by: Vinnie Branigan [ ]
The book is spiral bound, and therefore much more practical as a manual, and can be easily left open to the section required, as you follow the techniques explained. I actually bought a cast iron book stand last week because I was that fed up of books not lying flat on the workbench as I worked with them. Seems redundant now. Typical! And well done Osprey, can we have more please?
Anybody familiar with a certain other armour forum, cannot fail to be familiar with the author John Prigent, who has been modelling for nigh on 60 years, so should certainly know his stuff. As all manuals of this sort do, it begins with a section on tools and materials required, so no surprises there, although the author does leave a lot of what I would consider necessary tools out, only to say that they're mentioned later in the book. It would have been far better to have them mentioned at the outset, so as to provide a list for those wishing to acquire everything they might need from the outset.
As with other Osprey titles, the rest of the book is broken down mainly into projects, fro example it begins with a section by the author on building Dragon's Initial Tiger. I don't like or agree with this approach, especially for a manual. I would have have liked a much more general approach, not confined to specific models. It does include general notes, such as filling sink marks etc., but as these are contained within sections on building specific vehicles, they can difficult to find, although of course there is a comprehensive index.
A further section by the author deals with different ways it can be painted, and other simple improvements you could make to the kit such as damaging the rubber tyres, thinning the trackguard ends etc. There are small inserts provided on altering heads by Denis Allaire, and on painting figures by Mark Bannerman, useful as these undoubtedly are, they have been covered much more in depth in other titles, and one panel doesn't really do them justice.
Included is a section on making simple bases for your models, which again, I found useful, but really is far too short, and if aimed at the beginner, as this is supposed to be, doesn't really explain the techniques required, just showcases a few examples.
There's a useful section on working with etched metal, which explains the basic techniques, such as removing the parts from the fret, cleaning them up, folding them and the various tools that can be obtained these days, and as with the previous sections, this chapter is interspersed with panels showing various techniques such as how to deal with track problems, replacing solid headlight lenses, and stretching sprues for aerials. I didn't find it useful that the author drifts off into other areas, for example in this section, which is about working with resin and white metal kits, it drifts into weathering with pastels and pigments before coming back to resin kits?
A section on scratch built conversions uses the Tamiya M3A2 halftrack, which is a little unfortunate considering the new release from Dragon, and proposed releases in the near future, also..... considering that it begins with a list of things you'll need, such as tool sets from Formations, Idler and sprocket sets from K59 and new resin wheels, Plus Model items, several Eduard sets and more, I couldn't help but wonder why it was called a scratchbuilding conversion? Again, this section is far too specific for a book purporting to be a manual for armour modellers.
Steve Zaloga contributes a chapter on building his Hotchkiss Geschutzwagen, and contains a wealth of small hints and tips which should come in extremely handy for the budding armour modeller, although I doubt anybody with less than a few kits under their belt would attempt this sort of job! He also explains in some detail how he constructed his base, and painted the figure he used.
A similar chapter is offered by Gar Edmundson on building his StuG IV, and includes advice on casting your own resin parts and scratchbuilding schurzen. Nick Cortese gives us his advice on constructing the IDF Tiran 5 MBT, including how he scratchbuilt some additions and added texture to the vehicle. He also includes installing an aftermarket engine along with a fairly extensive conversion set from Blast Models.
The manual ends as you'd expect, with a fairly extensive references section, listing the various resources the modeller's used.
in conclusionObviously I like the ring bound format of this book. Easy to use. I was slightly disappointed with the content, and the way it was arranged. In my mind, we're still waiting for the ultimate Armour Modelling manual, but for the price of £20, this book does contain an awful lot of useful information. Recommended with reservations.
formatHardback, ring bound