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New Zealand special air service Humvee
Meng AFV Modeller

New Zealand special air service Humvee

Posted May 18, 2015   |   3805 views   |   Hobbies & Crafts   |   Comments (0) Mark Neville loads up Tamiya’s 1:35 Humvee with the AC Models conversion

Nostalgia plays a big part in modelling for me, remember the feeling of standing in your local hobby shop clutching that hard-earned pocket money presented with a wall of kits and taking what seemed like hours to choose?...One of the kits I remember fondly was the Tamiya SAS Willys jeep, a kind of desert hot-rod loaded up to the gunnels with all manner of equipment for those long range missions, and what of the figures?

Sporting head scarves and long beards the crew were straight from the pages of a ‘Commando’ comic book.

Fast-forward thirty-odd years and this conversion from AC Models immediately struck me as the modern version of that classic kit, not my usual modelling cup of tea but what a great looking Hummer with fantastic figures, it was just begging to be built!

The Conversion
AC Models of New Zealand may be a familiar name to you if you indulge in figure painting on occasion. Andy Cairns is the sculptor and man behind the business renowned for his large scale busts (stop sniggering) and historical subjects, Andy previously released the figures in this set as one of his first forays into 1:35. Andy’s sculpting has a very particular style which appeals to me as it suits my style of painting, a kind of ‘sculpted sketch’ concentrating on the anatomy and pose which always have a very natural feel. The conversion is packaged in a stout corrugated pack which hadn’t suffered from it’s posting from the other side of the World. The presentation is very ‘Old School’ with the cottage industry feel we were used to in the past with plenty of cleaning up of the grey resin required. The majority of the chunks of resin are the Humvee’s stowage which are a very good fit to the Tamiya kit with the field modified and built lockers and boxes already complete with items attached. The nature of the vehicle sort-of suits the hand-crafted feel of the masters, no CAD rendering or rapid prototyping here which means the soft stowage has a very convincing look to it but some of the items such as the grenade launcher ring mount, ammo boxes and the GPMG and mount are poorly defined in places and the detail soft - requiring some old fashioned clean-up. Another negative are the assembly instructions which consist of a few photos of the complete unpainted model and some shots of the actual vehicle, not adequate in my opinion resulting in lots of dry-fits and head scratching especially for a novice in modern equipment like myself.

There is a very generous selection of equipment, much of which I haven’t had room to add, and a choice of ammo cans to suit the grenade launcher or a .50cal. The spare wheel supplied matches the Tamiya kit parts for tread pattern (by the way, AC Models state that this conversion would fit Academy’s Humvees also) and is designed to fit in front of the mass of fuel and water cans. The cans are cast all together which certainly speeds-up assembly, individual cans are also supplied. The crew’s huge bergens are designed to fit on the modified tail-gate and are beautifully rendered. You can find a few photographs of trail bikes tied down to these tail-gates which would make an interesting feature as a few are available in 1:35.
The clean-up time of the resin parts is compensated for by the speed of which the Tamiya kit goes together, I’ve used the M1025 kit but as the upper structures are largely unused any version would be suitable. This is really one of those Tamiya classics, great detail and fit makeing assembly a breeze, and as already mentioned, the conversion fits very well which allowed me to drop in many of the larger ‘chunks’ after painting them separately.

The figures are undoubtedly for me the focal point of the finished model, excellent figures with very little preparation they fit into place with a natural look and feel not often seen with vehicle crews. These guys ooze character and although are sculpted as NZ SAS could easily pass for several nations’ special forces in their generic modern gear.

With the figures and the rest of the resin parts dry-fitted in place the Humvee takes on an organic appearance, with so many intricate shapes I decided to give a primer coat of flat black (from Lifecolor) to act as a pre-shade which suits both the interior green and overspayed sand colour of the exterior. With the pressure set low on the Iwata I was able to get in close to all the nooks and crannies with the black, I didn’t thin the Lifecolor as much as usual allowing good coverage quickly and good adhesion to the plastic and resin.

The figures, jerry cans, ammo boxes and some stowage were all given the black base-coat treatment. These parts were drilled and fitted with cocktail sticks which in turn are pushed into a block of polystyrene to allow easy handling throughout painting. I allowed the black to dry for a couple of days which provided me a very tough base to work on.

The Painting
The conversion comes with a couple of prints of the subject vehicle in Afghanistan, a quick internet search found these very same shots which allowed me to enlarge them on screen for colour reference. Flicking through my available paint I decided on a colour from AK Interactive’s DAK set, RAL 7027 Grau- which is in reality a sandy-brown. The base colour wasn’t too critical as I tend to use lots of washes and filters which in turn change the base colour somewhat. Using the airbrush at a constant angle the sand colour was gradually applied concentrating the strongest coverage on the upper surfaces letting the black show through as shadowed areas. This technique works well if done gradually, I also used this method on the stowage and the figures painted separately, letting the sand colour double-up as a light source for the highlights adding a good start to the shading and contrasts of further colours.

The stowage lockers and boxes on the Humvee appear to have been built from heavy plywood or MDF with a random over-spray of red-brown (probably from an aerosol) which I re-created with some fine airbrushing. The interior metalwork appears to be in it’s factory dark green, with the black shadow already in place and the sand colour catching the highlights all that was needed were some washes of dilute ‘Russian Green’ acrylic followed by some subtle dry brushing of the dash and radio details. A coat of Vallejo Black-grey was left to dry on the tyres and the filters and washes could be started. I’ve become a bit of a convert to the ready to use magic potions such as filters and washes, for one we’re sent samples to review so it’s only fair to put them to the test and they’re also very convenient and consistant. The majority of these products are enamel based and perform pretty much the same, AK Interactive and MIG Productions are the ones I’ve tried with excellent results but you must frequently shake the bottles to suspend the pigment, before and during use.
I’ve found the washes work best if the area being worked on is dampened first with clean thinner (as you would with oil paint or an enamel wash) details such as the  rivets on the side panels were individually picked out with a fine spotter brush loaded with AK’s ’Dark Brown Wash’. I’ve also found mixing some of the pigment residue from the cap or neck of the bottle allows variation in the strength of the wash.

Detail painting and the stowage was done entirely with acrylics from Lifecolour mixed referring to the colour shots to hand, with many of the colours so similar I found it helped to keep strong contrasts between the shading and highlights. Weapons were undercoated with a wash of Vallejo Air Black which has a subtle sheen followed by a rub of pencil graphite. Many parts of the grenade launcher appear to be in the Humvee’s original green finish and the GPMG on the side mount has crudely applied cammo paint in the photographs. The conversion supplies a length of ammo cast in white metal and an array of ammo containers.

AK Interactive’s ‘European Earth’ pigment powder looked a favourable match to the photographs to provide the ingrained dirt of the tyres. The powder was laded on heavy in a dry state then removed from the high spots with a stiff bristled brush. A quick and easy method which matched the reference shots.

A little sparkle was added with the front headlamps from SKP Model, these are from another modern US vehicle set but proved a good fit. SKP have the edge over many of the available lamps as the lenses are moulded to a photoetched nickel reflector adding that extra touch of realism. The figures were painted in the same way as the stowage with a black base-coat and the sand colour sprayed in a way to provide ‘directional light’ giving a great guide as to where to place highlights and shade. From the little reference (as you’d expect due to the nature of their operations) on the NZ SAS in Afghanistan you can still see a large variety of uniforms and equipment. A desert DPM camo uniform very similar to the British version seemed commonly used, and more importantly the easiest to replicate! With colour print-outs taped to my desk the colours were mixed by eye from Lifecolor acrylics following the strong contrasts applied elsewhere.

This conversion set initially appears to have a few weak spots, mainly with the vehicle ‘hard’ parts in their rendering and casting. Lately we’ve seen CAD produced masters cast with the latest industrial techniques resulting in resin parts that require minimal preparation with incredible fine detail. This kit is ‘old school’, some seam lines to remove and flash on some parts but this time is repayed with the simple assembly of plug-in ‘chunks’ and the easy build of the Tamiya kit.

Once all the components start to come  together you just can’t wait to start painting, it’s not often you get figures that look so natural in a vehicle-and what a vehicle!

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The longest established and globally renowned quality publication showcasing the World’s very best armour modelling artists presented in a rich, visual format. Highly detailed images, text and step-by-step guides share the techniques of award-winning modellers to improve your own work and enjoyment of the hobby. All of the latest kits, accessories and materials are tried, tested and reviewed along with new modelling and military publications.

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