|1/35 French Farmyard|
|Kit Number: MIN35507|
|Reviewed by Howie Belkin, IPMS# 16|
Distributed by DML www.dragonmodelsusa.com
1/35 scale, French Farmyard with bonus figure set of 1/35 U.S. Infantry, 2nd Armored Division (Normandy 1944) by Dragon Models.
Before I received the kit from John Noack I heard that this was a vac-u-form kit and immediately all kinds of ancient and out-of-date stereotypes popped into my head. Well, do yourself a favor and "welcome to the 2000 'oughts" as my kids say. If you can build a model you can build this model - easily. An advantage of this medium is that none of the parts were cracked or broken as is often the case with ceramic houses. Plus the finished building is lightweight making travel to your model club or model show, a cinch. BTW, when I opened the sturdy box I was greeted with the words, 'Bon Jour,' so I knew this was an authentic French Farmyard building, otherwise it would have spoken to me in Ukrainian, MiniArt's home. Their illustrator Igor Dzis, provides you with full color box art and instructions that show you what the building should look like when it's finished, which if you 'mimic,' will raise your level of house painting quite a few notches. More on that later.
First, basic construction. If you want a very thorough step-by-step build complete with plenty of photos, you might want to check out Military Modelling UK magazine's website referenced below. As with most models, you ought to quickly 'wash' the parts to remove any mold release film that might be present (make sure the stopper's in the sink). Then, as with all vac-u-form models, trim away the excess plastic. I was surprised how quick and easy this was. All I did was run a new #11 X-Acto along the edge of each part, letting the part be my straight edge. Two, three strokes and the excess snaps off, if you haven't already cut through! I was truly, pleasantly surprised how easy that was!
Now the tough part: following directions! There are plenty of drawings showing you what to do (for those intimidated by 'foreign' made models, the illustrations are in English). The only thing to note is the areas marked in blue, indicating plastic you need to remove. I failed to note that if you want to use the 'Dutch' doors (you can open/close the top half separate from the bottom half) you need to saw away excess. An alternate door is provided if you can't see sawing through four cuts through the injection molded doors. The main part of the build is the building itself, of course. Each wall has an inside as well as outside face so if anybody looks into your building, they'll see crisply molded stone walls. For ease, I painted all walls and both sides of the roofs before assembly. I kept the inside in the dark simply painting it all dark grey. One lesson learned from an early Shep Paine book was to not waste time on what won't be seen. I intend for my Farmyard to be glued down as part of a diorama, with an AFV parked in the opened garage doors. You won't see much interior. In fact if you are overly 'thrifty,' you might save the inside walls for another project as the 'bad' side of the walls represents the stone embossing well enough in the dark. Built as per the instructions, the two part walls fit together to form strong, hollow, lightweight walls. Test fit before you cut away plastic. If done properly, the stones on every corner match up. I used Tamiya liquid cement at first, then Elmer's white glue for an overnight join. Where strengthened cement was needed, I used Pacer's Zap-a-Gap CA+. I used A+B 2-part Epoxy Putty sparingly to fill any gaps along each corner as necessary, then a toothpick along the 'mortar' helped keep the corner stones together.
I wiped dark gray oil paint onto the grey plastic walls then off again, letting it stay as the mortar as well as fill recessed detail in the stones. Wherever I used this weathering process, I used a base of an enamel paint then weathered with a water acrylic or vice versa. I painted the tiled roof parts Humbrol German Red-Brown then when dry wiped on then off a Polly S water base dark grey. BTW, a 'cap' or row of roof tiles runs along the peak where the two halves of the main roof meet, covering that seam and allowing for ventilation, just like real roofs. The window and door frames, shutters and doors themselves were painted Polly S Sea Green. When dry I wiped on and off dark grey oil paint. I did some dry brushing with a lighter green. The kit art shows blue as the trim color but use whatever you wish. I reasoned that the green I was using was a camo shade of green used by the French military, and there must have been thousands of gallons of it available for anyone to use! There's an idea - stacking can after can inside the storage building, clearly marked as French military paint! BTW, the hinges for the garage door which has a man-sized door in it (part 36), have to be shortened to fit.
Finished illustrations show the building from every angle. As said earlier, if you mimicked painting some of the individual stones the different shades of grey or brown, and roof tiles different shades of red and brown, you'll be a master house painter. Don't let your better half read this and misconstrue, or you'll be out there painting your house next weekend instead of building models! To speed up the review process I stopped after using the weathering technique described which by itself yields a nicely built building.
"Farmyard" conjures up the image of a "Barn" in "U.S." English, but this building can be anything you want it to be. With the Dutch doors and open garage, or barn doors, it can be a barn. Or a garage, especially with the thick paper color signs that are a part of the instruction sheet. My sample includes "U.S. Road Signs" which include a sign reading: 'Garage,' as well as traffic signs indicating that the adjacent road is for military traffic (none specifically states or has, a 'Red Ball.' Nor are there any plastic parts provided to mount the paper signs on. Italeri has an accessory set with the plastic parts but no paper signs, so perhaps if they got together…) One sign is leftover from the previous German tenants. A lightpost, iron gates and extra brick/stone walls are provided to use as they show or at your option. Clear acetate sheets are provided for the glass windows as well as the lightpost (cut inside the printed guidelines for the lightpost panels). This being wartime in a warzone, feel free to 'dirty' or 'break' some windows, leave shutters off or dangling. As molded, the building is intact. With Vac-u-form plastic, it is easy to bust open the roof and add wood beams, or crumbled walls. The main building measures 6 ¼" deep by 10 ¼" wide by 5 ¾" high. An attached shed measures 3 ½" x 3 ½" x 3 ½". Colors are given for Model Master, Tamiya, Humbrol and Revell paints, and listed in English and Ukraine.
The bonus U.S. Infantry, 2nd Armored Division (Normandy 1944) figures by Dragon Models are the previous-Gen set of 4 men wearing the short-lived multi-color camouflage fatigues, originally painted by Ron Volstad walking past a KO'ed Sdkfz 251. They've been reviewed before so all I'll add here is that they're a natural addition to a diorama in the summer 1944, checking out this farmyard. Whether Tamiya's scale animals, Germans in ambush, or the farmer's daughters await them is up to you.
I spoke to a MiniArt representative through an interpreter in the Dragon-USA-Con room of our 2007 O.C. National Convention and told him a lot of us will hesitate at the $30+ price tag on some of these kits, even with the bonus figure sets. I also thanked him for the excellent quality and choices of subject matter. They have a French Village House and German shed that are complete buildings, but as he pointed out, to keep the cost and price down they've become 'home wreckers' (my words) producing a Normandy city building façade and wrecked Italian city building, a Russian city street, Ukraine, Polish, E. Prussian, Lithuanian, Belgian and more including 'any city' ruined corners or buildings retailing around $20 each. I highly recommend these buildings and this French Farmyard in particular for the experienced modeler who wants an authentic period building to display his model(s) and figures with, or base their diorama around. You'll have an entirely different opinion of vac-u-form kits after one of these, tackling them with gusto instead of intrepidation.
Thanks to Dragon Models USA for the review sample. You can get yours at better hobbyshops or www.dragonmodelsusa.com or call (626) 968-0322, or www.miniart-models.com .
Now that they've built a nice staple of WWII buildings I hope they'll look elsewhere, like Hue or the Cholon district of Saigon during Tet 1968; Seoul, Korea; Baghdad… to name a few.
Military Modelling magazine UK features a step by step build (paste this link or just search the forum):
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