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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Bolt Action - Review - Rubicon Models Panther G


Hey guys, today we are going to be looking at one of Rubicon Models recently released plastic kits: the Panther G. This late war variant was kindly sent to us by the guys at Rubicon themselves, and I was lucky enough to have a go at assembling and painting the beast. Lets take a closer look at the kit!


Unboxing 

First thing you will notice is the box is covered in awesome art and historical information. A basic history of the Panther's production and fighting career is great for the novice, I must admit I didn't know the difference between the different marks of Panther until having a read. Rubicon also makes a second Panther box covering the earlier A and D variants. All their miniatures are 1:56 scale.



The box is jam packed with sprues. 3 to be exact, plus assembly instructions and a set of decals. Looking at the sprues, the parts are crisp and well moulded and no parts seem to 'thin' or at risk of snapping to easy. One thing I kept noticing is that you can tell this kit was designed for wargaming, no tiny thin components like a Tamiya 1:48 kit or unnecessary parts to assemble.


Assembly 

The instructions are easy to follow and the sprues and parts are labeled and easy to find. In fact, the kit assembles so logically that at times I was just building away without them. No problem, the build doesn't have any 'hidden' traps were you could accidentally ruin it. It's really logical and easy.

The parts fit so well that the kit almost falls together, I am guessing because the master was designed digitally in a 3D program.


I particularity loved how the road wheels and tracks assembled. The road wheels are designed in three layers and then the tracks are added, you get lot's of deep, crisp detail and once again the parts fall together. It made me realise what an absolute nightmare it would have been for Panther crews to fix a damaged road wheel, as they interlock. Imagine taking them all off under fire to replace a busted one! No wonder so many had to be abandoned in the field.  


Assembling the Rubicon Panther G took me about 45 minutes all up. The minimal amount of clean-up needed was only were pieces where joined to sprues and this was done with a sharp modelling knife. I used Tamiya plastic glue with the needle point, making it quick and clean to glue the parts. This is about the amount of time taken to clean up and assemble your average resin kit, I would have thought plastic kits like this would have taken longer, so I was happy about this.


Another great piece of design is the turret locks into the hull once put in place and turned. No magnets needed here. So, in all, the Rubicon Panther G is a crisp casted, well designed and easy to assemble miniature. My only fault I have with the kit is the lack of any stowage or crew figures. I like to customise my vehicles and find these add a bit of life to the tanks. I think it would be great if Rubicon ends up releasing maybe a generic kit for each nation with tank stowage and extra parts plus some crew. I am really happy with this kit though and will be picking up some more, 4 out of 5 tank tracks from me.

Customizing the Panther

You will have noticed in the photos I have added some extra stowage and a tank commander. I am currently in the middle of painting a large Royal Hungarian Army for Bolt Action, and so decided to integrate this kit in to the project. The Panther has turned out to be a great centerpiece for the fledgling force.


I wanted to make this Panther a bit special and was inspired by the story of Hungarian tank ace Ervin Tarczay, so this is his ride. Ervin has been converted using a Warlord Games German tank crew body, a Belgian head and a set of 1:48 Tamiya German headphones from an accessory sprue. He was famous for leading his crew from the turret and aggressive maneuvering, even driving over enemy AT guns to crush them under the tracks.

Researching the colour scheme and markings for the 10 or so Panthers that Hungary received from Germany in 1944 was difficult. I couldn't find any colour reference and so had to make an educated guess. All the Hetzers and Stugs that Germany delievered to the Hungrians were left in their "factory finish" of plain Dunklegelb. Due to the desperate nature of the fighting, there was no time to repaint them. I am guessing the Panthers were the same, so I just added the late war Hungarian national symbol of the white cross on black to give it some flavour.


Painting tips 

I'll go over a quick painting guide for anyone who's interested. I began with a black primer spray. After it is dry spray over this with Plastic Soldier Company German Dunklegelb. Then, to add some crude modulation I oversprayed from the top with Army Painter Skeleton Bone. This highlighted the upper areas of armour plate.



I used the Panther to experimented with some new enamel paints I picked up from AK interactive, the DAK set to be exact. Like all oil based paints, you need to protect the acrylic paint underneath first with a gloss varnish or the paint will be stripped off by the white spirit used with the oil paints. Before doing this I painted the tracks black, then drybrushed silver. I also painted the machine guns and basic colours on the stowage.


Make sure you apply any transfers before this varnish as well, so you can seal them in and protect them. After letting the gloss varnish dry over night it was time to try out the enamels. The picture above shows the result of applying the 'wash' from the set. 45 minutes or so after it's applied I took a make-up applicator stick and wiped off the wash from all areas that didn't need it, such as the raised areas - basically only leaving it in the crevasses.


Next I applied some 'streaking grime' from the set, which is a dark grey colour. I used this on the big vertical panels wherever I imagined the rain to be streaking down. I put it on in basic brush strokes and let it dry like the wash before. Then, I again took some white spirit and wiped it down to soften the blending.


Lastly I added some chipping to the edges of some areas. This was done in two stages. First grab a piece of blister pack foam (it's grey and sponge like) and then dip this in some VJ 984 Flat Brown. Wipe most of it off and then simply sponge this onto areas that would have chipping occur. Places like handrails and anywhere the crew is climbing around, plus any armour plates that would experience impacts. After the sponging of the brown paint I take a fine detail brush and 'highlight' these flat chips so they have the illusion of depth. For this I used a slighty watered down VJ 847 Dark Sand. It actually doesn't take too long once you get the hang of it.


Close up of Ervin Tarczay, Hungarian tank ace. The blue collar tabs denote armoured and motorised troops.

The Panther was based on 3mm Plasticard, texture added with pollyfilla from a hardware store.

The late war Hungarian national symbol is the white cross on black square, designed for low visibility.

Overall my impressions of this kit were that it was easy to assemble and a great kit to paint. The quality of the design is really impressive and it was a very fun kit to paint. I am very excited to see what kits Rubicon releases in 2015.



Do you have any Rubicon plastic kits you can show off? Post them up on this thread:

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