• Brian

A Trio of Flak 88's! Thoughts and Tips....

I wanted a trio of Flak 88’s and I got ‘em!

The largest is made by Piececool. The middle sized is the Metal Earth version, and the smallest is by Nanyuan.

Regarding the Piececool version, I should have known that this would be no walk in the park at 449 pieces, but I think that this was the most difficult model that I’ve ever built. I would guess that it took me only about 20-25 hours, which isn't a lot compared to other more complex and difficult models, but it was grueling.

There were lots of delicate parts, but also lots of moving parts. The turret rotates. The barrel moves up and down. The barrel moves back within a slot, mimicking the action of recoil when firing. The barrel hook opens and lowers. The support legs on the sides fold up. The trailer hitch moves up and down. The wheels spin. The tires are rubber. There are multiple screws and bolts involved. It can be assembled in “combat” mode, meaning that the wheel components are removed from the main gun portion, but you have to pick one or the other (right now it’s in transportation mode).

I really think that sometimes moving parts are not a great idea on these models. This certainly made the build more difficult. With moving parts (generally speaking) you have weaker joints holding them together, and this means that the likelihood of bumping something out of wack during assembly is higher. It’s not like anyone would actually “play” with these models. So I think that in general, I’d rather not have moving parts in the interest of adding more solidity.

Overall, this model was tough. Considering the difficulty, it was not proportionately rewarding at the end. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a great model, I’m very proud of it, and it was overall rewarding. But I’m not getting the same feeling of satisfaction that I have from other difficult builds. Right now I’m feeling more like “Phew! I actually pulled it off…now to put this in my display and never touch it again for fear of something breaking!"

I'd rate the Piececool model on a scale of 1-10 with the following categories....

  • Time involved vs reward - 7

  • Tedium vs reward - 5

  • Quality of metal - 7

  • Quality of instructions - 6

  • Final Appearance - 10

  • Overall feeling of satisfaction at the end - 6

The Metal Earth model was a fun build, and is my favorite of the three.

This model has was kind of perfect. The instructions were clear. The complexity presented a good challenge, but is was not too tedious. I would estimate that it took me about 8-10 hours. The metal was of good quality. I felt that If I needed to repeat a bend or fix a mistake, there would be little risk of breakage through repetitive bends.

I'd rate the Metal Earth model a such...

  • Time involved vs reward - 8

  • Tedium vs reward - 8

  • Quality of metal - 9

  • Quality of instructions - 9

  • Final Appearance - 9

  • Overall feeling of satisfaction at the end - 9

The smallest is by Nanyuan. Truth be told, this one was rather awful all the way around. Not well engineered, terrible instructions, and steel that won’t stand up to more than 3-4 bends before breaking if you make a mistake or needed to retrace steps. There was one spot where I had to use cyanoacrylate due to a break, and this was the first time that I’ve ever had to do this, so yeah….

But my biggest issue with the Nanyaun model - have a look at how many very very small diameter and very long length cylinders need to be made! There’s 8 of them (and 2 are tapered). With the Piececool and Metal Earth versions, they give you pre-made and turned steel barrels/cylinders. No need to form a super long and super small diameter cylinder with tools. The Nanyuan version had me creating lots of very long cylinders (some tapered), and they don’t have any scoring done by the laser to ease the forming of these curves. It took a lot of force and some specialty tools to get them to happen, and they still aren’t perfect. The most narrow of the long cylinders is the sighting scope, and it was literally 1.5mm on the inner diameter and 55mm long! That’s kind of insane!

The Nanyaun model was a fast build (I did it in one evening), but those barrels and long cylinders were not fun, and there were plenty of spots where the instructions were very difficult to follow and at some places simply wrong. The final product is not that impressive considering the effort. I don’t recommend this model overall, but I am glad that it completes the trio!

I'd rate the Nanyuan model a such...

  • Time involved vs reward - 6

  • Tedium vs reward - 2

  • Quality of metal - 4

  • Quality of instructions - 3

  • Final Appearance - 6

  • Overall feeling of satisfaction at the end - 4

If you are thinking about building one of these models, I’d recommend the Metal Earth version the most. The Piececool version is obviously the most impressive and it’s pretty amazing, but get ready for a challenge as it is taxing. It also has so many moving parts that it’s a pain to build and keep everything solid. I feel that I’m a very experienced builder and I found myself lucky to pull off the Piececool model. It was a very tough build. I enjoyed building it, but the pain vs satisfaction ratio was in favor of the pain. I recommend simply avoiding the Nanyuan model unless you simply want to complete an artillery collection like I did.

Building Tips...

The biggest piece of advise that I have regarding the Piececool model is to be very careful handling during assembly. All the moving parts means that they are not always secure and solid, so they are easily bumped out of position. There are many points like this but in particular, be sure to get the wheel wells very secure and then try your best to not bump them during the rest of the build. Once you pass a certain step, you will no longer have access if you need to tighten up the tabs attaching the wheel wells, so they could end up sagging.

On the Piececool and Metal Earth models, the barrels are held in place with a tight-fitting silicone tube attached to a small post on the back end. So you put the barrel into a housing, and then slide on the silicone tube to hold it in place. Then this silicone tube is enclosed as you build the model, meaning that you no longer have access to the silicone tube to adjust it. I highly recommend adding a dab of cyanoacrylate to the interior of the silicone tube once you have the barrel tight and before it’s enclosed, since you will no longer have access to this portion of the model as you keep building. If you don’t do this, then as you build and slightly bump the barrel, it will become loose and you have no way of fixing this without disassembling.

On the Piececool model, the tires are rubber. They are a very tight fit. Getting them to slide on is done best by soaking them in hot water first. I found normal hot water from my tap to be adequate, so no need to get super-hot or approach boiling for risk of damaging the tires.

There are 2 parts that came with the Piececool model, and I felt really silly as I had no idea what these were before I finished it! See the photo below...

...these are actually wrenches for the nuts and bolts! I had no idea what these were for until I finished the model! Some areas of the model won't allow access with these tools, but every other location would be been very handy if i had used them!

Thanks for reading! If you've built any of these models or would like to, please share your thoughts.

Brian at 3D Metal Tools