Thursday, November 25, 2021

4D 8-Rad

The latest offerings from 4D Models consist of three 8-wheeled vehicles and one tracked vehicle.

The first two kits are WWII German heavy armored cars. They are both referred to as "Cougar" armored cars in the translated text, since the same word is used for both "cougar" and "puma" in Chinese. In any event, I will use the word "puma" for the purposes of this post.

4D Model also seems to be doing OEM for a company called Pambest, who are selling the 4D kits under their Pocket P Museum brand (the marketing material looks to be styled after the Kaiyodo Capsule Q Museum series).

Pocket P Museum

Capsule Q Museum

The first model is the Sd.Kfz.234/2 Puma Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle (美洲狮裝甲偵察车), consisting of 26 parts in khaki plastic, 9 wheels in black plastic with painted hubs, 4 metal axles, and a wire antenna.

The second model is the Sd.Kfz.234/3 Puma Wheeled Armored Vehicle (美洲狮轮式裝甲车), which we might also call a Stummel 8-rad, consisting of 50 parts in tan plastic, 9 wheels in black plastic with painted hubs, 4 metal axles, and a wire antenna.

The models go together very quickly and easily, but the directions for how the axles fit onto the chassis are the opposite for the two models, and I couldn't figure out which direction was correct at first.

In the end, I think the instructions are both half-right, and there should be a pair of struts pointing forward, and a pair pointing backward.

Immediately there are several obvious issues with the models, including the poorly rendered jerry cans, and lack of tread pattern on the tires.

The barrel of the Puma is warped, and has the vents opened to the top and bottom as opposed to the sides. The smoke launchers are poorly represented, and only have two dischargers on each side.

Meanwhile, the Stummel has markings that are out of register, a poorly formed co-axial machine gun, and big, chunky steering wheels.

The models are strictly wargaming pieces, and are not the best representatives of the 4D Model offerings. They do have the advantage of tools that are provided as separate parts, and the Stummel comes with a rudimentary interior.

It probably wouldn't be too hard to make them into passable display models either, if you really wanted to.

I didn't use the wire antenna on the Puma because the instructions tell you to install part 4B, and then cut it off to leave a post for the metal antenna. If I had looked carefully at the instructions before starting, I would have just used a piece of sprue for the post, and saved the part for something else.

The next two models are modern PLA vehicles consisting of the ZBD-04A Tracked IVF (ZBD-04A 步兵战车步兵战车), and the ZBL-09 Snow Leopard IVF (雪豹 ZBD-09式 步兵战车).

The ZBD-04A consists of 43 parts in tan plastic (a green version of this model also exists), and two wire antennae.

The ZBD-09 consists of 26 parts in green plastic, 8 wheels in black plastic with painted hubs, and 4 metal axles.

Assembly of the models is very simple, but one interesting feature is the way the bustle racks for the ZBD-04 require folding before installation.

This is something you would typically do with photoetch, but the properties of the plastic used for the kit makes it possible to get a similar effect without the need for special tools, or having to complicate the mold.

I painted the tracks and wheels of the ZBD-04 before assembly because the side skirts would make painting difficult after the upper and lower hulls are connected.

The ZBD-04 has a choice of two configurations based on the parts attached to the hull. I went with option 1, but I'll probably order another model to build the other configuration.

Hatches on the hull and turret can open and close, but a bit of clean-up may be needed for the hull hatch to fully close. The barrel can pivot up and down, and the turret can rotate.

The 4D ZBD-09 is very similar to the Dragon Armor ZBL-09, albeit a bit less detailed. Both chain-guns are simplified and fixed in a raised position.

4D (left) v Dragon (right)

For both models, options are provided to have the turret hatches opened or closed. I went with the closed option for the 4D model, and open option for the Dragon model.

Dragon (top) v 4D (bottom)

The Dragon model comes with two doors for the rear hatch to allow the model to be displayed with open or closed hatch. The 4D model has a hinged door so the hatch can open and close.

Dragon (left) v 4D (right)

The only thing that was obviously inaccurate on the 4D model from what I can tell are the front mirrors.

The mirrors of the Dragon model are the correct rectangular shape, while the 4D model has round mirrors.

Overall, I would say that the models are not too bad, though they would look more like actual PLA vehicles if they were painted with [digital] camouflage. It's also odd that the national markings do not have the "八一 " inside the emblem, which makes them look a bit off.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Early modern humans

It is believed that Homo sapiens first appeared anywhere from 300,000 years to 800,000 years ago (depending upon whether morphological or cladistic definitions are used).

These early humans are often referred to as "cavemen", but I don't think much stock can be placed in any particular depiction of them because practically every theory is based entirely on speculation.

My main interest in caveman miniatures is based on needing miniatures for playing Tusk from Wessex Games. The game is normally played with 15mm figures, but not for me. In the absence of proper miniatures in 1/72 scale, proxies such as ancient Libiyans (Caesar), ancient Germans (ESCI), or Zulus (ESCI) can be used.

I have recently picked up a few different sets of 1/72 caveman miniatures, but I think that the majority of people will find that they are not really practical for gaming purposes. Despite that, the miniatures are very nice, and many are perfectly posed for use in a game of Tusk.

The first three sets are from Phersu Miniatures. These miniatures were sculpted by the late Leonardo Torricini, and are essentially out of production.

PCH1 Prehistoric Cavemen Hunters 1

I was only able to get an incomplete version of this set, but the figures include one metal casting, a beater with sticks to flush out game, a figure carrying his catch, a firestarter, figures armed with clubs and spears, and some figures laying in ambush.

Some clubs and metal pins are supplied as weapons, but I think the original sets had white metal parts for the spears.

PCH2 Prehistoric Cavemen Hunters 2

The set consists of various hunting poses, and include a couple of figures that represent members of Homo erectus.

Three metal pins are supplied as weapons, but I think the original sets had white metal parts for the spears.

PCCF Prehistoric Cavemen - Cave and Fire

The set consists of some standing figures, perhaps a couple of artists, and various figures sitting around the campfire.

The set includes a resin bonfire and animal pelt, and various white metal weapons.

PAV1 Prehistoric Animals

The set contains a large deer with white metal antlers, a baby mammoth, a wild boar, a small bear, four wolves, and a sabre-toothed tiger.

I bent the deer antlers a bit before attaching them so they would have a curved appearance when looked at from the front.

For those interested in these (and other) Phersu sets, contact Massimo Costa of 42nd Black Watch Miniatures. Massimo does not have a website yet, but he can be reached at the following address regarding availability:

Not all of the sets are readily on hand, but it seems like Massimo plans to produce at least some of the sets under the 42nd Black Watch label in tribute to Leonardo.

I hope there are plans to bring the caveman figures back in metal since they would be more sturdy for gaming.

The next three sets are from munich-Kits from their Stone Age (Steinzeit) line.

The first set is titled the First Hunters (Die ersten Jäger FHH01), and includes two hunters and a bear.

The hands and spear of one hunter is cast as a separate part in white metal.

The second set is also titled the First Hunters (Die ersten Jäger FHH02), and includes two hunters and a firestarter.

The hands and spear of one hunter is cast as a separate part in white metal.

The final set is titled the Middle Stone Age (Die mittlere Steinzeit FHH03), and includes a family of three.

The spear carried by Dad is a separate resin part.

All of the munich-Kits figures are tall, and are perhaps based on estimates from specific finds of Cro-Magnon remains.

I can't wait until the Neanderthal vs. Denisovan vs. Homo sapiens set from Linear-A reaches North America so we can get some more cavemen in plastic.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Komatsu G40 & PC30E

Komatsu has been sending scale models of their heavy machinery as a thank you gift to long term shareholders since 2015.

The models have typically been 1/87 scale, but for their 100th anniversary celebration back in May, they sent out a set of two 1/72 scale models.

The two models are of a G40 Komatsu type 1 bulldozer (小松1型均土機), and a PC30E-5 electric mini excavator (バッテリー駆動式ミニショベル).

Komatsu was commissioned by the IJN to produce a bulldozer for airfield construction at the end of 1942. Given a very short timeline for turnaround, the G40 bulldozer was essentially a G40 farm tractor fitted with a hydraulic mechanism and bulldozer blade.

The model is most likely based on the G40 bulldozer at the Komatsu Techno Center in Shizuoka, but from various pictures, I get the sense that there were different types of mount for the blade (and different types of blades as well).

The model is mostly diecast metal, with some plastic parts for the hydraulic mechanism, cab, and wheels. The tracks seem to be made of rubber, and are the same color as the bulldozer.

The PC30E-5 was launched last year as a zero emission vehicle, which offered the additional benefits of  having low heat, low noise, and reduced vibration output since it uses electrical motors. The vehicle fits in with the Komatsu 100th anniversary theme of environmental protection.

The model is made of diecast metal and plastic. The excavator arm is articulated for motion, and the body can swivel about 45° to each side.

I imagine it's doubtful anyone else will make 1/72 scale models of either of these vehicles ever again.