Thursday, 18 August 2016

Warbases 28mm MDF Land Rovers

Introduction

If you're a regular reader then you may remember that I visited the Claymore 2016 show recently.  Amongst my purchases were a couple of Land Rover kits from Warbases, a local(-ish) Scottish company.

I've been on the lookout for some early Land Rover models for quite a while; these could be used as British farm vehicles or as light army transports (especially for the Brigadier and his UNIT troops from Doctor Who).  Alternatively, with a different paint job and a lot of stowage, they could be part of some long-range, cross-continent expedition.  A Land Rover painted with white and black zebra stripes could be the wheels for game wardens in the savannah (anyone remember "Daktari", I wonder?).  In fact, they are very versatile & rugged vehicles and could be used for almost anything from the 1950s onwards!

The Kits


I was delighted to find that Warbases makes Land Rover MK1 kits; I'm guessing that these are a new addition to their catalogue since I don't remember hearing about them until recently.  The vehicles come in SWB (short wheelbase) and LWB (long wheelbase) versions; both kits are priced at £7.00 .  They're the right vintage for my purposes and they don't cost too much - but how well do they work?

The LWB Land Rover kit has a somewhat surprising 53 parts, laser cut from a variety of materials including strong MDF for the body shell, thinner card for the skin and textured card for the floor.

Note that the door window frames (not attached) are not part of the Warbases kit

So, how was this model to build?  Firstly, the instructions: there aren't any in the kit.  Instead the company's website is given, along with the information that the instructions can be downloaded from there.  That's fine; it saves paper and packaging cost.

Now, you can call me stupid if you like, but I had some difficulty in finding the downloadable instructions on the Warbases site.  They are there, but it took me a while to find the link, though it seems obvious in hindsight.  Another disappointment was that once downloaded, the instruction document wasn't very easy to follow.  It consists of a large number of small, slightly blurry photographs following the stages of construction.  I had some difficulty in deciding which pieces were needed for each stage, particularly for the early steps.

OK, I'm an experienced model-maker.  Using the instruction sheet, I worked it out and despite the large number of pieces, the kit went together very rapidly.  Note that I did the build over several sessions, as I found it necessary to clamp some of the curved parts around the front of the vehicle (and leave them to dry) before proceeding with the next stage.

Good points:

  • All the parts were very well cut and only required a little nick to separate them from their sheets.
  • The use of a cardboard skin (especially on the sides and rear) covers over the otherwise obvious MDF slots and joints very nicely.  It also allows for some extra detailing, such as the door handles & hinges.  A nice touch.
  • More generally, the mixture of types of material in the kit allows for the necessary curves and thinner parts (e.g. windshield), whilst still maintaining a good, rigid base structure.

Not so good:

  • The instructions, whilst better than nothing, were poor.
  • The cardboard sides were cut slightly short, I felt.  I needed to use a little filler  to neaten up the corners.
  • The bonnet (the hood, if you're American) was a bit awkward, as the cardboard needed quite a tight curve around the edges.  Although the part was scored for this, it still took some effort to get it to fit neatly.  I'm not sure how this could have been done differently, mind.
  • The joints (tabs & slots) between the MDF parts were slightly loose.  I'd have preferred these to have a little less play in them, though they worked well enough once glued.

Extending the model


I decided even before I started on the first of my pair of Land Rovers that I wanted to make them quite distinct from each other.  The most obvious way to do this was to give one of them a soft top, but there was a problem: the Warbases model has a windshield but doesn't come with any windows for the driver's or passenger's doors.

I've looked at a number of photos of Mk1 Land Rovers over the last week or so and they do come in a number of configurations.  The Warbases version with no door windows  is certainly a valid version, though it seems to me that it's less common than vehicles which do have them.

Click on the image above to download the PDF containing the correctly-scaled pattern

To fill this void, I constructed some door windows (cut from thick plastic card) for both of my Land Rovers and added a frame for a canopy to one of them.  These are fairly crude and probably not particularly accurate with respect to any Land Rover blueprints, but they work for me.  I used some cloth to cover the hooped frame; this was actually quite difficult as I wanted to be able to remove the canopy during painting so as to be able to paint the inside of the vehicle.

Painting


I didn't put a lot of effort into painting the 2 Land Rovers.  They were primed, then coated all over with olive.  Details were picked out in dark grey or silver (tan for the seats, lichen grey for the canvas canopy) and then each model was given a black wash.


Finally, a couple of tiny orange and red dots were added to the rear, as indicator & stop lights.  Job done!

Conclusion

I'm very happy with the way that these kits have turned out.  They were models that I had wanted for some time (though I'm now mildly irritated to discover that 1970s UNIT used an SWB Land Rover, not the LWB versions that I have here).  I'd be very happy to buy further Warbases kits, if there were any that suited my gaming genres.

Cost: 4/5.  Not too expensive, but I've seen other kits of similar size that are cheaper.  Then again, those have less complexity...
Construction: 3.5/5:  Poor instructions, slightly loose parts, some filling needed.  Despite these caveats, finishes into a well-detailed model with little hint of its internal MDF construction.
Usefulness: 5/5.  Land Rovers can be used for almost any setting, almost any time from 1948 onwards and for almost any purpose (military, domestic, wilderness, rural...).
Overall: 4/5.  A very nice piece once built, though you might wish to add some extra details.



22 comments:

  1. Indeed I do remember "Clarence the Lion" and Daktari and the zebra striped Landies! I bet that shoes my age.

    I am constantly surprised at how good the MDF kits are getting and thes are some of the very best I have seen. And you have done a very good job realising them.

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    1. You're quite right; some of the MDF kits these days are little marvels of ingenuity. I have dreams of populating entire tables with them :-) .

      Hmm, perhaps I should buy yet another Land Rover, just so I can paint it in zebra stripes :-) .

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  2. They look great. I may have to invest in some of these for UNIT

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    1. These kits are relatively cheap and easy to build, so what's stopping you :-) ?

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  3. Thats a great looking kit... nice work!

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    1. Thanks, HW. It's a nice little kit.

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  4. Good work on the kits Hugh and a great review - well done that man!

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    1. I'm delighted that you think so :-) , thanks!

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  5. Very helpful ... And a nice job on them

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    1. Again, thanks. I'm especially pleased if you found this helpful - after all, that is kind of the point of writing the article :-) .

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  6. They've come out really well. Like you, I could think of many uses for them.

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    1. They're cheap enough that I'm already wondering whether I should buy some more Land Rovers, even if it's just for the different paint schemes I could employ :-) .

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  7. What a great idea - I recall being very surprised when I first saw a vehicle made of laser cut card (somet kind of something from South Africa, a strange vehicle in itself) and it's quite amazing to see how they are now making land rovers!

    Heck, even I'd paint mine in zebra pattern and I have no clue what you were talking about in the relation to it!

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    1. Yes, I've seen the South African company as well (though I cannot think of the name right now :-( ). I was impressed by their techniques, but their kit subjects didn't interest me.

      The zebra pattern is a popular choice for Land Rovers owned by African game wardens or safari tour operators. They would also fit in nicely with Jurassic Park; it's much the same idea after all!

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  8. These have turned out rather nicely despite the challenges of the instructions. There are Scorpions and Saracens on the cards as well. The prototypes were shown in a facebook group.

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    1. Hmm, if UNIT had Scorpions then the Daleks might get a bit of a shock! I was wondering if Warbases would be extending their range. After all, most of their stuff is for WW1, so the Land Rovers stood out a bit.

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    1. Thanks, dGG! I was delighted to find these kits and also I'm impressed at how sophisticated laser-cut kits are these days (especially the mixtures of different materials that are in use).

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  10. I'm amazed at how well these have turned out, most MDF vehicles I've seen in the past have suffered from looking like MDF!
    I think with the use of the various materials these have turned out really well.
    Though not really prominent on your pics, the tyres/wheels look pretty good too (thickness etc.)
    Job well done I'd say

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    1. I think that some MDF kits are becoming very good indeed!

      The wheels for this model are each made of 4 parts: an inner MDF core with card rings for the sidewalls of the tyres (one on each side) and a central disk of card for the hub. The combination is pretty effective :-) .

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  11. Thanks for writing about these. I might pop one into my next order with Warbases and they could do nicely as a 'truck substitute' for Mars Attacks. At that price, why not?!

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    1. I think that a LWB Land Rover would most certainly count as a light truck, wouldn't it? If you're ordering other stuff from Warbases anyway then it would seem churlish not to add one of these too :-) .

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