In short: it is a simple, easy-to-assemble kit of a cool little tank destroyer. If you are a fan of this vehicle in World of Tanks and have no modelling experience, it is actually a model you can build with ease. If it was not a review sample coming with its own paint-set, I would have painted it in the “green grove” camo from WoT. ..
The paints performed admirably; the only issue I have -which might not be an issue at all- is that I find the base yellow (dunkelgelb) provided way too dark. (It is “middle stone” in the paint set.)
What I did was to use it as a base layer and “modulated” it with Mig’s Dunkelgelb…
I used silly putty for masking, and added the other two colors of the camo. The paints performed perfectly well; I had no problem using them with airbrush or brush, although they needed to be diluted with water heavily. (The paint is very thick,) Which is fine as you get a lot actually in those tiny, 12ml bottles.
I started with filters -ochre, brownish, a touch of green.
Then came the chipping, the wear-and-tear and rust inside: the trusty German Black Brown applied with a 0 sized brush. I applied some scratches and whatnot on the superstructure, and added a little bit of rust streak to some of them. (Most of it is hidden by the dust layers…)
Dust and mud were adding using these products mainly. The very light brown “light sienna” was a transformative product (any pigment would suffice, not just Vallejo’s); after all dry mud is almost grey in color. (One of my constant struggle with mud has been the unrealistically dark color.) The structured mud by Green Stuff World is essentially the same thing you can get from Tamiya or Vallejo- a thick paste you can dilute with water, and mix it with pigments, ink or acrylic paints (or anything water-soluble, really). There was no strict order or method – generally I tried to apply the lighter colors on a larger surface (dried, older mud, dust), used a wet brush to remove some of the material using vertical strokes, simulating rain and other effects, waited until it got dry, and went ahead with a thicker, darker mixture on a smaller area. I also applied some splashes using an old brush and a piece of card on the lower hull using several different shades.
With adding some more rust, some dust and filling up the cab and roof rack the with the missing equipment and cargo, I call this vehicle done.
It is honestly great that MiniArt and other plastic model manufacturers venture into the more unique and obscure subject territory. Previously if it was not a Sherman or Tiger (with some exaggeration) you were out of luck -only very expensive kits or conversions by resin manufacturers were available. So while I would love to build the new General Motor CMP C60X by Resicast I will never be able to afford it; this model gave me something similar I actually can. We truly live in a golden age of scale modelling.
Attached the rack to the top, and then painted and weathered all the baggage.
This essentially concluded the building process. Some adjustments here and there are still done, but the model is essentially ready. The smaller details will be added in the upcoming week (or two), and I will post the result. Some oil cans, gas cylinders are missing still, but I think the weathering is finished, so once they are installed, the model will be officially ready, too.
Overall I would say this is an interesting subject, a relatively well designed model, with the caveat of the assembly of the chassis, the running gear and the bonnet.
The doors were weathered inside and out. I used oils straight to modulate their colors from the inside, some dark and rush washes to make them look used. I chose two of the posters and glued them onto the back door. I used a very faint rust wash on the seams – using rust colored pigments suspended in ZestIt.
The outside got several layers of splashed mud using the same basic mixture of dust colored pigments, AK’s resin thickening agent, and water with other colored pigments added between applications. I used the usual method of splattering this mixture onto the model with the help of an old brush and a toothpick. The secret of realistic looking result is several, almost invisible layers on top of each other; just swamping the surface with a single dust/mud color will make the model look, well, not good, as I experienced it when I started using pigments and other products, expecting to see the same results as can be seen on the packaging.
The top of the bus got a much lighter mixture of dust colored pigments. I used both AK’s pencils and Tamiya’s dust weathering stick to achieve the effect. The good thing about these products is that you can just add them onto the surface with a copious amount of water, wait until they dry, and then use a wet brush to adjust the effect to your heart’s content.
I also dusted up the windows a bit; after all you can’t expect them to be completely clean if the vehicle is dusty.
OK, I finished all the little details, added everything, and it looks pretty cool. I have to say I am very pleased with the results… it is now time to hide them.
The headlights were painted with the chrome paint from Green Stuff World. The thing is simply amazing. It looks just like liquid chrome.
I closed down the top of the vehicle, and painted the exterior in dunkelgelb. I used liquid mask on the windows, but the mask was way too thin, and on some places the paint actually stuck to the transparent plastic; it took some care to remove it without scratching the windows. The few remaining scratches will be covered up with dust. (Yes, I admit it. We all do it, right?)
You can clearly see where the hooks for the ladder broke off… Beh. Looking at the photos one of the front wheels look wobbly; this was a damage occupred during the handling of the model. As I said before, the attachment point is not exactly robust. I also found a curious issue: the rectangular transparent plastic on the top of the windshield does not actually fit into the rectangular hole. I might just leave it out – the new users (Germans) would not need the number sign on their captured bus.
All the juicy details are now hidden inside; I feel quite conflicted about it; I probably should have done something to make the top removable.
Next up: weathering and finishing the model. I hope.
OK, so I am pressing ahead with the back of the bus, and had faced some serious issues with the front…
As the manual has you put the bonnet, the radiator, the front of the cab together at very different steps, there will be misalignements. Small problems snowball into larger ones, ending up like this: the front of the cab is pushed back by the back of the engine compartment, the radiator will be pushed front, and the side panels of the engine compartment will not fit.
So I took the whole bloody thing away, and put it back together again, this time as one unit. I also had to shave off about 3mm of the back of the engine compartment (the unit built in step 28) so that it does not put H8 (the front part of the cab) back. This way I managed to fit the side panels of the engine compartment. Victory.
Back to the back.
I built and painted the workbenches. They got a coat of light grey, then a coat of worn effects fluid, followed by dunkelgelb, worn down, applied varnish, applied worn effect fluid, applied Nato black, worn down again. I painted a couple of drawers in red and blue, and then using AK’s old wood I painted chips, scratches, and the wood panels that are visible under the worn paint.
From here on it was the matter of adding some dripping paint (stole the idea), dust, some more paint, and some oil and whatnot which you would expect on a workbench. I kinda like the achieved result.
I also started to fill up the interior; I have to say it is actually a fun thing to do, despite of my earlier reservations.
I realized a sprue was missing from my box, contacted MiniArt, and they sent me a replacement. Great customer service I have to say.
I have a couple of smaller wrenches, etc. left, and then I can close the bus, and start working on the outside. I have to say this build is much more fun than I expected, and I had already had high expectations…
Well, I have heard of the “MiniArt brittle plastic” and I think now I found it. The plastic is not very good; the extremely thin parts snap like nobody’s business. (While building the streering mechanism I had to swap a part to an evergreen rod; and sometimes I feel it is easier to fashion a replacement part than trying to shave off the remaining sprue gates from the parts.) There is also quite a lot of flash on the delicate little pieces, which is kind of a throw-back to the older MiniArt kits. Quite a big change from the state-of-the-art models I build lately from them. Add to this the tendency of MiniArt to solve every issue with hair-thin and microscopic parts, and you definitely do not have a perfectly smooth ride. The lower chassis is full of delicate, tiny, thin parts which will not be visible anyhow. (It is tempting to leave them out…) In fact sometimes facing the 1-2mm parts that could have been just molded onto the surface I felt the company was just trying to troll the builder.
The other big issue is, well, the design of the truck itself. Normally you would expect a high degree of precision and some help from the designers to make it as easy as possible to align everything perfectly.
Well, no. First of all, the wheels only attach through a 1 mm thick stub to the wheel hubs. OK, that is not a big issue per se, although it is definitely not a robust way to do things. The main issue is, however, aligning the different parts of the running gear: the axles, the bumper, making sure the actual wheels are paralell and do not tilt… it is just flimsy. You have to work very carefully not to have gross misalignments, and it is really hard to judge how everything will align while you build (see below).
The front wheel attachment points are especially bad: you do not even have a stub to attach anything to the axles. The wheel hub attaches using the mentioned square little pegs to the wheels themselves (you can see it on part A23 below), but the whole setup has hardly any attachment points to the front axle. First, while building the axle you literally have to position the whole steering mechanism in the air when you assemble the axle -the orientation of the parts is only guestimated. After that is finished these tiny, fiddly parts should hold the front wheels. A nice, solid piece of rod going through the wheel assembly would be a bit more reassuring when it comes to robustness and alignment. (See step 14 in the instructions you can download from MiniArt’s page.)
I mean, seriously, MiniArt?
Those curved, horn-like things on the front are going to hold the bumper (which in itself is too thin and delicate, so snaps like a charm when trying to remove it from the sprue), which is fine. However, as I said, orienting these parts is difficult, as there are only shallow indentations where they should be going (just as with everything else), so I ended up with a bit of a misalignement when I finally attached everything. One of the front wheels almost touches the bumper, not to mention only three wheels touched the ground… So I had to take it apart and re-gluing, re-orienting everything, because I did not want to make a lowrider.
Same issue with the engine: the cooling fan, for example, just hangs in the air attached to the engine block through a pipe. Where exactly it should be only becomes clear when the whole thing is installed -not to mention the pipe leading to the radiator does not reach it… These parts should be installed AFTER the bigger subassemblies are in place, so you can actually put them in place in situ, instead of worrying if they fit until you try several steps later.
My advice is to first glue the subassemblies together (front axle with wheels, bumper with holder, etc.), and once they are finished, THEN glue them to the chassis- this way you can do the alignment by eye easily while the glue is setting.
Ideally the model should be designed so that such visual alignment is not necessary (Takom’s Panther comes to mind, or even MiniArt’s T-54/55 series), but this model apparently was not designed with this in mind. It feels like they bit a bit more than they could chew, honestly. I do understand that the designers have to balance detail and buildability, but in this case I feel the balance is a bit off. It is not a deal-breaker, but it is certainly not a pleasant challenge like their D7 dozer was.
One great thing is that the wheels are not given with rubber tires… they are assembled instead from thin disks, resulting in a pretty good representation of the real thing.
The model is quite a smart mix-and-match of MiniArt’s smaller kits: a Russian bus plus a ton of accessory sets make up for a tiny little workshop teeming with detail…
…Which has to be assembled and painted. Individually. Every single little wrench, bag of potato and all.
This will be tedious and time consuming. The results will be worth it for sure, but the work itself… well, I guess I signed up for it.
You can build the whole thing before painting; there are no sub-assemblies to paint first. The instructions provide a guide to the Buntfarbenanstrich (colorful) painting scheme (https://panzerworld.com/german-armor-camouflage for more information), but I kept to the plain (and very likely non-historical) panzergray for sentimental reasons – this is how I was used to the vehicle when I played it in World of Tanks. I painted it using Tamiya acrylics: panzer grey lightened with buff for the whole tank with zenithal highlight and some panel highlighting, used light grey to further highlight edges and smaller details, and then used oils (burned umber, raw umber, green, white) to “deepen” the color with filters.
Some streaking was added, some dust and some mud, and I declared the model done. I did not want to go overboard with rust, chips and scratches, as I figured the vehicle as a prototype had no time to actually get “used in”. It spent a couple of exciting days in the proving ground, and then went back to the machine shop to be dismantled. (Sadly.)
It was also an interesting experience with the AK weathering pencils: they are pretty good at making dust. The fact that the effect can be adjusted any time after drying is great.
I am very enthusiastic about farming equipment, bulldozers and whatnot, so I was really excited when ICM announced they were going to issue a rare, interwar German agricultural mover; it represents a very important, albeit little known step in tractor development.
Incidentally it also has a turret and a gun (I guess the designers were really keen on preparing for all eventualities a farm worker might face), so we may even look at it as an early attempt at tank development by the German industry. I say “may”, since at that time the Germans were prohibited from armored vehicle development by the treaties closing WWI, it is merely a coincidence, I am sure. Regardless, these little vehicles were used by the German armed forces as a substitute during training and for the development of their armor doctrine. This is the main reason that although they never were intended for combat, they had an extremely useful role in the development of the German armored tactics (blitzkrieg) employed in WWII, and also in the development of early and mid war German armored fighting vehicles. It is indeed a welcome step from ICM to issue a plastic model of this important vehicle; it seems like the company is willing to take risks and develop models of unique subjects.
The model is very traditionally designed: the hull is made up by flat parts, the turret is made up by two semi-circular halves, necessitating filling seam lines, unfortunately which I personally do not like. (One of the boons of armor modelling in my opinion is that there is no need to fill in seam lines along the fuselage…) There is even some minimal turret interior provided; you get the main gun and the coaxial machine gun with some rudimentary detail. If you plan to leave the turret doors open, just paint the interior of the hull (but not the turret…) black.
The suspension and running gear is simplified; only the parts that show from under the side covering are detailed. Looking at the myriad of tiny road wheels it is a good thing I think… although it may be very interesting to have the option to open the side hatches to show off the suspension.
The gun has a hollowed-out end, which was solved without the use of slide-moulding: the tip is made up of two parts: the long barrel with half of the end is missing, and a tiny part that makes up for the missing half. This was it was possible to mould a short longitudinal channel in the end of the barrel, and closing it off with a small “half-pipe” forms it into a complete gun barrel with a hole at the end.
The model comes with rubber band type tracks – is a matter of taste if you prefer them or not. Talking for myself only, I consider this to be the weakest point of the model. (I prefer link-and-length tracks or individual track links, if possible. In this case definitely not individual links, though seeing how small the track links are.) You are supposed to glue two parts for one set of tracks, which leaves you with two possible seams showing where the tracks meet. I would suggest using a more discreet place to join them up than I did: the drive wheels and idlers… My mistake; as the tracks bend around the wheels the seams show up. They would all but disappear when joined flat.
The sides of the tracks do not really show segmentation where the track links meet – they are smooth, which is less-than-ideal.
All-in-all the model is well-made but geared for simplicity and ease of assembly. (I will not lie, a full interior version would be extremely welcome…) On top of the mud guards there may or may not have been some anti-slip surfacing on the real vehicle, which is lacking from this model (the mud guards are smooth). I could not decide how it was based on reference photos, but there are some builds online where this surface was added using PE by the modeller.
There are also no tools provided, which is, again, something that may be accurate; don’t forget, this vehicle was not progressed from the prototype phase. It really should not be hard to add a couple of shovels and picks should you want to include them. The weird, corkscrew-like exhaust is designed in a way that after gluing the two halves together there is no need to fill in seam lines; a very considerate way of designing models.
The thin handrails around the top of the hull are very well done, but a pain in the neck to use because it is really difficult to clean them properly from the sprue gates. They are very thin and snap easily. What I did was to shave off as much leftover plastic as I could, and then brushed on some liquid glue to melt the plastic a bit, smoothing out the sharp, protruding sprue gate remains. In all honesty if the model was not for review I would have just switched the plastic to wire, keeping the vertical holders. (It is also very easy to break them during the painting and weathering steps. Don’t ask me how I know this.)