Category Archives: 1/35

MINIART WERKSTATT KRAFTWAGEN TYP-03-30 Build Review Part 1

I mean, c’mon. It is really difficult to resist this kit, right? Just look at the photos on MiniArt’s page… So I started it. Sue me.

Anyhow, first impressions…

Well, I have heard of the “MiniArt brittle plastic” and I think now I found it. The plastic is not very good; the extremely thin parts snap like nobody’s business. (While building the streering mechanism I had to swap a part to an evergreen rod; and sometimes I feel it is easier to fashion a replacement part than trying to shave off the remaining sprue gates from the parts.) There is also quite a lot of flash on the delicate little pieces, which is kind of a throw-back to the older MiniArt kits. Quite a big change from the state-of-the-art models I build lately from them. Add to this the tendency of MiniArt to solve every issue with hair-thin and microscopic parts, and you definitely do not have a perfectly smooth ride. The lower chassis is full of delicate, tiny, thin parts which will not be visible anyhow. (It is tempting to leave them out…) In fact sometimes facing the 1-2mm parts that could have been just molded onto the surface I felt the company was just trying to troll the builder.

The other big issue is, well, the design of the truck itself. Normally you would expect a high degree of precision and some help from the designers to make it as easy as possible to align everything perfectly.

Well, no. First of all, the wheels only attach through a 1 mm thick stub to the wheel hubs. OK, that is not a big issue per se, although it is definitely not a robust way to do things. The main issue is, however, aligning the different parts of the running gear: the axles, the bumper, making sure the actual wheels are paralell and do not tilt… it is just flimsy. You have to work very carefully not to have gross misalignments, and it is really hard to judge how everything will align while you build (see below).

The front wheel attachment points are especially bad: you do not even have a stub to attach anything to the axles. The wheel hub attaches using the mentioned square little pegs to the wheels themselves (you can see it on part A23 below), but the whole setup has hardly any attachment points to the front axle. First, while building the axle you literally have to position the whole steering mechanism in the air when you assemble the axle -the orientation of the parts is only guestimated. After that is finished these tiny, fiddly parts should hold the front wheels. A nice, solid piece of rod going through the wheel assembly would be a bit more reassuring when it comes to robustness and alignment. (See step 14 in the instructions you can download from MiniArt’s page.)

I mean, seriously, MiniArt?

Those curved, horn-like things on the front are going to hold the bumper (which in itself is too thin and delicate, so snaps like a charm when trying to remove it from the sprue), which is fine. However, as I said, orienting these parts is difficult, as there are only shallow indentations where they should be going (just as with everything else), so I ended up with a bit of a misalignement when I finally attached everything. One of the front wheels almost touches the bumper, not to mention only three wheels touched the ground… So I had to take it apart and re-gluing, re-orienting everything, because I did not want to make a lowrider.

Same issue with the engine: the cooling fan, for example, just hangs in the air attached to the engine block through a pipe. Where exactly it should be only becomes clear when the whole thing is installed -not to mention the pipe leading to the radiator does not reach it… These parts should be installed AFTER the bigger subassemblies are in place, so you can actually put them in place in situ, instead of worrying if they fit until you try several steps later.

My advice is to first glue the subassemblies together (front axle with wheels, bumper with holder, etc.), and once they are finished, THEN glue them to the chassis- this way you can do the alignment by eye easily while the glue is setting.

Ideally the model should be designed so that such visual alignment is not necessary (Takom’s Panther comes to mind, or even MiniArt’s T-54/55 series), but this model apparently was not designed with this in mind. It feels like they bit a bit more than they could chew, honestly. I do understand that the designers have to balance detail and buildability, but in this case I feel the balance is a bit off. It is not a deal-breaker, but it is certainly not a pleasant challenge like their D7 dozer was.

One great thing is that the wheels are not given with rubber tires… they are assembled instead from thin disks, resulting in a pretty good representation of the real thing.

The model is quite a smart mix-and-match of MiniArt’s smaller kits: a Russian bus plus a ton of accessory sets make up for a tiny little workshop teeming with detail…

…Which has to be assembled and painted. Individually. Every single little wrench, bag of potato and all.

This will be tedious and time consuming. The results will be worth it for sure, but the work itself… well, I guess I signed up for it.

Amusing Hobby 1/35 Ferdinand with interior part 5.1 Finishing the build

Well, finishing up the build… The previous installments:

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

OK, now it is ready to be painted. Personally I blame the holidays for the lack of progress.

Amusing Hobby 1/35 Ferdinand with interior part 5. Finishing the build

Well, finishing up the build… The previous installments:

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

So, further difficulties… although not big ones.

The periscopes do not fit into their slots -neither on the driver’s hatch, nor on the top of the vehicle. Bummer.

The mantlet (part number A8) of the gun barrel did not fit into place, either; I trimmed about a mm off from the end to be able to slot it into place.

Because the gun is set off-set, and not centered (I had the bright idea to display it off-centered… talk about self-goals), I can’t fit the roof of the fighting compartment into place. The gunsight gets in the way, unfortunately. I strongly suggest centering the gun, or leave the hatches open so that the gunsight can stick out of the tank. I will have to figure something out; maybe display it lifted.

The tank is essentially done apart from the tow cables and a few minor parts. I will glue the fenders in place once I installed the tracks, and call it a day. I am still unsure about what tracks to use as I am not happy with either options, but I would like to stress something. None of these issues are deal-breaking – the model went together rather well. It is quite a spectacular-looking model, and considering that it comes with a full interior it was not a tour de force to build it. I do confess my love to the MiniArt kits with interior, but a T-54 was a much, much more involved process. This model went together surprisingly quickly. The ease of building obviously does come with some compromise with regards to detail. The question obviously is how much detail you can live without. I am happy to say that this level I am fine with -milage may vary. I am sure there will be a 1kg Voyager update set with PE and resin for the people who wish for more. Perhaps an aftermarket set of tracks would be useful but otherwise I am fine with this model out of the box.

Now I just need to paint the thing.

Amusing Hobby 1/35 Ferdinand with interior part 4.

Well, finishing up the interior… The previous installments:

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

The interior was a surprisingly short affair, compared to RFM’s or Takom’s Panthers‘ (which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view… right now I am happy it did not take years).

I cut the floor of the fighting compartment to show off half of the electric motor, and the assorted parts; I also did a cut on the panel holding the gun, but still very little can be seen of the engines. I actually took one of them out to display it separately.

The superstructure was finished (a few bits and pieces are missing still) and weathered with AK’s interior wash, oils, chipping done with brush and sponge, and some AK rust pencils.

One issue with the decals: there are no stencils for the interior or the ammunition. It is important in this case since you can see the bottom of the rounds from above. I used RFM’s decals for the Panther ammo to depict the primer. It does improve the overall look of the model.

Based on the few photos available on the driver’s compartment it does not seem to be completely accurate, but it is easy to work with if you want to.

I also ran into the first fit issues…

  1. The horizontal cover of the driving comparment, D2, (where the extra tracklinks are stored is too long. It needs to be filed down so it actually fits inside the hull. I did not remove enough so now it is bent… I think I will install the spare tracklinks after all to hide this shameful fact. (It was not clear when I glued it in place. The frontal part is straight as I had it pressed flat in its place – the back part, however, stayed bent.
  2. At step 33 the assembly of the air filters (those strange flower-like things on both sides of the gun) should not be done in the suggested order. The instructions would have you put the whole filter assembly together, and then install them in place. You should first glue the individual holding legs into place, and then add the top of the filters with the canisters installed.
  3. E18, the panel that holds the gun, and the top of the engines do not have enough clearance… The engines are a mm or so too high, and will not let the panel settle into its place.
  4. The superstructure has a very tight fit… I had to remove the gun, in order to be able to glue the top of the superstructure on -which obviously created fit issues with the gun later on. The gun was heavily modified: I cut off the pin that would keep it in place because once the superstructure is on, it cannot be inserted into the hole on the floor, and the gun shield was thinned somewhat. This allowed me to squeze the gun into place. Since I did not want it to be boring, I made it a slight off-center as if it was aiming at something.
  5. Part D5 (some sort of engine hatch) is too wide to fit between the superstructure and the engine deck. I had to sand it a bit off.
  6. Part J35 should be labelled B35…
  7. I am seriously considering using the flexible, rubber band tracks…

ICM 1/35 Rheinmetall Leichttraktor Part 2.

Part 1.

 You can build the whole thing before painting; there are no sub-assemblies to paint first. The instructions provide a guide to the Buntfarbenanstrich (colorful) painting scheme (https://panzerworld.com/german-armor-camouflage for more information), but I kept to the plain (and very likely non-historical) panzergray for sentimental reasons – this is how I was used to the vehicle when I played it in World of Tanks. I painted it using Tamiya acrylics: panzer grey lightened with buff for the whole tank with zenithal highlight and some panel highlighting, used light grey to further highlight edges and smaller details, and then used oils (burned umber, raw umber, green, white) to “deepen” the color with filters.

Some streaking was added, some dust and some mud, and I declared the model done. I did not want to go overboard with rust, chips and scratches, as I figured the vehicle as a prototype had no time to actually get “used in”. It spent a couple of exciting days in the proving ground, and then went back to the machine shop to be dismantled. (Sadly.)

It was also an interesting experience with the AK weathering pencils: they are pretty good at making dust. The fact that the effect can be adjusted any time after drying is great.

ICM 1/35 Rheinmetall Leichttraktor Part 1.

I am very enthusiastic about farming equipment, bulldozers and whatnot, so I was really excited when ICM announced they were going to issue a rare, interwar German agricultural mover; it represents a very important, albeit little known step in tractor development.

Incidentally it also has a turret and a gun (I guess the designers were really keen on preparing for all eventualities a farm worker might face), so we may even look at it as an early attempt at tank development by the German industry. I say “may”, since at that time the Germans were prohibited from armored vehicle development by the treaties closing WWI, it is merely a coincidence, I am sure. Regardless, these little vehicles were used by the German armed forces as a substitute during training and for the development of their armor doctrine. This is the main reason that although they never were intended for combat, they had an extremely useful role in the development of the German armored tactics (blitzkrieg) employed in WWII, and also in the development of early and mid war German armored fighting vehicles. It is indeed a welcome step from ICM to issue a plastic model of this important vehicle; it seems like the company is willing to take risks and develop models of unique subjects.

The model is very traditionally designed: the hull is made up by flat parts, the turret is made up by two semi-circular halves, necessitating filling seam lines, unfortunately which I personally do not like. (One of the boons of armor modelling in my opinion is that there is no need to fill in seam lines along the fuselage…) There is even some minimal turret interior provided; you get the main gun and the coaxial machine gun with some rudimentary detail. If you plan to leave the turret doors open, just paint the interior of the hull (but not the turret…) black.

The suspension and running gear is simplified; only the parts that show from under the side covering are detailed. Looking at the myriad of tiny road wheels it is a good thing I think… although it may be very interesting to have the option to open the side hatches to show off the suspension.

The gun has a hollowed-out end, which was solved without the use of slide-moulding: the tip is made up of two parts: the long barrel with half of the end is missing, and a tiny part that makes up for the missing half. This was it was possible to mould a short longitudinal channel in the end of the barrel, and closing it off with a small “half-pipe” forms it into a complete gun barrel with a hole at the end.

The model comes with rubber band type tracks – is a matter of taste if you prefer them or not. Talking for myself only, I consider this to be the weakest point of the model. (I prefer link-and-length tracks or individual track links, if possible. In this case definitely not individual links, though seeing how small the track links are.) You are supposed to glue two parts for one set of tracks, which leaves you with two possible seams showing where the tracks meet. I would suggest using a more discreet place to join them up than I did: the drive wheels and idlers… My mistake; as the tracks bend around the wheels the seams show up. They would all but disappear when joined flat.

The sides of the tracks do not really show segmentation where the track links meet – they are smooth, which is less-than-ideal.

All-in-all the model is well-made but geared for simplicity and ease of assembly. (I will not lie, a full interior version would be extremely welcome…) On top of the mud guards there may or may not have been some anti-slip surfacing on the real vehicle, which is lacking from this model (the mud guards are smooth). I could not decide how it was based on reference photos, but there are some builds online where this surface was added using PE by the modeller.

There are also no tools provided, which is, again, something that may be accurate; don’t forget, this vehicle was not progressed from the prototype phase. It really should not be hard to add a couple of shovels and picks should you want to include them. The weird, corkscrew-like exhaust is designed in a way that after gluing the two halves together there is no need to fill in seam lines; a very considerate way of designing models.

The thin handrails around the top of the hull are very well done, but a pain in the neck to use because it is really difficult to clean them properly from the sprue gates. They are very thin and snap easily. What I did was to shave off as much leftover plastic as I could, and then brushed on some liquid glue to melt the plastic a bit, smoothing out the sharp, protruding sprue gate remains. In all honesty if the model was not for review I would have just switched the plastic to wire, keeping the vertical holders. (It is also very easy to break them during the painting and weathering steps. Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Amusing Hobby 1/35 Ferdinand with interior part 3.

Building and painting as I go. I used AK’s French blue for the greyish/blueish parts, and a black thread for the V belt on the engine. (And lots of rust on the exhausts…)

Touching it up here and there: some red is added to to some fine details to make them pop; it will be a shame to cover it up. I think I will cut the crew compartment’s floor in half to show off what is underneath.

Tiger Model 1/35 AML-90 Part 3. All is Dust

 

Part 1.

Part 2.

 

Magnus did nothing wrong, as we know. So dusting it up. I used AK Interactive’s Dust Effects as a base. The tutorial on the AK website is OK(ish) – the usual trick applies: you add the product, wait until it dries to the touch, and adjust it with a wet (using turpentine) brush.

The results are OK, but not good enough – the single tone and the texture alone does not work perfectly. However, as with all effects you need layers and different tones, so it is not exactly a surprise. I looked around my shelf, and took all the acrylic dust products I could find, and went working on the model.

Most of these products could be adjusted and re-adjusted with one prominent exception: once the Vallejo rain marks product hits the surface you have very little time to adjust the effect. (I had to mask the marks on the turret using pigments.)

I will do a short tutorial about the acrylic pencils; the trick is to swamp the surface with water, rub the pencils on, wait until the mess is dry, and then you can adjust with a wet brush, creating puddles, streaks and spots. Rinse and repeat. Or rather, do not rinse, just keep adjusting, maybe adding more pigments.

I am starting to feel quite good about dust; if I have a chance I would like to give Lifecolor’s liquid pigments a try, but these tools are perfectly sufficient to achieve good results.

I wrote a review of this model on Armorama as well… as you can see it has been published quite a long time ago, but the weekly publication schedule caused a considerable slip. (Hence the extra post this week. I want to get it out of the way… Still have ICM’s Leichttractor to do.)

Amusing Hobby 1/35 Ferdinand with interior part 2.

Well, keep going with the interior of the lower hull. The assembly was a joy; most parts are simply dry fitted during painting as they fit really well, and slot into their respective places. Part one went well, part two continues this trend.

I gave a few, subsequently lightening coats of AK’s dunkelgelb to the bottom, and started with the ivory interior color (also AK, then misted over with MRP’s paint to lighten it on the top), using the bottom of the crew compartment as a mask (also some masking tape for the other areas not covered by it.

The gun needs some filler. Which is a bummer.

The suspension is an unique torsion bar system, which is reproduced by Amusing Hobby -at least now I know how it is supposed to work.

Does it work? Kind of.

It is very well designed, but the metal springs/torsion bars are not very strong. The metal springs have a slot on the hull which produces the tension; it is not very difficult to install them. (First I thought the metal wire hanging out of the suspension units are leftovers, but no; they do have a role.) Some of the units do have a “spring” to it, but most are quite flaccid. It does move, though.

Onto painting details – that is the topic of the next post.

Tiger Model 1/35 AML-90 Part 2. final assembly and painting

Part 1.

The model comes with a very well designed instruction booklet, and a colored page showing the camouflage patterns as a painting guide. The parts are well-moulded, the detail is crisp and fine, and I found no flash anywhere – it is a very high tech plastic model. There are valves, tiny nuts and all sorts of small details present on the model that you actually need a magnifying glass for. All-in-all, it is just a great little model, with just enough parts not to make it an enormous undertaking to build. You get 7 sprues with a total of 266 parts, one of which has transparent parts, 5 vinyl tires, 2 small PE with a total of 19 parts, aluminium and a brass turned barrel for the main gun and the coaxial machine gun, four metal springs and a small decal sheet.

There is a minimal PE but not exactly overdone; the fit is good, and when I dry fitted the hull to see how it holds up, it actually stayed together without glue. The detail both inside and out is good – when you open the hatches, there will be a lot of detail to see.

There is a great option of using either vinyl tires or plastic ones – as someone who does not like vinyl, I really, applaud the inclusion of hard plastic. There is also a metal barrel included for both the main gun and the coaxial machine gun, which is also very much welcome. The suspension has metal springs -they do not work, but they do look realistic. Everything is safely bagged, in color-coded bags for the springs to make the job of the builder simpler – the whole package is just geared for a pleasant building experience. (You can find photos of the sprues in this review: https://www.themodellingnews.com/2019/07/in-boxed-135th-panhard-aml-90-light.html?m=1)

The painting was done with silly putty: I left the Vallejo dark grey primer as black, and applied NATO green and brown in successive steps.