by: Scott Lodder [ ]
Even before I finished the in-box review of this kit my ideas were flowing for this kit. It is a unique size and shape. It is designed so that it can stand-alone or be part of a multi-building diorama.
The sheer volume of space this building filled struck me and decided that it would be a great centerpiece for a machine gun nest. The archway provides a great frame for visual interest. With the broken parts of the piece I envisioned a pair of GI’s having embedded a machine gun position within the rubble.
With my idea set I planned on a small central base with a small sidewalk to guide a viewers eyes right up to the arch. Within the arch I planned the MG position with sandbags filling the arch. Immediately behind the protective bags are a pair of current day GI’s. Behind the protection of the GI’s is a historical reference to previous GI’s. All around would be broken rubble.
In reviewing this building it need some type of roof structure reference. This isn’t a necessity; you can find reference images of flat roofed monument types of buildings. I wanted to break up the “flatness” of the roof and give some extra reason for some lumber type of rubble.
After removing the kit from the box I washed it with warm soapy water to remove any dust or mold release residue. I inspected the parts and found was please overall. There are five parts and they are all sculpted very nicely. There is good detail all over. The exposed brickwork is a very well done and really makes this kit come alive.
I proceeded to dry fit all the parts based on the one-page instructions. The instructions are nicely done and straightforward. No surprises on general fit, pieces went where the instructions said they should go. There are no ‘tab and slot’ joining devices which can be a benefit sometimes. In this case it’s a good thing. You can easily move the pieces in any direction to get the best ‘marriage’ of detail lines. Put another way, you can make the molding match by simply moving the piece a bit.
There was no clean up at any of the joints, which is nice. I did notice that there was a fair amount of extra resin on the back of three of the pieces. The most of which was on the base. I thought to my self that it was no big deal, just sand it down and it would be fine.
I started by using a piece of low grid sandpaper and quickly realized that it was time to break out the electric palm sander. The resin ‘gunks’ up the sandpaper so there is little risk of sanding to fast and ruining the piece. Even with the electric sander this took more time that I had envisioned. Definitely a manageable task, just budget more time that you might first think.
One other point I need to address is that the front corner of the base where the resin is thinnest the piece was warped. Not much and definitely did not make the piece unusable. I gave the piece a partial bath in hot water for a couple of minutes, then applied pressure. I repeated this a couple of time and it reduced the warping.
The assembly was easy. All the assembly was done using two-part epoxy. The weight and size of these pieces made me go with stronger bonding glue.
The front wall (arch way) and back wall have to be a certain distance away from each other. Because of this I decided to fix the back wall to the base first as my starting point. Apply epoxy to the bottom of the wall and simply line up the back edge. I let these two parts cure for a couple of hours. While the first two parts were curing I proceeded with the next two. I decided to attach the complete sidewall to the front wall so that I had a fixed distance between the front and back walls.
I wanted to make sure there was a nice solid joint between these pieces so I predrilled some holes to give the epoxy something more to ‘bite’ into. After I drilled holes in the joint ends of both pieces I applied epoxy and placed the small part on the front wall.
At the same time I glued the short broken wall to the front wall also.
Once these three joints were cured (a couple of hours) I then proceeded to raising the front arched wall. I test fit the front wall to make sure that my pre-assembly left me with the correct room. There was no problem here there was room.
There was a small gap between a few of the pieces and I used a bit of modeling putty to fill them in. When that dried I sanded and file it down to match the contours of the kit.
After the basic assembly was done I wanted to add a bit more to the overall kit. That took the form of a statue on a shelf in the back wall nook. The nook is a nice recessed space that gives a modeler many options. You can go the route I took and add a statue, you can add a fountain, a piece of art work, a flat plaque, or nothing at all. The space is limited only by your imagination.
Off to the craft store to find a suitable statue. I went to a well-known craft store in the US and looked through the dollhouse section. There I found a small metal statue of some type of warrior. That was it; now time to detail.
I cut a small semi-circle out of foam board that would suit the base of my statue. Then I custom cut a few pieces of cork to veneer the foam board to mimic a rock shelf. I used white glue to attach the cork. I used household wall spackle to fill in the gaps of the cork. I had to cut a couple of notches into the shelf to give it a nice solid fit against the wall. I used the same two-part epoxy to attach the shelf to the wall. Once the shelf was cured I glued the statue to the shelf with epoxy.
The pieces are made with an open-faced one piece mold. This process leaves the backside of each piece ‘blank’. This does not much of an issue in that the only piece you may see the backside of is the small arch piece. I wanted to add a bit of the same block detail around some of the edges and on the back. Not a total detailing of the backside, just enough to give a good representation. So I used an awl and scribed in extra lines over the edges. The resin was easy to work with on this process.
I also re-scribed a bit of line details here and there to enhance their appearance.
With the kit assembled it was time for paint. I knew I wanted a light overall appearance with a dark undertone. This would enhance and accentuate the damaged areas on the base. I gave the kit an overall dark brown base coat. This went on in a straight coat.
On top of that I put a thinned down coat of hobby paint. The color was Maple, a light brown color. I thinned the paint with water and thinned it quite a lot. I can always add more layers of paint if necessary.
For the exposed brick areas I painted a base coat of dark red hobby paint. On top of that I mixed various shades of red. I mixed browns, blacks, and reds, together for varying tones.
Once the basic paint was done and dry I applied two oil washes to enhance the low spots and shadows. With this kit I knew I was looking to do a destroyed building and was going to give it an overall wash by the end of it all. Because of this I did not put a gloss coat on the kit to help the wash. I usually start my washes with black to give the deepest areas the most color. I do my washes by placing a dot of paint on a slanted palette and placing a bit of clean turpentine in a small reservoir below the paint. I pull a bit of the paint down into the terp. mixing as I go. I text the wash to make sure it is light and thin enough by touching the brush to a paper towel. Once I’m happy I apply the wash to the creases.
As I said I did a black wash and a burnt umber wash. I let the burnt umber wash overflow the creases to give a larger affect.
The extras were a sandbag wall, 30 cal. MG crew and equipment, sidewalk and rubble.
The rubble was easy. I mixed up a batch of Hydrocal plaster from Woodland Scenic in an old Cool Whip tub. I popped the plaster disk out covered it with a paper towel and vented a bit of frustration with a hammer. I broke it up quiet a bit. Lots of different sizes and shapes. I did take note not to include to many smooth flat surfaces.
For brick type rubble I used a razor saw and cut long strips of plaster and then cut it into short brick size pieces.
The lumber rubble is a mix of left over coffee stir sticks, balsa wood, and basswood. I broke the pieces by hand to give them a jagged edge. The wooden rubble I stained using regular household wood stain.
I glued this down with white glue. I did this in three layers. I glued each layer then painted the pieces. The layering approach gave me access to all the nooks and crannies for painting. With each layer I worked in smaller rubble in and around the nooks and crannies from the previous layer.
The crew is Tamiya’s crew from their gun and mortar set. They are built straight from the box. The fit was good and no real need for any extra work. I added helmet straps and gun straps out of foil from a wine bottle. Paint is all standard Tamiya paints, OD, Khaki, dark brown and flesh. I little bit of dark wash for the flesh tones. The boxes of extra ammunition are cast from an old Academy box. The ammunition belt is scratch built. I cut a thin strip of paper. Then cut a bunch of fine gauge wire into shell casings. I put down a long strip of glue on the paper and placed the wire bits on top. This gave me the flexibility to position the figures a bit farther away and have the loaders hand still help assist the ammunition.
The wall is Sculpy clay. I did the typical cut snake bags. You first roll out a snake of clay and cut it down to about .75” pieces. Flatten the pieces into bag shapes. Then mold together. I pressed in a bit of heavy gauge cloth to give them some texture. I used an awl to scribe in a seam line. Once I was happy with the overall shape I removed it as a unit and bake it solid. Be careful when you do this. I have to dislodge a bag because the soft clay had ‘give’ when I removed it. When I baked it there was no more ‘give’ and I could not fit it back into the door opening.
I painted the bags with Tamiya Khaki and generous coats of dark wash.
The sidewalk is another Hydrocal plaster piece. I used a bit of kitchen foil to make a mold the appropriate shape. I measured the size and simply folded the foil into a ‘cup’ shape. I creased the corners to get a decent shape. Then I poured the mixed plaster. After it was set I removed the foil. I simply mimicked the stone lines from the main kit to the sidewalk and etched them out with an awl.
Painting this was the same as the main kit, dark brown base, maple topcoat and a couple of washes to weather and blend.
The base is simply a piece of wood cut to shape to accentuate the piece and to draw your eye into the subject. I wanted to mimic a number of the Verlinden style bases; straight vertical edges with the diorama extending all the way to the edge.
I attached the building to the base with two-part epoxy. There was a bit of warping left in the base so I wanted to blend this away into the ground so I simply added household spackle as groundwork. I spread it out and thinned it down to slope away from the building and sidewalk.
I painted the spackle with dark brown hobby paint. Then I mixed some white glue and water and spread it over the ground. I then poured static grass over the glue mix. After about 45 minutes the glue set enough to tip the kit over and knock off the excess grass.
I then added more rubble and painted it the same way I described above.
After all the painting was done I broke out the pastels. I scraped a number of different browns, yellows, and tans into a few cups and mixed and matched to get various tones to match the diorama and the color scheme already in place.
I applied them all with a soft bristle brush from top to bottom, including the grass.
The last thing I did was to paint the edge of the base a contrasting color to help make the diorama stand out.
This is a nice kit. The architectural structure is interesting and unique, not something you see every day. So there is a winning quality. The size and overall composition is nice too. As mentioned this can stand on its own or be integrated into a large diorama. So overall I think this is a conceptual winner.
The workmanship is very good. The sculpting is good and has a solid amount of detail in it. The resin used is quite good, as the claims state – it’s strong! I’d rather opt for strong, than broken. You can also consider the same kit is dental plaster. If you were going to super detail or customize this kit I would recommend the plaster version. It would be a bit easier to work with. The only downside I saw in this kit was the extra resin on the back side. In the grand scheme of a model this isn’t a big deal. Just sand it down.
Overall a solid kit from a solid company.
ScaleMilitary offers this kit in resin and heavy duty dental plaster. This option gives a builder thier choice of thier favorite material to work with. It also gives you a choice of what you want to work with based on the setting. Being a one piece mold kit, if you need to detail the back, plaster may be an easier option for you.
This option gives you an option on price too:
Dental Plaster $24.95 - Resin (as reviewed) $34.95