Tuesday, August 17

Build review: 1/35th scale Soviet Object 703 Version II from Resin Scales

World of Tanks & 3D resin printing collide in an excellent mix for modellers in the new company "Resin Scales". Offering replicas of the vehicles from the game with a simple construction process with the same detail you expect from mainstream releases. Andy Moore looks at their Object 703 II in the first part of his build review...

Build review: Soviet Object 703 Version II
Manufacturer – Resin Scales
Kit Number – RSOBJ703
1/35th Scale
Price – US$160 from Resin Scales

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 10 years or so, you've probably heard of World of Tanks, the online multiplayer tank battle simulator. And, unless that rock was under another slightly larger rock, you've no doubt had some experience of 3D printing, even if it's only seeing a printed model online.

3D printing is already starting to change the face of modelling, with an increasing number of aftermarket companies releasing products as direct 3D prints, as well as many modellers buying printers to create their own parts at home.

World of Tanks too has made its mark on the hobby, with several kit companies releasing models that are heavily inspired by the game. These are often of the 'Paper Panzer' variety which feature prominently in the game.

It was probably inevitable that these two trends would collide head on, and that's where today's review comes in, as we'll be looking at a new release from Resin Scales, a company who specialise in creating direct3D prints of armour from World of Tanks.
The kits we're actually looking at today is the Soviet Object 703 Version II, a twin-barreled monster, packing a pair of 122mm D-25E-A2 guns mounted in a low domed turret similar to that of the JS-3. In fact the JS-3 was the real object 703, it's designation during development, and it clearly provided the inspiration for what we have here. Think of this as a JS-3 on steroids.
The Kit
Resin Scales are a fairly small company, so don't go expecting any fancy packaging with your kit. It will arrive in a nondescript cardboard box, which nevertheless does a perfectly good job of protecting the contents in transit. Inside you'll find the small number of parts carefully bundled in bubble wrap.
Peel back the bubble wrap and you find just 10 printed parts in total, along with a small bag containing a metal rod, some tubing and a couple of neodymium magnets. There are no instructions (although assembly is pretty straight forward) nor any decals or painting information. The first of the main parts is the hull, which has been printed as one single component, complete with suspension and surface details. This shows one of the strengths of 3D printing, in that complex and detailed shapes can be printed as a single part, but equally it may lessen its appeal as a traditional construction kit.
The level of detailing on the upper hull is remarkable in places. Even elements like the cables for the side lights have been printed in place. Not everything is perfect though as some parts, such as those side light, have an angular profile, when they should really be round. This is more an aspect of the original CAD design though, as 3D printers are quite capable of creating visually smooth curves. A little sanding will soften the angles on these parts though, and the resin is quite easy to work.
At the rear of the hull, the exhausts are printed fully hollow, complete with their curved deflector plates. You'll also see the various lifting hoops here which again are printed in place. Many of these parts may look a little fragile, but the UV resin used in for printing is surprisingly strong, as long as you're not too heavy handed, there's no risk of damaging these tiny details.
On the underside of the hull you'll find a few drain holes. These are required to allow excess resin to drain away after the print is finished, and will be a feature of most large 3D prints. These ones have been sensibly placed in a mainly hidden location, although the one one the underside of the glacis will need to be plugged as that area will be visible. A short stub of sprue superglued into the hole and sanded back works well for this. You'll also see some remaining supports from the printing process that will need to be removed.
There are more supports to remove between the suspension arms. This is a simple enough task, and many can be simply snapped of with a finger. Some care should be taken while doing this though, as removing the supports can often leave small divots in the surface of the part that will need to be filled for a neat finish. I was surprised to see that the detailing on the lower hull is very simplified compared to that on the upper hull. You can see here that the swing arms are quite angular and blocky in shape with virtually no surface detail. Fortunately, most of this area will be obscured by the tracks.
The second large part is the turret. As with the hull, most of the surface detailing has been printed in place, including the grab rails and lifting hooks. The hatches have also been printed as part of the turret, so there's no opportunity to add a figure to an open hatch, which is a shame. Unlike the hull, there are no remaining supports to remove with the turret, although you can see the small divots I mentioned earlier that have been left around the front of the turret. These will need filling and sanding.
The turret sides have been printed with a very effective cast texture, although I would be inclined to beef this up further with an application of Mr Surfacer. Doing so will also help to cover the pits left from the support removal.
One detail on the turret which maybe would have benefited from being printed separately is the mounting ring for the machine gun. On my example the mount had become distorted due to the tightly wrapped packaging deforming the part during shipping. While the resin used for printing has some flexibility to it, it's quite hard to reshape a part like this without breaking it, so I'll probably need to replace the ring during the build.
The two track runs come as complete units with all the wheels in place, and are designed to be a plug fit straight onto the hull. These have been produced as a combined print along with the twin barrels and the turret machine gun. These are the only components in the kit where all the print supports are still in place, and these will need to be carefully clipped away to separate the parts.
You can see here just how many supports there are on the track runs, these being required to allow the wheels to print correctly. The contact points are very small though, so removal isn't too taxing and is best done by carefully slicing the supports away with a sharp knife, while taking care not to damage the track's guide horns in the process.
Up close, the detail on the tracks is excellent. Some print lines are visible when you zoom in with a macro lens, but from normal viewing distances they look as good as any injection moulded track. Having the runs printed as a single unit is going to save a huge amount of construction time, and removes the worry of getting individual links to connect or having to set the correct sag on the upper run.
The DshK machine gun is somewhat hidden by its prints supports, but it's actually a very detailed model, complete with fully open slits on the muzzle. Only the ammo box is a little simplified which, while being the correct overall shape, has no surface detailing. There are also a couple of open-ended towing eyes printed with this cluster of parts, although no cable is included with the kit, so you need to supply one yourself.
The only remaining printed part is this barrel support which includes a separate open clasp for one of the barrels, a feature which replicates the digital model used in the game. The part could use a little sanding to round of some of he angular curves, but is otherwise well designed and printed.
Beyond the printed parts, you do get a few extra bits supplied with the kit. These include a couple of rigid tubes that appear to be some kind of graphite material. These are intended to be slid down the length of the barrels (which are open over their whole length) to provide some support and prevent the barrels form distorting over time. There's also a length of wire which is used to mount the barrels to the turret, and provide some articulation to pose the barrels. Finally there are two neodymium magnets which will be used to hold the turret to the hull.
This has been an unusual kit to review in so far as many people may not even consider it a kit, having so few parts. To some extent, that's the nature of 3D printing where complex components that would traditionally have been built up from multiple small parts can be printed as a single piece. Of course, 3D printing would also allow you to create a kit with many individual parts, but in this case I suspect the main target audience for Resin Scales will be World of Tanks players who want an easy to assemble replica of their game ride. 

A walk around of the completed kit
In that regard this kit very much hits the mark, but even for more traditional modellers there's a lot to like here, and the kit does provide a canvas for further detailing. Many of the tanks in WoT feature additional stowage and other modifications, all of which would be fun to add to this kit, and that's exactly what I'll be doing in the build. 
That'll be coming up soon, but in the meantime, I'll leave you with some shots of the kit built up from the box, plus a little sneak peek at some of those modifications.

Andy Moore

Thanks to Resin Scales for sending this kit to Andy to build and review - You can find out more about this kit on the Product Link on the Resin Scales Website
You can see more on Resin Scales kits on their facebook page Also they have a build group page on FB too...