Wednesday, May 12

Build review Pt. I: 1/35th scale FCM 36 with figure set from ICM Models

Clayton Ockerby likes "dinky" little tanks, and never having made an ICM kit before what better kit to start on that the 1/35th scale FCM 36 with figure set included. Today he gives us the first of two parts of his story with his build review of this kit...

Build review Pt. I: FCM 36 with figure set
From ICM Models
1/35th scale
Kit Number #35336
Product Link on the ICM Website
There is no doubting we are in the golden age of modelling, and with the bulk of the mainstream subjects well and truly covered it is an interesting challenge for the model manufactures to be able to present something different and enticing to help us part with our hard earned money.

ICM is a company I have been aware of for a long time now, but I have never even owned one of their kits let alone built one, so for me, when I saw the emanant release of their FCM-36 range I felt it was about time I dipped my toe in the water and ticked that off the to do list.

Beautiful box art on ICM's kits...
The French certainly had an unmistakable look to their tank designs. The shapes and lines and some of the features were essentially hand-me-downs from the Great War and would soon prove to be vastly inadequate. But in saying that, the designs were incredibly unique and the schemes they presented in make for just about the perfect modelling subject.

The parts count is reasonably low and at first glance the build looks to be quite simple, so with sprue cutters and glue in hand the build begins!
Construction begins with the hull. The side walls are attached to the floor and the mud scrapes are glued in place. The picture you see is the first 4 steps done and dusted.
The wheel assemblies are now completed. The wheels were glued in place in the hope that painting them attached in the bogies will be a little easier than having to deal with spinning wheels.
The wheel assemblies are now attached to the hull as well as the brackets on the front and rear plates. The support structure is also glued in place.
The small return rollers are glued in place and we are now at step 17. 
Each step only requires a small number of parts. This is a very simple build.
The tracks are supplied as the ‘old school’ vinyl tracks. Whilst the lure of finding metal tracks for the build was ever present, I made the decision to press on with the kit supplied tracks. In reality most of the track would be hidden behind the side guards and the tracks had little sag in them anyway, so the vinyl tracks will be adequate.

Superglue was used to join them. It looks quite messy in the photograph, but paint would cover up most of that and it will be out of sight soon anyway.
The top side of the track didn’t even show the mess of the join, so it was going to be less of an issue than I had first suspected.
A quick test fit and all looked as it should. The drive sprocket and idler wheels are only dry fit at this stage, so any slack in the track will be addressed once those elements are glued in place.
One of the interesting additions to the kit is the heavy-set tow chains at the front and rear of the tank. ICM have some up with a really clever solution to the chain section (without having to actually supply a length of chain). Each link is moulded, but every second link has a small split in it so you can connect the links together.

The track and the chain links were painted in rusty tones using a mix or Black, Red Brown 2 and Yellow. Painting the chain when assembled would be quite tricky, so pre-painting these parts will serve as an undercoat and make painting them easier once assembled.
The chain is now assembled, and the tracks are again test fitted to the running gear. The instructions call out for two links of the chain to squeeze in the bracket and be held with the pin, but in reality that was never going to happen… well at least not on my model. The solution was easy as just hanging the last link on the pin.
The top deck of the model now receives some attention. Engine grills as well as hinges and brackets are glued in place. Some of the detail is a little soft in this section. Things like the handles on the hatches behind the engine deck are moulded into the piece and the panel lines just feel a little underdone. A coat of paint will make a world of difference though, so take it as nothing more than an initial impression.

Tools and some other details were left off until the basic shapes of the camouflage pattern had been established at the painting stage.
Front section and driver’s hatch is next. The hatch can be posed in the open position but given there is no interior there is very little point to that. I guess if you managed to find a suitable figure you could obscure the interior enough to get away with it.

Detail on the weld seams is very nice around the front plates, and worth pointing out.
It could be the tiniest gun the Second World War saw, but nevertheless here it is. The barrel of the machine if very fine, so care must be taken at this stage.
The turret housing is a single moulded piece and is decorated with vision ports and grab handles. The commanders hatch is posable open or closed. There is a small amount of detail on the gun breech and a commander figure in the kit, so the open option is in the conversation…just…
Given the lack of interior detail I made the decision to just spray the majority of the interior black. Only the hatch and the turret ring were painted white. I’ll assess how much of it is exposed when the figure is in place.

The turret and gun sections are now connected and are ready to be attached to the body of the vehicle.
Excuse the blob of Blu Tack holding the commanders hatch open and the exhaust in place. The top section is only dry fitted to the bottom so it can be easily removed for painting. There is a lot of obscured sections in the lower sides of the model, so leaving this off will make that a lot easier to address.
The big gaps at the rear and along the edges should all come together reasonably well with some pressure and glue. As mentioned at the previous step, the top is only dry fitted for the sake of the review. There are a few small gaps that will need to be addressed, but this will be tended to at the priming stage.
This boxing comes with a 5 figure set. The scene is set around the French tankers showing off their pride and joy to a couple of children.
The sculpting and the poses are very natural. Unfortunately, my images don’t seem to have captured the true look and feel of these figures. They seem, to my eye at least, to present a lot better in the flesh then in these pictures.
The children in particular are really nicely made and the poses are very believable. The smaller boy in particular has a lovely balance to his stance.
The fellow pointing out the details to the children again has the most lovely balance and weight to the pose. There will be some seams to tidy up but nothing out of the ordinary for an injection moulded figure.
The tank Commander is probably the least appealing of the figure set. I guess the true test will be how he interacts with the tank.
With the figures in place, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how this little scene is coming together.
As suspected, the Commander figure looks a little awkward and will probably need some manipulation to get him to sit appropriately in the turret. In saying that, the hatch is yet to be glued in place, so everything is a little loose at this point.
This was a very quick and simple build, and whilst my pictures probably don’t sell the attributes of this model as well as they could have, I can say without reservation that I have really enjoyed the build to this stage. The simplified instructions and low parts count ensured the build was very simple. Overall, the fit was very good as well. The figures are really nicely made and make a terrific addition to this boxing.
The true magic will happen once the paint starts flowing and some of the bits and pieces such as the tools and the tarps start getting attached to the body of the tank.

So, take this build review for what it’s worth. This was my first ICM kit and I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was to build. This is a kit that just about any modeller or any skill level could tackle, so if you have any interest in Early War French armour then this could be the kit for you. 

The challenge with this one is in the painting and finishing…so for now, I am back to some of the other projects on my workbench with the view to get some colours on this guy in a couple of months.

Clayton Ockerby

Thanks to ICM Models for sending this to Clayton to build and review for you...