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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bolt Action - When Tank Tracks Give You Lemons...

At this point, I think we all realize that sometimes, the model you receive is not exactly what you thought it would be. What to do in these situations? Call the company and spend more time figuring out how it will all be sorted out? Or do you simply gut it because, man, you really want to get that tank on the table?

If you've faced this dilemma - and at this point I've faced it a few times - you know what I'm talking about. You waited potentially months for an overseas company to send something to you. It arrives and is completely disappointing. What a let down.

Assuming you have the time, you can usually work it out with the firm. It's anyone's guess as to how quickly they can turn it around for you. Are you willing to gamble? What if you've got a tournament in a month? You might have ordered it months ago, knowing that the company in question sometimes takes months to send you something. There might be no time to wait for a turn around, or you might simply be too impatient to wait. That's when you need to get dirty.

Pictures speak a thousand words; at least. These tracks are - ahem - not going to cut it. I've actually skipped the rest of the tank, because as you can see, it's been covered with extra stowage. That's not because it's filled with gypsies, that's because of all the flaws.

Tons of flaws covered by strategically placed stowage. To be fair, and my thousand-word-speaking pictures have certainly already told you, there wasn't enough stowage to cover every flaw. This article isn't about bashing something, though. I'm sure I could have contacted the firm and received either a refund or a replacement. That wasn't in the cards for me, though, because as many have heard, I need to get a T-28 finished pronto!

In hindsight, it was a great feeling, deciding to try and salvage some semblance of respectability out of this stinker. Any attempt whatsoever to hide the many flaws should improve the appearance. This liberated me to throw anything that came to mind at this monstrosity. It couldn't get worse!

Immediately following the spray coat, I started applying layers of what would become my "mud" to conceal the sculpting issues. If I had stopped to think about it, I should have applied the base of the mud, Vallejo Pumice Texture, before spray painting the green on. There are many granularity options with pumice texture products, and I can't say I like one better than the other to work with. I can say that I like using these on infantry bases, and had never tried to mask something on a vehicle with it before.

I was concerned that if I applied too much, it would seem ridiculous, and if I applied too little, it wouldn't have the desired effect. Being a hack modeler and painter, there's never really a moment when I'm comfortable with a step, and this was the same. I slapped on what I felt looked like a realistic amount of grit onto the tracks - most importantly covering all the bad sculpting between wheels - and left it to dry overnight. I made some attempt at spreading it in a manner that seemed consistent with the splashes from a vehicle travelling forward, but of course the flaws themselves generally dictated where the mud would be.

The rest of the process you can probably imagine. I painted over all the muddy areas with a dark brown color, then heavily washed it with a brown wash. Afterwards, I quickly dry-brushed it with a lighter brown, bringing it to the level you see above.

I also took advantage of this experiment by using copious amounts of wash, something I try to avoid with vehicles. Using downward strokes, moving towards the tracks from the center areas of the tank, I spread way more wash that I ever had before, leaving dark streaks down the tank, hopefully moving with gravity like water marks. The streaks are more apparent on the picture that shows the mud, while the photo above indicates clearly a big hurdle I now faced.

Using so much wash I'd created a shining disco ball of a tank. You needed sunglasses to look at it; and while at first forcing my opponent to wear shades seems desirable - my goal being concealing all the ugly -  drawing attention to such a hog by having it gleam like the moon was a bad idea. Luckily, I had one last tool in this pig's makeup kit.

Time to whip out the Tamiya Weather Master kit! Nemesis A has used these on several tanks, and I've always liked the effects for the amount of time he claimed it took to apply. Before weathering, I put on three coats of Testor's Dullcote. I've often used specialty matte primers "made for" miniature war gaming, but I will probably never do that again. The Dullcote worked better than any other product I'd ever used.

In the picture above, the tank on the right has received three coats of Dullcote. The one on the left has received the coats and a dusting with the sand color that comes in the Tamiya Weather Master kit. I include this shot to show how much even the shiniest of shiny vehicles can be dulled down. I decided I didn't like the sand color, as it was too drastic a contrast for my taste; and one of the best features of this weathering material is it can be removed easily if you don't like the effect. I did remove the sand, favoring the mud color instead.

That last sentence, I'm sure, seems quite obvious to most. However, it leads me to a significant point about the Weather Master. All the colors seem much darker in the container. They really lighten up with they're on top of a dark green tank surface. I was sure "mud" was too dark a color with all the brown already on this tank. I was wrong!

The twins came out pretty well, as far as I'm concerned. They're not the sort of thing I'd enter in a painting contest, but I do feel like all the stowage, mud, and dust does a pretty good job hiding most of the flaws, making them at least table-worthy. Like an extreme makeover reality show, if you slap enough makeup on your nasty vehicles, you just might be able to pass them as normal vehicles! Maybe!

Looking through these shots, I might go back and Dullcote the tracks again. They might just look too wet, not that I wanted them to seem dry. You artists out there with a natural knack for this sort of thing make me jealous!

Do you have any horror stories about your models? Have you performed miracles with next to nothing? Tell us about it on the forum!

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