Saturday, May 25, 2019

Cougar 6x6 MRAP

vehicles were designed as part of a strategy to reduce or eliminate casualties caused by IEDs. Coalition forces in Afghanistan used a number of vehicles that loosely fall into this classification, but I'm not sure how many countries outside of the US and UK use the actual MRAP designation for their vehicles.

US military vehicles fall into four categories, based on size and weight.
  • Category I (7–15 tons) — Mine-Resistant Utility Vehicle (MRUV)
  • Category II (15–25 tons) — Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Rapid Response Vehicle (JERRV)
  • Category III (25 tons) — For mine/IED clearance and EOD
  • MRAP-All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV)
Most plastic 1/72 models represent M-ATVs. I'm not aware of any Cat-I or Cat-III models, and the only Cat-II vehicle model is of the Cougar. Metal and resin models exist, but I haven't really looked into any of the kits since the former can be overly simplified, while the later are expensive and often troublesome to put together.

4D 拼装模型 美国 美洲狮 6X6 防地雷反伏击车

The 4D Puzzle Model Cougar 6x6 MRAP consists of 78 pieces made in tan polystyrene. Sources seem to indicate that the manufacturer of this kit is Hehexing (合和兴), and the 4D logo and "Puzzle Model" name seem to be consistent with this company.

Some people are classifying this particular type of vehicle with six passenger compartment windows as a HEV (hardened engineer vehicle), while calling the type with only two passenger compartment windows a JERRV, but I'm not sure how accurate this information is.

The wheels have the simplified back side that some people don't care for, but the tread pattern doesn't look too bad.

The rear steps are represented as plain slabs which is incorrect, but short of supplying photoetch mesh, there's not much that can be done about it.

The front doors are separate pieces, and can be positioned open, but only has a single hinge. The rear doors can also be positioned open, but strangely enough, the turret hatch is molded closed.

Windows in the OGPK turret are solid, so should probably be drilled out and replaced with acetate panes. The 0.50 caliber is decent, but the barrel is on the thick side. The various antennae are all too short and too thick, but I'll probably leave them as is.

The searchlight was molded on one of the tan sprues, so I'll probably cast a replacement up in clear resin.

It probably took about an hour (maybe less) to assemble most of the model to this point. It can probably be built without glue, but plastic cement really helps keep all the parts in place.

I was probably overeager, and should have left the clear parts on the sprue so I could have painted them first before installation. As it is, I'll just have to pop them back out and paint a bunch of loose pieces.

Anyway, I'm going to try and get my modifications in and paint the model up over the long weekend, and hopefully be able to show off the finished model in the next week or so.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

4D Quick Build Models

The latest 4D Models from China have entered the market, and they seem to be from the same company that did the 4D Assembly Models from my last post on 4D Models.

In this release, the models are labeled 快拼系列 (Kuaipin Xilie; Quick Build Series), with the M35 Cargo Truck (No. 1), and the BTR-80 APC (No. 2).

A build review in Mandarin Chinese on Jingmo Wusheng's Toy Sharing Channel (静默无声的玩具分享; Jingmo Wusheng de Wanju Fenxiang) at bilibili states the manufacturer is a company called "Lili" (but maybe he said 4D? I couldn't hear what he said clearly because of distortion in the audio).

I put the M35 together in 15 minutes or so. Half of that time was probably spent on scraping green paint from the tires (probably due to some issue with masking during production).

30 pieces

The suspension is very simplified.

There was a lot of play in the front wheels after assembly. Possibly because the axle was too long, but I think it is more an issue with the design since the front and back wheels seem to line up pretty well. Wusheng seemed to have even more of an issue in his build video, so I think that in some cases, it may be necessary to either file down the axle, or drill out the wheels.

On step 3, I placed the parts so that the ejection marks would be hidden from view. The illustration does not show it, but there is a perpendicular bar that should be on the side facing the rear of the cab.

Make ejection marks face direction of arrows

For step 5, the end of the exhaust stack should be rotated to angle away from the cab rather than point straight backward. Unfortunately, the ejection mark on the exhaust stack is on the outward facing side so it is quite visible.

Gas cap up, exhaust stack angles out

Also, when installing the fuel tank, make sure the gas cap is facing up. The illustration does not show any details, so the upward facing side might be mistaken for the underside of the fuel tank.

Compared to the Hobby Master M35, the trucks are identical in size and wheelbase.

I put the BTR together in about 15 minutes as well. I probably could have done it in 5 minutes, except I had to clean off a lot of flash. The 14.5 mm KPVT is thick and poorly shaped, while the handrails are thick and overscale. There is an extra handrail on the sprue in case you break or lose one.

26 pieces

For step 2, when viewing the parts from this inverted position, the coaxial gun should be on the opposite side.

Coaxial gun not visible from this side

The shovel and handrails had a bit of flash on them, and needed some clean up. It was fortunate that the parts are thick and made of ABS because I'm pretty sure I would have ended up with a lot of broken pieces if they were polystyrene.

horizontal bars should curve away from hull

When installing the handrails, make sure the horizontal bars are curved away from the hull of the vehicle. I may apply some ABS glue inside the hull later to make sure some of the looser fitting parts don't fall off.

Compared to the Trumpeter BTR-80, the two vehicles are almost identical in dimension. The wheelbase of the 4D model is a bit longer than the Trumpeter model (I think there is more separation between the front and rear pairs of axles on the 4D model), but it is not really noticeable without putting the wheels right up against each other.

All in all, I'm quite satisfied with the models. They are well suited for wargaming because of how robust they are, but they also have a lot of potential for modification (although the ABS plastic may be an issue).

A 6x6 Cougar MRAP appears to be available as well, but so far I have only seen it on Taobao.

In Wusong's review, he also mentions the manufacturer makes cannons and 1/72 figures. From what I can tell, the cannon is probably a Zvezda copy, while the figures seem to be Caesar copies.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Ogre Magi

The ogre mage or Japanese ogre of D&D is essentially an oni (which I guess has been the official designation since 4th edition).

Fuji Musume + Oni no Nenbutsu
by Kitagawa Utamaro

The typical oni that an adventurer might meet would be something like the ogre or giant of European mythology, but oni are also servitors in the Buddhist hells, and in this role bear many similarities to Abrahamic devils.

In art, they are portrayed anywhere from being slightly larger than a human to being gigantic in size. Most miniatures will tend to be of the later type when used with 1/72 scale figures.

I will start by showing some of the shokugan/gashapon figures that I own. The standing pair are from series 1 of the Collect Club Seven Wonders Compilation (コレクト倶楽部 七不思議編) released by UHA Mikakuto (UHA味覚糖), and are a red oni (赤鬼) and blue oni (青鬼) respectively. The crouching figure is the red (赤) version of a yōkai netsuke (妖怪根付) from the Hyakki Yagyō Yōkai Collection (百鬼夜行妖怪コレクション) released by Furuta (フルタ).

The series 1 UHA figures are single piece castings made of a dense polystone resin. The Furuta figure is made of PVC, and a painted version is also available.

       鬼 (赤)       |       鬼 (天然色)  

The subsequent series 2 figures from UHA are a black oni (黒鬼) and a green oni (緑鬼) respectively.

The series 2 figures are multi-part PVC, and require some assembly.

The next figures come from the Rising Sun boardgame produduced by CMON. They include the Oni of Plagues, a Turtle Clan Shinto, and two Turtle Clan Bushi.

I'm not enthusiastic about the fancifully ornate weapons of the Oni of Plagues, but I liked the figure because it reminded me of Tsuchigumo from Nurarihyon no Mago. As for the Turtle Clan miniatures, I don't think they are actually supposed to be oni, but they are horned and fanged, so look close enough to be oni for me.

I particularly like that the monk on the Shinto figure is close in size to the similarly posed figure from the Arcane Legions game. However, I find the use of the term "shinto" for this class of characters by the game writers odd, and I'm thinking the word they should have used would be kannushi (but what do I know).

In the next image, we have the Oni of Blood which is also from the Rising Sun game, while next to it is a DDM Oni Night Haunter (Lords of Madness #35).

The Oni of Blood is a very elaborate sculpt, and I'd be really interested in seeing the production mold for it because it seems to have been made as a single piece.

I did a quick earthen wash over the pants of the Oni Night Haunter because I didn't like the original bright yellow color. The base was also replaced with a metal washer because it was so warped that I could not flatten it out using either hot water or a blow dryer.

The next two figures are the D&D Miniatures Icons of the Realms Ogre Mage (Classic Creatures #5), and a Reaper Female Oni (Bones 77486).

I like this CMG ogre mage because it has a single horn, which is sorely underrepresented in miniature oni. The turquoise and magenta skin of these two oni go well together, and are a nice variation on the traditional blue and red oni.

The next section covers all of my metal oni. The first three miniatures are a Ral Partha Ogre Mage (AD&D Monsters 11-405), a Ral Partha Dai-Oni (Bushido 53-912), and a Ral Partha Japanese Ogre (Children of the Night 13-039).

The last two figures are supposed to be armed with naginata, but I seem to have lost the weapons at some point.

The next image has an armed pair of Ral Partha Oni (Bushido 53-908), a Ral Partha Dai-Bakemono (Bushido 53-911), and an Asgard Oriental Ogre (Fantasy Monsters FM22).

The dai-bakemono is supposed to have a large tetsubo, but again, I seem to have lost the weapon. The Asgard miniature is the earlier version of their oriental ogre. It was probably originally holding some sort of weapon, but I'm not sure what type it was (the later resculpted version of this miniature carries a large two-handed mace).

The next image shows some old Reaper miniatures. The larger figure is a Bakemono (Daimyo 4027), while the three smaller ones are Oni (Daimyo 4028). The Daimyo Oni are sized like 15mm figures, and I get the feeling that they were originally supposed to be "oriental goblins". Certainly when these miniatures were first released by Texas Miniatures, they seem to have all been called bakemono, so they didn't start out as oni.

In any event, I'm grouping all the creatures called bakemono with oni because they look close enough going by looks alone. My understanding of the word "bakemono" is that it is a generic term like "monster", so using the word to indicate a specific type of creature is vague and confusing (I blame the Bushido RPG for this).

Along those lines, I'm counting the Grenadier Oriental Goblins (Fantasy Lords 184) shown in the next image among my ranks of oni.

Even so, these goblins don't have features that are particularly oni-like, and wear their hair in a chonmage, so I'll probably need to do a little modification to turn them into proper oni.

In the Legend of the Five Rings RPG, it seems that oni are called ogres, while demons are called oni. This is reflected in the AEG Clan War miniatures, with the Ogre Bushi (Shadowlands 13-103) looking like an oni, and the oni lord Kyoso no Oni (Shadowlands 99-002) looking like a demon.

The Lesser Oni (Shadowlands 13-113) are also very demonic, and look nothing like traditional oni at all. In fact, I would probably classify them as generic bakemono.

The final section covers 15mm oni from Alternative Armies, and Battle Valor Games.

The Alternative Armies figures are part of their Sengoku Japanese Fantasy line. In the first image (from left to right) – Oni with Claws (SGF04), Oni with Large Blade (SGF05), Oni with Large Blade (SGF06), Armoured Oni with Large Blade (SGF85), Armoured Oni with Claws (SGF86).

More Alternative Armies figures (from left to right) – Oni with Claws (SGF87), Oni Shamen [sic] (SGF88), Oni with Tetsubo (SGF89), Oni with Tetsubo Beckoning (SGF90)

The armored oni are human-sized, while the unarmored oni are shorter. I wish the unarmored oni had been made the same height as the armored ones.

The Battle Valor oni are figures from the Samurai fantasy skirmish Kickstarter by Philip Mann. I pledged at the Oni Lord level to get an Oni Army Set.

The first image is of the Oni Command (SAM126).

Next are the Dai Oni (SAM127).

Then the Oni (SAM128).

Last are the Small Oni (SAM129).

There are a lot of similar poses between the oni and dai oni, but the later are more suitable as 1/72 oni. I don't see the oni on the Battle Valor website at this time, but I imagine they will appear at some point in the future. Hopefully the Dai Oni Command set which was not unlocked during the Kickstarter campaign will be produced as well.

A final comparison shot of the various 15mm oni (and a Daimyo oni).

The 15mm dai oni are just about right for roughly human-sized oni. The others will either need to be converted to increase their height, or used as some other type of small yokai.

In closing, I'd like to mention the Dixon oni from their Legends of Nippon line (which I do not have). The Dixon website never really had any pictures of the oni, so I was hesitant about buying them because I didn't care for the overly thick, chunky style of the Dixon samurai.

However, they recently(?) posted a PDF file with illustrations of their oni and bakemono, which was very encouraging, since the miniatures look pretty faithful to the appearance of traditional oni. I will probably have to order some of these miniatures in the near future.