by: James Bella [ ]
The Small Shop is well known for their Hold and Fold photoetch workstations, but their catalog includes other specialty tools for the modeler such as the one reviewed here. The Wrangler is designed to assist in the fabrication of grab handles, D-rings, loops and springs.
The Wrangler arrives in a sturdy cardboard box further packed in a zip lock style bag. The tool comes fully assembled and includes a single sided sheet of instructions, text only, outlining the basic use of the tool. The instruction sheet also includes The Small Shop’s contact information and credit to the designer of the tool, John Geigle Masterpiece Models.
Using the tool is pretty much self-explanatory, though an important part of the instructions state not to use hard wire. Use only soft to semi-hard copper or brass wire and this tool should perform well for a very long time.
Including the base, the Wrangler provides 18 pre-set sizes of grab handles ranging from approximately 2.5mm to 24mm. Simply insert some wire between the jaws at the desired size, snug down the knob, bend the legs and trim the ends to the appropriate length. Using the original kit part as a guide makes it easy to find the proper ‘step’ to use on the Wrangler, and the length of the legs.
The 12 smaller sizes can be slid off the top, but due to an alignment pin the lower ones will need to be turned vertically to remove. This alignment pin is positioned between two of the steps, with just enough room to still be able to use each of the sizes.
Loops, Springs and D Rings:
17 circular/semi-circular sizes are provided for. To form these shapes, insert one end of your wire stock between the jaws and tighten the knob to hold it in place. For loops and springs, wrap the wire around a smaller diameter than needed as the wire will have a bit of ‘spring back’, and cut where needed. A little different approach is needed to form D rings, as the tool needs to be split to finish forming the ‘D’.
All these shapes are easier done than said, and only take a few seconds to accomplish. Fabricating multiple pieces of the same, or different, sizes is a simple process which yields great results. For the armor builder, the grab handle function will most likely be used more often, as I find the smallest diameter of the tool to still be too large for forming rings and springs. In my case, doing away with styrene grab handles and not having to form ten handles to get two the proper size makes this tool worth owning. Of course, this tool is designed for all modelers, and each genre will find their own preferences and uses.
On a side note, I use copper stranded electrical wire, which is nowhere near straight when I unravel the separate wires. I use the Wrangler to ‘draw’ the wire through by snugging the knob to obtain just a bit of tension and pulling through with pliers, as shown in the photos. This works for me, although it’s probably not recommended by the manufacturer, and I can see Sam and Julie of The Small Shop cringing already!