Tag Archives: review

Armory/S-models: 1/72 152mm T49 gun tank

I promised I will post finished models as well… so here is number one. (There are others lined up, I promise.)

Well, this is the actual reason for building the Armory Walker Bulldog and the S-models Sheridan… the 152mm T49 gun tank. I always wanted to build one, but did not feel like making the investment to buy two 1/35 scale models; so when Armory came out with their Bulldog, I knew I finally had the opportunity to build one in Braille.

I did not even know this tank existed until it was introduced to World of Tanks. It provided a very interesting gameplay of speed coupled with an inaccurate 152mm derp gun, so it became one of my favorite tank. The hull is the Walker Bulldog‘s, the turret was used later on the Sheridan -so putting the two together will yield you this oddity.

The conversion was quite simple: I had to cut off the turret ring from the S-model turret, and installed rare earth magnets into the models to make the switch easier. (The other option was gluing the turret to the hull.) This way I can use the same hull for two different models.

There are not many photos available of this experimental tank, so I used Citadell’s airbrush ready olive drab -a pretty good looking olive drab color, and easy to spray. I did not want to repaint the Bulldog and the Sheridan in a WoT scheme, because then I would have two tank with the same fake camo pattern (even though I do like the look of these camos). I decided to depict a battered, older Walker Bulldog hull being used as a test-bed for the prototype. This way we would expect a more pristine turret painted sitting on a relatively run-down hull. (I am sure they will repaint the prototype once the trials are over, before presenting it to the top brass, don’t worry.)

I wanted to give a shot to the AK Interactive weathering pencils for this build -dust has always been a weak point for me. These pencils are essentially the same as the aquarell pencils you can get in art stores, but the colors are developed for the modeller.

I will do a review of it, but in general, the first impressions are, well, they are OK. The best way to apply it I found was to pre-wet the surface, and then smear the pencil onto the wet surface. To see a noticable effect, you have to add a LOT – lot more than you would expect. Because of the water, the pigments tend to gravitate towards the edges (see the commander’s cupola on the photo), forming a thin, bright line, but this can be adjusted using a darker wash later on. It allows you to make mistakes, since it is very easy to re-adjust it, or just remove it (just wash it off with water), but this also means you can’t layer the effects using the same method -unless you seal everything with varnish first, which will alter the effect. I think this will be used as a last step adjustment of the overall effect. All in all, they are fine products.

And basically, that is it. Now I just have to pray for a 1/72 Object 416 and a BT-SV…

AK Interactive’s Still Water- review

 

So. AK Interactive’s Still Water.

This thing.

The AK Interactive webpage has the following to say about it (bold mine):

Still Water is a liquid crystalline product specially designed to reproduce the effect of clear still water on dioramas and vignettes. Still Water is self-leveling and capable of flowing over uneven surfaces; apply thin layers, no more than 3 mm at a time. If depth is desired, build up thin layers. When applied on non-porous surfaces, such as glass, this product can be lifted and cut to desired shape. High quality acrylic product.
This product can be tinted with acrylics offering many possibilities. No toxic

Let’s see. I did not try to eat it, so I can’t comment on toxicity. It does stay crystal clear after hardening, which is great, and according to the description. Let’s see how the other properties function.

Coming out of the bottle it is relatively thick, yet it flows very easily out of the tip; be careful not to flood the surface.

NOTE: my aim was not to recreate a large body of water, such as a stream, river or lake in a diorama setting. That will be the topic of a separate post. I wanted to depict stagnant pools of water, either collected on abandoned vehicles, or puddles on the ground. I took a look at this product through this lens, which obviously colors my perceptions of it, however, the points about its properties are valid in any settings.

 

I took out two dioramas: the STALKER one with the T-62, and the Zrinyi II. I wanted to add water to both, which was the main reason buying this product. The non-toxicity and water solubility was the selling point.

I added small puddles under road wheels, in crevices on the ground, on the surface of the T-62 wreck. The product came out thick -it kept the convex, bulging form of a liquid with very high surface tension; it did not spread easily, even when encouraged with a brush. This made it extremely difficult to apply in thin coats, as the instructions suggested; the product does not spread easy. I thought the self-levelling part comes when it cures.

After hardening, I found that it did not self-level in the was I was expecting it to. The surface was not level in most cases -only where the product was applied in a thick layer.

The importance of surface

The nature of the groundwork was also extremely important: for the Zrinyi I used actual soil/mud hardened with plaster. This surface was torn up by the product, as it shiveled (dried) out, the edges curling upwards, tearing the water product away from the surface.

Not ideal.

The T-62 diorama was done using only Tamiya textured material for ground mixed with pigments; it served as a much better basis for the water effect. The product could not peel off the surface while it was curing. Apparently you need a strong bond between the particles of the groundwork for the product to stick to, otherwise as it cures, it will shrink on its surface, and this will peel off the whole thing.

Lesson one learned.

Self-levelling

How about being self-levelling? (Also a big must.)

Well, not exactly self levelling. When fresh, the product behaves as a liquid with a high surface tension. It does not spread out, as a liquid resin would, but it forms smaller or bigger blobs, droplets, like a somewhat thick soup would. You can help spreading it with a brush, but it has its limits, since it does not “wet” the surface it touches easily (due to the high surface tension).

This is how it looks when fresh and after curing.

 

As the product cures it flattens out, but it also has the tendency to wrinkle, and to follow all the irregularities underneath – so at the end you get an uneven surface. It simply cures onto the surface underneath in an even thickness. Applying multiple layers will not solve this problem: you simply increase the thickness of the product, you do not even the surface out. I wanted to put puddles onto the mud guards and the splash guard (the spillway being blocked by detritus), but as you can see regardless of applying the product in several thin(ish) layers, it refused to form a nice, even surface over the model. The leaves and other surface irregularities show through even after four layers. It looks a bit like water in the process of being frozen…

Weirdly I found bubbles that were present within the cured product, even though there were none when I applied them -or at least none visible. The high surface tension means that if you manage to trap air inside, or worse yet, manage to foam it up, it will not be able to escape. So be warned.

Dilution

OK, so it does not spread well, even when helped with a brush. What happens if you use some water and a brush? (Genius idea, eh?) So apply a generous amount of product on the groundwork, and add some water (about 1/10th of volume). It did make the product easier to spread. It did not foam so easily. But come next day, and…

…this is what happens: it becomes milky. The surface kind of looks like if it was mud saturated with water (which is nice), but the effect is not perfect, and the milky discoloration is very much not welcome. This also underlines the issue of tinting. The manual says you can tint this product with acrylics, but there is a limit of how much you can add.

Mixing with inks/paints/pigments

Since it is water soluble, it is a quite simple matter of mixing inks or water-based paints into the product. I used chestnut ink by citadell, since it was brown -although not exactly mud-brown, as we can see. It is for experimenting, anyhow; I wanted to see what it does when mixed with color -and perhaps salvage the foggy water effect on the Zrinyi diorama. I also applied a few drops onto the base of a space marine figure to see how it looks as a puddle. Without any staining the water effects did not show up very well; it merely looked like if the ground was shinier in patches.

With staining, it still formed an uneven, shiny surface after curing. (The first photo shows how it looks like fresh when applied.) I added three drops of ink – in retrospect it was too much. It might have given a more realistic result had I added only half a drop, instead of creating a chestnut colored slurry.

On the Zrinyi it may not have levelled the surface out, but on the bright side, it did look like fresh -and somewhat weird colored – mud. Success – I guess?

So what happens when I add pigments instead?

Well, it kind of looks as churned-up mud. The chestnut colored mud underneath even gives a slight color modification wherever the new mixture was thinner, giving it an actually quite pleasing looking mud effect. Overall, it looks like water-saturated, churned up mud that would suck you in if you stepped into it. I would call it success, although it was not the effect I was going for. (I wanted big puddles of brown water.)

Special effects

Let’s see if we can make radioactive sludge, lava or something similar out of this thing…

To make radioactive industrial waste, we just add a little bright, light green paint. Applied to the base of a few miniatures, the effect is actually quite nice, both applied thick (into the crevice of the base of the daemonhost), or thin – to the ground next to the boots of our Thousand Sons terminator. As an added effect I also put some more on top stained with a tiny bit of yellow ink. I have to say it is a pretty good effect.

The lava is a different matter. I added red ink to the product, and it formed a somewhat blood-looking pool at the foot of our Rubric Marine… so blood it is.

What happens if you prepare two different colors, and carefully blend them into each other? I can’t show the results, because I placed -rather carelessly- the instructions of the Armory Walker Bulldog I was building into the mix, but placing drops of the two colors next to each other to allow them to mix, resulted in, well, the two liquids mixing together completetly. I was hoping to create nice swirls and whatnot, but the liquid flows easily enough for it to mix completely.

 

Possible ways to use it

Well, small puddles on miniature bases were kind of successful. Without coloring it looks just shiny, somewhat inconspicuous. (It is difficult to see what the intended effect is if the product is not colored.) With some ink mixed in, even with a somewhat unrealistic color, it looks better -not as a puddle of water, but as a puddle of some sort of thick liquid. The issues with self-levelling are not as apparent in small scale.

If the base was suitable it produced a somewhat convincing effect, although it is visibly not level…  You need a flat surface to create large puddles to begin with. (The track-marks on the Zrinyi actually have somewhat convincing puddles.) Creating larger bodies of water were so far not successful, and neither was creating a smooth surface over an uneven base. One thing to note: once the product cures, you should stain the surrounding groundwork with a darker brownish color to represent the wet ground around the water.

You may be more successful applying the product to wet surfaces -although the groundwork, as we have seen- must be very well bonded, so you cannot apply it while the groundwork is still hardening. (It would make it simpler if you could just add the puddles at the same time as you build up the terrain.) As it is, if you pre-wet the surface, it might be possible to spread it more evenly.

Probably in dioramas, where you prepare a hard and even surface specifically for the water, it would work well (in a relatively thin layer) as the surface of a lake – we will see when I get around making a crashed Schwimmwagen diorama I have been planning a while now. For those ad hoc puddles I was trying to create it is less than perfect.

In short: it does not work as the non-water soluble resins do: these resins do not lose their volume during the curing process, and they do tend to float easily, with very little surface tension, which makes them very effective in creating level, smooth surfaces. This product does shrink while curing, and it merely forms an evenly distributed layer over the surface it is applied to- meaning that any irregularities below will show up on the surface. (The resins, on the other hand give off heat while curing, so they can actually melt the plastic if you apply it too thick, plus they are toxic as hell.)

Mixing in pigments, and applying it to an uneven surface will result in a very convincing, extremely wet-looking surface – just make sure you use multiple layers and multiple colors. For fresh mud, it is excellent. For bodies of water -not so much. 

Overall, it will not be the go-to solution for all your water needs, even though the non-toxicitiy and the ease of use makes it sound very attractive. It is absolutely true further experimentations will be required to master this product.

I think as with some other weathering products, the water solubility is its biggest weakness – the surface tension simply does not allow it to spread as easy. I found the liquid resin products (which are not water soluable) give  much better coverage, and they are actually self-levelling –  and as mentioned also highly toxic, and give out noxious fumes. Difficult choices.

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A with interior part 4. (plus testing AK’s streaking grime and dark wash)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now the hard part. I have been building the model now and then, adding bits here and there, but avoided to address the main issue: creating a cutaway.

I decided to can the idea.

I know, it is anticlimatic, but I realized that this should have done before even touching the glue – I am too way ahead in the building process to start cutting, unfortunately. Well, live and learn. The Tiger I and II will be handled differently. For now I will do an “exploded drawing” style model, like with the SU-122 or the E-75. I know it’s a coward’s way out, but there it is.

Anyhow, I have been working on the interior, adding parts and decals that were missing; right now it is ready for weathering.

I did some experiments with AK’s winter streaking grime and dark wash; I think the grime works better on both horizontal and vertical surfaces. (Well, the vertical surface should not really be a surprise, I think.)

I applied the wash/grime, waited fifteen minutes, and then started to blend the bands/spots with a wet brush (using turpentine, of course). The effects can be modified, refined for a long period of time, to make them subtler if one wishes so. Pretty straightforward and simple, really.

I also added the ammunition, beefed up the engine compartment, and applied the Zimmerit.

Let’s start with the ammo.

You get a lot. I mean a LOT. Do NOT paint them up, add decals all at once; you will need about third of it. What I did was to spray all of them gold using Vallejo’s gold, then painted the tips according to the type (not sure about the painting guide provided; online you can find very different colors for Panther ammunition), and added the brass/copper ring. Then I chose about ten of the painted ammunition, and removed the seamline. The paint was touched up with AK’s True Metal gold/brass, and added the decals. These were the “front-facing” projectiles: placed on areas where they would be seen (front of the ammo rack, bottom of the hull). This saved considerable amount of work on things that will not be seen once the hull is closed.

There were some parts not yet painted, installed into the hull; I finished these, and did some hand-painting. (Lack of foreplanning, I know.)

I also tried the Meng Zimmerit. Generally I do not like Zimmerit, and the only good, workable solution I found was the resin one. (Don’t even get me started on PE… and doing it by hand -well I ain’t got no time for that.) Only resin is quite expensive – so I tried Meng’s decal solution provided for their own Panther model.

Well, once the model is painted up I will write up a short review of it, but for now: it generally fit. It is extremely fragile (no problem with battle damage, I guess), and it does not work without adhesive. I used white glue; much better than CA.

I added some decals, where it was necessary, and now the interior is ready to be weathered. I am not sure how heavy I want it to be, but we will see. I will post some better photos later on. But the main thing is: finally I am working on both Panthers, almost after a year. I did some progress on the RFM one, too…

 

S-models 1/72 M551 Sheridan part 1

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Since I want to build a 152mm gun tank T49 I needed a Walker Bulldog and a Sheridan. The Sheridan was never an issue since S-models had one; I just did not know what to expect. After all, cheap, Chinese model, basic cover art, two models per box… it does not suggest high tech, high detail model to me.

Boy was I wrong. The model is simple, builds up in an hour or so, but the detail is crisp and fine. All in all, a neat little kit with some PE added. It is missing a few details, but since this is a short project I am not fussed about it,

I only needed one Sheridan model for the T49 (the turret is fixed with rare earth magnets, so I can switch it between the Bulldog and the Sheridan), however since I had another model, I decided to build it, too. There are two 152mm gun tubes provided, so I built this with the shorter one. (I have no idea about the difference between the two.)

Now I just need to figure out what camo I want to paint it, so on it goes to the unfinished project pile… (I am working on these half-done models I promise. Apart from the Markgraf most everything is done, just need to do the photos and whatnot.)

Vallejo Model Wash – European dust 76.523, oiled earth 76.521

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Acrylic weathering products, while being very attractive due to not being hazardous, tend to have a big issue: surface tension. Solvent-based products, washes spread much better, and they do not leave “tide-marks” like water-based products do; therefore I was pretty interested in how Vallejo’s dust washes perform.

In short: very well.

(OK, you can stop reading the review if this is all what you wanted.)

I used the road wheels of an old Panther build I left unfinished (but will finish, I promise) to see how these washes perform on a complex surface. I simply applied them with an overloaded brush, and let them dry. It spread nicely, just like a solvent-based wash. (Perhaps Vallejo used a surfactant.) The results are nice: subtle, dusty look.

 

The second and third photo shows the difference between treated and untreated road wheels (one of the reason I chose this as a test-bed: to have a control group right next to the treatment group), and the last photo shows the differences between heavy application (1), light application (2, somewhat diluted with water), and nothing (3).

 

I also tried three consecutive, heavy applications with the following results

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It might be a good look for a vehicle in very dusty, dry environment, but probably not the best way to use it the product like this. The best way to use these washes is to form a subtle accumulation of dust in crevices, not flooding the surface with them. As a general rule: using more than one technique with a light touch to achieve a certain look will more likely create a realistic finish than using just one technique with a heavy hand. This means that these washes will not provide a single step solution for creating dusty-looking surfaces, I am afraid.

 

I also tried the washes on a piece of scenery a Witcher figure will be walking on, to see if they can be used on the groundwork for good effect. (The paint on the resin base is by no means finished; I was just testing some paints on it.) Regardless of the underlying paintwork, I think I can safely say that these washes can add a little more realism to the soil both in tone and in texture -see the above rule.

Overall, these washes are pretty neat; worth checking out.

Armory 1/72 M41A1/A2 Walker Bulldog p2.

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Part 1

And the published review. (It’s probably worth checking it out if you want to build the model; I pointed out some issues with the model, and gave some tips for the build.)

Once the model was primed, I sprayed Citadel’s olive green (from the airbrush-ready range) mixed with Gunze’s yellow. The first coats had no yellow added, the subsequent coats had more and more stirred in, and I made sure I only lightly misted these on, focusing on the top of the vehicle. So the bottom of the chassis has no yellow at all, while the top received the most.

The model was fully assembled, so the tracks received some green paint; I simply went over with a black/antracite color to correct these oversprays. I found that it is quite simple and easy to paint models with tracks and all already installed, rather than trying to install the tracks on a fully painted model. The dark primer provides a very nice “shadow” to areas where the green paint did not get to.

I added the decals (one “Deliquent” decal was lost in the process…), and this is where I realized that there was not enough room between the grab handles to add the number… Something to look out for in your build. (I am not unduly worried about the turret, since I will use a different one.)

After a brown pin wash, followed with a black pinwash on the engine deck, I covered the model with semi-matte varnish.

I used Tamiya’s weathering sticks for dust and mud – again, this is not the end manifestation of the model, so I kept weathering minimum. (I found that using a wet brush to apply the product to the model, and then using a clean, wet brush to adjust the effect works wonders.) I painted the muffler cover using several rust tones, and used a silver pencil on the edges to give a metallic shine to the model.

That’s pretty much it. I am thinking about magnetizing the turret so I can just switch it (a’la KV-220, T-150) once I finish the actual model I wanted to build using this kit.

 

Armory 1/72 M41A1/A2 Walker Bulldog p1.

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Well, I decided to buy Armory’s new injection molded model, the Walker Bulldog. I have written a review of it on Armorama; when it comes live I will link it here.

My aim with the purchase was to do a conversion, I was not particularly interested in the Bulldog itself.

 

As I wrote in the review, the build was pretty nice; I found no major hurdles -apart from the tool rack which I just left off. I also did not install the gun lock since I will be using the chassis for a different vehicle with a different gun. There are some minor issues with the model, but none of them are deal breaking (and at least the gun is not assembled from two halves…)

 

There’s an awful lot of PE coming with the kit; the smaller parts were glued on using white glue. The sink marks on the tracks are somewhat annoying but they will be filled with some mud at the end.

 

Next up: painting and weathering.

 

And then – when I buy the necessary supplies: THE CONVERSION.

AK Interactive Acrylic Primer – Dark yellow

 

Well, this thing gave me the hardest times for a long time… it just did not come out right out of the bottle. It is supposed to be a primer you can spray right out of the bottle, and even after extended shaking, it came out all runny and thin; hardly something you would like to have with a primer.

But last week I gave it another go. I shook the bejesus out of the bottle, and tried it again.

The results were quite satisfactory. Unlike the Vallejo primer, which forms a thin membrane of paint over the surface (kind of like the Mig Ammo paints), this goes on like “normal” acrlyics, more like a Tamiya paint, and dries absolutely flat. Both are great, it is only a matter of preference.

Overall, I really like this primer now. The only downside is that the bottle is designed in a way that makes it difficult to see the bottom; it is hard to tell if the paint is mixed up correctly.
So all I can say is that you have to shake it, shake it, and shake it some more before using, and with this thought I will leave you with a relevant video clip.

 

 

 

 

Vallejo Acrylic Polyurethane Surface Primer – German panzer grey

Since the post about the gear acquisition syndrome I thought I might as well make a more conscious effort to write short reviews of the stuff I bought. (There are a few, but they were never the main focus. Nor will they become the focus, but I might as well write about them in a more organized manner.) I do not intend to write long reviews; just my impressions with a couple of photos included. (If you have products you want to have reviewed, just contact me.)

Let me know if this idea works…

 

So. Vallejo Primer.

What can I say? It’s great. So far I had no issues with it; it works like a charm. It is a thick liquid, which can be applied straight from the bottle by brush or airbrush -a big plus, in my mind. Simple, no chance of mucking up the dilution, which is a great plus. (It matters a lot, especially with primers.)

It forms a really tight gripping surface on the model for paint to stick on, and can be used for pre-shading in one step. Several colors are available; I only have this one. The German Grey can be used as “scale black” in many cases, by the way. I also use it as a chipping color when I don’t feel like adding rust browns to the model; if you use the hairspray technique with it, the results are pretty convincing.

It dries quickly, but you really should wait a day before applying further coats of paint.

See examples from this blog: FV4005, Turtle, T-55AM, Straussler. FT-17.

In short: recommended.

Rye Field Models Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf G with interior Part 3.

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Part 1.

Part 2.

Since I started both Panthers (RFM and Takom), I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.

Engine and transmission

These are pretty straightforward bits; nothing major. The detail is nothing sort of amazing.

The central rod which holds the controls (handles and pedals) is somewhat awkward to assemble, since the central rod is made up by tiny sections. Due to the small sections it is kind of difficult to make a straight rod. Not to mention the narrowness of the hull makes it difficult to keep it straight. (It bent further when I dry-fitted -or rather, attempted to- the transmission into the hull. Tried to straighten it out but I was worried it would break.)

 

Issues with the hull

Well, there is one issue, which kind of causes a whole subset of issues. The hull is too narrow. Simple as that. This causes the torsion bars to not to fit properly (as mentioned in part 2 of the build), and it means the PE brackets on the floor of the hull will also not fit.

The torsion bar issue could be solved with a simple sanding. Tedious, and a bit annoying, but doable.

The hull brackets, on the other hand, are a whole different matter.

The PE is thin, and bends easily -it also warps easily. And this is not a good thing when you are trying to install a delicate, multipart PE bracket system into a too-narrow hull. I did my best, but the results are far from perfect. At places the cross-brackets had to be trimmed to fit them into the hull, which threw some of the alignment of the longitudinal brackets off a bit. This caused further cascades of misalignment. The model has been engineered to such a tight fit, even the smallest deviations will make it difficult to install further parts (such as seats, the cabin floor, ammo holding bins). See the above photo: the seat of the driver sits on molded-on bars which had to be trimmed so that the platform fit into its place due to a tiny bit of deviation of the placement of the underlying PE brackets. At this point I was seriously feeling the model was actively trying to fight me.

Filling up the hull…

Where to start? This is where the lower hull starts to look kind of complete.

The tight fit caused further headache. The instructions would have you install the ready-bins first, and then add the sqare-shaped floor panel which holds the rotating turret floor. Take a good, long look at the panel itself: it has all the space for the read-bins pre-cut; mostly just on the sides, but one is completely enveloped by the floor panel.

The fit, as I said, is extremely tight; test-fitting the bins on their own showed how difficult it was just to push them into place. (Perhaps some sort of a lubricant would make it easier…) However, when these bins are attached to the bottom of the hull (and PE brackets), it means you have to push several of them through the panel at the same time, while the panel itself is a tad too wide to fit inside the hull comfortably, so you have to keep pressing. It is not the case of “just drop it straight down”. Without some serious pushing you cannot install the the panel in its place even when the hull was bare without anything installed yet. The fact that there are things in the way complicates matters tremendously.  You have to install the floor “sliding” (=pressing hard) through five bins, and the side of the tank -plus the firewall. Oh, and the bins are a tiny bit misaligned as the PE brackets made it difficult to attach them exactly to where they were supposed to go.

I ended up removing the bins, installing them into the floor panel, and cutting off the pegs that supposed to attach them to the bottom of the hull. After this I pressed the panel down in its place while trying to pry the walls of the hull apart to create more space for it, and once this was done I tried to force everything in its place. Needless to say this sort of manhandling is not exactly what you want to do to a delicate model… I did manage to damage the paint on the side of the tank.

And there it is. This was finished in August, but I did not have the strength to touch the tank again. Will have to plow on soon, I guess. Not looking forward to painting the ammunition for this and the Takom kit…