Saturday 29 January 2011


GZG's Phalons don't seem to get much publicity, which is a shame as they're good little figures that are satisfyingly alien in appearance with their semi-organic weaponry.

They're similar in some ways to GZG's Crusties, with their exoskeletons and hoof-like feet.

Mine have been painted with Humbrol 29 dark earth for the arms and legs, Vallejo bonewhite for the weapons, head and torso carapace, and GW rotting flesh for the facial features. Watered down Vallejo sepia ink was washed all over the figures, then they received a drybrush of the base colour again. Final highlights were pure white over the bonewhite and bonewhite over the brown. Eyes were dotted in with GW goblin green (I tried GW worm purple first, but it just didn't show up enough). The difference in colours looks very subtle here, but in reality it's much more noticeable.

The rear view shows the knobbly organic texture on the carapace, a real pleasure to drybrush as the detail springs to life.

This is only part of the pack; 3 riflemen and a plasma gunner. Still to be painted are the HW trooper, officer and other riflemen. I'll review the whole lot when they're all finished, and try to get some better photographs too!

Saturday 22 January 2011

Free Cal-Tex troops review

And now for some slightly older GZG figures - a squad of Free Cal-Tex (SG15-T1).

These are very satisfying little figures. The amount of detail is good and you get a varied range of poses in the pack. I've only pictured 5 of the team here, I have 3 still being cleaned up. There was little or no flash on most of the figures, though as usual they all needed a quick file on the bottom of the base to get rid of the casting marks and make them stand flat. There were a few mould lines, but they cleaned up quickly with some scraping with a craft knife and sanding with fine grade wet & dry.

Here is the first rifleman. Most of the figures use the same torso & legs, but the range of poses through different arms, head positions and weapons means that it isn't too noticeable. All have heavy boots, knee pads, body armour with 1980s style shoulder pads, webbing and an enclosed helmet.

The next rifleman. You can see some of the detail here - all the figures have a knife on their belt and nice ribbed body armour which drybrushes very neatly. The ribbing is repeated on the boots.

The squad leader. You can see his webbing well, with little chest pouches which are slightly hidden on the other figures, plus more of the detail on the helmet.

I think this chap kneeling down is probably a sniper, as one of the figures that I haven't yet painted is holding what is obviously a squad automatic weapon, larger than this one.

Heavy weapon trooper with what is more of an RPG style launcher than many of the other LAW-style rocket tubes.

A final view from the rear (click to see a larger image). This shows more of the webbing detail and the quilted pattern on the back of the body armour. Painting was GW blood red uniforms with a watered down wash of Vallejo sepia ink. Body armour, helmets, boots & gloves are Humbrol 104 dark oxford blue base coat/shading with a Humbrol 25 blue drybrush and GW enchanted blue highlights. Vallejo black ink was used where deep shadow was needed, for instance around the edge of their fingers. Helmet visor is black, weapons are black with a Humbrol dark grey drybrush to show up the detailing. It was good fun to produce a brighter "sci-fi" scheme rather than my usual murky camouflage!

Overall grade for these figures: B+

A good range of poses, though repetition would become obvious with a larger force. Not much cleaning up required, good detail on webbing and equipment. Could do with an additional pack or two of rifleman being available. With their fully enclosed helmets, they'll make a good team of faceless enemy cannon-fodder during small-scale role-playing adventures!

Saturday 15 January 2011

DLD Kamodo AFV Review

I started building these DLD Kamodo vehicles months ago - see my earlier post from June! I've finally got them finished, and also built a third one which I saved so I could do a more in-depth review of the kit.
Here you see all the parts for a Kamodo ICV (Infantry Combat Vehicle) after trimming/sanding and a good scrub with a toothbrush & washing up liquid. The collection of small parts on the right includes smoke launchers, gunnery sight, periscope, IFF transponder and attachment ring, turret hatch cover, gun barrel and 4 stowage brackets. They come still attached to a thin sheet of resin so you can be sure you've got them all, but they are a bit fiddly to trim. The wheels appear to have been copied from the Revell 1/72 scale Fuchs APC, but as these are some of the best wheels I've come across on a model, that's not a complaint! Some parts are pre-assembled; the gun barrel and the turret (you can't see from this picture, but the turret pin is already fixed in place underneath so that you can guarantee it sits in the right place on the main hull).

The main hull and turret had a few small resin granules scattered alongside detail areas, presumably from small bubbles of air getting trapped when the original mould were made, but these were few and far between. Overall, the quality of the castings was excellent, especially the detail on the wheels (though more cleaning up was required here.

What I wasn't quite so impressed with was the amount of bubbling around the back of the vehicle. I assume that it is cast in a mould standing on its nose, which is why all the bubbles have accumulated at the back. They'd been poorly filled with a slightly granular filler, and I ended up re-filling them. I should point out that the vehicle has been designed so that the main hatch covers most of the rear, which helps hide all the bubbles in the middle part, and on the whole I was very happy with the quality of finish.

A close-up of some of the bubbles/filling. Detail on the rear of the model is not as clear as on the sides or top. It might have been better to have the rear stowage boxes as separate items to attach; that way, they'd have had better detail, and would have helped cover up some more of the bubbles.

The basic hull & turret assembled. Wheels have been left off to aid painting, as suggested on the instructions. You can see the collection of detail parts mounted on top of the turret, and two of the stowage brackets alongside the turret. I found that the stowage bin on the turret rear didn't really look right when attached, but it has been attached correctly. The instructions are very good, clear and concise on the whole. Just a couple of the parts were hard to differentiate - I ended up looking at the pictures of the 25mm scale versions on the DLD web site to make certain I had them in the right places!

Another view, this time from the other side. The number of tiny pieces to attach seemed unnecessary, I'd have thought that the stowage brackets and the IFF transponder and the ring that it sits in could all have been moulded on without too much loss in detail. I've left the turret hatch off for the time being, as it is just a plain domed circle with no other detail. I'm going to give it a better one, either making one from plasticard or using a spare vehicle hatch from another kit (Old Crow APC or a JB Models M113 ACAV seem the right size). It will probably be fixed in an open position, with a crewman peeping out.

The finished item plus a part-squad of GZG NAC dismounts. You can see that once it has been painted, the cleaned up rear of the hull looks fine. The turret stowage bin still looks slightly odd, but the painting does help bring everything together.

A view from the front. I will probably add more detail to these, including some stowage (jerry cans, bedding rolls), and probably some small gun barrels for the little blisters on the side of the hull (these are supposed to be built-in gun mounts for suppressive fire). The smoke launchers on the front faces of the turret are a little disappointing, so may get replaced with new ones made from bundles of short brass rod scraps.

I also have a Kamodo HFS (Heavy Fire Support?) to support my two ICVs...

Overall quality and ease of construction was much the same as the ICV.
The smoke launchers were much better than those on the ICV.

My rating for these kits will be a B-. Finished appearance is very good, and amount of detail is great, but construction is fiddly at times despite good instructions. I'm pleased with the finished result, they're a fine addition for a near-future force.

*Additional note: I've had a couple of queries now on whether DLD are still in business. I don't actually know - his web site is still up & running, but I have heard from someone else that orders are taking a while to get processed. I was lucky enough to get my 3 vehicles second hand, so I don't have any direct experience of ordering from DLD. I'd suggest that you drop DLD an e-mail direct from the contact button on their web site.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Stoat armoured car

Here is my latest toy car re-paint - a Matchbox Rollamatic "Stoat" armoured scout car.

The Stoat was one of a number of fictional armoured vehicles that Matchbox released in the 1970s/80s. All the "Rollamatics" had moving parts which rotated as they travelled along - see also my "Badger" command vehicle.

All the vehicles had that very '50s/'60s Cold War sort of look like so many of the UK or Russian vehicles of that time. Silver headlights and red brakelights added by my Dad when I was a small boy!

The "Rollamatic" feature was that the little man on the top would rotate as the wheels turned. After disassembly, you can see how it all worked.

The little man did have a head and a pair of binoculars at one time, but lost them many years ago when I tried to remove him with a pair of pliers so that some of my 1/72 scale toy soldiers could stand inside. All I managed to do was cause him horrendous injury, but the remains of his body stayed firmly wedged in place! My other toy soldiers had to continue fighting on foot...

After paint stripping the body shell, it received an undercoat of £ shop grey primer. I didn't try to strip the chassis as the axle was fixed in place, and I'd have melted the wheels off!

There is so much detail cast onto the vehicle that I decided not to add anything extra, though at some stage I might drill out the aerial mount next to the hatch and insert an antenna made from a guitar string.

The Stoat received a pretty standard modern UK colour scheme; Humbrol 75 matt bronze green, drybrushed with Humbrol 86 light olive green to bring out the detail. Camo stripes are black, and the whole vehicle received a light drybrush of Matt 93 desert yellow to give it a suitably used look. I find that the desert yellow looks pretty good on most vehicles, it gives a nice road-dusty effect but without looking too harsh.

Headlights were painted in with GW mithril silver and the vision blocks are Humbrol 104 oxford blue with a Humbrol 25 blue highlight. The tyres were touched up with matt black to cover any rogue patches of the grey undercoat or the green from the hubcaps.

I like the stowage! Pioneer tools have Matt 29 dark earth handles with matt 61 light grey blades, with a hint of GW chainmail around the working points where wear would occur. The fire extinguisher is very old GW woodland green (I've had it for about 20 years!) with a GW chainmail end. The hinges for all the various hatches had a few dabs of chainmail where the paint will have rubbed off as they are opened.

Although the Stoat may seem slightly oversized when placed alongside 15mm GZG NAC marines, it fits in very well with my DLD Kamodo AFVs, as you can see below. Review of the DLD vehicles (+ more photographs) to follow next time!