by: Darren Baker [ ]
IntroductionRP Toolz is a fairly new European company who are producing tools “for the modeller designed by the modeller”. RP Toolz came into being when the owner became disillusioned with the prices being charged for tools aimed at the modeller, and has gone all out to offer alternative tool solutions at more affordable prices. This review takes a look at one of their latest offerings for producing circular discs in 16 different sizes.
ContentsThis product is supplied in an unmarked cardboard box, inside you will find:
• Die plate
• 16 punches
• A hammer
ReviewPackaged with the tool and its components is a small sheet of paper carrying instructions on its use and some warnings about what not to do with this tool.
Starting with the die (which is made up of 5 separate parts):
• Galvanised steel base plate
• A matt black metal shim
• A clear Plexiglas top plate
• 2 knurled knobs
The matt black metal shim could be removed from the base plate but should not be. You are warned not to over tighten the Plexiglas top plate as damage could be caused to it. The Plexiglas top plate carries the maker’s name and is also marked as “punch die”, along with these marks you have the 16 guide holes which are marked according to the punch size that should be used. As mentioned the sixteen holes increase by 0.1mm starting at 0.5mm up to 2mm, this provides the user with the ability to produce most sizes of circular discs that could be wanted for 1/35th scale models - and the ability to produce as many as you want.
My initial thoughts are that the die is well made and made of suitable materials for the task it is designed to manage. The most likely part to suffer damage is the Plexiglas top plate which could be damaged through misuse, the sort of damage that I am considering is fracturing caused by not removing the punches cleanly or striking a punch that is in the wrong sized hole or not located properly.
The 16 punches are galvanised steel tubes with a steel screw glued into the tube into which is inserted the metal pin that punches the discs out. On both sides of the screw are discs of black Plexiglas that provide a nice finish to the punches, and on the top is printed the relevant size of each punch. The pins that punch out the discs are 6mm long, allowing the pin to travel through the die base and the material inserted in it without damaging the surface that the tool is resting on. The black Plexiglas on the top and bottom of each punch is recessed with the metal tubes preventing impact damage occurring to that portion of the punch. The pins that make the discs I believe are steel and so if used as advised should be more than able to handle the task for which they are intended, but you will need to take care to prevent certainly the smaller pins from being bent when in use or during storage.
The hammer supplied with the tool set is a steel head on an aluminium shaft similar to a toffee hammer. The hammer is light and so ideally suited for hitting the punches with enough force to create the disc without causing damage to any element of the tool itself.
In useI decided to see just how well this punch set worked when in the hands of a novice (ie – me!), and the results were as I expected. I used the 1mm – 2mm punch on 1mm plasticard sheet stock. Firstly I inserted the plasticard sheet beneath the clear Plexiglas on the die and above the black metal shim, the punches had to be struck a couple of times to punch through and once through I needed to rotate the punch to free it up from the plasticard. (1mm plasticard is the thickest I would ever go and I suspect thicker than most would need for 1/35th scale modelling.) The discs that were punched out can be seen in the pictures and I was happy with the result. A much thinner sheet of plasticard was used with the smaller punches (I can’t remember the exact sheet thickness and my vernier calliper needs a new battery) and they went through the material and cut out the discs with a single tap of the hammer, the results can again be seen in the pictures.
It has been suggested to me that the punches could be used to punch out details in a model itself such as the dials on a control panel, I agree that if you have a steady hand then these punches could be used for that purpose. [Bear in mind that plastic kit parts tend to be far more brittle than sheet styrene, and may fracture when “punched”, so always test first on some scrap – Ed.] It is also worth considering that due to the range of offered punch sizes it should also do away with the need to “make do”, as an exact size needed will most likely be in the set.
One question often asked after a review is written is “where can I buy it?”, and so in this review I have supplied the current list of retailers carrying RP Toolz products.
• Scale Supply (FIN)
• Sockel Shop (DE)
• Maxx Modelbau (DE)
• Martola (PL)
• Banzai modells (FIN)
• Hobby Easy (CHN)
• Scale Union (UKR)
• Black Army Modells (HU)
ConclusionThis punch and die set from RP Toolz is not for everyone, but if you do scratch build when making your models and discs are of use then this tool set is worth your consideration. The punches look to cut cleanly to my eye, with the discs appearing to be well formed. I was pleased to see the effort that has been put in by RP Toolz to make this tool not only work as it should but also into how it looks to the customer. The price of this tool could be a sticking point but it is I believe nearly half the price of its competitors and more or less equal to the cost of a DML model kit, the difference being once you have this you will never want for a disc on your model again. I have also spoken to the owner of RP Toolz who has said that in the event of damage to the punch and die set a replacement parts service will be offered, which is a nice touch I think.