miércoles, 4 de mayo de 2016

21st Century Toys Tiger I panzer 1/32

I already posted a video review of this model, so there is little to add in this blog entry.

This is the video review:

Information not contained in the video...

This model has an average price of US $60.- brand new on ebay on this date. Keep in mind this brand no longer exists, this is a discontinued product, this model is not easy to find. This one is much less expensive ($70 difference or much more) than Forces of Valor Tiger, but FOV's product has several advantages over this one:

  1. Real die cast, this one is all plastic, although solid build
  2. Weathering (depends on the Tiger model, FOV has several editions)
  3. Better looking accessories over the tank's body
  4. Suspension, a very nice feature of FOV's tanks
  5. Roll more easily than those from 21st Century Toys
  6. FOV's Tiger does include the engine inside the engine compartment

Points 2 and 3 could be addressed with some customization and the end result could be really nice if you know how to do it without applying too much wit.

21CT tanks have more articulated hatches than those from Forces of Valor, and that is also the case with the Tigers, this one also include more figures (3) than FOV's Tigers, but no machine gun on the turret.

Thank you for reading this article!

jueves, 28 de abril de 2016

Gate diecast Jeep 1/32 (The Rat Patrol)

From the start of the Plastic Commandos project I was determined to build my own Rat Patrol, british commando style. I wanted it to be diecast, with good articulation for live and stop motion as well. I did not want some plastic fragile model, I wanted to remain loyal to my 1/32 scale. The problem is that at first sight the offer in this scale is segmented between the expensive Forces of Valor jeep, not very suitable for live motion, and the cheap crap by New Ray (other brands sell the exact same shit from New Ray with different label, like Testors or Classic Armour).

There is a third option, that I only discovered when I resorted to ebay. The Gate diecast jeep 1/32, which sadly dissapeared in 2001, but there is a good quantity on sale on ebay, brand new as well as used in good condition, the price range is wide, but you could catch a $10-$15 for a brand new if you are patient. There are several versions of this jeep, I only use the one shown below.

This Gate jeep is solid, fast (no friction motor), rolls smoothly and straight, very articulated: windshield moves, hood opens, detailed engine, detailed chasis, instrument panel, rubber tires, well scaled 1/32 with enough cabin space (unlike New Ray). You can use a Forces of Valor driver without problem (see pics below).

When compared to Forces of Valor jeep, it is a bit longer, and less wider than FOV's unit:

Gate's rubber tires look a bit modern for a WW2 jeep, but those from FOV could be used instead, they look almost the same size.

My first customization was after I failed building a vintage and expensive Bandai 1/32 motorized jeep (it looks in fact bigger than 1/32). A failure as it was, I ended with several interesting remains to add to my custom Gate Rat Patrol, I also had the unique 37mm antitank gun from Monogram's 1/35 Jeep (a bit bigger than 1/35), a piece that looks to be 1/32, and is unique in this scale. So I created my first monster, a Jeep with an armored antitank gun, from Bandai I used their tires, really great WW2 rubber tires, also the trailer hook, and a beautiful and articulated trailer, then added accessories from Italeri (1/35) and others, and the weathering (this was the first step), the chains are 1/35 from ebay, a very nice set that can only be bought from a particular seller, this was the result:

The 2nd unit was the most difficult to achieve, and it is the classic Rat Patrol, with the .50 cal on pedestal. There is only one kit to achieve this, MasterBox 1/35 "Charlie on the left", which is a Vietnam era kit, but I decided to disguise the gunner as a Commando, creating with polymeric clay a commando cap, this kit also includes the machine gun and the pedestal, which is articulated. Both jeep drivers come from Italeri and are 1/35. from the Italeri Commando Jeep kit, which also supplied many accessories. There are no good drivers in 1/32, the only british one that I know of is the driver from Montgomery's staff car (Airfix kit), the other solution was to use (and maybe convert) drivers from Forces of Valor, but these are expensive to get.

I took the very nice antenna from the Forces of Valor jeep, the fit was nice enough.

Some accessories are from Airfix 1/32 kits, like multipose and infrantry support, which include many accessories, inexpensive 1/35 kits from Italeri like their Commando jeep are a good source of accessories too.

I am very happy with the results, I think that I achieved what I wanted and more, there is no such diecast kits like this, not even from Forces of Valor, and what they have is for display more than play, in the case of their jeeps. I consider these to be unique pieces of the Plastic Commando collection, I am glad I discovered this Gate's model.

I took inspiration from the weathered editions of Forces of Valor as well as some builds I saw from different editions of Italeri jeeps, which are fragile as any static plastic model, but have superior detail, these diecasts don't have such fine detail, but some intermediate quality can be achieved with a bit of customization, and they compensate with sturdiness, great articulation and decent detail these lack of refinement.

They played so well their part in both episodes, and there was a particular live motion scene in episode 2 of the 37mm gun unit jumping in slow motion, which I am very proud of.

This unit even has a bit of "suspension" on the rear axis, but you got to see episode 2 or its trailer (on the sidebar of this blog) to appreciate it.

These are some of the kits I used to create these customization, some were used by accident, because I failed building them and resorted to use what I could rescue as spare parts, an expen$ive but joyful experience.

jueves, 21 de abril de 2016

Monogram Greyhound M8 and M20 armored scout cars 1/32

These are vintage kits, from 1972, all plastic from venerable Monogram US company, no longer in business, and these are the only models of M8 and M20 in this scale, no other manufacturer produced these in 1/32, what a pity that neither Forces of Valor or 21st Century Toys did release one of these.

I bought both of them from ebay sellers, at very reasonable prices, about $20-$25 each, and more remarkable, both were brand new, sealed boxes! Back in 2015 it was relatively easy to find them, today seems to be a different story, stock seems to be depleted now, which makes them more valuable, besides being the only ones in 1/32.

Regarding scale, they are in fact bigger than 1/35 models from Tamiya or Italeri, but even so they seem to be a little small for 1/32, at least in the internal cabin space and the M20 turret ring does not have enough space, there is no way to fit a gunner behind the .50 cal machine gun. It seems that Monogram had problem getting the scale right.

The only alternatives bigger than 1/35 come in 1/30 from deluxe manufacturers like Collector's Showcase, W.Britain or King and Country, both are for display only (no articulation, no playing) and very expensive, well above $120, besides being hard to find too.

It was a nice model building experience, as usual with Monogram's kits, the instructions are beautiful, with hand made illustrations, very nice, but assembling the sides of the top body was difficult, they fit in a tricky angular way.

Both models M8 and M20 share the same chasis and body as did in real life, only the turret varies between them.

The wheels are plastic too, no rubber tires like in other Monogram’s models. There is a somewhat detailed suspension, easy to assemble, very decent for its time. It has the classic Monogram wheel plugin mechanism, and rolls very well, like a diecast, but a drop of oil may be required to make it move smoothly and silent. I bought the M8 twice, because on the first kit something strange happened after I added the oil drop to the union of the wheel with the axis, I rolled the car a bit and then suddenly several of the wheels broke from the axis, with almost a clean cut, maybe the plastic was too old and “expired” for all this movement? Whatever the case, that is the origin of my spare tires on the back of both models.

As you can see, both models are customized and weathered, I also added some very nice 1/35 chains I got from ebay, ready to use, with rust and all.

The sculpted front hooks of the M8 were removed and in its place I did put a couple of articulated hooks from a Revell/Monogram Sherman 1/32 kit. These kits include enough accessories/stowage, but you can always add some more, especially some chains or towing cables.

I found only one way to put a gunner behind the .50 cal machine gun, using the Vickers gunner from Airfix infantry support team, in fact several of the figures of this versatile kit can be used with these vehicles, and they look reasonable in scale with them.

There is a lack of diecast or plastic pre-assembled 1/32 WW2 allied light assault armored vehicles, British or American, except for jeeps and some amphibious unit (from Forces of Valor). Britains Deetail produced a diecast Bren Carrier 1/32 back in the days, but it is expensive and does not stand to today’s detail standards, looks too much like a small boy toy, including its figures. If you settle for 1/35 then you have great options from Italeri and Tamiya, not only for greyhounds (M8 and M20) but also for some british scout cars, although I cannot tell about its articulation, rolling wheels in particular, they are probable only for static purposes, but are superior in detail and some accessories (lie tow cables) to Monogram’s greyhounds
Regarding articulation, these models move very well as I already told, in the M8 the turret rotates and the gun moves up and down. In the M20 I choose to leave the MG loose, so I can put it where I want for a particular video or picture.

I wish Forces of Valor could release one of the greyhounds as 1/32 diecast, with articulated hatches, gunner and all the stuff… wouldn’t that be great?

These units played their part very well in both episodes of Plastic Commandos, I still have to film them on live motion, maybe for episode 3. Thank you for reading this article.

lunes, 18 de abril de 2016

21st Century Toys Firefly 1/32 customization

This hard to find unit is expensive and looks a bit cheap, too plastic, no weathering. Not good for an expensive model, I need better shots of this unit for my movies, now more than before because I will use the far better camera of iphone 5s instead of iphone 4's camera.

This is the before:

This is the AFTER:

A black wash was applied to all the depressed areas or clefts, also the the end of the muzzle was blackened. Then a dry tan brush was applied all over, including the wheels.

Several accessories from other kits were added to this tank, like this wood plates, from the Revell/Monogram Sherman 1/32, the antenna also comes from that kit, because this Firefly did not include it.

The tracks were also weathered with some silver brush and a little rust. Tamiya logs and a very nice 1/35 chain from ebay were added on the frontside.

The machine gun was also weathered with some dry silver brush touches.

Some stowage from Italeri was added on the back, and some of the original tools were repainted in gunmetal. Also a proper Commando tank commander was added.

All in all, I am satisfied with the overall results. What do you think?
Thank you for reading this article!