Attached the rack to the top, and then painted and weathered all the baggage.
This essentially concluded the building process. Some adjustments here and there are still done, but the model is essentially ready. The smaller details will be added in the upcoming week (or two), and I will post the result. Some oil cans, gas cylinders are missing still, but I think the weathering is finished, so once they are installed, the model will be officially ready, too.
Overall I would say this is an interesting subject, a relatively well designed model, with the caveat of the assembly of the chassis, the running gear and the bonnet.
The doors were weathered inside and out. I used oils straight to modulate their colors from the inside, some dark and rush washes to make them look used. I chose two of the posters and glued them onto the back door. I used a very faint rust wash on the seams – using rust colored pigments suspended in ZestIt.
The outside got several layers of splashed mud using the same basic mixture of dust colored pigments, AK’s resin thickening agent, and water with other colored pigments added between applications. I used the usual method of splattering this mixture onto the model with the help of an old brush and a toothpick. The secret of realistic looking result is several, almost invisible layers on top of each other; just swamping the surface with a single dust/mud color will make the model look, well, not good, as I experienced it when I started using pigments and other products, expecting to see the same results as can be seen on the packaging.
The top of the bus got a much lighter mixture of dust colored pigments. I used both AK’s pencils and Tamiya’s dust weathering stick to achieve the effect. The good thing about these products is that you can just add them onto the surface with a copious amount of water, wait until they dry, and then use a wet brush to adjust the effect to your heart’s content.
I also dusted up the windows a bit; after all you can’t expect them to be completely clean if the vehicle is dusty.
OK, the final push… fixing the running gear, painting small details, and dusting it up. (I wanted to leave scratches and paintchips off this time; historically it is more accurate, but the real reason is that I am experimenting with effects. I don’t want all my models look the same.)
The running gear was somewhat damaged during the subsequent handling, so I had to do some fixing, painting and extra weathering. It is not perfect I admit.
I painted smaller details, like the plug on the machine gun port.
And finally, I added dust and mud.
I started with Mig Ammo’s washable dust. I never managed to actually wash it back off (it sticks quite well to the matte surfaces I prefer, and it runs into tiny droplets when sprayed onto smooth surface), but it is a very good-looking dust paint. I carefuly built up the dust effect from the bottom up using an airbrush. The horizontal top surfaces got dust layers using a brush, and I did manage to wash them back before full drying.
Added streaks using AK’s weathering pencils and some streaking products.
The bottom part (running gear, mud guards, etc) got light washes of different mud-colored pigments; after drying it looks pretty convincing. (The one big thing I need to learn is creating mud with volume…)
The running gear, the tracks, the edges were lined with a silver pencil to give a slight metallic shine to the model, and essentially I was done. The model is ready (yes, there could be some more things done with it, but for now I declare it finished).
The interior can be seen through the transparent parts I left unpainted; however it was quite difficult to take photos through them, so here are some photos from the building phase as reminder.
Overall, Amusing Hobby managed to create a complex model with an interior which is relatively easy to assemble, although there are some problematic areas. The top of the superstructure does not fit very well, and the individual track links are no ideal, either. There are some other fit issues I mentioned in the posts about the assembly, and as Peter kindly commented, the interior is not perfectly replicated. Regardless, the model is highly recommended: it builds up into an impressive replica of the Ferdinand tank destroyer, and all that space inside is perfectly filled out with interesting details.
Now off to finish some long-outstanding builds before starting that T-72…
One last thing to mention.
On this photo used to promote Amusing Hobby’s new version of the Elephan it totally looks like if that dude was milking the vehicle.
OK, I finished all the little details, added everything, and it looks pretty cool. I have to say I am very pleased with the results… it is now time to hide them.
The headlights were painted with the chrome paint from Green Stuff World. The thing is simply amazing. It looks just like liquid chrome.
I closed down the top of the vehicle, and painted the exterior in dunkelgelb. I used liquid mask on the windows, but the mask was way too thin, and on some places the paint actually stuck to the transparent plastic; it took some care to remove it without scratching the windows. The few remaining scratches will be covered up with dust. (Yes, I admit it. We all do it, right?)
You can clearly see where the hooks for the ladder broke off… Beh. Looking at the photos one of the front wheels look wobbly; this was a damage occupred during the handling of the model. As I said before, the attachment point is not exactly robust. I also found a curious issue: the rectangular transparent plastic on the top of the windshield does not actually fit into the rectangular hole. I might just leave it out – the new users (Germans) would not need the number sign on their captured bus.
All the juicy details are now hidden inside; I feel quite conflicted about it; I probably should have done something to make the top removable.
Next up: weathering and finishing the model. I hope.
OK, after the Mig Ammo filter chipping, I was a bit more careful applying green filter to the model. These filters can be created from oil paints, but it is nice to have pre-mixed colors, and not just the ones you get from the tube. This particular filter is for green vehicles, but you can actually use them for other colors without the modeling police showing up at your door. The previous layers were light brownish colors- closer to the Dunkelgelb, and this layer is a green color -close to the olive green, hence tying the colors of the camo together somewhat, lessening the contrast. (It did work as intended; the model does not look as artificial as before already.)
This is followed by the oil-dot method, which is also a type of filter. This time I do use oil paints and ZestIt to wash most of it down. I am using yellows and greens, which are close to the camo colors -darker on the bottom, lighter on the top. I apply the dots to the surface, then with a moistened, clean wash, I start removing the paint using downward strokes, while constantly cleaning the brush.
The next oil-based step was to apply the paint straight. I used burned umber mostly, and applied it into the darker areas to form a sort of shadow/accumulated, thin mud. The paint was gently spread with a dry brush, to “massage” and feather it; you can create a really nice transition with this method. (Just use a very little amount of paint.)
On the top of the vehicle I used a yellowish hue to achieve fading. I used some dark wash on the weld seams and corners.
Well, this is the end of the oil weathering phase.
OK, so I am pressing ahead with the back of the bus, and had faced some serious issues with the front…
As the manual has you put the bonnet, the radiator, the front of the cab together at very different steps, there will be misalignements. Small problems snowball into larger ones, ending up like this: the front of the cab is pushed back by the back of the engine compartment, the radiator will be pushed front, and the side panels of the engine compartment will not fit.
So I took the whole bloody thing away, and put it back together again, this time as one unit. I also had to shave off about 3mm of the back of the engine compartment (the unit built in step 28) so that it does not put H8 (the front part of the cab) back. This way I managed to fit the side panels of the engine compartment. Victory.
Back to the back.
I built and painted the workbenches. They got a coat of light grey, then a coat of worn effects fluid, followed by dunkelgelb, worn down, applied varnish, applied worn effect fluid, applied Nato black, worn down again. I painted a couple of drawers in red and blue, and then using AK’s old wood I painted chips, scratches, and the wood panels that are visible under the worn paint.
From here on it was the matter of adding some dripping paint (stole the idea), dust, some more paint, and some oil and whatnot which you would expect on a workbench. I kinda like the achieved result.
I also started to fill up the interior; I have to say it is actually a fun thing to do, despite of my earlier reservations.
I realized a sprue was missing from my box, contacted MiniArt, and they sent me a replacement. Great customer service I have to say.
I have a couple of smaller wrenches, etc. left, and then I can close the bus, and start working on the outside. I have to say this build is much more fun than I expected, and I had already had high expectations…
Well, the Ferdinand was almost finished -the tracks were not installed as it made more sense to do after having painted the base color.
I finally bought out the airbrush, and applied Dunkelgelb from Mig Ammo (they have to shades: one until ’44, and a much lighter after ’44 -I used them mixed to give some tonal differences, focusing on the darker shades on the lower part, and putting the lightened layers on top.
While the paint cured, I painted the tracks dark grey, and applied AK’s True Metal Gun Metal on the parts that were subject to constant friction (where the road wheels and drive wheels touch the track links). The rest is treated with a couple of rust washes and a generous amount of dirt and mud.
I also applied mud to the sides of the lower chassis with layers of dust washes from Vallejo and also using Vallejo Thick mud (industrial dust) to give it volume. Once dried I stained some of it with a couple of thin, brownish washes.
This is a pale, greyish colored thick paste, which can be used to give texture to mud. It can also be mixed with different colors (acrylic paints, washes, pigments, etc.) to create darker shades as well. Diluted with water it can be used as a “splashing” mud -a lot of ways to use it. (Cost effective modelling.)
Once all this was dry, I glued the tracks on. The running gear is movable, but I did not have the patience and mindfulness to make the tracks themselves workable -they were fiddly to assemble as it is.
The tracks installed I added the mudgards, and now the model was ready to progress with the camoflage.
I applied silly putty on the top to cover the transparent parts in patches, and then proceeded to paint the green. I wanted to do the green intersecting lines style camo, and for that I should have really started with the green, and used putty to make the lines… but I started with a sand primer (on the top), so went the other way around. It took me about three hours to up the mask up (god bless teams conferences…).
I used a somewhat lightened Model Master olivegrun for the green in several thin layers (to avoid it sweeping under the mask). It was somewhat a stressful moment to take the mask off, but it worked out just well. I quite like the results.
I brush painted the details on top, which were covered by the mask (hatches, etc.) with both Dunkelgelb and Olivegrun, corrected some parts where the mask did not work perfectly, and the first part of the painting was done.
The last step at this stage was to use a dark brown filter by Mig Ammo.
Which led to an interesting discovery: the enamel-based filter dissolves the acrylic paint produced by the same company, leading to an instant chipping/worn paint effect.
I did not plan to do a lot of chipping, but I think I just discovered a new technique for chipping. (Or, alternatively, almost ruined my model. I prefer the former version.)
Next step: weathering this somewhat artificial-looking beast. (By the way, my wife said she liked the way it looked. Out of the blue. Nice…)
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.
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.