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

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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.

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.

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…

 

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.

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A with interior part 3.

Part 1 of the build

Part 2 of the build

Since I started the RFM Panther as well, I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.

Let’s get the tracks out of the way. Last week we assembled the RFM Panther’s tracks; let’s see how the Takom version compares.
Short answer: not so well… The idea is not bad. In order to get great detail, hollow guide horns and all, you are to glue the guide horns on individually. Fortunately they do not force you to do it one-by-one, like Meng does with its Panther, but provide you with a little setup where you can glue sections of horns onto the link-and-length tracks in one go. This sounds good in theory, however in practice with this method not all horns are glued on securely, and will detach when you try to clip the sprue away. Which means gluing individual horns on anyway. Not as many as you would if you had to do it with all links, but still.

 

 

The assembly of the engine was simple but the detail is astonishingly good. Cudos for Takom for getting the balance between detail and complexity just right.

 

 

First step painting the interior: white. After priming the tank with Vallejo primer (I probably should buy a lighter color, too… it helps with preshading to have a dark grey primer before the light colors, but it also makes painting a bit more tedious.) Anyhow, I used a creme color specifically made for German interiors by MRP’s Mr Paint. This is supposed to be a ready-to-use airbrush paint, which does not require thinning.

 

I had some troubles with it. I did shake it for over 5 minutes, I used a nail polish shaker, yet the paint came out as if it was overthinned: it hardly covered anything, and it went on patchy and runny. Obviously I’m doing something wrong, but I could not figure out what- and MRP did not respond to my inquiry. Since I am somewhat short on time, I had not inclination to experiment further; just used an ivory color by Testor’s which I had for over fifteen years to cover the area in two passes. Old school is best, apparently. (Don’t get me wrong; Mr Paint might be the greatest thing ever, but they really should include pointers how to use them… or respond to emails asking for help.) I did not give up on the paint yet, but to proceed with the build I put it aside for now.

Primer red coat… I used another new brand for me, AK Interactive’s acrylic paint. This paint needs to be diluted for airbrushing, and it went on great for the first try. (This is a flat paint, as opposed to the gloss Mr Paint one. I found that flat paints go on better and smoother than gloss ones; this could be a factor.)

Advice, again: before adding tid-bits, suspension and whatnot – paint the interior first. It was very tedious to mask off all the protruding parts. (With the RFM Panther I assembled the lower hull first -just the three main parts- and painted it before adding anything else.

 

Once the base color was done, I lightened it with some buff for some highlights, and went over the edges and other outstanding details with a brush. I used some Vallejo weathering products on the bottom (engine oil, soot and whatnot), and then added the torsion bars to the sides, and put the hull together.

This is where I went wrong a bit… I deviated from the instructions because I wanted to paint several subassemblies separately before putting them togheter; after all, painting the torsion bars after they are installed under all the hull ribbing, and painting the transmission glued in place seemed like a pain in the bum. Little did I know. I added everything to the hull bottom and the sides that were to be painted primer red, and then proceeded with painting and assembly.

 

Important things to remember:

1. Do NOT attach the hull sides before installing the transmission. The transmission needs to go in first.
2. Also: do NOT install the torsion bars before the transmission.
3. Do not attach the torsion bars to the sides as the instructions show (you are supposed to slide them in place when attaching the side) . I found it really frustrating to do so since the side does bend a bit, and it makes sliding the torsion bars into place really tedious. I think inserting the torsion bars before adding the sides would simplify this issue tremendously.
4. I messed up a bit with adding all the details onto the hull bottom; they shrouded the attachment points for some of the torsion bars, making installation a bit more difficult than necessary.
5. Do not attach anything to the sides before painting. It makes masking a nightmare. (But you will have to paint the smaller parts by hairy sticks…)

6.Do add the batteries before installing the drive shaft and the firewall. Do not ask me how I found out the order.

Keeping these pointers in mind, you may modify the order of assembly.

Filters with Tamiya transparent paints

This is just a quick review of the technique.

I read a while ago someone mentioning using Tamiya’s clear paints for modulating the base color of tanks, and the idea stuck in my head for a while.

Since I was painting the V-4 Straussler, I thought I’d give it a try. The technique is dead-easy: you stir the paint, load your airbrush and shoot away. (I’m sure you can use a brush as well to accentuate individual areas.)

The transparent green deepens the color and is best used on the lower part of the chassis. The transparent yellow gives it a bit of a depth – makes the green paint look warmer.

Tamiya Smoke may have a good use for simulating shadows. Will have to try.

All-in-all, it’s something to keep in mind.

Sniper (1/35)

 

 

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Well, this guy has been sitting in a box forgotten, for years. (OK, not forgotten. I did think about painting it a lot.)

 

Well, after a short time building and painting, he is done. One more long-bought kit off my conscience.

 

 

Addendum: I found something interesting. The figure is based on the photo of a real person- Carlos Hathcock, aka “White Feather“.

Artel W Miniatures – Eisenhorn (Inquisitor)

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I always loved the dark, hopeless world of Warhammer 40K (look up Grimdark when you have some time).

This is an universe where even the good guys are worse than any actual historical monster you can think of: a collection of xenophobic, genocidal maniacs in different shapes of forms -and that’s only the Imperium of Man. Superhuman, gene crafted soldiers who think themselves as actual Ubermensch, the Imperial Guard, an armed force that throws millions into the meatgrinder without a thought, and of course the shadowy and all powerful Inquisition that oversees the civilian aspects of life in the Imperium. Add to this all the external threats: aliens, renegades and heretics, and you have an empire that is held together by tape and strings, threatened by multiple external and internal forces each of which could spell its doom it by itself, let alone together. So what’s not to love?

There’s a huge collection of books published by Black Library set in this universe; and a large portion of them are frankly no better than some badly written fan-fiction. However there are gems which are great on their own rights, and they are absolutely worth reading and re-reading. The Eisenhorn Trilogy is one of these book series which is a really, really good story regardless of its origins. (Space fantasy tends to be looked down upon by the “purists” of the SF genre, hence the second part of the sentence.)

The series detail the journey of an Imperial Inquisitor, Gregor Eisenhorn from a young idealist on the path of corruption and ruination. Due to external circumstances and small, seemingly unimportant or small actions and choices of his own he becomes something he would have recognised (and executed without a thought) as a heretic in his youth. The story is complex, and quite an interesting one; after all, the same path is trodden by many people who acquire power. Why I like the story (apart of the quality of writing, of course) is how easily it can be transposed onto our own real world: very few people start out with the intention of becoming corrupt, or do evil. Corruption comes gradually with seemingly small and insignificant steps, yet it will twist the person beyond recognition. (Not to mention Eisenhorn remains true to his mission: fighting for humanity, which adds an extra layer of complexity to the story.)

Since I love the story, I wanted to make an Eisenhorn figure, of course, which can be an issue in WH40. Not all characters have figures available, not to mention the silly poses (it seems like everyone and their mother are shouting and pointing at stuff in the grim future). It is fair enough because they WERE made for a tabletop game, but for a modeller it’s a definite problem if you want your figures in a more dignified (and realistic) pose. In case of this specific figure the pose is actually quite nice (and he has his signature sword), the proportions are good, but the problem is that the figure is out of production and hard to get. Not to mention it depicts our favourite inquisitor towards the end of the trilogy; I prefer him in his prime.

Enter the blooming resin industry. There are several companies producing alternatives, conversions for the WH40/Warhammer games; these are miniatures that are not nearly enough similar to the originals to be considered as copyright infringements, but they are close enough to be clear what they supposed to represent. A lot of these conversions and figures are produced because there are holes in the market (if there is no available set by GW; for example conversion sets for space marines for specific legions or chapters), or straight-out improvements. In case of the Chaos Rhino, Mortarion or Abaddon figure in my opinion they are definite improvements, for example. And now we review Eisenhorn, produced by a Russian company, Artel W Miniatures. (Shortly after this figure was issued, WG announced that they were coming out with a new Eisenhorn figure, so now we have three… Choice is a good thing.)

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The name of the miniature is very close to the originals, so it is abundantly clear who it refers to, even if you don’t know the iconic painting of the inquisitor (which actually inspired the books according to the author). The figure essentially copies the artwork: we have Eisenhorn strolling forward with a gun and a tube in his hand, his runestaff mounted on his back. (This setup puts the figure to the last few chapters of the second book, or the first chapters of the third.)

The figure comes in a very impressive package: a box wrapped in brown paper with a wax seal… I have to say I felt quite reluctant to open it, as it had this exclusive feel to the whole set. It’s a feel definitely something you don’t really get when you get a blister pack. (Admittedly it’s not a priority when you buy something, but still.) The paper covers a cardboard box, which contains the few pieces of the model itself, sealed in ziplock bags.

The model consists the torso with the cape, the lower part of the body, the two arms and the runestaff. His iconic power sword is not included, but to be fair it’s not on the original artwork, either. Regardless, he should have Barbarisater on his hip. (Quite possibly the tube could be replaced with a sword.) Despite of the small size of the figure the detail is very fine and impressive; the chains, the folds of his clothes, the inquisitorial rosette, the gun are all very well defined. The expression on his face (which is anatomically well proportioned) is quite grim, but this is the only appropriate expression for him, as you will learn from the books if you have not read them already, so that’s quite on the money, too.

The assembly is very quick. There’s very little cleanup required: mostly the parts where the torso meets the lower body. There is no flash on the bits. The arms fit into their slots well.

Painting was a joy- but I am not a master by all means. Only after looking at the photos do you realise how hard it is to paint a miniature on a professional level for the box art (like the above examples of GW’s minis). When you look at this figure with your eyes it actually looks pretty good. Once you bring out the macro can you see the imperfections and mistakes. Oh well. I can always claim to be an amateur.

The leather overcoat was base colored using snakebite leather, and then layered lots of different brown oil paints on top, trying to achieve the leather effect. The cloth underneath was painted regal blue, the trousers antracite, and the boots gloss black. The stash and the parchment of the purity seal was painted white, and were given a coat of brown filter. The metallic details were painted with AK Interactive’s True Metal gold and steel.

The runestaff was painted with a mixture of these metal paints; the skull in the middle was painted deep green, and some random smears of lighter green and black, covered with nuln oil. (It was supposed to be carved from a warp-infused stone. There you go: here, on this blog only, the sole accurate Eisenhorn Miniature in existence…)

Basically, that’s it. It’s a high quality miniature of an iconic character from the WH40K universe; if you missed the original “official” figure, or don’t like the newer one, now is your chance to get one for your collection. His nemesis/ally, Cherubael is coming soon.

 

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panzher Ausf A with interior part 2.

Part 1 of the build

Since I started the RFM Panther as well, I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.

If you want to paint the interior, unfortunately you need to deviate from the suggested roder of assembly.

I skipped the steps which detailing the outside of the hull, and continued with step 42. This step details the finishing touches on the hull’s interior: the top section. The hull machine gun, radios, etc. are installed. The hull machine gun is a quite elaborate piece, but the barrel is not hollowed out; kind of annoying oversight. (In this day of injection moulding this is not an unreasonable expectation.)

The radio is also a very nicely detailed multipiece assembly, which, in turn, gets then enveloped by the walls of the radio mount, so only the front face remains visible. There is no guide for the wiring, and there are no headsets provided.

From here I skipped to steps 47 to 63: turret exterior and interior assemblies. You have some choices with regards to the gun mantlet; I just picked the one I liked the best, since I was not modelling one particular Panther.

Again; a pretty detailed set of steps, but nothing stands out as particularly difficult. Even the grab handles were good enough to be used; normally I switch them for wire. I particularly liked the flexible hose that will connect the fume extractor to the spent shell holder; it makes assembly a lot more easier. RFM has this hose as two separate parts that will meet in the middle when the turret halves are joined; we’ll see how good the fit is.

A couple of things to note:

The commander’s cupola is easier to assemble if you first glue K2 and K24 together (top of the cupola + insert), then add the periscopes, and finish off with K3. It is really difficult to fit the periscopes in if you follow the instructions. The periscopes, by the way, are not clear, so they will need to be painted. (RFM provides clear parts for the periscopes.)

Periscope guards are provided on a template, which sounds like a good solution. You glue the template in place, and then cut the guards off individually. Not sure how it is better, but it is a neat idea. None of the periscope guards are provided in PE, put they are thin enough to suffice.

There are injection pin marks in the interior of the turret; these will need to be sanded off carefully if you intend to show the inside.

Steps 51-52 go through the assembly of the back of the turret. The loader’s hatch is workable, but the assembly of the hinges is a bit flimsy, and not very user-friendly. Honestly, this was the part were I was cursing the most.

Steps 53-54 detail the assembly of the AA machine gun and its holder, and the bottom part of the turret. There is only one type of MG32 available; I’m not sure if there were alternative options for barrels and sighting devices used on the Ausf A Panthers. (RFM gives you some options for the Ausf G.) I left the ammo pouch off until I finish the painting stage to make things easier. (I’ll just paint all the pouches in one batch, and install them once the hull interior is done.)

Step 55 assemble the turret rotating mechanism. Lots of small parts, but the results are pretty good; I have to say I was impressed with how it looks. I was especially impressed with the accuracy: the rod connecting the two sides of the machinery just fell into place; not a fraction of a milimeter misalignement.

The main gun is assembled from step 56 to 57. It is -again- not a difficult undertaking, and the the instructions provide a couple of drawings of the finished parts -it certainly helps the assembly. (I would be nice to have this sort of assistance a bit more often; they would certainly improve the instructions.) Comparison to the RFM kit: well, the gun on the RFM is definitely more detailed -and have a lot more parts- , no doubt about that. The question is if it is something you actually notice. I myself am curious of the answer to that. 

The gun and the gun mantlet has a lot of details, such as rivets and hexagonal bolts, that will be hidden… they might be useful if someone knows the tank enough to assemble the model as a tank undergoing complete overhaul.

Steps 58 and 59 show the assembly of the turret basket floor and all the stuff that is attached to it (spent shell holder, seats, electrical components, etc.)

In the next two steps (60-61) the base of the turret and the turret basket are joined together.

Step 62 installs the top part of the fume extractor hose, and step 63 details the installation of the gun barrel to the main gun, and the attachment of the main gun to the turret. The muzzle break is made out of two halves, which is less than ideal, since it necessitates filling and sanding. I really would have preferred to get a single piece one.

And finally… the last step – step 64. The final touches on the turret, the mating of the turret and the hull, with an optional turret ring provided (should you want to display the model with the turret off, which is very likely if you decide to buy the 16 ton crane Takom and Amusing Hobby are coming out with. The separate ring will help you with the painting: it is much simpler to do this way, rather than trying to paint moulded-on details. For obvious reasons this step has not yet come for this tank. But it will. How soon- well, time will tell.

So here we are now. Time to paint.

Unfortunately the fact that I have an apartment to refurbish, while work full time and also settle in our little home with my wife waiting for our daughter to arrive, means I can only work on models for a short period at any time; perhaps the painting will need to be postponed for a while. Until then – let’s finish up the RFM tank as well! Stay tuned.