27 January 2023

4DModels KrAZ-260B Tractor and MAZ/ChMZAP-5247G semi-trailer Review

 Once again it's been a while.  Preparations for Christmas, visitors and then my wife managing to severely break her ankle just before New Year has meant a pretty busy couple of months for me, and not much time for anything too gamey.

I did have a couple of moments of purchase based stress relief which brings me to today's topic.  For a while now I've wanted to get some kind of Soviet tank transporter/trailer.  I've been looking at the TAKOM offering, which seems quite nice:

and also I say Trumpeter were coming out with this:
which also looked pretty nice.  The thing is, I wanted it for a very specific purpose.  To create this:
I wasn't sure that the S-300 missile tubes would fit on the back of either of the Takom or Trumpeter trailers and I wasn't really willing to pay top dollar for something that may or might not work.

To cut a long story short, one day when randomly having a look around, I stumbled across this kit by 4D Models:
I was a little wary as some of the kits made but this company are basically crap, but when I saw I could get this for less than $22NZD, I thought why not give it a go.  The pics of the completed model looked OK and reviews were generally positive, so I thought the risk of the S-300 tubes not fitting was a risk worth taking.

The box arrived remarkedly quickly from China, a little battered but nothing inside was any worse off.  Here's a look at the back of the box:
Inside were 3 sealed plastic bags of parts and the instructions
Everything was there and nothing was damaged or warped.  In the first bag you got loads of tires.
As you can see they are glossy black with green hubs.  They fit together nicely and are easy to clean up.

The other parts are as below:
Interestingly you can see in the second photo that it comes with a transparent piece for the cab's windows and 7 metal rods for the tires.

The tractor goes together very simply and gives a nice simple wargaming standard model.
I couldn't be bothered painting inside the cab - I was in a bit of a therapeutic rush - so I'll be spraying the whole model, only after removing the wheels.  You can see the holder for the spare wheel on the back of the cab.  You end up with 3 spare wheels I think.  You have to make up 17 in all.

The trailer was actually even easier and together, I think they look pretty damn good.
Now of course I checked to see if the S-300 missiles fit on the trailer as they should - and yes indeed they do!  Just for the hell of it I also took out a T-72 to see how it looked on the trailer.
Sorry about the generally crappy photos!

So review time.  First the positives:
  • Super cheap
  • Ridiculously easy to put together
  • Solid wargamers kit
  • Scales well
  • Basically does what it says on the tin
  • If you were really really lazy you could almost get away with out painting it!  Oh the horror!!
  • It's pretty chunky and there is of course a lack of fine detail, but personally I think the positive of being a solid (rather than fragile) kit outweigh that
  • Sink marks.  There are quite a few sink marks on this kit.  Some I'm happy to ignore, but some are in quite prominent positions.  I guess all up I can live with them and hopefully hide most of them!
  • The metal rods - while perfectly useful and much better than plastic, unless I'm doing it wrong, they are to long for the wheels on the trailer.  A relatively easy fix, but until that is done it makes the trailer look a bit toy like.
So all in all, for what I want it for I am very happy with my purchase.  Really its a bit of unnecessary frippery but I do have a very minor role in a game planned for it and I just think it's cool to have it.  I'm not sure it would have any real use as a tank transporter in a standard wargame - but will be useful scenery if some "behind Soviet lines" type games.

Now I just need to sort out my many painting issues and get on and paint it.

Thanks and belated Happy New Year


17 November 2022

Blue Stuff??

Hi all.  I've not been that well lately, so have not been as active as I would have liked, especially with regard to doing stuff worthy of being posted here.

I have however, recently come across "Blue Stuff".

Now I'm aware that Blue Stuff has been around for a while, and many of you are like "Come on Richard - get with the times!".  I'd never really put 2 and 2 together before regarding it, nor thought of much of a use for it, until I realised I did need it and so I decided to jump in, get a small amount (the 4 pack shown above) and give it a go.

For those of you who have not seen it before, Blue Stuff is a thermo plastic moulding material.  Basically this means that when its heated (by being put into a mug of boiling water) it can be bent and moulded. Primarily the way to do this is by pressing it onto something you want a copy of, leaving it until it has cooled down.  Once cool, it retains the shape of the thing you have pressed it into.  Then you simply peel off the Blue Stuff and you are left with a mould.  Here's some examples I made in my first attempt:

It doesn't look like much, but it can work really, really well.  You then fill the mould with the material you want to create your copy with.  I used Green Stuff, but I'm sure other options are available.  I'm about to start stowing some USMC vehicles and you need loads of back packs etc, to give them the right look.  I've bought quite a lot of this kind of stowage, but it can get very expensive if you want it to look authentic.  I decided this was a better option for my stuff.  Here's some of what I've made with Blue Stuff:

Some of it came out great - like the 5 backpacks in the top row - and some not so great, like the big roll on the bottom far right.  Still it's useable I think.

Another trial was to help create some open hatches on some of my 3D prints.  Here's my Canadian Lynx's and some Dutch M113 C&V recon vehicles.  The drivers hatches on both the command vehicles has been fairly carefully drilled open by me, and then a Blue Stuff moulded hatch has been added.

I've also mounted .30 Cal MMGs to these Lynxes.

The hatches on these M113 C&V's is quite oddly shaped.  I'm really not sure how well it would have looked if I had tried to carve these out of plasticard.  I'm pretty happy with both of those particular vehicles.

I've no pics of this, but a while back I bought a Yak-38 Forger to support my Soviet Naval Infantry.  After having mostly built it I found I was missing a fairly critical bit of the model.  The whole project came to a grinding halt while I was trying to work out how to resolve this.  Just recently I found someone selling the exact same model, quite cheaply as it had no canopy.  I bought the model and have fitted the missing piece to existing kit.  Not before I cast that part in Blue Stuff and made a copy.  I also took my existing canopy a cast a copy of that as well.  Now I can make 2 Forgers!

I hope this shows some of the versatility of Blue Stuff and how you might be able to use it to assist you in your Cold War modelling.



23 October 2022

A couple of things I've been working on...

So things are starting to settle down and weather is slowly warming up.  This has meant I've finally been able to set up my 3D Printer for the first time in almost 2 years.  Turns out the hardest thing was deciding what to make to test out the printer.  I was wondering whether it was still working after all that time, inaction, storage and a sea voyage.  I choose to reprint a couple of Canadian Lynx's, as I need 4 for my new recon project.  Here they are:

Very happy with how these turned out.  I just need to replace the barrel of the .50 Cal to something a little more in scale and they will be ready for stowage.  I might also drill out the rear hatch on the one with the open cupola, so I can show it crewed there as well.  I also have to find some .30 Cals I bought for this purpose ages ago, so they are properly armed.

Next up is this Faller farm/house set I built back in Australia.  I'm pretty sure it has appeared in some of my AARs as well:

I really love this set, but I always felt like it was incomplete.  So I decided to build a walled garden for the back of the house:

It's not painted yet, and I had originally planned on using pantiles to match the walls at the front.  Unfortunately, my Wills pantiles were massive compared to those used in the model, so I decided the farm owners had chosen a cheaper option for the walls at the rear of the house.  Primarily made of foam board, some thin plastic sheeting of bricks, spakfilla and breakfast cereal box cardboard of the tiles on the top of the wall.  Even unpainted, I'm pretty happy with how this has all worked out.

That's it for now


26 September 2022

Armies on Parade

 Sorry it's been a while, but you wouldn't know it - I've actually played a couple of games for the first time in over 2 years!  Both were "introductory" Battlegroup WWII games so I won't be posting up any pics, but it was great to do a bit of painting, put the new table to the test, roll some dice and meet some new guys here in NZ.  New to me that is.

Before the games, and as I was sorting out stuff to put away into the display cabinet a lined up a few things to take some group photos. First up was my Soviets:

Still a few things to do here, and this doesn't include any unmade kits in the "stash".

Next up were the Brits:

Then the Americans:

Getting smaller and smaller.  Lastly the West Germans:

This really didn't seem like much in the West German department and I was scratching my head for a while as I put these in the cabinet - and went searching until I found all the missing vehicles.  No photo of them I'm afraid.

So that's the majority of my larger Cold War armies.  All in 20mm of course.  Still loads of work to do to finish them off.  Any questions, just let me know



04 September 2022

Games Room Update Part 3 & a Step Closer to Ticking Off an Item on My Wargaming Bucket List

 So - lots of good news on the Games Room front.  Firstly, and somewhat most importantly from the whole "Games Room" point-of-view, I now have a 10 ft x 6 ft table top.  Beautifully crafted by my Games Room go-to-guy, Lawrence, it fits perfectly on top of all my smaller storage cupboards.  Here it is in possibly not the greatest angle:

This angle better shows the cupboards underneath the table:

And finally, this shot sort-of shows the batten under the table that allows it to sit solidly on the cupboards:

Unfortunately this exercise proves I am not an engineer...  I drew a picture, with measurements for Lawrence to show him what I wanted, and I showed the battens being 6" from the table edge - allowing me to open the top drawer easily and access it contents.  Of course I failed to take into account the size of the batten, which probably added another 3 or 4 inches.  You can still pull open the drawers - it's just a bugger getting stuff out of them!

The tabletop is not moving an inch as along with the battens, the whole thing weighs a ton!

Anyway - still extremely chuffed with the tabletop.  And of course I had to try it out with the ultimate test, and an item on my wargaming bucket list.  Playing out all four maps from GDW's Third World War series.  I certainly had not planned for this... but it fits on the table top!

With plenty for all the other bits and bobs that are essential for the game.  Super satisfied with that I had to try out the maps from a couple of other recent purchases.

The map for "Red Storm: The Air War over Central Germany, 1987" fits easily.  The next one might be more of a challenge.

Here's all the maps for the latest version of Thin Red Line Games "1985: Deadly Northern Lights".  Its a monster, but fits very nicely on the table.  Again with plenty of room for the heaps of stuff that goes with this game.

One of my plans - not really a bucket list item, but a solid plan nonetheless, is to play Deadly Northern Lights, along with GDW's "Arctic Front" - seen here alone

and Strategy & Tactics Magazine's "Nordkapp"

Now I have the tabletop to do it, I just need an opponent!

Then, with the maps put back into their respective boxes/magazines, I whiled away an hour or two setting up the table for a "proper" wargame - just to see what it looked like:

Finally, the next bit of good news I had, was the arrival of my built to order Glass Display Cabinet.  Again made by Lawrence - it is a wonder to behold (in my eyes).

And did I mention he added LEDs for me!

I'm so in love with this cabinet.  Due to putting our house on the market a few years back, taking it off again, then putting it on again, selling, moving out, moving countries etc, its been about 5 years since I've been able to display my models and figures.

Now I finally have a place to do that - along with the embarrassing incentive of displaying unpainted models, will certainly push my painting along.  

Most of my "hobbytime" has to date been spent trying to put the garage in order.  Now I'm finally getting to the pointy end where all that is behind me and I'll have not excuses to keep putting off actually painting something and hopefully getting in an actual game.



24 August 2022

Luchs & Fuchs WIP

 No - not a rude phrase in German (at least not this time), this is a basic descriptor of how I have been keeping myself busy on some of the colder days we've had recently.  Consigned to one half of the house - the bit with the fire - I decided it was time to start my next project - some more German recon units.

Just as an opener, I've got to say the 1/72 Revell Luchs Spahpanzer 2 is a beauty of a kit.  At the same time, it's pretty easy to do your head in with the whole suspension.  Looky here:

While it was enough to drive me crazy - there is a real beauty to it at the same time.  Admittedly, I did leave a few bits off the suspension - but for me, this is meant to be a wargaming model, not something to make and look pretty on a shelf - so there is a limit.

I decided I needed something to differentiate the 4 different Luchs (I've already completed one years ago).  I designated 1 to be the Platoon Leader, and 1 to be a section leader.  The only negative I have with this model is that there are NO open hatches.  So I had to open a few:

... and add hatches, and some insides for the crew to stand on.  Honestly, I'm more than mildly chuffed with how these turned out.

After building 3 Luchs, I decided to build a 1/72 Revell Tpz Fuchs.  I had two previously built, so thought this would be a doddle.  And it only had 3 sets of wheels instead of four.  What could be easier.

Well, I can only say I must have been more than half out of it when I started the kit, and somehow managed to continue in that vein for the remainder of the build.  For whatever reason I had serious issues building this kit.  I even had to use a wad of green stuff when I realised that parts I had ready to add after the top of the hull had been added to the chassis, actually needed to be added before you had glued the top to the bottom.  Never quite done something that stupid before, but it fit the general theme so there you go.

Again I decided it needed to look different to the other 2 Fuchs I have, so after looking through the Tankograd book, I decided to add a Milan, from a Revell Marder kit.  It appears quite elevated in the pictures so I need to add some plastic tubing, which I jazzed up a little.  Here's how it turned out:

If you look closely you can see the green stuff near the front of the model.  Needless to say most of the front is going to get a cam net thrown over it!  I'm not going to say I'm chuffed with how this one turned out, but hopefully once cammed to within an inch of it's life, and painted, I should look quite good.  I hope.

So that's largely it for my model building.  Now it's starting to warm up a little, I hope to get onto the painting sooner rather than later.

There has also been some progress in the garage/games room.  More on that soon.


30 July 2022

Rapier SAM System

 It's been very cold lately, so any desire to go into my freezing garage and take pics has been easily squashed.  Today wasn't so bad, and I had found all the bits for this little Rapier SAM Troop, so I decided to give it a go.

Here is the Rapier in action:

This is an S&S Models Rapier SAM.  S&S can provide you with an entire troop, emplaced or in the open (like this one), including all the vehicles etc.  Here I have used the launcher (with 4 missiles as per the 1980s) which comes with a small generator and the Blindfire Radar - which also comes with its own generator.  I have both of mine in the deployed position, but you could easily have them made up to look like they are being towed.

Here's a couple of close-ups, along with the vehicle that would have towed them:

The crewed optical tracker and the chaps saying look over there! both come from Armybits and were provided to me, very kindly, by Keith Armstrong, the designer.  I fiddled with them to convert them from 15mm to 20mm, which was a bit of fun.  Here's a couple of close-ups of them:

Finally, I found a Rapier resupply trailer (here) on the Wargaming3D website designed by VJM787 - who I'll just let you know is also a lovely chap - and printed it and a couple of piles of missiles - to go in the trailer and in a neat stack on the ground covered in a cam net.  Here you go:

Here's the trailer being towed by a Land Rover FFR.

Finally the "squeeze together" group shot.

So finally I have a Towed Rapier system and a Tracked Rapier system.  My British battlefield SAM systems are complete!

Thanks for looking