The star from “Fury” by Tamiya

After "Fury" movie came out, Sherman fans were over-excited, and not without a reason. Tamiya issued a 2014 version of reboxed Tasca Easy Eight, and also so quickly they started removing it from the shelves, which made the kit very very attractive with prices exceeding 100$ at eBay at some point.  In the same time, Tasca, which were always pricy, were not so available, but still very popular among Sherman experts. In 2015, Asuka Model started issuing reboxed Tascas and they pretty much filled the whole gap from Tasca, providing us with Sherman 13 versions for 2015 alone. Including Easy Eight of course. The "Fury" tank... However, this was "same 'ol" kit, and eventually, Tamiya made very clever choice to take a step aside from the path well known. Well, not so "aside" but slightly modifying their M51, they announced a new tooling of Easy Eight, and in the very first days of 2016, ordered kits started arriving to their new owners. So in other words, late 2015 the tank was available. Among these owners, I found my place too, receiving it in perfect condition, and once opened the box, the only thing I felt was pure pleasure for the eyes.
Upper part of the body. Note the welding marks and texture around the hatches.
So onto the kit: First off, it is Tamiya. That word means simplicty, accuracy, just enough detail, and perfect, flawless fit and assembly. From what you can see on the sprues here, this is 100% the case too. The very first thing that needs to be noted is the texture. Around the hatches, of the turret /even on the bottom part of it, which is not visible/ on the sides. It is awesome! I mean, it is beyond what you can replicate applying Mr.Surfacer or any other method.
Texture here is second to none.
Second thing I noted and made me very nice impression is the gun barrel. It is one piece, slide moulded, and only problem /isn't actually a problem for non-lazy modelers/ is the muzzle break which is in two pieces. Not that metal gun barrel won't spice things a bit, but even without it, the kit has enough to offer.
Wheels, sprockets, suspension parts
The clear parts are quite few, and they are clear, but having in mind that this is Sherman, and overall - a tank, they don't matter that much. The tracks /T-66 type/ are a bit of a let down for most of the modelers, but honestly - they do just fine, and I can confirm it, because I used them on my M51 couple of years ago. They are more flexible compared to other brands like Academy or AFV Club, the sag is somehow realistic and most importantly, if weathered properly - you can use them without a problem. That is because the original tracks of the Shermans looked like they were rubber made anyhow. Maybe because of the odd sag, the odd tension of the idler and sprocket, I don't know. But the conclusion is - the vinyl tracks will do just fine. Tamiya usually make their case with decisions like that - Abrams for example has vinyls but since the sag is not visible, they are perfect for it. Leopard too. In other cases, where options are available - their Panther D for example - Tamiya offer aftermarket link by link tracks. So if they decided that the Sherman can be done OOTB with those tracks, and not provided us with an option, so most likely that will be the case. Sure, Friul have number of options, if you decide to go the Heavy Metal road, but they cost more than the M4 itself. The only question for me stays, is the two types of tracks offered by the Hungarian company will do the job for the sprockets provided.
Those two could've been better.
The wheels, suspension and the sides under the fenders are nicely done, not over-engineered or anything like that. There are some ejector pin marks on the sides, but nothing major, and the wheels seems perfect. The small suspension parts too. Detail is clean, no flash, typical Japanese perfection. Whatever the case is, /back to Fury movie/ if you see the moving tank in the mud, you will note that nothing from the suspension, tracks, wheels, sprockets or sides is visible. All is muddy. And even though the detail is superb /besides the ejection pin marks/ European Theater Sherman should be muddy beyond recognition, so this part is not so important. You can trust me. I lived most of my life in Europe and have been in Germany for many many times. It's no desert on this continent. And Easy Eights were there, hangin' around. Making trouble for the Nazis.
Amazing texture. Superb quality. Tamiya.
The instruction sheets are two in new Tamiya kits: one with building sequence, and one with short history of the tank and some quick reference photos of the real deal. Here, we have no photos though. I assume that because Sherman is a tank pretty well known, there are a lot of those in the museums, tons of walkarounds, pictures and of course - "Fury" like movies. So Tamiya most likely decided that they will cut the costs for adding a luxury sheet of paper with pictures, when you can find some pretty easy. Keeps the model cost low too, so not such a bad decision.
Note the ejector pin marks.
Decal sheet is small and it contains stars. More or less. There are few precisely drawn, white and couple black /or dark gray/ ones, which seems like they were hand painted. Whatever the case with the decals is, I won't use them in my build, because Tamiya are well known to have problematic decals, usually thick and hard to blend with the model. Instead I am gonna use my own stencils - Allied Set- DN Models which are working perfectly for cases like this one. Of course, the vehicle can be done Russian - Lend-lease one, or captured German /which is my favorite subject line/, but if you want to go the righteous way, you will do it with US markings. Summarizing everything - we have a great kit, which will come second to none in terms of quality, with minor issues, /and those are issues just for some/ like tracks from vinyl, some ejector pins and not many parts. On the other hand, this kit is perfect OOTB for new comers to the hobby, as well as for modeling masters which superdetail their tanks every single time. As a platform this is the best Sherman I've seen so far. If you going to try to go the hard way, there are always Friuls, metal gun barrels, ammo sets, stowage sets /even one for Fury from Verlinden!/ and many more.  If you going to go just for fun, or you want the movie hero tank or world of tanks item, straight outof the box this gonna look spot on. So as with every Tamiya model - no short straws to draw here. In my opinion, this is the Easy eight to get. Here's where you can buy this kit: Tamiya Easy 8    

Winter tale – Königstiger 1/35

Winter projects were always very intriguing for me. Their weathering is very differently applied, and they need to be done in two additional stages of painting. At least it's what I do: First paint the standard camouflage, then make shades of the coloring using paler colors to make them look of age. Then, the white paint. Since most of the modelers love painting the most, I did my best to spent as much time as I can airbrushing. In addition to that, I extended the project length, by adding AK-Interactive chipping solution between camo and the white wash, in order to make it more interesting.
The white applied on the Nazi vehicles was kind of a wash. It was applied by hand, and eventually started chipping, and fall off. That was my main objective as I started painting. And chipping solution helped a lot. The tank's final look is visible on the pictures - it is still white, but it's not spotless white, just on the contrary. It is chipped, spotted and worn. Additionally I made some rust coloring here and there, where eventually rust stains would accumulate. This vehicle represents a tank that served somewhere in Hungary in 1945. That means few things, none more important then those: 1. The tank was poorly maintained, since end of the war was already smelled in the air by the Nazis. 2. Winters in those parts of the world starts early, so it should be painted few months before that, and eventually get scratched and rusted. My main idea was to make it more dirty, but when I started to get the almost-final look of the tank I decided to stop. I learned while making models, that it's best to stop just before you think it is enough. Past that point, you can easily overdo a model, which is almost never a good thing. And it is better to still have a room for more touches. As we all know you can always add something. But in terms of weathering - using oils, washes and some other stuff, once applied, you will hardly get rid of it.
The kit has highs and lows, but most importantly, if you are prepared to deal with Dragon's mess of a instruction sheet, you will get the best available King Tiger out there. There are PE parts, Metal Gun Barrel, additional goodies like shovels, jacks, cupola options, stuff like that. The tracks are a hassle, and I would suggest whoever wanna build this kit, to take a shot with Friul tracks. Just a detailed and thorough research is needed before buying. Friul has quite a few options out there, and some features additional sprockets, so again -research before you buy! Zimmerit applied is one of the best features for me, although many modelers tend to criticize it, because they cannot touch it by themselves and has to settle with what DML has presented them. However, this is mostly mumbling. A good and talented modeler will ALWAYS squeeze what is best from a kit, and even with or without zimmerit, this tank /or any model in that matter/ might be done is specific and wonderful piece of art.
I left mine without fenders, since most popular King Tiger video features tanks with exactly that look. The Porsche turret is better looking then the Henschel one shown on that videos, but nevertheless I chose that fender option. I only chose the Porsche because I am a fan of the smooth curves. On a winter tank, you can apply 90% of the tips and tricks that you know about, and still get a fine vehicle. This does not make it the easiest built possible, but the most forgiving. If you are a fan of Wehrmacht tanks ,this is most likely the best choice you can do - either build or buy one completed. It, as a model and design, still looks stunning, even besides the most modern MBTs. I am willing to do a more "warm" model of King Tiger, eventually with Henschel turret and Friuls, since I missed my chance to use some on that one. I will definitely will used Dragon kit again. It worth the hassle. And it is only within the building process. The rest is as with every other model. Brilliantly engineered, this kit should not be my last King Tiger for sure! Thanx for watching!

Tamiya’s Merkava I 1/35

One of my quickest builds ever! I finished this tank in 72 hours, from start to finish. Of course, if it weren't a Tamiya kit, this could've never happen. It is so nice and easy to build, that even the fact that is old and need a lot of aftermarket to represent the Merkava I as it has to look in reality - it's still a gem! The assembly itself took me about 3,5-4 hours. Tracks are vinyl, and even though it is know that this is almost the same kit as Merkava II from Academy, the tracks are different story.
They are very flexible, and in the same time , once on the tank, they stay exactly as they should be. Of course, Friul aftermarket would be even more better choice, but still... Lack of Ball and Chain on the Merkava Mk.I also helped reduce time of the modeling. Anyway, the rest of the build was done so quick due to the fact that I built it during first days of August, when the weather is pretty hot and dry. During winter season, I need to wait 24 hours after a varnish coat to settle and cure, so to apply the decals with Microsol and Microset, and not leave any nasty stains. During August...well, 2-3 hours in a room with open window, or even better - on a current, and you are set!
I decided to over-weather it a bit, because those tanks were the oldest Merkava MBTs and it is logical to be most worn. So oils and washes, again - during August - you need just a couple of hours to settle so to continue onto the next step.
My goal was to divert a bit from the right color: it has to be green. Sinai Gray shades in other words which are difficult to be done properly. But I wanted dusty, worn and tormented look of the tank, so I decided to go with sandy and yellowish colors.
I added scratches and dents here and there, and sponge chipping as well. The mud, unlike other times when using pigments, I decided to switch with something else. Recently I've been to a hiking, and found a very fine /and I mean extremely fine/ dirt, which even in 1/72 it is still usable as a sand. I mixed that with some glue and started "painting". Actually, I didn't expected very nice effect, but it turns out to be good looking and realistic.
Having in mind that the project is quite simple, and very quickly completed, something inside of me told me that I must do something to make it look different. Heavy weathered was good, but it needed something else, so I started wondering around the local shops to see what could grab my attention, and give me an idea or inspiration.
I found a cool material for the antennas which ,as seen from the picture above, were not yet installed. To get my point, check out the other pictures, and if at first that didn't caught your attention, well, now you can see what difference does they make.
I added also part of my weathered aftermarket chain, which after this project I started using on most of my Merkava tanks. It even started to annoy me at some point. But in the end, it looks realistic, and the people that get my models for their collections like it.
So, 72 hours during summertime, appeared to be enough for a decent looking tank. Actually, I've spent five times more, and in the end, I got a result that is far from decent.
Timing is not everything! Contrary to what modelers use as an excuse for not finishing their projects.
In case you wonder, I used Tamiya paints, some oils /for washes, filters and streaks/ and Vallejo varnishes. You don't have to have the whole AK or MIG line to make a model look like this. Maybe Microsol and Microset helped a lot, but it is well known that they worth every penny. I believe that this tank kit is somewhere in France now /excuse me if I am wrong I don't remember where they all go/, in a private collection. As far as I know, the owner is happy with it, and I was too, especially for such a short project. I hoped you enjoyed the article and feel free to write me if you wanna share something or have some questions about it! Enjoy!