This is actually my son’s third finished kit (the second one has broken to pieces before any photos have been taken) but is his first figure.
Bernard, the owner of M Workshop kindly gave my son this small set when we dropped by his shop earlier this year. The figure is painted primarily with Vallejo Game Color.
He has already started on his next kit, a 1/48 scale Bf109. Hopefully he’ll see this one through.
The Grumman F4F Wildcat is an American carrier-based fighter aircraft in service with the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and British Royal Navy in World War II. It was the only fighter available in the USN and USMC in the Pacific Theater during the early part of the war. It was outperformed in most categories by the A6M Zero but due to its ruggedness and newly developed tactics, it would claim an air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 6.9:1 for the entire war. 7,885 Wildcats would be built throughout the war even after newer and better fighters were introduced.
The F4F-4 variant of the Wildcat entered service in 1941 armed with 6 machine guns and a folding wing system. The F4F-4 is the definitive version of the Wildcat and saw the most combat service in the early war years.
Marian Eugene Carl was the USMC’s first ace in WWII. He began his career with VMF-211 and was re-assigned to VMF-223. In August 1942, VMF-223 was deployed to Guadalcanal, the first fighter unit ashore with the so-called Cactus Air Force. Over the next 2 months, Carl became the Marines’ first ace, running his tally to 16.5 victories. It is believed that 1 of his victories was against the Imperial Japanese Navy 27-victory ace Junichi Sasai. In 1943, VMF-223 returned to the Pacific. Carl would end his WWII service with 18.5 victories. He is the 7th highest ranking ace in the USMC.
My build depicts (eventual) Major General Carl’s F4F-4 Wildcat ‘White 2′ as she appeared in September 1942.
By and large, there’s no better kit out there than a Tamiya one. This one is no different. Made out of about 50 parts, this kit is unfussy, with very nice molding and sharp details. Options are simple: the canopy can be posed open and 2 external fuel tanks. The landing gear however, cannot be modeled raised. There are decal options for 4 aircraft (VF-41, VMF-223, VGF-29 and VF-22) and the instruction sheet is an 8 page foldout assembly diagram. As usual with Tamiya, color callouts are only for Tamiya paints.
I’ve actually started on this kit a few years ago so all the major parts have already been cut from the sprues. Before putting everything together though I decided to add details to the cockpit.
The cockpit was already sprayed in Interior Green previously but since I decided to add some scratchbuilt shoulder and lap belts, this was repainted. The pilot was supposed to be able to look down and out the belly ports for better visibility so I cut open the cockpit’s floor plate. The result wasn’t really visible after assembly but hey, ‘I know it’s there’. Everything else was built out of the box.
The 6 wing machine guns came modeled solid. I tried to drill out the barrels but I messed it up quite badly so I ended up cutting them all off, drilled through into the wings, and made my own machine gun barrels with 0.5mm brass pipe. I think 5 of the barrels stick out slightly too much but I’ll live with it.
After sanding off the sprue marks, the kit came together quickly without much fit problems and a minimal of seamline fixing. I read somewhere that the external tanks were only introduced in 1943. Since I’m modeling a Wildcat in 1942, I left these off.
Colors & Markings
With my WWII kits, I try my best to model an ace’s aircraft or one with some sort of historical significance. This kit will receive the markings of Marian Eugene Carl’s F4F-4 Wildcat. The decals come from Techmod, a Polish decal company. The decals are very well done and reacted well to Mark Softer. They aren’t as thin as something from Cartograph though. The instruction from the Techmod sheet also comes with color call outs. I followed this instead of the kit’s.
Wildcats during this period flew with a simple 2 tone camouflage of a bluish gray over light gray. To break up the monotony, I added a marble coat in between the primer and main colors to add some variation to the finish. Usually I’m quite haphazard with the marble coat but I was more deliberate and careful this time. The result looks good. The demarcation line was done with blutack but I sprayed quite close so the line itself was quite solid.
As usual, I did a panel line wash with thinned raw umber oil paint. Once that has dried I went easy with the weathering.
After unmasking the canopy I realized I made some mistakes:
Still, not a bad build at all. The Wildcat definitely has a presence: it’s not pretty nor graceful as a Spitfire but it definitely looks tough and can take a ton of punishment.
Number 3 of 2018
Brand and Kit Number: Bandai 954034 and Masterbox 35193
Media: Injection Plastic
A Tactical Armor (TA) is a bipedal combat machine with artificial muscles featured in the anime television series Gasaraki. The Type 17EX Shinden is an improved model of the Type 17 Raiden manufactured by Gowa Industries. It features better armor distribution and more importantly, a much improved battery system that allows it to operate for up to 36 hours per charge. However, the strain and stress inflicted on the pilot has not been reduced and has proved to be unsuccessful to overcome.
Info from Gasaraki Wiki
In 1999, to support the anime television series, the Shinden was 1 of 3 Tactical Armor kits issued by Bandai. The kits were on-par with any of the Master Grade Gunpla kits of the time in that they featured: complete snapfit build, decent poseability and molding that was crisp and detailed, a plethora of weapon options and even boasted 2 figures (1 standing, 1 sitting). For 2018 though, the kit is showing its age with its lack of attempt to hide seamlines and the decent albeit limited poseability. However, these are still great kits with excellent representation of Shinki Aramaki and Yutaka Izubuchi’s mecha designs.
The Masterbox ‘Under Fire’ kit is the continuation in the series of US infantry figures in a modern warfare setting. The kit comes with 4 figures that when placed together tells the story of soldiers providing cover fire while a wounded soldier is being tended to. Each figure comes with its own weapons and pouches which by and large can be swapped around depending on the modeler’s preference. The molding is quite good with nice folds on the uniforms although there are prominent mold lines that need cleaning up. More importantly, the faces are well done and convey the emotions of the figures well.
I’ve had the Shinden snapfit together for close to a decade already by the time I restarted it. I’ve always wanted to place it in a vignette charging along with some soldiers but I was intimidated with painting figures and the Shinden didn’t look right placed in a running pose. When I saw Masterbox’s ‘Under Fire’ kit it gave me the idea to replace the SAW gunner in the kit with the Shinden providing cover for the wounded soldier. The soldiers would be hiding behind some sort of cover and the setting would be in wacka-wacka-kistan with a desert/semi-arid location.
Through the years, I’ve slowly worked on the Shinden by filling the hollow areas in the armor with epoxy putty (a mistake in hindsight) and fixing the prominent seamlines. The joints have held up relatively well and while one leg is slightly loose, it can still hold the final pose I had in mind. The kit comes with various weapons for the arms and I went with the chain gun and rocket launcher. The only modification I did on the kit was to replace the open palms with closed fists modified from the Bandai MS Hand 01 set.
The figures required some minor cleaning up of mold lines and filling of gaps with putty. Otherwise though, they fit well and look quite dynamic.
Colors & Markings
Since my Shinden is set somewhere that’s not in Japan like the anime, I figure I can go crazy with the color scheme and markings. The scene is to be a semi-arid place so I went with a desert scheme. To break the monotony of having the mecha, figures and base in brown, I mixed in a dark bluish gray color for the Shinden. One of the shoulders was painted in red as a unit indicator.
The figures are painted in colors of my own making but it resembles a desertized tiger stripe camo. In a call out to my old Crossfire airsoft team logo, I added some red inverted triangle patches on the shoulders.
The Shinden was given my by now standard weathering treatment of chipping with acrylic paint. Meanwhile, oil paints were used for washing, filters and streaks. I have to conclude that I really botched the seamline fixing as there are still visible ones in various spots. There’s just too many of them in this close to 2 decade kit.
The figures were washed with Army Painter Quickshade which were very effective in popping the details of the folds of the uniforms. This was my time painting whole figures and I think I did a decent job although my work on the faces still needs work: they lack the finesse of the great work I see on the ‘net.
The base is cork on balsa. The look of the environment was based on the 2001 film Black Hawk Down. The main cover the soldiers will hide behind is meant to look like a part of an aircraft fuselage that has broken off. I made this with plastic plates and various pipes, I and round beams. I also added a PE mesh piece and made other wreckage from plastic plates. Making the base look damaged and grimy was definitely fun.
Number 2 of 2018
Brand : Max Factory Combat Armor Max 02
Media : Injection Plastic
Markings : Kit
Fang of the Sun Dougram (Taiyō no Kiba Daguramu) is a 75 episode anime TV series created by Ryōsuke Takahashi that aired in Japan from 1981 to 1983.
In Space Century (SC) 152, an independence movement is growing on the planet Deloyer. Crinn Cashim, the son of the leader of the Earth Federation government on Deloyer, pilots the Dougram and fights for the ‘Fang of the Sun’, a small team of guerillas fighting for the independence of Deloyer.
The Roundfacer is the standard Combat Armor deployed by the Federation. It is versatile and would revolutionize mechanized warfare. It is easy to produce and would serve the Federation throughout the war with the insurgents. It is armed with a handheld linear gun, a shoulder-mounted 7-tube missile pod and 4 arm-mounted 25mm chain guns.
Info from Wikipedia and instruction manual
Note: Western audiences would probably recognize this mecha as the GRF-1N Griffin, a BattleMech from the board game Battletech.
This is the second release in Max Factory’s modern take on the mecha from Fang of the Sun Dougram. The kits are by and large snapfit and come with water slide decals. Somewhat poseable with the use of polycaps, they also have a retro aesthetic to match the design sensibilities from the 1980s. Parts breakdown is quite simple and can be easily separated into subassemblies. However there are some oddities: the pilot figure will need to be cemented in place since there’s nothing holding it in the cockpit and the right hand won’t hold the gun properly. A pleasant surprise though is the canopy which already comes with a pre-painted frame.
The overall fit is a mixed bag. Some of the joints fit well, others are loose. The shoulder ball joints are about 1mm too large so there’s no positive fit to the sockets on the body. Luckily for me, the easiest fix worked: I carefully sanded down one side of each ball joint. In any case, the overall design of parts are quite simple where Max Factory doesn’t try to avoid obvious seamlines. All in all, it slots in between a modern Bandai and Wave kit.
Colors & Markings
I went with a modified version of the standard colors for the Roundfacer. It’s now a 2-tone green painted in a splinter pattern. The 2 shades of green (RLM 2 and RLM 71) are what the Luftwaffe used for their machines in WW2. Otherwise, I followed what is shown in the instructions.
As usual I went easy on the decals. I initially wanted to add a custom artwork on the shoulder shield but changed my mind in the last minute. The kit decals are a mixed bag: they separated quickly from the backings but they have a satin finish to them and the white colored decals tore easily. Initially it looks like they didn’t react well with Mark Softer. Thankfully though, once cured and given another spray of gloss, they actually looked quite good.
I decided to weather this kit slightly more than usual which I wrote about here. TL:DR, it was panel lining with oil paint, then panel filtering with oil paint, then chipping and drybrushing with acrylic paint, then streaking with oil paint, then dusting with Tamiya Weathering Master, and lastly adding dirt on the feet with pigments. I also made sure to cover some of the paint that had flaked off with chipping. Unfortunately the weathering revealed some seamlines that I didn’t fix properly. Oh well, lesson learned and moving on.
So that’s it. My first completed kit of the year. And one that was relatively trouble-free. While not the best fitting, I like this series of kits. Definitely more to come.
Number 1 of 2018
Brand : Italeri No.1236
Media : Injection Plastic
Markings : Kit
The Sea Harrier is a further development of the Harrier Jump Jet. It is a naval short/vertical take-off and landing (S/VTOL) subsonic jet fighter designed to replace the de Havilland Sea Vixen. Largely based on the RAF’s Harrier GR.3, it features a ‘bubble’ canopy for better visibility, a longer fuselage to fit the Blue Fox radar and corrosion resistance alloys and coatings compared to the land-based variant.
The Sea Harrier features 4 rotatable nozzles which can be pointed down for the aircraft to lift off and land vertically (VTOL). Angling the nozzles also allows STOL operations, reducing the amount of runway needed for take-off and landing.
The Sea Harrier FRS.1 entered service with the Royal Navy in 1980. Affectionately called the ‘Shar’, its principal role in the Royal Navy was to provide air defense for task groups centered around the aircraft carriers. 57 would be built for the Royal Navy starting in 1978.
Sea Harrier FRS.1s took part in the Falklands War of 1982, flying off the carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. Primarily flown for the air defense role and armed with the latest AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles and Blue Fox radar, the 3 Sea Harrier squadrons totaling 28 aircraft would shoot down 20 Argentinian aircraft in air-to air combat and suffer 6 losses (2 to ground fire, 4 to accidents).
The lessons learned from this war would lead to an upgrade to the FA.2 standard starting in 1993. The last Sea Harrier FA.2 would retire in 2006. This build depicts a Sea Harrier FRS.1 ‘XZ 451’ flown by 801 Naval Air Squadron off HMS Invincible in the subdued color scheme applied in the run-up to the war. XZ 451 is credited with 3 air-to-air victories and 1 damaged during the conflict. She would be written off in 1989 off the Sardinia coast.
Info from Wikipedia
This kit is a rebox of the ESCI kit that was first released in 1983 so it’s actually an old kit. Features/options include:
The mold has held up and the panel lines are fine and quite nicely done. There’s not much flash and injection pin marks (one big one on the seat’s headrest though). Typical of Italeri, the plastic is softer than what you get from Tamigawa. Also typical of Italeri, the clear parts are a bit thick and lack clarity.
So, definitely a mixed bag. This kit has been superceded by a more modern tooling by Airfix. However, it’s still a good representation of the Sea Harrier by most accounts. It’s also cheaper. More importantly, it’s much easier to find here than the Airfix.
Kit manufacturers of this era hadn’t caught on to the idea of designing kits to accommodate various versions of the same aircraft so there’s a general lack of cutting and fitting of different parts together. So while lacking in finesse and details, they usually come together quite quickly. Fitting can be issue but that’s not really the case with this kit, which on the whole, fits well. Problem areas include:
It’s not all doom and gloom though:
Even with these problems, this is one of my faster aircraft builds due to the small number of parts.
Colors & Markings
I decided to go with the Falklands War option, which features a subdued color scheme and markings. The color scheme is a uniform Dark Sea Grey over every surface, including the missile rails. After seeing some photos, I decided to break up the monotony by going with Medium Sea Grey with the rails. To add some fading of the main color, I sprayed white over the black base first before the Dark Sea Grey went on.
In hindsight, the red color in the decals seems too bright but I don’t have aftermarket one for the kit so it will do.
I used a light gray wash for the panel lines. With the panel lines being so shallow, the effect is quite subdued. I also did some further fading over the top of the kit, since that’s the part that sees the Sun the most.
Doh! After the final photos were done, I realized I didn’t attach the small vane in front of the canopy. I decide that I should move on and not try to deal with the really small part.
Number 8 of 2017