Saturday, 15 December 2012

Techtip VII - Cleaning moldseams from plastic figures

These days there is a wide variety in plastic figures in 1/72. They come in different quality and prices but they all have moldlines/seams/flash along the places where the halves of the mold have met. The 'moldlines' or 'flash' is excess plastic that flowed in the space between the moldhalves (green shaded area):

I always find this very not good looking and thus it must be removed from the figures. Unfortunately most figures are made from poly-ethylene which is too soft to sand off with sanding paper. With some of the harder varieties of plastic the flash can be removed with a knife but quite some figures are made out of plastic so soft cleaning them op with a knife is almost impossible. For figures made out of this soft plastic I tried melting of the flash with a hot needle. I place needle in a the handle of my hobby knife and hold it above a flame. When the needle is warm I move it over the moldseem fast and it melts to merge with the part of the figure. Depending on the kind of plastic the needle can be placed best at 0,5 too 1 cm above the flame. Don't put the needle in de the flame, the needle will become too hot and ashes will precipitate on the needle making it black. Also be careful to place the flame and figures on a surface that can withstand some heat like plate!

I didn't come up with this idea myself but I've seen it on youtube, for a video demonstrating this technique click here or see below: A demonstration by mr. "colonial20mmsoldiers":

I tried the technique on 4 sets of figures. It worked well on the soft plastic of the 'El-Cid infantry' from 'HaT' and the 'US Infantry Ardennes' from Revell. It also worked on a set from Streles but that plastic is quite hard and the needle needs to be quite hot so you're reheating the needle all the time. With Zvezda figures I had no success.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Hop on, ride along! HaT tankriders

You can find articles on armoured vehicles and figures here, time to combine these subjects by a review of a set of 'tankriders' released by HäT a while ago. Tanks are fighting machines but they can be ideal for soldiers to ride along with. On wartime photo's of tanks with many soldiers taking a lift can be seen. HäT released 4 sets of 'tank riders':
All as soldiers from WWII. All sets contain 4 sprue's with 11 figures. Two of the figures per sprue are tankcrew and two others van be used as figures sitting on the ground as well. The other 7 poses are usable exclusively as 'tankriders'.
The uniform if the figures are very well done, the bags and guns they are carrying are a bit more 'vaguely' molded. These are not top figures but quite good never the less. On a scale of 1 to 10 they score about a 7.5 in addition, they are the only 'tankriders' available apart from exclusive resin productions.
I myself got the set with Britsh tankriders and painted 2 of the sprues or 22 figures. I thought I could 'equip' two tanks with these figures but they could almost all sit on one! I have two sets of photo's, one with the riders on an Armourfast Cromwell tank and one on a Sherman Firefly (also from Armourfast). The figures on the Cromwell tank might sit a bit strange since they are not glued to the tank and it was difficult to get them all in place.
On the Cromwell tank:

The two figures with these poses can also by used in a role other then 'tankrider':

The figures on the Sherman Firefly:
Recommended except if you only want absolute top quality and/or just a few figures on a tank. Resin productions might also be a feasible option.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

STRV 122 A/B - Early 2013 release from Revell!

Revell announced what they are going to release in the first 4 months of 2013. Traditionally these are re-apperances of model currently out of production and variants of models released earlier. For fans of modern armour there is one specific release of interest, the Strv. 122A/B (Kit. No. 03199). The leopard version used by Sweden.
This version of the leopard differs considerably from other versions with more armour on the turret roof and front of the tank. The headlights are also very different. Spain and Greece also use a version of the Leopard II which is very similar on the outside.

The Swedish Leopard II:

The model from Revell:

The Spanish version:

The Greek version:

Also the StuG III G, based on the fine Pz.Kfw. III model, will be released in April of next year. In 1/35 a Dutch version of the Leopard II A4 will come to the market in January

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Cromwell tank, Airfix A02338

One of my friends moved from his parents house to his own house and I helped him a bit with painting and the floor of his new house and moving to it. To thank the people who helped he had some presents, for me the Airfix Cromwell tank (kit no. A02338). A very good choice since this one of the few new models Airfix developed in past years.
The Cromwell tank was developed in early war years as an 'cruiser tank'. The British 'tank doctrine' was that heavy tanks where needed to enforce break troughs and smaller faster tanks (the 'cruisers') to exploit holes in the enemy lines. Tanks in the cruiser role had to be light and as a consequence where lightly armoured making them useless against the new AT-guns developed by the Germans. As a response the British started the development of a new cruiser tank with better armour and guns. This tank was to become the 'Cromwell' tank. The way tanks where build in Britain was quite archaic at the beginning of the war but the Cromwell tank was an exception; It's box like shapes made it easy to produce in mass numbers. An other big plus was the use of the Merlin engine (also used in the Spitfire) and the Christie suspension which made the tank fast and manoeuvrable. It was armed with the 57mm six pounder gun which could be classified as a medium gun at the time, the high muzzle velocity gave it a could AT performance. It could not fire Brisant ammunition making it not so effective against APC's so some Cromwell tanks had a modified gun to fire 75mm shells. This gun looks the same as the 57 mm 6-pdr gun. An other version of the Cromwell was known as 'Centaur' which was fitted with a different engine and was pretty much identical to the Cromwell in other respects. The Centaur was less fast and was fitted with a 95mm howitzer to support infantry in breaking through fortifications. The Cromwell tank proved to be on the light side when it came to arms and armour so the British and Commonwealth forces used a lot of American build Sherman tanks along side the Cromwell. The most noticeable was of course the Sherman Firefly with it's 17-pdr high velocity AT-gun making the 6-pounder look like a 'door knocker'. The Comet tank is an other tank based on the Cromwell with a better armoured turret and the 17-pdr gun. This version came into action in the last month of WWII.
A Cromwell tank still in running condition from a museum.
As said the Airfix model is a new model released this year and it looks great. The detail fit is superb. The tracks are especially interesting, these are one piece hard plastic mouldings which are extremely easy to paint a glue in place. One first glues in the inner wheels to the hull, puts the tracks on these and then glues the outer side of the wheels in place. There is no need to use glue on the tracks and the wheels and tracks can all be painted separately before assembly:

The building instructions come with a full colour print with painting instructions for two versions. This is a bit over the top since the tank was painted in 100% olive drab only. The kit also includes wading equipment and a Cullen hedge cutter. The wading equipment was used of course by vehicles in the first hours of the invasion of Normandy since they had to drive a few meters from the landing craft to the beach. The hedge cutter was used in Normandy. The local country side was full of hedges and with device a tank could create a way through for the infantry. The tank is not 1/72 scale but 1/76 like the rest of Airfix armoured vehicles. The detail on the surface of the tracks is not the best I have ever seen due to the moulding technique used but that is really not a problem. The headlight guards are also a bit thick but this is a limitation of plastic, the material to weak to be moulded thinner. Finally the model is made in India making this truly a Commonwealth effort, nice touch! On to the pictures:

The periscope and tool detail is great:

The armorfast tanks are in true 1/72 scale and slightly lager, the detail is good of course since it is a fast assembly kit:

I can highly recommend this model but be carefull when buying an other Airfix kit however! Most of them are from moulds created over 40 years ago. Some models are quite good considering their age while others are a vague shade of the vehicle they are suppose to look like. Purist who want to have everything in 1/72 can better buy the Revell Cromwell Mk.IV to be released this month.

Monday, 29 October 2012

European knight (and a tech tip)

Some pictures of the first metal figure which I painted a while ago. It's the European Knight / crusader in Holy Land from the Korean manufacturer 'Seil Models'. The figure is of a high quality, the fit is excellent and a piece of ground was included, all the things one expects from a high quality metal figure. A bonus was a photo etched plate the 'Crusader in Holy land 12 - 13th century'. The figure also comes with two heads, one wearing a great helmet an other without a helmet on. A separate helmet in included making this version. The only downside was that the feet of the figure didn't fall in exactly the right place on the base but this can be overcome with some putty (which I didn't use at the time) Unfortunately Seil Models is bankrupt but Historex Agents still has a few items for sale.

'Tech tip': I panted mine as on the box. First I primed the figure with white primer from 'games workshop' and after that painted the uniform white to get a good covering layer of paint. I masked the figure with 'magic tape':

That's right, simple tape available in good and less good office supply stores and supermarkets. The glue on this paint is not very strong making is ideal as an masking tape. It won't stretch like 'professional model makers tape' however. This can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on what you want to mask. After this I brush painted the blue area's with revell's 36154 matt 'blue'. I removed the tape when the paint was dry and sanded the upstanding paint edges that form at the side of the tape away. I repainted that area very carefully when needed. What I do now is removing the tape while the paint still dries but doesn't flow so easily anymore. The result looks like this:
I can recommend this figure but unfortunately it is difficult if not impossible to find. Seil Models offered quite a nice range of figures with quite some of them in action full poses which I really liked, it's really to bad the company is bust. Especially since they offered a sound product of high quality.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Flying tank

Today not a tank in it's classic form but one with wings; The A-10 Thunderbolt II or "Warthog". This is an Close Air Support aircraft pretty much built around the 30mm GAU8 Avenger, a Gatling gun with 7 barrels. It also includes 540kg of armour plate and can carry a vast amount of bombs and rockets making this a flying tank.

An A-10 firering it's main gun.

The GAU 8 gun with a Volkswagen 'beetle' next too it.

In 1/144 scale 3 models are available from Dragon, Arii and Heller with Arii having the oldest model and Heller the latest. Heller's offering in available also in a Revell boxing and is more easily to get. I build the Dragon model which is available only in a box with two planes. The Dragon model is from a upgraded mold, most of the ordinance is new however.

The model is nicely detailed and the panel lines are not overdone. It also includes a full cockpit which can be difficult to install due to the fact that the front wheelbay is quite large leaving not a lot of room for the cockpit. It is recommended to put a weight in the nose to prevent the model from sitting on it's tail but there is n room for this. The space between the rear wheels and cockpit would be a better place. The weaker parts (literally and figuratively) is the landing gear but it is quite acceptable. Decals for two grey versions of the A-10 are offered but most of the markings are (in my view) generic enough to be applied on any A-10. I painted my A-10 in an experimental camouflage colour. A few versions of this pattern in different colours where tried out:

My try:

A look at the ordinance, this machine is a kind of flying ammunition depot. The kit includes a lot of other bombs as well so an entirely other configuration can be chosen as well.

I don't know which of the A-10 models available is the best but this one certainly is very good and with the vast choice in bombs and rockets it is a bargain.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Tech Tip V making ground for a diorama from paper

When making a diorama you are obviously and minimally making a a piece of ground. This can be done by gluing real sand to a diorama base. The sand you find in your garden or maybe a forest near can be quite okey. I usually use paper as a first layer for my diorama's. I paint the paper in the colour of the ground I like to represent. Advantage is that you can get colours that might not be available when using local sand. (Here we have very little desert sand for example). Specific sand can also have a too coarse grain to be useful for a diorama. Paper can also be used to put over styrene foam you used to make hills and mountains out of making the diorama less vulnerable. The problem however is that most sorts of paper suck-up a lot of paint. When I needed to make a base for the warelephant I ran out of normal paper so I used gift wraping paper instead. This is slightly pastified and the paper hardly sucks up paint at all! Before I paint the paper I fumble up the paper en unwrap it again. This causes the paper to break a little at the surface of the folds. Diluted paint will flow in these crevices more easily then in the normal paper leaving an interesting pattern:

Here some photos of the difference in painted normal and wrapping paper:
The wraping paper is covered while it took less paint to get it covered. A final picture of the result:

Sunday, 9 September 2012


After almost a month finally a new entry on my weblog. This time a diorama of a Carthaginian war elephant during the second punic war. This war was fought in what is present day Italy and is the war in which Hannibal marched his army, including 3 dozen elephants, over the Alps. Hannibal made several crushing defeats to the Roman army but lost all his siege equipment and elephants so he was not able to attack the city of Rome itself. For 15 years he raided the country side of north Italy to supply his army with all the needed commodities. He also hoped to break the alliance between Rome and neighbouring states but his strategy failed. Meanwhile Rome and his allies were able to cut off Hannibal's supply lines slowly deteriorating the strength of his army. Meanwhile Rome launched an assault on Carthage (roughly present day Tunisia) itself. Hannibal rushed home and was crushed by the Roman army under the command of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus at the battle of Zama ending the second Punic war and Carthages reign as a power meaningful power in the Mediterranean.

The elephants used in the second Punic war were North African forest elephants. A kind of elephant which is extinct these days because of over exploitation. Elephants are strong and intimidating beasts on the battle field. There strength allows them to carry more then one soldier in a protective structure. They are also high above the battle field giving a good overview. Elephants also have a few down sides most noticeable their fear of certain sounds. The screaming of pigs or sound of certain horns makes them turn 180 degrees and race right back to where they came from, usually right trough the army of the owner. This weakness was regularly used by enemy armies of elephants. To counter this problem the handler of the elephant had sharp chisel to hammer between the neck vertebrates of the elephant. An other downside of elephants is that they walk in a straight line when charging. Scipio arranged his men in line formations during the battle of Zama and they evaded elephants by simply stepping aside.

Enough history for today and on to the diorama. Zvezda is a model manufacturer from Russia and has an excellent line of figures. Kit No. 8011 is a set of an Indian and African war elephant, both come with riders. Kit No. 8034 is 'the republican roman army'. All 4 classes of soldiers (Princeps, Triari, Hastati and Velites) are present as is a set of command figures. A pretty complete package! Both sets contain excellent figures surpast only by Zvezda's later editions. Both sets are made of the typical soft plastic figures are often casted in. This plastic is nearly ungluable so Zvezda made the elephant in such a way no glue is needed. Unsually I don't really thinks this works well but this is a noticeable exception. Before I pressed the halves of my elephant together I did put some of Revell's putty on the halves to fill up the last tiny holes. Zvezda also did an exelent job of placing moldlines in a strategic place making them unseable. This is important because they are difficult to remove due to soft but difficulty cut and sandable plastic. (all manufacturers make their figures in this plastic except some sets of Italeri figures) On the Roman army set more work has to be done but I have seen worse sets! The only real weakness is the long spear if one of the elephant riders. It is cut in two and has to be joint together by a small shaft leaving you with a spear that has a thick bubble in the middle. This is obviously not right so I replaced mine with a 0,5mm styreen rod. I did glued the original tips to this rod with super glue which worked well even in this kind of plastic. A final good point of all Zvezda sets is the excellent and inspiring boxart.

After painting the figures I placed them in a diorama. The background story is this: They guy with badger-hat has the dirty job of luring the elephant to the 'cornucen' or horn blower. He will blow on the horm when the elephant is really close hoping it will race over the Carthegan army. They Cornucen is shielded by other soldiers but they make room for the 'elephant lurer'. A few other soldiers try to get to the elephants riders. More pictures, the elephant and riders:

What the elephant sees:

The Romans:

The whole scene:

Both sets are highly recommended and among the better figures on the market. An extended review can be read on for both the elephants and roman amy set. Highly recommended. Also recommended is Kike's war elephant diorama featuring 3 elephants demolishing the Italian countryside