MiniArt’s Su-85 Mid Production with Interior

MiniArt's Interior kits seems like the new hit on the market. They did the Su-122 and the T-44 and promised new line of T-54s. But what we are going to look at today is not a tank, but another self-propelled howitzer: Su-85. Again, Ukrainian company did their "Interior KIT" line here. That features a full interior, but not only that - it represents a completely different approach to the interior as it is. Other companies /mainly aftermarket/ did offer interior sets for different vehicles from time to time. Those are engines, gunner's compartments, ammo racks and ammo sets and so on. Sometimes they are made from plastic, but more often - from resin. Meng Model made a hit on the market with their Bradely Fighting Vehicle, and even though it seemed a bit overdone /or overcrowded/, people liked it and some very nice works emerged from that kit. Not many other companies tried it, however, interior is something nice and presents you with a fair challenge, especially when it comes down to AFV. But back to MiniArt and their Su-85: Su-85 is self-propelled vehicle, based on the chassis of the famous T-34 tank. It is a rather gun destroyer instead of a self-propelled gun actually. It is a development of SU-122, but equipped with D-5T 85mm gun, which made it more powerful unit, with capabilities to destroy Tiger I tank from around 1000m. Su-85 entered service in 1943 and saw some battles  throughout the war, proving the concept but also proving to be slightly under-armed. That led to Su-100, but that's another story. Su-85 went on with service history within Soviet Union /until 50s/ and it's allies, which used it for many years after the end of WWII. It saw other battlefields as well, and it gained a fair amount of respect. In total, around 2000 were built. All in all - SU-85 is a subject worth modeling! So, what MiniArt did is: The kit is in a crowded box. And I mean - crowded! Once you break the plastic bags and the order that's inside of them, it is very hard to put everything back and close the box. That was very typical for Dragon kits, but now you can see it all over the place. Sometimes caused by poor judgement of the box size, sometimes - as in Su-85 case - from the large number of sprues. MiniArt did a great effort separating all the details onto different sprues and even though this is a waste of plastic of some sort, creates an useful way for the modeler to arrange the whole build. The instructions are very clear, organized well and put in a nice and luxurious leaflet. The leaflet itself is very nice, better than Tamiya, comparable with Meng and ages ahead compared to Kinetic or Academy. MiniArt do improve a lot small things with their releases and slowly but steadily crawl to the head places in the industry. The camo schemes are not many, but I must add, that there are two factors that eventually led to that decision. First is the lack of picture material about this particular vehicle. It wasn't the star that T-34 was, so Soviets didn't payed much attention in creating a decent archive about it. Second one is the fact, that most of the vehicles differ solely by the numbering. Rest is up to the modeler. Hence, the decals feature all of the numbers so to create whatever number combo you'd might think of. Of course, DN Masking set for Soviet vehicles might come handy in this case, but also painted by hand letters and numbers would do. The plastic is flexible, there is enough detail /maybe even too much for my taste!/ and many many small sub-assemblies. The casings of the suspension are there, just like in their Su-122, the engine and the driver's compartment, as well as the extremely abundant ammo set placed on many racks inside of the vehicle. The engineering of the assembly is done in such a way that there is a chance for you to leave a side or two open, so to show off with what you've managed to enclose in that small space inside. Tracks are very interesting, because they are separate links, placed on two types of sprues. The detail is so fine, that even the moulding markings of the real thing are represented in scale. Not only that, but they are clear enough and it is a pleasure to watch them up close. All the bottom parts - tracks, wheels, active suspension and so on, is very detailed and it is a state-of-the-art thing. Engine is pretty much the same. MiniArt sell kits only with engines, so you might imagine how many small parts and goodies have we got here in the Su-85 kit. Of course, many of these can be left aside and the vehicle will look perfectly balanced and attractive with only the exterior built. But it is the nicest thing to have more and more options, especially enclosed in one box or as it is popular to say - super kit OOTB. This is definitely one! MiniArt did kept their price low and simultaneously provided perfect tracks, engine, ammo set /a huge one/ and all the rest of the interior. Many other companies tried and failed. Even Tamiya, who kept their prices low, started selling improved tracks or gun barrels as separate kits which led to the huge increase in the price. I find that MiniArts ratio for details-per-dollar is probably the best on the market. Hand to hand to that goes the fact, that their kits are not for newbies, but they can be modified to be - leaving the interior aside. But hey, this isn't only cost effective. There are no let-downs with this kit, except for the complexity which is a bit high. But this isn't a let down per se. So I can only say that this kit is one of the best on the market, although challenging. Highly recommended as all of the Interior Kit series from MiniArt! You can get this kit here: MiniArt 35187 Su-85 Soviet SPG with Interior  

Tamiya’s F-14A 1/48. The Giant Woke up.

After years of waiting for a new an improved Tomcat, we now are expecting two simultaneously. Tamiya and AMK are releasing two different options of F-14, A and D respectively. They are both about to be released on the market this fall, and they will be both very interesting. AMK is a company made from modelers for modelers, and their approach is what they do believe is best when comes down to assembly engineering and combo /as a kit itself/. Tamiya on the other hand are the biggest and probably the best of all the plastic modeling companies in the World as we know it today. They offer simple and clever solutions, but more importantly - they never showed up with a troubling or wrong /in terms of accuracy/ kit. So we will have some sort of a David versus Goliath kinda thing here, however I think that they will both be great scores. My personal preference goes to Tamiya, because I adore their kits, I have extremely pleasant experience building Tamiya and their last jet in 48th scale I built /Aggressor F-16/ was amazing. As for these preferences I have, I must add that I prefer 32nd scale aircraft, and F-14 Tomcat in that scale would be "The Best Kit Ever" for me. That's not the case here, but only because the smaller scale this time. Not that I am not hoping... Anyway, Tamiya announced their Boxart which can be seen on the head of this article, and I believe that it will be soon made available for reviews among the best reviewers in the modeling business. You probably noticed, that some pieces of that Tomcat made it to the public, but to be frank I prefer more reviews so to be sure that there will be an objective opinion about that kit. I have no doubts on the other hand that it will be great plastic piece of art, but still, I would like to hear people talk before the official release. Now, with the boxart out, I must say that AMK are in a bit of trouble, but just a bit. Tamiya will gain speed as fast as Tomcat taking of from a carrier ship with this release, and even though AMK version is different, it must be noted, that Tamiya with their reputation will sale more from theirs. Anyhow, even before deep research, I must assure you all, that if you are a NAVY plane fan like myself, there is absolutely no doubt that you should get both of those kits. Even with a slight chance of difference in the final appearance it is guaranteed that both of those will be high-quality pieces and they will worth buying. On the other hand, knowing the decals that Tamiya usually provides, I can assure you that DN Models will do everything possible to supply with thorough mask set options for those two birds. Stay tuned for a more detailed review of both kits in the near months!

When looking for Tamiya F-15 upgrades – look for GT Resin

Among the extensive product list of GT Resin upgrades, there is always something interesting to come across. In this case, these are the “Misc upgrades” and the “Missile rails upgrades” that were provided by GT Resin to improve the already amazing F-15 Strike Eagle. Take a look: What`s unique?
  • The Misc Upgrades are for all of the Tamiya Eagle kits in 1/32nd scale and they are flawless. They include: replacement vents for the variable intake ramps, replacement vents for the upper and lower main fuselage, replacement antennas for maybe all the possible F-15 configurations, and many other small or big upgraded parts that complement the set. The unique advantages of the vents is in the thickness of the grits. They are so thin and yet so strong that can easily be sharpen, and still keep a great structural stability. They look like photo etch parts. Each vent has a very thin almost transparent lower covering, which is part of the vent itself, and is way easier for sanding. By doing so, you transform the already good looking vents into true masterpieces that become literally transparent and even more similar to the vents in the real plane, because you can see the interior components of the plane through the grits of the vents. While for the antennas – they are not that much better than the antennas in the Tamiya kit, but they are just a little bit more precise and true. And they are a lot – something that you cannot find in the kit!
  • The LAU-128/552 Missile Rails w/adaptors really help turn your Strike Eagle into a gorgeous Bunker Buster! The adaptors are way different than the adaptors from the Tamiya kit, because they are probably from a different type. The LAUncher rails are what really turns your attention from the smaller and yet beautiful adapters. The rails are miniatures of the real missile launchers of F-15E Strike Eagle. At first glance, they look just slightly more detailed than the rail launchers in the Tamiya kit, but after a close side-by-side comparison, you can notice that they are slightly bigger as well. In other words – these replacement parts are with corrected dimensions and abound in details.
What`s fundamental? All of the provided resin upgrades are from hi-quality resin that is not too hard, nor too brittle. It is easy to cut with a standard modeler`s knife and the sanding is easy too. This is due to long narrow and almost invisible stripes from 3D printing, which allow you to cut easily alongside the stripes. Just a gentle scratching with something sharp is enough to get the same result as with dozens of minutes of sanding with sandpapers from different grits. Another great advantage of provided resin sets from GT Resin is the color of the resin itself. According to most of the photographic materials in the GT Resin page in LSP – the resin parts are white or light grey. Surprisingly, these sets with upgraded resin parts are made out of flat black resin. In both cases – the “black or white” color gives you the advantage to orientate easily where are the edges of the contours of the details, where are the tiny little rivets and knobs, and the panel lines are easily distinguishable, the thickness of the antennas is easily noticeable… Overall, the contrasting color of the parts is always a benefit and there is nothing better than black or white resin parts. Get more insight into the features of these resin parts in a Video Review! The packaging is another great hint for all of the provided sets. All the parts from one set are packed in their own plastic bag. There is no way to keep starring at the details and wonder what is what if you look at it for the first time. Not to mention the protection advantages of the plastic bags, which prevent the delicate resin details only from scratches, but that`s enough as for the basic packaging. And of course – the indispensable support and guidelines from GT Resin are awesome. There is plenty of info and extensive description for all of the resin products of GT Resin Products. And they offer replacement resin parts for a myriad of other 1/32 plane models. So, you should already know what to look for when looking to upgrade your Tamiya F-15. Author: Milan Mitev

Tiger Model gaining speed

Tiger Model is relatively new and unknown company, which gained popularity mostly with their AMX-30B2 Brennus release. Meng missed that opportunity and Tiger Model quickly took that chair. After a while, they announced very attractive new coming kits, like their Nagamchon, their Abrams in 72nd scale and their AMX-10RCR. Still, nobody knows where they came from. Some even speculate that Tiger Model is a company which is a derivative of Tamiya, because their approach to engineering the models is very close and the details is almost the same. That isn't confirmed of course, and I doubt that if Tamiya invested into another smaller sub-company, they will announce it out in the open to please the public. Anyhow, Tiger Model is gaining speed quite fast. Having in mind that a kit mold machines usually cost something like 100 000 US dollars, you can imagine what can of an investment we are looking at here. And Tiger Model keeps announcing new kits with new interesting ideas behind them. They just announced their new tool of T-90MS, which Trumpeter are cooking up in the oven. They seem to have better overall quality compared to Trumpeter, but it is not yet certain what will be the final result with the measurements. Anyhow, Tiger model adds some clever things to their models, like the stickers for the sprues, metal gun barrels and colorful window options. That is not that much, but just enough to make your day! The other thing that you can notice when you get any Tiger Model kit is the quality of the box. Nowadays, this is very very important, and they did great job with it. And of course - they are not over-engineered. I am not certain where they got their info about T-90MS, which is brand new /old-ish/ thing, but they are about to hit the market with it, and let's hope it will be as good as their Nagmachon. They got it quite right there, and the other news is that they are releasing Early version of Nagamachon, with open top, without the bar armor and with a very fancy antenna. Still its not clear - as mentioned above - what we will be getting and how high it will be rated, but considering what we have until now, we might expect very nice kits from Tiger Model this summer! They are gaining speed, and adding Russian Modern armor and IDF stuff to their line which is usually a winning strategy!
all pictures are courtesy of Tiger Model

F-15E Tamiya 1/32 Bunker Buster review

by Milan Mitev

The inbox review of one of the largest large scale planes from the 90`s:

F-15E Strike Eagle from Tamiya

This kit is a second edition of the original kit release from `93, which matches the “after” Desert Storm period. There is no doubt that F-15E played a main role for that time and was on top of the list with the best scale model planes. Indeed, I have no impressions for the premier release of the kit in `93, nor for this kit from about a decade later (2004). Until I opened the box just about another decade later – nowadays. It was full of sprues of plastic and weights about a kilogram or so. This is my first experience with such a large scale plane and it really is spectacular. The kit is exclusively provided by Mitko with the fellow mentions that I really need to build this kit. By now (mid-2016) this is just the inbox review of this kit. The box is a stiff cardboard box with a phenomenal box art, depicting F15E with the iconic-themed loadout of the Bunker Buster on a clear blue sky. So let`s take a cup of coffee and let`s get started: Review of this F-15E Tamiya kit One of the main advantages of the “Bunker Buster” is that almost every sprue is separately packed in an individual transparent bag, which ensures a better prevention from scratches, bent or broken parts. The quality of the plastic (apart from the detailing) is very good. The most of the parts are thick, which is I suppose normal for such a large scale plane, but the details are not lacking too. There are absolutely contrasting parts – from large and thick spacious pieces with just a couple of panel lines and rivets, to small delicate parts with so many details that they will make you keep staring at them for minutes. The Tamiya`s plastic quality was recommended by Mitko as a benchmark, and there is no doubt about it. There are plenty of build-in inner struts at the key spots to ensure greater stability and support for such a huge scale model kit. Most of the holes where you screw the screws for better support are flat and not threaded, which means that even the largest parts fit sturdy and solid. The plastic parts have magnificent details, but there are never enough. The good thing is that it is not “quite”, but just soft plastic so you can easily edit the details with rivets, panel lines or other shapes. There are 9 main part trees – some of them are x2 or x3. Some are small and fit vertically in the box, but others cover the full dimensions of the box. There is an additional bag with a special small transparent box for the metal parts (the three landing gears). The organization of the plastic sprues is easy to understand – they are mentioned from A to H with large letters on the labels of each sprue. Another great advantage is that everything matches flawlessly – if you follow the instructions and if you have to find part “F36”, for example – it is on the right sprue tree where it should be. An interesting approach was the packing of the seats - in separate bags and each on its own individual sprue, like they were detached from the main sprue tree. The clear parts are beautiful and numerous as well. The canopy is just a standard transparent canopy as expected, which needs your extra attention as usual. Except that this is my first encounter with such a large scale plane and the canopy looks much bigger, than expected. It has a big seamline in the middle that have to be sanded and polished. The paper parts are quite numerous too – instructions and decal sheets. The instructions look like a magazine with over a dozen pages, a comprehensive explanation of what to do, step-by-step pictures, suggested color schemes, etc. There is another couple of pages of a separate manual, which concerns exclusively the “Bunker Buster” loadout. While for the decal sheets – they are a complete encyclopedia for not one, two, or three, but for whole 7 different airframes. You can really choose what`s your favorite piece of history from Operation “Desert Storm”. The decals are well sandwiched in rice paper for better protection. Indeed, check out the next lines, because the variety of decals is one of the many things that make this kit unique. Miscellaneous/extras (included) in the box that make this kit unique
  • The decals: you can make 7 different planes (airframes) from this Tamiya kit, as follow:
  • 89-0471 is from the “Chiefs” Squadron and it features the huge “SJ” marking on the vertical stabilizers;
  • 88-1698 is from the “Rocketeers” Squadron and also features the same “SJ” marking on the vertical stabilizers;
  • 89-1528 is from the “Eagles” Squadron and also features the same “SJ” marking on the vertical stabilizers;
  • 89-0489 is another airframe from the “Chiefs” Squadron that features the huge “SJ” marking on the vertical stabilizers;
  • 87-0201 is another airframe from the “Rocketeers” Squadron that features the same “SJ” marking on the vertical stabilizers;
  • 87-0170 is an airframe from the “Bold Tigers” Squadron and features the huge “MO” marking on the vertical stabilizers;
  • 91-0308 is an airframe from the “Madhatters” Squadron and features the huge “LN” marking on the vertical stabilizers.
  • The metal parts: although only three for the nose/main landing gears, they are perfectly manufactured - in white metal that is hard enough to support this scale model, as well as soft enough to be easily sanded, polished, engraved, etc.
  • The rubber parts: they are also just three rubber pieces - for the tires. So, they are real rubber tires! They have tiny “flash”-like center indentations that you have to get rid of, but they are soft, very cohesive, labeled, recessed… just perfect. Plus, there is a small cordage (string) that you may wonder what`s that and indeed – it`s not part of the aircraft. It is provided to imitate the real strings of the wheel shocks if you display the Bunker Buster in a diorama.
  • Bombs in the Bunker Buster set: beside from the AIM-120 AMRAAM and the GBU-31 and the massive drop tanks, which are all provided, you also get the real deal – the GBU-28 Bunker Buster, the GBU-15 and the AGM-130 guided bombs.
They are so big that if you put them together on the Strike Eagle it really looks like Bunker Buster.
  • Extensive weaponry set: it features all that is needed for almost all the possible loadouts of F-15E from Operation Desert Storm. That`s what really makes this Tamiya kit a small plastic piece of history in a huge heavy box.
There is just about everything as for the armament – cluster bombs, guided bombs, dumb bombs, air-to-air missiles, and they all are numerous from a type. And of course – the iconic Navigation and Targeting Pods are featured in this kit.
  • A main ladder and a second smaller ladder: they are somewhere within the plastic sprues and provide you with plenty of possibilities to jazz-up your diorama. The figures of the pilots are also advantageous – there are different opts to display the pilot and the officer.
  • The scale in terms of dimensions: this scale model is really huge in 1/32 – it measures some 24 inches x 16 inches and will really become a magnet for attention.
  • The screwdriver and the screws: they are separately packed in a small transparent bag, as well as include 8 different types of screws! Some are tiny and almost invisible, but others are quite big, or at least they look so. In all cases, they ensure a much sturdier assembly of this F15E kit.
  • Built-in small pins for some panels in the form of individual plastic parts: this is a quite surprising benefit, allowing you to make some panels movable just by click-fitting and with some minor adjustments.
For example – there are opts to make the radar dish visible, the canopy can move and the intakes too. This is absolutely stunning and is provided by the Tamiya kit alone.
  • Impeccable fit of the separate panels if chosen to display closed: with a little bit of sanding and smoothing exercises – all the individual panels blend flush and equal with the rest of the fuselage.
Yet a little bit of adjustments/edits might be needed for the most persistent panels.
  • Countless options for scratch-built improvements: F-15E normally is a big plane and respectively there is plenty of free space inside this large scale plane. You can add wiring, plumbing, lights and electronics, sounds, movable parts with RC servos, and more. It`s limited by your imagination.
  • A sheet of decals with plenty of “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT” tags. If you prefer not to use all of them for this scale model, then you will have plenty of spare “RBF” tags for other 1/32 kits.
Advises how to choose which exactly scale model to assemble from the 7 proposed airframes, because they all are magnificent One of the biggest dilemmas when you have to choose from so much similar airframes is “Which one?” and next are a few hints (factors) that helped me in this challenge:
  • I noticed that 2 of the airframes (with the decals on a small separate sheet) are a little bit different from the other 5 airframes. The 5 airframes are F-15E and are all based in Seymour Johnson AFB. One of the two “different” F-15E is based in Idaho, in Mountain Home AFB, while the second “different” F-15E is based really quite away – in Lakenheath RAF, UK. Perhaps this is the reason why these two models have different markings on the tails, while the other five F-15E`s all have the “SJ” marking. I like one of the SJ`s.
  • The time frame that I`ve stuck in from quite some time – the Desert Shield, the Desert Storm and the Gulf War periods. Actually, they encompass a period of just about a year – from 1990 to 1991, when Iraq with its word`s Number 4 army invaded Kuwait. The “Rocketeers” Squadron was with some of the first F-15E Strike Eagle jets to deploy in the region, while F-15E from the “Chiefs” Squadron were the first to seek and destroy SCUD vehicles in western Iraq. So, if you listen to your alter ego and narcissism, you should choose to build an airframe from one of the two squadrons – the “Chiefs” or the “Rocketeers”.
  • Keep in mind that for that time almost all the F15E`s (in the kit) were newly manufactured – in 1987, 1988 and 1989. They were in their full swing, the targeting and the navigation pods were the tools that made the night missions successful, as well as low-terrain monitoring and the precise targeting possible. Nevertheless, there is one imperfection in this Tamiya kit and it is that if you choose to make a Bunker Buster airframe with the AGM 130 and the GBU-15 guided bombs, then you will have to scratch build an entire Data Link Pod if you follow the realm. The Data Link Pod is not provided in the box of the kit, whilst it is needed for these two bombs, because they are basically the same – guided or rocket-guided bombs with TV and/or IR seekers, which require steering data from the Data Link Pod. But this is only if you follow a strict realism or if you don`t want to scratch-build something like a simple cylinder with just two cones on both sides.
  • Of course, your own preferences about the Wing & Squadron insignias. The forms and colors are coalescent and contrasting at once, as well as bright and beautiful. The stylized patches are with clean lines and shapes, and however the “Chiefs” Squadron looks to me a little more majestic.
  • The overall paint scheme of this F-15E Strike Eagle scale model is basically identical with the other F-15E jets – darker greyish, which minimal bluish tones and nuances. This paint scheme was dedicated especially for the night missions that F-15E had to perform during Desert Storm. Only one of the two drop tanks was painted in a lighter greyish scheme for some missions. Another factor is the weathering – the older airframes from `87 -`88 are plausible to wear a bit heavier weathering than the airframes from `89. The airframe from the “Madhatters” Squadron was produced even later. I have already build F-15C and with no heavy weathering, so I plan to make this F-15E different – a little bit more stained and weathered.
The only 2 cons about this kit at first glance  As with everything outstanding come the issues that appear in just a couple of places:
  • The panel lines on the upper main part of the fuselage – they are slightly on the heavier side, i.e. larger and deeper than in the real F-15E.
“Fortunately” – this issue refers only to the top part of the main fuselage and I hope that I will manage to cancel the depth of the panel lines with riveting and heavier weathering.
  • The enormous weight of the kit sprues – it caused some exceptional pressure in the box onto some sprues with rugged parts.
"Fortunately” – it caused minor indentations only onto the tips of the cones of the two round parts with the first stages of the compressors of the jet engines. All other vulnerable parts are well protected with sheets of “sponge” tape. Further hints on how I plan the assembly The preferred airframe that I plan for the assembly is from the “Chiefs” Squadron: 89-0471. It has beautiful insignias, because they are contrasting and unobtrusive, and that`s the plane that I can find more reference photos. All the movable things I will try to make movable/retractable, i.e. the nose cone, the panel near the nose cone, the intakes, the canopy, the landing gears… I envision the plane standing on a tall pylon and on a heavy-duty base to support the enormous weight of this large scale plane. This is for an “in-flight” mode when everything is retracted and closed to reveal the splendid silhouette of F-15E. When everything is opened, the model could be displayed as stand-alone F-15E like for a “landed” mode. I hope that with some extra help and advices from Mitko, yet this will be my first try for 1/32 scale model, the plane will become an even greater masterpiece. Other improvements that I may try are of course – a lot of plumbing and wiring, which for this scale I may try to make more realistic and not just some plumbing and wiring. Perhaps the added scratch build parts will be countless again. There should be added some inner struts and supports. They are enough by the kit itself, but always more is better, because this large scale plane will be handled during the opening and the closing of all these movable doors, gears, hinges. That`s from me for this inbox review. Perhaps I missed something in the review of the kit, but that`s for me that made the greatest first impression. Thanks, stay on orbit for updates, happy modeling, and bye bye.

Airfix Ju-87 B-1 – new tooling Stuka

Airfix recently announced a new tooling of the famous Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber. It is B-1 version and on the render picture it looks stunning. Airfix have recently changed their approach to model kits, and they seem to have started to work with China. All their new tooling resemble newest Chinese kits, plastic too, and it is not a secret that probably that was their only option for survival. Their 1/24 Typhoon was a hit, but many modelers experienced some troubles while building that. However, we can hope that this is not the case with their Ju-87 B-1. On the other hand, this is very tricky subject, because of the many enthusiasts around and the fair amount of available kits which have been already evaluated in every possible way. They were compared with drawings, pictures, one to another and so on, which was with the sole purpose to give us the ultimate kit. This is almost impossible, because it is some sort of an unicorn, but some companies come really close these days. So new tooling Stuka from Airfix is on the way. And the question is not how detailed it is, because it will be good. Not how crisp the parts will be, because this is guaranteed. The question is - how it compares to the Stukas that are already out there. They have been exploited in every possible way showing their highs and downs, and we know what are they correct in, or where they are not satisfactory. So, if Airfix managed to somehow fix their flaws, and keep up with their bright sides...well, then we will have it. We gotta wait and see!

Smaller scales /48 /72 – The Barkas Build kit options Part 5

The article picture is...48th scale StuG III. Can you believe that!?!? Two words - Michael Rinaldi... ...talking about different /smaller/ scales we have few options when it comes down to armor. It was once considered that 1/100 is an option for that, but nowadays no company which consider themselves a serious game player does not make those for armor. So except for 35th which is pretty much the standard, we have two more. 48th and 72nd. Now, as I promised I will mention only kits worth buying and those suitable for The Barkas Build, but I really do hope that these articles will help other modelers /not participating/ as well. So here, again /!!!/ we have two main players. Tamiya and Dragon. But there is one difference. They do not compete because they offer kits in different scales this time. In other words - each of them is king in its class. Let's start with 48th scale following the path down from 35th. 48th scale is very popular in Japan, especially due to the fact that it is well suited for diorama mix in between aircraft and armor vehicles. Tamiya  have small in numbers but with amazing quality series of vehicles in that scale, sometimes even better than the ones in 35th released from other companies. But for The Barkas Build we are talking Panzer III and StuG III in particular so we will focus onto those. And yes, Tamiya have them. And they are extremely nice and worth the money - and by money I mean not much! Japanese manufacturer have two Panzer IIIs - Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf. L - Sd.Kfz. 141/1 #32524 issued in 2006 and Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf. N - Sd.Kfz. 141/2 #32543 released the following year - 2007. Interesting to mention with those two is the die-cast lower part of the superstructure, made for balance and adequate position while resting at the bench. They are light because they are small, in case you wonder why. Both kits represents a bit different vehicle variant, but are based on the same thing Panzer III. Once build they are cute, do not take too much space and they are very accurate and competitive with 35th scale as well. Yes, the details are a bit chunky compared to the larger ones, but this is scale modeling not a engineering contest after all. Both of those kits are very highly recommended. Nothing bad to say about them honestly! After those two, in 48th Tamiya hits hard with their StuGs. This time we have three options. First one is Tamiya 32507 Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. B (Sd.Kfz. 142) released in 2004. This is the best of the StuGs in 48th if you ask me. It has a large decal sheet and all the accurateness of the vehicle possible in that scale. Shake-and-Bake kit, suitable for every modeler, Tamiya does not disappoints with it. Lower part - again die-casted and for the same reasons as the above. Then in 2006, Tamiya released two more, both Ausf.G - and both of them state of the art of scale modeling. The first option is Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G Sd. Kfz. 142/1 #32525 and it is a winter camouflaged option of the famous vehicle. I believe that winter camo is always nice to be applied because of the endless weathering options aftterwards. But it works with all the kits available anyhow, its not only because of the boxart. On the other hand,  if you decide that you want something slightly different /Early version/ you might want to try and go with the other one: Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G #32540 Here it might come down to which one you would like more or even which boxart catches your eye. But whichever you decide to go with, you will be spot on. They does not seem promising when you see the size of the box, but they are, trust me! And since Tamiya pull it off here, I might add - this is it guys, 48th scale is done. If you want 48th scale Panzer III or StuG III for The Barkas Build, this is what you will go for. Period. Now let's shrink things even more. Go to good ol' fashioned 72nd scale. Again, suitable for dioramas, and even crowded ones this time. I never believed that a tank might worth something in that scale, but Dragon proved me wrong with their Armor Pro series. No real competition here, so I will just list the options: Dragon 7385 - Panzer III ausf.L Dragon 7290 - Panzer III Ausf.M w/Wadding Muffler Dragon 7407 - Panzer III Ausf.N with Side Skirts Dragon 7372 - Panzer III Ausf.J Dragon 7323 - Panzer III Ausf.M with Schurzen Same goes for StuGs. Cheap, accurate /according to the scale of course/ with good fit and not a great need of any aftermarket. We have only three options here which is a bit worse compared to the bigger diversity we get with standard Pz.Kpwf.III in 72nd, but I believe they are just enough. Actually the options are two in terms of versions, because Ausf.G appears twice but one of them have schurzen, the other doesn't. And the third of course is StuH. Dragon 7283 - StuG III Ausf.G Early Production Dragon 7284 - 10.5cm Sturmhaubitze Ausf.G Dragon 7354 - Stug III Ausf. G Early w/schurzen Concluding everything, in 48th scale the player is Tamiya, in 72nd is Dragon. And I am mentioning all those because they are all worth it. So in case you are wondering which, go for the boxart or for the type that fit your preferences best. Also, I deliberately missed to mention Revell in 72nd scale, which makes some options. But honestly, I haven't had one before and what I found was somewhat controversial as quality description. So I decided to sick to the well known and most used brands, because for those I can pretty much guarantee that the quality is nice. In other words, if you are entering The Barkas Build with smaller scale vehicle - 48th or 72nd, and you are still wondering what to get, take another look on the written above. They are all there! Proving my words of quality is the art that Michael Rinaldi does in plastic. Check out his 48th and 72nd built kits here:  

Barkas Group Build – for Panzer III lovers

Hamilkar Barkas is one of the first YouTube modelers and currently - one of the biggest and most popular channels for scale models. He caught my attention few years back, when I found a video build of a Stalingrad Station Diorama in few parts. I was pretty 'green' in armor modeling back then, and this video answered a lot of my questions and gave me additional boost of motivation. Apparently, that happened with many out there, through his videos of building various subjects of armor and showing the process in very nice and positive manner. So now, few years later, with our growing and diverse YouTube modeler community, TacticalJackalope /another fellow youtuber/ decided to make a Group Build dedicated to Hamilkar Barkas, called Barkas Group Build, featuring Hamilkar's favorite vehicle - Panzerkampfwagen III. The Barkas Group Build is dedicated to Hamilkar Barkas efforts to promote the hobby, share his experience and the ultimate goal that he achieved doing that - get back many modelers to the hobby and kickstart some others. His inspiration is huge, and I can tell you that from my own personal perspective, being constantly motivated from watching his videos, his techniques and learning from his approach to armor modeling.
Stalingrad Station Diorama by Hamilkar Barkas
Hamilkar was a myth when I fist saw his Stalingrad Station videos, and now, few years later I am proud to call him a friend! He is truly wonderful human being, very knowledgeable, kind, friendly and helpful! I must tell you, his videos were the reason I know him, /and the Sunday Google+ meetings that TacticalJackalope is hosting/ and I understand perfectly the reasons why Barkas Group Build is happening. Hamilkar, maybe unwillingly managed to gather us into a new small/growing/, but friendly and helpful society, called YouTube Modeler's Community. Modelers who share their hobby not through forums, but making more efforts than the rest of the guys and elevating the hobby into another wonderful thing - videomaking. He did inspired a lot and as I've said, that wasn't left unnoticed. We know him as a person, not only a YouTube celebrity, as a friend and as a modeler. From there, the idea obviously emerged, making his favorite tank into one big Barkas Group Build, where all of us participating will be able to show our personal touch of that famous WWII tank. Paying respect to Hamilkar Barkas and his efforts, making his channel even more popular and acknowledging his achievements in turning YouTube into another modeling platform, seems to be behind that Group Build. For me personally, Panzer III is a subject that I long to build, especially since I saw Ausf.N built and winning gold at Scale World Competition in Istanbul, 2015 The Pz.Kpfw.III tank is something that I discussed more than once with Hamilkar Barkas and I will participate in Barkas Group Build, showing my progress in my YouTube channel and sharing my experience with the other guys doing the same. Last year due to other engagements I missed the STUG Life GB held by Adam Mann /if I am not mistaking/, but this time I am in! Barkas Group Build will feature all kinds of Panzer III tanks, in any scale and any variant including STUGs. It will start late April or early May and will continue throughout 2016, up until its end. It will feature only one model per participant, due to the fact that usually many go in, few get through and get out with build kits in those Group Builds. Also, TacticalJackalope mentioned that he might have Hamilkar pick the top three kits built in Barkas Group Build once it end, but this is not yet confirmed.
The Master Modeler and a good friend: Hamilkar Barkas
So, if you have a YouTube channel and want to share your modeling, and you love Panzer IIIs, this is the right time to get on board! I am still wondering in between Tamiya or DML Ausf.N or Dragon Ausf.J in 35th scale. I also considered Tamiya's 1/48th scale Ausf.L, but it will all depend on what time I can set aside for building. My personal preference for the moment /not only for Barkas Group Build/ is Ausf.N with winter tracks, but the final one I will announce in my Barkas Group Build announcement video. We have about one month to go! You can visit our YouTube channels and get into action with us: Hamilkar Barkas Myself - DN Models TacticalJackalope DN Models will make 50% off of Panzer III mask sets for participants in the Barkas Group Build. They are designed to work best with Pz.Kpfw.III from MiniArt but can be used with other Pz.IIIs as well. To get 50% discount, all you have to do is send me a link to your entry video, which have to feature Panzer III vehicle for Barkas GB. Panzer III Ausf.B mask set Panzer III Ausf.C mask set Panzer III Ausf.D mask set

Mask Sets – DN Models : the humble beginnings. Background story of…

This mask company has humble beginnings, dating back in the late 1990s. I thought you might like the story of how the idea came to live, and I will present it to you here. Back in those days, I was building 1/72 aircraft. All kinds of them, all eras. Two main reasons for that. First was, these were the most popular scales in Eastern Europe back then. Second, these were the only one available on the tiny market share that scale modeling had in the 90s. There were mostly Italeri, Revell /late 90s/, Airfix and Heller. Czech companies I won't mention, because their models were awful. Same thing goes for the airbrushes. There were practically two options. First /available throughout the 90s/ was Russian crappy airbrush, which costed 10$ but was working as if it were sold for $2. Second was Revell single-action airbrush, which costed around 18$ back then, and was restricted by the lack of air supply. No compressors out there. None! Just home DIY stuff, made from old refrigerators. Other option - Revell gas cans which were everything but cost-effective. So with all that at hand/which is pretty much jack $hit/ your options were - either become very good no-errors-in-the-process modeler, or be mediocre, paint with brushes and waste the kits /which were limited by all means/. And a problem which is not to be skipped - enamel paints. Only. So except for using masks, leaving fingerprints is the other option. So how do you make a mottling camo? How do you make a desert camo scheme on a Hs-129??? How?! The moment I got the Italeri kit in 72nd scale, I knew I was in trouble. And I like that bird a lot. So what do you do? Well, pretty much: explore, invent, risk it all. Mask it! So I painted it all green, I made small balls of plasto, put it on the green and painted it yellow. And that was it with the desert camo of that 72nd scale nazi plane. But it worked actually. Hiding out with plasto the green spots. Masking them out in a way... Especially according to my humble standards back in a day that was the deal! Masking the canopy wasn't still reached my mind, and I was painting the canopies with brush. Blah! So next, I decided to try out more complex things. Splinter camo schemes on early Messerschmitts, F-16 two-tone gray separation and so on. Then a friend of mine asked me how he can make MiG-21MF 7701 /czech splinter camo/, and he was somehow having the idea that this is impossible to be done. Well, masks! So I masked it for him, and he painted it for less than 48 hours. And that was the way I did my Flanker too /check out previous articles. Flanker 32nd scale./ Meantime Eduard and Montex entered that business. They were having a lot of mask sets, mainly canopy and basic camo-schemes. They did a lot, but with different mediums. For me, Eduard was preferable. And then I got the idea of making specific masks for my own purposes. Special schemes windows and so on. Yep, good idea, but with what material? So another friend of mine, who was in the business with marketing and commercials, told me that there are a lot of masking foil options and I just have to try out few before risk it on a model, and luckily for me, the 4th option was very suitable for masking and not peeling of paint out of the build model. And that was that! DiscTest_027 Withing a matter of months, I did my first mask set, called a "window masking set" /very lame, I know/, which appeared to be very attractive and a lot of modelers wanted to buy it. Then, a friend of mine from US told me - "you should turn that into a business..." And the rest is history. Now DN Models have more than 50 sets of masks, with another 20 in the works just for the first half of 2016. We made some custom sets, as well as "upon request" items, and we still accept such offers. In general, the idea is to help fellow modelers. Nobody wants to build a kit for 5 hours and mask it for 4. Not a soul. But with those products, we try to make our lifes easier. And the biggest appreciation we had was being published and praised by the Maste Modeler Michael Rinaldi, who featured our products in his TankArt 4 book /German Armor/. He used ambush camo mask sets to build his Nashorn and some markings mask sets for some other vehicles. We are very proud about that fact, and very grateful to Mr. Rinaldi for spreading the word about our existence. Not only, but we know that he enjoys working with our products. Which is a great boost for our will to make even more and variable sets of masks for all the fellow modelers out there!

Spitfire – 32nd or 48th?

Sptifire is a whole universe by itself in terms of scale modeling, history and aviation. That is the best airplane that Britain ever created and one of the top fighters of WWII. It is sleek, fast, agile and well armed. It won a lot of air battles and saved many lives. Spitfire built a reputation of a state-of-the-art aerodynamics, innovation and capabilities. And it was produced in numerous versions, featuring very different engineering decisions, and putting them into real action all over the World. Spitfire served from late 30s till the early 60s. For a single engine propeller fighter, and living through the emerging of the jet plane era, this is a unique and respectable fact. Let's talk Spitfire scale models now: Many companies have produced various of different Spitfires during the years, and many of them were great looking plastic kits. However, nothing comes close to the latest editions of Tamiya. The Japanese company did 3 versions of it, all Merlin Powered options, and they did them with insane precision. These are the best airplane kits ever produced, and nothing comes close to them. Except for maybe Eduard. And that's what we should discuss here. Eduard made a new tooling of the Spitfire in 2013, replacing their repack of Airfix, also a great model of its time. With the knowledge that they had repacking it, and the new technologies, they put out a beautiful 48th scale bird, second only to Tamiya's 32nd scale beast. But since 2013, they put out almost twenty /yes, 20!/ options, boxed in a fashionable manner, with various options from nothing, through PE and up to Resin add ons. Something for everybody. So the question for most of us here was, which one to get, if the scale is not the most important factor. Well, the answer is both, because two Spitfires are better than one. Always. But that aside, I want to share my opinion about the kits. Tamiya stands second to none. And that includes Eduard Spit as well. Not only in terms of scale, but quality, accuracy, engineering and even branding. Tamiya is the greatest modeling company ever, and there is no doubt about it. However, Eduard are not that far behind. Which is great! That means that the Czech company is evolving, and getting out there competing with the best. One thing is sure - in 48th scale their Spit is the most beautiful one. And probably with the most options. But not only that. They have delivered a kit from modelers to modelers, allowing us to make whatever possible with that airplane and steal attention even from bigger scaled Spitfires. There are Dual Combo sets, Limited Editions, Weekends, unusual camos and so on. And while Tamiya Spitfire does not have many options from the aftermarket sellers to be elevated /not that it needs to/, the Eduard Spit in that matter is unsurpassed. In terms of price, well, Eduard are not cheap, but are cheaper than Tamiya, giving us pretty much similar satisfaction in the end. And that is because their quality is at a very high level the last years. Also, in terms of options, they offer 3 or 4 times more than the Japanese.  And they alone as a company, offer a great line of add-ons for it. Wheels, cockpits, engines, you name it. So which one is better? Neither. They are kings in their own realms. In terms of comparing them, well, Tamiya have the upper hand, just because they are better in scale, and with amazing quality. Engineering is better, and the kit is suitable for almost any modeler. And while Eduard give us pretty much the same stunning Spitfire once built, the road to that is not for everybody. However, it is mandatory to be said that there are people who are devoted 48th scalers, and that is the Spitfire for them. Honestly, built one next to another, if the pictures does not show them measured, you will hardly tell the difference.  you can hardly tell that this above is 48th scale engine... Masks from DN Models are available for Tamiya 32nd scale birds, but not yet for Eduard's. Honestly, that is one thing Eduard are better than Tamiya - decals. Whatever the case with those is though, on large scale planes it is always wiser to paint the markings instead of using decals. But if you enjoyed the article, and/or DN Models' masks, feel free to contact me in terms of 48th scale Spitfire. A set quickly can come to life! My conclusion: Both. No matter if you are devoted 48th-er or LSP fan, they both worth the money. And the set they will become built together - priceless.... Spits you can get here: Tamiya - Ver.1 , Ver.2 , Ver.3 Eduard - Weekend , Profipack , Royal Class - and many more options. These are just the three main boxings. Masks for 32nd scale Tamiya