Friday, November 13

Construction Review Pt I: 1/35th scale German Sd.Kfz.553 Ausf. Vierfüßler KaiserKäfer "Fist of War" Series from ModelCollect

Not usually one for "What-if?" or paper panzer builds, Clayton has found his sweet spot in building this, the MAK/mecha-inspired "Fist of War" 1/35th scale German Sd.Kfz.553 Ausf. Vierfüßler KaiserKäfer kit from Modelcollect. The robot walker certainly looks impressive in the box, but see how this kit goes together and what Clayton though in his construction review...

Construction Review Pt I: German Sd.Kfz.553 Ausf. Vierfüßler KaiserKäfer
"Fist of War" Series
From ModelCollect 
1/35th scale
Kit No #UA35004
Item Size: 33cm x 24.5cm x 10cm / /Weight: 530g
Price: $44.50 AUD from Hobbylink Japan
I remember as a kid begging my Father to buy me a kooky looking model of an armoured spacesuit, I saw sitting on the self of the local hobby shop. The joints were articulated, and the kit had wires and all sorts of interesting things I had never seen in a model kit before. The kit was from NiTTO and would later become known as the Maschinen Krieger range of kits. (If you are unfamiliar with the range then do yourself a favour and do some Googling…) From that moment I was hooked on this alternative, what-it universe and everything that it could be.
Modelcollect have had their ‘Fist of War’ range for some time now, with the focus on the Paper Panzers and prototype style vehicles of the post-WWII period. But it now seems they are spreading their wings (or legs?) somewhat and really dipping their toes into the ‘Alternative / 1946 What-If universe.
Something about a Paper Panzer just doesn’t generally hold my interest. If we are going to start playing with ‘what-ifs, then let’s go all the way…which leads me to the KaiserKafer.

With my love of Maschinen Krieger serving as my inspiration, I picked up this oddball, walking war machine and started getting some glue on styrene.
Construction Review:
I began the build with the crew compartment. I have to admit, it was pretty apparent upon opening the box that this was a pretty basic model, with some very soft details. From the start, I had planned to pose the model with the front hatch open, so I was going to have to try and add some life to it in some way. 
The back section is just two halves that come together. The fit wasn’t perfect, so filling and sanding would be required. 
One of the first things I noticed before I started the build was the fact the leg sections and armour plate that would sit over them were moulded in halves…with the joins running right down the middles of the pieces. That spells a heck of a lot of awkward filling and sanding if you are wanting to hide them. 
The model has two-gun assemblies on either side of the crew compartment. These pieces again are joined through the middle. Unfortunately, the seam runs through grated sections on the tops and the bottom of the pieces which is going to be near impossible to tidy up completely.
To further add pain to the early stages of my build, the 75mm barrels that come with the kit were so badly warped I just couldn’t even entertain the idea of using them. I would need to find some aftermarket here to use as a substitute. 
Next, I assembled the feet on the model. The parts have a certain degree of articulation in the fingers which should be nice for posing the model in a dynamic way. 
The feet and leg sections are now connected to each other. The Leg section have a really great range of movement and the gas strut pieces move really well in harmony with the joints. There is a certain amount of resistance designed into the joints to keep them somewhat rigid. Just how long that rigidity will last could be interesting…
The joiner sections of the leg pieces are now assembled connecting the left and right legs together with each other. 
The model has plate armour that caps over the legs to add some bulk to the subject. Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of ejector pin marks that will need to be cleaned up. The plates sit just far enough off the legs that they will be visible on the finished model…so they will need to be tended to with a sanding stick.
Larger sections of the armour plate are now attached. Again we have a huge seam to deal with right through the middle of the piece. More sanding and filling required.
Back to the interior now, and in an attempt to bring some life to the model, I added a resin aftermarket seat. The seats that came with the kit were very bland and very basic. The resin seat was a quick and easy way to add a bit of detail in the mix. Cables and wires were also added using lead wire.
I found some aftermarket barrels online designed for the Maus. I took the leap in the hope they would fit. Seems they couldn’t have been more perfect. I also added some fly screen wire to the recessed section to help hide the seams in those sections. 
The aftermarket barrels also came with a couple of smaller offerings which I fused. P/E screen I had in the stash as well as some lead wiring was added to the pieces for visual interest. 
I had some pretty bold ideas for how I wanted to paint this model. I loved the fact I wasn’t bound to any rules with this subject. I felt that painting this in the stock standard 1945 German Late war colours was a bit of a cop-out (not that there is anything wrong with that), but I wanted to be brave and do something with masks. It was important to get a good base on the model, so some of the sections were undercoated using Mr Surfacer straight from the can.
The plate armour was now painted with a coat of Insignia White from SMS. This would set the foundation for the scheme. 
It’s worth mentioning at this point, that I added some dials and stencil decals from my spares box to liven up the interior. It’s a shame the kit doesn’t give you something in the way of a dial on the decal sheet… Anyway… With the majority of the interior painted I assembled the top and bottom section of the crew compartment. The fit was questionable to say the least - and there was a sizable gap between the front and back half. 

A quick coat of the Insignia White was also applied in preparation for the masking to soon follow.
Rather than try to fill and sand the gap I figured I’d make a feature of it by rolling some 2-part putty and creating a weld seam. It really wasn’t my finest hour, and I probably should have spent a little more time trying to refine this, but I figured with a subject like this there were no rules, so I left it a little less than perfect. 
Part II of this story will be published next week, and we will see the painting, weathering and finishing processes of this kit in a unique futuristic scheme that more than matches the kit's "what-if?" appeal...
Clayton Ockerby

Thanks to Modelcollect for sending this kit to Clayton to build and review.