RP TOOLZ hexagonal punch and die set

Well it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything, but a new year (is it really March already?) and a renewed commitment to my modelling work has brought me back around to my passion – making stuff!
A large component of the process of model making is of course – TOOLS! I have been in a bit of a gear-acquisition mode lately, seeking to expand my capabilities through the purchase of equipment and software that provide me with a greater variety of solutions to common modeling problems. One of these problems being: how to add nut, washer, rivet and bolt head details to a model. In the past, I’ve relied on the incredible Grandt Line Products (http://www.grandtline.com/) series of injection-molded nut, washer, rivet and bolt head details to accomplish this.

GRANDT LINE NUT AND WASHER

GRANDT LINE NUT AND WASHER

Sadly, my stock of Grandt Line products is nearly depleted. Ordering them online is tough, because I really feel like I need to see them in person to select the right size and style for what I’m doing. If you happen to be one of the fortunate but shrinking group of modelers who have a local hobby shop that has a good selection of Grandt Line products, consider yourself very fortunate!

I also find them a little hard to use sometimes. Cutting them from the sprue can be tricky, often resulting in a tiny burr that can prevent them from sitting flat on a surface. You can overcome this by snipping them from the sprue and leaving a portion of the “stem” that can be inserted into a pre-drilled hole. This can be useful because it allows you to lay out the fastener pattern ahead of time with a pencil, then run a pounce wheel along the line to establish the spacing before you drill the holes. The problem with this method is that the stems are sometimes off-center from the center of the nut / washer detail, and if you don’t get all of the nut / washers rotated to the same orientation, you can easily end up with a wavy line. Aside from that comes the age-old problem of never having just the size and style that you need, when you need it! What to do, what to do?

Enter RP TOOLZ punch and die sets!

RP TOOLZ of Hungary has designed and produced a set of punch and die sets for both hexagonal and round shapes. They can be used to produce positive shapes (discs and hex shaped pieces of plastic) in various sizes, but also to make holes of similar description. Truthfully, their use is limited only by the users creativity!

I bit the bullet and ordered both sets directly from Hungary via the RP TOOLZ website.

http://www.rptoolz.com/?page_id=170

They arrived quickly and were well packed in sturdy cardboard boxes.
RP HEX DIE-BOX-1

Both sets include the die with its top plate and clamping knobs, a set of punches of varying sizes, a small hammer, and instructions in both English AND Hungarian – FELELMETES!
RP HEX DIE-BOX-2

The round set includes a huge variety of sizes – 16 sizes, from .5mm (.020″) to 2mm (.078″)!
RP HEX DIE-CONTENTS-1

For this review I am focusing on the hexagonal set.
RP HEX DIE-1

To use the punch and dies, you simply loosen the top plate…
RP HEX DIE-2

insert a piece of material and tighten the thumbscrews…
RP HEX DIE-3

place the punch into the corresponding hole in the die…
RP HEX DIE-2-2

and give it a few firm but gentle taps!
RP HEX DIE-2-5

After a few operations I had a pretty smooth flow going. For the first few cycles the punches seemed a little “sticky” in their action (RP TOOLZ gives you a heads-up about this in the instructions), but they soon smoothed out and I had a little hex-disc factory humming.
RP HEX DIE-6

Just to see what they looked like after assembly, I glued them to the piece of styrene that I punched them from and hit them with a coat of gray Vallejo primer.
RP HEX DIE-5
RP HEX DIE-4

I didn’t try them with anything other than styrene, but I expect that they could be used with foil and decals too. I probably wouldn’t use them on anything harder, due to a risk of damaging the die plate, but I have not contacted the manufacturer to ask about this.

I’m very pleased with the quality of the design and execution of these tools. The rounded corners on the punch handles, recessed pockets for the size labels, the potting of the punch shaft into the punch body… all speak to the attention to detail that went into the design of these sets. They are easy to use and seem quite sturdy. I can’t wait to put them to regular use at the workbench. With God as my witness, I shall never hunger for discs and hexes of any given tiny diameter again!

You can order RP TOOLZ punch and die sets directly from the RP TOOLZ website:

http://www.rptoolz.com/?page_id=170

I received no compensation for this review. RP TOOLZ products were acquired solely at my expense.

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ASU 85 1:35 Trumpeter

I’ve been very busy lately, but have been squeezing in work on the Trumpeter ASU 85 that I started late last year. Intended to be a quick build, it remains so. I plan to make a simple base and add a figure to tell a simple story, much like my Spanish Civil War vignette.

Now- on to the pictures. A full build article is to follow.

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Stay tuned for the full build article.

Accion Press / Euromodelismo – available in English!

Accion Press (AKA Euromodelismo) is a publisher who is probably more familiar to European modellers, and possibly even specifically Spanish modellers, than to their North American or British counterparts, but that should change soon with the introduction of English versions of their most popular titles. I picked up a few copies of their “Panzer Aces” and “Model Laboratory” magazines, and the book “Aviation Modeling Techniques – The Greatest Guide” at a model show near Madrid this past weekend and would like to share a review on these “hidden” gems with my North American modelling freinds.

Some of the Accion Press titles available in English

Some of the Accion Press titles available in English

I’ll start with “Panzer Aces” since it’s a title that some of you may already be familiar with. Reviews of other titles will follow in later posts.

The basics:

Issue #41 – 1/48 SPECIAL
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65 Full color pages printed on heavy matte stock with deep color illustrations that have a satin clearcoat, I assume to enhance the depths of the photos.

The articles are light on history and background material, which I appreciate. Let’s be honest, most modellers have book shelves full of research material that address vehicle design and service history. I always end up skipping through the paragraphs of background historical information (which is usually presented elsewhere in greater depth anyway) that displaces valuable modelling-specific material so I can get to the modelling project, the”meat” of the article if you will. That’s not to say that there isn’t any background material present, but what is there is succinct and not intended to fill space.

Each build is heavily illustrated with key steps documented with copious captions describing the process. The models are photographed on simple backgrounds and are well-lit with high image quality throughout the magazine. Considering that all the models in issue #41 are 1/48th scale (it IS the 1/48th scale special issue after all!) the quality of the models and the photography is outstanding! I had to read the “1/48 SPECIAL” text on the cover before I realized I wasn’t looking at 1/35 scale models! The magazine is also almost entirely free of advertisements. The text is clean and well edited. The translations to English from the original Spanish text are, for the most part, well done. This can be tricky in a technical field like armor modelling and I am glad the crew at Accion Press have gone to the trouble to broaden their audience, even if they don’t “nail it” (try translating that into a different language and have it make sense!) every time.

A sample of articles includes:

Diego Quijanos Jagdpanzer wreck vignette.

14 pgs
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Mr. Quijano is up to his usual outstanding level of work with this exciting piece which features Tamiya’s kit modified to represent a wrecked and abandoned beast that has come to rest in an unusual and dynamic attitude. The model is heavily weathered but in away that doesn’t seem out of line with the vehicles disposition.  The addition of some simple scratchbuilt elements enhance the kit details and some creative styrene work replicates the shattered plate steel and mangled barrell of the wretched beast. The finish has a depth that astounds (in my opinion the characteristic feature of the style known as “The Spanish School”) A well executed base brings it all together and displays the model in an attractive fashion.

Luciano Rodriguez  Winter white-washed JS-2.

10 pgs
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Does another article about a white-washed heavy leave you thinking “seen it – NEXT!” ? Well settle down and take another look. Mr. Rodriguez ditches the Aqua Net and dusts off his enamels to simulate a well-worn white-washed vehicle. The results have depth that have me wanting to try this technique on some other types of faded and streaked finishes. Mr. Rodriguez walks us step-by-step through the finishing process and concludes with the construction of a simple but attractive base that includes mud and snow using materials that the author is using for the first time. The fact that he achieves such satisfying results with materials unfamiliar to him inspires me to try my hand at new materials and techniques.

Jose Luis Lopez Tiger 1 and Panzer  2

14 pages
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Mr Lopez works his pre-shading magic on a pair of panzer gray vehicles to contrast different approaches using the same technique on models of varying sizes, in this case a Tiger 1 and a Panzer 2. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Luis-Ruis’s work, this article alone is worth the purchase price of the magazine. Applying a base coat of white and black that is followed by gray (in the case of one of the vehicles) and then finishing off with skillful weathering results in an eye catching depth that makes it hard to believe that the model is 1/48th scale. My description here simply does not do the  work justice.

Pat Johnston’s Hetzer

8 pages
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Like a tank drove through an art store  and came out…awesome!. Mr Johnston employs acrylics, enamels, oils, and pastels to replicate a tight feathered camouflage on this small, especially in 1/48 scale, Hetzer 38T. The camo is tight but soft and the colors are clean and bright. The weathering is  well done and each step in the finishing process is well described. Another work that has me eyeing my kit collection looking for a suitable test bed.

Rodrigo Hernandez Cabo’s tree tutorial

3 pages
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To wrap it all up Mr. Cabos shares a step-by-step on improving the appearance of trees for dioramas. The method uses easily obtainable natural materials and has me wanting to take a walk in the woods for materials and inspiration.

Overall I think that this magazine is a great value considering the quality of the models, photos, captions, and overall quality of the printing. I did notice a couple of minor graphical issues, as well as the occasional awkward translation, but nothing that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the magazine.

I Have yet to come up with a cheesy rating system that invloves some recognizable icon that I can dispense in unit increments to indicate my approval or disaproval of the review subject, so for now let’s just say…

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Accion Press titles are available directly from the publisher at http://www.euromodelismo.com/shop/

Check them out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PanzerAces.Magazine?ref=hl

Up next: Model Labratory SD.KFZ..171 PANTHER G W/STEEL  ROAD WHEELS

Spanish Civil War Panzer I – part 4 / Panzer I de la Guerra Civil de España – parte 4

Dirt!

I used AK Interactive products to add dirt and dust to the left hand side and front of the hull, along with oil paints and enamel thinner to add some rain marks to the top of the front hull. next step: finish adding dirt on the rear deck and right hand side, then…adding the tracks and tools!

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