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Old 01-08-2018, 06:13 PM   #1
ET2SN
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Icon14 Miko-Mir 1:350th scale Sturgeon class (stretch)



So, early last December I found these Mikro-Mir sub kits were finally available for shipment to the US and promptly freaked out.
Prior to this, I knew the kits existed but they were a classic case of trying to buy Unobtainium for the North American market. Never mind the scale, Mikro-Mir was the only company I knew of that produced kits of US Thresher/Permit and Sturgeon class boats.
When I found the listings on Amazon for most of their kits, I crossed my fingers and ordered kit # 350-015, the USS L. Mendel Rivers, SSN-686 (plus a DDS diver's shelter).

I knew the shipping time on this would be "old school". The kits ship from Kiev and have to cross a fair chunk of the planet.
My kit finally showed up today. Pretty much one month after I placed the order. My heart kinda dropped a little when I saw the package: a standard manila envelope that looked like it had been mauled (and opened) several times with almost half of it covered in stamps.
If there was a box in there, it had been crushed.. Or, so I thought.

Opening the envelope carefully, I found that nothing had been damaged and that the first step to building this kit was to assemble two pieces of card board into the kit's box (four staples are required but not included).
This step may sound messed up at first but there is some sound logic behind it- the kit had to survive shipment from the Ukraine , which it did in surprisingly good condition.
Also in the envelope was a resealable plastic bag containing the kit wrapped in bubble wrap, only one part of the kit had broken loose- the small "dunce cap" that fits behind the screw- so the packaging had done its job. Plus, another smaller resealable bag containing a "thank you note" ("note" in this case being quite literal) and some hard candies.

So, let's get into the "meat" of this kit. The plastic is quite good, slightly harder than the plastic Hobby Boss molds. "Flash" on parts is minimal and is easily (but carefully) removed. The kit looks pretty much "spot on" in terms of scale and shape. Engraved lines look very good for 1:350th scale but some lines near the edges of the hull halfs (bow dome) will need to be re-scribed once the hull is glued together. The masts and antennas are surprisingly good and finely molded, also surprisingly complete. This is the first US sub kit I've seen that includes a special mast that other kits always omit. If you know what its for pat yourself on the back, just don't discuss it. Also included is a raised radar mast which looks OK. Due to the shape of this mast and its upper cap, its usually best at this scale to leave the radar mast lowered but you have the option to add it.

Removing parts from the sprues at this scale is usually tricky. Take your time and "sneak up" on the sprue gates where they join to the part. I use a Tamiya PE (diamond) file to clean up my parts. You really don't want to use a regular hobby file or course sand paper on this scale.
Mikro-Mir uses a combination of "old school" and modern molding techniques on their parts. Their sprue gates are very small but also extend all the way to the inner side of the part. This could be a valid complaint on larger scale kits but it ensures a better seam after you clean it up. Just plan to take a little more time removing and prepping your parts and you'll be fine.

Decals are provided that cover SSN-678 to SSN-687 and include the ship names. This is the same decal sheet for their other "637 stretch" kits and also include some neat markings for DC awards and Battle E's that would be painted on the sail, just not during a true deployment. The markings are very small and are probably rather delicate to apply, the carrier film is very minimal. Otherwise, they look VERY good and are in scale.
For those who have built the Hobby Boss 688's, Miko-Mir got the draft markers right! You won't have to poach a decal sheet from one of the old Dragon 688/Ohio class kits.


(More later in Part 2)

Last edited by ET2SN; 01-08-2018 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 01-08-2018, 07:47 PM   #2
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I'm going to be following this thread!
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Old 01-08-2018, 10:20 PM   #3
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(Part 2)

Oh, did I mention this kit includes a DDS?

The only other time I've seen a DDS (dry deck shelter) modeled was for Dragon's USS Florida kit.
While Dragon nailed the decals their kits have some serious issues, so let's just say I would have been happy if Mikro-Mir supplied a lump I could at least carve into shape. I should also note that DDS fans should check out Mikro-Mir's USS Kamahamaha SSGN kit. It has two DDS included.
The DDS in this kit rocks! While there isn't a ton of detail, there isn't a ton of detail on the real article unless the fiberglass fairings have been removed (the darned thing is supposed to be smooth). The over-all shape looks right and panel lines denote the fairings well enough. The round hatch at the back is nicely detailed and, as other modelers have noted, wouldn't take a lot of effort to be hinged so it operates like IRL.

Along with the "on again, off again" SDV that's included with HB's USS Greenville kit, this is one of the few times you can build some of the USN's "sneaky bits".

This version of the Sturgeon class kit also includes the towed array STASS piping along the side of the hull. The kit parts look fine but you may want to substitute some thin diameter metal tubing or solder for the pipe.

The instruction sheet is fairly short and to the point. I mean, its SHORT! Over half of it is in Cyrillic and if it was any smaller it would be a business card. To be fair, there aren't many steps in the construction, anyway, and Miko-Mir provides the same instructions in PDF format on their web site (which is a nice touch).

So, would I recommend this kit? For the more experienced builder, OH HECK YEAH! Mikro-Mir is the only game in town if you want to build a Sturgeon without carving it out of a chunk of wood.
Just be aware that everything isn't perfect and the kit won't fall together while you're asleep. There are some small problem areas you'll need to deal with, for example the screw is part of the photo-etch parts and the blades will need to be bent into shape. Cutting off and smoothing out parts is a little more "hand's on" than compared to a "gold standard" Hobby Boss kit in the same scale. I've also noticed that at least one of the two parts for the hull is slightly warped fore-to-aft (I'm pretty sure this will straighten out fine during assembly but the warp is still there). There is a raised seam on the upper hull that denotes the break between the black paint and the lower hull paint. This is one of those "mixed blessing" kinds of seams. Its there for all the right reasons but its still there. While the MBT vents look fine on the upper hull the drain ports on the lower hull are not included. This is one of those "50/50" things that other kits have dealt with in the past. If the drains aren't included, not many people will even notice it. If they are included, they won't look right in this scale.

As a beginner type of kit, I'd say to build one or two Hobby Boss sub kits in 1:350 scale before you tackle Mikro-Mir's kits. This tends to be a fairly fiddly scale to work in, anyway.

If you're a fan of Flory Models on YouTube, recall what Phil has said about "limited run" kits in the past. They can be more challenging to build than the mainstream kits BUT they can be the only time you'll see a model of the real subject. While these Mikro-Mir kits aren't "limited runs" in the normal "here today, who knows tomorrow?" meaning, they'll never sell in the same numbers as the mainstream Tamiya and Hobby Boss kits. That being said, I'm impressed with their 637 stretch and their kits in general.

Update- I found a vid that Phil did for a Mikro-Mir aircraft kit. You get a really good look at their kits in general plus (if you pay attention) you'll see what I meant by molding the sprue gate all the way to the inside of the part:



One thing US modelers WILL want to watch out for is price! I've seen these kits offered on Amazon (direct sale from Kiev) and E-Bay (US retailer, in stock?) for between $25 to $35. I got my kit for about $28 plus free shipping last month. I've also seen some US "e-tailers" offering the same kits for over $55, so shop smart.

Last edited by ET2SN; 01-10-2018 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 01-09-2018, 01:32 PM   #4
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Oh, getting back to the "thank you note" and candy, should I explain what they really are?

Coming from a mostly Slavic background, my relatives would occasionally send birthday and wedding gifts to "the old country" or vise versa.

The candy and "note" are not for you.

At some point, it was best to assume that your package would find its way to an overly nosy or bored postal inspector. Um, what's a more polite word for "bribe"? The "note" and candy are not a bribe, per say, more like an old tradition of saying "Yes, its your duty to inspect this package. Since we are not sending secret plans to moose and squirrel for new grain elevator, just let this package pass your desk and move along to its destination".

It was a lot like using a couple of rolls of toilet paper as packing material. While it was important to protect the contents of the package, the packing material served, um, a higher purpose once the package was delivered.
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Old 01-10-2018, 10:40 PM   #5
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Now comes the tough part- which 637 to build and paint?

Back when I was a pre-Nub in school at Groton, I kept my fingers crossed for the USS Archerfish and her ESM suite. The 637's still carried a lot of cashe in the late 80's. They were the boats you wanted to go to if you saw yourself as a "hot runner" (which we all did.. ) and wanted to jump into the deep end of the pool. The 637's were also the only ticket to ride if you wanted to go under the ice (until the flight III 688i boats came on-line).

More importantly, the Sturgeon class were the cold war. While the 688's got the press, the 637's were data collection beasts and were designed to loiter on-station for extended periods of time. It wasn't until the Virginia class came along that the USN regained the ability to hover at All Stop as well as the 637's could.

Anyway, I've also been itching to paint another Pearl Harbor Special.
Seeing a boat at PHNSY that was ready to go back in the water always felt good. The paint jobs just looked B-A with the lower hull painted red, the lower part of the upper hull painted in a unique brown-ish dark purple, and the upper hull and sail in black.

Since I also knew some buds on the USS Cavalla, I think that's what I'm going to build.
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Old 01-11-2018, 07:45 PM   #6
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Wow, the detail of the models from this company is quite nice!
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Old 01-11-2018, 11:08 PM   #7
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Some quick tips on basic paint for US boats.

If you want to build and paint something from the US side of the cold war era, these are some shortcuts I've found over the years to duplicate things like sonar domes, zincs, weathered stainless steel, screws, non-skid, and hull tiles. By all means, paint your project they you want it to look. These are just things I've found over the years that "look right".

Sonar, "painted" fiberglass and radio domes- Floquil Railroad Colors "Grimy Black". This paint may be tough to find (check stores that specialize in model railroading supplies) but it comes in a 1 oz. bottle so once you find it you won't need to restock for another 20 years. Floquil paints are something else. They aren't really enamel, or acrylic, or lacquer, or water based. I suspect they are some kind of alkyd/lacquer hybrid in some kind of really thin solvent. It is incredibly thin paint. You always want to be sure the cap is screwed on really tight before shaking the bottle or else half the contents will wind up all over your work area and yourself. It also has a bad habit of not getting along with anything besides bare plastic, especially when its still wet. Still, this stuff just looks right once it drys. The paint is thin enough that you can use a brush on fairly large surfaces without leaving brush marks and one coat is all you'll need. It drys to a very flat "charcoal black" shade (imagine flat black that has baked in the sun for years and faded slightly). You'll want to test this stuff on a scrap piece before you brush it on a kit. Give it a couple days to fully dry and cure and then paint some of your other enamels, acrylics, etc. over it and cross your fingers. If the new layer of paint doesn't curdle or crack as it dries, you're fine.


Upper hull (painted steel)- I remember reading somewhere that US subs are painted "Dark Navy Blue". Nah, its black. Industrial 100% carbon black. The actual finish of the painted metal is more of a satin/egg shell type. For a scale finish, use a semi gloss black enamel and you're done.
Its also worth pointing out, surface ships have Bosun's Mates. Submarines have Deck Div and Deck Div are not the most experienced members of the crew. If you find some imperfections on your black deck, non-skid, and the lower half of the sail.... congratulations!! Its actually more authentic.

Upper hull , steel (primer)- The color is basically Zinc Chromate Green. What it should look like is more a function of what kind of primer you were able to scrounge from the squadron. If its an epoxy type of primer then its basically any hobby enamel or acrylic zinc chromate green. The real epoxy type primer holds up better but its also more of a pain to mix and apply. The other option is alkyd primer which looks like dark olive drab green. Alkyd is supposed to etch into the bare metal (it doesn't) but its also very easy to apply and drys fast, which is important when the bright lights of the bars downtown are beckoning. So, guess which type we preferred?
The other use for zinc chromate hobby paint is to duplicate the older style (1970's to 1990's) radio masts. The masts were actually a kind of translucent plastic-y green fiber glass but zinc chromate green is a close-enough color.

Upper hull, tiled- Tiled hulls aren't that tough to replicate. The tiles usually weren't painted above the water line (something Deck Div really liked) so any type of rubbery or plastic-y black is fine (basically, semi gloss black), but the ONE kind of paint you really want is called Black Chrome enamel from Testor's (TES2735). Just brush it on and it will look right. If you want to try something different- get some black India ink from an office supply store and try brush painting it over semi gloss black enamel. You wind up with a kind of oily-looking effect which duplicates new tiles.

Last edited by ET2SN; 01-31-2018 at 11:51 AM.
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