Tag - photo etch

contour gauge tool profile measuring dn models masks for scale models

Profile Measuring Tool

As a continuation of articles about general tools for scale modeling, this one here will present a tool that is used usually for different than modeling purposes. Interestingly, sometimes tools not specifically made for miniature applications can be of use for scale modeling. This one here is the perfect example. What it represents is a profile measuring device /or contour gauge as some call it/ and it is meant to be used for home mostly, where you can get a profile of something and use to draw it on paper afterwards. Maybe something to put next to your wall where there is a cable tunnel, or some edge that you might want to avoid with your wooden floor. What can be better than to know how to cut and remove exactly?

contour gauge tool profile measuring dn models masks for scale models

How this device works is self explanatory. It consist of many sticks, aligned in a row. Those can be made out of plastic or metal and in this particular case is metal. Once you press the device next to something curvy, each stick takes different position and upon removal you have a copy of the outer shape of the item you just measured. The sticks stay in shape of course, and you can transfer this on paper or whatever flat surface easily afterwards.

Now think about it the other way around. Instead of taking measures for the outer surfaces, which is great for modeling too, the real value of this device comes from taking the profiles of the internal shape of the model. Just imagine: you want to build an interior wall in an aircraft, submarine or a ship and somehow you have to replicate the proper shape of the wall so when you cut your plastic, to give it a chance to fit good. Using only your eyes the chances are slim.

contour gauge tool profile measuring dn models masks for scale models

Taking measurements with this tool is easy though. You can get the proper shape of the interior of almost any scale model and when you transfer it on paper to spare yourself the hassle of wasting precious spare scratch plastic material and eventually some nerves while struggling while doing it only by guessing. In other words, you get the 3D appearance of the model and when you copy that on paper you are now in 2D and this is one of the hardest tricks in scratch building. Those who buy Evergreen plastic often knows what I am hinting here. Their stuff is expensive!

Of course, with the technology available today, you can find a tool that use a laser for high-precision measuring and you can often transfer this directly to your computer screen. But here we are not talking about spending loads of money for such a tool either. The trick with this tool is, that it is cheap, because it is very simple. The other thing about it is, that you will use it only for some portion of your scratch building adventures. We can all agree that taking profile measurements is not what you will do on every model and on several sections of it.

contour gauge tool profile measuring dn models masks for scale models

However, one must consider that in order to rip apart one aircraft in 48 or larger scale, a lot of profile sections should be replicated, both on the wings and the fuselage. Same goes for different sections of any submarine that you might want to present with cutaways. There are always fragments, ribs and more, with different shape and making those from the ground up is a lot easier with the help of the contour gauge.

All in all, this tools seems like a very good addition to any modeler’s bench and mandatory for scratch build fanatics. Its simplicity allows for easy transferring of the inner or outer 3D shapes and their transfer on paper in 2D. The price of it is another advantage, but that of course, is not all. The tool can come handy also to measure the proper shape of the model and compare it with a drawing that you might have. When it comes down to rivet counting, it can hardly get better than that.

So if you have a riveting tool, a chisel, a line engraver and all the other nice goodies for scratch building fun and you are into altering your models, this is one tool that you need to look into. You will be surprised how much more you can do with this simple gauge and how easier things will become.

Highly recommended!

miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set boxart

MiniArt Panzerfaust 30/60 Set – Unboxing & Review

Panzerfaust was one of the German technological inventions, that was supposed to help them win the war. It was sort of a wonder weapon, but only in terms of its simplicity. Nothing fancy like thier Hybrid power tanks or Jet aircraft. Actually, Panzerfaust did pretty much the same job as any Soviet T-34 could - destroy some of the enemy tanks, with acceptable losses. The sole difference was that Soviets built a whole tank for that purpose, while Germans used a hand-weapon. Both were simple and planned to be mass produced, however in the end T-34 ended on the winner's side. That is from the funny perspective of course. Panzerfaust was available in several versions. 30, 60, 100, 150 and 250. MiniArt made a set that includes the first two. This is one of their accessories sets for WWII miniatures, that are very popular among modelers. It is understandable too, because adding just a simple Panzerfaust at the back of your Panzer IV, StuG or Tiger will spice it enough to bring a smile on anyone's face. The kit is cheap and filled with goodies. It is not only the Panzerfaust inside. You get crates, you get decals/big sheet/, instructions and even Photo-etch. MiniArt #35253 is packed in their soft cardboard glossy boxes, that are colored all around. Those boxes feature the colors and the painting guide on their backs. miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set back

Instruction sheet:

Once you open the box of the Panzerfaust set, the first thing that slides from the inside are the instructions. They feature the build guide and are printed in black and white over a small sheet. It does not look quite sophisticated, but considering the colors on the box and the simplicity of the kit, they are pretty much spot on. Instruction sheet is nothing that should scare you. MiniArt are not famous for easy kits, but this one actually is. Well, considering the size and the amount of photo-etch it is still MiniArt -all-around, but nothing that one will have troubles with. The Panzerfaust itself deserves attention due to the delicate photo-etch parts. The crates on the other hand are simple and even though with PE elements, are nothing too complex. miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set instruction sheet

Panzerfaust plastic parts:

We can talk a lot about MiniArt's plastic. Nowadays it is high-quality west-European material, that is flexible and forgiving. The texture is superb, as the details all over. Panzerfaust crates especially. They show wooden texture all over and are made in a way that you can squeeze a lot from them in terms of weathering. Nothing much to be said, pictures speak enough of that.

miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set sprues 1miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set sprues 2miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set sprues 3 miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set sprues 4miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set sprues 5

Photo-Etch Parts:

MiniArt's PE elements are one of the thinnest and most delicate ever made. They are very flexible and pleasure to work with. Compared to other manufacturer's PE, MiniArt have finer details and nowadays come packed in special thick envelope with MiniArt's logo on it. Perfect protection and great looks. In #35253 they are not too many, but enough, considering the Panzerfaust set size. The most of the PE goes over the weapons and there are few that are used for the crates. Everything is very delicate, so inexperienced modelers might have some troubles with the smallest elements. miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set PE parts

Panzerfaust Decals:

Decals are most likely produced by Begemot. The company has many fans, but you can find a decent amount of critique too. From my experience, these decals are not bad and are far better than many. With the proper decal solution you can subdue any decal to your will. The sheet is relatively big, considering the plastic parts of this Panzerfaust set. They go on both - the weapons and the crates - and are technical markings. You can get around some of them probably, due to the fact that more than 7 million Panzerfausts were made. Probably not all of them had the markings, especially at the end of the war. With that said, the decal sheet looks great and it will only add to the fun of the kit building with this set. miniart 35253 panzerfaust 30/60 set sprues begemot decalsPanzerfaust Decals


This set is great addition to any WWII armor collection. It is suitable not only for German Armor model builders. Panzerfaust was a weapon built in mass quantities. It is highly unlikely that only the Germans had it in their hands. So you can decorate your T-34 or KV-1 with it easily and it'll still fit perfectly. MiniArt did a wonderful job with the tooling. The decals and the photo-etch elements only adds to that. The kit is cheap, well-tooled and it gives you more than just few Panzerfaust weapons. As with MiniArt's other accessories sets, #35253 offers great supply for diorama builders. Crates in my opinion are indispensable. They fit the STuGs perfectly, especially the early versions where the gun is smaller and the focus is elsewheere on the vehicle. Mentioning that, I have to add that the newly tooled 0-series StuG III from MiniArt is a perfect combo for this set. Their Panzer III too. But as said above, the StuG will be more appropriate. Especially due to the size of its gun. www.dnmodels.com
nato fighter bundesfighter unboxing review dn models

Unboxing Eduard`s 1/48 Limited Edition kit – F-104 NATO+ Bundesfighter

The amazing legacy kit of the F-104 NATO-fighter and F-104 Bundes-fighter from Eduard is unexpectedly something rather unique. It is something that I saw for the first time and it was very exciting. It comes to something like two kits in one box: the NATO+Bundesfighter. The box looks double sided, but it`s not exactly. It is a blank box wrapped in a thin cardboard wrapping with two gorgeous colorful boxarts, respectively of the NATOfighter from the one side and of the Bundesfighter on the other side. Inside the box, there is one big bag with plastic parts and a lot of “other materials”. Let`s continue the unboxing review with the content of the kit.   What`s in the box
  • Plastic parts: they are packed at once and fortunately they are not a lot. This keeps them safe although the tight packing. The plastic parts are indeed for only one F-104 model and contain less than 100 pieces, which is not that much for a 1/48 scale kit. Yet the Starfighter is a rather small plane from the middle of the last century and its construction is rather simplified – one engine, one-seat cockpit, a vertical T-tail and definitely its most iconic feature are the small wings. The quality of the plastic parts is very good because the extensive riveting is clearly noticeable. The fuselage is assembled by two long side pieces, which creates the bulk of the model. The plastic parts of this kit are also spread out within around 10 small sprues, which ensures quick and easy orientation. And there is also one small black part with 4 small rubber tubes/caps for smoother movement of some parts.
  • Paper parts: they are a lot. Since this is just about literally 2 kits in 1 – almost everything else (except the model itself) is doubled. There are two big typical Eduard-style instructions – one for the NATOfighter and one for the Bundesfighter. The main differences in these instructions are in the colorful markings opts. The big decal sheets are the next important “part” that is doubled – respectively for 5 NATOfighters and for 5 Bundesfighters. The choice of 10 different airframes out of this single kit is something very exciting. Next, a small yellow sheet with pre-cut masks for the canopy and the tires is another great accessory in that box, just like the small piece with transparent films for the HUD.
  • Surprises from Eduard: it wouldn`t be a proper Eduard Limited Edition kit without the magnificent Eduard surprises in the form of photo etched and resin upgrades. Most of all – it comes to 2 almost identical PE sheets and 2 bags with almost identical Resin parts. The PE sheets include parts mostly for the cockpit of this F-104 kit. The resin parts include two different seats and a few small upgrades like nodes for the fuselage of the NATOfighter version of this kit.
  Pros of the kit Without a doubt, this F-104 Eduard kit offers much more advantages than you have expected, so the pros are much more than the cons. For instance, let`s take the fact that you will have a lot of left parts to upgrade your further models. Furthermore:
  • PE and Resin upgrades. They are proposed for two different airframes so when you build one of the 10 different airframes – you will have a complete set of PE for another F-104. And one resin ejector seat as well, which could fit in other planes that used a seat from the same type;
  • Extensive riveting. The F-104 is a rather old plane and is literally dotted by rivets that are clearly visible. The plastic parts have a good amount of rivets to represent a very good replica of the real plane in terms of rivets and other panel details;
  • Very well detailed nozzle. Usually, the OOB nozzle is not exactly the best choice, but not in this case. The plastic nozzle for this F-104 has beautiful highlights of the turkey feathers, as well as plenty of small inner and outer details, and the best part is that the outer edges are not too thick;
  • A lot of optional markings. There are decals for 10 different markings in this kit, ranging from shiny silver Starfighters, through Starfighters with green camouflages, to planes from a very wide period of time, planes from different Air Forces, and more. The big sheets with decals offer enormous options of airframes;
  • Positionable parts. Although small, this kit offers you to choose between landing gears up and down, canopy open or closed, airbrakes open or closed, and many else. All the control surfaces are separate parts so they can be glued in many different settings;
  • Easiness of assembly. This kit contains only a few dozens of plastic parts and most of them are rather large and flat pieces. This makes it suitable for not so advanced modelers who prefer the quick and easy assembly, and yet the gluing of the PE and Resin parts will require your pro skills to make this F-104 model better;
Cons of the kit Actually, I couldn`t find any major disadvantage or con of this kit even just by looking at the plastic parts through their big bag. Perhaps, only the lack of ordnance should be listed as the only con of this kit, but let`s face it – the F-104 is a rather small plane with so small wings, so to see its clean silhouette is a privilege. Why this kit is so unique The NATO+Bundesfighter kit from Eduard can not be compared to any other kit, because it actually has parts for two models, except the plastic parts. They are for just one model. This leaves an enormous variety of options to choose from when building your model. From a different ejector seat, to different markings and different cockpit configurations – the opts are numerous. You can get this kit here: NATO+Bundesfighter And the two separate versions: NATO Only and Bundesfighter Only
All pictures are courtesy of Eduard
miniart 37012 t-54-2 unboxing and review dn models

T-54-2 Mod.1949 from MiniArt without Interior

T-54-2 was a huge hit when MiniArt released its interiored version not long ago. Now, we get mod.1949 again, but repacked for those who do not want to get into the insides of the tank but rather play it safe and keep it simple. T-54-2 is the second variant of the prototype, being upgraded from the T-54-1 variant. Although some sort of a pre-production vehicle, it was delivered to the army and more than 1200 were produced in total. In this case, the word "prototype" does not describe the vehicle exactly. As you know, MiniArt did them all, so I won't bother you with details and differences. We are focusing on #37012 and its qualities: The Box We have pretty much the same tank depicted on the boxart but lacking the background. More precisely - the background, since the soil is still here. The box colors are red and white with little orange on the sides so you can easily mistake 37004 for 37012 and the other way around. The nice logo saying "Interior KIT" is missing here but everything else feels quite similar and it is for a reason. The Instruction sheet The instruction sheet is made in typical MiniArt way - big and colorful. The color depictions are mostly on front and back showing several different versions of the vehicle. They are Soviet Green versions, pretty much equal one to another, with the numbers being the sole difference. I am sorry if you expected something else, but the appearance of the Soviet vehicles was always dull and boring.Then, there is a description of the sprues and of course - the building process begins. This time we are lacking the interior parts, so you can expect that the sheet will be substantially smaller than what we had in 37004. T-54-2 was a medium tank, so it is a rather mid-sized vehicle, but still the thing becomes crowded with details once build. Depiction of everything is clear and not overly crowded on each step, so to avoid confusion and complication. In that regard, the kit is suitable for beginners. However, the workable suspension, tracks and minor details lead to a different conclusion. The Plastic parts The plastic parts of this kit are - of course - the same like on the interiored T-54-2. They are made from the new plastic material and troubles with those should not be expected. Noticeable feature of the kit is the thickness of the parts - for example the turret or the fenders. They are thin enough, which avoids the need for sanding them down or replacing them with Photo-etch material. Nothing is perfect, but MiniArt got pretty close in that matter. Single piece gun barrel, tiny castings, texture on the wood - everything is precise and delicate. Smaller detail might give you some headache with their attachment points, so rotary tool for polishing might come handy. Same goes for the wheels in case you want to damage them. They, alongside the The Tracks are one of the highest points of this kit. On all the T-series from MiniArt they are superbly molded down to the smallest details. Even the castings with the numbers on the track links are there, which are so small, that are hard to be seen. Too bad that they will be hidden beneath the weathering. I have heard some controversial opinions about the tracks. Many people struggle to make them workable. This is mostly due to the over-glueing factor which many modelers suffer from. Myself included. In order to make it tough and sturdy, we apply more glue, which usually is useless. In this particular case - prevents the tracks from working. So be careful when you work with those. Test a few link at first, to see how much glue exactly will you need to keep everything moving. The Decals and Photo-Etch Decal sheet is small, featuring mostly three digit numbers. There is one two-digit and three marking for Fuel, Oil and D-10T - the gun of the T-54-2. They are most likely Begemot decals, but I cannot be certain for that. Just guessing by the looks. I do prefer using masks and in the DN Models store there is a set for Modern Russian vehicles. Although this isn't exactly modern vehicle, you can find that they are pretty similar and can be used. What can be used too, is the set for MiniArt's T-44 made by DN Models for that kit specifically. T-54-2 appeared just couple of years later, so they do correspond to the time and the style too. Photo-etch sheet of the T-54-2 is not big, but it features nice parts. There are the meshes, which are superb as always and the rest is small parts. Many of the PE stuff is so small that only tweezers and magnifying glass will help. On the other hand, the sheet is small because the detail made from plastic is delicate enough and that saved the day. Some people tend to sand their PE parts or their whole sheets before glueing. I do not recommend that with MiniArt. Or, if you do, try to be very delicate. I happen to ruin more than one detail, just because it is too "in scale" or too precise. It is a good thing for detail maniacs, but for work it causes some hassle and attention must be applied. Be careful is all I am suggesting. Conclusion: With total of over 700 parts, 625 plastic, 73 photo-etched and 16 clear ones, this kit is superb. With its workable torsion bars, complex tracks and many sub-assemblies, this kit is not for the beginner. Although, MiniArt tried to make it easier, removing the interior. It is a nice touch, since it is a waste to buy the interior kit and dump all that plastic just because you don't want it inside. Now, we have an option. And what is better than to have an option!? The kit is still one of the best tanks in 35th scale on the market and probably the best from the T-series. We have it with and without interior as well. Pretty much you get what you want, depending solely on your mood and goal. It is true that it becomes a crowded market with many kit variations and options, plus the fact that last couple of years we have similar subjects from different companies, and that makes it even more confusing. But hey, that was the same 30-40 years ago with the TV. From 15 channels, you jumped to 50 or 150 and many didn't knew what to do with so many. But is great to have abundance in that area, especially knowing that 15 years ago this hobby was considered obsolete and dying. MiniArt 37012 definitely worth your attention and it is a must for every T-series collector. I can only highly recommend this T-54-2, with the note that this is for a rather experienced modeler, no matter the lack of interior.

BTR-80A in 35th scale from Trumpeter

BTR-80A is a Soviet wheeled APC designed and developed during the late 70s and early 80s, and entered into service in 1986. It immediately entered the Soviet War in Afghanistan and little by little was accepted by the armies of many countries where it prove to be successful design. The new turret and diesel engine are the main differences compared to the previous models, but not only. All the small improvements like smoke grenade launchers, new intercom system, infra-red sight and many more, made the BTR-80 a lot different than BTR-70 on which it is mainly based. Nowadays it is used all around the World in almost every possible weather condition and war scenario, including UN missions. Therefore, having a model of this vehicle is essential for Soviet/Russian model fans, and Trumpeter gave us a decent one. There is an options from Dragon/Italeri/Zvezda, but they lack the qualities of Trumpeter in almost any way. Trumpeter's BTR series are so far unmatched in design and quality. They released standard BTR-80 in 2013 and an year later, BTR-80A - with a turret and different camo. The kit features interior - although not complete one - with very decent qualities. There is no engine, but the seats for the soldiers are there, as the detailed drivers deck, turret firing system and ammo boxes. The doors and hatches of the vehicle are positionable, which obviously will give you the option to show off the insides once built. There is a lot of room for minor improvements, which are limited only by modeler's fantasy and personal goals. There are over 500 parts, with quality at a very high level in terms of detailing. I must say that this BTR-80 is one of the stars of the Trumpeter's collection. Especially the rims and the upper hull - most of the small moldings there are superb! The vinyl tires are decent but there are already tons of aftermarket wheels for off- on- road options with slightly different shapes and sizes and most importantly - superior quality. The photo-etch is separated in two sheets, not very big but enough to satisfy the basic need. Something that many other companies till omit to include in their new releases. Trumpeter's PE parts are a bit thick-ish but this isn't a problem especially when it comes down to APCs and tanks. Clear parts and decals are very nice, and although limited painting options included /considering the widespread use of the model only, not as a stand-alone kit/ I believe most of the BTR-80 fans will be happy with what's in the box. Here it is important to add the fact, that aftermarket decal companies have flooded the market with several different and unusual options lately, including some from the Syria and Ukraine wars with rather interesting camo schemes. There are also mask sets, including DN Models options /Check the store for Modern Russian Masks/, which are suitable for this vehicle and gives you a wider range of BTRs to recreate in scale. Overall, for the price, this kit is a pretty nice investment. The Trumpeter engineers managed to highlight the most important parts of this kit, the ones that are mostly visible and very attractive. This not only allows for weathering but also for a stunning results in a relatively un-weathered model, just because all the detail needed is already there. BTR-80A, with its turret is the one that I prefer because of the turret and it's overall "combat vision" compared to BTR-80. However both kits are equally nice and it is a matter of preference or, a matter of particular subject. As mentioned above, this vehicle is used Worldwide and almost everywhere, so who knows what one can find once the research starts. With no doubts, I can only highly recommend this kit to any Soviet/Russian model fan. As with all the other BTR series from Trumpeter, this is a spot-on! You can get this kit here: BTR-80A Trumpeter www.dnmodels.com

Unboxing Review for L-29 from AMK in 1/48 Scale

While opening this yet small AMK box of the 1/48th scale L-29 Delfin, I came across some good feeling like I`m opening a kit from a very good quality. Indeed, the plastic sprues are so little and the void space inside the box is so big, that maybe everything could fit in an even smaller box. But the quality of this L-29 in 1/48 scale Is magnificent. The small sturdy cardboard box is decorated with soft reddish and greyish tones, while a gorgeous box art depicts a flying L-29. In the box, two huge cardboard side panels appear that are part of the box itself and that help hold everything inside even if the box is open. Thanks to the small amount of plastic sprues, one could quickly stroll through the elements of this AMK 1/48 L-29 model and see what`s inside with just a blink of the eye. There is one small dark and nicely printed instruction manual, one tiny sheet with key PE parts, one big sheet with numerous decals, and 6 sprues with details. Let`s get started with: The plastic parts At first glance it looks like a simple build, but after checking out the manual, the situation becomes a little bit more difficult than it looks like. There are big plastic parts, which location is obvious for such a well-known T-tail plane, but there are also tiny little parts, which are difficult to identify. The quality of the plastic parts is very good, since they are from a darker type of plastic and are neither too soft, nor too hard. The detailing of the parts is not quite impressive and one of the most visible issues is the lack of riveting. Otherwise, there are plenty of panel lines and you have to just add the rivets if you wish so. Since it is a trainer aircraft, it`s accepted to be a cleaner airplane and the rivets are actually not that easily noticeable, but according to me – they should be there. Some gentle riveting is required and perhaps avoiding the use of very contrasting dark wash during the weathering is a great tip. The clear parts for the canopy are thin and crystal clear, but what`s the most beautiful thing is that there are no long seamlines in the middle of the canopy parts, so no sanding and polishing is required. Decals, Photoetch, Instructions Decals and PE parts – they will definitely turn this AMK kit into a wonderful L-29 Delfin. The decals permit 7 different airframes out of this scale model kit alone! The rest of the instruction is very clear to understand and orientate, while the easy build of this L-29 starts from the cockpit and the fuselage, continues with the wings, the landing wheels and the undercarriage, and ends with the canopy. Of course, it has to be painted after that, and thankfully, the recommended color themes are depicted along with the marking options, as well as are mentioned in the very first page of the instruction manual. The photo etched parts for this AMK L-29 in 1/48th scale are not so many, but they are very essential to enhance the overlook of the model. There are just about 3 big PE parts for the underbelly of the fuselage, imitating different raised access panels and doors. The rest of the tiny PE parts is dedicated for between the wings and the flaps to improve that area if you choose to display the model with the flaps down. Which are the greatest advantages of this AMK 1/48 L-29 kit:
  • The privilege of building such a good quality kit is always a great advantage, especially when it can be assembled quickly and easily with less than a hundred parts;
  • Very well detailed nose section with cables to which are attached bottles and other details, as well as options to display the door open and expose this detailed area;
  • A vast array of airframe options provided in the kit. A lot of decals;
  • Very well represented airbrakes – with holes, frames and photo etch pieces for the hinges, which will make the airbrakes very beautiful if displayed open;
  • Decals for the main instrument panels with very crisp detailing.
Which are the disadvantages of this L-29 kit from AMK:
  • Not quite thick, but still thick trailing edges of all control surfaces, which need some thinning in order to put the model closer to the realm;
  • Absolute lack of rivets, while the only few rivet lines onto the wing surfaces look a little bit on the thicker side, just like the panel lines;
  Overall, this 1/48 scale Aero L-29 Delfin from AMK is a very good representation of the real plane. The real plane has nothing fancy – it is made rigid and strong, to sustain the basic training needs during the Cold War era, which indeed was the dawn of the fast jet-engine planes. Although two-seater, the L-29 is a quite small plane and its simplicity is very nicely mirrored in this 1/48th scale model from AMK. Add the attractive marking options, which are numerous, add the easiness of the build due to the small amount of parts, add the pleasure from working with photo etch parts, and you will get a picture perfect reason why to add this model to your showcase. You can get this kit here: AMK L-29 1/48 You can get DN Models mask set here: L-29 Canopy and Wheel mask set for AMK 1/48 Aero L-29 Delfin  

Tristar’s Brummbar – From HobbyBoss this time.

Tristar's kits are no longer out on the market. Although wonderful kits, some of them featuring interior, Tristar's vehicles didn't survive the harsh market environment. Nothing to wonder, having in mind that better and better kits are released every week from all the newcomers like Takom, Meng Model, Amusing Hobby and so on. However, HobbyBoss are out there for quite a while, and although not official, we wall assume that they are one with Trumpeter, and they are only second to Tamiya in size. Maybe not for long too. So Hobby Boss came to the rescue, and bought the moldings from Tristar, repacking their kits and releasing them under HB serial numbers, with the same qualities, and almost exact same boxes. For Tristar fans is not all gone! Their kits are famous to be very nice, and when they were active /Tristar I mean/, they were considered as one of the best options. Some of the engineering decisions are not embraced warmly but even fiddly, the vehicles were very attractive once finished. Same goes for every kit of their line, and the Brummbar which are we looking at today is no difference from the rule. What we have on the market as Sd.Kfz.166 are Tamiya's relatively old tooling, Dragon's two toolings /1994 and 2008/ the second one of which is probably the best kit out there and repacks of those /Cyber Hobby, CMK/. Of course Tristar/Hobby Boss too. Being a rather unpopular subject, Sd.Kfz.166 Sturmpanzer /or Stupa as popular among the soldiers/ is also not so much represented in plastic. The late version is almost impossible to be found, with early and mid production vehicles available from the manufacturers mentioned above. Tristar's kit is available in two options - early- and mid- production, with and without interior. Now, repacked by Hobby Boss, the price is in the lower end for 35th scale kit and with the same quality. For the faint hearted, the interior version is not an option. It has many tricky assemblies, which combined with the large PE sheets and the single track lengths will drain your energy. The standard kit /w/out interior/ is acceptable though, even for novice modelers. It is important to say that the alignment of the turret, which is from many parts /not like DML's one piece/ might present you a problem, as well as the tracks. And if with the tracks you can get aftermarket as Friuls or any others, turret is not interchangable. So have that in mind. The kit is molded in yellow plastic, rather stiff and old-school looking. It looks like Academy or some older Hobby Boss kits, rather than new HB or Trumpeter. The photo-etch sheets are the same as with Tristar, so I cannot speculate which company made those, but they are nice for sure. Tracks are from different plastic, dark in color but again - tricky to assemble. They are not that good compared to Magic Tracks but are far better than any vinyl substitute. More than 900 parts in total, around 50 of which are PE, this is a project that requires time. The accuracy of the Tristar Brummbar has been discussed a lot over the last years and in general the opinion is that it is good enough. The price was a major issue back in a day, but not anymore. My personal opinion of the kit is that Hobby boss eventually should've released it in better plastic material, more soft and eventually add a thing or two just so to spice it up a bit. After all, the design is from 2008 and it is guaranteed that the industry has gone a long way since then. The tracks are something that I would eventually change for metal substitute too. Although nice, with all the shurzen on the sides, mounting plastic /eventually un-modified and hard to move/ tracks might be risky, compared to metal parts which are workable and won't give you a lot of trouble. In the end, the time spent to build either one of those will be pretty much the same. Now the million dollar question is: "How this compares to Dragon?". Well, to be frank, if money are no option, I would get DML or both. Dragon kit is a bit more sophisticated in terms of engineering, and even though some of their kits have inaccuracies, the Tristar/Hobby Boss Stupa lacks the finesse of DML. The turret for example, some of the small assemblies - all those things are a bit overdone with Tristar. Brummbar is a rather brick-like looking vehicle, so overcomplicating it won't help per se. Also, the tracks of Tristar are inferior. Here I must add, that Dragon's latest kits as we all know does not include magic tracks, so that beats DML. But if you get an older issue, probably Dragon is the better Brummbar. Hobby Boss Sd.Kfz. 166 is a really good thing though. The price is halfway to Dragon's and for what you get in the box it is a deal! The thing that you will require additionally, if you don't get metal tracks or some other aftermarket stuff like metal gun barrel or anything else, is patience. With enough patience, tracks can be modified to be fully workable, designing them exactly as Friuls. The stiffness of the plastic is not a "real" issue, nor the complication of the assembly. The camouflages are not so many, since the Brummbar was produced in couple of hundred vehicles only, but with disc camo mask sets /check the DN Models Store link above/ and/or properly weathered vehicle, you will squeeze a lot from this kit. It is true, that I mentioned some let downs above, but overall the kit is great. Is not the best, but it is close. And the price get it even closer. So, if you are a fan, go on and hit it. There is a link just below: Tristar / Hobby Boss Brummbar Sd.Kfz. 166

Limited Edition Harrier GR.7/GR.9 from Eduard

Unboxing the Harrier The Eduard kit of the Harrier in 1/48 scale is packed in a very small box. Indeed, this was the smallest box of a Eduard 1/48 scale kit that I know, but maybe I`m not aware of something similar. However, when you open the box, it turns out that this Eduard 1/48 Harrier is nothing less than the giant, iconic, the one and only, world`s first VTOL plane, as expected. It features the latest versions of the Harrier – GR7 and GR9. The obviously small box is filled with plastic in such a way that it is one of the major cons of this kit. Check out the further info about it in this unboxing review. The plastic sprues themselves are basically the typical Hasegawa ones, which date back to the beginning of the century. Happily, nowadays Eduard repacked the old sprues to propose a spectacular new miniature of this iconic Harrier, by adding unsurpassed advantages and privileges for the modeler`s ego. This kit is the newest Harrier in 1/48 scale and promises to stay on top of the list with the high quality Harrier kits for quite some time. The new resin and PE upgrades help achieve that, but let`s begin with some vistas inside the box.   In-box review of the plastic materials There are literally more than a dozen different plastic sprues and they are numbered very good with most of the letters from A to Z. The organization of the details is good, but they are not well protected, which causes a potential danger of scratches, friction indentations or even broken parts. There is one sprue only with tiny little details, which are extremely vulnerable. Unexpectedly, some of the biggest parts of the fuselage are also scratched and there is further info about it in the cons section of this unboxing review. The plastic itself is a light grey plastic and is relatively soft, which personally to me is something that I like, because it can be easily carved and manipulated. The texture of the plastic parts is basically missing, because most of the parts are big, glossy, shiny and the lack of rivets and panel lines can be noticed at first glance. Yet there are few exceptions such as the airbrakes, which are beautifully riveted, and a few others. The Harrier may not have too many visible rivets and panel lines, but they are there. The good thing is that the plastic is soft and easy for… Yeah, this model desperately needs rescribing and riveting improvements. I will add some texturising as well, which is something like my favorite technique for weathering before assembling the model. Check out the DN Models blog for the complete“Assembling the Harrier” article, for more insight into my endeavors to optimize the texture of this 1/48 scale Harrier. The plastic materials grab the attention with basically nothing, but that`s only at first glance. An in-depth stroll through the plastic sprues shows some really nice and beautiful hints that Eduard or Hasegawa (I don`t know) bring to us. I call them “special parts or special areas” and are something like optional parts, very detailed parts, details with irregular shapes, strange-looking details…  The small vertical stabilizer was one of these parts. The sprue with the intake parts too, because the compressor`s first stage is actually part of the intake. The sprue with the ordnance and the weapon pylons are also remarkable, because this Harrier can be made with all the pylons, which are not a few. Then, the sprue with the clear parts – except for the canopy, there is a myriad of tiny little transparent gizmos and gadgets, which I don`t exactly know where to mount. Of course – a small bag with 4 black rings, which are rubberlike parts dedicated to the ends of the two links inside the fuselage in order to make the four nozzles to rotate snugly. In brief, the plastic is good from a historical point of view, but it`s not bad also. Needs a lot of improvements, but the greatest of them are provided by Eduard. Unboxing of the Eduard surprises
  • The photo etched parts are spread over two medium-sized sheets, featuring parts for both the interior and exterior of the Harrier. Just beautiful. The seat will be decorated with seatbelts and even with cable imitations out of photo etch. Perfect. The instrument panel and the side consoles are blessed with dozens of small photo etch upgrades, and some of them are very interesting to make by stacking two PE pieces on top of each other. The screens have three layers for an even more immersive effect. The Harrier will become a real masterpiece with so many sharp and pre-colored details, especially if you choose to display the canopy open. I think about making it movable. Will see. The exterior PE parts provide a lot of improvements too, ranging from the stabilators` plates, to tiny hooks, antennas, pods and other small things.
  • Resin. The Eduard`s “Brassin” resin upgrades are the second indispensable advantage of this 1/48 scale Harrier kit. There are resin parts only for the seat and for the wheels, but that`s enough if you plan to display the Harrier with the landing gears down, because they are quite visible. The Harrier is famous for its large, spacious and light cockpit, and if you leave the canopy open – the resin seat will become a spectacular sight to witness, along with the…
  • Masks. Eduard also reduces the time for assembling this kit by providing some pre-cut masks. They are very handy and useful, and guarantee long straight shapes of the canopy frame, as well as sharp circular shapes with the exact size of the peripheries of the wheels/the tires. If the masks are carefully applied and detached, they can easily be stored and reused for further Harrier projects without pre-cut masks.
Into the decals The high quality of the Cartograf decals is another major highlight in this 1/48 scale Harrier. Then, you may notice that most of the instrument panels and the screens in the cockpit have PE upgrades, as well as optional decal upgrades. Or else, you could apply PE parts on top of decals… who knows. These decals provide that freedom of choices, which are unsurpassed if you want to put lights in your 1/48 scale Harrier model and the light should penetrate through all the knobs, buttons, screens, etc. The big decals are bright and colorful, the small decals are almost invisible. There is only one sheet of decals, which looks not so huge, but the decals should be sufficient for the Harrier. The only better thing than high quality decals, are decals for 6 different Harrier airframes:
  • Harrier GR.9, ZD406
  • Harrier GR.7, ZG479/69A
  • Harrier GR.7, ZD464/54
  • Harrier GR.7, ZD379/27
  • Harrier GR.7, ZG501
  • Harrier GR.9A, ZG478/68
  Pros and cons of this Eduard Harrier in 1/48 The imperfections are a lot, but let`s face it – the numerous great advantages are not an exception too! Let`s start with the CONS however:
  • Rough ailerons and flaps. Nothing short of imperfections. That doesn`t even covers it. The real plane has “coverings” on top of the control surfaces that provide a smooth transition to the wings, while in the model – there are gaps or huge seamlines, which will stay that way after the weathering. These control surfaces are also molded together with the wings, so if you want to display the Harrier in a VTOL mode – it`s recommended to cut the flaps and glue them in a lowered configuration. It`s easily doable, thanks to the thin almost transparent seamlines, but some concealing challenges of the joints will be required. Also, when lowered, the flaps are extended quite significantly, so you will have to add a good amount of surface to the flaps.
  • Lack of rivets and panel lines. If you think that the GR.7 and the GR.9 Harriers are new planes and so they should be smooth and clean, without visible rivets – hmm? I doubt about it. Of course it is a matter of personal taste and preferences, but every plane has rivets and panels. Perhaps the long legacy of this kit is the reason for the simplicity of the plastic surfaces, but some major riveting/rescribing is highly recommended.
  • The main wheel bay doors are closed. They are molded together with the fuselage, which is good if you make a flying Harrier with the landing gears inside. However, the Harriers on the ground or in a VTOL mode are with lowered gears. The interesting thing is that I came across photos where the bay doors are closed, as well as photos where the doors are open, both in a situation with lowered landing gears. In all cases, the beautiful wheel bays of the Harrier with their labyrinths of cables and tubes are not presented in this kit.
  • Not the perfect packing. It is understandable for a kit in the lower price class, but the packing looks kinda neglected, maybe because of the enormous amount of plastic stuffed in such a smaller box. There is no individual plastic wrapping for the sprues, which caused some scratches and friction indentations onto the surface of some details. It`s nothing major and it even looks like texturizing or some kind of weathering, but this is a matter of luck. There is a great chance that some parts can easily be bent, broken or detached from the sprue gates. The tight packing doesn`t deny the free movement of the parts. And there are clear parts along with delicate photo etch sheets in this overfilled box. The boxart is very simple, but it`s beautiful.
  • Lack of pilot. The Harrier in a VTOL or flying mode with a ghost pilot? Luckily, I have an extra pilot from my Eduard`s 1/48 F-15C model, which is suitable for the Harrier seat. But an aftermarket pilot figure is required if you really want to display the Harrier in the air.
  • Thick trailing edges of all control surfaces. They are just too thick, while they have to be almost sharp as a knife when reduced to 1/48 scale. So, a lot of scratching and sanding are required if you are a perfectionist.
  • Bad fit between the nose and the air intake. After a few dozens of test fits, you will notice that the shaft that goes through the intake fan and passes through the bulky part of the cockpit, fits not perfectly with the center of the fan. It is slightly offset, which causes the entire nose of the plane to pitch up, which slightly rises the nose gear according to the rear gear and thus changes the way the Harrier sits on the ground. Not to mention that it compromises the true silhouette of the Harrier. So, a little modifications between the nose section and the air intake are required.
  The PROS of this kit are mostly in the PE/Resin surprises from Eduard, which replace a good amount of the plastic details – something that this kit desperately needs. It`s not quite a big amount of PE and Resin parts, but they are from Eduard and are the best, and include parts from the interior and from the exterior of the Harrier, which are essential for its overall final look. The other Pros of this Eduard 1/48 Harrier kit are:
  • The flaps and the ailerons can easily be lowered/moved. They are one with the two halves of the wings, but the joints between the flaps/ailerons and the wings are so thin that they look transparent. Note that the joints are not small – they are quite big gaps, which is far away from the reality, however – they are quite thinner than the surrounding thickness of the plastic. This means easier cutting, sanding, reshaping, adjustments and other improvements in order to lower them.
  • The white coil on top of the canopy is a decal. It is just one small decal that beautifully imitates the cord on top of the canopy. Ideally, just water is required to apply it for avoiding plausible discoloration due to the chemicals in the decal set solutions.
  • 100% LERX and 65% LERX provided in this 1/48 scale Harrier kit. There are airframes in the kit that are fitted with the bigger part, as well as Harriers that have the smaller LERX. Honestly, if you are not familiar with the Harrier – it would be impossible to notice the difference, but if you know what we talk about when we talk about Harriers – then the big LERX is quite a big difference.
  • 4 individually moveable nozzles. This is another great point that brings this Harrier kit closer to the realm. Each nozzle is fitted in a small rubber-like ring, which allows smooth rotation inside the nozzle nacelles. A little bit of “interior” modifications and you can make the nozzles to rotate 2 by 2, or to synchronize them to rotate all together.
  • Slightly offset vortex generators. These are the numerous little pieces near the top of the leading edges of the wings and are slightly angled– just as they should be. The difference can barely be seen in the bare plastic, but after painting and weathering – these vortex generators will become “one” of the most visible parts of the wings.
  • Acetate films for behind the screens of the instrument panels. The cockpit of this Eduard 1/48 Harrier is spectacular with all the PE and Resin upgrades, but this little acetate films are just another awesome hint in the overall cockpit enhancement. The screens will acquire a much more realistic shine after sandwiching the acetate films in two PE pieces.
How I envision that this Harrier will look like The airframe will probably be ZG478/68, so – a GR.9A Harrier. The double-cross of Lorraine first looked to me quite religious and not appealing for a plane, but after examining it in Wikipedia, I found out that it symbolizes liberty and victory. Add the amazing red contrast on a white tail, and you will get a picture perfect appearance for a scale model. Mitko also suggested me a few striking reference photos of this exact plane, so at this moment – there is no doubt, the airframe will be the F option: Harrier GR.9A, ZG 478/68. My vision for the final display of the model is again for 2 models in 1, like my KittyHawk 1/48 F-35B model. I will make the landing gears to move up and down, the canopy will slide back and forth too. There will be a pilot inside the cockpit, so the imaginary display of the model will be as a plane in VTOL mode with lowered nozzles, flaps and landing gears. The plane will be displayed on a stand and on top of a long pylon, so when everything is retracted – it will look like a flying Harrier. Perhaps with the ailerons slightly in opposite directions and… I don`t know yet. The nozzles will be moving too and I plan to make a special reduction gear mechanism with a flywheel, which will be connected to the first couple of stages of the compressor rotor. A hidden cord inside the airbrake bay will spin the flywheel and respectively the visible part of the compressor will rotate, but I`m still not sure if it will work. Because the engine of this exact plane is basically in the middle of the airframe and maybe the Harrier is the plane with the clearest visible compressor, and thus it should look gorgeous on a macro photo when one can see deep into the compressor, instead only the first compressor stage. Just a tip – follow the DN-Model`s Blog! We discussed with Mitko that I should separate the Assembly Article in several parts, but I don`t know if he will publish it partially or at once. Maybe the first update will come soon… and maybe the rotating compressor “thing” will be one of the first things to make. Another highlight that I plan to do is to make the Harrier with attachable-detachable loadouts. It has so many pylons and they are great for variations. Implementing magnets and a lot of scratchbuilt hinges and other mechanisms for the moving parts will be required. Beside from sticking to the instructions, I will texturise the entire plane, will add a lot of wiring, tubing, extra detailing, and will apply my favorite pre-metalizing method during the painting. Stay tuned to the DN-Models blog to follow the latest updates about this Harrier, and happy modelling! You can get this amazing kit here: Limited Edition Eduard Gr.7/Gr.9 And DN Models mask sets for it here: Arctic Camo + Canopy and Wheels Canopy and Wheels Only  

SPG 155mm M40 from Tamiya

Tamiya is pushing itself back to the market, slowly but steadily. After their wonderful line of 32nd scale aircraft, 48th scale new tooling Tomcat and new tooling Sherman Easy Eight, they did a slight turn and made an M40 howitzer. It is 155mm howitzer, based on the Sherman tank, and the tooling is new, based on their Easy 8 new tooling from 2016. The E8 kit is superb with the only let down of tracks being vinyl. Tamiya released a vehicle based on the same chassis, using their already wonderful base, to provide with another kit, used mainly in different era - Korean War. Being experienced in building their Shermans, from M51 to Easy Eight, I must say that there is no flaws with those kits. So, there is nothing to wonder, when people are expecting the M40 to be flawless as well. As mentioned above, the vinyl tracks might be a problem for some, but the quality of Tamiya's kit proven, that there are no big issues with those. The great news here are that Tamiya is already releasing an upgrade set. The basic kit - #35351 - features photo-etch set. Although small, Tamiya M40 is in the high-end line already. In order to elevate it even more, Tamiya went further, giving us a Gun barrel set.
Tamiya M40 35351 new tool SPG US dn models gun barrel setpicture is taken from Scalemates.com
The gun barrel set features a wonderful gun barrel and shells. The barrel looks heavy, and it will be eventually tricky to install it and keep the balance of the kit itself. However, Tamiya are made in Japan and I doubt that the Japanese haven't think of a solution to that. Actually, they promised two different set - 12671 and 12671. I cannot tell what is the difference yet, but probably one will be more completed than the other or there will be oriented towards the Japanese and the International markets. The decals that Tamiya uses are kinda thick and we are all aware of it. So DN Models comes to the rescue here. In the shop - www.dnmodels.com - you can find allied stencils, which are pretty much the same as the markings used in Korea. You will find those usefull when it comes down to painting and weathering the vehicle. After all, it is a single-tone camouflage, and there are many tips and tricks to be used to make it shine, none of which are comparable with applying decals over it. All in all - Tamiya suprises again! A straight out of the well-known-path vehicle, just like their Su-76M released this year. This Tamiya M40 a nice add-on to any collection. Especially for howitzer fans like myself, the SPG is great news! Let's see what the aftermarket manufacturers are about to offer us! It is only a matter of time. Few months probably!

Rheintochter from Bronco

More good news from Bronco this September: Rheintochter missile and missile launcher set is about to be released on the market very soon. The kit will be numbered 35050, and it will feature Photo-etch parts as well as many small details for that interesting missile. Rheintochter is a German surface-to-air missile from the Second World War. The name comes from Wagner's opera series Der Ring des Nibelungen and resembles the aggression in all its detail. It looks scary and very ahead of its time. The rocket was more than 6m long and for its time was a huge achievement in aerodynamics and rocket science. The project started in late 1942 and continued throughout the war, with more than 80 launches made from test sites. That include several variations of the weapon. None of them made it to the front, but it showed the potential of such weapons. Bronco made a promising announcement with this kit. Not only because this is a new molding but because it is a different set compared to the unstopping flow of tanks and airplanes that all the scale model manufacturers supply us with. I personally know quite a few rocket enthusiasts who begged for V-1 and V-2 models, so you can imagine how much joy that new Rheintochter will bring into their lives and collections. The kit will be of decent size, and can be made in several variations as seen on the Bronco's box. The final boxart is not yet announced, but there will be no let downs there. The only thing that I am a bit afraid of, is the fact that Bronco's plastic is a bit soft-ish and their kits are little over-engineered. The geometry of a rocket by itself is not a complex one, but Rheintochter has small wings/stabilizers in two stages which requires nice, Tamiya-like engineering so to achieve the perfect geometry of the model. This is my concern so far regarding this kit, but it might be only because I tend not to be over-excited when a new kit comes around. I truly hope, that Bronco /and hopefully other manufacturers/ will release similar models like the Rheintochter. There are many weird looking rockets from the Soviet era as well, so this side of the modeling is not to be forgotten or put aside. Job well done Bronco!