Tuesday, May 31

Read n' Reviewed: Mike Rinaldi's "SM.02 S-65 City Tractor"

We have just read Mike Rinaldi’s new book “SM.02” which is the second in this new series of books that feature a single model type in the one book. I say single model type because there might be more than one kit in here. And that kit is the Soviet S-65 City Tractor in 35th scale. Let’s take a look to see what the book is like in today’s review...

Read n' Reviewed: SM.02 S-65 City Tractor.
Book by Mike Rinaldi6.5" x 7.5" softcover
127 pages, English Text.
Price $20 USD (+ Add A Signature $10.00)
P&P note: 1-2 SM books ship free in U.S., 1 SM book international only $5 USD
US ISBN 978-0-9883363-5-3
Available from Mike’s Rinaldi Studio Press website

The new Rinaldi Studio Press “SM Series” is a new book series that author and graphic artist Mike Rinaldi has introduced to focus on one subject in one book – usually with the making of one single model. We know Mr Rinaldi’s work through his TANKART series of books and the first in this series that featured the “Fish Submarine” which we looked at also here on TMN. This book in the series focusses on one kit – the popular Trumpeter kit of the 1/35th scale Stalinetz S.65 Russian Army tractor kit.
Like the first book in this series, this little book has the physical dimensions 6.5" x 7.5” in a softcover portrait format. Although this book is a very visual-based affair (the author is a graphic designer when he isn’t making modelling books) the small space of each page is used to the maximum with the pictures chosen to fit this spaces as much as is possible.  The page count has increased from 97 to 127 pages with this edition for the same price – nice!

The book is bound in a softcover special linen stock that feels and looks so much to me like a throwback to some of the reference books you might have owned when you were young. The penguin or Bantam books that were once your reading staples could call this their long lost cousin from the next century.

The main point of this book is the How (marked “H”) and the Why (marked “W”) of the creation process. These two things, why the author did what he did and just how he came to the end result are the driving beat to this book. One goes hand in hand with the other and for each step of the way Rinaldi lets us know his thoughts and aims of how he wants the model to look and the steps he took to get there – good and the not so successful – to get to the finishing post. 
In this book the Author is not afraid of letting you know of his miss-steps which is really encouraging to know. None of us are born as perfect modellers and it’s nice to know even the best in the hobby need to practice and experiment. You will see the “H” & the “W” right throughout these sample pages.

To properly know what it’s all about we thought we would take you through it after we got to read it. Let’s go cover to cover.

We talked a little about the look of this book – but I have to say I love it’s feel the most, with a wrinkled woven surface on the cover, it almost has an organic feel, while the pages have that thick quality almost bespoke feel. As it says on the RSP website the interior paper is an eco-friendly 30% post-consumer waste recycled uncoated stock - it looks good in print and is tactile to the fingers as you turn the pages. The author has put some thought into the layout and feel of all of his titles so far and this series has raised the bar for others to envy.

This book it is made with classic perfect glue binding, using the best glue they could find to seal it all in there. It opens up fully (no cracking) and stays fully open without wanting to close on your workbench so you can use the references without somehow having to develop a third hand. The book then closes without large creases being left on the cover also.

The book starts off with the admission that this book – which has set out to be all about one model – this time used two kits in its production. The author used two of the 1/35th scale Stalinetz S.65 Russian Army tractor kits, but the first one was used as a testbed for a new technique that the author has wanted to try. The “Windex removal technique” is a real focus of this book and the author takes us through how he adds this to his tool bag as well as two old favourites of his modelling cannon.

After a brief introduction, the author talks a little about his modelling aims with this book, how he was inspired by the municipal vehicles that surround his home and how those tough but weathered vehicles were a source of his inspiration and possible colour choices for the models in this book.

Two of the things the Rinaldi uses in every model so far are the “Hairspray technique” and “Oil paint Rendering” or “HS” & “OPR.” Those who know nothing about these two techniques are in luck because we look at both of them in two small chapters. 

The author also talks about testing and practice in a short chapter. This is an interesting set of pages what show us his inner thoughts about testing and practising the techniques that you may want to use to increase your skillset, and not just to have one go at them all and expect them to work the first time. This really rang home true for me as I had seen a lot of people give up on something just because it didn’t work so well at first.

No need to feel left out or lagging behind as the modeller explains both the hairspray and OPR techniques fully in a short space of time. Of all the books Mike has written and talked about these two techniques this is the shortest and most concise that I have read and so the easiest to understand for me.

A lot of model maker’s books nowadays focus on the finishing of a project. I recall that I liked it that in SM.01 we looked at building the kit, with tips from the author that he uses in his builds. Now, here, again he gives us some of his handy hints that he has used in the building of this kit, from construction with what sort of glues he uses to how to get the best out of your track assembly.

Rinaldi also brings up things to look out for in the assembly of the kit. These are brought about with a white circle which shows exactly what he is talking about. In the ladies’ magazines, this is called the “circle of shame” and it usually points out some wardrobe malfunction or sweat patch – but here it deftly points out what he is talking about with no room for vagueness.

The next chapter is concerned (naturally) with the painting process on both vehicles. The H & W is laid out from early on letting you know just what the author has in mind for both the test and the main model in colours and the mixes of these colours. We also look at some sample pictures that Mike took of local municipal vehicles and the effects that he would like to replicate on his modelling journey. These put you firmly into his mind and his thought process and teach you a little about how others go about their own works. Learning like this from well-practiced modellers who can easily communicate their methods is always educational and it’s actually engaging to read, something lost to a lot of model book authors.

In this painting chapter, we learn about the importance of using the RIGHT paint and the importance of the right primer, followed with the importance of the order of colours so that your weathering and finishing techniques work the right way. From the rust layer to the top coats, this matters and the process from start to finish, from the very base to the topcoat that will get distressed, it all needs to be done in the right order, and we see here how Mike did his. Something occurs to me while reading this chapter – the modeller is not bound to a single paint supplier so there is no preaching of a certain brand here. He uses Tamiya acrylic for use with the techniques he uses – but apart from that this is NOT a painting catalogue (phew.)

We next go into something of a new thing for me. Called the “Windex removal technique” here, it is one of the focusses of this title (just as much as the model I would say) as the journey here is just as important as the end result in these “SM” books.

Having no sight of the Windex technique before I was intrigued but I did feel kind of silly for not thinking about it before. The layers of paint that the author talked about in the last chapter are very important to this method. The use of this new(ish) method of weathering along with the hairspray technique with different subtleties of each method is clear to see in the writing and pictures that illustrate it in this book.

Now most of us would call the Windex and hairspray weathering the vehicle, but this author STARTS what he calls weathering at this point. The OPR (oil paint rendering) of this kit is the large step in his process and something Mike is well known for, who better to learn from? We see the listed paints and palette techniques that he uses with some tips in here that will save time for beginners and maybe the old hares as well.

The way that the author layers his pigments and oils is also an eye opener, it gives the vehicle depth and a history, this along with the streaking effects and fading of the weathered paint make this model look like it has seen the long, hard life that was laid out in the concept of the model at the start of the book.

The author was impressed with the kit tracks, and he sets about painting and weathering them in the next part of the book. Many of the techniques already shown in the book are recalled here.

We also look at the leather on the large bench seat. This worn leather is one of the focusses of the finishing touches, along with the clear lights of the tractor, and the last additions like the towing cables and wiring of the lights.

The author then treats us to several pages of the model in a picture gallery. I do not know who took all of the pictures in this book but they deserve some credit. If it was the modeller/ author it makes me even more jealous of his obvious talent. We see both of these tractors in the gallery and it’s a satisfying end to the journey.

As a last note, the author includes a four page SBS (step by step) gallery reference (with page numbers to take you directly to the action) at the end of the book. This is great for the pick-up-put-down use of this book as it sits close to your workbench.

And that is who this book is aimed at – the modeller who wants to learn, wants to try new things, to get better by practising and by keeping their ears and eyes open to other people’s ideas and tutelage. This book is for those people.

Yes, I am talking about YOU - the modellers out there who want to improve, the good readers of TMN.

A great book to add to this new series, and dare I say a slight improvement on the first edition which I also loved. After being my constant companion on my recent trip to Japan with me (still in good condition on our return) it now sits close to my workbench…

Adam Norenberg

You can now get this book, and it's little brother - No 1 in the series - from Mike’s Rinaldi Studio Press website - SM.03 is currently at the printer and should be ready very soon.