with brass rods (Trumpeter sells sets which are useful if you need brass rods in various thickness.)

While the kit is nice, it really is in a need of upgrade: the funnel grilles, the hatches, the ladders and staircases are all in dire need of replacement. Now I have something that looks like a half-sunk ship.

Interestingly the TM grilles are very much different from the GMM ones: the GMM grilles are very simple affairs, and I think they might be incorrect (although I found no photos of the actual ship, only models done by others…). I used the TM ones based on personal preference.

The nature of ship models is such that you need to do sub-assemblies separately: assemble, paint and weather everything, and then put them together.

The superstructure came together really nice. The columns holding the different platform are supposed to go through very fine holes, and the fit is so nice, they actually work. You have to be very attentive because the instructions are not very clear about which holes they should be going through. (The tiny holes sometimes are covered by flash, so observe the parts carefully, and you will be fine.) You can also replace these parts with brass rods, but I found it unnecessary – and I wanted to use as many kit parts as possible. All in all, the detail is great, especially with the PE improvements. The detail on the headlights is quite basic, but in this scale they look fine.

There were some fit issues as can be seen on the white putty; nothing major came up.

One word of advice: the splinter shields on the small platforms were all-chain railings pre-1917, and were later replaced with the solid splinter shields -but not on the aft funnel’s decks… Which I did not realized while building. Now it would be a bit difficult to change them, so they will stay like that. (And the PE railings will stay on the sprue.)

This -and the fact that I do not like the look of the anti-torpedo netting- decided that I will build the ship in a post-Jutland configuration.

More coming up later: turrets and the rest of the small details.

Grim Skull Miniatures – Chaos Conqueror Lord

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Now this mini came out as a disappointment. It’s entirely my fault; the mini is awesome, as you can see- and the unpainted, assembled model looks incredible. Too bad I can’t paint.

The only thing I like is the human hide cape; that part came out well. As with yellow, it seems like I really have hard time painting red. And picking up all the tiny details is proving to be impossible. Some serious steps are needed to develop my painting skills for sure. (OK, the camera does not give a fair image of the mini, since you normally do not see this close, but still.)