Category Archives: Reviews

Rubicon Sherman Build Part IV – Finishing

Recently Fall hit and the humidity dropped considerably, so I was able to get out the airbrush and finish up the Rubicon Sherman.

I began by brush priming the metal parts with Gunze Sangyo Mr. Metal Primer. I then primed the entire model with AK Interactive Grey Primer, shot straight from the bottle through an Iwata Eclipse HP-CS  at ~18 psi. The AK Interactive primer is, by far, my favorite. It binds, coats and levels better than any other primer, acrylic or otherwise, that I’ve used.

Rubicon Sherman Primed

Primed Rubicon (Right) and JTFM (Left) Shermans

Once dry I pre-shaded the model with Vallejo Model Air #43, Olive Drab, thinned at 3 parts paint to one part Liquitex Airbrush Medium, one part Vallejo Airbrush Thinner and one part Vallejo Satin Varnish shot at ~15 psi. In hindsight, I probably could have gone with a darker shade here.

Rubicon Sherman Pre-Shading


Next I applied a base coat of Vallejo Model Air #44, Light Grey Green thinned as above.

Rubicon Sherman Base Coat

Base Coat

After the base colors had set completely I applied the markings. The turret stars are from Archer Fine Transfers, the differential dashed circle star is from I-94 Enterprises and the serial numbers are from the kit sheet. I then brush painted over the turret stars with Vallejo Model Color #889, US Olive Drab.

Rubicaon Sherman Markings 1

Turret Star and Serial Number

Rubicon Sherman Markings 2

Differential Cover Star

Rubicon Sherman Markings 3

Overpainted Turret Star

Post-markings I added some shadows using a thin wash of MIG Productions 502 Abteilung Wash Brown oil paint. This was followed by highlighting with some light dry-brushing of Vallejo Panzer Aces #322, US Tanker Highlight.

Rubicon Sherman Shadows 2

Shadow Wash

Rubicon Sherman Highlights

Dry-brushed Highlights

Following this I painted the remaining accessories and details with various Vallejo Acrylic and Humbrol Metal Cote paints.

Rubicon Sherman Details 1

Air Recognition Panel and Tools

Rubicon Sherman Details 2

Rear Stowage

Rubicon Sherman Details 3

Headlights and Hull MG

Rubicon Sherman Details 4

Turret Stowage

Rubicon Sherman Details 5

Tank Commander

I then started working on the tracks, bogie wheels and return rollers. The bogies and return rollers were painted with Vallejo Panzer Aces #306, Dark Rubber, given a wash of acrylic black, and lightly dry-brushed with Vallejo Panzer Aces #305, Light Rubber. The tracks were painted with Vallejo Panzer Aces #304, Track Primer given a wash of acrylic black, and lightly dry-brushed with Vallejo Panzer Aces #305, Light Rubber. Earlier on in the build I had mentioned that I believed the tracks we’re supposed to be the steel chevron type, but because of the ambiguity I chose the easier route, for me, and painted them as rubber. The track end connectors were given a wash of True-Earth Burnt Rust R. Once this was dry I painted the raised details of the end connectors with Humbrol Metal Cote Aluminum. These metal cote paints dry to a matt black and then can be buffed. I used my finger and a micro-brush to gently buff the end connectors.

Rubicon Sherman Tracks 1

End Connectors With Rust

Rubicon Sherman Tracks 2

End Connectors Post-Buffing

Once the tracks were complete I started weathering the kit. In trying to keep it moderate, I started with an overall thin wash of MIG Productions 502 Abteilung Light Mud and then added some subtle vertical streaking with MIG Productions 502 Abteilung Engine Grease. I then added some staining around the filler caps with AK Interactive Fuel Stains.

Rubicon Sherman Fuel Stains

Fuel Stains

After the oils and enamels were dry I started to weather the lower hull using a product that was new to me – Mud-in-a-Pot from Reality in Scale. Mud-in-a-Pot is an acrylic based textured mud that can be used straight from the jar. I used a lighter shade on the majority of the lower hull, and used the darkest shade closer in towards the running gear. I really like this product, but need to spend some more time with it to fully realize its potential.

Rubicon Sherman Weathering 1


Then when the “mud’ had dried (exceptionally hard by the way) I attached the tracks to the lower hull. This was followed by a light application of some MIG Pigments to harmonize the mud colors.

Rubicon Sherman Weathering 2

Tracks and Pigments Applied

As a final touch I gave the tank commander a map and a pair of binoculars from the scrap box.

Rubicon Sherman Turret Details

Turret Details

To finish the kit off, I sprayed the entire model with AK Interactive Matt Varnish. Here are a few photos of the finished kit, and some pics alongside a JTFM Sherman that I built in parallel.

To summarize, the Rubicon Sherman is an excellent kit that was a really fun build. If you’re looking for Shermans to add to your arsenal, I highly recommend this model. I will certainly be checking out their other offerings in the near future.


  • Easy Assembly
  • Clear Instructions
  • Provides Multiple Main Gun Choices
  • Plastic – My Favorite Medium
  • Excellent Detail
  • Good Part Fit
  • One Piece Tracks


  • No Marking Guide
  • Decals Slightly Thick
  • Track “Identity Crisis”
  • Lack of Extra Turret Ring

Rubicon Sherman Build Part III – Final Assembly

I was going to break this up into two parts, but the rest of the assembly went so fast I decided on a combined post.

The tracks and suspension for the Rubicon Sherman consist of five parts; the tracks and outside suspension/bogies, three inner bogie assembly halves and an inner drive sprocket piece. The assembly of these was straight forward. I sanded the seam along the part of the tracks that would be visible, and then glued the inner parts to the outer track/suspension assembly. While I understand the need to simplify the suspension, especially for a wargaming model, the design did result in a visible seam in all of the bogies. I decided to not fill these as the difficulty of sanding them didn’t seem worth the effort. Also of note, the track pattern is greatly simplified as well. I believe that they are supposed to be the steel chevron type, but I am unsure.

Rubicon Sherman Tracks 1

Outer Track Assembly

Rubicon Sherman Tracks 2

Tread Pattern

Rubicon Sherman Tracks 3

Track and Suspension Parts

Rubicon Sherman Tracks 4

Bogie Seams

I set the track assemblies aside and began working on the lower hull. The lower hull is split into two pieces, and Rubicon cleverly hid any visible seam by incorporating it into the engine doors and hiding it with the trailer hitch.

Rubicon Sherman Lower Hull 1

The Lower Hull

Rubicon Sherman Lower Hull 2

Engine Doors and Trailer Hitch

I like my wargaming models to have a little heft and wanted to add some weight to the hull. I affixed some Pinewood Derby Chassis Weights using CA glue.

Rubicon Sherman Lower Hull 4

Lower Hull Weights

I then attached the idler wheel assemblies.

Rubicon Sherman Lower Hull 3

Idler Wheel Assembly

The next step was attaching the differential cover to the lower front of the hull. I dry fitted this piece with the upper hull, and discovered it was going to take a little coaxing to fit correctly. I cemented it, strapped it down with some rubber bands and let it dry overnight.

Rubicon Sherman Lower Hull 5

Differential Cover

Like the turret, the differential cover was a cast piece. I applied the same technique as I did with the turret to try and give it that texture.

Rubicon Sherman Lower Hull 6

Differential Cover Texture

The bulk of the upper hull is one piece that fit perfectly on to the lower hull.

Rubicon Sherman Upper Hull 1

Upper Hull

The next steps called for attaching the rest of the upper hull parts – headlights, exhaust deflector, hull MG, etc. These parts went on without issue. During these steps I drilled out the front and rear hull lift hooks.

Rubicon Sherman Upper Hull 2

Front Lift Hooks

To finish off the kit I added the Culin hedgerow cutter and some stowage. The Culin device had some clear injector pin marks that I tried to fill with putty. I plan on covering up my poor work with some weathering.

Rubicon Sherman Details 1

Injector Pin Marks

Rubicon Sherman Details 3

Culin Device Attached

As the kit did not include any stowage, I added some from the space parts bin.

Rubicon Sherman Details 2


As a final step, I made an air recognition panel using foil from a wine label (no shortage of this material at the Emmett Estate), some painter’s tape and thread. After I affixed it to the tank I brush painted it with matt medium to stiffen it up.

Rubicon Sherman Details 4

Air Recognition Panel

Rubicon Sherman Details 5

Panel Attached

Next in Part IV I’ll begin painting and applying the markings.

Rubicon Sherman Build Part II – The Turret

The Rubicon Sherman kit includes parts to build a version with either the 75mm, 76mm or 105mm main gun. The 75mm and 105mm main guns use the same type of turret (and essentially the same model mantlet), and the 76mm has dedicated turret and mantlet parts. Unfortunately there is only one turret ring – the part that allows the turret to be attached to the upper hull – included. This means that, unless you are feeling creative, a commitment to one of the main gun types will have to be made. I decided to build mine with the 75mm. As an aside, Rubicon has stated that for their upcoming US tank destroyer releases they will include enough parts to make swappable turrets.

The turret assembly started with affixing the pistol port, the lower bustle and the turret ring. The fit of these parts was fair and I needed to sand all of them to get a better fit. Even then there was some seam filling to do in a later step.

Rubicon Sherman Turret 1

Main Assembly

As Sherman turrets were cast, I wanted to try and texture the plastic to differentiate it from the welded hull. I used an old technique of coating small areas of the parts with liquid plastic cement and then “tapping” the surface with my finger. As the cement dissolved the plastic, the action of rolling and tapping my finger gave the turret a slightly rougher feel.

Rubicon Sherman Turret 2

Cast Texture

Between this step and the next, I added the commander’s cupola and hatch but neglected to photograph it. The 75mm turret comes with the older split commander’s hatch with the rotating ring and a pintle mount for the .50 cal. The way the part is notched it only allows for the pintle to face the rear, which was where I wanted it anyway.

I filled the seams around the pistol port and the lower bustle and sanded them somewhat smooth. I then  applied a rough line of putty along the seam created by the lower bustle part. Sherman turrets had a very noticeable weld here that I was trying to represent. After the putty dried I used the liquid cement technique over any areas that were sanded smooth.

Rubicon Sherman Turret 3

Pistol Port Seams

Rubicon Sherman Turret 4

Lower Bustle Seam

As before, I neglected to photograph the next steps of mounting the mantlet and the main gun. I applied the same cast texturing technique to the mantlet, and used a pin vise to drill out the gun barrel. The elevation of the gun operated, however due to the length of the barrel it depressed to its minimum elevation. Rather than try and counter balance it I plan on gluing it in place once the kit is complete.

I decide to add a tank commander and chose a half-figure from Warlord. In order to facilitate mounting it in the commander’s hatch, I affixed a LITKO 15mm base to the inside of the turret. I then cleaned and mounted the TC.

Rubicon Sherman Turret 6


Rubicon Sherman Turret 7

Mounted Commander

I removed the antenna base on the left rear of the turret and countersunk a 1/16″ x 1/32″ magnet in the antenna mount. Using the plastic antenna base I fashioned an antenna using brass rod and another magnet so the antenna would be removable for storage.

Rubicon Sherman Turret 8

Antenna Mount

Rubicon Sherman Turret 9


Rubicon Sherman Turret 10

Antenna Mounted

Using the same methods as with the antenna, I mounted magnets on the pintle and .50 cal so it could be removed as well.

Rubicon Sherman Turret 11

Pintle Mount

Rubicon Sherman Turret 12

.50 cal

Rubicon Sherman Turret 13

.50 cal Mounted

Adding some final details I drilled out the front lifting hook and added a stowage pack on the rear. The strap on the pack was made with lead foil from a wine label, and the pack is from a Tamiya kit.

Rubicon Sherman Turret 14

Stowage Pack

Coming up in Part III I’ll begin working on the running gear and the lower hull.

Rubicon Sherman Build Part I – Unboxing

For my birthday John B. picked me up a Rubicon Models M4A3 Sherman and wanted my opinion of the kit, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to document and review the model as I built it.

The M4A3 comes packaged in a sturdy box with some attractive cover art on the front (although if I’m not mistaken, the chevrons on the tracks are reversed), and some historical details, side view art and image of the decal sheet on the back.

Rubicon Sherman Unboxing 1

Box Front

Rubicon Sherman Unboxing 2

Box Rear

Inside the box are three sprues containing the upper and lower hull, running gear, two turret options, three main armament options and, much to my delight, a Culin hedgerow cutter.

Rubicon Sherman Unboxing 3

The Sprues

Additionally there is a four page instruction booklet and a decal sheet that contains markings for the Sherman and their upcoming M3 halftrack kit. I suspect the same sheet will be used for the forthcoming Stuart release as well.

Rubicon Sherman Unboxing 4

Instructions and Decals

At first blush, the parts seem to be molded very well with minimal if any flash, the decals are vibrant yet thin, and the instructions appear to be clear and concise.

Coming up in Part II I’ll begin tackling the turret.

Crescent Root Studios Warehouse Set – Review

Recently I redirected funds from online sales of extra merchandise and purchased the new Crescent Root Studios 28mm Warehouse Set. I have a few buildings from their 15mm line, and they are definitely some of the best terrain pieces in my collection. When I saw that they had released this new 28mm set I thought it would work well for In Her Majesty’s Name, my Lovecraftian project, and WWII, so I took a chance and ordered the complete box set.

After placing my order I received a shipping notice two days later, and the parcel was delivered within three days for a very quick turnaround. The set comes packaged in a sturdy cardboard box, and all the components are contained in ziplock bags. The box set consists of one large two story building with a one story wing, a medium one story building, a small one story outbuilding, two pre-built platforms, and seven pre-built wall sections. All components are pre-painted laser cut MDF.

The box and contents

At first inspection, the quality of the components is evident. The platforms are well assembly and sturdy, the finish is excellent, and the relief etching does a good job of depicting different building materials. Also noticeable is the universal odor associated with laser cut buildings. Although it is present, it is not nearly as pervasive as other manufacturer’s terrain that I have experienced. After having the bags opened and the parts out, it became hardly noticeable.

The components

A large selling point were two unique approaches to these buildings:

1) All the doors are removable – designed to slide onto hanging hooks
2) The buildings walls are held together with corner pins, allowing them to be disassembled and stored flat

As a test run, I assembled all of the buildings and was able to finish them in about twelve minutes, and then disassemble and repack them in ten minutes. The way the pieces fit together is quite intuitive, and the precision of the cuts facilitates alignment when butting the walls together. Additionally the upper and lower floors of the large building have tabs and corresponding notches for alignment – another nice touch.

The assembled buildings

Overall, I am extremely pleased with this set and impressed with the quality of the buildings. The addition of the removable doors and the ability to easily disassemble and store these flat adds great value for me. I can’t recommend this warehouse set enough, and I look forward to upcoming releases in this range.

This warehouse set is available direct from Crescent Root Studios for $129.00 USD plus shipping.

D-Day at Omaha Beach – Unboxing Review

The reprinting of Decision Games D-Day at Omaha Beach was recently released and my pre-order arrived last week. D-Day at Omaha Beach is a solitaire game that allows the player to control the forces of the US 1st and 29th Divisions as they attempt to secure a viable beachhead on the Normandy shore.


The 12″ x 9″ X 2″ box contains 2 sheets of 176 counters each, one 34″ x 22″ map sheet, 4 player aid cards, 55 event cards, one 32 page rulebook, one 8 page example of play book, one 16 page historical background book, and 4 ziplock storage bags.

Component Impressions:

The counters

The 352 color counters are well designed and, with the exception of the Wilderstandnest designations, very legible. Particularly I found the contrast of the white text on the green background of the American units to work well. The stock that the counters are on is rather thin, however where some may see this as a flaw I prefer this type of stock as it better facilitates clipping and, to some extent, storage.

The map sheet and cards

I find the map sheet and the cards to be of very good quality. As with the counters, the text and symbols on the event cards are well executed and easy to read. While also somewhat thin I also find this advantageous as I will be sleeving the cards (see: Prepping for Play). The map sheet is printed on very good stock and while the cacophony of symbols and colors may seem overwhelmingly busy, it is my understanding that they become very intuitive during play. Additionally DG has provided ziplock bags for component storage – always a welcome addition, even if they will be repurposed.

The player aid sheets

Of all the components, I find these to be the weak link. Although well laid out and intuitive, the stock they are printed on is disappointingly thin. More than likely these will be run through the laminator.

The booklets

At a quick glance, this is where the components really shine. Although not indexed the rulebook is very well organized and easily referenced from the table of contents. The examples of play is printed in full color and has a counter and card reference on the front, a terrain effects chart on the back, and 6 pages of examples. The historical background booklet titled “Their Greatest Day: From Disaster to Victory on Omaha Beach” is printed in full color as well, and seems to be an excerpt from World at War magazine. I will provide more feedback on these booklets as I examine them in greater detail (see: Prepping for Play).

Overall, I am pleased with the quality of this reprint and especially looking forward to diving in to the historical background and rulebook. Additionally I am grateful that DG provided a large enough box to hold a GMT counter tray.

UP NEXT: Prepping for Play

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