Friday, May 28

Build review Pt.II: Vosper MTB 74 with crew from Italeri

With the figures, weathering, rigging, chipping & wear added to the boat to bring it to life, Clayton Ockerby's build of the 35th scale Vosper MTB 74 with crew from Italeri is complete. We thought you would want to see how he did it so well in the second part of his story...

Build review Pt.II: Vosper MTB 74 with crew
From: Italeri
Kit No #5624
1/35th scale
Model Dim.: 65,5 cm
Box Dim.: 723 x 345 x 150 mm
Product Link on the Italeri Website

Today: Build review Pt.II: Vosper MTB 74 with crew from Italeri 
With a few weeks to catch my breath and regain some level of modelling mojo it was time to revisit the Vosper. We left off with the basic colours and camouflage scheme covered as well as the paintwork in the wheelhouse.

But in a nutshell this is where we got to...
To this point I was really happy with how things were coming together but given this was a review kit and there was an obligation to use (and to show you) the pieces that came in the box, I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to deal with the figures…so lets get them out of the way right now.

I really can’t sugar coat the fact that the figures are just plain horrible. They look like they came straight from the 70’s (at best) and are extremely out of touch with the new generation of figures available today. In saying that, there is really very little choice of figures available if you were looking for an alternative. U Models have a few in the range but are very hard to source. There were a few on Shapeways but the price was exorbitant, so if this Vosper was to carry figures, then I was going to have to find a way to extract a little more life from them.
I won’t go into too much detail, I’ll let the photographs do the talking. The kit includes 7 figures in total. One of which is designed to sit in the machine gun pod on a different version of this boat, so really not much use with this configuration.
I figured the best way to help elevate these figures to some level of acceptability was to add aftermarket heads and in some cases hands.
The heads were removed and the plastic around the turtlenecks was scraped away to make way for the necks of the heads that were to follow.
A mix or Royal Model and Hornet Heads were used. I was unable to source the beanies and the captains’ hats, so the styrene offerings for the kit figures were used. 
For those more talented than I, I guess you could try sculpting your own…but that is way above my pay grade, so near enough would have to be good enough for me in this instance.
A coat of Mr Surfacer helped unify the pieces and give a truer indication of how they were presenting. 
Looking at them again, I don’t think the ‘running man’ is going to make the cut… A little more sanding and clean up would also be required.
A slap of paint and the figures were completed to a point where I felt they were useable…just.
Back to the boat now. Someone had indicated that the life preserver needed some rope around it, so the cabin section was removed, and the rope pieces were added using the twine from the kit and CA glue.
With the camouflage painted on the hull in the earlier steps, the clear porthole sections could be attached. I was concerned that fitting these earlier and trying to mask them could have caused issues with adhesion, hence I held off until now so there would be no need to mask. They were held in place with a clear drying PVA glue.
With the clear parts now fitted the deck could now be attached. This is done using a number of screws and was helped along with glue in places.
The screw holes are hidden with ventilation ports and tie downs. They were held in place using CA glue.
The wheelhouse, mast and dingy are set in place. A tarp was sculpted in 2 part putty to add some interest to the piece.
I wasn’t happy with how some of the camouflage pattern transitioned from the hull to the deck, so a basic mask was applied to help fill in some of the sections and create a better flow to the pattern.
The decals were the next step. I really wish I had have made myself some masks for these numbers and sprayed them because the carrier film was very heavy and quite ugly. A light sand and a couple of coats of varnish would help deal with the issue, but a mask would have been so much better.
To help create a weathered and worn look to the paintwork, small dots of oil paints were applied around the hull. Whites and light greys to the top section and darker grey tones and rust colours to the lower sections.
A flat brush moistened with white spirit was then used to remove most of the paint by dragging in a downward motion. This image shows the process at about the halfway point. The idea is to make this effect present but not overstated.
A small section of sponge is used to add fine chips around the model using Black-brown acrylic paint. Restraint is a must.
After saying restrain was a must I figured the torpedo cradles would have been subject to some heavy wear, so the chipping was dialled up in these sections as well as the tie off points around the deck.
Using a small amount of rust toned enamel paint some of the chips were given a rusty hue.
VMS Matte varnish was applied over the model. Excuse me for the close ups, but the model is too big for my light table and was very difficult to photograph the WIP pictures.
With the matte varnish in place, a silicone brush with Gun Metal pigment is used to polish some of the exposed sections to give a worn, metallic look.
The clear sections are now attached. The circular sections in the windscreens are supplied as PE parts and were a little trickier than I was expecting to fit. There is an inside and a outside piece. I used PVC glue to attach them, but it still was quite messy. Given my time again I think I would only used one of the pieces on the exterior of the clear section. You can’t see the internal one anyway.
One of the things I felt would really make or break this model was the rigging. The kit comes with an appropriate gauge string to simulate this. I followed the instructions as best I could, but it was lacking detail. I spent an age studying reference pictures and searching for detail in the rigging and I kept coming up short. What I have presented is by no means accurate, but it was the best I could come up with what I had to work with. It presented the visual noise I was hoping for though, so from that point of view I was satisfied with the result.
It was important for the flag to be dynamic, so to achieve that the decal was applied to a piece of thin lead foil and trimmed to size.
The foil could then be manipulated to simulate motion of the flag caught in the wind.
The base supplied with the kit was a little underwhelming, so I designed a couple of small plates highlighting the story of the St Nazaire raid and attached it to the structure.
This is a truly unique subject with an incredible story that deserves to be shared. That aside, as a model it has a very basic set of construction steps which means it would be suitable for just about any modeller of most skill levels. Don’t be fooled by the low part count and basic instruction sheet though, there is a lot of model in this kit and a lot of time required in finishing it to an acceptable standard. Obviously people will have different expectations from their own models, so take that for what it is worth.

The MTB in a walk around taking the whole thing in...
The figures are the low point of this release, but they are really just a hangover from previous releases thrown in with the kit and repackaged to present something new. With a few small upgrades I managed to find peace with them and use them in a meaningful way.

A closer look of the details of the boat
Don’t let the figures scare you off though, there is a lot to like about this model. In fact, there is a lot to like about this 1/35 range of torpedo boats Italeri produce. With a few basic construction skills and a couple of simple painting techniques you can produce a kit that will give you an impressive display on the table that commands attention.
I really enjoyed the journey with this model and how it finished up. It’s safe to say I’ll be adding another Italeri torpedo boat from the range to my display case sometime soon. The question really is…which one?

Clayton Ockerby

This special edition Vosper 74 is available from Italeri directly from their website or many distributors worldwide
See more of Clayton's work on his excellent website Workbench Hobbies.