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pawl #3754

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PAWL'S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHEAP WARHAMMER
POORHAMMER FOR EVERYONE!


Come one, come all! Step right up and see how you can save money on Warhammer!

It's no secret that the wargaming hobby can be expensive (if you're new to the hobby even moreso!) as there are a huge number of products and companies vying for your attention before you even think about buying miniatures. If you look around online you'll find lots of guides and videos telling you which products are the best, which are the worst and which you simply cannot live without - this guide however exists to get you exactly what you want and need for as little of your hard-earned money as possible, and without sacrificing quality. After all, remortgaging your house or taking out a loan is a little drastic for toy soldiers!


As always, if I've missed something, made a mistake, there's something you'd like to see or you have any other comments, please let me know in the replies.
And if you liked it, writing this guide has already seen me go through three packets of biscuits - maybe help replenish my stock? 🍪

For clarity, or those unaware, this guide will make reference to the Citadel line of products. Citadel miniatures, paints and tools are those sold by Games Workshop - your Intercessors, Abaddon Black and Mouldline Remover (more on this later!) are all made by Citadel.

INDEX
The "hobby tax"
Stop buying everything
Don't buy direct Models Tools Painting supplies
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Element Games - Wargaming Webstore
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pawl #3755

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THE "HOBBY TAX"
If you take two identical items of clothing, to one attach a supermarket brand label and to the other attach a premium fashion brand label, you will find that those two (identical) items of clothing will sell for very different prices. The same principle can be very true of our hobby, too.
(this example is oversimplified of course, but it serves our purpose)

Within the artistic world, and indeed even within the modelling world, the Warhammer community is rather niche and insulated. We are often not exposed to art or modelling forms outside of our own and this means that many of us are simply not aware of the products or practises used by others, which gives some companies an opportunity to market items that are overpriced or not truly fit for purpose. There are many hobbyists (particularly those who are still new) that don't even realise they don't have to rely on Games Workshop for all of their supplies!

The 'hobby tax' is simply paying more for things because you're buying them with a "for hobby modellers" sticker and you don't know to look elsewhere. This guide exists to help you avoid the hobby tax wherever possible!

Please note that I don't intend to give the impression that all 'hobby' products are bad. Many are very good, and some also very reasonably priced, however there are often alternatives that are better, cheaper or both.
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pawl #3756

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STOP BUYING EVERYTHING!
Well, maybe not everything…

This section is mostly just a reminder that for the most part you don't need to own everything now. With the exception of limited edition models, limited edition boxed sets and made-to-order releases there is almost nothing you can buy today that you won't be able to buy in a month, six months or longer. What this means is that just because something is new, shiny or looks cool you don't have to buy it - it's not going anywhere.

If you ask any veteran modeller there is a very high chance that they will tell you about their 'pile of shame' - the mound of boxes they never got round to opening and the hordes of grey miniatures they never got round to painting. It's very easy in this hobby to end up with a huge number of incomplete figures or never-used paints, and the easiest way to prevent this is to be a little more selective with your purchases. Some like to stick to having one box 'in progress', and one box 'in waiting' - until they've completely finished their 'in progress' box they won't buy anything new.

There are of course benefits to bulk-buying, like saving on postage fees or getting "spend X amount to get X off" deals, but you should try your best not to buy everything you see for no reason other than "because you can".
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pawl #3757

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DON'T BUY DIRECT
So we've already established that you don't need to buy everything, but you've decided that you do in fact need to buy something, but where do you go? If your answer is "the Warhammer shop" then I'm afraid you are wrong. With almost no exceptions you should never buy your models or supplies direct from Games Workshop, as you're simply throwing money away - read below to see where you should be looking, and when it's okay to give your money to the big GW.


FRIENDLY LOCAL GAME STORE #
Most people will be able to find a friendly local game store - or FLGS - nearby. This will be somewhere that sells Citadel products at a reduced price alongside useful products from other companies and for other games. A quick online search should be able to highlight what's in your area, and a local gaming store should be first on your list for a number of reasons.

Firstly, you're going to save money. Independent retailers can sell Citadel products below the price that Games Workshop themselves charge - their discount on GW RRP is normally 10-25%, but you will sometimes find even bigger savings!
To put that into context, Combat Patrol: Space Marines sells for £85 direct from Games Workshop. With 25% off you could save £21.25 - enough to also buy an Invader ATV (also at 25% off) with money to spare! Or you could be responsible and save the savings. 😉

Many game stores also have a reward scheme of some form, whereby you can collect points for your purchases that entitle you to money off in the future. 1% might not sound like much, but it can quickly add up!

You're also getting the opportunity to see other products. Interested in trying paint by Vallejo or Scale75, or perhaps buying tools that don't cost the earth? You'll likely find them next to the boxes of Intercessors! If you ask nicely they might even let you try out the paints or give you advice on what to look for.

Lastly, these are a good way to meet other people. This might not be a sociable hobby for everyone, but gaming stores are fantastic places to meet other people passionate about the same things as you. You might be able to find a gaming group, gain inspiration and knowledge from other painters, or just lose some time debating which colour of power armour is best! (spoiler: the answer is purple)


ONLINE STORES #
For those that don't have an FLGS, can't get to an FLGS or have other reasons for not visiting an FLGS, don't worry! A good number of them have websites and sell their products online, with the same discounts and reward schemes they offer in-store. You will have to pay a small postage fee on little orders, but this is almost always offset by the savings you're making. For those in the UK my personal favourite is Element Games, and I have the receipts to show for it! If you look below my posts you'll also find a checkout code that will double your reward points.

If you don't know who to look for in your country you can search for 'Warhammer retailer' plus your country code, or simply ask in the forums if you're still not sure.


EBAY #
eBay can be a questionable place to buy things from and many people are skeptical of it, but so long as you're careful you can use it to buy your hobby supplies at a good price.

Some people will use it to buy already-assembled models if they're not a fan of the building process. This isn't for me, but it works for plenty of others. Just make sure you check the photos for signs of poorly-built models, and be aware you'll probably have some mouldline cleanup to do when they arrive.
Others like to use eBay to pick up single sprues or entire boxes for below retail value. As always with eBay just know your price limit, and don't get caught in a silly bidding war!

There are also plenty of sellers on eBay that will get to shift models/boxes at outrageous prices - sometimes because they're old, rare and out-of-production (OOP), sometimes just in the hope that somebody is silly enough to buy them at inflated prices. Be careful to avoid these people!


OTHER ONLINE MARKETPLACES #
This section refers to the likes of Facebook buying/selling/trading groups, the Facebook Marketplace, hobby Subreddits, message boards, dedicated websites (like trolltrader in the UK) etc.
There are numerous markets to be found in all your favourite formats - just search around and find one that you like the look of. Before you get stuck, however you should look for signs of active management to ensure that trades are being completed by both parties, as you don't have the guarantees you get through a market like eBay when payment is exchanged for posted items. Don't purchase anything until you're sure that the group and seller are both legitimate, and never pay with anything but PayPal (in the event that something goes wrong you're more likely to get your money back with PayPal than a bank transfer or other payment service) or via a reputable escrow service.

Update: it would seem that TrollTrader in particular no longer offers the value that it used to. Always keep an eye on your prices!


WHEN TO BUY FROM GAMES WORKSHOP #
Despite the options above there are times when you simply have no choice but to buy directly from Games Workshop, but fortunately these times are few.

GW will occasionally have special boxed sets that are only available direct (if you're buying these make sure to do your research, as there's not always a saving compared to buying the individual kits!). It's always worth checking with your FLGS of choice first, but often these will only be available from GW for a limited time.
Limited edition models and books are another example - they will sometimes make their way to independent retailers, but are often direct-only.
Lastly made-to-order (or MTO) production runs are usually only available directly from GW for a limited time before they're gone forever.

Outside of these direct-only circumstances however, you now know where you should be looking!
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pawl #3758

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MODELS
We've already talked about where you should buy your models from and how you shouldn't always buy everything all at once, but this section offers a chance to talk about buying your models cleverly.


ARMY BOXES #
As I mentioned in section 3 there are potentially savings to be made in bigger boxes. Let's take the Combat Patrol: Dark Angels as an example as if we were looking to start a new army, and to avoid confusion we will use GW's retail prices.

The Combat Patrol box retails for £85, but contains the following:
Primaris Chaplain - £22.50
Primaris Inceptors - £30
Redemptor Dreadnought - £40
Primaris Intercessors x5 - these are £35 for 10, so let's call it £17.50
Dark Angels Primaris upgrade sprue x2 - £9 each, so £18
Dark Angels transfer sheet - unavailable separately

All told this means our £85 box contains £110.50 in boxed sets, plus 5 Intercessors worth about £17.50, plus transfers you can't buy on their own. This means that our savings compared to buying separately are £25.50 plus an estimated £17.50
I've found the box online at a 20% discount for £67.59 to give another £17.41, bringing our total to £42.91 + ~£17.50 + transfers - crazy savings!

Another example would be the older Start Collecting! Seraphon box, which retails at £55. This box contains, amongst other things, a Saurus Oldblood on Carnosaur, which alone retails for £50! I don't think I need to give you a further breakdown than that!

Of course buying a bundle of 4 or 5 kits all at once kind of breaks the "don't buy it all at once" rule, but if they are all kits that you were going to buy anyway then maybe it's worth it. Rules are there to be broken, right?

So when you're looking at these kinds of deals, be they permanent fixtures like the Combat Patrol boxes, or limited-time deals like the Christmas Battleforces, you have to answer a couple of questions.
Firstly: do I need all these models? If the answer is 'no' then maybe you should reconsider. If you're only looking for a Redemptor Dreadnought then you don't need a complete Combat Patrol box.
Secondly: am I saving money? Sometimes you'll find deals that don't actually offer a saving compared to buying boxes separately - they're there simply to make 1-click buying possible, or to capitalise on people who don't do their research. Run the numbers first, and check to see if your retailer of choice can make it cheaper!
Lastly: do I actually need to buy it? If you're buying something purely because it's currently cheaper than usual, rather than because it's something you were looking to buy before it dropped in price, then you might find you're just getting caught up in the sales. Be honest with yourself and figure out if you actually need to open your wallet.


SPLITTING BOXES #
Boxes like Indomitus, Prophecy of the Wolf or Dominion can be a fantastic way to save money if you split them with a friend who wants the bits you don't. No friends? Find some at an FLGS. You simply need to take the cost of the box - discounted against buying separately as explained above, and then discounted again by your retailer of choice! - and cut it in half. Adjust slightly for books/scenery/etc as necessary. Now you both have new models at bargain prices!
The same can also be applied to things like Combat Patrol boxes - if you and a friend (or friends) all want different parts of the box then you can collectively save money by all chipping in.


BUYING WHOLE ARMIES #
Like playing games, but don't like building or painting? This might be the solution for you! The pros to buying a whole army in one are that it can net you a huge saving against RRP, and you don't have to take the time and effort to clean, assemble and paint it. The cons are that you don't get any choice on things like the whole army composition, the paint/basing scheme or quality, build quality etc.
Where might you find such an army? You might have a new FLGS friend who's looking to sell theirs, or you might find one at a reasonable price on eBay or the various other marketplaces. Always keep an eye and an ear open if this is something you would be interested in!


TRADING PARTS, BOXES AND MODELS #
Remember those new FLGS friends we keep talking about? They might not be looking to sell their army, but they might be willing to trade Pokémon cards models with you! If they're in need of the Land Raider you never got round to opening because you didn't listen and bought all the things, and you want all their Ork bikers from that scrapped Speed Freakz project, why not trade? I'm sure you know how this works! 😉
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pawl #3760

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TOOLS
Here's where things get really interesting, because we get to break the mould a little bit and cast our gaze far and wide. The tools that we use in this hobby are varied, so rather than simply saying "visit an X store" we're instead going to be looking at them on an individual basis.

Generally speaking though, modelling tools are a fantastic way for companies to make money through the hobby tax we discussed before, particularly for those new to the hobby. So, let's start saving money on…


GLUE #
There are three kinds of glue you're going to come across when working with Warhammer models:

POLYSTYRENE CEMENT ('PLASTIC GLUE')
The first is polystyrene cement or 'plastic glue', for which I'm going to recommend you read my topic here: The best plastic glue for Warhammer models
Poly cement is the only kind of glue you should be using to stick plastic components to other plastic components. Read the guide above and you'll see which particular brand to use, and why anybody that tells you otherwise is a liar! 😉

SUPER GLUE
The second is super glue. Super glue (cyanoacrylate, to give it its proper name, also known as CA glue) gets sold under many different labels that incur a price-rise (including as 'nail glue' for fake nails), but for the most part it's all the same stuff.

Some people like a more gel consistency, though this often has problems with drying inside the tube or applicator tip. To prevent this many hobbyists like to buy very small tubes so that they can ensure they finish it during their project build before it has time to dry up. If they don't quite finish it then the tubes are small enough that only a tiny bit is wasted.

Others prefer a thinner consistency that they can brush on, as it's easier to control and you're less likely to get excess glue spilling everywhere when you press pieces together. The key here is to find a brand with a precise brush, rather than one that's all splayed out.

When it comes to super glue you're looking for a combination of size or applicator plus price. Brands don't really matter as the chemicals are all pretty much the same. Just find what you like (searching online can help here) and stick with it, if you'll pardon the pun!

BASING GLUE (PVA)
Basing glues (usually PVA, though not always) are our third hobby tax opportunity here.

There are actually many kinds of PVA glue for different tasks, some with varying strengths, but all you really need to look for is 'strong' or 'industrial strength' PVA - cheaper brands are often very watery and weak, and hobby brands are often very expensive! If you're able to save money in the long run by buying a larger quantity for a lower price/volume then you can also take this opportunity.

Some people prefer polyurethane glues for their basing, but if I'm being completely honest this isn't an area that I'm particularly familiar with. If you are and want to help out with the guide, feel free to let me know in a reply! 🙂


KNIVES AND BLADES #
Our requirements for hobby blades (and the handles that hold them) are quite simple: we need them to be sharp, we need them to be precise, and because of the guide you’re reading we need them to be affordable. High quality but cheap, in short.

If you wish you can look at the various offerings from the likes of The Army Painter, X-Acto and plenty of other brands (notably, Citadel don’t currently seem to trust people with sharp objects!), or you can save yourself a little money.
There’s another type of person who needs a knife that is reliably sharp, precise and inexpensive: surgeons. It might sound crazy, but surgical handles and blades are readily available and surprisingly cheap. A Swann Morton #3 handle (my preferred choice) will cost you £3-4 on eBay or Amazon, and a pack of 100 #11 blades (again, these are my go-to) will cost you less than £15 - the more you buy at a time the cheaper each individual blade becomes, but even in smaller amounts you can stay around the 15p/blade mark.

Surgical tools are everything we need: very high quality and very low cost. They’re also flat-handled, so the odds of it rolling off the table and stabbing you in the foot are very low! 😉 It’s worth noting however that they do not come with a blade protector - I either remove my blade or keep it in its own compartment in a box when I pack my things away.


CLIPPERS/SNIPPERS #
Whether you call them clippers, snippers or sprue cutters these are something that's actually worth saving up to spend money on.

To begin with, using a hobby-brand set of almost any variety is fine, so long as you keep your cuts a very short distance from the model part itself and clean up with a blade afterwards. Most brands (like Citadel and The Army Painter) will sell you a set that aren't awful, but aren't great, at a price that won't make your eyes water too much. By the time these clippers start to lose their edge, however, you want to look at upgrading to something of higher quality.

Tamiya's 74123 Sharp Pointed Side Cutter and the DSPIAE ST-A Single Blade Nipper both come very highly rated, but at a cost of £40-50. This might seem like an insanely expensive investment, but the incredible quality of cut provided and near-infinite lifespan (when used properly - don't use these to cut up thick sprues!) make it a worthwhile one.


FILES & SANDPAPER #
For the most part hobby files are a rip-off. The Citadel file set comes with two cheap files and retails for £13. The Army Painter file set comes with 3 medium-quality files and costs approximately £6.75 (after EURO - GPB conversion, at the time of writing). A six-piece set of needle files from B&Q (UK hardware store) costs £7.33
All of these sets have the same problems, in that they are difficult to get into tight spaces and you are limited in how smooth or coarse a finish they will produce.

What would I recommend as a replacement? Probably nothing! When working with plastic (and on a small scale, resin) there are very few jobs that can't be done with a blade and maybe a little extra thin cement to smooth over any imperfections. If you're desperate to have a replacement tool, however, just buy high-grit (1200+) sandpaper - it's cheap, it lasts ages and you can easily fold it into tight details. Want to spend more money? Flex-i-files are sandpaper glued to foam and cost about £3 each. My advice is to stick to the knife and extra-thin cement!


CUTTING MATS #
Remarkably this is an area where hobby brands don't seem to charge the earth! The Army Painter's cutting mat (~£7.50, 220x300mm / 8.7x11.8") is about the same price you'll find generic self-healing mats for on Amazon, eBay or elsewhere.
My advice here is to buy by size, rather than brand. I prefer a slightly larger mat (A3, which is 297x420mm / 11.7x16.5") which was around the same price, while A4 mats (approximately the same size as offered by The Army Painter) can cost £5-10.


GREEN STUFF/MODELLING PUTTY #
Green Stuff (or Kneadatite, to give its proper name) is a two-part epoxy modelling putty used in conversions for sculpting, amongst other things, and for many is the go-to substance for hobby uses. Prices vary from supplier to supplier but are never particularly cheap, and many will try to hide the cost by giving you a price based on the distance of the unmixed strip, rather than total weight. If you really want to use it try to find a brand that packages the green and blue sections individually - when supplied as a connected strip the middle section where blue and yellow meet has to be cut away, as the putty will have started to react before you've even opened it.

An alternative to Kneadatite is Milliput, which is another two-part epoxy substance you can use for sculpting. The Standard yellow-grey and Superfine white varieties are both inexpensive (generally and compared to Kneadatite) and can be used for our needs. They dry harder than Kneadatite does (hard enough to sand it!), the superfine can be used for incredibly delicate detail work, and if you mix it with isopropyl alcohol (which you'll have to hand if you've read my guide on stripping miniatures) then you can create a 'paste' that's fantastic for filling small gaps left during construction.


PAINTING HANDLES #
Again this is an area where Citadel in particular actually don't overcharge you! Their standard handles are £7, which is in line with or less than most of their competitors.
My personal favourite for a painting handle that fits models of all base sizes (or cork, for those who like to paint off-base) is Garfy's Get A Grip.


MOULDLINE REMOVER #
Okay, here's where I anger half the readers - the Citadel Mouldline Remover is a waste of £11!
The Citadel mouldline remover is a scraping tool that's too chunky to fit into the small gaps you're likely to find on many models. Other tools that can do the job just as well or better include:
The sharp side of a blade.
Sandpaper.
The other side of a blade.
The other end of a blade.
An offcut of sprue (probably)
Your teeth (probably not)


PAINT STRIPPER #
When it comes to stripping models you'll find suggestions for products that include kitchen degreasing agents and cleaning sprays, brake fluid, ultrasonic baths and various cleaners designed for hobbyists.
Some of these will work, some probably rather well. Some of these are expensive, and some are simply dangerous.
My advice would be to read my simple guide to stripping plastic & metal. The chemicals it recommends are cheap, effective and reusable.
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pawl #3761

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PAINTING SUPPLIES

SPRAY CANS #
Do you know what the difference is between these spray cans? To help you out I’ve added some labels…
Image
The answer: other than the price, not that much!
For the most part spray paint is just spray paint, the branding determines the price. Some brands (particularly art brands) make a point of offering different nozzles, but you can buy these on their own and fit them to any kind of spray can.

Citadel rattle cans will cost you £11 for a 400ml can, which is £27.50/litre
You can find Molotow Belton premium art spray paint online at £4.50 for a 400ml can, or £11.25/litre
A search for "cheap spray paint" also turned up Plastikote at £5.79/400ml, or £14.48/litre
Surprisingly the cheapest spray paint I could find (at less than half the cost of a Citadel can) was a premium art brand, but if you simply search around in budget stores you can still bag yourself a bargain.
General note: avoid gloss sprays, unless you're looking for one specifically.


PAINT BRUSHES #
Brushes can be a tricky one. Many people swear by brushes from Citadel, The Army Painter or similar, but they're actually really not the best for most of our needs. They have small bellies (which means they don't hold much paint) and they're usually synthetic or synthetic blends (which means that they have a fairly limited lifespan, even with care). Have a watch it this video to give you an alternative brush selection that suits our needs much better:

A Citadel brush doesn't really fit into this line. They're too small and expensive to be a workhorse, not high enough quality to be a good brush, and would make silly dry brushes!

So now we know what we need, where do we get it from?
Workhorse brushes: eBay, Amazon, art stores, craft stores, the supermarket if you're lucky. Buy a small number (say 5 or 10) to try a brand, and if you like it buy a pack of 50 to last you until the Christmas after next.
Good brushes: popular sable brush lines among hobbyists include the Winsor & Newton series 7, Rafael 8404, Artis Opus series S, Broken Toad and many more. If you're looking for a cheaper way into the world of sable brushes then you might consider the Rosemary & Co series 33.
Junk brushes: any of the above, once they've served their purpose. Or find one in the woods, your call.
Dry brushes: ask your wife/girlfriend/mum/sister/daughter/the person in the makeup shop (delete as appropriate) for cheap makeup brush advice.


WET PALETTES #
The easiest way to save money here is to avoid buying a hobby- or art-branded palette and make your own. All you need is a container (Tupperware or similar), sponge or paper towel, and greaseproof/baking paper.
There are plenty of videos about wet palettes but here is my favourite, whether you've bought one or you're making one:



PAINT #
Even when we're just talking about acrylics (which is what most of us use for all/nearly all of our work) there are about a billion paint brands out there, give or take. Some companies market to hobby modellers, like Citadel, Vallejo, Scale75, Coat d'Arms etc. Some are more 'traditional artist' brands, which includes the likes of Golden, Daler Rowney and pretty much any heavy-body acrylics.
In short, you can use whatever brand of acrylic paint you want. When properly thinned they can all be brushed on (though heavy-body acrylics are usually used for highlighting with thicker paint), and acrylic inks like those under the FW and Daler Rowney labels are becoming increasingly popular for many uses.

So my advice here is:
For 'modelling' brands use the same FLGS in-store/online options that we discussed before. Citadel paints are notorious for being expensive compared to brands like Vallejo, but they're not so bad when you're getting a discount. Vallejo paints were cheaper to begin with, and get cheaper again with a discount!
For people brand new to the hobby the Vallejo Game Colour paint set (72.299) makes a good entry point and offers further savings.
For 'artist' brands you're going to have to shop around. My experience in the UK is that most art or craft stores sell a limited range at a higher price point, but if you look online for discounted art supplies you can find a better range at lower prices. From what I've heard in the US there are chains of art stores that carry much more than I've found locally and regularly offer big discounts. A little research is going to be your friend here!
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James #3765

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Lovely work 👍👍 very informative! Minus your hate on the wonderful gw mould line remover 🤪
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pawl #3776

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Updated:
Splitting boxes, buying whole armies, trading models/boxes/parts, stripping paint sections added. 🙂
Element Games - Wargaming Webstore