Firstly a word of apology for not having the pics…I’ve not got my camera set up properly for review purposes and the models aren’t available to photograph this weekend.
One of my long term projects has been to have a selection of models of some of the less well known WW2 tanks: The Neubaufahrzüg, the FCM Char 2C, Renault D2, Japanese Type 89 Chi Ro and the British Medium Mark II/IIC from the 30s. I’ve toyed with the idea of scratchbuilding some (as I only need a few of each) and buying the rest as funds allowed from the manufacturers who make them – not that many do.Recently (as in over the last 6 months) I saw that QRF had released a model of the FCM 2C. I was reasonably impressed with the publicity photo they had of the master, it looked serviceable, and I knew they did the Medium IIC and the Type 89. So when I had some discretionary funds on the CC and QRF had a 20% off sale (to offset the strength of the pound vis a vis the Pacific Peso) I went and ordered a few sample models.
To be honest I’ve never thought that much of the QRF stuff from what I’ve been able to glean from the pics on the website. The quality of the castings always looked slightly hit or miss, and somewhat rough in finish. One of my pet hates is mould lines around turrets, hence my aversion to the OG/Command Decision stuff so I was quite happy to limit myself to an initial sampling, especially as I’ve not seen QRF stuff in the flesh before.
Unfortunately my initial intention to order 5 different models fell by the wayside after I discovered that the Nbfzg was actually made by SDD rather than QRF. Oops. Anyway, as I was ordering late at night, I also managed to forget to order the Medium Mark II.
I knew from the pics I’d seen of that and the Nbfzg I would be looking at some fairly significant post purchase detailing anyway, so for review purposes it wouldn’t be quite so useful to include it. But still, the opportunity to grab one or two was lost.
In the end I ordered the Renault D2, FCM 2C and the Type 89 Chi Ro. The order process went smoothly including payment via credit card, or so I thought. It was about 12 hours later when I saw Geoff at QRF had emailed me to say there’d been a glitch with the website and while payment had been processed QRF didn’t have an actual record of the substance of my order.
As for the cost of the order, the total came to £13.69 plus £6.00 shipping so just on NZD$56 for three models. That’s with the 20% discount applied. Somehow unless I could get that discount with every order I’m not sure I’d be ordering that often. It’s not an outrageous amount but just the reality of ordering models from the UK. Returning to the glitch, a simple email reply solved any issues and the models would arrive when they would.
The order arrived on Monday 15th packed in a standard bubblewrap envelope with each model in a ziplock bag and wrapped in newspaper. Pretty standard packaging and nothing had escaped. I was a little surprised that there was no invoice enclosed but perhaps I should have specified I would have liked a hardcopy one included in special instructions.
Because of the relatively new status of the models/masters (in the case of the D2 and FCM 2C) I had some reasonable expectations about casting quality and fit from the outset, particularly based on the photos I’d seen on the website (I’d seen the painted example of the 2C from another customer and discounted it as a useful reference because of the quality of the photo and the less than stellar paintjob).
The only damage in shipping I could find was that the main gun of the 2C was bent out of true to 90 degrees but given the vagaries of shipping, that was understandable. Thankfully the metal used is pliable enough to allow readjustment without real issues of metal fatigue (good thing that LKM moved away from the FreiKorps metal type years ago).
The FCM 2C comes in 6 pieces: Hull; twin double sided suspension units; main turret; subsidiary turret; and a smaller upper hull superstructure/engine deck. On first impression, the castings aren’t as good as I’d hoped. The main hull is warped and bowed along the longitudinal axis on the sides, there’s significant shrinkage on the upper horizontal surfaces (a problem consistent with the nature of big single metal castings) and the model itself isn’t square along the front or rear hull lines, with a fairly obvious bias to the lefthand side. Much of this I believe to be due to the nature of metal casting, particularly the shrinkage, but I was surprised to see how far out of true the casting was. The other castings had their own idiosyncracies:
The main turret looks to be a tad too short, almost squashed as it were, and on closer inspection I know why: the turret casting is lopsided, which is rather obvious when viewed from the front. The left hand side is deeper than the right hand side, it leans to the right. I’ve compared the model to the 6 view plans I’ve got and indeed the turret is askew. Other issues with the turret include the fairly significant mould line around the circumference, and the fact the locating hole for it needs to be drilled out, and that even when the turret is located correctly, the rear abrades and catches on the hull raised detail (this actually is a problem with all three models). Thankfully by adding a small plasticard riser to the underside of the turret I can get around this, but it will involve a fair bit of work to reverse the lean as well.
The suspension units are interesting. QRF cast them as double-sided, so that they basically just needed one master. There are issues of a minor nature with these as well. The trackwork is serviceable, although there’s some pitting and slippage along the top sides, and the track detail is rudimentary at best, with the bottom run of tracks being plain along the contact area with the ground. The MGs on the bow quarters are in bas relief which I find offputting, better to have left them for the gamer to add themselves or included a couple of barrels separately. The actual detail on the sides is okay if a tad simplistic, but there’s a lot of scope for extra detail that I’m used to getting with resin production. As for the attachment procedure, well let’s just say I’m glad I have decent line drawings so I can determine where exactly I’ll need to affix to the hull. That in itself will be a mission as the framework cast onto the hull sides for this very reason is misshapen, miscast and because of the significant bowing, will need to be replaced.
Attaching the units to the main hull will need a fair bit of work to get a decent fit. No use of superglue here, this is a case for a fair amount of two part epoxy araldite, model clamps and I hate to say it, filler putty. It’s been many a year since I’ve had to use the amount of filler on a single model that I know I’ll need for this. The double sided suspension units don’t offer a flush perpendicular surface to attach either so some shims of plasticard are necessary to get a proper squared off look .
The upper superstructure was very simple and had no major issues although again it’s slightly bowed and out of true. The subsidiary turret is probably the least problematic of all just needing a quick rasp with the file to clean up.
In summation, I was disappointed with the quality of this model. I had expected a lot less blurring of details (there’s some chunky flash on the front and rear of the hull) and the level of detail is rudimentary as well. What was really disappointing was that with such a newish master and model release that the castings require so much work and in some respects (the hull) are irredeemable. I’d started out with a fair degree of reasonable expectation, and frankly the reality hasn’t matched up. I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll order more FCM 2Cs as the effort required to bring them up to the level of finish I’d want to field on the table is significant and even then I might be better off scratchbuilding my own.
I’ll be adding a lot of photos of the raw castings and continuing on with my efforts to come up with a serviceable final model over the next few months but the enthusiasm levels are a bit low at the moment – there’s a lot of work ahead and I’m just not sure I have the energy or commitment wherewithal.