Saturday, September 20, 2014

Vallejo Matt Varnish Disaster and Redemption!

Hey All!

Soooo the other night, after finishing up a German 7.5cm leIG 18 and three crew figures, I needed to flatcoat. Currently I have been brushing on Vallejo 70.520 (17mm size bottle) or 26.518 (60mm) and am fairly happy with the results though, there is room for improvement. Also, the varnish is durable and can stand up to gaming so there is that...The flat achieved has a very slight sheen and occasionally an area that is downright glossy.

 So a thought comes to me - I wonder if I can get a better result with airbrushing the varnish? I grabbed a KV-1 I have done a few years back as a test piece and turned it upside down to test on the underside. I sprayed a 2-1 ratio of varnish to water and waited...looked good, in fact, looked GREAT! Super flat! Wow!

I though, heck, I have never been happy with the KV-1s flatcoat so sprayed the entire model...then the 7.5cm leIG 18... then the crew...then an extensively scratchbuilt 15cm sIG 33 also waiting for a flatcoat (see previous post)...then I looked at the KV again...whats this?!...seems to be hazing over a will be ok, a little loss of color intensity, its happened before...still such a great flat...hey!...its getting worse! NOOOOOO!!!

Everything white...EVERYTHING...

Tried a few 'fixes'. The gloss, with a second coat of flat, the soak and redo, the olive oil (really?)...all no help...ok the olive oil helped but then they were shiny so ...into the bath of Easy Off...soo much work...


So yesterday, I began to re-build the models...this time I plan on fixing a few things that bothered me the first time.
 The shield on the 7.5cm is too thick and has poor detail. I replaced it with one I made from galvanized sheet. As well, cocking handles were added to both models.  Gas recuperators and wooden bar for repositioning the gun were removed as they were out of round and look bad. I replaced them and added the pistons to the gun cradle.  Both models have terrible elevation handwheels so those where changed out too. I plan on painting in the spoke detail later.
 I installed the proper amount of shield supports (two per side) for the 15cm. Aiming stakes added to the trail of the 7.5cm and shield of the 15cm.
 I used Micro Kristal Clear to add rivet details to the 7.5cm shield and added sight doors to both guns.  Pioneer tools added to the shield of the 15cm.  I also cut off the barrel end and replaced it with a brass one as it was out of round.
Tho it doesn't show, I drilled out the somewhat flat axle on the 15cm and replaced it with a brass rod to keep the wheels straight and secure.  Finally, I added a barrel cleaner and recoil shield to the 75.

As I have heard good things, I ordered Winsor and Newton Galeria Matt varnish to try...stay tuned...




After a suggestion by Chevalier de la Terre (thanks buddy!) to try 62.062 Vallejo Premium Acrylic Polyurethane Matt Varnish, I found some at my local hobby shop. At first, I brushed it on and had poor shiny results What the hell?!

I re-read  his instructions 'shake well before use'...oops...I shook the bottle like a junkie needing his fix, put some in my old Badger single action and POW! Excellent results!

I realized now that though the product is clear, you need to shake the crap out of it. I did not thin at all and airbrushed at 20 psi while wearing a 3M NIOSH P100 mask. The bottle says non-toxic but Im sure it isn't something you want in your lungs.

 The results are nothing short of stellar...
This pic was taken with a flash and there is zero shine. I re-coated my entire collection of Soviets and German Infantry stands inside an hour.  They really look great! This product is what I have been searching for since I tossed Dullcote.  Also the Polyurethane Matt Varnish has the added bonus of durability - what more could you ask for?

Cheers and thanks again Chevalier de la Terre!!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Are PSC/BF LW British Compatible?

Hey All!

A little while ago, I received the Plastic Soldier Companies LW British Infantry boxed set and painted up a few figures to get a feel for them. The good news is that they do fit in well with BF LW British figures but how good are they? Direct comparison to BF is not really fair as PSC's are plastic and BF's are metal but here are my observations...

Battlefront (BF) on right, Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) on left.

Figures: Flash and mold lines are present on both companies figures. If you are like me, you will spend a lot of time removing and still miss some...(pant leg on prone figure below) though only the close-ups will reveal.  PSC face and hand detail is different than BF but is still excellent.  Though most PSC faces are all the same, there are a few yelling figures that are well modelled.  Size-wise, both companies are very similar. PSC tends to have uniform body size throughout the casts whereas BF have a few waist-less, or dwarf figures with long legs. Due to horrible body proportions, there are a few real stinkers in the BF camp but both companies suffer from no-neck-itis...

Poses: I thought at first that BF had many more poses than PCS but after counting, I came up with 9 x rifleman poses each with BF having 3 x Bren gunners vs PSC's x 2.  There are many more NCOs and Officers poses with BF.

Equipment: BF figures is more accurate in placement. The water bottle and respirator bag are reversed on the PSC figures and knapsack is a bit on the large side.  Side detail is missing but this is an issue with all plastic injection-molded figures (including BF). Helmets are slightly more realistic looking on PSC figures as BF's are too flat on the sides for the 'Turtle' Mk.III.  As to variation of the type of equipment carried, BF spices it up a bit with an occasional deployed bayonet or shovel tucked under the pack.  PSC riflemen are all carrying exactly the same, water-bottle, folded entrenching tool, knapsack and respirator.

Weapons: PSC's Bren gun ROCKS! The detail is perfect for this scale. BUT the SMLE rifles are a very simplified affair. You will have to paint in the details that are not present as they are on the BF rifles. PSC Stens are slightly better, edging out BF in both detail and scale. The same for the PIAT and 50mm mortar.

Uniforms: PSC's detail is 'softer' than BF's. There is not as much relief and folds tend to be rounder. This one aspect of PSC figures took me the most to get used to and it wasn't until I had fully finished a figure that I was able to feel comfortable with this look. To be honest, I didn't think they would look good at all and I had to force myself to finish but once done, I was happy with the results.

Conclusion: Both companies offerings have pros and cons. I have always felt that for durability, the metal figures are going to stand the test of time as even on the sprue, there were a few bent rifles with the dreaded 'white' stress lines showing on the PSC figures.  Metal figures do suffer from this as well and rifles and arms will break if bent one too many times but plastic is slightly more prone.  Plastic will take a fair bit of bashing before the paint chips start to show and do tend to survive better in freefall so if your opponent is klutzy or ill-tempered, this may be better for you.

If you have bags of money, buy them both and use them together. They will look fine, even on the same base.  If on a budget, buy the PSC as they are much cheaper and will get you gaming without stealing from your kids college fund!