Monday, September 25

Read n Reviewed: On Display vol.4 - Under The Red Star - Soviet Hardware Step-By-Step

For their fourth volume of "On Display" Canfora Publishing centres their sights on the vehicles that bore the Red Star of the Soviet Union. These interesting vehicles have been in vogue of late – and what better way to capture the excitement of this genre than by a step by step pictorial publication (that is now on a pre-order discount special price.) We have read the book, and we thought we would hare the contents with you in our review...
Read n Reviewed: On Display vol.4 - Under The Red Star - Soviet Hardware Step-By-Step
Canfora Press
96 Total Pages
27cms high X 21cms long in portrait format 
250+ Progress Photos
Illustrated Techniques
8 Build Features in Step by Step
Price: 23,50€ from the Canfora Press Website - Product Link

We have seen three other "On Display" books from Canfora Press to date. On Display vol. 1 focused on Post-War Armour, On Display vol.2: featured the StuG III while On Display Vol.3 – was pointed at "British Steel", so what next? for another complete 90-degree turn Volume four in the series focuses on WWII Soviet armoured beasts.

The books in this series are softcover, in about 100 or so pages, and they feature step by step builds of several different models from very talented model makers and writers. The standard was high then, for this new volume on the Soviet beast of the Second World war in model form. We were keen to see what this volume was made of.

Physically, this book is 27cms high X 21cms long in portrait format with a glossy soft cover. The book is not that big, and I was interested to see how much of each build went into the book's chapters.

 There are eight builds in the book in total, ranging from a truck, to light tanks, to tank destroyers to heavy tanks in this book.  with talented modellers like Bernhard Lustig, Mario Eens, Murat Özgül, Björn Kågner, Andreas Grewin, Jorge Alvear, Sven Frisch and Özgür Günnar involved in making these models you are guessing that the builds will be of a top quality. The proof was in the pudding, however, so we decided to read through it and show you what we found in our own step by step...

Özgür Günnar's build of the mighty KV-1S in 35th scale is first off the mark. It is the Trumpeter kit that is being made, and Özgür's build goes for about ten pages. To say that it is a "build" is misleading, cause most of the article is about painting and weathering the kit. We see some info on track and the texturing of the turret and lastly a helpful tip on getting the info on exactly how long your track links need to be on your kit (very smart) but that is it for the construction.

The kit's painting is next, and the Vallejo paint set sees it in a suitable set of shades of green, the weathering begins on the tracks,  and rest of the vehicle and even a figure. I have noticed already that the style of the builds in this book is that of block text, which is backed up by pictures with numbers that relate to supporting short captions. The information is kind of doubled up upon, and It is up to the reader if they like this or not. It gives two option of learning to the reader of the book. More of  Özgür's work at the end of the book to follow...

Mario Eens is second to throw his hat into the ring in this book. His take on Tamiya's GAZ-AA Model 1941 cargo truck in 48th scale is an eleven-page build, of again - a mix of block text, pictures and small text to support it. The dainty look of this truck can be seen in the construction of the chassis and early stages when the truck is at its barest. The construction is again a small part of the build, the painting a larger focus of the book. Mario is an excellent painter, so I was looking forward to seeing his work in the build.

With such a small vehicle in this smaller 48th scale,
 the detail of the ageing and weathering has to be just right. It is at this stage where the pictures and text really are helpful, as you can see the degrees of weathering given to the various parts of the kit. The modeller did some good research, and he has come out with something unique amongst these, mainly weapon carrying Russian themed kits. Well done on the finish of this vehicle Mario.

Sven Frisch's little tank destroyer from Miniart is next. The Su-76 is made from the Tamiya kit from last year - so we were interested to see how it built up. The pictures on the title page look pretty good. We were interested to see Sven'ss work. Sven has given us nine pages in his article - but not one picture of construction.... a little on the engineering and some talk about crisp figures - that is it. I wanted to see more of the kit's quality or idiosycracies before it was covered with paint.

The paint job, however, is spot on, but again far too short. I am frustrated about missing out on something here already. The weathering is next, with details on painting the smaller features and how Sven made the whitewashed texture and the oils that he used to bring more colours to the 4BO shades of the tank. I love the model Sven has turned out, but the audience for this book is more often than not people who want to learn how to make something similar for themselves. They need help - this article needs to be slowed down a little maybe, as the detail in the writing needs to be a little more fleshed out for a wider range of readers. that was continuing thought in this chapter.

Björn Kågner's model of the IS-2 "Stalin's Tank Knocker" is the next model in the book. This bruiser of a tank is recreated here from the Tamiya kit with aftermarket metal tracks and photo-etch additions. The eleven pages are fairly well divided into a build - with heaps of pictures and text on construction, Photo Etched bending and texture detailing, then painting and weathering, each of these parts not outdoing each other.

I also found the text and the captions on this article to be closer to the "action" - more immediately next to what you are looking at, with less block text and more captions that help take the guesswork out of the pictures that tell the story. This model is also very nicely executed, with just enough damage to add interest.

The Su-100 tank destroyer is next. A model by Bernhard Lustig in 35th scale of the Dragon kit with a bunch of resin stowage on the rear of the engine deck - alas, we talk more about the inspiration of the kit than the building process, then Bernhard gets to painting the kit in earnest.

The weathering and paints used here are mostly AMMo products. I am really happy to see several different paint and weathering supplies used in this book. It gives it a feel of independence from a particular method or line of products and allows a larger section of modellers to take something out of the build that may use a material they are familiar with. On the other hand, it may clue the reader in to another material or way of doing things. I am glad to see the variety on show here. This model looks great in the final wash up, and the captions again outweighed the block text in the finishing sections which I think works better as it is more of a visual section of the book.

Andreas Grewin's OT-34 tank is next in the Soviet line to be represented in 35th scale. There are a bunch of kits that you could choose to make in 35th, but Andreas went with Dragon's flame-throwing version of the T-34 kit. I share his pain when I read of his problems of multiples of the same lettered sprue and extra parts from changing moulds to make new variants of the same model from Dragon (I also share his frustrations with citadel's chaos black primer). He has added to the base kit with lots of aftermarket extras as you can see in the finished build.

There are several details that add to the visual appeal of this kit, the tools around haphazardly laid about, the missing wheel, the crushed and bent up rear grill are of note. Also, the groundwork that the modeller makes and takes us through are handy parts for a reader to see.

The next build is a dual effort, with the team of Murat Özgül & Jorge Alvear coming together to make a T-70 from Miniart in 35th scale that is a difficult little kit to make but here put together by a collective of two modellers, the author of the piece confessing that he had a little less to do than his hard-working comrade - Surely that's not the Soviet way? However, the work that is in the fenders and toolboxes, along with all of the other prep really makes this model. The build itself is eleven pages long, and the build section covers two of those pages.

We then painted the tank and weather it, a whitewash scheme heavily distressed with the hairspray technique works well over the AMMO, Vallejo and Tamiya paint used. Again some variation of the materials for the right application inpress me. This book does not feel like a glorified paint catalogue, and I think that modellers will appreciate this approach - I know I have so far.

Özgür Günnar isn't finished until the fat lady sings in this book - and his second model is the light tank BT-7 kit from Tamiya in 35th scale. I like the way that Özgür  has taken us through his build, and especially the parts that he improved like the tracks and the photo etch grill mesh. The kit is simple, but I appreciate the time taken on these things that influence the model's look before you further customize it with paint.

This last model of the book covers ten pages that are very neatly divided into building, adding colour too, and weathering the model. The build is nicely laid out - almost the best layout in the book, and it is simple to follow. I will forgive Özgür  for taking more of his equal shar of the book in the two articles - but this is a nvery nice result and a good way to end the book.

Apparently, there may be a volume II of this particular subject on the way. The publishers will have no trouble finding a lot more Soviet inspired model makers after they have read this book. 

There are small things I did not like about the book. Mostly about pacing and the "division of labour" between equal sections of build, paint and weathering. This is just this reviewer's choice. Those who love the paint on plastic and everything about it will love this book.

Looking forward to seeing more of Stalin's chariots in the next issue.
Adam Norenberg

You can get "On Display vol.4 - Under The Red Star - Soviet hardware step-by-step" now at 23,50€ from the Canfora Website. Thanks to them for sending this book to us to read and review...