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.

Artel W Miniatures – The Captive Unleashed (Cherubael)

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Since the Eisenhorn trilogy is one of my favorite WH40K books, when I saw this miniature coming out, I obviously bought it.  I was already trying to think of ways to modify some minis to looks like a daemonhost, but Artel W made my life much easier. (I bought these guys to serve as a basis.)
Cherubael is one of the main characters of the book – the nemesis, later servant, and even later the last remaining ally of the titular Inquisitor; he is just as a fascinating character as Eisenhorn himself.
The pose of the figure is especially good: the demon caught in a human body trying to break free of the chains -and spells- binding him. The fact that the figure is actually floating (kept upright by the chains) is an especially great touch.

The miniature is 28mm, and has an incredible level of detail- much better than my skills can give it justice for. Regardless I did try. (What is especially galling that the mini looks actually OK by eye. I thought I did the blending on the skin quite well until I saw the photos.)

Now Eisenhorn will have a friend to play with finally.

(The company has been issuing different characters from the Eisenhorn stories; lately the chair-bound Ravernor was released.)

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ICM 1/24 1913 Ford Speedster

 

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“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

Henry Ford

I admit I do not have much experience with ICM. I’ve built their Panther-based artillery observation vehicle years ago and found it to be an excellent model; I was really curious how this will build up.

The Model T was introduced in 1909, and was affordable for your average working family at a price of $450. It was in production until 1927 (!), and millions were sold during these two decades. It is a truly iconic vehicle; it was the first mass-produced, easy to maintain and reliable car sold.

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ICM has already issued several versions of the Model T. This version is a stripped-down and modified version of the trusty family car, built for speed by independent companies as an alternative for the expensive, custom built race cars of the era. And when I say they were built for speed, I mean 80km/h, according to the sources I found (and the short history section of the instruction). It may not sound much, but it is actually terrifying if you look at the car. It has the bare minimum to work: an engine, suspension, wheels, seats and a fuel tank. It lacks such luxuries as a seat belt or even a proper body. (Although there were versions with streamlined bodies available.) You really had to love racing (and had to be slightly mad) to drive this car at its top speed. The Speedster versions had other modifications, too: the chassis was generally lowered by four inches, and the wheel bases extended. The car got “wire wheels” instead of the stock (and heavy) wooden wheels. The engine got a RAJO Overhead Valve Conversion (OHV), a hot cam, balanced crankshaft with pressure oiling, and side-draft or up-draft carburettors. I have not seen the other T model kits by ICM, so I cannot comment if all these changes were replicated in this kit or not.
The model is quite simple, and has only hundred parts. There are some extras provided which are necessary for other versions, and we get a nice set of white rubber tires as well. (I’m still on the fence on rubber tires in car models. I think there’s a good argument for full-plastic ones.)

The engineering is very “traditional” (or old-school if you like); there are several round parts (prominently the fuel tank) which need to be built from halves, necessitating the filling and sanding of seams. It’s a less-than-ideal solution, but something that we were all very used to until recently with all the manufacturers spoiling us with slide-moulded parts.
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The quality of moulding is excellent: the detail is sharp and there is no flash to be found. The fit of the parts is also very nice; I did not have any issues during the build -it may be old-school, but it is an excellently made model. ICM really did well designing and producing this model.

The assembly is quite quick and simple. The instructions have 55 steps, but this is quite deceptive, because unlike most manufacturers ICM’s instructions show (almost) every single individual sub-assembly as separate steps. (So gluing parts B1 to B2 will be one step on the instructions.) They are clear and very easy to follow; this model will not be a problem even for a beginner.

The assembly took me about two hours; it really does not take long.

The mounting of the front lamps and the two headlights is a bit of an issue. If you first glue the mounting brackets/holders in place, and add the lamp/headlight bodies later, you will have alignment issues. The best advice I can give is to attach the lamps and headlights to their holding brackets, and glue this whole assembly to the chassis to make sure that they line up correctly. I did not do this with the headlights (because I prefer leaving larger sub-assemblies off until I finish painting and masking), and you can see that the car is somewhat cross-eyed as a result. The lamps on the side, as mentioned, have similar problems: the holding arms tilt up if you fit them into their corresponding slot on the chassis. You will need them glued to the lamps before attaching them to the car if you want to make sure they look straight.
The build itself was quick, but I had trouble choosing an attractive paint-scheme. The green-on green is quite traditional, but I’m not particularly fond of it, and was not looking forward to painting the raised lines on the mudguards. I found a really good-looking black-yellow option, but the tires of that particular car were black, and I despise painting yellow. The red also looked nice, but it resembles a fire truck (also available from ICM by the way). In the end I asked my wife which scheme she liked best and went with that.

The chosen paint scheme also required black tyres, and fortunately the rubber took the black Vallejo metal primer well. I sprayed the whole model black, using this paint, and after masking I sprayed Vallejo gold on the appropriate areas. To be honest it would be better painting these parts before assembly, but I wanted to have photos of the assembled, unpainted model for this review so I had no real choice in the matter. The red further complicated matters; it’s just not an easy color to spray (similarly to yellow…). I ended up using a brush and Khorne red by Citadel mixed with Lahmian medium in several layers. The gold was touched up using AK Interactive’s True Metal gold paint; while it is still not the perfect metallic paint (there is no such thing in my experience), it is extremely good, gives a smooth finish, and moreover it is very easy to use. It’s wax based, so it’s quite thick, and has a very good coverage. With a fine brush I managed to paint the thin raised lines on the mudguards; any mistakes could be easily cleaned up with a brush moistened with white spirit (or ZestIt, which is a friendlier alternative). I used some Citadel black ink on the black areas to make them even deeper black and give a shine to the model, and well, that was it. The model looks really nice, and frankly it really stands out from the usual green and brown tanks on my shelf. Absolutely recommended even if you are not a car enthusiast.

 

 

 

Filters with Tamiya transparent paints

This is just a quick review of the technique.

I read a while ago someone mentioning using Tamiya’s clear paints for modulating the base color of tanks, and the idea stuck in my head for a while.

Since I was painting the V-4 Straussler, I thought I’d give it a try. The technique is dead-easy: you stir the paint, load your airbrush and shoot away. (I’m sure you can use a brush as well to accentuate individual areas.)

The transparent green deepens the color and is best used on the lower part of the chassis. The transparent yellow gives it a bit of a depth – makes the green paint look warmer.

 
Tamiya Smoke can have a good use for simulating shadows. Will have to try.

All-in-all, it’s something to keep in mind.

Making rust p.5. Rust colored pigments/actual rust

I’ve done a couple of experiments/tutorials on how to do rust, and left the easiest to the last: you can use rust you can buy as pigments.

Previous parts:

Part 1 Life color’s liquid rust
Part 2 using rust
Part 3 the sponge method

Rust -iron oxide- comes in different colors; in fact it is used very widely as cheap pigments in a lot of applications from food coloring to arts and makeup.

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You can buy these pigments (essentially powdered iron oxide) online. They can be mixed with each other, or with other pigments; they can be added to paints, and, if you’re brave enough, they can be airbrushed mixed with some sort of carrier or varnish/paint. If you mix them with paint or varnish, they will obviously stick to the surface; if you only mix them with a carrier (like white spirit, alcohol, even water) nothing will hold them onto the surface, so they will be quite easy to remove.

The method is simple: once you primed the surface with a dark primer (preference), you dab your brush into clear, matte varnish, dab it onto a paper towel to remove the excess, dab the brush into the iron oxide powder, dab the whole thing into a paper towel again, and now you have a brush loaded with a varnish/rust mixture you can use to gently deposit onto the model. You need to do it in several layers, and slowly build up the effect you are going for. You should start with the darker rust colors, and only use the bright reds/yellows sparingly; just check photos of rusted equipment for reference. (Come to think of it, you can go the other way around as well; just keep in mind that the bright rust colors tend to be somewhat sparse, limited to thin metals, edges and protrusions.) The surface you get this way will be suitable for depicting a very, very rusty metal surface: the metal plates of a derelict, burned-out vehicle, for example. (If you are going for mild, light rust, painting is your best bet.) Obviously there is always going to be a combination of rust effects that will bring you the best, more realistic results.

These pigments can be used suspended in white spirit or other carrier solutions as washes as well; they form a thin film on matte surfaces behaving more like filters, and they run into crevices on glossy surfaces behaving like traditional washes.

The colors can be further modulated using oil washes and paints; a dark wash will obviously darken the overall hues, and tie the different rust colors together.

The T-62 is a good example of the results.

Artel W Miniatures – Witcher

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The sadly out of production 28mm Witcher figure from Artel W miniatures. If you haven’t yet played the Witcher games, you really should – incredible stories in an interactive form.

Assembly is about two minutes, painting is probably six hours… such is the life of a figure painter. I have always struggled with faces and skin tones, so I was real happy to achieve a realistic tone at all, but Gerard is an albino, so his skin should be much paler. I did manage to replicate his signature scar over his left eye with a 00 brush. His armor was painted in multiple shades of brown (since most of it is leather) with a black oil wash to bring out the fine details, and the metal parts were painted with True Metal Steel, and washed with Nuln Oil.

I put him on a round base, and he was finished.

Dnepromodel 1/35 Straussler V-4 part 2.

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First part

I mostly used acrylic paints and Vallejo weathering products because due to a small human cohabiting with us since the end of December, I need to limit the usage of stinky, dangerous stuff in the house. (I do make sure there is an appropriate separation, but one can never be too careful.)

 

I wanted to depict a brand new prototype after a long day out on the proving ground -so lots of mud, but not much rust and fading.

I used Vallejo’s primer to prime the model, and a mixture of Tamiya greens to give the base color. (I don’t really know of any accurate color reference charts of pre-war Hungarian colors, so it’s a free-for-all.) I used Tamiya’s transparent green and yellow as a first round of filters (wanted to see how they work ever since I’ve read about them a while ago).

 

I also used several of AK’s filters on various parts of the hull to create hue differences. I used different oil colors as well for filters (dot method), and blending -you can see the results on the back hatches especially. All this helped to create visually interesting differences in the otherwise uniform green finish.

 

Instead of turpentine or white spirit I use Zest It as a diluent; it’s still not ideal, but better health-wise.

I bought a bunch of Vallejo’s weathering products: industrial thick mud, dust and oily mud washes, mud splashes, etc. They have the undisputed advantage of being water-based, so I can use them without worry to anyone’s health. I used the mud as a base, and stained it with pigments and paints, applying them in layers, and washing them back a bit with a wet brush to adjust the effect. (There are several mud colors, but I only bought one because I’m cheap.) A Tamiya mud weathering stick added some more hues of mud. (Just dab on, and adjust with a wet brush.) I used a silver pencil to bring out the details on the tracks, and to highlight the edges of the superstructure.

 

Overall this is a nice model. It is by no means perfect, but the result does look good, it’s not overly difficult to build (this is my first 1/35 resin model), and it is quite an unorthodox little vehicle which is relatively unknown and has an unique look. I really enjoyed the build, and since the tank has an intriguing history I am quite happy to put it on my shelf.

Rye Field Model Sd.Kfz. 171. Panzher Ausf G with interior Part 1. (Turret part 1)

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Great blog building the same kit with a similar philosophy.

I bought both Takom and Rye Field models, and decided to build them side-by-side. This is the Rye Field Models Panther. The Takom build is running parallel. If you want to see the corresponding parts, please see this link. (I probably will do a side-by-side photo album once I’m done building.)

Since both kits are complex, and I also have to balance my newborn, my job and my sanity, these builds will take a while, so be patient, please.

(I also have several, smaller projects on the go, so I do not lose my patience. These models are demanding.) I’ll try to be less verbose in the review, and even though I might come off as overly critical at times, I have to say this is an incredible model; please read my remarks with this in mind.

The main gun

The model starts with the assembly of the gun, so this is where I started as well. Very detailed, but not very demanding. The recoil mechanism is interesting, but completely unnecessary… this is a model and not a toy, after all.

What I did not like was that the gun breach is made out of two halves, and the seamline needed to be filled and sanded in the middle.

The gun mantlet has some interesting interior detail nobody will see once I install it – this is probably useful for someone who wants to depict the tank during assembly or maintenance.

Turret interior

Turret basket, and other interior details… everything is very detailed, lots of individual parts -and some weird design decisions, like the turret turning mechanism (first photo). There is a prominent seam line where the two halves meet -the parts could have been designed to hide this line. You also will need to glue three tiny bolts on this surface. (Takom did it a bit differently -and with the bolts moulded on, without the seamline.)

The turret basket looks great and detailed. You will need to form the wiring as well, based on a template at step 12 (which is not 1:1 but you get the dimensions in mm. Be warned: the template shows the same part from two angles -front and top-, and not two different parts… it confused me for a while.) There is even some sort of cylinder in the shell case storage, which will be hidden. Not sure what the point is.

Assembly is ongoing. Some small plastic, PE and wire details are missing.

It will be interesting, as I will have to paint everything before mating it to the rest of the turret; however, a lot of the details will need to be added after it is assembled. Planning is a real headache with this kit.

 

Transparent parts

The turret is transparent. I was thinking long and hard how to display the model, because painting and weathering each individual non-transparent parts separately seemed a bit too extreme, and probably would look a bit silly. What I decided upon is to mask out areas which will remain transparent with masking fluid, and paint the rest. Let’s hope it works.

 

The cupola has a nice, cast iron texture. I left the transparent periscopes off until the very last step, as all the painting will have to be done before installing them. All the hooks will be attached to the sides- once I can decide which parts to paint, and which parts to leave transparent. Great thing with the hooks: they are attached to the sprues from their “feet”, so cleaning them is easier. (Lots of kits have them attached on a single point on their top, which is annoying.)

 

 

Well, so far this is it. This model is amazing, for sure, but it is definitely going to be a difficult, demanding build.

Grim Skull Miniatures – Hive Bringer (Typhus)

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There is a small cottage industry focusing on producing figures and other accessories for popular tabletop games. Warhammer 40K is no exception. One prominent company producing resin alternatives and conversion sets is Grim Skull Miniatures; their Hive Bringer (khm… Tyhpus) is the subject of this review.

I mostly choose characters with interesting, intriguing fluff, but honestly Typhus is a d”ck, and there is no way around that. The miniature looks awesome, though, so in my shopping basket it went.

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Games Workshop has a newly issued (plastic) chaos-corrupted version of Typhus, so there are definitely choices out there. Their Typhus looks really nice, but I really can’t be bothered about the silly little deamons crawling all over him… I mean I know it’s a silly table top game, but there must be some limits.

 

This particular figure by Grim Skull is absolutely gorgeous. He holds either a scythe or two sickles (these held in reverse, John Woo style), and he definitely looks corrupted. The detail and definition is simply superb. All the cysts, boils and blisters are lovingly re-created, alongside with the horns sticking out of the cracks of his power armor.

The figure comes with a base which is similarly well detailed with the assortment of maggots, skulls and horns.

The assembly is a breeze; you have to attach the arms, the shoulder pads and the weapon(s). If you elect to use the sickles, the position of arms is less than important; however to line up properly with the scythe, you have to be very careful to make sure the arms are in the correct position.

The really cool part- at least I found it fascinating- is that one of Typhus’ hands is bare… you actually get to see the skin of a corrupted daemon prince under the armor.

As with most figures, painting is the difficult part- and I do admit I’m not an excellent painter. (My main interest is armor models).

I found that glazes are great to produce an uneven, dirty and grimy looking surface. Previously, with Mortarion, I used glazes over black primer; this time I decided to use a similar approach over white primer. I used several shades of brown and green glazes (prepared using Lahman medium and acrylic paints) to give the armor a stained, corroded look. The parts of the armor I wanted to appear bronze received a green base; I chose two green colors that are close to the color of oxidized bronze. Later on I realised I should use a dark, metallic tin color, and layer bronze and oxidised bronze colors onto it.

The blisters and pustules were painted with a yellowish/pinkish color, and received several orange-ish/reddish glazes; it managed to convey the inflamed, blistered, sick skin.

I used some Vallejo diesel fuel stains and engine oil to simulate stuff leaking from our corrupted Astrates. In short, this is a great looking miniature. I do not play WH40K, but I do enjoy occasionally paint the minis I find compelling. Some I want to paint because I like the character’s back story, and some, because they look cool; Typhus belongs to the latter group.

 

(I did a pre-Heresy version of him, too.)

 

Rescuing a botched paintjob and paint stripping…

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Just a quick post about a disaster.
I did kind of mess up the paint job on a space marine back in the days when I was painting these dudes. I tried to strip the paint using isopropyl alcohol, but it came off in flakes, leaving the surface uneven and blotchy. I was seriously thinking about just throwing the poor guy into the recycling bin- and then came the inspiration.

 

Who else has blotchy, corroded armor? That’s right… the Death Guard. Since I was planning to paint up Morty and some of his pals, I thought I’d give glazes a try on this fella before I move onto the big guys… And what do you know? It actually came out looking good. Remember people: there are no mistakes, only happy accidents!