Justifications for my lack of recent blog posts
Well, it has been a few weeks since my last post, but I assure you I have been a productive chap. My current projects are progressing nicely and I have even included a new one to the mix. My weekend productivity sessions have been cut down significantly by the summer heat. My house is now quite hot and the garage (where I do the majority of my painting, etc.) is far too hot to work in. So like any good industrialist, I retooled from painting/weathering to the more suitable task of building models inside. I will admit I wasn’t all that thrilled by the prospect of returning to the Tiger I build will all the fiddly photo-etch nonsense awaiting me, so I found myself tempted at my most recent trip to Hobbies Unlimited. Needless to say, my curiosity and my temptation got the better of me: I purchased the Academy Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer Early 1/35. I have always loved the little tank destroyer and thought it was one of the coolest tanks of World War 2. I have never built any kits from Academy, so I figured now was the time to give it a shot. But, more about that in a bit, we have more ground to cover.
Winsor and Newton Acrylic Varnishes
I mentioned in my last post that I was going to give the Winsor and Newton Acrylic Varnishes a shot. I had an opportunity to test these out on some scrap model parts as well as the Mk. A Whippet I am working on. After tinkering a bit with air pressure and thinning with a few drops of water, I got the Gloss UV varnish to spray smoothly. The high gloss finish was impressive. Much better than I was ever able to get with Vallejo varnish. The gloss is a bit tacky while drying, but once dry, it feels smooth and seamless. A few light coats yield an awesome glossy finish. Highly impressed. I also tried out the Matt Varnish, which I will admittedly have to do some more work with. It seemed to tone down the gloss nicely without making the colors muted or chalky in appearance. I look forward to testing that more. So for 10 dollars a piece, you get significantly more product than your typical model company brand and what I feel is a superior formula product. These are art-grade products and the quality was apparent from my test applications. If you are looking for a varnish that isn’t made by a model paint company or is a floor polish, give this a whirl.
Besides a recent self-issued initiative to get into Tamiya Paints, I haven’t purchased a lot of new products. Most recently I got some of the Ammo of Mig Chipping fluids that I have been meaning to try. While I was placing that order, I saw that the new Vallejo environment effects were available and decided to grab two. I am curious to see how they stack up to Ammo of Mig products Splashes and Heavy Mud products that came out not too long ago. I have used the Splashes and Heavy Mud (both are enamel products) and was very happy with them. The Vallejo products are acrylic, so it will be interesting to see how they perform. I hope to have some reviews/testimonials of these new weathering products in use shortly.
Well, I already spoiled the surprise of getting the Academy Hetzer, so let’s discuss some other acquisitions. The other day, I found myself at Hobbies Unlimited again to avoid the heat of where I live. After a long time of debating, I was convinced by one of the patrons to pick up the new Tamiya M10. Prior to purchase, I got to see the dealer preview in the distinct grey styrene . The details looked impressive! I’ve seen a few review videos and have heard that it is a perfect fit build. My kind of model!
Other than that, I purchased a set of Dragon (I know, I know) figures titled “Waffen German Grenadiers” as I want to venture into figure painting and eventual diorama building (oh the fear of the unknown!) The kit was missing the included decals (for the panzerfausts), so I had to contact Dragon customer service. We went back and forth for about 10 message or so and ended with them telling me they didn’t have the decals. I did a little homework and found that several other kits used the same decal set and recommended they check their inventory for those kits. Low and behold, they found them. Seriously? Who the hell do you have running your stock room? Why am I doing your job for you. Another lovely encounter with Dragon. I’m hell bent on not letting all of my bad experiences permanently spoil Dragon. But maybe I’m in denial: like a spouse in an abusive relationship. Anyway, I sure am looking forward to build that M-10 from Tamiya.
Well, I am finally back at the Tiger I after I decided to set aside my fear of photo-etch and use this encounter as an opportunity to improve. I will give it to Dragon for the foresight of providing backup pioneer tools in case tangling with photo-etch isn’t your thing. In earnest, I tried going the photo-etch route, but after 30 minutes of trying to glue a dainty handle onto an even daintier strap, I said enough is enough! AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! Needless to say, I decided to go with the pioneer tools with the styrene straps already injected onto them. I can say that working with the photo-etch on this kit has improved my skills, but I still have a long ways to go. After getting the tools on, it was a pretty straightforward task of attaching all the other bits to the lower hull. I have the main ugly gap filled now and the model is looking much better. Its really starting to come along.
One thing I did not like is the included metal wire for the tow cables. The wire gauge is a bit too thick and very too springy. I have been battling it for some time now and just cant get it to play nice. So I ended up ordering a replacement set from Karaya Models. This is a very nice copper wire set with resin eyelets. This will also be my first time working with resin, which in all honestly, frightens me greatly. Resin dust is nasty stuff, so I will definitely be very cautious with any sanding of the stuff. Once those replacement cables are in place, I will have just some minor filling and touch up work and the lower hull will be finished. Unfortunately, I am still waiting on the Aber replacement barrel that was ordered over a month ago. I will have to bug the vendor here in a few days and see what the hell is the problem.
If you adjust your attitude and tell yourself you will run into issues and there will be quite a bit of tedious building, you can get through a Dragon kit and enjoy it. I actually felt quite accomplished after making some definite progress this weekend. Once my aftermarket parts arrive, I am going to really put my nose to the grindstone and knock this kit out. Going to look awesome once completed.
Here’s some photos:
Ah yes, my beloved Takom Mk. A Whippet. This little kit is shaping up into my one of my favorite model builds so far. In between heat waves and waking up early to get into the garage while its cool, I have made some fair progress with this beautiful little tank. I applied an additional coat of the Winsor and Newton Gloss varnish to smooth out the messy finish that I got with the Vallejo varnish. It really added a very nice gloss to the surface and made the surface much smoother overall. I then proceeded to begin with pin/panel line washes and oil dot filters. My washes are mainly concentrated on the rivets (for which there are a ton) and I managed to get about half way done with overall application of wash to rivets. I still have some more oil dot filtering to do, but I did manage to begin some grime streaking and overall weathering of the main deck in which the stripped pattern is applied. I also applied oil paints to the track spuds and in such away that it simulates wood grain. I don’t have any close ups of how they look, but they are greatly improved from the initial “wood” color that was applied. In total, the weathering is coming along nicely and there will be more to come. I am hoping this weekend will prove cool enough to finish up this preliminary stage of the weathering so that I may switch to adding mud and pigments.
Here is some photos of the Whippet progress.
As aforementioned, I picked up Academy’s Early Hetzer in 1/35 scale. This was my first Academy kit, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The kit was an easy build with very few issues. There were the usual ejector pin marks to fill or sand down and the occasional very small seam or gap to putty over. The photo-etch was almost nonexistent. The instructions were clear and the build order straight-forward. I will say though, the details are not as crisp or as numerous as I am used to (spoiled by Tamiya and Dragon). Other than that, this kit was a very straightforward, no complication build.
Would I build another Academy kit? Yes, but I’d make sure I got it on sale. I’m not sure I got the best bang for my buck out of this kit. It was fun though. Sometimes just breezing through a build without major issue is a joy in of itself.
Once I finish the Whippet, I will paint the Hetzer in dunkelgelb, but experiment with the new MIG chipping fluids I picked up. I might even do a small ambush diorama. Also, I had initially considered using the kit’s provided figures, but I found the details lacking and the clean up too much for the trouble.
Here’s a few pictures of the build:
Well there you have it! The wheels of progress are moving, although at a casual pace. Thank you all for reading and hopefully I will have a complete Whippet for you next time.