Monday, September 8

Review: TankArt III Modern Armor from Rinaldi Studio Press

With a massive build-up (sometimes this is healthy) after their ground-breaking Tank Art 1 & 2 books, Rinaldi Studios has released their third opus in the series – “TANKART 3 – Modern Armor” is here and this time the focus is on modern armoured vehicles. We loved TI & TII– let’s have a look at what is instore for us all in #III…

TankArt 3 – Modern Armour
Rinaldi studio Press
224 pages
Format: 8.5”W x 9.5”H
Softcover W/special LayFlat Binding
Over 500 images
You can get this directly from RSP for US$40 plus P&P from this link.
(There are also deals to get one, two or three of these books int he series at a discounted rate)

I am not jesting in any way when I say that I think that the TankArt series of books by Mike Rinaldi are some of the easiest to follow and helpful books on modelling armour and military vehicles I have in my possession – we have reviewed No#1 here and N0#2 here. That out of the way I look at everything I review as an editor and there are one or two questions I had when reading this that I had to ask. More on that later. A little now bout this book in it’s physical form before we get into content.

 Mine arrived safe in a box and bubble wrap from RSP directly
TankArt III has an expanded page count to 224 pages filled with two chapters on Mike’s techniques then on to six full model chapters, five by Michael Rinaldi and two exclusively brand new projects – one of those being from the special guest author Andy Taylor.
The matte softcover book is 8.5 inches wide X 9.5inches high and it looks very like a high end product. Again the author’s previous work in graphical design is featured throughout the book from cover to cover. The segments are clearly defined and several parts are clearly highlighted using orange boxes to bring to the fore an aspect the author wants you to take notice of.

Another thing that impressed me was the “LayFlat” binding of this book. I have not seen this in many books of the type but this The LayFlat binding allows you to open the book up completely and keep it open without having to plonk anything on the pages to keep it open. If you are reading on the go as you model and trying to replicate these techniques the book is hassle free and it stays in place. I don’t need any more mess on my modelling bench from book pages catapulting my tea across the table when I bump it! Here is the book from side on showing what I mean.
In fact all of the pictures I took at this book were after I had read it. It now looks just as nice as it did over a week ago when I started to read it and cart it around in my work bag. I know this might not be a big thing to most but I don’t like shabby book on the shelf and I don’t think most others do either.

The main thing you notice when looking at this book the first time is the real quality in the visuals. Images are shot in perfect focus by a competent photographer in all stages of the build. These tell the story as well as any block text. Sometimes the block text actually gets in the way a little and the author could actually save himself some time by cutting down on a little of the block text.
Firstly we have a very fitting pre-amble by a man with a vested interest in modern Armour Pere Pla. Pere is the Editor of the Abrams Squad magazine and his who “thing” is modern armour. This magazine them would be a great addition to anyone interested in Post WWII AFV’s and Pere’s introduction is very good. Mike then takes you through an introduction of his own. He is very sure about the way he wants to go about his modelling and in this two page intro he outlays what he has been up to since T.A.II. It is good to see an author so knowledgeable give his true feelings on the modelling world and how they relate to it.

After reading the intro I see there was a bit of adjustment in this book after T.A.II. The figure section featured at the end of the book in earlier books is gone. I quite liked it and found a lot of cries in anguish about it a bit dramatic. I think we all need help with figures and there were some wonderful tips and help in the previous two books. I emailed the author with the question about this omission but he made clear that there will still be figure modelling and painting tips in the series and he plans to integrate them into the chapters rather than make them a feature on their own.
Another feature I noticed right away was the inclusion on some adverts in the book. This prickled me originally - as if I am buying a book I would like to feel that the price is enough. After some thought I calmed down and realized that the adverts were not in the way of any builds. They are four single page advert thoughtfully placed in-between (2 at the break before the build chapters and one at the start and one at the end of the book.) I suppose there are more pages already in this book so any a page at the start and the end and two in the middle aren’t worth the effort I took in bringing them up this paragraph.
In the first real part of the book the author talks about and shows off the Products and Materials that he used in the models he makes. Rinaldi is definitely a fan of priming before painting the top coat and the use of Tamiya and the similar Lifecolor acrylics , he goes on to explain why he does favour these as well as the airbrush he uses, also the use of pigments and the way that he uses these materials.

In the section about Weathering Principles the author discusses the use of layering of materials and artistic scale-ism before in his two earlier books and he goes on to talk about them and his evolution of style in this chapter.

The tightrope of Combining Hairspray & Oil Paint is next in the next section. “HS and OPR” are at the core of Rinaldi’s weathering surfaces on his models and in this chapter he shows you how he combines these two to further enhance the result of this painting process. This has been talked about before but TAIII talks more about the newer substitutes on the market now and how their positives and negatives. A little workshop on what you might be doing wrong is a great reference as well. The use of oil paints over chipped and streaked metal to filter, wash and highlight is first spoken about and handed to you in highlighted boxes like a summary after class. This is a good way of teaching the class.

Pigments are next. The dust mud and dirt on the vehicle and how they outscore pastels is discussed as are the author’s use of oils and other soft paints applied over pastels to highlight stains and changes of soil colours and texture. This is a simple but helpful two pages.

The builds:
Before we start to go through them ill chat a little on the structure of each build. Each of these builds features a double page spread intro with a monochrome image and an in depth build without paint showing you just what is under the layers – then we see the stages pretty much step by step in orange boxes with a little block text in addition as the spine of the article.

Each of these articles has a new feature of a simple lot of colours used in the build in a section at the start of the painting process telling you just when and how the colour was applied. Materials and consumables used are included in pictures as well but never taking first place over the model which is good. A variety of different stuff is used as well which to me is another big tick.
At the end of each build is a two pages spread of reminders of each step with a little photograph showing just where this process was used. Again the lesson and summary – someone was paying attention at school. OK onto the first build now – and it’s a Doobi – I mean doozie…

First of all in the builds section is the awesome Vajra resin kit of the 1/35th scale D9R “Doobi” armoured bulldozer. This is a far more difficult kit to build than the newer MENG injection moulded version so the completed kit is a bit of a wonder to behold. This build was interesting to me as I want to make one of these and the multiple layers of paint and scratching, more paint and scratching make this build like an onion if you are not prepared to do your homework. 
Nest we see a Kabul graveyard setting Russian T-62M1. You see this tank that was to be portrayed as a ghost vehicle from fresh faded green and camouflaged version through the chipping and oil paint rendering into a left behind relic of a failed conflict and you can see all of the wear on that war in the surface of the tank’s hull.
The French AMX-30B MBT from MENG is next in this title. Thought this is a new tooling there is still improvements to be done. Texture and details were added before the undercoat went on, and then paint base colour. Surprisingly for me this was shipped before the top camo colours were applied and then the final chipping and weathering with pigments and again the OPR. This vehicle was supposed to be used on a targeting range so the extra weathering here is justified and very well executed with many different tones to each of the shades of colour and rust represented.
The resin kit of the desert camo FV221 Caernarvon is next. This sun bleached vehicle was used in peace time so no war scars were needed for this – jut a faded desert sand over the original green and below that some rust. This is a lot more of a basic scheme but with restrained chipping and washes with pigments the author has shown what can still be achieved here.
The Tamiya base kit with several resin extras to make this T-72B conversion is next in line. The author tries Vallejo paints this time and their new chipping fluid. Vallejo always makes me worry when trying to give it a chipped effect and the author found this as well but also importantly found a way around this and laid it down here. You can see how he made the best out of the rest of the build using different chipping and wear techniques to still pump out a very good model.
Tracks and running gear is a most important part of your tank model and they are delved into on several occasions throughout this book
The guest author spot in this book is taken up by talented modeller Andy Taylor. He builds the Iraqi MT-LB that looks like it has just been abandoned in a big hurry! The large amount of scratch building that Andy has done here really does add a lot in the finished vehicle’s look and the scattering of personal effects, and the beaten look of this desert bus really remind me of watching the war on television news seeing soldiers surrendering en masse. It is nice to have another voice in the book as the text is so omnipresent it brings a fresh point of view to the plate.
Ok so there we have it. The images of this book and the visual style coupled with the narrative from a very good story teller make this an apt addition to the series. The subject matter is hot right now and most importantly the models on display are like the models of your dreams. The only thing missing now is scenery (and some figures - did i mention i miss that part :)? ).
A great book that is just as good a read as the other two in this series and a must have if you are interested in AFV modelling, especially post war vehicles.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to RSP for sending this book to review - To get this book all you need to do is to head to the Rinaldi Studio Press (and their swanky new website which mirrors these books) at