Multimedia Review
Dealing with Photoetch
  • move

by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]


Brass Photo-Etch (PE) although now indispensable for those who wish to update specific areas of AFV models is, still an area which can cause many modelers, if not complete panic, then at least a slight nervousness. Particularly with many less-experienced modelers, the idea of bending, annealing or attaching PE is something they still tend to shy clear of.

Personally, I don't like it, but have after trial and (much more error) learned to, if not love it, at least be able to work round it. It's absolutely vital in certain cases though. Styrene has its limitations, particularly in the 'scale' thickness of areas such as vehicle fenders, convincing tool boxes and such items as Bar Armor where, unless some magician invents a new injected styrene process, PE will remain the only game in town. In other words, it's a skill set worth developing. It's also increasingly seen in (mass-produced) styrene models. when scale thickness on such items as gun-shields is, for the final look of a model, a desirable attainment. It can (obviously) be avoided, but let's assume that you have made a few tentative steps with it and you want to go further.

So, to the reason for this DVD. Adam Wilder, the producer/author/narrator/director of this DVD has spent a good number of years 'doing the circuit' running demonstrative workshops at modeling shows, has contributed to large numbers of publications and worked professionally in several well-known modeling companies. He has also, despite this workload, managed to produce a stack of award-winning models which have taken the honors at some of the world's most prestigious competitions. So, although his qualifications may seem daunting to many, Adam does enjoy passing on his skills to others. This, essentially, is a great part of the rationale for the DVD.

the DVD

"Dealing with Photoetch" is the first DVD from a relatively New company - Wilder. The running time for the DVD is around 120 minutes. The DVD includes 11 chapters which I'll detail later on. Now, always a problem with this kind of product is compatibility. Whereas a DVD will run on a PC, not every DVD will run on a domestic DVD Player. So, the good news. Wilder are releasing the DVD in no less than five versions:

English Language NTSC (available)
English Language PAL (available)
German Language (available)
Japanese Language (will be ready shortly)
Russian Language (available)

The Chapters

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Fenders
Chapter 3: Grilles
Chapter 4: Tool Box
Chapter 5: Transmission Cover
Chapter 6; Fuel Tanks
Chapter 7: Gluing Assemblies
Chapter 8: Thoma Shields
Chapter 9: Grab Handles
Chapter 10: Wrap-Up
Chapter 11: Credits

The subject

The DVD shows the super-detailing of a 1/35th Scale T34/85 which has been fitted with Toma Shilde (shields). For those who aren't aware of these, these were the second generation of Schürzen which were made from Mesh. In the latter part of the war, some Soviet AFVs were equipped with them. The shields were cannibalized from captured German AFVs such as the PzIV or Stugs. They differed from Schürzen in their form of attachment - they were hung from metal pipes rather than angled metal brackets. In the DVD, Adam uses a variety of different update sets from Aber - some specific to the T34, others designed for the Pz IV.

Now, in case anyone's in any doubt, the subject could as easily been almost any other vehicle. It is designed to cover the Techniques of working with and assembling PE. Due to the many complex sub-assemblies within the build, this was chosen to give as wide a coverage as possible. It shouldn't be interpreted as a 'Guide to the T34/85 with Toma Shilde'. The techniques could be equally applicable to a Challenger II with BAR Armor as anything else...

In Detail

Chapter 1: Introduction. Setting the Scene: The introduction takes us on a brief visit to an outdoor vehicle museum in Russia. Adam gives some personal thoughts on just how useful it is to actually get 'up close and personal' to what you intend to model when you can see at first hand areas such as attachment of parts, the structure of complex areas such as engine grilles and, from a finishing point of view, how easily damaged some of the more 'delicate' areas such as mesh engine screens could be.

Chapter 2: Fenders. From outdoors we move into the workshop. The first item on the agenda, is an area most modelers would wish to improve on - the fenders. He shows a variety of techniques for replacement of the (usually) thick kit parts with PE. Basic soldering, correct positioning, bending and adding the 'knocks' which make for a more realistic model are covered.

Chapter 3: Tool Boxes.Useful suggestions are shown in the next section where the large tool box of a T34 is handled. While this IS a simple form (it's a box after all!) to achieve the correct look, there are additions such as hinges, handles or padlocks which are noticeable in 1/35th all. The construction is shown in detail along with the addition of realistic damage.

Chapter 4/5: Transmission Cover/Grilles. From the relatively simple replacement of fenders, the DVD moves onto the more complex area (always problematic with T34s as I know myself) of the transmission cover. This is a very complex area and consists of a series of sub-assemblies including a working hinge. The latter is not a gimmick, as is explained, it makes life a lot easier when the time of painting arrives.

Chapter 6: Fuel Tanks. An area which is always difficult is the conversion of flat PE parts into convincing -looking cylinders. In this case, the auxiliary fuel tanks of the T34. There are many ways of dealing with creating cylinders. Adam's seems to work fine in this section with some useful tips such as scribing a couple of additional fold-lines into the edges.

Chapter 7: Gluing Assemblies. In this much emphasis is given to establishing solidly attached sub-assemblies. In addition, as was mentioned before, the careful attachment of maintaining the hinges as workable. Another area, which is constantly stressed throughout the DVD, is the importance of careful planning. Part of this process is obvious - but we all tend to sidestep it sometimes - the careful marking out of points of attachment.

Chapter 8: Thoma Shields. This involves the addition of the tubular mounts, their mounting brackets and the construction of the mesh shields themselves. In addition, the importance of adding (convincing-looking) damage to them is demonstrated. Once again, the construction and attachments presented in good, clear "blocks".

Chapter 9: Grab Handles.: Plastic is generally good for handles, but sometimes a scratch-built handle from wire can look a lot more convincing and much more to scale. Adam's technique for making and replacing them is shown with the use of a tool which is relatively expensive, but cuts down the time required - the Grab-Handler which is produced by Mission Models.

Chapter 10: Wrap-Up This is really a juxtaposition of images from the finished (unpainted) model with the painted and weathered model.

Tools and adhesives

Now obviously you do need a reasonable number of different tools for modeling. Working with PE does require a few additional items. The tools used and demonstrated in this DVD are:

Hobby Knife
Pliers (small, blunt-edged & round-nosed)
Folding Tool
Multi-Tool or similar (for curved parts), Optional
Dremel (optional)
Assorted Files
Sanding Sticks
Soldering Iron
Liquid Flux
Super-Glue accelerator
Grab-Handler (optional)

Now, with the exception of the folding tool, none of the 'mandatory' items are particularly expensive. This is one of the best aspects of the DVD - the emphasis being on technique rather than amassing large numbers of expensive "gizmos".


PE is not a particularly user-friendly material. However, the problems can, as this DVD demonstrates, be overcome. Nor, as is constantly emphasized you rush out and buy a truck-load of expensive tools. The key lessons in this guide are the importance of planning, working with a series of sub-assemblies and if things go wrong, rectifying mistakes.

The Target Audience?
I'd consider this aimed at both the novice and the reasonably-experienced builder. Those who have had years of experience and have developed their own techniques won't get as much out of it as someone who wants to begin using PE but needs some encouragement. This for me is one of the great strengths of the DVD. It talks you through and clearly demonstrates a variety of simple techniques which when added together will allow you to tackle more and more complex assembles. It won't guarantee you gold medals but it will give you (with practice) the beginnings of the skill-set which eventually DO win golds. See this DVD as a guide to confidence-building and you won't go far wrong.

The Production Quality.
No matter how good the techniques an author or producer wants to present, if the medium is lacking in production values, then it won't get its message across. The quality of production in 'Dealing with Photoetch' is superlative. Close-ups are sharp and crystal clear, the commentary is excellent and concise. There are a couple of negative points here. The music goes from the quiet and unobtrusive to frankly overpowering at some moments. As this is overlaid onto the commentary, you can lose track of the points being made - hopefully this is an area which will be toned-down for Wilder's NEXT production. Another thing I found slightly disconcerting, was a tendency to `phase-shift' when Adam was talking to camera. This was extremely odd, not to say a touch "gimmicky".

I have watched the DVD around 4 times for this Review and it honestly doesn't get boring, it really is packed with a LOT of useful and practical information!

availability and a sneak-peek

Visiting the company's website and contacting Adam directly will get you details of a stockist near you.

I've added a number of 'stills' from the DVD. However if you want to see more, Adam has posted the 'Movie Trailer' here:


Not as spectacular (or expensive) as that for the new Tintin movie, but it gets the concept across well!
Highs: The extraordinarily professional quality of the production. The many techniques presented and the confidence that the Director exudes.
Lows: In some places the background music is overpowering and tends to take attention away from the commentary.
Verdict: First DVD from the company which bodes very well for future productions of this type. Incredibly useful and, (dare I say it?) 'empowering'!
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Related Link: Dealing With Photoetch Trailer on YouTube
  PUBLISHED: Oct 30, 2011

Our Thanks to Wilder !
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. All rights reserved.


Excellent review! Followed the link at the top of the page to the Wilder web site and send him an email message to obtain a copy of this DVD. ~ Eddy
OCT 30, 2011 - 08:03 AM
Now, I hope you mentioned Armorama! Funny thing with this Review is that i've never been so nervous before as I was with this, due, in no small part to the catfight which broke out when I ran the News Report a few weeks ago. Another aspect to all this, is the risk in alienating less-experienced models when we talk of buying expensive 'gizmos' . Adam shows that you don't need a huge tools budget to start working succesfully with PE - to my mind one of the real keypoints of the DVD...
OCT 30, 2011 - 08:49 PM
@jimbrae - Jim, I did make mention of the upcoming Panther Campaign here at Armorama for which I've gathered photo-etched sets for my build! I surly could use all the help I can get and your review of the DVD scored heavily both in that department and the budget aspect of using simple tools to get the job done. The techniques and basics being a key factor for me in obtaining positive results with this medium. I'm sure there is a learning curve to be able to achieve a good result but this is what this DVD and website are all about. Adam Wilder is a master modeler and has honed his skills far more than most of us here have and is willing to make what he knows available to any of us if we choose. Personally I have yet to be disappointed with the few videos featuring his work that I own and I'm sure I won't be disappointed this time either. For what I believe would almost be the price of a one production run Cyber-Hobby kit I get to learn how to best use the equally priced after market photo-etched set(s). I'm in! ~Eddy
OCT 31, 2011 - 05:35 PM
I just got mine this morning and I watched a good part of it... and all I can say is that if you're like me.. and have very little experience with PE and absolutely no experience with soldering.. then I strongly recommend this DVD for you.... Extremely nice, clear picture.. very clear explanation.. and of course, like I said before, seeing it done with such clarity makes all the difference. Hisham
OCT 31, 2011 - 10:32 PM
oh, thanks for reviewing! this DVD will definitely find it's way to my workbench. I've been reading a lot about PE techniques - in attempt to better my skills in this field. hopefully this DVD will be a good step in that way
NOV 02, 2011 - 09:39 AM
Thanks for the great review. I just ordered my copy today. Looks like it will be very helpful as I have put some kits on hold until I learn more about PE and do some smaller projects.
NOV 02, 2011 - 09:54 AM
I like the short Youtube clip. I can use any good help I can get when it comes to PE.
NOV 02, 2011 - 03:25 PM

Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move