Armory 1/72 Luchs

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This is the fourth Luchs in this series… and the third plastic one.

Let’s see…

Modelltrans Luchs
Flyhawk Luchs
Maco Luchs

Introduction -Armory’s plastic kits

The instructions are clear and easy to follow; the one gripe I had with them is that the parts are not numbered on the sprues: you get a sprue layout on the cover of the instructions, and you have to find the parts on the sprues based on it. It’s not that difficult to do, but it still is a hindrance during the build.

 

The model came in an “envelope-type” box, which opens on the top (and bottom). I personally don’t like these boxes because they aren’t very resistant but it’s a personal preference. The sprues were sealed in plastic bags alongside with the PE fret, decals and instructions. The cover image shows the tank in the middle of an engagement. The back of the box shows a set of computer generated images of the model, and the different build options.

The model is a 3-in-1 type of kit: you can build three different versions of the Luchs: early, mid, and the up-armored late versions.

Inspecting the plastic parts I found a lot of flash, and the detail was somewhat soft, and in some places missing. (Most notably one of the armored protectors for the vision slots is smooth, although it was ribbed in real life.)

The PE parts are thin enough and detailed; I liked working with them. The tank is really brought to life by the PE additions; the plastic itself only gives it a basic shape, really, and the PE gives it detail.

The decals are well printed and thin; there were no issues during application.

 

The build was relatively quick. The lower hull does not come as a single “tub”: you have to glue it together from four parts (bottom, sides, back). The top of the hull comes as one large part. Unfortunately it goes onto the sides rather than fitting into the opening on the top, which means there will be a seam-line around the superstructure that needs to be filling.

Before installing the tracks I’ve first finished most of the hull with all the PE details, added the roadwheels, and painted the hull and the mudguards in the base color (primer red) following the base color (RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb 1944). I added the tracks at this stage, attached the mudguards, and added the remaining details to the hull. These I painted with a brush.

I carefully painted the pattern using Tamiya olive green lightened with deck tan (for scale effect) with a brush. I was not particularly concerned about how even the patches were, since they would not be prominent after the whitewash; only small parts of the underlying camouflage would be visible. I did use a light brown filter to tone down the contrast a bit. The decals were added this point, since the whitewash was applied on the field, onto a vehicle already in service.

Once the basic painting was done, I sealed the paint with Testors Dullcote to protect it from the subsequent steps, and covered the whole model with AK Interactive Heavy Chipping Medium. This was followed by Tamiya flat white, and after about ten minutes of waiting I went on creating chips with a wet brush and a toothpick. The paint was nicked carefully at places using the toothpick, and I used the wet brush to enlarge these chips.

Once I achieved a decent amount of chipping and cleaned off the model with some running water, the contrast between the white and the underlying colors was really stark.

Sealed everything with Dullcote again, and picked up MIG Ammo’s washable white. I covered the model with it using an airbrush, and after it had some time to dry I created a transparent, uneven white layer over the whole tank using a wet brush. Moving the brush with a downward motion I blended everything together nicely; the paint left a translucent white layer on top of the model.

The weathering part is always a bit difficult, especially in 1/72; it’s really easy to overdo in this scale. One thing I’ve noticed is that the camera and the eye sees differently. It’s probably the trickiest part of the whole process to make sure the model looks good on screen as well as with the naked eye. As a general rule if by eye the model looks good, on photo the effects will appear somewhat overdone.

I used some heavily diluted winter streaking grime from AK Interactive as stains on the lower chassis. Different brown pigments mixed with white spirit and “splashed mud” from Vallejo was used to simulate the mud thrown up by the tracks onto the lower chassis and the road wheels. A silver pencil helped to create a worn, shiny metal look on the edges of the tracks, and gave a metallic sheen to the gun. (Normally I use it on all edges, but in this case the whitewash made it unnecessary.) I’ve used a guitar string -E string- for the whip and the crow’s feet antennae.

Well, pretty much this was it. The model was not very difficult to build (some experience with PE required), and the detail looks good when finished. The crow’s feet antenna looks especially good compared to most of the other offerings in this scale.

Interestingly all 1/72 Luchs kits have minor differences from each other: the location of the Jerry cans, the combination of changes, the shape of the mudguards, even the turret are all slightly differ from each other. Unfortunately I cannot really comment on the accuracy of these; there are not many photos available, and they might -or might not- be representative to all the tanks produced.

How to open stuck paint jars

This is going to be a short post: this is how I open the paint jars that are hopelessly stuck.

It happens with most paints which come in glass jars with metal or plastic tops: paint gets between the top and the glass, and glues the jar shut. I know I’ve picked an alternate color several times simply because I could not be bothered trying to pry a certain paint open. It’s quite prominent with Testors and Gunze paints, but Tamiya is not immune, either. (Tamiya has a better grip on the top, so it’s easier to force open.)

The solution is simple. Glass and metal/plastic have different expansion coefficients. So we’ll use physics.

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Get a small, shallow cup, and fill it with hot water to about 1-2cm deep. (The water should not be boiling; 60-70 degree Celsius should be fine.

Put the paint jar into this water upside down. Only the cap needs to be submerged.

Wait for a minute or two.

Pick it up (carefully), turn it back (obviously), and using a piece of cloth, open it.

It’s as simple as that.

 

The only drawback is that this tends to remove the label as well, since you can’t make sure nothing else but the cap will get wet during the process.

1/35 MiniArt T-54-1 build review p.4

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Part one

Part two

Part three

Well, the last part of the review has arrived… painting and weathering left.

I’ve glued the turret together using white glue; at this point I was not sure how I wanted to display the tank, but I did want to show the interior somehow.

The tank was primed using a grey primer, then used a mixture of sand yellow and tan (Tamiya) to cover the whole vehicle. I’ve used silly putty to mask the subsequent colors. Olive green (lightened with tan), and red-brown (again, with tan added) were applied.

At this point the tank looked very toy-like: the colors very flat and artificial. This is the point when panic is not the right emotion; filters, washes and the rest of the weathering steps will blend everything together, and create a (relatively) realistic finish.

So this is what I did.

First, several layers of dark yellow filters by AK. This was followed by True Earth’s Dark Aging product, applied by an airbrush. This is a water based filter-like product, and so far I have not been very successful using it: even on the flattest surface it forms little beads. I probably need to try to use some mild surfactant to break the surface tension up.

The unditching log was painted back, then drybrushed using tan, and finally I used some washes to make it more realistic; the result is pretty convincing I think.

This was followed by oil-dot filters using several different browns, yellows with some blue and white added.

Once done, I’ve pried the turret halves apart, and used some evergreen rods to mount the top. ( I could not decide how to cut the turret for a cutaway, so I settled with this solution.) I’ve attached the rest of the missing parts, and gave a nice coat of dust using my airbrush and some pigments.

With a couple of small issues (like the thick viewing port for the driver’s rain-protector), the model by MiniArt is really excellent.

(Reviewing the photos I just realized I forgot to add the windshield wipers…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/35 MiniArt T-54-1 build review p.3

The first part of the review

Second part.

Exterior

The engine deck consists of several subassemblies that form a somewhat complex set of hatches. The cooling flaps can be positioned open or closed, and they are protected by a very set of nice PE grilles.

I did not even bother to try to clean up the thin plastic rods (c1, c2) required for the engine deck; I simply used them as a template to fashion replacements from wire.

Smoke canisters are installed similarly to how the real thing was: the PE straps hold the tiny plastic rods that are fixing them to the back of the hull, along with the mechanism that allows to them to be released. The assembly is finicky, but pretty impressive.

The unditching log looks pretty convincing; normally I switch them for an actual wooden stick, but in this case I kept it. Primed it black, and then spent some time drybrushing Tamiya Tan on top. The whole thing was then painted with Agrax Earthsade by Citadel.

Mudguards

As mentioned the external fuel tanks are provided as two halves. They are typical WWII type ones, although they are somewhat narrower than the ones used on wartime tanks. They are held down by PE strips – when building make sure you do the fuel tanks first, and add the storage boxes after, because in several cases they obstruct the tie-down points for the straps. Another important piece of advice: do not install the fuel tank on the left back mudguard. The flap (C9) protecting the exhaust port should be fitted first. (In my case the fuel tank was placed too forward, which interfered with the correct placement of the flap… Annoying.)

The towing lines were provided as plastic parts; MiniArt is being very optimistic about the chances of being able to bend and fit them into their places. Better get some picture hanging wire, and use the plastic eyes of the cables only. Make sure you cut a wire half a centimeter longer than the plastic part; it’s too short otherwise.

The AA machine gun is a complex multimedia assembly of plastic and PE parts; normally I buy aftermarket barrels (or even resin guns) to replace this part, but in this case it’s perfectly suitable.

The turret interior is pretty busy; it’s actually not as tall as the T-44 turret, and have a lot of things crammed into it. The turret originally was cast as a two-part hemispherical shape with welded roof consisting of two rolled armor plates 30 mm thick. The model’s turret is designed the same way: it’s built up from two parts (top and bottom), and the roof plates are added separately. The roof plates are considerably thinner than the sides; I suspect they are all scale thickness.

The 10RT radio and the TPU-4-bis-O-26 telecom systems are placed on the commander’s side, and there is a ready rack on the back of the turret.

The gunner’s MK-4 periscopes, and the low profile commander’s cupola with three observation TPC-1 prisms are replicated very well.

The gun is a very delicate assembly, so once it’s finished care needs to be taken not to break the thin plastic parts off.The gun breech has a seam in the middle, which needs to be filled in; to be honest it will be very difficult to see in the model. The gunner’s sight and the coaxial machine guns are complex little models of their own; once they are glued on, they tend to break off easily… (An important point for further handling.)

I have primed the interior using a primer red color, sealed it with varnish, and used the hairspray chipping method on the top color (blue grey on the bottom of the hull and white everywhere else). To make the vehicle look used, and to decrease the contrast of the pure white with the chips, I mixed up a burnt umber filter, and applied it unevenly to create patches of darker and lighter discolorations, and some dark, almost black brown washes to bring out the finer details. Finally I used different shades of rust brown oil paints to create some discreet streaks. Some rust and dust colored pigments were used to add a little more depth to the weathering, and I used a silver pencil on the edges to make them look metallic.

The gun got a similar treatment, only the cover color was green, rather than white, and for obvious reasons I did not add any streaks to it.

Coming up- final instalment: finishing the tank.

Making Rust p.4 – the sponge

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An ongoing project of exploring the creation of rust.

Here are some previous posts:

  1. Lifecolor’s rust washes
  2. Iron containing paint and oxidizer
  3. Windex chipping, hairspray chipping

And now the good ole’ sponge method. I’ve used it on the T-62 wreck I have just finished.

The method is simple: get a piece of sponge/the green stuff on the top of the sponge, dab it into the paint, dab most of it off on a piece of paper, and then apply the sponge in a dabbing motion onto the surface of the model.

This can be used in several ways. Either, as I did here, you depict a badly rusted object with some paint still clinging on the surface. In this case the base coat is a mixture of rust colors (which, incidentally, were also applied using the sponge).

There are a couple of things to keep in mind: use a lighter shade of the color the item was supposed to be painted with; the sun fades everything over time (after all the vehicle in question had to be sitting there for a long time to rust like this), and the final color will darken anyway, since you will be using filters and washes on the vehicle. It’s also a good idea to use several tones of the base color -green in this case. Start with larger patches of the lightest, and use consequently darker shades with smaller and smaller patches.

You can do it the other way around as well: depict some rust spots/chips on a painted surface. In this case you use rust colors (and make sure you use different tones, along with the lightened version of the base color) over the base color of the model. In this case make sure you have hardly any paint left in the sponge, and also be sure not to use it in the same position (so that the created spots are not uniform). I’ve used this method with the SU-122 and SU-76.

If you want to make it a step even further, use a lighter color of the base to create somewhat larger chips, and use a brush (or keep using the sponge) to fill them in with much less rust color -this way you can depict a moderately chipped surface easily. (The method used on the mudguards of the T-44 -a combination of sponge-on-sponge -for the mudgards- and brush-on-sponge -for the smaller chips.)

 

Of course, you can just let go of the sponge, and do everything with a fine brush; you get more control, but you have to be careful about being random, just like in the case of this T-55.

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All of these techniques should be done sparingly, and in several sessions. (It’s useful to come back and take a look at what you’ve achieved with a fresh eye.)

 

 

 

Obviously, these techniques are better used combined; with the T-62 I used the hairspray technique, the sponge, filters and brush. I’ve also used rust washes (with an airbrush), pigments mixed with Tamiya’s flat coat (coming up later), and oils blended with brushes. And yes, I did use some dedicated AK Interactive products, too, like different dark washes, and the light rust wash. (I’m turning to the dark side here.)

 

 

Addendum…

 

I’m making a difference! Awesome 🙂

Someone got inspired to try this technique based on this post.

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Tamiya 1/35 T-62 with Verlinden damage set p4.

The first part of this build can be found here, the second here, and the third here.

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Well, the small dio is finally done. It’s been a long, long build. It took me more than a year back in the US to find the conversion set; I was lucky to grab it cheap from someone who gave up on it. It then sat in a box for the next couple of years, then brought back to Europe, and finally ended up in the UK. The actual build time was a couple of months; quite quick, really, but I did take a lot of shortcuts. These were mostly done out of necessity (of preserving my sanity); the set is not exactly user-friendly. The fit is poor at places, the instructions are horrid, and some parts are just plain impossible to do (like the installation of the turret ring). I’m not even mentioning the warped parts, like the gun barrel. (Wait, I just did…) So to save time, my already thinning hair, and money, I just rolled with what I had (with the exception of the gun barrel).

Anyhow, when all is said and done, it built up into a very inaccurate, but quite nice tank.

I tried to show a gradient of colors from back to front: burned out engine compartment dominated by rust colors, to the greenish hues of the frontal hull.

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The figure also took a LOT of time to hunt down; unfortunately it is long out of production, so my best bet was to get lucky and buy one from someone. (This is a really good reminder of buying things when they are available. However, it also is a sure way of building up a stash that would shame a hobby store, so there is a delicate balance to be achieved here.)

And one final word about the photography, before the pictures. I’m using a Nikon D3300 with either the kit lens (when the subject is relatively large), or a Tamron 90mm macro lens. The models are placed in a collapsible light box, and lit up using two LED lamps from the side. The whole contraption is in the kitchen, with fluorescent overall lightning, which explains the difficulties to actually getting the colors right on the photos- the camera, no matter how smart it is, is having trouble with the white balance. I did take some photos during the day using the same setup, and the sunlight as an overall source of illumination; the difference is visible. I will set the white balance manually next time. The other issue I dislike is that the figure looks a bit glossy; when you look at it in real life, it is much more matte.
It’s a learning curve of taking photos, and it’s also a matter of convenience. Living in London means I have absolutely no space dedicated for model building, so everything needs to be set up in the kitchen when I build/take photos. Not very convenient.

So without further ado, here’s the finished STALKER diorama:

Tamiya 1/35 T-62 with Verlinden damage set p3.

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The first part of this build can be found here.

Second part here.

With the major building and painting finished, it was time to put the tank into context. Well, into a scene, that is.

I buy large plastic cases to keep my models in; they are excellent for display, protection against dust and curious fingers, and also make it easy to transport the models. In some cases I use them as small dioramas.

In the second part the tank was reasonably finished, but it was still somewhat uniform, despite of the layers upon layers of paints, paintchips, oil paints, filters and pigments. Now was time to bring out the sponge…

The technique is reasonably simple: dab the sponge (or the scrotch brite) into the paint, dab most of it off on a piece of paper, and then keep dabbing it against the surface you wish to cover with paint/paintchips. (Depending on the amount you cover you can depict paint chips or flaking off paint.)

I’ve used the external fuel tanks to experiment; unfortunately the box was not long enough for these to be mounted onto the tank…

First, I’ve used the sponge technique to make the uniform brown surface into a rusting, multicolored one.

Second step: using light green I repeated the process. (This color is excellent for paint chips, too.) It’s not a problem if it’s too light at this stage; in fact, it’s actually necessary- the subsequent washes, filters will darken the color anyway.

And finally, the result: I’ve used overall brown washes, which created a grimy, used look. Some more green was dabbed onto the barrels in a much smaller area, and voila – we have an interesting, rusting surface with different shades and colors.

The tank was glued onto the base using two part epoxy (it’s quite heavy because of all the resin and metal), and then I used Tamiya’s soil Diorama Texture Paint. (I’ve got it discounted when the largest hobby store chain in the UK went bust a couple of years ago.) The color is not exactly great, but we’ll help it a bit later using the airbrush.

Using the sponge method I’ve added green patches onto the turret and the front part of the tank- I wanted to achieve a color difference between the front and the back.

The paint was toned down with some brown filters.

I’ve used the leftover tracklinks from the MiniArt T-54-1 for the tracks; a lot of them don’t have teeth, since they are the special links for the ice-cleats, and they are also narrower than should be, but to be honest I did not want to spend money on extra tracks. Nobody will notice, unless they read the text.

I’ve bought some AK Interactive products online cheap (six bottles for twenty quids) – rust, different colored streaking products, washes, and one that simulates algae streaking… so I used this tank to try them all.

I’ve used more rust pigments on the turret and the side of the hull, and used a dark brown filter to tone down the contrast a bit. Black pigment was used sparingly to depict soot (my fiancee’s insistence)  The way I use these pigments is to load a brush with Tamiya’s flat varnish, dab it into the pigments, dab most of it onto a piece of paper, and then dab it onto the surface of the model. You want to have some in the brush, but not too much; kind of like a heavy drybrush.

 

I’ve used some wine by Eduard to depict a creeper growing out of the driver’s compartment. The fallen leaves were made using the actual seed pod of a tree. Unfortunately I can’t figure out what it’s called; it looks like a fat caterpillar, and when you grind it up between your fingers, it falls apart into Marple-leaves like parts, and seeds. I mixed some white glue and water, added this plant material, and distributed onto the tank.

 

 

 

Last part is coming next week with the vegetation and the STALKER dude added

Making rust -using rust

Nothing looks more like rust, than, well, rust.

Back in the US I had a brilliant product: a two-part rust effect product. One flask had suspended iron particles, the other was an activator (an oxidizing reagent). You applied the metal suspension to the surface, and after it dried, you added the activator. After some days (or hours, depending on how much activator/iron you used) you got a very realistic rust effect. (It was rust, after all.) You could play around with different reagents to get different colors- after all any acid or hydrogen peroxide would work very well, and produce slightly different mixture of the different iron oxide variants. (Being in Florida, it was also a very viable option to simply leave the model out on the patio… the 100% humidity and high temperature was quite effective rusting anything, anyhow.)

The armor of my orc warrior was done using this method. (In this case the rust effect was used to depict a rotting leather armor; the same product was used on the ground as well to simulate dirt.)

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Modern Masters and Porters Paints have similar products, but they cost an arm and leg.

However, you can make your own rust pigments, and quite easily at that.

Simply use scratch brite (metal, of course). Put some steel wool or scratch brite into a cup, add vinegar or peroxide (or any acid of your choice), and stick it somewhere safe, where nobody will disturb it. Let it stand for a month or two, and wait for the liquid to evaporate. (If by the time it evaporates parts of the iron are still unoxidized, simply refill the cup.) You can even experiment: depending on the strength and nature of the oxidizing reagent you use, you will get a slightly different colored mixture of rust particles.

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The result will be a brown mess; if you break it up in a pestle you will have finely ground iron oxide, ready to be used. As the orc warrior has demonstrated the pigments have more uses than simply depict rust: they have a nice, brown range of colors which can be used in groundwork, deposits, etc. (Some of the rust I’ve made this was was used to simulate deposits collecting in the nooks and crevices of the T-62 wreck I’m building.)

1/35 MiniArt T-54-1 build review p.2

The first part of the review can be found here.

So the hull interior is reasonably finished, but I had to add bits and bobs (fire extinguishers, ammunition for the main gun and for the machine guns, etc.). Once I put the driver’s periscopes in place, I could close down the hull. The top part is really thin; I suspect it’s quite close to scale thickness.

 

Fitting the mudgards was not straightforward: the locator pins did not fit into the corresponding holes on the sides, so there was a tiny gap between the mudguards and the tank’s hull. I simply shaved the pins off. The plastic mudgards are quite thin, and the long parts had a slight bend; the solution was to glue them in place in two steps, straightening them out in the process.
The drive wheels have very small attachment points to the swing arms; since it’s a static model it’s not a real problem, but I still prefer a bit more robust connection.
The tracks are -correctly- narrower than what was used on the final production version of the T-54 (as a comparison I’ve used an individual track link from a Trumpeter kit on the photo). You need 90 per side (the resources I’ve read specified 91 for the actual tank), and you have an option to use a special link for every 20th track link. These links don’t have teeth, and are specially designed to mount the cleats that allow the tank to get better traction on snow or other difficult terrain. Unfortunately it’s not specified in the instruction, but that’s what you can use them for. (The instruction manual shows the cleats in a stored position on the mudguards.) The cleats in their storage position require some really thin plastic pins to hold them in place: first, the holes on the cleats are too narrow, second it’s almost impossible to clean these pins of the sprue gate… so I just used some thin evergreen plastic to replace them.
The headlight has an option to attach a protective wire cage around it; the plastic was very thin, and snapped the second I tried to remove it from the sprue, so I chose the other option.

 

Parallel to the work on the hull, I was working on the turret as well. As I mentioned I’ve been doing a lot of painting and weathering before ataching all the necessary parts, so only time will tell if they will stand out or not after all is said and done.

I have some serious decisions to make at this point. I would like to present the interior open somehow. Either I show the turret tilted up, with the gun being installed, or I simply make a “cutaway”. (I saw a photo on the T-54, T-55 group’s facebook page.)

The first version would be the most attractive solution, but the problem is I’ve installed everything already: ammunition, equipment, etc. A tank would be stripped out before the turret is lifted, so it would not be very realistic.
The second option would be to simply leave the top of the turret off- held up by a couple of plastic pegs, showing the interior off. (This way I don’t have to cut and saw into the plastic. With the King Tiger and other large tanks there are parts you can cut away easily; with the T-54 I would be taking a lot of detail away if I cut parts of the turret away. Since the driver’s position and the engine compartment are not very well detailed regrettably I will not cut into the hull, as there’s not much to display… But MiniArt has made the turret halves join up as they did in the original tank.

 

Checking statistics…

So I’m sitting in team meeting, bored out of my mind, and I checked the visitor stats for this blog.

I would like to thank everyone visiting this page; I hope you find it interesting and informative. Special shout out to the person in Botswana and the other person in the Ivory Coast who came to these pages! 🙂

Scale model building – amateur style