Saturday, February 26, 2011

J.Norad Reviews: Hot Toys Modern Firearms Set 4

 Picked up a box of Hot Toys 1:6 Scale Modern Firearms, Series 4. They were still selling them at for $119 a box. There's a few other places that still stock them if you want to pick up the entire set, but before you do that, let's find out whether it's worth the bother.

They come 12 to a pack, and take up as much volume as other blind boxed trading figure sets. I was quite surprised when I opened the first one, with how loosely secured the box was. Seemed like they used hot glue to close the packages and did a poor job with it. There were no descriptive cards with any of the weapons, unlike Furuta and Zacca. Just plain old $12 of gun.

What struck me as odd was that each of the packs were labeled to what gun was inside with a stamped checkmark (see photo). It didn't look like the seller had opened it and taken the time to give me a full set of guns, which led to one conclusion: These sets aren't blind boxed, meaning they're not randomly packed. Buying a full box gives you a guaranteed set. Not sure if this was the same as Series 1-3. If you guys happen to know how those were packed, let me know via the comments. 

Sadly, they don't come with a display stand. I'm still using the display board that came with my 1:6 scale bazooka sets. It's fine though, but it would have been extra cool if they did.

Not going to bother covering this. You either want this or you don't. Has a drum mag and a folding wire stock.  

 There's absolutely no reason why any of you need four FN SCARs. Seriously. 

 From top to bottom: SCAR-L STD (tan and black), SCAR-L CQC, SCAR-H-LB

 For those of you who do, here's the lowdown:
  • All four have extendable stocks and can be folded to the right
  • Silencer on the SCAR-H LB is removable
  • Bipod on the SCAR-H-LB is removable, and swivels
  • Scopes are glued on except for the SCAR-H LB. Rear sight can move along the rail. Iron sights can be folded down or propped up.
  • SCAR-L STDs have a bipod stored in the fore grip that can be pulled out. which is nice
  • The SCAR-H LB is properly stamped as being 7.62mm cal on the side
 Unfortunately, while the details are well done, they had an issue with the text. Apparently, this gun's made by FN Heatsel, Belgium. It shows up on all four rifles. The text on the scopes does read "For law enforcement/Military use", which was nice. Wondering if the typo was a usual engrish copy error, or a deliberate typo to not get in trouble for copyrights. Then I noticed that they had the brands for all the scopes labeled correctly. Guessing it's engrish. All four SCARs are about the same to me but I'd have to pick the LB variant.

The M4A1's

There's honestly only one of these you'd want. You do not need all three M4A1's. You probably have tons of these already.
 From top to bottom: M4A1 with XM26 LSS, and two M4A1's with M93 stocks

 Stoner's properly spelled right on these... so wondering what the deal with the Heatsel was for the SCARs. My tan M4A1 looked warped. Came out of the pack with the front barrel section misaligned by ~5-10 degrees to the left. The stock and barrel were curved upwards slightly. My magazine for the XM26 LSS was loose fitting and does not stay in securely. The clear magazines have issues from assembly, where the adhesive fogged up the inner section, making the magazine not perfectly clear.

Here's the finer details of the M4A1's.
  • Flippable dust caps for the scopes
  • Scope for the black M4A1 was glued on, while the tan was not. 
  • Foregrip and flashlight assembly can be forcibly removed if desired; weren't glued on.
  • Extendable stocks
  • XM26 LSS has a spring loaded cocking lever and the barrel shroud extends out (presumably to minimize transport damage)
  • Moving dust covers!
Pretty obvious what you'd want to pick up, because few manufacturers make XM26's.

The M-14's

These things are massive.
From top to bottom: SOCOM II, EBR with M4 stock, and EBR long barrel.

The magazines are very loose. The magazine wells for the EBRs were a thousandth of an inch wider than the magazines.You can fix that by applying some super glue to the sides of the magazine wells and letting them harden to fill in the gap. Just don't stick in a magazine before it dries. One of my magazines looked like it was covered in excess glue residue. My EBR long stock came with a scope latch missing. Not noticeable, but annoying knowing it's missing. The only fun features are the spring loaded cocking levers for the EBRs and the extendable stock for the EBR long barrel. However, there's one little surprise for the SOCOM II.

The rubber butt guard lifts up to reveal a hinged panel for where the cleaning kit goes! It seems to go in 3.5cm deep if you want to stash a cleaning kit in there, if you are that bored to build one. It's difficult to open without tools, so be warned.

The SOCOM II's the best of the batch, with its appearance, properly molded magazine (which curiously does not fit in the EBRs) and detachable suppressor.

The HK-417
I think if this set was blind boxed, the HK-417 is the best model of this series. Thing is loaded with little details that make it so much better than the other models.

 First, the biggest thing to note is that you can separate the upper receiver. It's the only model of the set that can do this. None of the M4A1s were given this feature. It has flippable dust covers for the scope lenses and the ejector port. The front iron sight can be moved. the bipod is adjustable and is spring loaded. The stock extends.
 The most overlooked feature is the charging handle. This was surprising as none of the M4's had this.

I did find some short comings with this model. The magazine is near impossible to remove. I fought hard to remove the magazine after jamming it in there. Measured the difference with my micrometer and found the well was 3 thousandths of an inch too small for the magazine. The magazine could have been given a chamfer to help guide it in the magazine well too. I had to shave the inner walls to get the magazine to not be permanently stuck in there.

The markings were fairly good, until you look at the right side. You really need to have good eyes to catch this, because at a fair distance, it looks fine. Odd how it has the HK logo on the reverse but has this misspelled.
 "Heeklor and Keeh GmbH". At least they spelled "Sterling VA" right.

The Verdict

If you want a highly detailed model of any of the reviewed firearms, Hot Toys does not disappoint. It's pricey at $13 apiece minimum compared to the lower quality Zacca P.A.P. models but you get what you pay for. They can be had for about $15 from most 1:6 scale hobby shops online, or e-bay. The redundancy of some of the models makes picking up the set a bad idea, so I highly suggest only picking the ones you like. You seriously do not need 4 SCARs.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

J.Norad Attempts Resuming Useless Projects

It's about time I set my sights on a big target again. The past month has been spent doing retrofit work on the girls, and before that, custom jobs. Actually, most of it was spent playing older games. Finished STALKER: Call of Pripyat and working on Hitman: Contracts. Haven't found anything from those two games that I'd want to replicate so far. They were a nice change of pace from manufacturing rifles in a small dark room.

Going to start drafting plans for a 1:6 scale horse. May decide to skin the horse like the camel and have it visibly be made of Magic cards. Seems like a 1:6 scale horse runs about $200-$300 for a good one. Since this is the Vortex of Suck, I'm going to try to make an articulated 1:6 scale horse for under 300 Magic cards. With a common being about $0.10-0.25, that should put my budget (including prototpying and development work) at $30-$75. Tenth of the cost and maybe a tenth of the quality! How will this endeavor turn out? Probably with massive failure!

I'll be trying my best to post updates for once and track the total costs incurred so far. However, Agent 47 may derailing my plans.

This week's expenditures:
4 Magic cards used (development work on the neck mechanism)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Fortnight's Project: Camel Expedition

Trying to get better at sculpting organic models again. Built some mediocre ones back in 2004 out of masking tape and paper and they were mildly decent, albeit not very pretty. This time, I attempted to apply new materials with old technology. Per request, I tried working on a camel. 

The hardest part was to make a decent head. To do this, I bust out some 8 year old kneaded eraser and molded my attempt at a camel head.  I used the same techniques used to build Aelia's armor (along with general clothing) to create a paper cast of the camel head. From there, I transferred the cast to a papercraft pattern, which eventually became a model made of Magic: the Gathering cards.

 The body was largely done in this manner. The internal structure of the camel was built first using an arrangement of tubes, then the camel's hide was molded around it. That hide was then flayed off and converted to another pattern that was transferred to Magic cards. The card layer is one thick and connected on the edges underneath by another thickness of card.

 And here's the finished result. Not my best work, but not bad for a first foray into static animal models out of card.
Will be returning back to regular projects after some more tech research. Until then, time to explore the barren wastelands of the living room.