Tag Archives: dust

Gear Acquisition Syndrome


This post is the missing pair of the “Should you hoard?” post…

It’s about the well-known syndrome all hobbists suffer from regardless of their chosen hobby: the gear acquisition syndrome.

Simply put we are very much prone to buy newer and newer additions to our respective hobbies, even if we do not actually use them. This is more of a problem when you sink in thousands of dollars in new lenses you will use once or twice, than for model builders – our trinkets cost way less. But this also means we can buy them more often. An exciting, new product to stimulate rust? Sign me up even though I have not learned to use the previous new, exciting product yet! New line of acrylic paints? In with the new, even though I have similar colors still in their bottle! They will make all the difference, after all! Special filters to simulate aging? Bring it on! …And the list goes on. I think companies bank on this tendency when they roll out the newest and bestest(est) products which promise to help you achieve professional, award winning results with minimal effort on our part. More often than not I have been very disappointed in these products. In some cases I could not use them -no user’s guide is usually provided-, so the results were not as spectacular as I was led to believe, and often my old-school methods worked better. (Once learning to use them I usually found that the results were no better or worse than the techniques I used before.) Sometimes the product was simply not good – acrylic filters that jumped into small droplets even on the flattest surfaces, for example, or acrylic fillers that shrink and do not actually fill cavities. (Acrylic weathering products, in general, are somewhat difficult to use, due to the high surface tension of water. They do not spread as easily as the solvent-based products; the price you pay for being friendlier to your brain cells.) They might just cost more than the repurposed non-modelling product you have been using before – I’m thinking about odorless mineral spirit, for example, or, and I say this with great tepidation, acrylic pencils which you can buy in art stores; but artists’ oil paints are also on this list, among a million other items you used to go to artists’ stores before.

The truth is this: only practice will produce great results. Putting something out of the bottle onto the model will not achieve the expected effect, even though this is what you see on the label. (Many times what you see is the result of using multiple products -a very prominent issue with the different “mud” products*- ; an advertising technique I find somewhat dubious in morality.)

I am not saying you should not buy the special filter set for tonal modulation or a specific rust set with all sorts of colors (in fact, I do have a set of rust colored paints I really like); what I am trying to say is that do not buy everything that strikes your fancy (I also have a set of rust filters I do regret spending money on). Buyer’s remorse will be the result more often than not, and having stuff lying around you have forgotten to try. (I was really surprised the other day to find that I do have a couple of dust-products I did not have a recollection of buying.) Always think if you need something, always read reviews, watch youtube videos before buying. These products can make your life simpler and help you achieve great results, after all.



*I was really excited when the first mud-in-the-bottle products arrived, especially seeing the labels with photos of muddy tracks and wheels (realistic dust and mud is still a holy grail for me), only to get a product that was a somewhat thick, greyish-brownish slush. When you apply it, it looks uniform and unrealistic. Then you learn you also need the resin beads, the special grass imitation, and three other tones of mud, plus the same tones in “splashed mud” configuration to produce the results you see on the photo -a significant investment, and not at all what was promised by the photo on the product. Using plaster, pigments, sand or even real soil will yield the same results; the only thing the ready-made product makes it easier for you -and this is a big thing I do admit- is that you don’t have to fret about the colors and tones.

MiniArt T-44 part.6 Finished at last



Well, this has been a journey.

As a last step (well, series of steps) I added mud and dust to the tank. I did not want to make it look extremely muddy -probably not very realistic, and certainly not very appealing to the eyes. (Well, it’s a personal opinion.)

The other reason is that I’m not good with mud. I know. It’s horrible, but there you go: as far as mud goes I’m a noobie.

I’ll detail the process of mud-making, but unfortunately I have not made photos of the stages.

As a first step I mixed up earth colored pigments (from a railway model supply company), static grass and plaster in equal amounts. I added some water, and used this mixture  on the wheels, the mudguards, and the lower part of the chassis.

(Instead of water you can use white spirit, enamel thinner or even earth colored enamel/acrylic paints, or other products. I think. I’ll experiment with these.) I also used the thinner part of this mixture to create splashes on top and on the side of the chassis.

All looked well until it dried… due to the plaster the color shifted to a much lighter complexion. (You can see it on the photos that show the splashes near the driver’s hatch.)

Well, I did not get a heart attack despite of this; the review for Armorama was finished, so I was free to experiment.

I took a stiff brush, and started rubbing some of the mud mixture off on the sloping front and on the back; it made it look like it was washed off over time. So far so good.

The color issue I solved with burned umber washes (this color is the best friend of every model builder…). I dabbed a loaded brush on the lower parts, and let the capillary action draw the paint upwards. Repeated a couple of times, and the results are not half bad: the top is still faded, light color, representing very dry mud; while it gets darker to the bottom, representing the still wet, fresher mud. The fact that the wash and the original mud application left some “tide marks” actually works in my favor now -it looks pretty damn authentic. Real mud leaves these marks as it dries, too. I successfully turned a lemon into lemonade I think. (The application was more of an experimental one -let’s see if it works- rather than a conscientious application of skills…)

I did the same with the wheels. The static grass gives a nice volume, and some hint for vegetation caught up in the mud; I have to say I’m pleased how it turned out, and feel pretty silly for not using this before. (I bought the static grass back in the US in 2008… It spent some time in my mother’s attic since then, but still. It is a very useful addition for any modeller’s toolset.)


The exhaust was treated with rust colored pigments mixed in enamel thinner. Once it tried different dark washes were added: simply loaded the brush and dabbed it onto the surface at random. The capillary action did the rest, creatinga nice-looking rusted look.

The strap for the fuel tank was re-glued after the photo session


I’ve used light brown pigments on top of the turret and the chassis both dry (just dabbed on with a brush), and mixed with enamel thinner. In this case I used a clean brush to carefully blend in the spots. Some remained a tad darker -as if it was still wet a bit. The reasons I’m not sure about yet, but it does kind of look good, so I’ll take it. Again: the result of a happy accident. (Perhaps I should have said it was pure skill… next time.)


Parts of the tank were rubbed with dark steel pigment giving them a metallic shine. zyr6yyreszhgqr

For oil and fuel stains I used AK Interactive’s engine oil and fuel stain products. (I try to mix most of my stuff, but some are really useful.) First I created a very diluted solution, and made larger spots. Once dry I used a less diluted solution in the middle.This, with the dust layer underneath makes it look pretty good I think. (Second try on these products; and the first try I diluted them… The first try was not as convincing.)





Oh, the engine. Let’s not forget about the engine. I’m planning to display it just as I did with the T-34/85 – in front of the tank.

The engine block received the same bluish base color as the interior (I’m fairly certain the engine was bare metal, but I liked the color). The top was painted anthracite, and was rubbed with dark steel pigment -it gave it a nice, metallic sheen. (The same effect can be achieved with ground up graphite.)

The exhaust pipes were first painted with anthracite, same as the engineblock’s top. I mixed rust colored pigments with enamel thinner, and used this mixture to add a basic rust color and some texture to them. I’ve used soldering wire for the wiring. I’ve seen some amazing works which shows the ignition wires yellow, but watching this video of an ISU-152 I think it’s safe to go with silver.wwpg9nr




Well, here it is. The deed is done. I need to attach the antenna, and mount it in a display box. Just in time for the MiniArt SU-122 with complete interior and the T-44M I’m reviewing… Keep tuned in; I have several interesting models from MiniArt and OKB to review.

Consideration of your (and others’) health in model building

I thought about writing up a short summary of the potential dangers lurking in our hobby as I’m not sure all of them are widely known. Let’s hope it’s something of use for everyone.

So here it goes.

Well, that’s a no-brainer. We cut with scalpels, saws and other sharp instruments. Common sense (and really sharp blades) are a must. Seriously: don’t try to work with a dull scalpel; it’s more dangerous than a sharp one.

Resin dust
Well, if we’re at the cutting stage… Resin is dangerous. I’m not kidding. It’s toxic when in liquid form (the fumes and the resin itself), so keep this in mind if you DO work with liquid resin, but you can basically eat it once solidified. However, cutting resin with a fine saw, or sanding it releases very fine dust. And this fine dust is a carcinogen -in other words, it’ll increase your chances of developing (mainly) lung cancer. It also stays airborne for a long-long time, giving a chance for everyone sharing the room with you to enjoy the health effects.
You should either wear a mask and work in a fume hood when your are producing resin dust, or, a simpler -and safer- solution is simply to use wet sawing/wet sanding techniques. In practice it means you should be working with resin under running water (or a constantly wetted saw/drill/sandpaper), so that the dust is immediately absorbed. This way you are not endangering yourself or your loved ones. (This is a thing to keep in mind for any activities that create fine dust- even carpentry. If you sand your model, use wet sanding techniques, period.)

Dangerous chemicals: glues, paints and fumes
Well, yeah. A lot of the stuff we use have organic solvents. Adhesives, paints, glues… and organic solvents, such as turpentine, white spirit, benzene (I believe this one is not in any of our stuff, though), toluene, etc. are NOT good for you. At all.
When you use glue, have proper ventilation. You can also use special glues that are less toxic, such as Tamiya’s Limonene. Sometimes you can consider using simple white glue; surprisingly, it can have multiple uses. As a turpentine/white spirit alternative you can get ZestIt, which is a much more gentle alternative. (I’m trying to avoid doing product endorsements, but in these cases I did not find any other alternatives.)
Superglue is a separate issue altogether. It was used to glue wounds together on the field in Vietnam, until the injured could be evacuated to proper medical facilities, so no surprise here that it’s perfectly capable of gluing fingers together. Pulling will only tear the skin off – use debonder, or acetone to release your fingers. The fumes of the glue are not very safe to inhale either, so, again- ventilation. (The fumes are also perfectly capable of “frosting” any clear parts or finished paintwork, so ventilation is also quite important to avoid ruining the model if you add parts after the painting phase.

Painting… there are several types used in modelling, as we know. I will not go into all the different types; there are several detailed explanations online what paints are available for an average modeller. Just a short (and somewhat incorrect) introduction from the point of health and safety. The so-called enamel paints have nasty organic solvents, but have better properties; many people prefer to use these for their work. The solvents used in acrylic ones are less dangerous but you make trade-offs with the durability and coverage. (Personally I don’t use enamels at all.) When you brush any model paints, ventilation is, again, a must.

Solvents are only one side of the equation, though. Airbrushing paint creates small particles of paint in the air… and as we know, small airborne particles are not good for you. When you use your airbrush, it is imperative that you either are in a very, very well ventilated area (such as outside of your house – I sometimes paint on the patio), or, better yet, you use a spray booth. I cannot stress this part enough: if you use an airbrush, get yourself a paint booth. You can either buy one (the price ranges from expensive to very, very, very expensive), or you can make one using stuff you can get from any DIY store.
If you go with the buying option, there are affordable, folding versions available; I can wholeheartedly recommend those. (They save on space, if you don’t live in a mansion.)

If you make one, just get a large plastic box, a brushless fume extractor (this can be important, as organic fumes and electric sparks are not very good together), some HePa filters, and ducting – even with mediocre skills one can build a pretty functional fume hood. I went this way when I was in Florida, but had to leave it behind when I moved across the ocean. It cost about 50 dollars altogether, and took about 3 hours to construct. (Test it with a scented candle or something of that sort: if the smell/scent does not come out of the hood, you’re fine.)