Wednesday, April 13

Read n’ Reviewed: AMMO’s “Encyclopedia of Armour Modelling Techniques Vol. 1 – Construction”

Recently we saw the first in a new series of encyclopedia detailing just how to make and finish aircraft models in some very precise detail from the guys at Ammo. We have seen this series expand to the ground bound vehicles with the first in a new series based on Tanks and AFV’s. Let’s take a look at the new volume of “Encyclopedia of Armour Modelling Techniques Vol. 1 – Construction” in today’s review…

Written by Diego Quijano & Mig Jimenez
Reference #A.MIG-6150
A4 Portrait format in softcover.
152 pages with over 800 full-colour photos.
Available in SEVEN languages – this review covers the English edition.
Price: 25€ + P&P Product link

Although the hobby of modelling is widespread all around the world I have not often seen many all-in-one books that focus on this subject alone. I have seen a very different type of modelling encyclopedia, in my childhood, I seem to recall books which were kind of an A-Z of modelling. This new book from Ammo is written by Diego Quijano with the concept coming from Mig Jimenez and it is as far away from that book I read as a child. Indeed, Mig Jimenez was the author & creator of the FAQ 1 and 2 which were the closest I have seen to this type of series until now in content.

 The gatefold cover flaps on the front and back serve as a good bookmark
This is an A4 softcover book of one hundred and fifty-two pages, with a softcover binding and it is full of brief text but notably a LOT of pictures that guide you through the model making progress.

This book is the first in the series (I think 5) of books that will cover every facet of the modern (and some older) ways of modelling. This book promises an intricate look at the subject that is broken into the major parts of model making. If they are all this size then the following books on Interiors & base colours, camouflage & markings, weathering, final touches are going to be very in-depth indeed. Today we are looking at the initial book in the series, which concentrates just on the art of construction of your model.
This book is a simply written thing with a focus on the images and some helpful writing to accompany it along the way. So let’s go through the chapters in the same way the book is written, a pictorial tome with helpful text to show you what’s in front of you. Let’s go…
After a brief intro from both Mig and Diego, we go straight into what’s inside the book. A helpful contents guide shows us a little of what is to come, three main chapters with sub-sections in each. Tools and preparation, assembly of vehicle interiors and assembly of the exterior – that should pretty much cover it – with all of the bits you need to bridge in between...
Firstly, we look at the tools of the trade Diego uses. These go from the very basic cutting, gluing and sanding tools to the more advanced photo etch bending and soldering tools through to moulding agents to cast your own parts. Other tools of the trade – more specifically references in the form of books, magazines, and the internet are of course mentioned.
We skip the what would be with most modellers the popular section about poring over the box and looking at the sprues and then putting the box on the shelf and not making the model (joking) but instead we get straight into the most basic of the techniques.

Cutting the parts off the sprue is different for some people and the art of cleaning the part and making it look like the object before gluing it is lost on some modellers. We look at Diego’s technique as well as removing seam lines and extra mould and flash, sink marks and filling ejector pin holes from not only plastic but fixing the imperfections of resin kits. Their troublesome bubbles and bent parts and removal of mould blocks are discussed. A little of the model making process is talked about in this section also that helps us understand where these imperfections come from.
We get into the second part of the book at just the 34th page mark which is good. We first look at the detailing of the interior of softskins, cars and trucks with the simulation of extra detail in the forms of the knobs, handles and switches the proliferate as well as the other details you might overlook if you only wanted a so-so model. This is a bit of a super detailing class that even the lazy modeller might use on their next kit.
We look at AFV’s next and their varied interiors. This has recently become an area of interest for those wanting to show something more than an exterior shell of their models. The engine details, interior ribbing and minor details like filling in ejector pins and making seats come alive with texture are added to with the complexity of resin aftermarket sets that light up your AFV but can be complicated to make.
Photo etch, the use of wire and small metal parts and rods as well as some basic but useful tips on scratch building are covered in both of the engine part of this chapter as well as the internal fighting compartment. The simple addition of these details can give a lot of life to a kit once the paint and weathering is applied and we see how it’s done in this second chapter.
The third major section of the book relates to the exterior of the vehicle. And of course it is the largest with just under one hundred pages dedicated to it. 
We look at basic construction first. The tricks of the trade that maybe we might not all have thought of are included here as well as the simplest hat we all know. At no place in this book however, does it seem like they are trying to teach our grandmothers to suck eggs – it’s all told with a straight bat. Not patronizing and mostly well written. The SBS (Step by Step) method of picture/ text is the very best way of instruction and the one I know I relate to the best. I think many modellers are pretty visually turned on and are the same way. 
We look at filling and sanding of those pesky gaps, with a special section dedicated to tinted superglue and other filling mediums, their benefits, and their minuses. Not just sanding and polishing the flat surfaces but the cutting of new lines in scribing and creating new seams and panel lines.
We get a little more advanced nest with the exterior assembly techniques. Adding things like the many grab handles that either had a seam on them or broke before or during sprue removal. The simple bending and placement of these and the different types of weld beads are also discussed here.
The finicky mesh grills that look so thick on the real thing but so thin on your 1/35th scale tank is shown in action. Photo Etch and superglue to join these as well as the making of new bolts and fasteners and large rivets are all her. Lumps and bumps are created and attached to the tanks and we see how this is done in a fashion that actually looks like the real thing once finished instead of thick stuff glued on the rear deck that doesn’t quite cut it. 
The outsides of the tank’s hull are important, but sometimes not to the model makers, and the Zimmerit, oxyacetylene cuts and weld lines, cast steel and rough rolled armour are discussed in the next part of this chapter. The use of your modelling tools to pare down the sometimes over exaggerated effect that models come with is also discussed here. 
The layering of materials than then finished are an eye opener to the sorts of finishes that you would think only the very best modellers have in their toolbox but it’s here for you to follow all in step by step.
The use of self-adhesive, aftermarket and photo-etched Zimmerit are also shown with the do-it-yourself approach also illustrated. However, missing from this guide I would have liked to have seen some more Zimmerit making tools in here and some of the different wafer pattern and some of the other variations included.
The cracked, ripped, bent and broken parts of an AFV are next discussed in the book. Battle damage (and bad driving) are shown in effect here with blast holes in hulls, cracked glacis plates all present.
Now we see some of the other aspects of damage to vehicles, with broken and blasted barrels, bent fenders, cracked and broken road wheels and scrubbed tyres are common and shown here in good old SBS – one picture – one paragraph. No soft skin damage is shown here but I suppose you can always use these methods on your cars, trucks and tractors just the same.
This last chapter is where you get to really try something you may not have done before. The more detailed approach to photo-etched parts is discussed, we go from superglue to soldering (soddering to you yanks) along with the basics of removing, sanding and finishing these parts is shown here.

Even the smallest of details like these jack wingnuts and tools clasps are shown in a how-to.
Those of you with barrel problems are not left out! No the realistic making of those nasty plastic and heavy metal guns are discussed here.  We also look at resin conversion and replacement parts and how to better combine them with your donor kit.
We look at some real artistry with the scratch building of parts next. The model you are really making is here with those who need that extra customization and uniqueness in their own model then this fairly detailed section is for you. There is some talent on display.
The black art of making your own resin parts is last in this book. The fashioning of your own part and then the casting is discussed over a few pages.
Well, what can I say? I have only taken an evening to get through and read this book but a part of me knows it is more a workbench tool than a reference book. You will take on some of these many, many SBS walkthroughs but I know I will come back to read this book to remember the tips when I need to recreate the best of my model I know I have seen and now have that easy guide to replicate it on my own benchtop. Well laid out, well written and not condescending, there is a lot to like about this book  just on first look.

But after you read it you note that some of this will be academic for modellers out there, but I bet even the smart arses out here could learn a trick or two from this book. The fact that there is no weathering or painting in this book is also a bonus. Simply because there are PLENTY of guides right now that show us that part of modelling, but precious little on the kit's construction as it's main focus. It works really well for those new or returning to the hobby as well.

This is a great book – bring on the other volumes.

Adam Norenberg

This new book is now available directly from the AMMO store and their Distributors... in not only single issue but a cheaper subscription rate for all issues. Thanks to them for sending it to us to read and review.