Friday, 29 June 2018

MENG King Tiger with Henschel Turret [WIP - Assembly of Wheels & Sections receiving a Zimmerit coating]

Having underestimated the amount of work that goes into armored fighting vehicle (AFV) projects, it stands to reason any progress I make will be dismally slow. That has proven to be the case for my MENG King Tiger project which has faced hiccups as early as the second step of assembly. In this phase of the build, I'm mostly preparing parts that will be receiving a layer of zimmerit decals. The other critical work at this stage involved the fixing and alignment of road wheels onto the lower hull.

MENG King Tiger work-in-progress: parts prepped for zimmerit 'coating'
Here the assembled wheels were fixed onto the swing arms in the lower hull

First things first though. What is zimmerit? It's a coating used on German AFVs during the mid- and late-World War II period in order to prevent magnetic anti-tank mines from sticking to the hull. If you are interested in learning more of this unique substance, there is an excellent online resource over at Tank Encyclopedia. For a modeller, there are many ways to recreate zimmerit on scale model kits. One of the easier methods is through the use of commercially available zimmerit coating decals, which is exactly what I will be doing for the MENG King Tiger model kit. 

Closeup of the Zimmerit coating on a King Tiger in the Bovington Tank Museum

As with most AFV kits, assembly begins with the road wheels. These were straightforward to put together without any issues. While a non-event for experienced modellers, it does provide newbies a small confidence booster for the more difficult steps ahead. As a rule of thumb, I would advise those new to the AFV hobby to work on some Tamiya or Bandai model kits before tackling a MENG project. The former pair tend to have clearer and more noob-friendly instructions which presupposes the modeller needs a lot of hand-holding. Then there is the higher part count in MENG kits.     

Step 01: Assembling the road wheels of the King Tiger

A higher part count generally means builds are more complex and also a higher tendency of having to deal with extremely tiny parts. Such factors can be off-putting for newbies but its a price experienced modellers are willing to pay in return for the excellent details that arise from complicated builds.

Anyway, moving on to the second step. Yes, it was only Step Two and I messed up. This seemingly innocuous step is actually an extremely critical one that determines proper alignment of the wheels and track. In short, I glued it on wrong; had to remove, re-align and then re-glue it. This was busy work that could've been prevented with a little more focus and attention (see below).  

Step 02: Gluing on guides which help align the swing arms and in turn the road wheels

Remember the hand-holding nature of instructions I mentioned earlier. Well MENG evidently doesn't do that as much as Bandai and Tamiya. For example in Step Three, a small nub or undergate remains on the swing arm after it has been removed from the sprue. An experienced modeller would know to remove them but the same cannot be said for a newbie. And if the nub/undergate isn't cut off and sanded down, the wheels and tracks aren't going to align properly to the lower hull (see below).

Step 03: Attaching the swing arms with the help of the glued on guides

Speaking of alignment, a surprisingly common issue - faced by far more experienced modellers than me - is having the wheels tilt inwards at a pronounced angle towards the bottom hull. This issue arises either due to an inherent kit design flaw or simple modeller error i.e. failure to do Steps Two and Three properly. In my case, I did notice a slight tile of the road wheels inwards (see below) after assembly (Steps Four to Five). Thankfully the unwanted tilt wasn't as severe as experienced by other modellers. Still, I'm hoping the tilt won't become too noticeable when the tracks go on.     

Steps 04 to 05: Attaching the road wheels onto the swing arms and ensuring proper alignment

Steps Six through Ten were skipped at this stage of the build because they weren't needed prior to application of the zimmerit decals. And there was some respite in Steps 11 through 13 with assembly reverting to the easy and painless variety. Here only the necessary upper hull assembly were carried out to prepare its surface for the zimmerit 'coating' process.

Steps 11 through 13: Attaching the front upper glacis and other upper hull parts

But the so-called respite didn't last long. Steps 24 through 30 involves the assembly of insanely tiny parts that tested both skill and patience. Neither was in high supply when a small clear part that was meant to be a vision block on the tank command cupola 'pinged' and was lost to the 'modelling ether' that is the floor. If memory serves, an extra piece on the sprue meant I lucked out big time. Again you might've noticed Steps 14 through 23 are missing; for similar reasons to Steps Six through Ten. 

Steps 24 through 28; parts of 29 and 30: Assembling enough of the turret to receive a zimmerit 'coating'

Meanwhile, one weakness in the turret design was the commander's chair (see bottom right corner of the picture above). The supporting structure connecting the chair to the turret itself was too fragile and broke off more than once. As a fix, I cut out a few small pieces of plastic from the sprue and melted it into the supporting structure using plastic glue. That somewhat reinforced the fragile nature of the structure. That chair is needed to support the weight of the tank commander figurine which is suppose to stand and gaze out with his binoculars, from an open-hatched cupola.

Cut out from the sprue and cleaned, the rear hull armor plate is ready for a zimmerit 'coating'

Finally, the last piece prepared for the zimmerit 'coating' coating process involved the rear hull armor plate being cut from the sprue and cleaned. No other parts can be attached to it until the zimmerit is in place. And here's a sneak peak of the zimmerit decals from MENG that I'll be using on the King Tiger tank (see below). Price-wise it's expensive as it costs one third of the model kit itself. In the future, I will likely try sculpting my own zimmerit coating out of putty. 

Zimmerit in the form of decals produced specially for the MENG King Tiger tank

MENG model kits have their issues but they are absolutely worth the trouble. Straight out of the box, their kits already have the potential to become a highly detailed AFV model without having to resort to expensive aftermarket accessories. I'm glad I had chosen one of the easiest kits in MENG's product line as my level of experience means I'm still able to cope. Every kit is a learning  experience and the 1/35 scale German Heavy Tank Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger with Henschel Turret is proving no exception. Most importantly, despite it all I'm having fun and already looking forward to the next steps!

Friday, 22 June 2018

Star Wars AT-ST [WIP - Base depicting a clearing in Forest Moon of Endor & Weathering the Footpads]

In this final Star Wars AT-ST work-in-progress post, two significant processes are dealt with namely creation/painting of the base and weathering fresh mud effects on the scout walker's footpads. Completion of both means the walker is essentially completed and ready for its unveiling. But before the AT-ST is seen in its finished state, here's a look at how a base depicting a clearing in the Forest Moon of Endor was created and how its footpads were weathered to blend into the base.

Bandai Star Wars AT-ST work-in-progress: Base and Final Phase of Weathering

To recreate conditions approximating how a clearing in the Forest Moon of Endor might look like prior to having its soil turned into fresh mud, I used common basing materials such as modelling sand and stone, generic all purpose (or white craft) glue as well as two tones of spray paint i.e. Tamiya TS-1 Red Brown and TS-69 Linoleum Deck Brown. Below is a step-by-step process of how the base came together to reach a completed 'dry state' before it was given an additional mud weathering step.

Materials used to create foundation of the base: sand, stones, wood glue and two tones of spray paint
Base after sand and stones are glued onto base with two dark brownish hues of spray paint
Greater tonal variation on base is achieved using Vallejo Model Color acrylic paint
Base after layering in Vallejo Model Color colors of Black Brown, Burnt Umber and US Field Drab
Bright green 'grass' was glued onto the base using wood glue
Closeup of the base prior to the final mud weathering

With the 'dry state' of the base completed, all that was left to do was to remove the adhesive tacks placed onto the male joint connectors. These sticky tacks help protect the joints from being coated with paint which in turn prevents any eventual fitting issues when the AT-ST's legs are fixed onto the unmasked areas. As you can see below, the chicken legs were seamlessly attached to the joints.

Removal of the adhesive tack covering the joints onto which the footpads will eventually connect
Footpads of the AT-ST after they had been connected securely to the base

Why did I choose to depict a clearing in the Forest Moon of Endor? Primarily it was because I didn't have the basing materials needed for a proper recreation of the flora in Endor or what is actually the giant redwood forests of northern California. But luckily for me, the clearing located outside the shield generator bunker - as seen in Return of the Jedi (see below) - looked very similar to a generic grass and soil combo. So much so that I could use the materials I had at hand to recreate it.  

Clearing near the Imperial Army's shield generator bunker on the Forest Moon of Endor
Ground flora on the Forest Moon of Endor comprised largely fern-like vegetation

Meanwhile, further work on the base in its 'dry state' involved the application of an enamel-based weathering product i.e. AK Interactive Fresh Mud. The method of application involved spraying bursts of air at a hand brush loaded with the enamel paint thus causing the 'fresh mud' to splatter onto the footpads. White spirit was used to clean up excess 'mud' to prevent over-weathering. Results of this final (fifth) phase of weathering can be seen in the last three photographs below. 

Materials used in the final phase of weathering for the AT-ST
Footpads of the AT-ST and the base, after mud weathering
Mud weathering was applied by blowing air (via airbrush) at a paint brush loaded with enamel paint
Enamel 'mud' paint was also applied onto the base to achieve overall uniformity
Color used in weathering the footpads are akin to fresh mud hence the darker brownish hue

Soon enough the Bandai 1/48 scale AT-ST project will conclude. And while I contemplate what my next Star Wars project is going to be, I plan to keep busy with the MENG King Tiger assembly as well as take tentative steps in airbrushing skin tones with a better airbrush. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a productive weekend ahead hobby-wise. Cheers and see you next week!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Band Mono 1/12 Scale Instrument Models by F-Toys [Unboxing & Review Post plus Videos]

With a lot of my plastic and resin figurine projects - future and present - being in 1/12 scale, I decided to get some accessories in the same scale in order to jazz up the photo shoots. And being a huge fan of music played a part in my choice of accessories. There are, of course, plans to add more variety to my collection of 1/12 scale accessories (e.g. school furniture). But for now here's an unboxing and review post plus videos of the Band Mono 1/12 Scale Instrument Models by F-Toys confect.

Unboxing and review of the Band Mono 1/12 Scale Musical Instrument Models

These 1/12 scale instrument models come only in a set of 10, at least they do if you are purchasing them online. As far as I can tell they are available only from sources in Japan. The Band Mono instrument models are actually shokugan, which is a Japanese term for small toys that are sold with food. It seems shokugan can be found in the snack corner of supermarkets in Japan where sets of both a toy and a snack are sold in small boxes. My set was purchased from HobbyLink Japan.

Band Mono 1/12 Scale Musical Instrument Models by F-toys confect
Packaging of the Band Mono 1/12 Scale Musical Instrument Models ...
... which comes in a set of 10 instrument models

Each shokugan toy is packaged inside its own vividly colored box and as mentioned earlier there are a total of 10 boxes in one set. In the case of Band Mono, the food included looks like a breath mint. My guess is the food was included only so that these small toys could be sold in supermarkets which presumably has a wider distribution network in Japan. Also included in each individual box of the Band Mono shokugan is a 1/12 scale musical instrument, its corresponding accessories such as stand and shoulder strap as well as a simple instruction booklet on how to set up the model. 

Each 1/12 scale musical instrument model is packaged in its own vividly colored box
Art work at the back of the box shows the eight 'guaranteed' models you'll receive in the set of 10
What you can expect inside the average box containing a scale instrument model

Inside this set of 10 instrument models, eight are guaranteed and they comprise two electric guitars, two electric bass guitars, two shoulder synthesizers and two speakers with amplifiers. So with this "8+2" formula you will get a decent enough variety of 1/12 scale instrument models. My personal preference was for the mystery two to be guitars. But what I got was a black and gold electric guitar and a red shoulder synthesizer. While I love the former, I'm not too thrilled with the latter.

Band Mono 1/12 scale instrument models: Electric guitars
Band Mono 1/12 scale instrument models: Electric bass guitars
Band Mono 1/12 scale instrument models: Electric guitar stand
Band Mono 1/12 scale instrument models: Shoulder synthesizers
Band Mono 1/12 scale instrument models: Speakers with amplifiers

Although technically these models are only toys, the details they exhibit are excellent and look simply beautiful. From the bodywork and strings on the guitars to the knobs on the speaker/amplifier to the cute synthesizers, there are enough intricate details on the instrument models to make them excellent accessories for any 1/12 scale figurine you are posing and taking photographs of. My only complaint is that they should've included a miniature drum set to complete a proper band set up.

All the 1/12 scale instrument models found in my particular Band Mono set

To better appreciate the Band Mono 1/12 Scale Musical Instrument Models by F-Toys confect, you might prefer to watch videos of the unboxing and review process. They come in three parts namely Part 1: Unboxing, Part 2: Assembly and Part 3: Conclusion (see below). As always, please visit my YouTube channel FourEyedMonster Miniatures and check out a variety of uploaded videos dealing with other unboxing and reviews, tutorials as well as 360 degree views of fully painted miniatures, model kits and figurines. And be sure to choose the high definition (HD) option for the best view.




Speaking of 1/12 scale projects, my progress on the atelier iT Race Queen has reached a self-imposed impasse. For you see, I've come to the conclusion that my budget airbrush just isn't going to cut it. It doesn't give me the range of control I need to create acceptable skin tone transitions between shadows, mid-tones and highlights on the contours of a miniature human body. So I'm temporarily halting proceedings until I get my hands on a better 0.2 mm airbrush which should be before end of this month. Until then, assembly of the MENG King Tiger gets underway and the Star Wars AT-ST base gets its finishing touches. There's that to look forward to as I bid you au revoir for now.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Star Wars AT-ST [WIP - Chicken Legs]

As the AT-ST's iconic 'chicken legs' underwent the same weathering process as its upper hull and mid-section, I saw no point in chronicling each every phase again in a series of posts. So without further delay, the following are photographs of the scout walker's legs after panel lining, washes, oil dot filters and micro paint chips had been applied on a light grey basecoat.  

Bandai Star Wars AT-ST work-in-progress: Weathering on 'chicken legs', Phases One through Four
Phases One through Four entails panel lining, washes, oil dot filters and micro paint chips
AT-ST walker's footpad still awaits additional mud weathering

Because the 'chicken legs' have tons of detail that caught the washes and panel lining, they already display a significant amount of depth and contrast prior to the micro paint chipping step. What this entails technique-wise is a more economical and judicious application of micro paint chips. Too much and it would, I feel, overload the senses. So in the end, chipped paint was placed strategically in places few and far between. That in itself was a mind-numbing series of patient and careful work. 

Lower portion of the legs will receive some mud weathering too, just not as much as the footpads
Micro paint chipping was kept minimal seeing this section will receive further mud weathering

Having previously done paint chipping using both the salt technique as well as a chipping medium, I found that actually painting in the micro paint chips with a brush to be just as effective as the first two. Each technique has its place in a modeller's repertoire. In the case of the AT-ST neither of the first two techniques were applicable for two reasons. Firstly, the resulting paint chips would've likely been too big. But more importantly neither technique was practical for a model with so many fragile parts attached to it. That left only one viable paint chipping technique i.e. micro paint chipping.   

Work-in-progress view of both the AT-ST walker's legs
Next for the legs is to attach them to the hull, plonk them onto the base and apply mud weathering

Weathering for the AT-ST's 'chicken legs' isn't actually complete yet though. There's still some mud weathering to be done on both footpads as well as on the lower portion of the legs. That will be done together with the base, which itself will need a fair bit of work to transform it into a clearing in the Forest Moon of Endor. Until then thanks for reading and have yourself a great weekend!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...