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.
"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)
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 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...
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:
Pliers (small, blunt-edged & round-nosed)
Multi-Tool or similar (for curved parts), 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!