Tuesday, May 21

Construction, Painting & Weathering Review: Sturmtiger from Xinshi (Shinji) Hobby

They are a lot more than meets the eye these "cute" or "Egg" scale tanks - from the most basic looking premise of an "egg-xagerated" representation of a real vehicle into something that could pass for a real machine is the aim of every modeller, and Andy Moore has taken on the new "Sturmtiger" from Xinshi (Shinji) Hobby in just such an eggzercise...(Ill get my coat). See how he did it in his guide...

Construction, Painting & Weathering Review: Sturmtiger
Manufacturer – Xinshi (Shinji) Hobby
Kit Number – 07315Z
Scale - Non
Price - ¥1,984 • US $18 • £14 • €16 from Hobbylink Japan

If you're a regular visitor here at TMN you'll know we're big fans of the current trend in toon style kits, particularly those from Meng through their World War Toons game collaboration. They're not the only manufacturer joining in the fun though, with more companies releasing kits in this style all the time. I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting releases and, while idly browsing the wares of a Chinese model shop on a well known auction site, I stumbled across an entirely new company to me who have released their own range of toon tanks.
We saw some of these new kits at the Shizuoka show last week
This new range of four toon tanks comes from the Chinese company Xinshi Hobby, or possibly Shinji Models; there seems to be some confusion as to their actual name. The only name in English on my box is Rainbow Forest, so make of that what you want. While I got my copy direct from China, the kits are now available from Hobbylink Japan and are distributed by Doyusha. In addition to the Sturmtiger I'm building here, they also produce a KV-2, Tiger I, and a Sherman.
I have to admit that when I first saw these kits, I initially thought that they were possibly knock-off re-casts of the Meng kits, but after looking at photos of the parts, it was clear that they were entirely new and original models. Now, you may be looking at that “interesting” box art and thinking “what the hell is this!”, and that feeling would probably grow on lifting the lid and seeing the contents. In truth though, that's exactly why I ordered the kit, as I'm a sucker for anything different, and this is very definitely different!
There's not a lot in the box, but what's there is very well moulded and very colourful. The sprues are moulded (as if you couldn't see) in pink, purple and yellow. Actually, make that PINK, PURPLE and YELLOW as this thing doesn't hold back when it comes to making an impact.
The parts breakdown and level of detailing is very similar to what you'd find in one of Meng's toon tanks and, like those kits, the parts are designed to simply snap together with minimum clean-up or other remedial work required.
It may be hard to do but, if you look past the technicolor gaudiness and allow for the cartoon nature of the kit, the company have worked a lot of realistic details into the parts. The winch for loading shells and the rear-mounted jack and block have been reproduced.
The main hull and casemate come as three separate parts and, again, have good levels of detail. Although it sounds odd given the style, I'd say these kits are proportionally better than the Meng ones. They're still cartoony but somehow look closer to the real thing.
Now we get onto the pièce de résistance with this kit. A set of pre-assembled individual link working tracks. These have been produced in a very novel way with lengths of synthetic string moulded integrally with the links to provide articulation. You may think that tracks held together with string sounds a bit shoddy, but it actually works really well, and is way better than a set of rubber band tracks.
You even get a few metal components in the box, although nothing as fancy as photo etch. There's a metal axle for attaching the drive sprockets, two metal pins for connecting the ends of the track runs, and a simple spring that's used to hold the barrel in position.
The instruction manual is very reminiscent of the ones supplied by Meng, and features clear, full-colour build steps. There's also a set of decals included which are sharply printed albeit a little pixely. They may not be entirely accurate to operational Sturmtiger markings though (don't pretend you've never wanted a Tiger with hot rod flames).

The Build
I'm not going to drag this out, as these kits just clip together. I will however show the extra details I added along the way to spice up the model a little, starting at the back with the exhaust stacks. These are quite basic from the box, so I cut down the pipes and added some additional detailing with styrene rod and sheet, along with some bolt heads, ironically from a Meng set. The top edges of the shrouds were thinned down to look more in-scale.

The upper hull has the side skirts moulded in place, but they looked a little heavy for what would have been thin sheet steel. I sliced these away, along with the moulded bolt heads, and sanded the hull sides smooth. The skirts will be replaced later in the build with new ones made from brass sheet.
Most Sturmtigers carried the Zimmerit anti-mine coating, so I felt it was worth adding that to the model. Rather than spend time adding it by hand with putty, I went the easy route and used a set of resin decals left over from the Meng Panther build. I'm not that keen on these water-slide texture decals as they often require additional glue to hold them in place, and that was the case here. They are fast however, and the result was good enough for what I wanted.
Once the decals were dry, some areas were chipped off to show damage, and the bolt heads and mounting points for the skirts were added. The bolt heads came, again, from Meng (they do seem to keep muscling in to the build, despite it not being their kit).
The casemate is well detailed and could easily be used as it comes, but as always there are some areas that can be enhanced, such as the blanked off vision ports and the solid grab handles.
A couple of hours spent detailing it up, and the casemate was looking much sharper. The handles were replaced with copper wire and the tow cable hooks were added with thin strips of brass cut from the frame of an old photo etch sheet. The gun shield was textured with Mr Surfacer and the rest of the casemate structure was lightly textured using a round burr in a mini drill. A few scraps of styrene finished off the detailing, along with more of those Meng Bolts. Lastly, the winch was drilled to accept some thin thread to which I'll attach a scratch-built shell later on.
The main gun is a three-part assembly that needs to be installed in the casemate before it's attached to the hull. You can see the included spring here, attached to the breech section. Fitting this will allow the gun to move up and down, but always return to a mid point. In the end, I left it off and simply glued the gun at a fixed elevation.
Before the casemate was cemented to the upper hull, I sprayed some dark grey over the engine deck to cover the pink plastic, then cut and fixed some fine metal mesh over the radiator grills It looks a bit rough admittedly, but hopefully better than the original moulded grill detail.
With the casemate attached, the last things to add were the replacement side skirts. These were cut from thin (0.1mm) brass sheet and folded to shape with a PE bending jig. They were subsequently given some dings and dents to show operational damage.

Painting & Weathering
Resisting the temptation to actually paint the thing pink, I broke out the AMMO Dunkelgelb, which served as an over-all base coat for the whole model. A little modulation was then added using Tamiya Deck Tan, sprayed over the upper surfaces.

The green disruptive camo was next, and this was applied free-hand to save on masking time, using well thinned Tamiya NATO green lightened with a drop of Yellow Green. The pattern was a combination of online references, together with a degree of make-it-up-as-you-go-along.
To complete the camo, the brown was applied using Tamiya NATO Brown in the same manner as the green. All the paint coats had a little gloss clear mixed in, which helps the paint flow a little better, and also avoids the need for a separate gloss coat at the end for the decals and washes.
Lastly, heavily thinned Tamiya Deck Tan was misted over the whole model, which helped to tone down the green and brown camo colours, and blend them in with the base coat.
[pic 26]
A little light chipping was applied, after which the decals were added. The crosses came from the spares box, while the binocular-toting fox came from the kit's decal sheet. That one had to go on. I mean, who can resist a binocular-toting fox!
On to the weathering proper now, and the bulk of this was done with a heavy application of AMMO Brown Wash for German Yellow (A.MIG-1000). This not only accentuated the details on the kit, but also acted as a filter to warm up the over-all colour tone. Oil paints were used selectively to add further shading and general grime to different parts of the model.
The lower hull was coated with Vallejo mud paste which leaves a realistic muddy texture when dry. The colour however is a little unnatural to me, so I over-sprayed the paste with a more subdued earth tone mixed from Tamiya acrylics.
The wheels were weathered with various AMMO earth washes, while the rims and the teeth of the drive sprockets were rubbed with graphite powder to leave a polished metallic sheen.
The tracks were sprayed with a dark grey-brown, followed by weathering with various earth coloured pigments fixed in place with the same earth washes used on the wheels. Once painted, they do look remarkably realistic, despite being held together with string. See, I told you they were the best part of the kit.
Once fitted, they look excellent although, if I'm honest, they could do with being at least a couple of links longer to better replicate the track sag on the upper run. There's not much you can do about that though as there are no extra links provided. I think they were probably designed this way to keep the tracks fairly taught as these kits are primarily intended to be treated as toys.
The very last thing to add was the scratch-built shell I mentioned earlier. This was constructed very simply from a length of styrene tube and a spare spinner from a Spitfire. The bracket was made from a length of brass strip wrapped around the shell, with the latch at the top made from scrap styrene. The thread on the winch was glued to the bracket and, luckily, I'd judged the position correctly, and the shell hung level.
And that finished off the build, and I kind of think it turned out okay all things considered. It just goes to show that you shouldn't go on first impressions, although I can understand most peoples reaction when opening a kit box and being confronted with a load of pink, purple and yellow plastic. Look past that though, and there's a really neat little kit here that you can have a lot of fun with (that is the point at then end of the day). You can see the finished thing here with the obligatory paint pot for scale reference.
To set the kit off, I thought a little base would be in order, so I knocked one together from insulation foam coated with an acrylic texture paste and some grass flock. That in turn was mounted to a simple black photo frame.
I'll leave you with some shots of the finished build and, hopefully, they'll inspire you to have a stab at one of these kits yourself. The toon style may not be for everyone, but they really are a lot of fun to build, and the finished things make surprisingly detailed models even without any extra work. 
They've certainly made an impression on me, as the KV-2 is sitting at the edge of my bench right now.

Andy Moore

As Andy stated in his review these series of Toon tanks are now available from Hobbylink Japan