30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon – Samer Kassis


Lebanon has seen it’s share of conflict through the ages, and the 20th century was certainly no exception. During the last half of the 20th century and early into the 21st, the cities, towns, valleys and mountains of this small Mediterranean country witnessed more than their fair share of armed vehicle traffic. Samer Kassis of Lebanon has been there all along, collecting images of the vehicles and people who have played a role in the history of this storied land. After years of gathering and curating images, Mr Kassis has published a series of books documenting the various military vehicles that have rumbled and rolled the dusty street and roads of Lebanon.





The book is a 2 volume “set” composed of the main volume, which is entirely photographs, and the second, smaller volume, which contains the captions for the photos in the main volume. The main volume contains 195 pages of mixed black and white and color photos. This is not a detailed walk-around book, but more of a “time and place” type of book, with the images grouped by military unit and conflict.

The subject matter ranges from the mundane to the fascinating, with the emphasis on fascinating! There are images of vehicle types and local modifications that you have almost certainly never seen, let alone heard of. Along with armored vehicles there are images of artillery in action and in various states of disrepair, as well as civilian vehicles and their operators in various states of uniform dress.

If you are interested in Middle-Eastern military conflict, Lebanon, obscure hardware, and oddball military vehicles, this book is a must have. If you’re looking for unusual diorama subject material or inspiration, I can also thoroughly recommend this book.

Available directly from the publisher at elitegrplebanon or via a number of international dealers listed at the link given.

Painting Guide for AFV of World War Two and Modern Era


Jose Luis Lopez Ruiz is a name that you’re probably familiar with if you’re an active armor modeler who is up to date on the various finishing techniques used today. His pioneering use of the “Black and White” technique was a real eye-opener for modelers used to following a fairly standardized process of color application and weathering.

Histoire & Collections of France has released “Painting Guide for AFV of World War Two and Modern Era” (ISBN 978-2-35250-387-3 ) which features step-by-step chapters detailing the application of the Black and White technique to 5 models in 1:48 and 1:35 scale. Published in English, well-illustrated and captioned, and written in a relaxed style that could make even an auto service manual fun to read, “Painting Guide for AFV of World War Two and Modern Era” is an invaluable resource for experienced modelers looking to try new techniques, as well as beginning modelers who are trying to unlock some of the more basic mysteries surrounding various concepts and finishes used on pieces that they may have admired in forums and magazines.






I feel compelled to point out that this book is not limited to step-by-step chapters, but also features some great stand-alone tables and tips. The first 9 sub-chapters are dedicated to particular aspects of AFV finishing: Primers, Paints, Washes, Oils, Varnishes, Pigments, Special Products, Airbrushes, and the Classical Method of painting AFV models. After that, the book turns to an SBS format detailing each of the featured subjects, which thankfully extend beyond the typical German WWII subject and include the following: 1:48 Char B in German service, 1:35 BT-7, Tiger 1, M-1078, and Tiran 5. The armor subjects are not limited to those however, as there is also an extensive chapter devoted to an introduction to the Black and White technique that features Jose Luis’s well known T-55 Enigma in 1:35 scale. The book finishes off with a gallery of 14 models.

One intangible aspect of the book that I absolutely love are the “hidden gems” throughout the text. Concepts like the use of the under-painting steps as a way to sketch the finish in the early stages, while the finish is still in development, are the kind of breakthrough concepts that make a book like this more than worth the purchase price. Jose Luis encourages the modeler to loosen up and embrace risk, echoing admonishments from instructors during my art school days when I struggled to “Stop thinking like an engineer all of the time!” as one teacher advised during a critique. Maybe that’s why Jose Luis’s writing seems so familiar to me. While he definitely encourages the reader to study photographic references and to think logically about the what’s and why’s of various materials and processes, there is a relaxing quality to the writing that encourages exploration and development without fear of “screwing it up” – a tough sell for a modeler who’s just spent months of free time gluing and soldering tiny bits of expensive resin and brass to a $60 plus kit! But like a good teacher, Jose Luis reminds the reader that self-confidence and faith are equally important additions to the modelers tool kit, and that the whole point is to have fun!

In the end, it’s hard to argue with his results.

82 full-color pages, richly illustrated and printed on heavy matte paper. Highly recommended!

Available directly from HISTOIRE & COLLECTIONS

or from AMAZON

*Share this post on facebook to be entered to win a cop of “Painting Guide for AFV of World War Two and Modern Era”

Sunday, August 3rd at 6PM Eastern, I will pick one name at random from the list of people who have shared this post, or the Facebook link to this post. That winner will receive a copy of the above title absolutely free!

Thanks for looking – now go build read something!

MacOne Spanish Civil War photo-etched paint mask

MacOne Models comes to the aid of the Spanish Civil War modeller again with this handy etched fret that provides paint masks for various Spanish Civil War tank markings. I don’t know why one couldn’t use to for applying markings to buildings as well.

Product number: MAC35103
Scale: 1:35
Photo-etched brass


Available for about $10 US (exchange rate as of 14-06-2014)directly from MacOne models


Thanks for looking. Now go build something!


Nocturna Models of Madrid Spain is one of the most exciting figure producers around. Still a relatively young company, but one whose catalog is ever expanding, Nocturna represents a younger type of figure model studio that incorporates more stylized and artistic themes, while still apparently maintaining a connection to more traditional, historically based, figure producers with a solid footing in the classical sculpting and painting arts.
When I saw their 70MM Teutonic Knight figure at a show in Madrid, it struck me as one of the most interesting pieces I had ever seen. Even though figure modelling isn’t really my “thing” I had been rolling around a concept for a diorama in my mind and I knew that this figure was perfect for it. I’ll share the concept later if I can get it fleshed out to the point that I think I can execute it successfully, but for now I wanted to share a few images and thoughts of this incredible figure.
In keeping with one of the repeated themes of this blog, this isn’t a review, as much as it is an opportunity for anyone who might be interested, to see what you get for your money. I should point out that I acquired this figure at my own expense.

Packaging is, as are all of Nocturna Models releases, top notch!


The parts are clean and very well cast. You can see some small bubbles (2 total on the entire figure) inside the banner, but they are not visible on the surface.


Nice pose. Dynamic while not your typical “in-action” pose.

The dry-fit assembly in the last image is the result of about an hours worth of cleanup and assembly. I added magnets to the joints to allow me to disassemble the figure for painting, which added some time beyond normal cleanup (which was minimal). Mold parting lines were very minor and the joints were self indexing and well-fitting.
A metal rod is cast into the flag pole / spear to lend some strength to the joint with a corresponding hole cast into the mating part. Nice touch!

I can fully recommend this figure to anyone. Clean casting, ease of assembly, excellent packaging and great customer service from Nocturna Models mean that I will be back for more in the future.

You can order directly from their website at

Now, go build something!

Spanish Hornets! Series Españolas Decals

Currently being replaced by the new E and F model F-18’s in US Navy service, Legacy Hornets continue to serve capably in the air arms of the Hornet’s export operators, including Switzerland, Australia, Finland, Malaysia, and the subject of this entry – Spain.

The Spanish Air Force, or Ejercito del Aire “EdA” has operated the F-18A+ and B+ models (similar to the C and D models in US service) known locally as the C.15 and CE.15 respectively, since 1985. Spanish Hornets and their crews have seen combat action in the skies over the former Yugoslavia, and have flown in support of no-fly zones over Libya.

Spain’s 86 Hornets are divided among two main air wings: ALA 12, based at Torrejon Air Base near Madrid, and ALA 15, based at Zaragoza.

Modelers wishing to build a legacy hornet in a non-US finish are offered some interesting options by the Spanish company Series Españolas Decals.

Both Air Wings or “ALA”s are covered by this decal offering, in 1:32 scale (Product #1232) with generic numbers given to allow some freedom in modelling individual aircraft. A similar sheet is also available in 1:48 (#1248) and 1:72 (#1272) scale.

The decals are well printed and in register, with even the tiny stenciling being legible.



The price tag on the sample shown is due to the fact that I purchased the decal sheet with my own funds from a Spanish hobby shop while attending a model show.

Series Española Decals continues to expand their line, and the quality is constantly improving. I have some of their older sheets, much older…and I can honestly say that the quality of their current offerings is light years ahead of those old sheets. I don’t know for sure, but I assume that they are having their decals printed by one of the powerhouses of the decal manufacturing world, based on the sharpness, clarity, thin-ness, and overall quality. The only drawback so far is their limited availability. Currently only available from overseas shops, or directly from Series Española Decals, they can be a little hard to come by, but are invaluable if you want to build anything Spanish. They offer decals for other Spanish types like F-5’s, T-6’s, Eurofighter Typhoons, F-18’s, T/AV-8A/B Harriers, R/F-4C’s and much more, which I will be posting here soon so stay tuned!

You can purchase them directly at Series Española Decals website.

or through various online retailers like Carmina Hobbies.