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.

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A, Rye Fields Panther Ausf G, comparison of the builds part 5. – Interior is getting ready

yg2jlko

 

In-box comparison

Takom build so far

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4.

Rye Fields build so far

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

I decided to do a joint post since both tanks are in the same state right now, and some comparison between the two is quite timely.

Well.

In short: Takom is detailed and it is easy to build. RFM is extremely detailed (it is indeed incredible how much detail they have put into the interior -a lot of it is missing from the Takom kit), however it is not as a joyride to build as the Takom kit. The reasons are two-fold: the kit is extremely overengineered AND bad fitting. As I detailed in the previous posts, the hull is too narrow, so the torsion bars, the transmission, the metal braces within the hull, the crew’s floor panels can’t properly fit.

The overengineering is something that is a matter of perspective. The model is full of details which are hidden -for example the cogs in the final drive, the cooling fans which are made out of fifteen parts, many of which are also hidden (after all only the top is visible), and so on and so forth. Takom, in contrast does offer some solutions that simplify the build: for example the ready-racks do not need to be filled with individual pieces of ammunition: you get a single part which has all the protruding heads moulded onto.

At this point I have the interior -both the hull and the turret- finished, but I am stalled with both kits. Since the RFM model felt like it was fighting me during the build I lost some of my drive to finish it; and since I do want to show off the turret interior, I need to figure it out how to do so. The different hatches do not show enough of it for my taste, so there is something else to be done. I may actually do a cutout on the turret roof; not sure. It is certainly a bit stressing to cut into an almost finished model…

Well, here are the photos. The color authenticity I am not sure about. Primer red / blue-gray may or may not have been the correct one. There are some widely-accepted wisdoms online about it, but I found a lot of contradictory evidence as well. At the end I decided not to sweat it, and just use whatever the instruction booklets were suggesting.

It really is worth looking at is the comparison between the two models. By itself I would say the Takom kit is really comprehensive and very detailed model. Next to the RFM one it looks bare. So there you go. With RFM you get a flawed but an incredily detailed model. With the Takom kit you get something you will actually enjoy building.

 

Stay tuned; I hope once the interior is closed up the models would be finished in a reasonable time.

ICM 1/350 Markgraf part 4 -finishing for now

First part

Second part

Third part

Well, what do you know… another model is being finished. The world must be ending.

(OK, “sorta” finished. The rigging and some weathering is still to be done as you will see.) I wrote a review if interested about the model on ModelShipwright.

I ended up gluing in the turrets as they were somewhat wobbly, and decided not to do the rigging yet as I was pretty much exhausted with the model.

The next problem I faced: I could not take proper photos using my lightboxes. I have a small one, and a medium sized one -but the ship did not fit into either properly, as you can see, not to mention I had problems with lightning it properly.

I ended up using natural light outside my patio and included those photos as well.

 

OK, so some weathering, some rigging, and it is done. But for now, I keep it in the cabinet.

Now I need to finish the two Panthers (the Takom one is getting there), and I can feel finally I am doing something productive.

And then I only have a StuGIII, a Tiger I, Tiger II with resin interiors, an Amusing Hobby Ferdinand, a Takom Jagdpanther, and the RFM Sherman with interiors. And the older models I kept from my time in America… At this rate it will take a couple of decades to finish the larger projects, let alone the small ones also waiting.

ACE Models: 1/72 Shot Meteor Part 2.

First part was about the build, and a quick review; now we start the painting…

As usual, priming and preshading was done with Vallejo’s primer.

Since the lockdown seriously affected my ability to go to some hobby shop, after some deliberation I used Hannant’s ivory color as a base. It is brownish, rather than ivory, so it is not very good for interiors, but it looks very similar to the brown color I saw on photos of IDF vehicles.

Once the paint dried, I used black pinwashes to bring out the detail. I did that in several sessions, waiting a day, removing the excess with a damp brush, reapplying the wash… I also used this as an opportunity to create streaks on the armored side-skirts. Once I decided it was enough, I went on creating paint chips. I know it is a contentious issue, but I personally like the look, and despite of not being historically accurate and realistic, it does lend a realistic look to the model. Go figure. The chipping on the barrel did turn out to be a bit on the overdone side; I will have to do something about it.

First was to do some sponge chipping on the edges, larger surfaces. Then I went on to work on the muffler covers. Now, these metal parts were heavily corroded as they were subject of both heat and cold, so they are realistic with such a heavy application of rust. I went on using AK’s Rust Effect set to paint different hues of rust on the thin metal over the mufflers -using both a brush and a sponge. Once that was done, I used a rust wash as a filter to unify the colors, and modify the base color.

I also painted the details (tools, roadwheel rims, etc), and applied a thin spray of middle stone by Gunze on the lower parts as a first layer of dust. From then on I used Vallejo dustwashes, pigments, tamiya’s “make-up set”, and washable dust paint. It looks a bit overdone on the photos, but by eye it actually looks a-OK.

I shall be practicing making dust on this model; keep tuned in.

I took photos from two settings: one using a small, cheap lightbox I ordered on Aliexpress, and use for smaller models (it has a strip of LEDs on the top), and the yellowish-looking ones at the end were taken using a “proper” lightbox with diffused light.

While the first box is easy to set up, it is not that good for proper “finished” photos. It is great for detail and WIP shots, the diffused light (obviously) is better suited for photographing the finished article.

Armory/S-models: 1/72 152mm T49 gun tank

I promised I will post finished models as well… so here is number one. (There are others lined up, I promise.)

Well, this is the actual reason for building the Armory Walker Bulldog and the S-models Sheridan… the 152mm T49 gun tank. I always wanted to build one, but did not feel like making the investment to buy two 1/35 scale models; so when Armory came out with their Bulldog, I knew I finally had the opportunity to build one in Braille.

I did not even know this tank existed until it was introduced to World of Tanks. It provided a very interesting gameplay of speed coupled with an inaccurate 152mm derp gun, so it became one of my favorite tank. The hull is the Walker Bulldog‘s, the turret was used later on the Sheridan -so putting the two together will yield you this oddity.

The conversion was quite simple: I had to cut off the turret ring from the S-model turret, and installed rare earth magnets into the models to make the switch easier. (The other option was gluing the turret to the hull.) This way I can use the same hull for two different models.

There are not many photos available of this experimental tank, so I used Citadell’s airbrush ready olive drab -a pretty good looking olive drab color, and easy to spray. I did not want to repaint the Bulldog and the Sheridan in a WoT scheme, because then I would have two tank with the same fake camo pattern (even though I do like the look of these camos). I decided to depict a battered, older Walker Bulldog hull being used as a test-bed for the prototype. This way we would expect a more pristine turret painted sitting on a relatively run-down hull. (I am sure they will repaint the prototype once the trials are over, before presenting it to the top brass, don’t worry.)

I wanted to give a shot to the AK Interactive weathering pencils for this build -dust has always been a weak point for me. These pencils are essentially the same as the aquarell pencils you can get in art stores, but the colors are developed for the modeller.

I will do a review of it, but in general, the first impressions are, well, they are OK. The best way to apply it I found was to pre-wet the surface, and then smear the pencil onto the wet surface. To see a noticable effect, you have to add a LOT – lot more than you would expect. Because of the water, the pigments tend to gravitate towards the edges (see the commander’s cupola on the photo), forming a thin, bright line, but this can be adjusted using a darker wash later on. It allows you to make mistakes, since it is very easy to re-adjust it, or just remove it (just wash it off with water), but this also means you can’t layer the effects using the same method -unless you seal everything with varnish first, which will alter the effect. I think this will be used as a last step adjustment of the overall effect. All in all, they are fine products.

And basically, that is it. Now I just have to pray for a 1/72 Object 416 and a BT-SV…

Zvezda 1/72 BMPT Terminator Part 1

Well, sitting on skype conferences where your input is not required leaves two restless hands (which can actually build stuff, now that I do not have to actually sit in those conferences in person). In a week and a half of thirty minutes of everyday meetings I managed to put Zvezda’s Terminator together. (I am finishing up other projects as well, so there will be posts about actually finishing models rather than just starting them. It just takes some time for the final touches.)

This thing really is a mean looking vehicle. The Russians really took the lessons of Grozny to heart (and probably play Warhammer 40K), and created something that is really, really well protected from all sides, and also bristling with all sorts weapons.

Short review:

  • Great detail in general; there are some ridiculously thin parts so sprue gate removal is not always easy/possible. (See antenna – I will replace it after the painting stage.)
  • The model comes with flexible tracks which can be glued with plastic glue (they are kind of stiff; more like a transition between the usual “rubber” and plastic tracks)
  • lots of seamlines. The very fine detail means real difficulties of removing them from certain parts (missile tubes come to mind… I left them as they were for fear of destroying the detail. I will try to remove the seamlines once the model is primed, and I can see it better.)
  • In general the build went without a hitch; I can’t complain, really. The only difficulty was to position the missile launchers in a perfectly parallel position.

 

Here are the finished photos – painting will commence soon.

Pride of the Royal Navy

Lately I have become interested in warships. Yes, there was that Cher video when I was barely conscious of the differences between sexes, and then there was that amazing book I found in a hostel in Canterbury in 2012. (I really should have written down its title. It was a  big, black book with everything about battleships.) I also worked close to HMS Belfast, regularly seen her, and visited her with my girlfriend on my birthday three years ago.

And now I am building the SMS Markgraf. I already plan to build the Belfast, and perhaps the Bismark (although it seems like a cliche as everyone seems to be building one), but now I found the real pride of the Royal Navy I really want in my collection.

Everyone, meet the HMS Cockchafer.

I can imagine her crew saying with dignity: “I serve on the Cockchafer”. It must have been quite a thing to say in polite company.

 

AK Interactive’s Still Water- review

 

So. AK Interactive’s Still Water.

This thing.

The AK Interactive webpage has the following to say about it (bold mine):

Still Water is a liquid crystalline product specially designed to reproduce the effect of clear still water on dioramas and vignettes. Still Water is self-leveling and capable of flowing over uneven surfaces; apply thin layers, no more than 3 mm at a time. If depth is desired, build up thin layers. When applied on non-porous surfaces, such as glass, this product can be lifted and cut to desired shape. High quality acrylic product.
This product can be tinted with acrylics offering many possibilities. No toxic

Let’s see. I did not try to eat it, so I can’t comment on toxicity. It does stay crystal clear after hardening, which is great, and according to the description. Let’s see how the other properties function.

Coming out of the bottle it is relatively thick, yet it flows very easily out of the tip; be careful not to flood the surface.

NOTE: my aim was not to recreate a large body of water, such as a stream, river or lake in a diorama setting. That will be the topic of a separate post. I wanted to depict stagnant pools of water, either collected on abandoned vehicles, or puddles on the ground. I took a look at this product through this lens, which obviously colors my perceptions of it, however, the points about its properties are valid in any settings.

 

I took out two dioramas: the STALKER one with the T-62, and the Zrinyi II. I wanted to add water to both, which was the main reason buying this product. The non-toxicity and water solubility was the selling point.

I added small puddles under road wheels, in crevices on the ground, on the surface of the T-62 wreck. The product came out thick -it kept the convex, bulging form of a liquid with very high surface tension; it did not spread easily, even when encouraged with a brush. This made it extremely difficult to apply in thin coats, as the instructions suggested; the product does not spread easy. I thought the self-levelling part comes when it cures.

After hardening, I found that it did not self-level in the was I was expecting it to. The surface was not level in most cases -only where the product was applied in a thick layer.

The importance of surface

The nature of the groundwork was also extremely important: for the Zrinyi I used actual soil/mud hardened with plaster. This surface was torn up by the product, as it shiveled (dried) out, the edges curling upwards, tearing the water product away from the surface.

Not ideal.

The T-62 diorama was done using only Tamiya textured material for ground mixed with pigments; it served as a much better basis for the water effect. The product could not peel off the surface while it was curing. Apparently you need a strong bond between the particles of the groundwork for the product to stick to, otherwise as it cures, it will shrink on its surface, and this will peel off the whole thing.

Lesson one learned.

Self-levelling

How about being self-levelling? (Also a big must.)

Well, not exactly self levelling. When fresh, the product behaves as a liquid with a high surface tension. It does not spread out, as a liquid resin would, but it forms smaller or bigger blobs, droplets, like a somewhat thick soup would. You can help spreading it with a brush, but it has its limits, since it does not “wet” the surface it touches easily (due to the high surface tension).

This is how it looks when fresh and after curing.

 

As the product cures it flattens out, but it also has the tendency to wrinkle, and to follow all the irregularities underneath – so at the end you get an uneven surface. It simply cures onto the surface underneath in an even thickness. Applying multiple layers will not solve this problem: you simply increase the thickness of the product, you do not even the surface out. I wanted to put puddles onto the mud guards and the splash guard (the spillway being blocked by detritus), but as you can see regardless of applying the product in several thin(ish) layers, it refused to form a nice, even surface over the model. The leaves and other surface irregularities show through even after four layers. It looks a bit like water in the process of being frozen…

Weirdly I found bubbles that were present within the cured product, even though there were none when I applied them -or at least none visible. The high surface tension means that if you manage to trap air inside, or worse yet, manage to foam it up, it will not be able to escape. So be warned.

Dilution

OK, so it does not spread well, even when helped with a brush. What happens if you use some water and a brush? (Genius idea, eh?) So apply a generous amount of product on the groundwork, and add some water (about 1/10th of volume). It did make the product easier to spread. It did not foam so easily. But come next day, and…

…this is what happens: it becomes milky. The surface kind of looks like if it was mud saturated with water (which is nice), but the effect is not perfect, and the milky discoloration is very much not welcome. This also underlines the issue of tinting. The manual says you can tint this product with acrylics, but there is a limit of how much you can add.

Mixing with inks/paints/pigments

Since it is water soluble, it is a quite simple matter of mixing inks or water-based paints into the product. I used chestnut ink by citadell, since it was brown -although not exactly mud-brown, as we can see. It is for experimenting, anyhow; I wanted to see what it does when mixed with color -and perhaps salvage the foggy water effect on the Zrinyi diorama. I also applied a few drops onto the base of a space marine figure to see how it looks as a puddle. Without any staining the water effects did not show up very well; it merely looked like if the ground was shinier in patches.

With staining, it still formed an uneven, shiny surface after curing. (The first photo shows how it looks like fresh when applied.) I added three drops of ink – in retrospect it was too much. It might have given a more realistic result had I added only half a drop, instead of creating a chestnut colored slurry.

On the Zrinyi it may not have levelled the surface out, but on the bright side, it did look like fresh -and somewhat weird colored – mud. Success – I guess?

So what happens when I add pigments instead?

Well, it kind of looks as churned-up mud. The chestnut colored mud underneath even gives a slight color modification wherever the new mixture was thinner, giving it an actually quite pleasing looking mud effect. Overall, it looks like water-saturated, churned up mud that would suck you in if you stepped into it. I would call it success, although it was not the effect I was going for. (I wanted big puddles of brown water.)

Special effects

Let’s see if we can make radioactive sludge, lava or something similar out of this thing…

To make radioactive industrial waste, we just add a little bright, light green paint. Applied to the base of a few miniatures, the effect is actually quite nice, both applied thick (into the crevice of the base of the daemonhost), or thin – to the ground next to the boots of our Thousand Sons terminator. As an added effect I also put some more on top stained with a tiny bit of yellow ink. I have to say it is a pretty good effect.

The lava is a different matter. I added red ink to the product, and it formed a somewhat blood-looking pool at the foot of our Rubric Marine… so blood it is.

What happens if you prepare two different colors, and carefully blend them into each other? I can’t show the results, because I placed -rather carelessly- the instructions of the Armory Walker Bulldog I was building into the mix, but placing drops of the two colors next to each other to allow them to mix, resulted in, well, the two liquids mixing together completetly. I was hoping to create nice swirls and whatnot, but the liquid flows easily enough for it to mix completely.

 

Possible ways to use it

Well, small puddles on miniature bases were kind of successful. Without coloring it looks just shiny, somewhat inconspicuous. (It is difficult to see what the intended effect is if the product is not colored.) With some ink mixed in, even with a somewhat unrealistic color, it looks better -not as a puddle of water, but as a puddle of some sort of thick liquid. The issues with self-levelling are not as apparent in small scale.

If the base was suitable it produced a somewhat convincing effect, although it is visibly not level…  You need a flat surface to create large puddles to begin with. (The track-marks on the Zrinyi actually have somewhat convincing puddles.) Creating larger bodies of water were so far not successful, and neither was creating a smooth surface over an uneven base. One thing to note: once the product cures, you should stain the surrounding groundwork with a darker brownish color to represent the wet ground around the water.

You may be more successful applying the product to wet surfaces -although the groundwork, as we have seen- must be very well bonded, so you cannot apply it while the groundwork is still hardening. (It would make it simpler if you could just add the puddles at the same time as you build up the terrain.) As it is, if you pre-wet the surface, it might be possible to spread it more evenly.

Probably in dioramas, where you prepare a hard and even surface specifically for the water, it would work well (in a relatively thin layer) as the surface of a lake – we will see when I get around making a crashed Schwimmwagen diorama I have been planning a while now. For those ad hoc puddles I was trying to create it is less than perfect.

In short: it does not work as the non-water soluble resins do: these resins do not lose their volume during the curing process, and they do tend to float easily, with very little surface tension, which makes them very effective in creating level, smooth surfaces. This product does shrink while curing, and it merely forms an evenly distributed layer over the surface it is applied to- meaning that any irregularities below will show up on the surface. (The resins, on the other hand give off heat while curing, so they can actually melt the plastic if you apply it too thick, plus they are toxic as hell.)

Mixing in pigments, and applying it to an uneven surface will result in a very convincing, extremely wet-looking surface – just make sure you use multiple layers and multiple colors. For fresh mud, it is excellent. For bodies of water -not so much. 

Overall, it will not be the go-to solution for all your water needs, even though the non-toxicitiy and the ease of use makes it sound very attractive. It is absolutely true further experimentations will be required to master this product.

I think as with some other weathering products, the water solubility is its biggest weakness – the surface tension simply does not allow it to spread as easy. I found the liquid resin products (which are not water soluable) give  much better coverage, and they are actually self-levelling –  and as mentioned also highly toxic, and give out noxious fumes. Difficult choices.

Hobby Boss 1/35 EBR-10

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To help with the tedium of skype conferences, I did some work on a model waiting in the pile… the EBR-10. I became interested in it thanks to World of Tanks (a very common occurence), and since it is a fun little vehicle (which may be killing the game…) I decided to build one.

Since it is simple, I easily did it while listening in to these online conferences I am forced to attend.

Nothing special, really, most things just fell togheter. I am a bit irked by the rubber tires, and also the fact that the canvas cover of the oscillating turret is shorter than it should be, so there is a gap in the front (not on the photos, it was installed after), regardless, a fun little project – the building stage took me about 3 hours total…

 

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A with interior part 4. (plus testing AK’s streaking grime and dark wash)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now the hard part. I have been building the model now and then, adding bits here and there, but avoided to address the main issue: creating a cutaway.

I decided to can the idea.

I know, it is anticlimatic, but I realized that this should have done before even touching the glue – I am too way ahead in the building process to start cutting, unfortunately. Well, live and learn. The Tiger I and II will be handled differently. For now I will do an “exploded drawing” style model, like with the SU-122 or the E-75. I know it’s a coward’s way out, but there it is.

Anyhow, I have been working on the interior, adding parts and decals that were missing; right now it is ready for weathering.

I did some experiments with AK’s winter streaking grime and dark wash; I think the grime works better on both horizontal and vertical surfaces. (Well, the vertical surface should not really be a surprise, I think.)

I applied the wash/grime, waited fifteen minutes, and then started to blend the bands/spots with a wet brush (using turpentine, of course). The effects can be modified, refined for a long period of time, to make them subtler if one wishes so. Pretty straightforward and simple, really.

I also added the ammunition, beefed up the engine compartment, and applied the Zimmerit.

Let’s start with the ammo.

You get a lot. I mean a LOT. Do NOT paint them up, add decals all at once; you will need about third of it. What I did was to spray all of them gold using Vallejo’s gold, then painted the tips according to the type (not sure about the painting guide provided; online you can find very different colors for Panther ammunition), and added the brass/copper ring. Then I chose about ten of the painted ammunition, and removed the seamline. The paint was touched up with AK’s True Metal gold/brass, and added the decals. These were the “front-facing” projectiles: placed on areas where they would be seen (front of the ammo rack, bottom of the hull). This saved considerable amount of work on things that will not be seen once the hull is closed.

There were some parts not yet painted, installed into the hull; I finished these, and did some hand-painting. (Lack of foreplanning, I know.)

I also tried the Meng Zimmerit. Generally I do not like Zimmerit, and the only good, workable solution I found was the resin one. (Don’t even get me started on PE… and doing it by hand -well I ain’t got no time for that.) Only resin is quite expensive – so I tried Meng’s decal solution provided for their own Panther model.

Well, once the model is painted up I will write up a short review of it, but for now: it generally fit. It is extremely fragile (no problem with battle damage, I guess), and it does not work without adhesive. I used white glue; much better than CA.

I added some decals, where it was necessary, and now the interior is ready to be weathered. I am not sure how heavy I want it to be, but we will see. I will post some better photos later on. But the main thing is: finally I am working on both Panthers, almost after a year. I did some progress on the RFM one, too…

 

Airfix Bentley box cover

I bought a half-assembled 1/12 Bentley for 25 quids on Ebay quite a while ago. I ran into several problems with the kit (it was quite botched, I did not manage to build it into an acceptable model), but the box itself was quite something. For one, it looks good. And it is also from 1974… someone bought it in Harrod’s, for the sum of 4.5 GBP…

I had to frame it.

 

https://imgur.com/QGaGd1F

 

Anyhow, once I get myself to finish it up, I will post some photos, just to show it. The chrome parts look less-than-chromish, as they were narred by glue, so I had to sand them, and re-spray them -while they were on the car. (As I said it was half-assembled.) The chassis is warped, so there are fit issues, and the surface of the model was covered with thick paint I had to polish off and then re-spray it; the results are less than smooth, unfortunately.

I had to order new decals and a new tire from Airfix, which they promptly sent. (Great customer service for sure.)

As for the rest of the builds…

The Markgraf is finished (sort of… no rigging is installed yet.) In the near future I will finish up the Centurion, the T49, the Sheridan, and the T-90 from the 1/72 range, the Das Werk radar I received as a review sample, and the Hobby Boss EBR-10. I also started to work on the Takom Panther, as I noticed some spider actually built a web inside the hull. Once that is done, the RFM Panther will be the next, and then I will do a second comparison review. With all that I also have a couple of Warhammer figures to finish -I finally want to learn “proper” painting. I managed to do a quite nice golden armor on Magnus as a study for the Emperor figure, so I am actually quite looking forward to it. (There is also a Horus figure waiting to be finished; the mace he held was broken during the move to Hungary, and after a few attempts of re-gluing it I just gave up on that figure. He may get the second sword Big E comes with; he already got a new head, after all…)

This will keep me busy for a while I assume.