In like a lion, out like a leopard

By pure chance, I was in a toy store and stumbled across some new diecast toys from Germany. What especially caught my eye was the Siku “Panzer”, an HO scale Leopard 2A6. Coincidentally, this is the same tank used by the Canadian Forces. Given that I could get instant gratification (not all that instant, because I had to have them shipped in from another store because they didn’t have enough), I picked up 5 of them. This is what you get, minus the optional sticker, which I did not apply.

From the box to the battlefield. Reasonably painted Rebel minis shown for scale. Also, this picture was taken with my phone, which is why it is blurry and indistinct.

They look pretty good, if shiny, straight of the box. They’re painted in NATO three-colour camouflage, with no highlighting, like you’d expect with a diecast toy. They’re also more or less equivalent in scale with the Rebel 15mm infantry which represent my Canadian forces. The commander figure seems to be a good fit in size. The tanks have a surprising amount of detail on them, making them at least equivalent to purchasing a purpose-built 15mm vehicle.

My plan was to use their existing paint scheme and make them better, thus saving me lots of time. Both reference photos and anecodatal evidence suggest that they actually saw service in Afghanistan in this livery. Apparently they were also covered in khaki coloured blankets to help them blend in.

Canadian Leopard 2A6s have slat armour to protect against RPG attacks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of a solution which would be both robust enough to be on a wargaming figure and not look like utter crap. I considered painting lines on clear plastic and boxing in the tank (too fragile), plasticard mesh (too fragile), solid plastic (looks like crap). Oh well.

The Siku tanks as they come are quite dark, which is unfortunate. My facelift procedure went something like this.

Some of the parts were pure plastic (notably the main gun). I painted those to match the base green of the tank. I used leftover paint from my Apache gunships which was a very close match.

I drybrushed lighter shades of the base coats over the prepainted figure. This brought out the detail and lightened it up a bit. There’s three colours, so it takes a while.

Then, I highlighted all the details with a fine brush, using a lighter colour than I drybrushed. This was the most painstaking part of the whole process. They actually looked pretty good at this stage, but I wanted more depth, so I gave them a wash of sepia ink, Future and water.

This gave them some decent depth in the shadows, but washed the highlights out utterly. It took me hours to paint them in the first place. At this point, I did it again. I’m not sure I did as fine a job the second time.

At this point I painted in some details, like the shovels, cables, driver, etc. The rings on the main gun are actually white tape, because painting them by hand and getting a decent result was a losing proposition. It was at this point I discovered that the bare plastic parts that I repainted don’t actually hold paint all that well, even though they were thoroughly washed before painting.

The tracks and wheels were painted and weathered. The treads are actually made of a rubbery/plastic compound and are designed to actually move. I’m hoping that the paint will stay on, and it has so far, but I can’t tell how durable it will be.

The whole works was weathered using an airbrush, pastels and ink washes.

This is the end result:

Like you're fighting!

If they weren’t difficult to disassemble (well, not so much disassemble as being able to reassemble them in a way that won’t make them fall apart on the first touch), I’d prime them white and paint them from scratch. That, however, would defeat the purpose of buying a diecast toy.

I considered adding some cruft (baggage, aerials, etc) and may still do so later. The more detail added on, though, the more likely it is to fall off later. Adding aerials could be difficult, though, because drilling into steel is harder than drilling into resin.

Although it took me longer to repaint them than I envisioned, I’m relatively pleased with the results. Ideally, I’d like to have some with the hatches closed, but I don’t think that would be particularly easy to achieve, as the open hatch is moulded onto the turret. Variant commander figures would be a plus. Slat armour would be fantastic.

A closer look at the details. Normally I wouldn't be looking quite so closely.

Even as they are, though, they’ll be scaring the bejezus out of my insurgent figures.

Of course, none of this matters if you can’t actually tell how big it is. So here is a picture which demonstrates the scale:

It's bigger than yours.

Included in this picture are:

  • Peter Pig Technical
  • Siku Tank
  • Matchbox Armoured Response Vehicle
  • Old Grow Goanna Scout vehicle
  • Ground Zero Games Phalanx APC

And to finish up, here’s a more dramatic, but less useful shot.

World War II partisan from Old Glory about to be crushed. The end.

One Comment

  • Could you be so kind as to indicate me EXACT measurements of the model?

    I have several Matchbox ARV’s, from back to front end they appear to be circa 7 centimeters long (2″ and 3/4″ for those used to inches)…then I hope the Leo 2 is at least 8cm or 8.5cm long?

    Thank you for your time.

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