Tuesday 16 June 2020

Challenger - Another new project

Since my experiment with homemade Sprue Goo, I'm running dangerously low on TET (Tamiya Extra Thin cement). Dangerous, as in, I probably have enough for another 2 months, especially since I'm close to finishing up the PL-01 and the Galactica, but fellow modellers may be able to imagine the sheer horror of running low on something. The idea of running out in a busy weekend and then having to go all accross the country for new supplies ... /shudder.

It's like having an empty stash.

I don't like ordering a bottle of glue for 5 euro and spending almost twice as much on shipping, so I ordered two(!) bottles and the cheapest 1/35 scale tank I could find - that was still somewhat decent - because I've been playing with an idea.

I plan to make the tank and ... cut it in half! 

Why? Because I think it would be cool to make it into a book-rest. I've been gathering tank-related books for all but a month and a half, so if I want to give those a more prominent spot in the book shelf, I might as well make it an eye-catcher.

When looking for cheap model kits, there's a lot of choice, but a looot of junk. On one of my local suppliers' webshops, I found Trumpeter's Challenger II (kit 00308) in the second-hand section, so the decision was made. It looks to be a decent model, is of an actually interesting subject and I'll be doing it in a two-tone camouflage, which is still a bit of a learning curve, so we'll be having fun, learning a bit and being "creative" in the mean time.

If it turns out a dud, I've lost 15 euro, but had fun in the process.

Monday 15 June 2020

BSG - Assembly

Like most sci-fi models, assembling the model works best in sub-assemblies or you run the risk of not being able to easily access certain parts for painting later.

Overall, the parts fit together well, with very big tabs and connectors. This makes it a sturdy model and difficult to mis-align parts.

The pylon arms fit in the hull and need to be aligned properly. Form some reason, these wouldn't align for me and I had to remove the protrusions on all connectors. Once removed, the pylons fit perfectly and were aligned horizontally.

The large inserts in the main hull are where the pylons would fit when retracted. This isn't an option on this model, unless you were to attack the pylon arms with a powertool. Anyone, the Galactica is most recognizable with pylons extended, so I don't really care. I think this'll look best painted flat black, to avoid too much visibility inside.

There's a large gap between the inserts and the outer hull, so with the Sprue Goo I created very recently, I did an attempt at reducing this. It'll only be visible when turning the model upside down, but hey.

The main engine at the rear is a transparent part. I painted the inside transparent blue and filled the part that has to remain transparent with Humbrol Maskol. You can use any masking fluid, or silly putty, or possibly even tape, but I found this the easiest.

Sunday 14 June 2020

PL-01 - Colour modulation

I promised I'd try a hand at colour modulation, because I found the all-grey, little-surface-detail PL-01 too bland.

There are several techniques and an insane amount of videos on this topic. Because the base-coat was already there, pre-shading wasn't an option, so I decided to go over certain spots with a lighter version of the base-coat and others with a darker. I guess this technically qualifies it as post-shading.
When it's all done, I will also try with oils to see how easy that would be to achieve the same result.

The trick here is to go very slow, with translucent layers, and build up an effect. That means highly thinning your paint before you spray. In the past I experienced issues with just thinning paint in a ratio of  e.g. 10:1 (10 parts thinner to 1 part paint), where it would either not spray properly from my airbrush, or too quickly or the paint would spider.

My reasoning was I though I remembered reading somewhere that if you thin paint TOO much, it loses whatever quality makes it stick to the surface and it becomes a loose gathering of floating pigments instead.

So I decided to try a few different products.

Glaze medium

Sounds like something you'd thin paint with, but it's clearly meant for brush-painting figures. It's super-fluid, finds all nooks and crannies and flows there. Stays wet very long.

→ Not good.
Varnish (satin)

In a ratio of roughly 5:1 (varnish:paint) this sprayed just like I expected. Could have gone thinner for even more control over the effect.

→ Acceptable

A product by Ammo specifically for thinning paint beyond the point where it is no longer considered paint. It sprayed iffy. I'm also more inclined to put it in the brush-painting section.

→ Meh
At this point, I was no longer sure wether my spraying issues were product-related or airbrush-related, so I decided to give it a good strip & clean to be sure. There was a lot of dried paint and gunk in the body, which can't really improve it's functioning.

Airbrush thinner

As a last resort, I tried again with my default thinner. Stripping and cleaning the airbrush must have done something, because trigger control was flawless and because this thinner evaporates very fast, you can go over the same spot only seconds later. The airflow of the airbrush is enough to dry the surface.

→ OK!
So, I guess I'm back to the same old product, just learned to clean the airbrush better or more often and keep tight on the trigger-control.

Ah yes, the result!

I used a lighter tone around panel lines (where the angle changes), on flat top pannels, the top-left quadrant of the gun barrel and several oddly-angled surfaces. Darker tones around the turret ring and towards the lower part of the side skirts.

Saturday 13 June 2020

BSG - Battlestar Galactica

I bought this kit years ago, as soon as I found out it existed. Ordered it from Moebius together with the Mk VII Colonial Viper, which I finished last year.

Not sure why I suddenly decided to start it, but I think with the Falcon finished and the PL-01 entering the decalling stage, I felt the itch to start something new.

This should be a simple and straightforward build. I'm not going to bother super-detailing between the armoured ribs, like some peope tend to do. I'm also not going to convert the starboard pylon to a museum, as portrayed in the series. I guess I'll be building here in an earlier stage of her career.

There aren't that many parts, which is not unusual for Sci-Fi kits. There's roughly 60 parts and the cannons make up a large portion of them.

Decal-wise, there's also not much. 3 times the name Galactica, a logo for on the back and 2 long decals for the inside of the pylons, which will mostly be invisible. But they're a very nice tough.
The kit includes a sturdy metal rod to hold het up above the display stand.

The inside of all parts are rife with stubs from the sprue-pooring process. While lucky they're on the INside, they need to be removed to be able to close evertyhing up.

Friday 12 June 2020

PL-01 - Sprue Goo to the rescue

You know how you learn from your past mistakes, the hard way so to speak, but after so many years of doing the same thing you learn to avoid those? Well, *I* don't, at least not where scale models are concerned.

I know you're supposed to fit twice, glue once. I know when dry-fitting the 2 halves of the turret around the gun it needed some force to close the gap. But still I went ahead thinking I could do it.

I closed the rear of the turret, glued it and let harden.
Then I closed the right side with a lot of force and clamps, glued it and let harden.
And then there was no way to close the left side, not even close to it. There was a gap of at least 2 millimeter. By pushing extremely hard, I could get them to touch, but no amount of clamps, tape, whatever could hold it in place. It was also very awkwardly located to put a vice on it.

In hindsight, I know exactly what I should have done. I should have made the holes where the gun fits in just a little bigger, but it was too late.
(I increased the contract in the photo to make it more easy to see)

So I decided to #fixThatShit and put putty in the gap, but my tube of Tamiya Basic Putty had almost dried up. I thinned it with TET (Tamiya Extra Thin cement) and got it back to a working state. I then slathered it copiously over the gap.

I like to put tape alongside the gap I'm trying to fill. I remove it after about an hour, when the putty has had some time to set, but has not yet hardened. The tape prevents too much plastic from being affected, removing it early prevents the putty breaking off as opposed to removing the tape too late.

When fully cured, I gently started sanding the putty into shape, but because of the turret design it needed to end in a point and the putty was just too soft or something. It sands away too easily.

I also found that thinning the putty with TET has eaten away where the plastic was at it's thinnest, making a bad situation even worse.

In the past, I have read about people making their own filler (mostly referred to as "Sprue Goo"), by dissolving left-over sprue in TET, making a gooey plastic mess. Because it's the same plastic as the kit, it bonds really well, hardens perfectly and sands just as well as a normal plastic part would.

I put some TET in an empty glass(!) bottle and added strips of white styrene I had left over. Becasue the strips where extremely thin (0.13mm or 0.005") they dissolved fully within mere hours, instead of the recommended 24 hours if you chuck in sprue pieces of 0.5 cm or bigger.

I applied my home-made filler with a toothpick. It was a bit too thick for use with a brush, but thick means it's easy to put a blob and count on it to stay in place (more or less).
In any case, you have control over the thickness by adding more TET or more styrene. When not too thick and applied sparingly or in multiple layers, it levels perfectly, which is an added bonus.

After about 16 hours, I tried gently sanding the plastic, but it was still a little malleable. It was after all a 3-4 mm blob, so needed more time to cure. After 24 hours extra, it was rock hard.
It was then easily sanded into shape and after priming and painting, I was very happy with the result.

In close-up, you still see some trace of it, but I'm calling it a success anyway.

Saturday 6 June 2020

Movie : Panfilov's 28 men

28 панфиловцев

I saw the trailer for this movie years ago and made a mental note to keep an eye out for it once it got released. My mental note capacity has declined over the years, so I lost track of it until last night.

It's a Russian crowd-funded movie, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's a B movie or worse. It's an excellent war-movie that I very much enjoyed watching. As far as "enjoy" is an acceptable word for watching people die in a war.

It's about a company of Russian soldiers, in November 1941, tasked to stop the German tanks advance to Moscow. They're to achieve this at all costs, and with limited resources.
Realistic scenes, good acting. The tanks (Panzer III and IV as far as I could see at a glance) were well presented, there was a good eye for detail and strategy.  The German dialog isn't subtitled, but this does not detract from understanding what's happening (it's not much and most of it can be followed with a basic understanding of German).

It's a shame more movies of this caliber don't reach our theaters, television or even streaming services. Just last year, I enjoyed T-34 almost equally.

The full movie is available on Youtube (with English subtitles), although that's probably a blatant copyright infringement. I don't know if Russian law is different. It's been there since October 2018, so good chance it'll stay.