In the past, small scale (Braille) modellers had to rely on the model companies to provide them with appropriate stowage for their vehicles, if any at all! Hasegawa, Italeri and a few other manufacturers offered “Accessory Sets”, either styrene or resin, but these were usually very limited in scope and in some cases crudely moulded or expensive. How many times have you rifled through your spares box looking for a few suitable items to enhance and individualize one of your recent builds and found nothing suitable? Have you personally tried to create appropriate items from scratch and been disappointed by the results? Enter Value Gear
is a company started by Steven R. Munsell, a fellow military modeller, who understands these needs. Originally producing stowage sets for 1/35th scale military vehicles he has now expanded to include other scales and in particularly, Braille Scale (1/76th and 1/72nd scale).
The first of these detail sets and the subjects of this review are his Tarps, Rolls & Crates Set #1, Mfg. ID:72001 and Set #2, ID:72002 and Crates Set #1 ID:720C1.
The stowage sets are packaged in a plastic zip-lock bag attached to a cardboard backer. Also included in the backer is a 3.25” x 4.25” (8.225 cm x 10.795 cm) sheet of simple instructions for cleaning, gluing, bending and preparing the resin pieces for painting, including removal of old paint. Painting instructions are fairly generic but suggest using Games Workshop (GW) Chaos Black or Army Painter Skeleton Bone primers. This is to be followed by dry-brushing with your favorite brand of paints and then with washes of GW Citadel Black and Devlan Mud.
Each set of resin pieces are loose in the bag and in total each Tarps, Rolls & Crates set contains 37 unique individual pieces cast in a medium grey resin. As an example, Set #1 contains:
- 6 - large multi-item castings with tarps, rolls and boxes moulded together as a single piece
- 5 - medium multi-item castings with tarps, rolls and boxes moulded together as a single piece
- 17 - single rolled up tarps, blankets or rolls
- 3 - folded flat tarps
- 6 - multiple rolls two or three in a bundle
The Crates Set #1 contains 49 individual crates or boxes. In this set there is some duplication as more often than not, loads might contain more than one standard sized container. Overall size, length, width and height of these crates varies.
The first thing that the modeller will notice after opening the Tarps, Rolls & Crates packages is that no two items are exactly the same. Each piece has its own distinct and unique look and there are no repeats as you would probably find in kits that have stowage. The Crates Set #1 has minimal duplication (as mentioned above) but the variety of sizes should provide the modeller with something to fit almost any circumstance. Overall casting is extremely sharp in detail right down to things such as the ends of rolls, tie-down strapping and even a rough wood grain on some of the boxes.
Each part is extremely clean without any moulding seams or casting blocks evident. A very few pieces had some minimal flash present but it was extremely light and quickly and easily removable with a sharp hobby blade. A couple of parts showed some miniscule bubbles that are insignificant as they were on the underside or the base of the piece that won’t be visible after it is placed on the model. This reviewer was extremely impressed with the quality of the moulding.
As the pieces are generic they are for the most part universal. They can be employed with virtually any nationality’s subject from modern day to those in the past. The scope of uses for these pieces is only limited by the user’s imagination. One can see using many of these not just as vehicle stowage but to enhance a diorama or vignette where the primary subject could be almost anything.
While the bottoms of the pieces are for the most part flat and in some cases (especially for larger flat tarps) they may not sit flush when mounted on a surface with projections (hinges, rivets and the like). To remedy this situation the user can drill or scrape out the base of a piece a bit to accept the offending protrusion. Similarly, while the larger rolled tarp pieces are pretty much flat along their horizontal plane, these too can be modified. According to the manufacturer, these pieces should be submerged in boiling water for between 30 - 60 seconds and then bent to a desired shape. The optimum result will allow these items to be shaped to follow the contour of a fender, hull or turret shape. They do suggest that experimentation will be required to determine the proper temperature and time to be used.
The first order of business will be to clean up any imperfections on the pieces. As suggested in the previous section, while there is very little flash to be dealt with, there were a few instances that needed attention. In some cases it could be removed with one’s fingernail but a sharp hobby knife works best. I found the resin pieces to be extremely easy to sand with 400 grit and finer wet/dry sandpapers. Remember, resin dust can be an irritant so it is best to keep the sandpaper and the pieces wet. The cast resin pieces will have a bit of a residue resin on their bases but a quick sanding takes no time at all to deal with this.
The instructions from Value Gear
suggest the removal of any kind of mould release agent and even finger oils that might impede paint adhesion. They recommend using dish washing detergent, glass cleaner or alcohol. This reviewer soaked the pieces in 90% Isopropyl Alcohol and achieved good results.
Once dry, the pieces were primed with Tamiya XF-57 Buff. A second coat of Buff was applied as a base colour. Next, Tamiya acrylics XF-52 Flat Earth and XF-49 Khaki were dry brushed to achieve various effects. Since tarps and rolls came in various colours, what the user chooses as a base colour will be up to them. The boxes in my test samples were painted to represent bare wood but again, this will be at the users discretion (German Grey, Olive Drab are possible options). Depending on the effect desired, I used various washes mixed up using Americana Acrylic Craft paints to achieve a desired effect.
As they are, these sets offer a plethora of variety of stowage items to add that special touch to your Braille Scale build. However, one must not ignore the creative potential of them. With the number and variety of pieces offered in them, there is nothing stopping the imaginative modeller from creating their own “piles” of “clutter”. Glue a few boxes together, lay a tarp alongside them or maybe a roll beside or on top and you can create your own one of a kind load.
I only wish I had discovered products like these years ago. My personal attempts to create similar items like these in the past have all been less than successful. I can see the effort that must have been required to create these useful and in some cases, very detailed pieces. Such items are most likely beyond the ability of a novice or even moderately skilled modeller to create from scratch. At the very least, it would be quite time consuming. Even for the advanced modeler, their use would most likely be a great time saver.
For the Braille scale modeller these sets offer a great variety of items to choose from to give your current build that individual look. No matter what the builders favorite era or modelling subject there is probably something that would suit. Both the number of items per package, plus the fact that there are no duplicate pieces in either Tarps, Rolls & Crates set is another plus. Compared to other resin accessories, their cost is fairly low. In my opinion, they are definitely worth recommending.
Thanks to Value Gear for providing these review samples. Be sure to mention you saw them reviewed on Armorama when ordering.