Tuesday, 12 January 2010

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Shopping!

I popped down to the South East of England over the past weekend, to visit a very good friend of mine who had just had a (successful) major operation in Brighton. As it's such a long way to go, I always tend to make a short holiday of such journeys, and this time was no exception. I spent a few relaxing days with my sister, and apart from a nightmare trip through the blizzard to visit my friend Nicky in the Sussex Nuffield Hospital, I also managed to get in a visit to the large Modelzone shop in Holborn. This is on the site of the old Beatties store (not the old, old Beatties store, which was in a tiny shop just across from the Underground). They had a fair-ish selection of stuff I wanted for my Battle! project. I picked up a box of the new Italeri US Infantry, as the old re-issued ESCI set has no radio operators, and the mortars in the new set are much better.

And after a twenty minute hunt through the rather badly organised shelves of kits, I did eventually find several of the fast-build Italeri M3 Halftracks, and bought three boxes, six vehicles in total. I also checked out the Sale shelves and found two very useful Revell 1/76 Wespes SPG's. These are the old Matchbox kits, re-issued under the Revell label. They are nice little models and easy to build, and as the sale price was £2.99 I bought two of them, which covers my Vulgarian Artillery contingent nicely.

Today I found some spare time between getting the little one into school, the usual housework, shopping, and picking up the kid from school. So I cracked on with slinging a couple of the M3's together. The fit of parts is mostly good, but the one-piece front bulkhead/instrument panel/windscreen needed a little carving to get it to fit inside the front hull. Failure to do so on the first one I built resulted in a small gap 'twixt bonnet and screen. I failed to notice this until the glue had dried, so I left it alone. But the next one was carefully checked for fit and the piece had some plastic trimmed away from the sides to make it sit better against the bonnet top.

I then tried to prime the thing. Now lately I have found this to be a frustrating process. I do wash the sprues before construction, to get rid of any mould release agent that might still be on then. But lately this has not been working. Is there a new agent being widely used? Who knows, but none of the plastic kits I have made so far on this project have liked being undercoated with my usual matt black acrylic. The plastic just seems to repel the paint, as can be seen in this photo of the back door on one of the M3's.

I eventually resorted to an undercoat of black enamel, which worked OK. Most odd.

Anyway, aside from that brief annoyance the project is rolling along nicely. The first three M3's will be painted as Moldovian vehicles, and the second three as Vulgarian, just to keep the forces balanced whilst the project continues.


Peter said...

Hello again,

with reference to your painting problems:
Modern moldmaking techniques give smoother plastic surfaces...
The problem is that in painting several terms are mixed up: first you have a primer or undercoat. Then you add a basecoat of colour and then you finish. You should use a proper primer. This is designed to adhere to surfaces and give subsequent layers a grip.
With some coloured primers undercoating and basecoating can be done in one step.

Hope this helps?


Poacher said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for that info.

My usual method is to use an acrylic car primer spray, which has worked for the past 12 years on all kinds of plastics, and on metals.

But now that primer spray just pools and runs off all plastics. So I tried brushing and got the same result. And the same thing happens with kits from older moulds.

This seems to suggest that the possible common denominator is use of a new mould release agent, that does not respond to my normal cleaning regime of tepid water and scrubbing with a mild detergent.

I'll try more detergent next time, and see if that works.


johnpreece said...

I have found the same problems on some plastic figures. Primers which are sold specifically on their adhesion to plastic just slide off.

The common denominator seems to be that they are water based, so a move to an old fashioned enamel primer seems great for vehicles but could just take us back to the days of paint flaking off when used on figures.

I suspect that it is the solvent in the plastic that has changed rather than the realease agent, but what do I know?

In any case I like the new armies, very smart and a nice change from arguments over how wonderful the SS were. (we beat them, the russians beat them, the yanks beat them. Get over it!)


Poacher said...


John... I think you may be right.

I just tried using an old Tamiya acrylic, which is solvent-based rather than water-based, and it works fine.

Mike Siggins said...

I too remember the old, old Beatties. Spent many a happy hour there with parents or friends on a Saturday morning trip.

It may now be a McDonalds.