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Armory 1/72 VK 72.01 (K) “Fail Lowe”

13mgydl

When I was told I had a chance to review a model that has not even been issued yet, obviously I said yes; after all it is a rare opportunity to get your grubby hands on something so fresh out of the moulds. An added point of interest is that Armory is mostly known as a producer of high quality resin and PE aftermarket company, and their foray into the plastic scale model world is quite an interesting -and daring- step (with other resin manufacturers following suit lately).

The subject of this kit is a fictional vehicle from the popular online game World of Tanks; it it a German superheavy gift tank given out at Clan Wars, and in general it is regarded as a less-than-effective tank in-game. (Well, it might be an understatement. It’s called the Fail Lowe, OK?) It is possible that it was an actual plan during the war, but it does not really make a difference if we call it a paper panzer or a ‘46 German tank, really. Amusing Hobby issued it in 1/35 scale; now we have a more manageable sized 1/72 version.

Armory seems to be interested in fictional German tanks for their injection moulded kits; this is the second of such vehicles, and share several parts. (Lowe being the first one, which I also reviewed, and which underwent some development since then.)

The hull has a complex shape, and the surface seems rough in several places; I needed to sand the round part on the back, for example. There are no attachment points of the interlocking armor plates simulated where these plates are normally located which is a shame (where the frontal armor meets the side armor, for example.)

The PE is top-notch, which is to be expect of Armory; they have a long experience with producing PE conversions  for both armor and aircraft, and full resin/PE models.

 

Assembly

The model is not difficult to build, even without instructions (I used Armory’s Lowe’s instructions, the 3D renders, and the Tanks.gg website during the build). The hull is a conventional assembly of several flat parts; we don’t get a “bathtub” like lower hull. The fit is reasonably good.

I chose to assemble the running gear and the tracks before adding the mudguards.

The running gear’s attachment points are somewhat flimsy and weak; the wheels can detach quite easily after assembly, so be careful. (This seems to be a common issue; I had some problem with the running gear of Modelcollect’s E-100, too.) The idlers are done in an interesting fashion: the individual disks had to be glued on a shared axis. I did have to enlarge the holes on these wheels.

Since I did not have the instructions I was unsure how close the tracks needed to be mounted to the hull; it turns out I mounted them a bit closer than should have, and it meant some trimming and cutting, which is somewhat noticeable. (You won’t have this issue if you use the instructions, but I felt important to confess, since it’s the result of my circumstances and not the model’s fault.)

And this is the part where we come to the less-than-ideal part. The mud guards have small protruding sections sticking out to help with the attachment; these should fit into the corresponding holes placed on the side of the hull. The fact is that they don’t fit; the mudguards are quite thick and chunky, and the holes are not wide enough. This is a recurring issue with the model: several plastic parts are somewhat thick, which suggests a need to refine the plastic injection moulding process Armory uses (or replace the mudguards with PE parts…). Interestingly other parts, such as the tools and towing hooks are very finely moulded.

The top of the hull is a little bit wider than the bottom, which required some sanding to bring them to the same width. The top part is sitting on the top of the sides, which means there is a seam to be filled on the side.

This leads us to the next issue: the need for filling seams. The fit is not as good as to eliminate the need for filler. The seams between the mudguard and hull are quite wide and need to be filled. The triangular parts on the side under the round section also need filling (and they have a sink-mark as well). The turret also needs some trimming and filling to fit properly. The armored mantlet does have a seam on the artwork,so I decided not to touch it. Due to the nature of the moulding process, the muzzle breaks (there are three options to choose from) have also seams to fill, which is a bit more difficult due to the fine details. If you are patient, it’s worth drilling out the holes.

As I said the PE considerably improves the model; the engine deck grilles, etc. are very nice additions. I switched some tools to DML ones as I had those pre-painted; I also put on a 1/35 rolled tarp on the mudguard.

Overall, once I finished with the fitting and filling the build became quite enjoyable. The model looks unique, and once it takes shape, it’s a cool little thing to work on.

Painting

I chose a fictional painting scheme with my fictional tank, and used silly putty to mask the dunkelgelb parts. The Dunkelgelb is a mixture of Mig’s two kind of Dunkelgelb colors (mid and late war). I’m still a bit conflicted on these paints; if you use them right they do spray on nicely, but the fact that they form a cured layer makes them a bit less attractive for me. I’m used to the Tamiya paints, and I really like the fact I can just “mist” them on. I’m not sure I can do that with these paints.

The green was Tamiya dark green lightened with a lot of tan. The triangles were hand painted once the paint was dry. The model received a pin wash of dark brown to bring out the small details. (Looking over the photos I realized I forgot to paint the periscopes… this is something I’ll remedy tonight.)

As usual I applied filters (light brown, in several layers) to lessen the contrast, and added mud to the bottom of the chassis and running gear using pigments mixed with white spirit.

The decals were applied in a haphazard manner. I made up the identification numbers (birthday of my wife, if you really want to know), and put on the charging knight because I quite like the figure. I sealed everything with Testors dulcote.

Several layers of subtle streaking was added using AK’s Winter Streaking Grime. The photos bring out everything incredibly stark; they don’t look as strong by eye. It’s actually a good idea to take photos just to see the mistakes; it’s incredible how much more critical the camera is… (It also exaggerates the weathering effects, so keep that in mind. You can please the eye or you can please the camera; rarely can you do both…)

I used Tamiya’s makeup set on the whole model; it got a nice, uneven coat of dust (dark dust on the lower part, light dust on the upper part), which was followed by Mig’s washable dust on the horizontal surfaces. I did not use the product “straight”: I heavily diluted it with water, and added small patches where I thought dust would accumulate. With a clean, wet brush I could spread these patches, and remove the excess quite nicely. I did not add paint chips to the model; I thought I’d keep it relatively pristine. The edges got the usual treatment with a silver pencil to give a metallic shine to the model, and I declared the tank finished. (Prematurely, as I just realized, since I forgot to paint the periscopes, and lost the radio operator’s machine gun barrel somewhere in the weathering process… Let’s say he removed it for maintenance, and leave it at that.)

 

And that’s it, really. The model is OK; it’s not a high-tech Flyhawk kit, but it’s not bad, either. It’s something you are used to if you work with Eastern European Braille models, with one exception: the basic plastic is greatly improved by the brass barrel and extensive PE. I think it’s pretty impressive that a mostly resin/PE aftermarket company is moving to the injection moulded model market; it’s something OKB and other companies seem to be doing, too. Exciting time for the 1/72 market, that’s for sure.

 

 

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1/35 Meng Renault FT-17 part 3.

2blchok

Please find part one and two here.

Well, the tank is finally done. It took me a long time to build, it was one of those builds which just did not want to get done; even though the model itself is just amazing.

Last steps: mud and dust… again. I have to admit I did the different stages of muddying the tank parallel to the T-55AM; everything written in part 6 applies here, too.

Quote:

The next step was to apply dust. Dust and mud are the two things I’m not really good with, so this part I put off as long as I could. I settled for AK’s dust products, and mixed my own mud.

AK’s dust comes as a suspension; when you apply it, it goes on thick, and the results are not very pleasing. At least this is what I thought at first. As with everything I realized the secret is not adding stuff to the model, but removing it after. I diluted some of the mixture in white spirit, dabbed it onto the tank, waited some time, and then using a wet brush I removed most of the dust, spreading it around, adjusting it. The key is to be patient: you can always repeat the procedure (in fact, you should), if there’s not enough added. Adding less is always  preferable to adding more.

One the dust was dry, I went on mudding up the lower chassis.

What I failed to realize for a long time is that it’s not enough to buy a product called “mud”, and them smear it onto the tank; just as you can’t just cover a tank with a paint labelled “rust”, and expect realistic results. Obviously the results will be sub-optimal; there are really no shortcuts in mud. (I feel this sentence carries some deeper, more profound meaning.) Even if you buy custom-made products you still have to learn how to apply them, and that’s that. And since you need to learn it anyhow, you might as well save some money and make your own mud.

The first layer was simple pigments suspended with water. I dabbed it on, then after it was mostly dry, removed some using a brush. A day later the procedure was repeated with a different color. The key here is layers; just like Shrek, mud has layers, too. Old mud tends to be dryer and lighter; newer deposits tend to be thicker, darker and placed lower. I dabbed the pigment-water mixture all over the lower chassis, the side-skirts, even on the top of the mudguards (in a much more diluted form).

I also splattered some using a loaded brush and a toothpick onto the side-skirts; any splatters that were out of place (on the side of the turret, for example) was removed with a wet brush using downward motions, leaving a very faint streak behind. I’ve also used Vallejo’s mud product on the side-skirts; it produces quite dark splatters which are quite different from how it looks like on the photo on the bottle.

A day or two later I decided to try something I’ve never done: I made thick mud. I used Mig’s Neutral Wash as a base. I got this as part of a set, and frankly I can’t really find any use for it; it’s too grey to be a “normal” wash. If you know how to use it, please let me know.

It did serve as a good medium, though. I mixed in a lot of brown pigments of different shades, some sand and some static grass, and then offering my soul to the gods of model building, I proceeded to apply the mixture to the lower chassis.

The method was the same application/removal as before; with a brush dampened with white spirit I adjusted the amount of mud on the wheels and chassis. I also added some on the mudguards (and sprinkled some on). The results are actually quite spectacular; I did not dare to hope for such a nice effect.

Once the mud dried (I gave it a week), I used my graphite pencil to give some metallic shine to the edges. The exhaust was treated with different rust colored pigments and brown washes.

The last stage was to take care of the remaining small details. I painted and installed the tools; the PE straps were a pain to add. The painting was relatively easy: the metallic parts were treated with the Vallejo primer and then rubbed some steel pigments to make it look like metal. The edges were dry-brushed with AK’s true metal steel paint. The handles were painted with buff, and then using a stiff brush I gently painted some brown oil paints; this made the surface uneven and gave an impression of wood grains. If you take a look at the instructions you’ll see that the hammer should have been installed under a plastic part during the construction. I left it off deliberately to make painting it easier. Installation was simple: I cut the handle in half…

I painted the straps of the tool box, and the construction was essentially finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/35 Meng Renault FT-17 part 2.

Please find part one here.

So yes, the engine was finished mostly in black with all the piping, etc. done in glorious copper and bronze. AK’s steel pigments were used to give a metallic shine to the transmission and the metal body of the engine.

 

Looking at the interior it must have been singularly unpleasant to actually fight in this tank. Yes, it was a revolutionary design, but it still had a couple of leather slings for the commander to sit on, he had almost zero visibility, and the driver probably better had his feet removed because there was not much space for him to fit them.

 

I chose one of the kit’s paint scheme; unfortunately this is where the instructions fall flat a bit- only a side-drawing is provided. The box art gives a slightly different perspective but I still don’t know what the right side is supposed to look like.

Regardless the model was first painted with Vallejo’s German Grey primer, followed dark green in several layers. Each consecutive layer was lightened a bit with the yellow (actually Dunkelgelb by Mig Ammo). I focused the lighter colors on the top and the middle of the panels; even the full-green pain scheme looked pretty good in my opinion.

Once the green cured, I masked it with silly putty, and proceeded with the yellow, then the brown. The brown was Tamiya’s NATO brown with some yellow added.

Once the main steps were done I had to retouch some parts with a brush; these masking jobs never turn out perfectly.

 

The contrast at this stage was pretty stark between the colors; light brown and yellow filters helped to blend them a bit. Once everything dried I applied varnish on top, added the decals and sealed them with another layer of varnish.

 

I applied dark brown wash to the rivets and other small details, and used a wet brush to remove the excess after 30 or so minutes; this created some nice, pleasing streaks. I also used some streaking products by AK to add further streaks.

 

 

1/35 Meng Renault FT-17 part 1.

I’m finishing up long outstanding builds… so I have several of these builds running parallel. I’m finishing up the T-55 (and quite a few others) alongside of this build.

bv8ppon

This is probably the most iconic tank -ever. (Or it should be.) Meng has come out with a really excellent model of it a couple of years ago, and this February I just gave in and purchased one at my local hobby shop.

I was not disappointed. The manual is excellent (and gives a pretty good history of the model), the instructions are clear, the quality is top-notch. AND it comes with an interior. I have to say I fell in love with Meng.

 

 

The assembly is quite straightforward, with a couple of issues, though. (What model is without them, right?)

The suspension actually works; you get little metal springs with the model, which is nice; putting it together, however is a bit fiddly.

 

 

The engine is very well detailed; most of it will be hidden, though if you choose to install it. For this reason I decided I’ll display it in front of the model, as I did with a couple of other kits before (T-34, T-44…)

 

The interior got the usual heavy treatment. I used a black primer (acrylic spray… since then I switched to Vallejo’s German Grey primer), which was followed by an enamel-based varnish, and Tamiya’s flat white. If you use high pressure, it can be sprayed with very little dilution, which will result in a solid cover (always an issue with white and yellow).

I used the windex chipping method to create worn surfaces, with the black showing through. The contrast is quite high; in retrospect I should have used some brown instead.

Once the model was try I used oil paints to create discoloration and streaks on the side-panels. The interior details are quite nice; the painting of the ammunition in the ammo rack is a pain in the neck, though. (There’s a choice of main guns; the machine gun option would leave you without this chore.)

The bottom of the engine compartment was treated with different AK and Vallejo products (engine grime, oil, fuel stains).

I took some artistic licence painting the engine; I tried how it would look like if I installed it, but eventually decided that it will be displayed outside of the tank.

Once the interior was finished I assembled the hull; the tank was ready for painting.

 

 

 

 

 

Modelcollect 1/72 Rheintochter 1 movable Missile launcher with E100 body, 1946

nam51

This model was one of the three of my very first order from Modelcollect; the other two were the E-75 with full interior and a T-80. I’ll take a look at those models later on. There is also an E-50 with interior available, and a T-64, T-72 with interior in the plans… which to be honest, are some of the most anticipated models for me in any scale.

This particular model is a somewhat feasible modification of the E-100 tank: the hull of the tank is mated with an AA missile launcher platform for the multi-stage Rheintochter 1 missile, forming a mobile anti-aircraft unit. As anti-aircraft missiles go, this one is enormous; it would probably have been pretty devastating against bomber formations. There are some issues with the concept: the operators of the weapon system seem to be placed outside by the launching platform just like if it was a regular AA gun (there WERE plans to use mounts from AA guns). The problem is unless the crew vacates the area before each launch (and go quite far away from the vehicle), they would be blasted away by the exhaust by the missile engine. The blast shield even directs the gases upwards and somewhat forwards… it’s definitely not someplace I’d like to sit when the missile lifts off. Even with the much smaller Nebelwerfer Wurfrahmen rockets the crew had to find shelter before firing. There’s also the issue of reload – it would be interesting to see an ammo carrier vehicle with a crane.

Regardless the concept looks cool, and when it comes to modification of fictional tanks, it is all that matters. (There are other modifications by the same theme: twin AA Flak guns, V-1 rocket launcher, and the same weapons on an E-75, E-50 platform.) Interestingly the missile was real enough; it even was launched a couple of times during testing.

The quality of moulding is excellent, the details are good; there is no complaint there. The PE is small, but there’s really not a lot needed; the addition of engine deck grilles is a very nice touch. The instructions are simple and easy to follow.

The assembly is fast, but not without issues, though. I ran into some surprising problems. First, the running gear is quite flimsy; the connection points where the swing arms and the road wheels attach are not sturdy enough. Some of the roadwheels kept falling off, despite of being glued on with plastic glue during handling. During installation tracks also bent somewhat under the tension as you can see on the photos. Strengthening the idlers’ and drive wheels’ attachment points would eliminate this issue.

There were some fit issues with the hull as well; nothing major, but it was a bit surprising because I did not expect any.

I’m not sure where exactly the missile should be sitting. If you place the missile towards the back of the launching platform, the frontal fins tend to interfere with the shield if the missile mount is depressed to travel position. (The back fins would probably cause some damage to the crew/vehicle, during launch as they would not have enough clearance, either.)

There is a full engine included, but it will be completely invisible once installed. I did put it in, but I think it’s better just to keep it as a spare for other projects.

The whole assembly took about a total of two hours (waiting time for the glue to set not included); the most difficult thing was the attachment of fins to the missile. I use this word in a relative sense – the model was not challenging at all.

The painting was started with a Dunkelgelb base- I used Mig Ammo’s paints for this. (I still need to learn how to use these paints; I’m used to the Tamiya range.)

I did muck up the next steps. Simply put I did not account for the scale effect for the camo colors -a rookie mistake. In my rush I was focusing on the pattern and masking and forgot about the colors themselves. Thanks to this at first the model looked quite colorful… I planned to strip the whole model and give it another go, but decided to use this mistake as an opportunity to experiment a bit instead. I corrected mistakes in the masking wherever some colors showed through using a brush first; this is something to be expected whenever you use masks. Subsequent layers of yellow/green/brown colored filters and very fine Tamiya Sand mist from the airbrush managed to tone the colors down and blend them together. I used a large flat brush to distribute the last layers of filters with a downward motion, forming streaks on the side.

I used white spirit to wet the surface before applying pin washes -I did that because I did not want to apply gloss varnish, and the wash would not flow properly on a matte surface.

I used some rust colors applied with a piece of sponge on the blast shields where the heat of the exhaust gases burned away the paint. I applied some subtle chipping/rusting using the same technique and color on the hull as well.

With the help of pigments I added dust on the top of the hull, some mud on the sides. The key here is application/removal as with a lot of weathering techniques: I mixed some pigments with water, dabbed the mixture on, and after it dried somewhat I used a clean, wet brush to remove most of it. Repeating the procedure in several thin layers and slightly different colors produces a reasonably realistic effect.

Finally a silver pencil helped to give some metallic shine to the tank.

Although the tank is pretty dusty (I kept to the artwork’s destroyed urban setting), I left the missile clean – it is supposed to be freshly loaded onto the launching platform. You can argue that the blast of the previous lift-offs would blow some of the dust away from the vehicle as well, but the blast-shield would direct most of it upwards. The missile’s paint scheme is completely fictional. There are some real-life examples you can use as reference, but since the whole vehicle is fictional, I thought I’d go with colors I like. (I have some real funky Citadel paints which I have not yet been able to use for anything really. After much consideration I decided against finally using Tentacle Pink and Warlock Purple. Their time has not yet come.)

Anyway, disregarding my mistakes the build overall is a quick one, and there is no real challenge involved. The model is reasonably well designed; there’s really nothing to complain about. The detail is good enough, there are no tiny fiddly parts. This 1/72 model is about the size of a 1/35 Panzer I, so it’s quite large. Obviously these fictional vehicles are not going to rock everyone’s world; they seem to be quite divisive within the community. If you don’t like them, this kit is not going to tempt you; but if you want to build something visually interesting as a weekend project, this model is probably a good candidate.

W Model, 1/72 1S91 SURN “Straight Flush” Radar for SA-6 Gainful

57zmc64

To be honest I did not know much about this vehicle; I picked it up because it looked cool and I wanted to see how W models’ kits look like. This Lithuanian company specialises in Soviet era missile launchers, radars and other unique-looking vehicles in 1/72. I’ve known about these models for a long time; even when I was still living in the US I had my eyes on them. Back then I had very little disposable income, and the pricing took these models out of my reach; things have improved (somewhat) since then, so I took the plunge, and got one to see how they measure up as models.

The 1S91 vehicle is a part of the 2K12/SA-6 Soviet mobile surface-to-air missile system to provide medium to low level defence for ground forces. The system itself typically consists of four missile launchers carrying three missiles each, four missile transports, and the 1S91 SURN vehicle. Interestingly there are several 1/35 and 1/72 options available for the missile launcher platform, but the mobile radar has not received much love from model makers, even though if I may say so, it does look wicked.

The 1S91 (SURN, NATO designation “Straight Flush”) mobile radar is based on the GM-568 tracked chassis developed by MMZ (Mytishchinskiy Mashinostroitelniy Zavod). It is a 25 kW G/H band radar with a range of 75 km, equipped with a continuous wave illuminator, in addition to an optical sight. The vehicle has two radar stations – a target acquisition and distribution radar (1S11; the lower radar station) and a continuous wave illuminator radar (1S31; the upper radar system), in addition to an IFF interrogator and an optical channel. The two radars can turn independently.

The model comes in a typical cardboard box with the boxart printed on top. The parts are placed into zip-lock bags, and cushioned with newspaper. The system seems to work; even though the model has several large and delicate parts, nothing was broken. Some parts were detached from their pouring blocks, though.

The quality of resin is excellent, no bubbles, flash or imperfections. The radar dishes are thin, and very nicely done. On the back of some larger, flat parts you can see the ribbing left over from the 3D printing process, but none of it is present on the visible surfaces. The PE sheet is really well done; it’s just the right thickness. This is an important point, since the PE has structural functions in this model. I built kits that had PE so thick it was really difficult to cut even with pliers, and other sets had PE that was so thin it crumpled when you touched it. All in all, the detail is really good; W Models seems to have a very high standard of production.

Unfortunately the parts are not numbered on the casting block, but despite the relatively large number of parts, finding the right one was not much of an issue during the building stage. The instructions are (mostly) clear and computer generated. Overall they do help a lot during the building process, but there were some issues which were difficult to sort out, and I could only do so with the help of reference photos found online. Henk’s webpage has photos of the model and CAD drawings; they certainly helped a lot as well. It would be useful to show the different sub-assemblies once finished from several angles; the attachment of the optical sight to the side of the 1S31 radar was especially problematic. (The instruction has an arrow pointing to the middle section of the structure that holds the radar dish; the part should go to the bottom, however, where there is a small notch already.)

The assembly is relatively straightforward. The first steps detail the assembly of the hull. The lower hull needs to be assembled from flat parts. The fit is overall OK, but there were gaps between certain panels; this is why I prefer the “tub” style resin hulls. In this case I needed to use filler to fill these gaps. To make sure the attachment points of the hull sections are as sturdy as possible once the CA glue set I used some green stuff on the joints from within. It also served as filler for the larger gap on the back of the hull.

The holes for the swing arms for the road wheels need to be enlarged so that the locating pins fit; it’s also a bit unfortunate that there’s nothing to help setting the arms at the correct angle.

The tracks are the typical straight resin pieces. You need to put them in warm (~50C) water to soften them, and then gently wrap them around the drive wheels/idlers, and form the appropriate sag where necessary.

The drive wheels have very well defined teeth, but the fit to the tracks is a bit problematic; the drive wheels were a tiny bit wider than the distance between the corresponding parallel holes on the track. It’s possible with a very careful application of force to push the teeth into the holes in the track, but one has to be cautious not to break them off.

The second big assembly is the radar itself. As mentioned the two radars can rotate independently from each other, so it does not really matter how you orient them. Regardless, it is a good idea to actually decide before starting. The orientation of the radar dish will be determined by the first steps (step 7), so make sure you understand what part goes where, and how it will look once finished (mine is quite random, since I did not realize this in time). Another thing to mention: the service plank next to the top radar dish has a collapsible handrail. The instructions show the vehicle with the dishes in forward position, handrail erected. If the top dish is in use, the handrail would be in its way and is folded down. The instructions do not mention this possibility, and if you- like me- you build the model with the dish off-center, it will be an issue. (Some illustrations bellow of what I’m talking about: on the photos you can see the handrails folded; on the model and CAD drawing you can see how it gets in the way. Obviously further down you will see my model as well.)

http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-1s91-surn-vehicle-nato-designation-straight-flush-with-the-radar-for-71629833.html

The travel configuration of the vehicle is pretty interesting, too; it’s a shame it’s not an option with the kit.

2K12 Kub air defense system - 1S91 SURN

(It shows how the complex metal guard system on the front of the hull functions to protect the radars during transit.)

Once the radar assembly is complete, some further details are added to the hull, such as the already mentioned guards, and we’re done. (The guard system seems to be consisting of two independent curved rails; one fixed, and one movable. They should be touching in the folded position (when the radars are erected and are in use); yet part 34 is shorter, and does not reach the others. Since it’s literally just a curved piece of resin rod, it should be easy to fashion a longer replacement piece. I kept this parts for the purpose of this review.

The model is actually quite complex, but not immeasurably so. It can be built with a reasonable amount of experience; even the PE handles well.

Painting

Vehicles like this do not get banged around as much as tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, and if they do get to the wrong end of the enemy’s guns, they usually end up a mangled, smoking wreck, so excessive chipping and other weathering was not really an option. They also tend to avoid heavy mud, and are kept in pristine condition by their crew. Since I wanted to depict a non-derelict vehicle, I kept the model reasonably clean.

I decided to put everything together before painting; that meant the tracks as well. I kept the radar installation detached for ease of handling but everything else was fixed.

I washed the model in warm, soapy water, and let it dry for a couple of days.

The model received a German Grey primer coat (Vallejo) to provide a good, stable base for the subsequent paint coats, and also to pre-shade the model. There is an argument for not using primer: modern paints adhere to almost any surface. With resin I found that it’s still a good idea to prime first.

Once the paint cured (about 24 hours) I misted a couple of coats of Tamiya OD dark green onto the model, following with subsequently lighter shades (lightened with tan and yellow). The lighter shades were concentrated on the areas which would be exposed to more light if the vehicle was standing outdoors – the top of the hull, the lower interior curve and the top of the radar dishes, etc. I decided to highlight a couple of protruding details: hatches, top of storage boxes, etc, with a slightly lighter green. (I used tan to lighten the base color; if you use white it makes the resulting color look faded. Sometimes it is the look you’re going for, but in this case I wanted a more natural variation.)

The lower part of the hull was treated somewhat differently. The roadwheels got a small spray of green each, and I went over the rubber rims with dark grey using a very fine brush. I also corrected the oversrpay on the tracks using the primer. The color was pretty good for the tracks; I used some rust wash to give them some variance, and a silver pencil to simulate the worn down, shiny parts.

I diluted earth colored pigments in white spirit, and after leaving the mixture on the roadwheels, and the bottom of the hull for half an hour, I wiped the excess away with a damp brush. I repeated this step with a couple of earth colors going from lighter to dark.

True Earth has a couple of filters in their product lines; I bought them a while ago, but had no luck with them so far. (I did work out you needed a very flat surface to apply it; the surface tension tends to pull the filter into droplets.) I sprayed some dark aging and light aging filters on some selected areas without diluting the product: around the turret, on the lower part of the turret, on the bottom of the tank; the effect is not as smooth as I wished it to be, but it does produce an interesting discoloration here and there.

I used some yellow, light brown and yellow filters on the model in several coats; the lighter ones were focused on the top parts, the darker on the bottom. As further filter I used Tamiya’s transparent yellow sprayed from above; it provides an interesting brighter highlight. Once the model dried, I gave it a coat of semi-gloss varnish, and applied pin washes to make the details stand out. (I usually don’t use black; dark brown is a good color for a wash.) This was a good time to add some discreet streaks using oil paints as well.

I printed out some Hungarian signs a while ago on decal paper; I’ve used these to give the vehicle some sort of identity.

A matte varnish was used to seal everything, and give the final sheen of the model, and I applied a couple of layers of dust using Tamiya’s weathering sets (the makeup-sets), and different dust colored pigments straight. I used the pigments dry, and rubbed them on using a rubber brush -something I saw on Armorama. Since I only wanted a moderately dusty vehicle whatever is left on it would be sufficient.

That’s pretty much it. I have to say the model is quite impressive, both in quality and in appearance. If you don’t mind the scale and the price, it is highly recommended.

 

I would like to hear your thoughts- please let me know what you think in the comment section.

Grim Skull Miniatures: Chaos Rotten Plague Rhino conversion

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I quite like the Warhammer 40k universe and regularly paint the odd figure here and there. The cost of larger vehicles unfortunately is very high, especially the resin Forgeworld offerings; when it comes to decide between a small Imperial Knight or a 1/35 T-54 with full interior that is considerably cheaper, not surprisingly I go with the latter. (Let’s not even mention the $4001200 battle titans.) It’s a shame, really, because there’s an awful lot of interesting stuff out there by both Games Workshop and Forgeworld.

There are alternatives, though. Mostly Ukrainian and Russian companies started to produce “alternatives” for the miniatures; they are cheaper, and more importantly, a lot of times much better than the originals. (I’ll paint a not-quite Abaddon and not-quite Mortarion figure soon, too.)

I’ve done a review of the set on ModellGeek some time ago; since then I have been working on and off on the painting of this model.

This particular conversion is for a (not quite) Death Guard Rhino, which is corrupted by the Lord of Decay- hence the pustules and blisters and cysts (not to mention the tentacles, horns, talons and other… things that stick out of this vehicle). The price is reasonably low, and it requires a Games Workshop Rhino or Chaos Rhino as a base vehicle. (I bought a built one on ebay quite cheap, and just cut it to pieces.)

The model arrived in a very nice black box; quite professionally packed. It does not contain many parts, and the assembly is really straightforward. You essentially need to replace the side, the top and the front armor plates, and the folding door on the back. (You can buy tracks separately from the company if you feel like replacing the kit tracks as well.) The fit is relatively good, but filler will be necessary between the side and top panels; fortunately in this case you can be creative, and form additional horns, protrusions, etc. to mask off the seams. The right side- where the open hatch is with the skeleton inside- is quite deep, which necessitates some surgery on the interior side wall. You will need to cut the metal door with the frame out, so that the resin piece can fit into its place.

The victim

Some of the original kit is still visible, and the contrast between the old and the new parts is quite large. Perhaps texturing these regions with some putty would help; this is what I did on the lower front plate. There is so little of the original vehicle still visible, and the contrast is so large, I can’t help to think it would have been better just to make the whole vehicle out of resin, instead of creating a conversion.

The set does not provide a commander’s cupola; I used the plastic parts that comes with the Rhino. This is not an ideal solution; the cupola that came with my kit did not fit because of all the tentacles and whatnot on the top. It also looks quite out of place since it is not visibly corrupted like the rest of the model; you would expect every part of the Rhino to be uniformly touched by the Warp. I simply reused the hatches only, and made a couple of tentacles and cysts out of green stuff.

The folding door is also somewhat weird. In a vehicle like this you’d expect that most internal space is taken up by indescribable horrors spawned by the Warp -after all, a lot of it is sticking out from every opening. Yet the inside of the folding door s perfectly clean, not to mention the crew compartment, which is unchanged from the original vehicle. Interestingly the door has the exhaust pipes on them, which are apparently open into the crew compartment.

The assembly took about an hour. I have base-coated the whole tank with Tamiya Hull Red, and then went on creating as convincingly rusty hull as I could. Yes, I understand that it’s made out of adamantium, but when it comes to a fictional metal vs demonic corruption, I think the demonic corruption wins. The Rhino is rusted and that’s that.

The painting was a long process; mostly trial and error. As I’m mostly painting armor vehicles, I definitely need to learn the “miniature style” painting with high contrast and nice blending of colors. My WH40K models tend to be painted and weathered like a scale model of a real vehicle.

First step: the base color of the ATC. Obviously it needed to be rusted. I realized very long time ago that painting something with a color named “rust” will not give a realistic result; what you need is layers upon layers corresponding rust colors, making sure they are positioned where you would expect to see them. To begig with thick armor plats tend to have deep red/brown colors; thinner parts and the edges tend to have lighter rust colors, like orange or even yellow. So this is what I did.

And what colors did I use exactly? Well, what can be more realistic than actual rust? I ordered actual iron oxide pigments available in three colors -deep brown, red and yellow (Ochre), and using these I mixed up various shades of rust. I used a sponge to apply the mixture: dab the sponge into matte varnish, dab it into the pigment mixture, and into a cloth so that most of the pigment actually comes off, and then use this on the surface of the vehicle. It’s important you don’t add too much at a time, but build up the effect gradually. I used mostly the darker shades; yellow directly only was used on edges. As you can see it from the photos the contrast between the yellow and the rest is pretty high; this was taken care of later. This was deliberate; I wanted to have some contrast left after I finished the weathering, and subsequent steps had the effect of lessening the contrast. I used several brown and yellowish filters on the hull to blend the colors together, and then rubbed metallic pigments onto certain areas. (Focused on the edges mostly, but I rubbed pigments onto the “wounds” where the metal opened up as the horns were pushing out, and also on parts of large, flat areas.)

The tusks were pained with buff first, then ivory was blended towards the tips, making a nice, soft transition between the colors. The boils and whatnot were first painted with blood red, then using brighter and brighter red and orange colors mixed with lahmian medium I added somewhat translucent layers on top. At the very end I put a yellow dot off-center onto each, then a final layer of very translucent orange to blend the colors together. Once everything was finished I went over the boils with a clear, shiny varnish to make them look wet.

The bones were first painted by white (to make then stand out), then went over them using a yellowish white (well, bone-colored) paint. The effect was further helped using dark brown washes with diluted Citadel inks, which acted both as filters (modulating the bone color), and as washes (forming shadows on the surface).

The top of the vehicle looked like a gigantic wound, so I used bright reds and orange to make it look like raw flesh. The underlying areas were painted a deep, angry red, with brighter and brighter reds (later oranges) layered on the protruding areas. Since the organic matter seemed to sweep over the metal parts, it was painted in a more brownish red to provide some transition. I accentuated the effect using bright red inks; some of the overhanging tissue was only tinted with this mixture (applied in several coats).

I was not sure what the spikes were representing, so I kept them rusty.

There were tiny, oblong shapes all over the hull; I took them as mites or other parasites, and painted them bright green- to give some contrasting color to the model.

The tentacles were somewhat of a dilemma. After considering green and flesh colors, I decided on purple. The base was dark purple (tentacle purple by Citadel’s nomenclature; the actual inspiration for the paint scheme), which was highlighted using pink purple mixed with lahmian medium to blend it in easier, to make the color somewhat translucent. Some of the thicker tentacles had suckers on them, similar to an octopus’; these were painted carefully with bright pink. Once everything dried, I covered them with heavily diluted purple ink in several coats until they looked as if the brighter colors were underlying tissue showing through a translucent skin. The effect was surprisingly good considering I was improvising.

The triple-skull mark of Nurgle was painted first with a light, bright green, that represents heavily oxidized bronze, and I added some very dark metallic bronze colors on some areas somewhat randomly. (I tried to make sure mostly the parts that are jutting out would be painted; after all we’d expect these parts to be rubbed clear of the oxide.)

The holes on the exhaust on the top were painted with a very bright green, again, to provide some contrast. The exhausts on the back were blocked with some run-off. Since we’re talking about plague and Nurgle here I decided on a green paintscheme; I tried to emulate how other paint lava and other hot materials which seem to be emitting light on their own.

The goo was first painted with the lightest, brightest green I had, and darker and darker greens were blended onto this surface, making sure that the original bright green was still visible in the deep crevices, and that the color gradually darkens. The idea was that as the goo cooled, the colors darken; hence the large dark green surfaces. The rims and the interiors of the exhaust pipes were pained bright green to simulate the green light they reflect from the radioactive/infectious goo.

Well, pretty much that’s all. I really enjoyed the painting process although it took an awful lot of time. I’ll get a couple of Death Guard marines, I’ll paint up Mortarion, and I’ll have a little happy family of plague bearing Space Marines on my shelf in no time.

 

Going deep down- the world of 1/144 armor

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This is an interesting part of the armor model world: the 1/144 kits by DLM. They are small little gems; it’s a shame that they disappeared from the market. If you have a chance, grab as many as you can. The presentation, the level of detail, the ease of assembly are all just top-notch; these kits provide a nice break from the 1000+ part 1/35 monsters I sometimes get involved with. For this scale you still get moulded-on detail that rivals some 1/72 kits, and also PE, and slide moulded gun barrels with holes in the muzzle breaks. Thankfully you don’t get individual tracklinks.

 

I’ve built several of these kits in the past: a Leopold railroad gun, a
15 CM S.I.G 33/2 (SF) Auf Jagdpanzer 38(T) Hetzer, two Tiger Is, and a Jagdpanzer IV. I’ve also built Takom’s P1000 Ratte, and the two Maus tanks that came with it. Since the Maus was not featured here before, and it finally resurfaced from the storage box it’s been languishing until now, I thought I’ll give it some time in the spotlight.

All the display boxes were bought from Ebay; they are brilliant for small 1/72 or an average 1/144 armor model.

And since I was taking photos of older builds, I took some more of the Tiger Is; hopefully the macro lens brings out their details a bit better.

OKB Grigorov Batignolles-Chatillion Char 25T (Batchat) 1/72

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One of the positive things of the game World of Tanks is that it introduced a lot of obscure vehicles to the wider audience. I’m not sure how many of us have heard of the Batignolles-Chatillion Char 25T aside from for French armor enthusiasts… and now at least 45 million people know of this vehicle. The fame did not come with scale models flooding the market (yet), so I was really happy to see that OKB issued this model in 1/72.

The Char 25T was developed by the Batignolles-Chatillon company (hence the name). Interestingly the company produced trains and locomotives; tanks were a new frontier for them. It was to be a main battle tank, designed around similar principles as the AMX-13: oscillating turret, a 90mm F-3 gun with a magazine/drum type autoloader, low silhouette, and sloped armor (80mm on the front). It featured a hydraulic suspension with six road wheels on each side. The tank was very small (5.67 meters long, 3.16 meters wide and, 2.37 tall), very light (25 tons), and not surprisingly it was highly mobile (65km/h top speed); also somewhat unsurprisingly armor was not exactly strong. It had a crew of four: a commander, a driver, a gunner and a radio operator. The design lost to the more conservative AMX-30, and hence never entered into production. Reliability issues, the oscillating turret, the autoloader (the tank needed to stop and the crew had to exit to reload the gun), and the lack of NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection all played a part in the failure of the prototypes in the trials.

The only reason I know about this tank is World of Tanks; it is one of the best end-tier medium tanks in the game. (Well, was. It’s been nerfed not long ago.) It also looks quite unique, so obviously it was one of my first ever purchases from OKB. (Their models tend to be expensive, so it’s not something I do every day. Every purchase is being considered and mulled over for several weeks.)

The model is made up by over a hundred resin pieces and ten PE parts. The parts are very well detailed, the flash is minimal, and the fit is good (when I attached the side to the main hull I needed to use some filler in the front though, so it’s not perfect). The headlights come as transparent pieces, which is something I’ve never seen before in a resin model.

The tracks are given as sets of straight resin pieces, which need to be warmed up before shaped to the running gear. (I prefer to use hot –not too hot- water.) The hull and the turret come as one piece (each); most of the small parts make up the running gear. The photoetched fret is very thin and very delicate; it’s very easy to bend (even crumple) the parts; this is something to look out for. (It would be better if they were a bit sturdier) There is very little information available on this vehicle, so I cannot really comment on the accuracy of the kit; it measures up to the published measurements I could find quite well.

Normally with resin models the suspension is moulded as one part; in this case the elaborate suspension is made up by several small parts (most of the parts of the model are parts of the suspension). The assembly is not very difficult but a fine pair of tweezers is a must have. The fit is surprisingly good, but I ran into a small problem with the road wheels. Due to small misalignments in the suspension arms, the road wheels did not align perfectly; they were a bit wonky. I put the model in some warm (~50C) water and set them straight between two rulers; once the resin cooled the alignment was much better.

The tracks were also warmed up using warm water, and wrapped around the road wheels, drive wheel, return rollers and idler. Since one section will only cover about 2/3rd of the required length, two will need to be used per side.

Once the tracks were installed I glued the sides of the hull on. There was a small gap on one side which needed to be filled; nothing major there. The front part of the mudguards are PE parts which need to be gently bent. It would be nice to have a larger flap that goes under the hull to help gluing them in place.

The lights on the back and their PE covers were a bit difficult to install as the PE kept bending to the slightest touch. (The lights need to be pushed into the holes in the PE covers.) A couple of small PE parts (towing hooks, etc) were attached to the back of the hull and the resin gun lock to the front. (I managed to lose the top part of the gun lock, and somehow the headlights… We’re in the middle of moving right now, and parts do get misplaced, unfortunately.) The thinness of the PE is an issue, as it is very easy to bend or distort the pieces during handling.

The turret was pretty easy to finish: top of the fume extractor, the smoke grenade launchers, a rectangular piece of unknown function and the gun barrel had to be attached, and the tank was essentially done. The gun barrel is slightly crooked; I tried to straighten it using hot water, but gave up eventually; I did not want to make the issue worse.

 

The painting and weathering did not take long- after all, it was an experimental tank. I chose a hypothetical camo using World of Tanks as an inspiration, and used an airbrush to apply it free-hand. I did a couple of light-brown filters to blend the colors together.

I covered the model with varnish, applied the leftover decals from Trumpeter’s B1 (the subject of the very first post of this blog). I’ve used these decals for other French tanks (ARL-44) before; my French markings are now officially depleted. Another varnish layer sealed the decals (this time I used Matte). Washes, some dust applied using pigments, and some mud (again with pigments); that’s pretty much it.

The model, overall, is quite easy to build, even for beginners. The running gear/suspension is a bit difficult to align, but there are ways to correct smaller problems. The price is a bit high, but there is no other alternative of you want to build a Batignolles-Chatillion Char 25T in any scale, so there you go.

The ultimate 1/72 Luchs showdown: thoughts on the Armory, ModellTrans, Maco and Flyhawk kits

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So now I have finished building all four offerings: Armory, Flyhawk, Maco and Modelltrans; it’s time to take a stock of what I’ve learned. I would not really go into accuracy, as I could not find any books on the Luchs; all kits differ slightly from each other with respect to location of the exhaust, tools, tool boxes, Jerry cans, and so on. As I could not find the time and resources to get to the bottom of these differences I merely comment on the models themselves.

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The Modelltrans kit is an old resin model of the Luchs; it’s a bit undersized, has very few parts, good detail, and has some issues with bubbles in the resin- in other words, your average garage company resin model. It’s fast to build, but it’s quite expensive for what it is; plastic models will always be better priced. It builds into a respectable depiction of the Luchs, but it’s kind of “rough on the edges”, and does not come with the aerials.

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Hands down, the Flyhawk kit is the most detailed and the most complex model of the four; it’s essentially a miniature 1/35 model. This, of course, comes with a price: it’s also the most difficult to assemble. The crow’s feet antenna is not very convincing; the PE offered by Armory is a much better representation. (But this is the only one that comes with width indicator rods.)

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Armory’s plastic Luchs is a new kid on the block; the company only recently started to make its way into the plastic scale model market. The plastic base is somewhat basic, and the engineering is not the best; however once you get through the filling and sanding, and add all the PE, you will have a very nice, detailed model in your hands. It does require experience building models and using PE- it’s not one of those “shake the box, and the built model falls out” type of kits. However, the results are worth the effort.

Maco’s offerings are the exact opposite of the Flyhawk models: they are very well engineered and very simple models to build – in other words, they are one of those “shake the box” models. The details are still pretty good, and Maco offers a good alternative if you want to build more than one tank quickly, or if you’re still new at building 1/72 models. (Or just want to have a quick weekend project.) One thing that I need to mention is that the shape of the turret seems to be somewhat off, and you’ve got my bane of small scale models: the moulded-on tools. On the other hand you get some beautiful metal gun barrels and antennae.

All in all, the plastic offerings have things going for them; choosing one really depends on your preferences and your purpose. How much challenge do you want to face? While the Flyhawk kits can be adjusted in difficulty using the alternative options (PE vs plastic vs molded-on detail), a lot of the tiny parts cannot be avoided. The Flyhawk offerings are definitely not for beginners. It also takes considerably longer to build. Another aspect to decide is: how much the lack of PE matters for you? The details on the engine deck grille are good enough in plastic on the Maco kit, and in this scale there is an argument that it does not make much difference. (Talking about PE: only the Armory kit has the wire mesh protecting the engine grilles.) You might also want to have a metal barrel; this is not an option in the Flyhawk line of Luchs’, but you get them in the Maco kits… and so on and so forth. I’ve tried to showcase the strengths and weaknesses of all four models; it really depends on the individual builder which one he or she wants to choose.