Category Archives: Hobby Boss

Revisiting an old model: Hobby Boss’ 1/48 T-34/76

 

There is always a good case for going back to finished models: no model is ever finished… There’s always something more, something else you can do, you can add – and in this case I definitely did not finish the tank. I was so happy with the experiment of painting the chipped paint on the armor, I somehow neglected the dust and other weathering effects. I also put the engine aside thinking that I’ll display it once “I build an appropriate jig to hold it”, but never got around to actually do it. So here was the time – I wanted to experiment with dust and streaks.

First, I used evergreen strips to make a simple holder for the engine, painted it tan, and then covered it with burned umber oil paint. After a day or two I used a stiff (very stiff) brush to remove a lot of this oil paint; this gave a nice wood-like grain. (I failed to repeat the procedure on the inside, though… kind of embarrassing.)

The engine itself received some washes with black and burned umber mixed together. I also used “engine grime” from AK Interactive diluted in Zest It (a turpentine alternative) in several layers. One thing I did not know about AK products -because I don’t really use them- is that you have to dilute them… lesson learned.

So that’s the engine taken care of.

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Next the tank itself. I’ve used oils (black, burned umber, burned sienna, even yellow) to make faint stains that are running down on the side of the turret. Essentially just added some paint to a piece of cardboard and left it there for about an hour – this was enough for the linseed oil to sweep out of the paint. (It’s important because this way the oils dry matte.) After that I applied small dots on the top of the turret, and used a flat, moistened brush to pull it down, creating a streak. This was then tidied up with further downwards/sideways strokes using a clean brush. The secret is to leave just enough paint on to be visible… Takes a little time to get the hang of it, but once you get it, it’s not difficult. Patience is the key: big, ugly streaks don’t look very real. I also did it in several layers; obviously this meant at least four-five days of waiting between coats.

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This same procedure was repeated on the flat surfaces as well. I used greens, yellows and some white to blend into the base coat, using a similar process. A dot of paint was added, and then blended using a moist brush. The results bring the surface to life; I was pretty happy with it.

I always see the auxiliary tanks on the T-34 depicted with serious fuel stains; using AK Interactive’s fuel stains product diluted with Zest It I gave it a try myself. (It’s probably not very realistic; this much spilled fuel would not be very safe, even taking the low flammability of diesel fuel into consideration.)

First I prepared a very diluted mixture, which was applied in a wide streak. Once it was try, I prepared a less diluted mixture, and added on top on a narrower streak, and repeated it a couple of times more. The same logic was applied to the oil stains on the engine deck: large spots were prepared using very diluted oil stains (black/brown mixture of oil paint), and progressively smaller stains were added using progressively thicker paint/Zest It mixture.

The last step was to add dust to the model. I used different mixtures of brown pigments wet (using Zest It). Once the pigments dried on the surface, I used a moist brush to remove most of them, leaving dusty spots and areas. Again, layers are the key: different shades, different subtle layers will give a more realistic result, than one heavy layer.

I have to say the results really were worth the time. I can honestly say I’ve finished the tank, mere seven years after starting it… (I remember buying it in the hobby store at Military Road in Frt Lauderdale after taking my flatmate to the dentist…)

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Toldi I, 1/35 Hobby Boss

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The Treaty of Versailles forbade Hungary to possess or to develop armored vehicles after the First World War. Only in the ‘30s did the rearmament start in earnest, later than in most European countries. Some unsuccessful experiments led to the realization that a completely independent domestic tank research and development program would be prohibitively expensive. After some evaluation the government bought the license of the Swedish Landswerk AB L-60 in 1939, and started to manufacture a modified version under the name of 38.M Toldi I, or Toldi A20. (Miklos Toldi was a legendary nobleman and warrior in the 14th century.) The main modification was in the armament: the main gun was changed to the Hungarian-produced 2cm Solothurn anti-tank rifle, and an 8mm Gebauer machine gun. The first order was for 80 vehicles, produced by both the MAVAG and GANZ companies. In 1940 the Toldi received new, stronger torsion springs, and was renamed to Toldi II. 110 such vehicles were ordered. The first combat experience in Yugoslavia during the ’41 campaign highlighted how inadequate the main armament was, so 80 of the Toldi II variants were rebuilt with a 4cm gun, and had their frontal and turret armor increased to 35 mm. Even with these improvements the tank was hopelessly outclassed on the Eastern front by the T-34 and the KV-1, but due to its speed and good radio equipment it was put to good use as a reconnaissance vehicle.

When you evaluate the vehicles produced by smaller nations, keep it in mind that they were not designed to fight the Russian or German war machine originally. Their abysmal performance is due to the fact that they were built to fight military hardware built by similarly small countries; never the “big boys” -and they are the products of the ’30s, so they were already obsolete by the time the war broke out. The fact that Hungary after losing most of its historical territories where the heavy industry was based could produce tanks was a small miracle in itself. The fact that these tanks were not very good is a different matter.

Ironically, Toldi was an incredibly strong guy: showing the right way to Buda with gigantic sticks, retraining raging bulls with bare hands, and throwing milling stones at soldiers. And they named a light tank after him. Go figure.

 

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The Hobby Boss offering was an impulse buy, and one I regretted. The model is no more detailed than a 1/72 scale model, and it has accuracy issues. The build itself can be finished in about two hours. Except for one thing. The tracks. You will hate these tracks. You are given individual track links, which you will have to cut off the sprue (five attachment points each), and glue together. They are smaller than 1/72 Tiger track links. They are thin and easily bend and break. It’s insane. (I never had problems with DML’s pnzI individual tracks, mind you.) The best way I could figure out to work with them was to glue them together two at a time, and then build up longer sections once dry. It’s still horrible; this is when link and length or one-piece, flexible tracks would have been much, much more desirable.

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Base coat is on, and dry fitted the upper hull.4d5f48v

 

Before the tracks are attached the lower hull is painted and weathered.tehrzu8

 

Camo on -I’ve chosen the colorful pre-war scheme. rpddsp13bno5fg1o9oygadwmqel6v

 

Washes and filters… they help accentuate the details, and blend together the different colors. Yellow, green and brown filters prepared from oil paints were used.m0jwcnk

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The decals are thick and they don’t hug the details very well; this is a problem with the large ones.au0afpoh9tplmc

I very lightly dusted the model using Mig’s washable dust. In this case I was looking for a fading-effect, not a dust effect. Once it is completely dry, it’s difficult to remove, so keep it in mind.

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I’ve used pigments mixed with water to make the tank extremely dusty. I decided to use the model for an experiment, if I can create a convincingly dusty tank. After all, these were used as reconnaissance vehicles on the eastern front, and boy, that place was dusty during the summer… I wanted to show a tank absolutely caked in dust. (Next experiment: convincingly muddy tank, caked in mud.)cq6rzig

 

Once the water dried, I used a dry cotton swab to remove most of the pigments using downwards motions. I made sure I left more accumulated in crevices, and around rivets and other details.

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Once I was satisfied I used a pigment fixer to keep everything in place. Since it’s kept in a closed-down display case, even that was unnecessary.

To sum up the experience: not good. The tracks, and the simplicity just killed this model for me; the level of detail, as I mentioned is on par with 1/72 offerings. It took me a long time to finish this model, and I’m somewhat disappointed in Hobby Boss. Their 1/48, 1/72 models are incredible; especially the T-34 series with full interior… but in 1/35 they seem a bit lacking. (The Pnz I F was somewhat underwhelming, too.) I’ve read that they’ve bought up the Tristar moulds, and started producing those kits again -this is a good sign for the future I guess.

T-34/85 with full interior (Hobby Boss 1/48)

I have a fetish for interiors… They make an interesting vehicle (let it be an airplane, a tank or a car model) even more intriguing -after all, you get to see under the hood (in a very literal sense). You get to see where the crew is located, where the engine is, where they keep the ammo; you get some idea about the general ergonomics of the vehicle, and of course, some vague idea how the whole machine works.

I have an ongoing project to build all German tanks in 1/35 with full interiors. This is not always a cheap option, as many models require resin interiors, and only lately did plastic models came out with full (or partial) interiors. (The Bronco pnz I. F. comes with one, for example.)

When Hobby Boss came to the market, they started churning out incredibly cheap and incredibly well made models in 1/48. They cost as little as a 1/72 model, and half of a Tamiya model in the same scale. One of the most incredible thing they did was to start selling T-34 series with full interiors. I could have bought all the models they came out with, but since I already have a 1/16 Trumpeter model in storage, I restrained myself. (Talking about the Trumpeter kit… the Hobby Boss kit feels like a shrunken version of the Trumpeter offering.)

The interior is simply amazing. So without further ado: the gorgeous T-34. I have to say: even if you are an SF modeller, or you only build airplanes, give a shot to this kit; you won’t regret it.

The V2 diesel engine is really well detailed. I’ve left it out of the tank, so I could display it on a stand in front of it. (A future plan…)
I used filler to make the surface irregularities on the turret. (The casting process left the metal rough, and due to the demands of the war, they were not very particular about looks, anyway.)
My very first attempt in chipping: light green base, and some dark brown on top of it to give the illusion of depth.

Hobby Boss 1/35 Pz.Kpfw. I. Ausf. F (VK 18.01) Early (filters on a gray base color)

This was an impulse buy from Ebay. I always liked this tank: it looks like a clumsy little cousin of the “big boys”… A small tank that desperately wants to be taken seriously, so it has as much armor as a Tiger, but somehow forgotten to upgrade the armament. I guess this makes it look more like a joke, than an actual threat: you can run away from it, and the pea-shooters it has for guns are not looking very menacing, either. I always think of “Hans the Tank Engine” when I see this guy. Everything seems oversized: the roadwheels, the tracks, the armor except for the tiny-winy little guns and the turret.

There are a couple of reasons I regretted buying this model. One is the scale; 1/35 became a bit too large for me lately. (I’ve gotten used to faster builds in Braille scale.) For this reason I would rather have preferred to get the Armory model in 1/72 scale (or the new Flyhawk one). The other is that I realized Bronco issued the same kit (what is it with these companies suddenly coming out with obscure tanks at the same time, anyway?), with full interior, no less… This actually made me weep.

Anyhow.

This tank has a designation of Pz.KPfw. I. but it has almost nothing in common with the Ausf A, B or C versions. It has an incredibly thick armor for its size (80mm max), and it’s armed with two MG-34s. It did reach 25kmph on roads, though. Thirty of these little guys were made during the early years of the war.

Incredibly, a couple of these tanks did see combat at Kursk… the rest were used as training tanks.

The building was simple, straightforward and easy. The kit is a very well-engineered one, and not difficult to build at all. The prominent hatch on the side is modelled closed- even though it IS open in the box art. The other annoying thing is the lack of clear parts for the headlights. They give you a plastic lens. A pair of grey plastic lens. (As soon as I find my two-part clear epoxy, I’ll fill the headlights in.)

I decided to go with the panzer grey theme; it does look a bit boring at first look, but it gave me an opportunity to experiment with filters and pre-shading. The aim was to depict a tank after a couple of days of training: dusty, somewhat battered learner’s tank.

As a first step after applying the black primer and the grey paint was to add lighter version of the base paint to the outstanding areas: periscope covers, hatch, edges, headlights, etc.

It does look unrealistic, but it still looks pleasing to the eye. The question was: how much of this will blend in after the filters? After all you’d only want a slight hint of the contrast remain; something your eye sees but your brain does not.

Next step: washes. With burned umber and black oil paints. (I left the paints on some cardboard to drain it from the excess linseed oil.) After adding the pinwashes, and waiting about 1 hours, I removed the excess with a damp brush.

Sorry for the poor quality photos… my new phone does have a bad camera, and I was lazy to set up the lightbox and the actual digital camera I use.

Next came the filter. After sealing the paint with a semi-matt clear coat, I thought of what sort of hues I want to achieve on the base color. I ended up using blue, black, white, yellow, raw umber and burned umber in different quantities on different panels. After the oil dried I applied some scratches using black-brown to the edges and other areas where I expect the paint to be damaged. (It should have been done earlier, but I really wanted to carry on with the filters.) I also tried making actual scratches lightly over the black primer; if you are careful, the black shows through, forming a pretty convincing scratch.)

The result can be -kind of- seen in the photos I’ve taken with the crappy smartphone camera… some hint of color on the grey surface does show.

In the meanwhile the tools were painted as well. The wooden handles were painted in a light tan color, and then I used brown oil paint to simulate the grain of the wood. Add the undiluted paint to the ends, and use a brush to pull it down towards the middle – easy and very convincing.

After this step I attached the tools to the model; I usually weather them at the same time as the models, which blends their color together a bit. (With the dot method I leave the tools off as the brush tends to remove them during the more vigorous movements…)

I also applied several pre-mixed filters (fading and aging effects) by True Earth using an airbrush. They are water soluble, and contain no pigments. I found that they don’t spread evenly; when sprayed or brushed onto the surface, they tend to break up into tiny droplets. I’ll experiment with some surfactants to see if this can be remedied. Using Citadell’s Lahmian medium might also be a solution to the problem – we’ll see.

The next step was the pigments. For this I only used water diluted pigments: I made an industrial slurry-looking thin mixture, and using a brush I applied it to the crevices and panel lines. Once dry I used my finger to wipe/smear the extra off. They were applied in heavier layers on the bottom/sides of the hull. I used several layers of all sorts of earth/dust-colored pigments to have variation.

The filters and the pigments look pretty convincing in my opinion. Some fibers from the cotton swabs can be spotted, unfortunately; they were an early (and aborted) attempt in removing the oil washes. As a finishing touch I used a lead pencil on the edges of the tank, and on the tracks to simulate the metallic sheen of actual metal. This does make the tank look more real.

Now that it’s done, it will go into it’s little display case which it will share with a Hobby Boss Toldi I, as soon as the Toldi is finished.