Friday, May 8

Construction Review: 1/35th scale FV 217 Badger from Amusing Hobby

Amusing Hobby's FV 217 Badger British Heavy Tank Destroyer is a bit of a surprise when it was first released  - we were impressed when we saw the built-up kit at Shizuoka last year, and now we have one what better way to show you just what the kit is like than to make it in a review for you? See what this kit is all about in our construction review...

Construction Review: FV 217 Badger British Heavy Tank Destroyer
From Amusing Hobby

Kit No #35A034
1/35th scale

Item Size: 39.5cm x 26.2cm x 7.5cm / Weight: 770g
Eleven sprues in tan plastic + hull halves, separate track links, photo-etched parts, metal springs & cable included
Price: €50 EUR / $51.92 AUD / 27.29GBP / $33.75 USD  from Hobbylink Japan
Amusing Hobby Website
The Fv 217 Badger from Amusing Hobby is the latest in their line of paper tanks not often available to the mainstream except in resin short-run kits until now. To better understand this kit and what it is made of we are going to build it in a review for you, but first, we will look at where this vehicle was conceived and what kit was used to make a majority of the model. Fist, the brief history of the vehicle itself.
In reality, this vehicle was never made or used. It is a fictional tank made real by the Wargaming Studios "World of Tanks" game. Although the FV 217 "Badger" concept was based on a project for a tank destroyer that used the Conqueror chassis and developed in the late 1940s. It existed only in blueprints. Also, the FV217 had no official "Nickname" mentioned, the name "Badger" is most likely fictional.
The FV 217 "Badger" as it appears in World of Tanks is a combination of the FV 205 and FV 217 proposals - specifically, its model is based on the wooden mock-up that was made of the FV 205, while the name is from the later FV 217. There is little known information on both projects - the FV 205 and FV 217 were intended to be case-mate tank destroyers, based on the chassis of the FV 201 tank. The FV 201 chassis was later used for the FV 221 Caernarvon and the FV 214 Conqueror.
The FV 205 was designed as a "Self-Propelled Medium Anti-Tank gun". A scale model was built in 1947, but the project itself was later cancelled in 1949. The intended armament, as well as the planned armour layout, is unknown. The FV 217 was a later proposal to mount a 120mm cannon into a modified FV 201 chassis, designed as a "Self-Propelled 120 Medium Anti-Tank" vehicle. Like the FV 205, almost nothing is known about the project. Its designation indicates that it was proposed later than the FV 214 Conqueror, possibly due to the complications and delays with the heavy tank. Nevertheless, the FV 217 was also cancelled.
Amusing Hobby's 1/35th scale FV 217 Badger British Heavy Tank Destroyer #35A034:
The new kit from Amusing Hobby was first been seen built up and it is on preview at the Shizuoka Hobby Show and we thought it was kinda "bad-ass" looking and pretty brutish from front-on especially. 
The kit was released in March/ April this year, and we have not seen many made up or reviewed o we thought let's do it! The big box arrived and it was full of sprues metal and instructions. In the kit you get:
- Eleven sprues in tan plastic + hull halves

- Separate track links (brown styrene)
- Photo-etched sheet
- Metal springs 
- Metal Cable
- Instructions (24 steps)
- 2 Marking Choices included

Those of you that might be curious enough to look a little harder at the picture can see that there is a turret inside the box? Yes, the hull of the kit and running gear and some of the parts of the kit are based on the earlier Fv 204 Conquerer / Super Conquerer kits that Amusing Hobby released last year.
The sprue map in the instructions shows us the layout of the kit and the common usage of many of the Fv 214's plastic in this kit.
In fact, ten of the eleven sprues and the tracks are exactly the same of these earlier kits. You do get a heap of unused parts from these kits in the box after the kit is finished I can now tell you. The BIG difference that you may notice straight away is the large casemate upper hull that is very similar to the World of Tanks version of this kit. 

It makes sense really to follow the design that has been established, as there must have been a fair bit of time spent by designers to flush out the very sparse mock up design of the British concepts of the Badger, so the details of the kit look pretty nice to us. There are daily faint weld marks and no cast steel textures on the kit - something the modeller can add to their tastes I suppose, but on looking closer at the kit I thought it might suit the stance and brutality of the design concept of a bloody big gun on very thick armour.

The rear deck of the tank looks very Fv 214 Conquerer looking to me, with bolt and engine deck detail well presented in a simple-looking construction. Notice that the rear access hatch has been relocated to the centre of the rear of the casemate - the Wargaming version saw it off to the side. A sensible solution I thought straight away.

The Photo-etched parts are supplied on a small sheet, and most of them are not used on this kit. Again, these are from the Fv 214 kit, and only the keepers of the tow cable are required to build this kit. I do see parts like the browning machine gun mount that can be used, but it is not shown in the instructions.

The other part of the kit that is new are the two colour painting wheels for the tanks - both are of course "what-if's" but that is what I like about these vehicles - you can make up whatever you like with them as they never saw service. 
Conceived by the AMMO team, included is a very cool "Berlin Brigade" urban camo version which I think would be unique (and a bit of masking) but very cool looking in the finished article.
The decals for the kit are the same as the other tank in this series the Fv 214 Super Conqueror, supplying you with a few choices of different units at least. The 7th Armoured Division, the "Desert Rats", the 6th Armoured Division and the two keys of the 2nd Division are included along with several white numbers. I would have liked a few names of British tanks to be included as this tank falls within that timeframe of named vehicles within the units.

Building the kit...
OK straight into it! For those of you that are familiar with the Fv 214 kits this part of the build will be very familiar to you. Step 1 of the build sees us applying the side skirt brackets to the lower hull. These are slightly different to each other and you must take care when playing them to get them in the right position on the hull.

A shot of the lower hull before applying the brackets. There is no casting detail on this - something I will address later on in the build - or if you wanted it now would be the best time to add the texture.

Step 2:  we start to build the suspension of the tank now, with each of the eight brackets with two road wheels on each bracket.

There is a choice of two types of spring shocks included - well to be clearer there are one choice - add the metal springs included in the kit to give them a much more realistic look to the moulded in version (on the right).

Here I have put them all together, it did not take long really - most of the time spent was to remove the mould seams on each of the parts as they are present if you don't sand them off. All of a sudden as they were laying there I thought they reminded me of something...
Dontcha' think??? 👾👽
Anyway, these are all the same, and they attach to the sides of the hull in step three.
There are recesses on the hull so you put them in the right position and attitude of the model.

Once completed - I am glad I went with the metal springs, although a lot of this will be hidden by two layers of sideskirts...
Step four sees you adding the road wheels, return rollers and drive sprockets to the kit. Again this is a simple construction, and you have the choice of making the kit into a working, rolling model if you like, that's not my bag, but some of you might want to know that at least.

Sixteen pairs of road wheels, these are metal on the real thing, so a bit of wear on them on your completed model would add a lot to eh completed kit...

The running gear here built and ready to be added to the suspension. No surprises here and everything went together without an issue.

The front lower plate of the hull is next to be made in step five. With the tow hooks and front return rollers to be added also. There was an issue or two in my build though...

First of all, the sprung loaded centre tow hook - I (thinking the instructions were cuckoo) naturally placed mine pointing downwards, but as these were spring-loaded they actually face upwards as per the real thing on the FV 214.
The two front return rollers were left off at this point. They are fixed on by swinging arms that need to be properly tensioned by the track before you can secure them. Only once you get the tracks on the kit could I conceive of fixing them their position. You can affix the front plate if you like, but I left the front wheels off for now. (and yes the tow hook is still upside down at this point).

Step six, and the front plate goes on, as do the lower side skirts of the tank. These do very much obstruct any painting and weathering later on, and it is up to you if you would like to install them now or after that process.

The front plate on the lower hull without the return rolls as of yet...
An example of the travel on the front return rollers - I waited until the tracks were on to glue them into place.
The side skirts in position for reference, these really do hide a lot of the running gear as you can see...

A view from right above the plates showing how they connect...

The handles of the sideskirts on the plates give it that little extra detail you can weather also.

The rear hull plate is now added, with his being identical also to the Fv 214's plate this will be familiar to Super Conquerer builders. Towing points, the rear telephone box and sprung towing points are added before the plate is added to the hull.

Completed - well almost - AGAIN  I thought I was using my brain and installed the sprung hooks upside down...

...But as you can see they point upwards on the real thing (on the Fv 214). I pulled these off later and fixed them.

Step eight - the gun inside the tank is non-existent, but the pivoting bracket is attached here, along with the viewing periscopes for the crew.

In place - you can pivot the gun up and down but not sideways...

More simple steps - Nine sees you installing parts G 26 & 36 to the sides of the upper hull so they can lock in to the lower hull to help locate and secure the halves. Make sure you do these AFTER you install the periscopes as they are a bugger to put in sideways after the angles are closed out by installing these pieces (ask me I know 'cos I don't like to follow simple instructions).  

These parts are optional at this moment. Step ten tells you to add the vehicle's lifting hooks, tow cable brackets, headlights and their photo-etched guards to the tank.

The photo-etched brackets to protect the twin-headlights are being simply and put into place - these can just as well be added AFTER the plate is put into place as they are easily bent out of shape by man-handling when you are securing the two halves of the kit together. You will notice here that there are no transparencies supplied with this kit. A bit of a bummer as they are cheap to make and hard to source. I would use silver-painted insides filled with a clear filler like wood glue or clear resin.

Step eleven had you adding both the smoke discharges and the towing cable to the upper hull. We also have the option to add the top hatches of the tank now  - it depends on if you want to pose them open or closed - AND if you want to add the rounded Super Conquerer cupola which is in step 19 / 20. I added the smoke dischargers later on in step 18.
You are given a measurement of 125mm for the metal tow cables that is included in the kit. I found that in reality, it is slightly less than that...

I attached one end of the towing hook to the plastic loop, then manually measured them to the hook on the other end. measure twice and cut once kiddies!

I used by Xuron flat-nosed pliers to bend the cable keepers into shape - simple as that with the added super glue to put them into place.

The cable running down the side of the vehicle...

More of the external storage and accoutrements to be added in step twelve. The stowage baskets and an open rack, the rear hatch, jerry can and spare road wheel and the frontal horn are just some parts that start to make this tank look "lived in" in this step.

The three turret stowage bins are put together first, the basket especially is a little but not too delicate to construct and placement needs some careful adjustment and placement before securing them into place.

Here is the placement the best I could work out - right side...

...and the left side. The basket took a bit of trimming and fiddling to get sitting flush and right as I was not sure where the part began and sprue ended.

Tweles also has us building the rear "Jerry" can and bracket and the rear door of the casemate.

These two and the spare wheel are added to the rear wall pretty simply at this point.

We start to dress the rest of the tank in Step Thirteen. with spare tracks, aerial points, periscope covers tools and front turrets being secured on to the top of the superstructure at this step.

The front two turrets are posable, but you will need to stuff them with crew if you do not want to see the inside of an empty tank! Notice the covers for the driver/ radioman's periscopes. Again these are not supplied as clear parts and I wish they were.

The rear of the tank's engine deck is added to with the rest of the tools in a simple set on fourteen. Holes are provided for the notched to be placed easily and accurately.

The spare tracks and tools on the right side...

The filler points are not supplied with notches but there is a nice guide to their placement in step fifteen.

The left-hand side tools are all you need to do in step sixteen!

...the shovels, hammer and pinch bar on the left-hand side rear guards.

Different but similar to the Fv 214 - step seventeen sees you adding the two exhausts for the rear deck.

The mounting of this exhaust was a little confusing, you have to set the seat of the pipe so that it fits the length of the tank's rear deck. The brackets kind of work but clumsily, so find the position of parts G30 /G31 at the end of the exhaust and then put the brackets in place later. For this, I fitted mine at the rear casemate wall so it would fit.

Positioned as I said the guards and exhaust fitted fine. make sure you test fit before you just ut them in where you think they might go...

Step eighteen has you adding the smoke dischargers. I added both of mine now as I did not want them to break off during handling of the tank.

I cleaned the seam lines off all of the parts and added some texture to the mounting boxes on these dischargers. A lumpy feel of roughed up and thickly painted rough steel is the effect I was after.

Step nineteen you build an optional part or set of parts in the cupola of the Fv 214 which can or can't be added - it is up to you  - I kind of liked the idea of adding it at the expense of the brutal square look of the tank without it.

You can pose the cupola hatch open or closed, and I left the swing hatch open to the rear on mine in case I wanted to add a figure. The hole on the cupola and the tank do not line up where you are instructed to add it - so you may - or may not - want to cut the hole wider in the roof to fit the crew member.

The completed cupola looked too cool to me to not add. The Browning .30 machine gun was a neat addition to the look of the top of the vehicle.

This is actually the second cupola in the kit - the other one has the lettering FV 214 (from the Super Conqueror kit obviously). 

That 120mm "boomstick" is almost the last thing to be added. It can be left off until the very last if you like. Up to the modeller and their preferences really.
The barrel itself has a few connection points down the pipeline as it were, so I used the handy curved sanding steel tool to eliminate casting relics/bumps.

Step 22 - not too hard to understand huh? Again, This can be left off until you are painted if you like!

I took this chance to start to add the first of the texturing to the kit. The mantlet is cast where the barrel is turned, so I used Revell Contacta to the cast part and dabbed it all over to create a rough and bumpy texture.

If you choose to add the cupola from the Fv 214 or the two square types this is the time to do it, and the upper sideskirts are also added at step twenty-two.

The FV 214 turret here added to the roof - I like this as it gives the top of the tank on that side a point of difference from the other side and adds some curves to the squares (this is a "what-if" vehicle after all).

The sideskirts are easy to install and I think adds another layer to the flanks of this vehicle. Here you see the join from underneath...

...and from above. 

Step twenty-four has the modeller making the tracks for the tank. After a simple process of removing them from the mini-sprues, you put together ninety-eight tracks but simply clicking them into place.

These are the BEST tracks I have ever made from Amusing Hobby. They fit so well and do not fall apart once together and after they are being handled. Only two likes I had needed glue! 


OK so that was it - the kit is built - but not yet Kimosabe! I wanted to rough this up a little bit, because as imposing as the kit looked it needed to be a little more brutal...

Right now it looks good - but just a little too clean for a rough piece of thickly armoured fighting vehicle...

I added twisted wire to the boxes that house the smoke dischargers to have them look like they are a little more realistic. I used an extra bit of the kit to make the rubber gasket that is the seal of the hole from the casemate.

I also added weld seams to the classmate. By adding some stretched sprue to the curve of the from the casemate, then heavily soaking them with Tamiya thin glue and using a hobby knife to create weld seams. The stretched sprue is so thin that it can be curved with bending and a little glue.

I worked on these until the curves matched each other, and the weld lines looked uniform.

Here they are - still not perfect and needs some evening up. Luckily the glue is soft when you put a lot of it in in this method, so you can pull, move, flatten or texture them for a while until the glue is fully cured. I dabbed the cast steel parts of the casemate with the same texturing approach I used on the gun mantlet - Revell Contacta and dabbing of the fingers. Some people use putty for both of these steps, and that works just as well, but I wanted rough and uneven welds and texture.

I went up and down the sides of the thin welds on the casemate and ith some Tamiya thin again enhanced them with deeper cuts and slightly larger welds (the casemate is VERY thick scale-wise) and I think this added to the approach also.

I joined up every weld on the structure using the same method. It was starting to look brutal enough for my taste.
More? Hell yes - I used the same texture adding technique to add a roughness to the parts of the casemate that were added in this variant. All of the horizontal and vertical slabs of armour were given a slightly less textured feel with the dabbing of this time the Tamiya thin glue straight from the brush and sometimes a little finger work.

Here, against the light, you can see how much it adds to the rough feel of this brute of a tank.

A few of the details of the completed texture...

The last steps saw me add two shackles from a King Tiger kit I had, some aerials from stretched sprue and the gun to the tank - Viola! ready to paint into whatever scheme you want...

A British tanker on one of the top hatches to give you an idea of the size of this beast...
Soooo, what do I think about this kit? 

At first, like probably a few of you out there I thought "What IS this thing?" and I did not know what to make of it. The lovely evocative box art when studied gave me a new appreciation of this vehicle or what it might have been, a rough, brutal machine made out of the hull of a massive donor hull and a roughly welded and shaped casemate with that "BIIIIG mutherf*%$kin gun" gave me a whole new appreciation of the type and how I might approach the build. 

A walk around the completed and ready to paint kit
After adding only a few details of my own to the real thing I am thinking of how this could be painted up into something very cool and unique looking. An easy to make model, finished over several nights over a two week period, this was also fun to research, build and improve on.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Amusing Hobby for sending this kit to us to build and review. You can see more of their kits on Amusing Hobby's website