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.

Dusting it up -Vallejo wash and AK Interactive pencil

We talked about the issues of gear acquisition… I can’t help myself, apparently. (OK, chalk it up to natural curiousity; it is not as bad as if I bought the entire range of both products on a whim, right?) While I am still trying to finally apply some paint to the Markgraf, I can do smaller projects. (Seriously; getting time to do some airbrushing is impossible… and since smaller projects will end up at the stage where airbrushing is required, it is getting more and more impossible as models pile up on the “to be sprayed” pile.)

So I have Vallejo’s dust wash (which I was playing with before), and I bought an acrylic pencil by AK Interactive, to see how it compares to my “normal” acrylic pencils bought in an art store.

 

 

I have chosen two tanks from my shelf – it is actually quite good to keep working on older models (as I have done previously). This was Cromwell’s T29 and OKB’s UFO tank (Object 279).

What I did was to first apply the dust wash on the fenders and wheels, then adjusted the effect with a wet brush. This I did several times until I got a nice blend. Then I used the pencil (wet the tip, first), deposited some on the tank (only on a small area), then adjusted the effect with water. Sometimes I found it was better to make a “wash” in situ by adding a lot of water; sometimes I just feathered the edges to form a natural-looking dust deposit (on the sides of the fenders on the T29, for example.)

Here are the comparison photos -the before and after shots.

The dust did improve the look of the tank, but I found the Vallejo wash to be more useful in this regard. It made the stark contrast on the lower hull and the fenders much better looking.

The pencil has a very light color, which is not necessarily realistic (it looks like the tank drove through a cement factory), and it does produce tide marks when used with a lot of water (problem with water-based products; the high surface tension drags the pigments on the side), and overall does not cover the area as smooth as an oil paint-based (home made) dust would do. It did make some very nice dust streaks on the vertical surfaces, though.

A little bit browner, darker color might be better for dust, but overall, not bad.

 

 

Well, the photos definitely need some improvement (the new light box does not seem to be very good), for one.

 

Let me know what you think of the results.

Trumpeter 1/72 IS-7

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Well, another tank I would have not known about had it not for World of Tanks.

There it is a top tier Soviet heavy tank; in real life it was, well, a Soviet heavy tank. The last heavy tank, in fact, in service, ever. It is a fairly obscure vehicle, so it was a very welcome surprise seeing it in plastic. (Normally you would expect small companies producing a resin version for a literal arm and leg.)

The Trumpeter kit is simple to assemble, and has pretty good detail. The whole running gear and track assembly comes as one unit, which, I have to say, was not a bad solution. It did make building quick, for sure.

After the Vallejo primer I layered citadell olive green with increasing amount of yellow onto the tank – it produces a pretty nice looking green for the tank.

I did some sponge chipping, a filter with Tamiya transparent yellow, and some blending with oils, a ton of filters, and acrylic pencils for the streaks and dust. The mud was Vallejo’s industrial mud mixed with different pigments. I think the results are not half bad.

Let’s hope Trumpeter does some other esotheric tanks, like the IS-6, T57, ELC-AMX, T-10, AMX-50 in plastic, too. All in all this is a neat little kit, worth picking up. Also, check this build out, too.

Modelcollect 1/72 Waffentrager Ausf. E-100 with 128mm gun

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Modelcollect seems to specialise in two types of Braille scale vehicles: post-war Soviet-Russian wheeled and tracked vehicles, and the increasingly esoteric WWII German what-ifs, paper panzers and artillery (rockets and guns). Some of those were actual plans, like the E series of tanks, but a lot of them are just pure fabrications, like the walker-type tanks, and the different modifications based on the E series. They also make a 1/72 scale P1000 Ratte.

 

The topic of this review is a fictional vehicle, albeit a fictional vehicle from the online game World of Tanks. In the game it was a game-breaking tank destroyer with a four (or six, depending on the gun used) shot autoloader.

Eventually it was removed as it was overpowered as heck, but I was really happy to see it in plastic form. (Never had a chance to play it, but it sure was satisfying catching one in reload…) It is essentially a 12,8 cm Kw.K. 44 L/55 gun mounted on an E-100 chassis in a large, open turret and an autoloader. It is very interesting to see the effect of a massively popular game on the modelling world; I do hope more models will follow. (Amusing Hobby seems to follow a similar pattern; they have issued the same model in 1/35.)

The instructions do have some sort of a history for the type, but as the type itself it is absolutely fictional, it is not something to be taken too seriously.

 

The kit

The box is your typical Modelcollect box, with a nice painting of the tank destroyer on the front. The plastic is good quality, although there is flash around certain parts; especially the drive wheels needed a little cleanup. The detail is OK, and we do get some PE for the engine deck screens. We do not, however, get a metal barrel, which is a shame, especially considering that the massive gun needs to be glued together from two halves; it’s quite an old-school kit in this regards. (I really like Modelcollect’s Russian MTBs; they are true gems with all the PE and metal barrels provided. This model is definitely a bit more of a ‘budget option’ compared to them.)

 

At first glance the part number is quite high, but this is somewhat deceptive. Since the model is made out of several other Modelcollect products, naturally there will be a lot of leftovers after the construction.

 

The assembly is not very difficult; beginners will find no real challenge putting the model together. For some reason the roadwheels require you to glue little plastic rings between the wheels, similar to the 1/35 polycap style wheels, which is somewhat puzzling. (There are two caps fewer included than would be necessary, but they are not actually needed for the running gear’s assembly; the wheels can be glued to the swing arms without them without any problems.)

The large gun-shield is an elaborate piece of plastic; due to the injection moulding process a few moulding lines will need to be sanded off. The bottom part, however does not fit perfectly to the top; it’s not a huge issue, but I definitely needed to fiddle with it.

The tracks are the rubber type vinyl tracks, so installation is simple, although I do prefer the link-and-length option that is provided with other Modelcollect German superheavy tanks. (It is a personal preference, admittedly.)

Since the large gun shield covers quite a lot of visible detail, you will have to do most of the painting before final assembly.

After priming and applying the base coat of dunkelgelb (Mig Ammo), I messed up the free-hand camo, so I decided to give a try to the Mig Ammo washable white… Nobody will know I am covering up a mistake, will they?

After wearing the white down a bit with a wet brush, I started weathering. I wanted to do a really heavily weathered tank… a tank that is going through the longest winter ever – a tank from Westeros. Streaking dirt, mud and everything you can think of… I just piled it on. I used oil paints, mud products and pigments by Mig Ammo and Vallejo, filters of different color (even green – interestingly it gave a depth to the white color), acrylic paints, acrylic and a silver pencil. The results are pretty nice; I now have a weathered, battered veteran on my shelf.

 

 

Zvezda T-28 Soviet heavy tank, 1/100

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I bought a couple of Zvezda’s 1/100 kits during the Tank Festival in Bovingdon, in 2018. They are cheap, and meant for wargaming; I thought I’d give a try building them as display models. They are quick to build, and do not take up much space – ideal if you just want to have an example of a tank sitting on your shelf. Here’s the first one: the T-28 heavy tank.

There is really not much about the build: it is a snap-together kit. The photos of the gallery bellow are in sequence of building and weathering.
 

I tried to add subtle dust, streaking, and other effects; in this scale it is very easy to go overboard. The tank nevertheless looks a bit dull; I think some serious color modulation would have helped.
All in all it is a nice representation of the tank. It does not include decals (I took a red star from an airplane kit), and it does not feature the antenna on the main turret. Since it was not present on all tanks, I did not bother making one; it should not be difficult to scratch one if you are not as relaxed about it.

ICM 1/350 Markgraf part 3

First part

Second part

I started the painting process.

Everything was primed using Vallejo’s primer -or in case of the wooden deck, AK Interactive’s sand primer. I used oils -straight from the tube- to create a wood-like effect, and a dark wash.

 

The superstructure was painted light grey, the hull a darker shade- tried to mix up the necessary colors representative of the German navy during WWI.

I also tried to mix the linoleum color for the upper decks.

Vallejo Model Wash – European dust 76.523, oiled earth 76.521

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Acrylic weathering products, while being very attractive due to not being hazardous, tend to have a big issue: surface tension. Solvent-based products, washes spread much better, and they do not leave “tide-marks” like water-based products do; therefore I was pretty interested in how Vallejo’s dust washes perform.

In short: very well.

(OK, you can stop reading the review if this is all what you wanted.)

I used the road wheels of an old Panther build I left unfinished (but will finish, I promise) to see how these washes perform on a complex surface. I simply applied them with an overloaded brush, and let them dry. It spread nicely, just like a solvent-based wash. (Perhaps Vallejo used a surfactant.) The results are nice: subtle, dusty look.

 

The second and third photo shows the difference between treated and untreated road wheels (one of the reason I chose this as a test-bed: to have a control group right next to the treatment group), and the last photo shows the differences between heavy application (1), light application (2, somewhat diluted with water), and nothing (3).

 

I also tried three consecutive, heavy applications with the following results

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It might be a good look for a vehicle in very dusty, dry environment, but probably not the best way to use it the product like this. The best way to use these washes is to form a subtle accumulation of dust in crevices, not flooding the surface with them. As a general rule: using more than one technique with a light touch to achieve a certain look will more likely create a realistic finish than using just one technique with a heavy hand. This means that these washes will not provide a single step solution for creating dusty-looking surfaces, I am afraid.

 

I also tried the washes on a piece of scenery a Witcher figure will be walking on, to see if they can be used on the groundwork for good effect. (The paint on the resin base is by no means finished; I was just testing some paints on it.) Regardless of the underlying paintwork, I think I can safely say that these washes can add a little more realism to the soil both in tone and in texture -see the above rule.

Overall, these washes are pretty neat; worth checking out.

Armory 1/72 M41A1/A2 Walker Bulldog p2.

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Part 1

And the published review. (It’s probably worth checking it out if you want to build the model; I pointed out some issues with the model, and gave some tips for the build.)

Once the model was primed, I sprayed Citadel’s olive green (from the airbrush-ready range) mixed with Gunze’s yellow. The first coats had no yellow added, the subsequent coats had more and more stirred in, and I made sure I only lightly misted these on, focusing on the top of the vehicle. So the bottom of the chassis has no yellow at all, while the top received the most.

The model was fully assembled, so the tracks received some green paint; I simply went over with a black/antracite color to correct these oversprays. I found that it is quite simple and easy to paint models with tracks and all already installed, rather than trying to install the tracks on a fully painted model. The dark primer provides a very nice “shadow” to areas where the green paint did not get to.

I added the decals (one “Deliquent” decal was lost in the process…), and this is where I realized that there was not enough room between the grab handles to add the number… Something to look out for in your build. (I am not unduly worried about the turret, since I will use a different one.)

After a brown pin wash, followed with a black pinwash on the engine deck, I covered the model with semi-matte varnish.

I used Tamiya’s weathering sticks for dust and mud – again, this is not the end manifestation of the model, so I kept weathering minimum. (I found that using a wet brush to apply the product to the model, and then using a clean, wet brush to adjust the effect works wonders.) I painted the muffler cover using several rust tones, and used a silver pencil on the edges to give a metallic shine to the model.

That’s pretty much it. I am thinking about magnetizing the turret so I can just switch it (a’la KV-220, T-150) once I finish the actual model I wanted to build using this kit.

 

Armory 1/72 M41A1/A2 Walker Bulldog p1.

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Well, I decided to buy Armory’s new injection molded model, the Walker Bulldog. I have written a review of it on Armorama; when it comes live I will link it here.

My aim with the purchase was to do a conversion, I was not particularly interested in the Bulldog itself.

 

As I wrote in the review, the build was pretty nice; I found no major hurdles -apart from the tool rack which I just left off. I also did not install the gun lock since I will be using the chassis for a different vehicle with a different gun. There are some minor issues with the model, but none of them are deal breaking (and at least the gun is not assembled from two halves…)

 

There’s an awful lot of PE coming with the kit; the smaller parts were glued on using white glue. The sink marks on the tracks are somewhat annoying but they will be filled with some mud at the end.

 

Next up: painting and weathering.

 

And then – when I buy the necessary supplies: THE CONVERSION.

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.