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General discussions about modeling topics.
Dragon DS and Hobby Company
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 02:14 AM UTC
Anybody else have issues with Dragon DS parts?

Last week I bought their 25pdr Field Gun from an ebay store in the UK. A kit I've been after for a while and saw it for a good price, so I thought why not treat myself?
Arrived first thing Monday morning and on opening it I found that the DS tyres had deteriorated. They had gone hard, misshapen and were oozing an oily residue.
I messaged the ebay trader straight away and they got quickly onto it with their supplier, The Hobby Company, who are also the UK importer for Dragon. They promised that they would send a replacement set.
These arrived today and guess what? Same thing. The tyres are sealed in their bag and have not come out.

Far from happy I called Hobby Company direct to complain and they were far from helpful. They claimed that the tyres were in perfect condition when packed and pretty much tried to deny that it could have happened so quickly. The best solution they could give me is to return the kit to the seller for a refund. Customer service is clearly not a priority for them.

I've just checked my other kits in my stash and completed builds with DS parts and I have no problem with them.

So what could have caused this?

Stephen


Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 03:51 AM UTC
DS (Dragon Styrene) parts (tracks and wheels) have been a problem almost from their inception. It's one reason I personally steer clear of Dragon anymore. Of the Dragon kits I do have, I've tried to replace any DS tracks with aftermarket parts. I have the same 25 Pdr kit you do in the stash though, and I should pull it out and check it as I haven't replaced the wheels. I also have the Dragon Apollo-Soyuz combination in the stash, and the Soyuz capsule is made almost entirely out of DS material. I do check on these kits occasionally to make sure they are holding up, but I haven't done so in the past year or so. Dragon announced several years ago they were going to concentrate their efforts on the toy and collectibles market, and I think DS is a result of that effort---it requires less manufacturing process than injection molded styrene. It might be worthwhile to get the old Tamiya 25 Pdr. kit and use the wheels from that kit if necessary-- I've retained mine for exactly that purpose. Good luck. How Dragon stays in business between thier DS tracks, "Black Label" fiasco, poor customer service and innaccuracy problems is a mystery to me.
VR, Russ
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 04:23 AM UTC
What annoys me most about this is the distributors attitude. Basically he said that he packed them yesterday and they were fine and they can't have done this in the space of 24 hours.
So what am I lying in order to get a couple of tyres?
I'm half tempted to make a formal complaint to The Hobby Company.

I have got Tamiyas in my stash (somewhere), so if it comes down to it I could probably use them to make some resin castings. I don't want to rob a perfectly good kit just for some wheels.

I'm going to wait for the seller to get back to me first.

Why make the entire soyuz capsule out of that crap? I can understand a part that needs some flexibility like tracks, but that?

Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 05:46 AM UTC

Quoted Text



Why make the entire soyuz capsule out of that crap? I can understand a part that needs some flexibility like tracks, but that?




My feelings exactly-- I believe it has something to do with Dragon driving towards the "toy" market and away from the scale model market. The 1/72 Soyuz capsule is entirely made in DS, and is dense and heavy to boot. But it was probably a lot easier to cast as a complete structure rather than in the small parts an equivalent styrene kit would have required, and hence why I believe Dragon is going the route of DS to begin with-- to save cost and engineering time. Frankly I don't think they care about accuracy anymore. As for customer service, I used to work for a LHS that was also Dragon Distributor. They really don't give a hoot about the distributors either. It was evident in the way we were treated on several occasions-- Dragon's attitude was "you bought it, it's your problem". Sorry if I seem down on Dragon, but I've seen a general decline in their CS and products over the last several years. IMHO, they can be relegated to the level of cheap toy manufacturing from China-- even though the cost of their kits continues to rise. They did some good stuff at one time, but they are really becoming "hit and miss" in recent memory.
VR, Russ
brekinapez
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 06:23 AM UTC
Which is why I am trying to find the last few Dragon kits I need--the older releases when possible--and moving on to the new kids on the block. I think they are still in the game because right now they still have many German kits that no one else is competing against them over. Once someone starts killing it in those areas Dragon will become just a toy company.
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 07:28 AM UTC
It's very rare that I buy a Dragon kit these days anyway. It has to be something that I want and then only when I can get it cheaper. Luckily the stuff I like is usually being kitted by others.
What put me off them was an incident a few years back when I bought one of their 1/700 USS Laffey. I found that one of the 5" turrets had been cut from the sprue before being sealed in the bag and packed. Emailed Dragon (Dont) Care and they not refused that this could happen but accused me of trying to scam them for a spare part. Despite photos of everything still sealed in the bag.
Luckily I was able to source a full set from a Skywave kit soon after, but that's beside the point.
Put me off Dragon for a long time and still does.

The likes of Meng and Takom are doing far better kits than they are these days. Be interesting to see how long they stay in the kit business and if they sell the tools.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 09:33 AM UTC
Well, after reading and commenting on these posts, I went out to my stash (which is kept in large plastic bins in my finished but non-climate controlled garage). I checked the 25 Pdr first, and noted the DS tires still looked good, and felt supple and flexible through the plastic bag. But on closer examination, they have turned a slight brown-tan color around the circumference of the tread on all four tires included in the kit. I suspect this is the beginning of a problem (I happen to have an old Tamiya kit stored in the same box, and those tires look the same as they did 30 years ago). Then I checked my 1/72 Apollo-Soyuz kit (ASTP). The DS Soyuz still looks like it’s in good condition— but it’s cast in a “lavender” colored DS plastic. I wonder if this is the same chemical make up as the Armored vehicle DS material? If looks the same, but seems to be holding up better. I had a Ka-Mi 1st issue w/o floatation gear kit several years ago, and those DS tracks fell apart in the box, so I replaced them with Fruil tracks. So when I bought the second issue kit with floats, I just replaced them too. Glad I did, because I just took a look at the kit, and those tracks have apparently turned into flattened jelly in the bag. Apparently, Dragon has some wide inconsistency in their formulation of DS plastic.
VR, Russ
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 11:49 AM UTC
Russ,
Which Friul-tracks did you use for the Ka-Mi?
I need to replace some DS-tracks .....
/ Robin
brekinapez
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 01:17 PM UTC
I also went and checked mine. I have a Bf 109-E4B I was about to start for a campaign, and the wheel well inserts are made of DS. The zip-loc they were in had some orangey fluid in it, and when I opened it to remove the inserts, one broke in half. Checked a couple of armor kits and one was okay, but the other had sweat forming on part of one of the track runs. Haven't checked the others yet, but it looks like the money I saved buying these online and during DragononlineUSA's sales may be going to replacement tracks. Doesn't seem to be isolated to a certain year, as one kit was from 2009, and the other from 2015.



And I don't care what anyone thinks, but I blame Cookie Sewell for this as every Dragon review he did complained about Magic Tracks and how DS was the better solution. Apparently they listened to his loud mouth.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 02:18 PM UTC
Robin, I used tracks for the Type 97 from Fruil. Folks say they are not the correct size, but guess what-- the pattern looks almost exactly alike, and they fit the drivers almost exactly. They are a little long for the Ka-Mi right out of the box, but that's the beauty of link tracks, just leave out a few links! Might not be 100% accurate, but by darn they are pretty close. In a pinch, Tamiya tracks might also work. I have some of those on hand in my Tamiya Type 97 kit, and they look pretty close as well. The new Type 95 from Fine Scale might also work-- I haven't looked closely at them, but it makes sense.
VR, Russ
Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 02:58 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I also went and checked mine. I have a Bf 109-E4B I was about to start for a campaign, and the wheel well inserts are made of DS. The zip-loc they were in had some orangey fluid in it, and when I opened it to remove the inserts, one broke in half....



Aw crap. I just remembered I have a Cyberhobby Dragon 109-E3 in my stash too, so I went out and checked it after reading this post. It doesn't have the fluid, but like the post above, it's turned a sickly brown and is quite stiff, and developing cracks. The inserts are also misshapen, becoming quite flat. Not sure how I'll deal with this, but it won't be the first time I've scratchbuilt some wheel inserts for a 109. I have a Monogram Jeep and 37mm gun I was given as a birthday present in 1959, still in its original box. I built it, banged it up, rebuilt it, and put it back in the box years ago. The Vinyl wheels in that kit are as good today as they were in 1959-- over 59 years ago. Why can't manufacturers stop "experimenting" and stick with what they know will work?
VR, Russ

P.S., I'm not sure we can blame Cookie Sewell, since Dragon is including DS plastic in spacecraft, aircraft and vehicle kits. I think we can effectively blame Dragon, who uses it extensively in their toy and figure line, and has been doing so for some time. Cookie just likes tracks which are "one-peice" regardless of who makes them.
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 11:24 PM UTC
Thank you Russ!
/ Robin
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 02:34 AM UTC
Robin, the type 97s from Fruil are not quite as "fine" in profile as the original DS track, but they still look the part, the Dragon drivers have enough space between the teeth to accommodate the Fruil tracks. I don't know if Fruil makes tracks for the type 95 (or even if they are the same as the type 97), and I don't think anyone else makes tracks specifically for the Ka-Mi.
VR, Russ
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 05:02 AM UTC
To be honest I used to avoid the old dragon kits with the individual link tracks. I only have one, the Hummel and they scare me half to death! So I was one of those who originally welcomed the DS stuff. Then it turned out to be crap.
I'm a bit of a lazy modeler and I just lack the time and patience to deal with individual links. Takes me long enough to get a 1/35 tank finished as it is, they would add another 10 years! I've always of the school of thought that whatever detail advantages they give, is instantly lost when you weather and apply mud and dirt. I envy anyone who can build with them though.
Tamiya got it right with the links in there Somua though. Ready to go and just push fit together. If Dragon did that I would be happy.

The only kits I have with DS tracks are Shermans. A MkIII, El Alamein MkII and an M4A4. Anyone know if the Tasca tracks will fit them if I have to replace?
brekinapez
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 05:12 AM UTC
The Magic Tracks actually aren't that bad; they are usually all cleaned up and ready to go, as opposed to the ones where you have to remove every track from the sprue and clean them yourself.

I built both runs for an SdKfz 251 in less than three hours, and the way they were constructed I was able to keep them flexible as well.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 06:30 AM UTC
And as far as “Magic Tracks” or any other “Link” or “Link and Length” tracks go, the key is to build a simple jig out of scrap wood, with one flat side and one upright side (to form an “L”). This makes gluing runs of track together in sections a snap. I much prefer Link and Length tracks or individual links over “rubber band” types “except” in US live action tracked vehicles where there is no sag— like Sherman’s and the Patton series. Interestingly, The best “rubber band” style I’ve seen in recent years is the Academy 1/35 M4A1 “Calliope” Sherman— it comes with nicely molded duckbills! Puts the Dragon DS tracks to shame. Again, why can’t Dragon do better?
VR, Russ
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 07:15 AM UTC
Thanks for the tip. I reckon if I could get that Hummel done successfully I reckon I would get over my fear of them. It's getting the links around the drive and idler wheels I've never been able to figure out. How do you do it without sticking them to the wheel? And painting them? I like to paint wheels and tracks separately before final assembly and it doesn't come across as being that easy with link tracks.

Always liked Tamiyas vinyl tracks, never had any trouble. Italeri on the other hand, what are they using? Always stiff and difficult to work with. I'm really looking forward to building their M107 I just pulled out the stash.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 08:17 AM UTC
Stephen,
I usually use just enough liquid cement to make the tracks semi-bendable, let them dry a bit, then bend them around an idler or a driver to get the shape required. This is a bit counterintuitive, and sometimes requires gluing the idler and driver together as a first step, then bending the tracks around them as a second step before any other construction begins, especially if there are clearance problems with
fenders and side skirts. I also work in sections, rather than gluing all the tracks together at once. Especially if there is a “sag” involved. As for the M107, Tamiya just released its version of the Italeri kit. I had a chance to look at it at my LHS a while back— it has several upgraded parts and some nice soft Tamiya tracks— which are a great improvement on the original stiff Italeri tracks. When I run into stiff tracks like Italeri’s, I like to pull out my folding hand travel hair dryer (a compact version, so it’s easier to use on models) and heat ‘em up!!— a little heat goes a long way but you do need to be careful you don’t heat them too much.
VR, Russ
brekinapez
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 08:28 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I only have one, the Hummel and they scare me half to death!



It's not kit #6100, is it? That was the first Hummel they made and it had some serious issues. The clearance between the track and fenders is too tight for one, making this one more difficult than the later boxings.
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 08:31 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

I only have one, the Hummel and they scare me half to death!



It's not kit #6100, is it? That was the first Hummel they made and it had some serious issues. The clearance between the track and fenders is too tight for one, making this one more difficult than the later boxings.



Not sure on the number, I'll have to check.
But thanks for the tip I'll keep it in mind.
U-mark
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 08:45 AM UTC
I have a Dragon Panther G I bought five years ago and just checked the tracks. I hate to admit it but they are still in great shape. The guide horns are molded with open centers and are still very pliable. I don't know, maybe I got lucky. Meng uses a similar material for the anti-radiation shielding on their T-90. It does feel different than DS. Hopefully Meng got it right.
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 09:43 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Stephen,
I usually use just enough liquid cement to make the tracks semi-bendable, let them dry a bit, then bend them around an idler or a driver to get the shape required. This is a bit counterintuitive, and sometimes requires gluing the idler and driver together as a first step, then bending the tracks around them as a second step before any other construction begins, especially if there are clearance problems with
fenders and side skirts. I also work in sections, rather than gluing all the tracks together at once. Especially if there is a “sag” involved. As for the M107, Tamiya just released its version of the Italeri kit. I had a chance to look at it at my LHS a while back— it has several upgraded parts and some nice soft Tamiya tracks— which are a great improvement on the original stiff Italeri tracks. When I run into stiff tracks like Italeri’s, I like to pull out my folding hand travel hair dryer (a compact version, so it’s easier to use on models) and heat ‘em up!!— a little heat goes a long way but you do need to be careful you don’t heat them too much.
VR, Russ



Thanks I'll give it a go and see how it goes. Got a few things to clear from the desk before I tackle the Hummel.
I have seen the Tamiya reissue and it does look good. I picked up the Italeri one a few years back just for the option of building it in the Royal Artilery markings provided.
Sorry to hear about othera issues with the DS. Hopefully we can all sort it out through other methods.
Why mold wheel well inserts from the stuff?
brekinapez
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 12:41 PM UTC
I just went through all my panzer kits (will look at my half-tracks later on), and out of 64 kits only 18 have DS tracks, with only 2-3 showing the start of discoloration but no trace of liquid oozing, and they still seem flexible. I have a few with flattened horns but they are small enough to hide in the idlers and drive wheels. I put stickers on each box labeled as to the tracks inside, so I know which ones to periodically check.

I have one kit with the Neo tracks; that didn't seem to last very long as I don't see any of the new kits mentioning it. Also guess I was fortunate that all the others are Magic Tracks or clean-it-yourself links.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 04:30 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Why mold wheel well inserts from the stuff?



Stephen, the Bf 109 E and earlier series had a canvass ring around the inside of the wheel wells to prevent dirt and dust getting into the airframe. It lined the inner rim of the well, acting as a flexible “seal”, and had a zipper it. I’m assuming Dragon chose to replicate this with the DS material because it made it look more “realistic”. But why would they also make the entire Soyuz capsule out of DS plastic when they could just as easily have done it in styrene or resin? I think they were trying to sell it as a “gimmick”, making the kit more complicated than it needed to be (their Bf-109 is the nicest one on the market though).
VR, Russ
brekinapez
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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 05:14 PM UTC
I get what they were trying to accomplish, but it could have as easily been done in regular plastic IMO. What I don't get is when they made the rear storage boxes on the rear of a Panther. Plastic would have been better, as you could apply battle damage to it; the DS doesn't allow that very well. How do you keep a dent in flexible vinyl when it just springs back to its original shape? I hate having to fold PE boxes but even that would have been better. I mean, the kit already had a bunch of PE in it so why not a bit more?