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.

Pegasus Models 1/144 Nautilus part 2. Electronics and the squid

This does sound like the start of a bad joke.

It isn’t. It really is about electronics and the giant squid that will hold the whole thing in place.

Sorry to disappoint.

Anyhow. I finished the interior in the first part, and after a long period of trepidation I did bring out my soldering iron (I bought it two months ago), and using lead free solder, I managed to bang together a few LEDs, a switch and a 9V battery.

I had a bunch of LEDs waiting; I bought a home-made lighting kit for the model, which provided some rudimentary instructions and some good pointers about how to install LEDs into a plastic model, and I also bought a bunch of cheap LEDs on Aliexpress with the resistors already installed.

The top part of the ship had to be cut off to give better access to the bridge (I marked the area with a green marker). The extra PE set provides a bridge, so I wanted to show it off as best as I could. (Not much can be seen through the ports, but at least it’s there. It is smaller the space available in the model, so the installation was not perfect, but again: not much will be seen of it, anyhow. And it will glow green.)

The whole exercise was less painful than I expected; it is not pretty, but it works. (See photos.)

I essentially put all the LEDs going into the body of the model into a parallel circuit, and just put the green LED that goes into the base of the squid in line next to the switch. I do hope all the wires will fit into the hull… I drilled the appropriate holes, and fixed the base of the wires with a glue gun onto the bottom plate of the hull. I ended up only using the LED from the lighting kit for the headlight; the rest were too bright for my taste. (The others are too dim, and quite large, too, but this is a compromise I am willing to accept.)

I also started working on the squid. The arms were relatively easy to determine how to assemble (the slots are tailored for individual tentacles, but it did take some time to work out which one goes where), and I drilled a hole in the base for the green LED.

I will install the LED once I painted the base.

Study in Weathering – the Ganz MÁV 424 Steam Locomotive


Well, this beauty has been sitting in the station of Tokaj, subject to the elements for longer than I am alive. (It was, for sure, on display in 1985, because I do have some hazy memories of it when I visited as a young child, and I am very sure it has not been repainted since then. And since it is a steam locomotive, I think it is a safe bet it has been there since it was removed from service since the ’60s at least. (You can even check her out on google maps.)


So besides of being a great looking beast, it provides us a great example of weathering. Yes, it is a very heated debate exactly how weathered should models be, but as a reference it is a very good one for your Tiger or Sherman, should you want to weather the heck out of it. I talk a lot about weathering and rust, because they do give a visual interest to the models we build, but obviously everyone has their own preference on the extent of these applied to their models.


I was in Tokaj for the first time on my own (since my wife is from there usually we go together, but this time I went to help my father-in-law harvest honey, and wife stayed home with our child), so I took the opportunity to crawl all over the engine with my phone. (No camera this time. I went to work…)

Couple of observations.

The paint behaves very different on thinner metal plates vs the thick armor plate of the boiler.

The constant sun turned the top surfaces brown – the rust has surfaced from under the paint.

The streaks are all sorts of colors- even greys and whites.

There’s a lot of grime, dust and algae on the more protective horizontal surfaces.

The protected areas (especially if they were made of thick metal -the undercarriage, for example) are very well preserved.

Somebody should really paint this thing over in order to save it from decay. Maybe we should start a collection or something. Rail enthusiasts – unite!

Storing and transporting scale models


There was one post before about how I transported my models from the US to Hungary and then the UK (and then back to Hungary).

Here’s the second option: Christmas ornament boxes. I bought this in Florida, but I’m sure there are similar ones available online. It has three trays, and they can be adjusted to fit the models you want to protect. Some of the dividers can be cut to shape, so that they hold the models down when slotted in place. Throw in some packing peanuts and you are golden- all safe and protected.
(The box has been sitting in the attic for years, and only now had I had the time to get it. As soon as I have a little more time I will unpack the models, and feature them on the blog.)

Study in rust

Conan Doyle had the Study in scarlet, Gaiman had the Study in emerald, I only managed this humble study in rust.

There were several posts featured on rust on this blog. I focused on mainly different techniques to simulate rust; now here are some photos I took over the years as references.

It’s worth looking over how thin and thick metal rusts, how something that was left outside without being disturbed gets dirty, rusty and gets colonized by vegetation, and how objects that are constantly being used outside for a prolonged period look like in contrast. Also worth looking at fading effects by the sun on metal and plastic surfaces, and how leftover grease and oil looks like on rusting metal parts.

It’s a kind of reference library, for myself mainly. (I’m collecting all the relevant photos into one place.) May be useful for others, too.

Of course we can talk about how real tanks never got to this stage: they were either knocked out, or were constantly under maintenance; however this is a philosopical discussion. As modellers we try to tell a story with the models we build (or not); and the overdone weathering is one way to do it. Alternatively others might do it because it looks cool. Regardless if we try to stick to the reality, models would look much more boring, so that is one very good reason to add wear and tear.

Pegasus Models 1/144 Nautilus part 1. Interior


Well, while the Panthers are being built, and the baby is growing, I do, of course, have plenty of time for a new kit. Obviuosly.


I am not sure what really made me buy it; once I happened to stumble upon a photo of the model I just had to have it. The interior (of which I do have a fetish for), the steam-punk look, the LEDs (which need to be added as an aftermarket), and the giant squid are all very attractive on this model. Not to mention my dearest found it very cool, too, and since she is very understanding about my hobbies, if she likes a model, I will build it. So I hunted it down on Ebay (it was relatively cheap and came with the ParaGraphix PE set), and started to build it. I mean, just look at this thing.

The model would look good out of the box, but the PE definitely makes it shine. (Not to mention the LEDs which actually make the model shine.) The PE provides chairs, tables, railings, ceiling tiles, ceiling beams, and an entire extra interior compartment (wheelhouse); all in all, they are a tremendous addition to an already great model.

The LEDs came from an aftermarket set for this model created by a fellow modeller, who sells them on Ebay.

The main saloon is just, well, cool. The sofas, the book shelves, the organ and the globe add a very Victorian feel to this craft. The PE set provides the captain’s bridge/wheelhouse as well, which is originally not included in the model; for this you will have to cut a few holes into the plastic parts. (Last photo, shaded green.) It remains to be seen how it will be installed; right now I’m not sure.


I used Citadell paints to do the details (books, wooden desk, etc.), and AK Interactive’s True Metal paints to do the walls, ceiling and floor. I thought a submarine most likely has bare metal walls, and I opted for brass. I did some subtle weathering using oils -washes and streaks- but did not want to go overboard; after all, this is Captain Nemo’s sub, and it is well maintained, not a wreck. I applied the paint with drybrushing – this way I left the underlying Vallejo primer show. (I am worried that if the surface is overly shiny, it would look unrealistic. I am especially worried about how I will deal with the exterior. I know, Verne made the Nautilus a steel boat, but I prefer the brass/copper/bronze look. I might just mist the paints over the primer. (The scale effect will make the metal look less shiny – after all, it is as if you were looking at it from a distance.)

I guess I will cross that river when I get to it.

Now it is time to learn soldering… (Translation: the project halted indefinitely.)

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A with interior part 3.

Part 1 of the build

Part 2 of the build

Since I started the RFM Panther as well, I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.

Let’s get the tracks out of the way. Last week we assembled the RFM Panther’s tracks; let’s see how the Takom version compares.
Short answer: not so well… The idea is not bad. In order to get great detail, hollow guide horns and all, you are to glue the guide horns on individually. Fortunately they do not force you to do it one-by-one, like Meng does with its Panther, but provide you with a little setup where you can glue sections of horns onto the link-and-length tracks in one go. This sounds good in theory, however in practice with this method not all horns are glued on securely, and will detach when you try to clip the sprue away. Which means gluing individual horns on anyway. Not as many as you would if you had to do it with all links, but still.



The assembly of the engine was simple but the detail is astonishingly good. Cudos for Takom for getting the balance between detail and complexity just right.



First step painting the interior: white. After priming the tank with Vallejo primer (I probably should buy a lighter color, too… it helps with preshading to have a dark grey primer before the light colors, but it also makes painting a bit more tedious.) Anyhow, I used a creme color specifically made for German interiors by MRP’s Mr Paint. This is supposed to be a ready-to-use airbrush paint, which does not require thinning.


I had some troubles with it. I did shake it for over 5 minutes, I used a nail polish shaker, yet the paint came out as if it was overthinned: it hardly covered anything, and it went on patchy and runny. Obviously I’m doing something wrong, but I could not figure out what- and MRP did not respond to my inquiry. Since I am somewhat short on time, I had not inclination to experiment further; just used an ivory color by Testor’s which I had for over fifteen years to cover the area in two passes. Old school is best, apparently. (Don’t get me wrong; Mr Paint might be the greatest thing ever, but they really should include pointers how to use them… or respond to emails asking for help.) I did not give up on the paint yet, but to proceed with the build I put it aside for now.

Primer red coat… I used another new brand for me, AK Interactive’s acrylic paint. This paint needs to be diluted for airbrushing, and it went on great for the first try. (This is a flat paint, as opposed to the gloss Mr Paint one. I found that flat paints go on better and smoother than gloss ones; this could be a factor.)

Advice, again: before adding tid-bits, suspension and whatnot – paint the interior first. It was very tedious to mask off all the protruding parts. (With the RFM Panther I assembled the lower hull first -just the three main parts- and painted it before adding anything else.


Once the base color was done, I lightened it with some buff for some highlights, and went over the edges and other outstanding details with a brush. I used some Vallejo weathering products on the bottom (engine oil, soot and whatnot), and then added the torsion bars to the sides, and put the hull together.

This is where I went wrong a bit… I deviated from the instructions because I wanted to paint several subassemblies separately before putting them togheter; after all, painting the torsion bars after they are installed under all the hull ribbing, and painting the transmission glued in place seemed like a pain in the bum. Little did I know. I added everything to the hull bottom and the sides that were to be painted primer red, and then proceeded with painting and assembly.


Important things to remember:

1. Do NOT attach the hull sides before installing the transmission. The transmission needs to go in first.
2. Also: do NOT install the torsion bars before the transmission.
3. Do not attach the torsion bars to the sides as the instructions show (you are supposed to slide them in place when attaching the side) . I found it really frustrating to do so since the side does bend a bit, and it makes sliding the torsion bars into place really tedious. I think inserting the torsion bars before adding the sides would simplify this issue tremendously.
4. I messed up a bit with adding all the details onto the hull bottom; they shrouded the attachment points for some of the torsion bars, making installation a bit more difficult than necessary.
5. Do not attach anything to the sides before painting. It makes masking a nightmare. (But you will have to paint the smaller parts by hairy sticks…)

6.Do add the batteries before installing the drive shaft and the firewall. Do not ask me how I found out the order.

Keeping these pointers in mind, you may modify the order of assembly.

Rye Field Models Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf G with interior Part 2.

Part 1.

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

Let’s get the tracks out of the way. They are workable tracks, which is a first for me (unless you count MiniArt’s clip-together tracks as workable.) I have to say they were a very pleasant surprise. The links come detached, with hollow guide horns already moulded on. (You pay for this with an ejector pin mark in the middle of the links.) The assembly was kind of finicky, but nothing to worry about, and the results are pretty good. The rig functions well; I glued the pins in with extra thin cement, clipped the sprue off, sanded the pins lightly, and presto, a section is finished. Honestly, I would keep doing these tracks if I had some left over.

Further work on the interior: breaks, turret rotating motor and other small items. The kit does feel over-engineered, which can be seen demonstrated on the high number of parts that make up the turret rotating motor. On top of this, they still managed to engineer a seam line onto the part… (Same issue with the turret turning mechanism. They could have mated the two sides in a way that does not leave a visible seamline…)

On the other hand the detail is just amazing- see the weld lines on the lower hull.

The painting sequence was a bit different than the suggested assembly sequence – I did not want to try to paint the torsion bars with everything installed. I came up with the idea of first painting the PE ribs, the lower hull and the torsion bars separately, and then assemble the whole thing. It remains to be seen if this strategy worked. (I ran out of superglue.) I did make a couple of blunders with the Takom Panther for sure… (More on that in the Takom post.)

Painting the hull… I used Vallejo’s primer as usual, then the base blue color mixed from different Tamiya paints. Once that was dry, I masked off the interior, and sprayed the ivory color of the interior. I tried MRP Paint’s creme, but despite of shaking the bottle for over 5 minutes, the paint came out really diluted. (It’s a ready-to-spray paint, but sprayed like an over-diluted gloss acrylic paint.) The coverage was spotty and not very satisfactory at all. RPM has not responded to my question about this -it is perfectly possible that I did something wrong. However, the 15 year old Testors acrylic ivory paint worked like a charm… (And one can ask the question what use of a great paint if you can’t actually use it correctly?)

A little bit of annoyance: the horizontal part of the sides are joined to the lower hull with two prominent ‘flaps’. Which leave enormous and visible seams, necessitating filling and sanding. (See third photo.) I would expect a superbly engineered model not to make me to these tasks, to be honest; on the other hand it is a bit difficult to make a secure and invisible attachment, I admit. (Takom has not solved this issue, either; their solution is rather flimsy -although invisible.) The last photo shows both hulls side-by-side… (And the topic of the next post will be the Takom Panther.)

Suspension… Well, that’s another issue I ran into. The instructions instruct you to use the firewall during the assembly of the lower hull to make sure the distance is correct. Which I did. The firewall sits inside its slot quite nice and tight even without glue. So the distance is right.
However why are the torsion bars bent, then? I tried to ask around in forums , but I received no response if others ran into this as well. From where I stand the torsion bars are a bit too long; simple as that. It takes little time to trim them to size, but it is still something you would not expect from a model of this quality. (Just to make sure I mention that the torsion bars are only dry fitted on the photos…)

The suspension can be made workable, by the way, which is great. (Takom’s static.)

Well, this is where we are now with the RFM Panther. Due to the small human in our household my hobby time decreased drastically, so the progress is slow. Keep tuned in – the next post will be about the Takom Panther, and then we’ll see how far we got with this one. I am a bit anxious about the metal ribs on the bottom of the hull, and so far did a great job not doing them… You can always find all sorts of other, more pressing things to finish, right?

Grim Skull Miniatures – Chaos Egypt Sons Terminators Conversion set


OK, there are a lot of minis lately. The reason is now I have about two hours a week, mostly in the evenings, to do hobbies, and I try to do things that are not involving toxic things, such as plastic glue or oil paints, since I prefer to stay close to my daughter.
So now is the time to finish all those older projects, and more importantly, learn new techniques.

I’ve featured a lot of Grim Skull stuff before on this blog; I do like the aesthetics of their models, and some are actually cheaper than the official Wargaming minis.

This particular set features the Thousand Sons Terminators. The latest WG Scarab Occult terminators look great, don’t get me wrong, but these guys rock. The whole Egypt theme is taken to the limit with the intricate embellishment of their power armor, and more importantly, the animal-head helms. Even if I did not like the back story of the Thousand Sons this would be a must-have set.


I used a set of Forgeworld WH30K Cataphractii terminators, I grabbed cheap on Ebay for the conversion, but I think any terminator would work. (The WH40K Tactical Dreadnought Armor looks a bit different, and I think is slightly larger.) The arms were from a big bunch of spares I also got from Ebay for cheap. (Keep an eye out on parts; you can get a big box of everything for almost nothing, and these provide endless sources for conversions. Ironically I suspect some of the weapons are from a Space Wolf Terminator set.) You will notice there are only five figures instead of six- one of the guys I gave to a friend to play with. (Here’s someone using both WG terminator and Grim Skull sets together for size comparison. The Forgeworld Cataphractii Terminators are noticably smaller.)

They were painted the Thousand Sons cobald color (which is not really cobald), and used AK Interactive’s True Metal gold and brass to paint the gold parts. The intricate patterns meant lots of fixing errors… I chose not to paint the tabards. I don’t particularly like the idea of loinclothes on a power armor, plus I was getting to the end of my ropes with the figures. Nevertheless I might come back later and paint them.

Again, my skills as a figure painter are not exactly stellar, but here you go. At least there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Grim Skull Miniatures – Master Of Crusade (Abaddon the Despoiler)


There is a cottage industry providing models for tabletop games; they look similar to the original characters, but not too similar (or have different names) so that copyright law is not breached. I personally applaud these companies; they provide models and conversions that are unavailable for a more reasonable price. (The new Abaddon miniature by Games Workshop is over 40 GBP… a small sprue for the price you can buy a 1500+ part plastic model.)

Competition is good is what I’m trying to say here.

Abaddon is the one character that has not been treated well by Games Workshop and Forgeworld. There is one old figure which is both ugly and tends to lose his arms, resulting in the “No Arms” meme. And pretty much that’s it; since the early 90s Abaddon was essentially deserted by GW; only now are they issuing a new model.  There is a Heresy-era figure of him as the First Captain of the Sons of Horus by Forgeworld, but it is not yet Abaddon the Despoiler, just an angry guy in a terminator armor with a top knot. There is also a heavily OOP version of him, which can be bought for about 1200GBP, so I think we can safely ignore that. (If you see this model featured here you will know I won the lottery.)

The name itself of the character is full of meaning; Ezekyle (Ezekiel) and Abaddon are both important characters in the Bible.

Since I’ve read The Talon of Horus by Dembinsky-Bowden I actually wanted to have a decent Abaddon figure. The book does a really, really good job describing him as an interesting, three dimensional, complex character you can actually relate to, so obviously I wanted to have a miniature of him. He also seems like a swell guy, just like that other one. What makes him compelling is that he is the ideal Astrates: charismatic, ruthless, master strategist, fearless -it’s just he fights against the Imperium. I think he become this ideal after he followed his primarch into his rebellion and then took up a bit of soul-searching. It took him a lot to grow up into this person, and not many loyalists have the opportunity to do so. I think the space marines who rebelled and survived (without falling to one or the other chaos entity) actually walk the same path as a person growing up from childhood, and hence they do become much more mature, nuanced beings than their “for the Emperor!” buddies. Failure, disappointment in your idols, choice, the will and ability to determine your fate -these things are needed for you to become a well-rounded personality. (Unless, of course, you get possessed by a daemon and grow penises and horns on your face.)


Enter Grim Skull Miniatures. They first came out with a 28mm model who is not Abaddon, of course, but fits the archetypical Abaddon image with the Talon -the power claw of his father, Horus-, the daemon sword Drachn’yen, and his usual topknot that he is known for. A 54mm version of the miniature features a Mohawk instead of a topknot, and it is substantially larger… had it been issued when I bought “my” Abaddon, it I probably would have bought that instead of the original version simply because of the amazing detail comes out better in the larger figure. (It is on my wishlist, but I’ll probably have to pass on it; after all I just had a daughter. The days of spending on hobbies are behind me.) I’m not sure why this Abaddon features this hipster haircut. It is possible that Grim Skull realised something  about topknots writers and artist should have at Black Library long time ago: you can’t shave the skull and have a large topknot, as Abaddon supposed to be doing. All that hair has to come from somewhere; and unless he has exceptionally dense hair, it is not a realistic option to have the rest of his head shaved.


The power armor is incredibly well detailed, and only someone with much better skills than mine can bring out the maximum out of it. The ornamentation is well done, the armor has a lot of cracks and battle damage…It perfectly re-creates the various artworks of him as the Second (and true) Warmaster. The facial expression is pretty good, too; he looks “changed”, he looks intimidating, but not totally twisted; his features retained enough of his humanity not to make him look like a simple screaming monster.

The daemon sword looks very much like the pictures of the weapon on various artworks; painting it to look good is not an easy exercise in layers upon layers of glazes.

He has a loincloth for whatever reason, which is an incredibly impractical thing to have on an armor (alongside the tabards various Astrates chapters prefer). Besides getting caught in, well, everything, it gets dirty very fast, and it will also get destroyed in the first few seconds of action. (I tend to leave it off in my figures for this reason.) Replacing it must be a constant choir, but I’m not going to judge his fashion sense.

The trophy racks on his back sport skulls (but no helmets); all in all, the figure is an excellent rendition of the Abaddon we see on the paintings.

Painting black armor can be a challenge, since an uniformly black surface is not exactly interesting to the eye. I used Abaddon black (surprise) as a base, with a black ink coat after; the edges were carefully highlighted with midnight blue, and very bright blue in smaller amount. (Yes, highlights are everywhere.) Abaddon’s skin was painted with a rotten flesh base with a couple of light brown filters; the flesh on his head was done using red and brown glazes. I added a few patches of necrotic skin using Vallejo Engine Oil…

The eyes were painted gold (since his eyes were supposed to be bleached gold for staring into the Emperor’s light), but this does not really show well on a figure; the skin is too light for that, and the eyes are too small -there is not enough contrast. It would look better on the larger figure. The bronze edges were done using AK Interactive’s True Metal gold.

The sword was painted using various shades of purple and blue in thin glazes. The trimmings on the armor were painted in various shades of gold and bronze. I positioned the sword in a slightly different angle – it makes the pose look a bit more natural than if he held all his weapons at a chest height.

All in all this is an excellent miniature.

And finally: Eisenhorn facing down a bunch of heretics: