Monday, January 29

Read n' Reviewed: Super Detailing the F-14 Tomcat from Dai Nippon Kaiga by Kris Sieber

For those who know Kris Sieber - or his works on, you will know that he is an excellent modeller, and now, a published author. His first book, "Super Detailing the F-14 Tomcat" is the subject of Gary's review today...

Read n' Reviewed: Super Detailing the F-14 Tomcat
From Dai Nippon Kaiga
By Kris Sieber
128 pages
Full colour photos
A4 softcover format
English/Japanese captioned throughout
Western (left-side) binding
Dimensions /Weight: 30 x 21.2 x 1 cm / 510g
Super Detailing the F-14 Tomcat is a full-colour, 128-page, A4-softcover book chronicling the efforts of Kris Sieber (Luftraum/72) to enhance many of the detail-rich areas available on Tamiya’s F-14D Tomcat, including the cockpit tub, ejection seats, main and nose landing gear legs, main and nose gear wells, intakes, exhaust nozzles, and various airframe details.

Also featured is a new technique Kris developed for achieving a realistic base patina for modern US Navy aircraft, and a brief look at some complementary weathering techniques.

In addition to hundreds of work-in-progress photos, Super Detailing the F-14 Tomcat lists many of the tools and techniques used, information about Tomcat kits and products, along with 4 mini-profiles of other kits Kris has made in the past few years.

Content is presented in both English and Japanese, with all English written either by an English-speaking editor (as opposed to machine-generated translation), and the book is bound in conventional western format.

The book is broken into eight chapters, which logically follow the build process. It also makes it much easier for the reader to access relevant information quickly in the future:

  1. Cockpit
  2. Ejection Seats
  3. Landing Gears & Bays
  4. Exhausts
  5. Detailing the Rest
  6. Painting Gray
  7. Weathering
  8. Armaments
Kicking off in the cockpit, the first thing you notice is that Kris focuses on the use of traditional modeling techniques to super detail his models rather than take the easier route of using aftermarket resin or photo-etch. These skills are something that I personally enjoy learning about because you will always need them on your builds, regardless of the subject matter.
The general quality of the printing, especially the photos, is excellent and in this larger book format the size is adequate for the reader to see the details. I found the accompanying text to be very small and often hard to read, but that's probably down to my old eyes.
Jet exhausts are something that many modellers these days immediately opt for a replacement aftermarket set, in most cases without ever considering the kit provided parts. Kris clearly shows that with careful preparation, painting and weathering the Tamiya exhausts are well up to the task.
Scattered at various points in the book are small Bonus Mini Builds. These are previous builds that Kris has thrown in and he uses them to explain other techniques that were not necessarily used on the F-14 build. They are well worth a look as you never know what you might pick up, ever if the subject matter does not interest you.
Perhaps the holy grail of reproducing modern US Navy "lo viz" paint schemes is how to achieve a realistic weathering finish. In his book (and later on his Facebook page) Kris has covered in some detail his "technique" using inks to achieve a distressed patina over top of the otherwise bland USN TPS grey scheme. It's very effective and something I am keen to try when I next build a USN lo viz model.
Another of the Bonus Mini Builds, which I must admit was much more up my alley, was Kris's excellent build of the Arma Hobby 1/72 P-51C. This is a simply stunning model by anyone's standard and the two short pages left me wanting more, perhaps a future book?
The book in general is jam packed with all sorts of hints and tips and it's very worthwhile reading it from start to finish to make sure you don't miss anything. Unlike some of the FAQ style books on techniques I found this to be a much easier read as the methods are applied to specific tasks as it relates to the Tomcat build.
Obviously the F-14 is first and foremost a warplane. Armament therefore plays an important role in the completion of a build. Kris provides sufficient detail on how to weather the external stores and weapons found on the Tomcat.
The book rounds out with a very complete set of "glamour" photos of the finished model. Not much in the way of text in this chapter because a picture is worth a thousand words.
Being a book written about model making, aimed at other modellers, the importance of which tools and materials were used is vital. Kris lists all the main adhesives, tools and materials he used throughout the book, making it much easier for others to duplicate his results.
CONCLUSION - Super Detailing the F-14 Tomcat (
I have been a fan of Kris's work for some time. He makes the time to document and share most of his builds on his Facebook and web page. It makes perfect sense to formalise this in the form of a book and choosing the Tamiya F-14D Tomcat as the subject is a clever pick.

Even if the subject matter does not "float your boat" there is still so much to be found in this book around the techniques and methods used which can be applied to any model subject. It's a Highly Recommended from me.

Gary Wickham

You can order this kit a few different ways. Through the website, from Hobbylink Japan or Hobby Search,