Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The T-80B

Hello all,

I sincerely apologize for the long absence. Its been so long and I would like to thank Josh, my awesome wingman (Happy Belated Birthday Bro!), for taking the burden of doing a lot of the previous awesome articles.

As of now, I shall return with more Military Models. Since my Birthday is coming soon, I thought I would feature my first Airbrushed Model, The T-80B which is also Birthday present from my Little Sister, I decided to build it up and try my hand on airbrushing. Much to my amazement, I really enjoyed the experience, and with some fine tuning, highlights and drybrushing, this would be my best clean slate painted tank model ever. (Obviously, I am still learning, and there will be more to paint.)

T-80B on a rocky road

The T-80 entered service in 1976. While it is sometimes confused with the T-72, the T-80 is actually a design that is the improvement of the T-64 design. It also incorporated the T-72 in its built but do note that T-72 was just a complementary design and that the T-80 is mechanically different from it.

On the topic of assembling this T-80B, everything was simple and easy to do.

Airbrushing this kit was awesomely fun and it didn't take much to dry brush to give it great definition. Furthermore, this model kit was done using mostly airbrushing which am proud of.

The only issue I have is perfecting the assembly of tracks. Since making my last 1/72 Tank which was the Leopard 2A4, track assembly has been a real pain in the arse. However, I guess everything is a learning experience and through this assembling of the T-80, I have discovered a few ways to tackle the problem.

T-80B on Alert.

Two great methods of assembling the many pieces of tracks in the 1/72 Revell Model kit is using a Scotch tape for each side and lining the pieces up on the sticky side of the scotch tape and strapping it on top the sprocket wheel and track wheels before gluing them altogether.

Another method would be to glue the small track pieces on the sprocket wheel and glue that entire section with the large line pieces of tracks with it later. However, it is still harder than saying it. The alignment of the wheels must be well placed. If you want to know a more accurate picture of the assembly of this tank, the video below will be of great help as to what I am talking about in terms of assembling the tracks.

Courtesy of BasicModelling, a youtube channel that provides great Basic Model painting an Assembly.

The T-80B is armed with a 125mm Smoothbore 2A46-2 gun capable of firing AFPSDS and HEAT rounds. On top of that, one is iconic about the T-80 like most of the current Russian tanks is their ability to fire ATGMs from their gun. In this case, the T-80B fires 9M112 Kobra ATGM.

With a crew of 3 and an autoloader, the T-80 can travel 70km/h on road and 48km/h cross country. The range of the tank with external tanks is 440km.

However, much to my disappointment, the T-80B is past its prime by a long mile and there are several flaws that makes it not a very formidable weapon in a modern warfare scenario today.

Firstly, While it is an amazing work of Soviet War Machinery, it lacks the Reactive Armour that has become standard in all Modern Battle Tanks. In spite rectifying this with the Modified T-80U, the autoloader was also an issue which gave cause to the vehicles exploding upon hits from RPGs.

Secondly, the T-80Bs suffered from poor performance during the First Chechen war. 10.23% of the committed T-80Bs were damaged or destroyed. Furthermore, T-80Bs were not suited for urban warfare which limited its role to support for infantry during such urban scenarios.

Usually, I would end off with how this war machine is formidable and should not be messed with when faced with one. While I do like the look of the T-80B tank and the overall "Russian" feel to Armour, I find it hard for the T-80B to match up with any other current MBT that isn't from Russia.

So that is my question to put out to you all, Aside from T-80B serving its purpose as a powerful tank that prove to be a threat during the Cold War days, how is it relevant now besides being part of an undeveloped country's inventory?

Till next week, Cheerios!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Killzone: Helghast Sniper Action Figure

Hey Everyone

Thanks for coming down to toyconstruct for some nerdy goodness, and JQ & I are very happy to keep this ol' blog running into 2012!

Anyone out there a fan of the Killzone series? I am :)

As a quick introduction into the franchise, Killzone is a futuristic sci-fi shooter that pits the ISA (the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance aka good guys) against the Helghan Empire (Nazi-esque regime) in 2 sister planets in the Alpha Centuri system. The Helghasts were actually human people who settled on Helghan, a planet known for its resources and harsh environment, so harsh that Helghasts have become evolved human beings. Much like the Nazis and WWII, the Helghasts invade the ISA to avenge their defeat from a prior war (Killzone 1) and to rule as the supreme race over "lesser" humans, but are defeated and see their planet being invaded by the ISA in Killzone 2 & 3.

Here's the intro movie for Killzone 3 that would pretty much give you a good idea on what Killzone's all about (may have spoilers if you didn't play the previous 2 games):

*If you have a PS3, I highly recommend playing it!

The designs made for the series has been excellent, especially with the Helghan soldiers in their many varieties. At least to me, they look really cool and fearsome.

The different Helghast soldiers you'll face in Killzone 2, the sniper is on the bottom row, second from the left.
With that, allow me to introduce to you DC Unlimited's Helghast Sniper action figure, one of the enemies you face regularly in the series and can be a pain in the butt if you are not careful...

Full body shot of the action figure.
Armed with a VC32 bolt-action sniper rifle, which is also incidentally the only scoped sniper rifle you get in the game (weird that the ISA doesn't have their own...), they are known to "hunt" in small groups and are spotted with the lasers that they use for aiming.

Close-ups of the VC32 sniper rifle that comes with the figure.
The rifle itself is painted to an acceptable level, provided that you can overlook an imperfect paintjob (it's a little messy). The gun itself is painted to look like it is somewhat worn, but I guess you are getting for what you pay for ($16 a figure, which is quite affordable). A little modification might make the rifle look even better.

Half body shot...
DC Unlimited provides action figures that are kinda similar to MacFarlanes, in the sense that they are well sculpted but are very limited in articulation. This figure is made of mostly hard plastic for the body and softer plastic for the cloak. Unfortunately, the hands of this sniper figure do not fit very well with the rifle provided.

The figure itself is well-proportioned and well-sculpted with good attention to detail, which should come as no surprise as it's based on the CGI renders from the the game. DC Unlimited is also known to produce action figures based on various computer games, from World of Warcraft to Mass Effect (discontinued), which probably guarantees you a fan base who are very willing to purchase action figures from the games they love. I think NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) is also in the same business.

One thing I love about the figure is the 3 eyes, they are painted quite well with each being a bright yellow spot with an orange halo to give an illuminated and piercing glare. The eyes give this guy a half-man half-machine look, human but yet not-so-human, which to me is a testament on the incredible job the game designers did with the fearsome Helghast soldiers! The ISA soldiers in comparison look very generic, somewhat akin to Starship troopers and Alien colonial marines.

After looking through these pictures, I think I need to change my setup so that more of the figure can be seen, and expand the variety of pictures that I take. I am rather satisfied with the pictures here as they pick out details under the lighting to give a gritty/urban look, but a lot of shadow obscures the rest of the figure. I might look into light sheds that photography shops sell, as they provide even lighting for the whole figure...usually used by ebay sellers that have the figure against a white background. But they are quite expensive ($80+)....we shall see, or I would look into taking against white backgrounds and using flash.

Well, that's all I have for now, and thank you once again for visiting!

Take care and see you next time :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year! (2012)

Hey Everyone

Even though Jan 1st is almost a week away and many of us have wished each other on the previous post, JQ and I would like to personally wish you a Happy New Year 2012 and may this year bring good tidings to you! It's a brand new year and we look forward in sharing more about the geeky hobbies we all share :)

And no surprise, this post has something to do with fresh starts...

Recently, the US Navy was reported to have rescued Iranians from pirates in the Gulf. Also, the Iranian hostages are believed to have been captured months ago and were forced to aid the pirates in their operations. This could be some good news in U.S./Iranian relations, which has been really rocky for the past few years.

The Iranian vessel that was captured prior to the rescue (Reuters).

What interested me was the carrier that was the command ship for the rescue operation: the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), named after a Mississippi Senator who was described by Ronald Reagan as an advocate for peace. Unlike JQ, I am not much of a navy geek, but I did some research (aka wikipedia)...and found some really cool facts! This carrier had screen time in blockbusters, from The Sum of All Fears (disabled by Russian bombers) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (mistakenly referred to as the USS Theodore Roosevelt, CVN-71, a fact which might take a real navy fan to spot in that movie). I bet it must have cost a lot to "rent" an aircraft carrier for filming.

Michael Bay capturing a catapult launch on the USS John C. Stennis (Seibertron.com)

However, the cool doesn't stop there. The USS John C. Stennis is a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, so large (100,000 tons of displacement) that it is assigned the class "Supercarrier", and the U.S. is the only nation to have them in active duty right now (11 in total). JQ wrote on the Nimitz-class supercarrier in an earlier post on his GHQ miniature.

For a sense of scope on aircraft carriers, the only non-U.S. nuclear carrier is France's Charles de Gaulle, which size is equivalent to the USS Midway at the end of WWII. But more supercarriers will be coming from elsewhere in the future, with France and U.K. already in the process of constructing new supercarriers, along with India considering plans to build one of their own.

The planned HMS Queen Elizabeth, already in construction and note the use of F-35 Lightnings (militaryphotos.net)

What really strikes me is how much awe the U.S. carrier fleets inspire just with their presence and mega-size. To me at least, their presences gives me the "don't screw with us" jives from the US Navy, and this is not even considering the other vessels of the USN (like nuclear subs), and even other branches of the military! Just as a comparison, John Scotus of The Tree of Mamre blog juxtaposed the new Chinese carrier against the USN's 11 carrier groups to demonstrate the size and power of the USN. To some it may not seem to be a fair comparison of a freshly commissioned ship against an established powerhouse, but it does show the decades that stand between China's navy and the USN.

A modification of the famous "I Want You for the US Army" poster of WWI and WWII fame by James Montgomery Flagg (cardboardposters.com)

And here's where the fresh beginnings of this post come in: the Nimitz-class carriers are already being succeeded by the Gerald R. Ford-class carriers, which boast larger displacements and much newer technologies (such as reduced radar profiles and electromagnetic aircraft launch systems). It is planned that each Gerald R. Ford carrier will be built in 5 year spans, which might result in 10 carriers constructed by 2040. The industrial might of the U.S. is certainly one to be awed.

An artist's impression of the Gerald R. Ford-class (navytimes.com)

Would you like to be part of history? Apparently, the current USS Enterprise (CVN-65) will be decommissioned soon and there is already an online petition for the next Gerald R. Ford class carrier to be christened the USS Enterprise. So if you'd like to boast to your kids that the Enterprise was named with your input, simply go to this link and sign the petition!

And here's a parting thought: what would you prefer to be named after you? (A) An Aircraft Carrier (B) Nuclear Sub? I guess I may have made the choice too easy...

Cheers :)