Friday, December 17, 2010


The picture's just there because I hate posting without a picture these days - what, just a big hunk of text??? That's what my other blog is for! (Verlinden 200mm bust, if you're curious.)

I just got home from a long day at work. I'm tired, and I had a splitting headache. But I just wanted to say this - I really love the smell of Bondo. In fact, I enjoy most of the smells associated with modeling. Not so much MEK or lacquer thinner, but the old Testors tube glue is pretty nice, and even better is the citrus scent of the non-toxic stuff (am I the only person who ever, however briefly, considering actually tasting the citrus-scented non-toxic glue?). And I have a few ancient Pactra enamels that I keep around, just so I can open them now and then and have a nice nostalgic sniff.

(Mind you, I'm not a tremendous fan of Bondo, I just like the way it smells. I find that I have trouble getting it to stick to plastic, and I only use it in cases where giant quantities of putty are required and a mass of Squadron white putty, my normal poison, would take about 38 years to dry. I bring this up because lately I'm converting an X-15A2 to an X-15A5, which involves adding a plug to the fuselage, which involves Bondo.)

And for those Nervous Nellies out there who are likely to accuse me of actually encouraging the deliberate concentration and inhalation of solvents, get over yourselves. Sometimes model glue is just model glue.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Getting Back To The Bench

I've been so busy lately I really haven't had a chance to build anything. About the only model-related thing I've done in the last week is spray some black paint on an Anigrand 1/72nd X-20 Dyna-Soar, but because I'd failed to clean the resin well enough, the paint promptly developed a bunch of nasty fish-eyes. Bad ones too - it looks like I rubbed the model with a slab of chicken fried steak. And who wants to see that mess? Certainly not I.

And meantime I've been busy getting ready for Christmas, and my wife's cousin was here visiting for a while... But in the words of the old guy in the Monty Python movie, "I'm not dead yet." So I decided to post an old photograph of the Monogram 1/48th "First Lunar Landing" while I go about the business of trying to remember what I was working on and where I put my super glue.

But first, I have to do something proactive about that X-20. I'm no psychic, but I foresee that I'll be getting the oven cleaner out of the cabinet in the near future.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Knights Who Say Ni

I'm sort of addicted to those soft polyethylene 1/72nd scale figures that Airfix, Revell, Italeri, Hat and other offer. I buy a lot of them and I have big plans for them, but I rarely seem to do anything with them (I have enough Romans to put an entire cohort in the field at 1:1 scale, it seems, but unanswered is the question of why I'd ever want to).

This was an idea I had while watching The Return of the King, namely, "Wouldn't it be cool to make a small diorama with a whole bunch of knights or heavy cavalry charging at the viewer?" So this is the result - a boxful of Italeri Teutonic Knights charging across a snowy field, presumably toward thin ice on a Russian river.

I left the horses on their bases and sort of submerged the bases in a layer of drywall compound, then later sifted baking soda over the whole works and tacked it down with Dullcote.

I'm glad I got that out of my system.

But - oh no - I have the Italeri "Medieval Tournament" set, and now THAT is calling to me!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Salvador Dali's Tank

Salvador Dali was famous for, among other things, painting melted clocks, as in The Persistence of Memory. But it turns out I may have discovered evidence that he dabbled in 1/76th scale armor models too. To wit:

Oh, I can't blame this on Salvador; I did it all myself. This is the ancient Matchbox 1/76th scale Char B1, a French heavy tank from the early days of World War Two. The kit is from the era when Matchbox used to mold their kits in various colors - I think this one was dark green and dark brown. But it isn't the kit or the model that interest me, it's the way the model warped and deformed. Somehow, by some process I never figured out, it ended up spending a few weeks in the back of my pickup truck when we were moving from one house to another. Because of slow contractors, a lack of framers and general bad luck, the new house wasn't ready so we had to live in a hotel room for a month or two, and the poor Char B1 sat in the back of the truck the whole time. Whenever anyone here says "Hot enough for ya?" I always think about my poor Char B. Merde! That's hot!

But curiously, here's it's stablemate, the FT-17. Same kit, same conditions, but a different fate entirely. Other than the tracks, this is actually a pretty nice kit, and obviously it's more heat-resistant than its bigger brother. RPM in Poland makes a much better 1/72nd scale FT-17, but the parts count is daunting; 200 parts, give or take, in a model that isn't even half the size of a White Castle hamburger.

The FT-17 looks pretty anachronistic these days, but it's really the first tank in the modern sense of the word, with a fully-rotating turret on a tracked hull. The bigger British "rhomboid" tanks were probably better suited for the conditions that prevailed in the cratered moonscapes of World War One, but the TOG 1 showed the limits of that approach.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Warriors Viking

Warriors 90mm Viking. Every now and then I get stuck or bored with a model I'm working on and when that happens, I often start a figure kit, because they're such a radically different experience from building a model they're refreshing. But that means I tend to end up with a lot of half-finished figures here and there, and this weekend I decided to finish three of them.

This is a nice figure. I generally prefer white metal to resin, and like most resin figures, I found some pinholes, and the pour stubs were sizable. But the figure is pretty nice; the beard detail and the chain mail texture are particularly good. It amuses me that there's a large and obvious thumb print in the resin; it's on the right side of the base in the second picture. I could submit it to Interpol and find out exactly who sculpted the base. But also, like most resin figures, it's very light and easy to handle, and less expensive than an equivalent white metal figure.

I left off the helmet visor. I wanted the base to resemble moss and mossy rocks; it's mostly painted Testors RLM-70 and RLM-02, of all things, with a few washes over the top (but to balance it out, his trousers were painted Testors RAF Dark Green, and his shoes and leggings were RAF Dark Earth before the washes and drybrushing set in). All the metalwork was painted black and then extensively drybrushed with silver and steel.

Pegaso 80mm Dancer

Pegaso 80mm dancer, complete with cat. Another nice figure, but painting all that gold will eventually drive one mad. I suspect she's supposed to be Moroccan, but I decided to use a lighter skin tone and reddish hair, just for the heck of it, and didn't really do any shading or anything on her skin.

Andreas Miniatures "No Mercy"

This is an Andreas Miniatures 54mm Western figure called "No Mercy", and it isn't supposed to resemble Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven in any way at all, I'm sure. It's a nice figure. I question the folds on the upper right arm, and the spurs were so tiny I lost them almost immediately. Figures with wide-brimmed hats are hard to photograph, but maybe that adds to their cachet.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Detroit Diesel green? Nope - RAF Sky

A GMC tractor of some sort. I don't remember who made the kit, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't AMT. It's pretty much stock, except for the pin-up decals, which came from the second Italeri "Truck Accessory" set. I don't build many trucks, and even when I do, I tend to build more specialized things like logging trucks or dump trucks. This is my only real long-haul tractor, and it's likely to remain my only long-haul tractor for some time to come.

Barely visible on the left-side door is a small decal that was originally intended as nose art for a Beaufighter on an Italeri decal sheet.

Opel GT

Another one of my older models, an AMT Opel GT. The kit is pretty basic, but it still builds up into a nice model. It comes with all sorts of customizing parts, including some manner of Buick engine. I used a custom exhaust and wheels, but settled on the original Opel four-banger engine.

The paint is Tamiya metallic blue. I just love that color; I'd spray paint the bedroom that color if my wife wouldn't vapor-lock at the idea. You can't see it from here, but there's a fairly large and very dead spider inside the car, poised on the shifter as though it expired right in the act of downshifting for a corner. De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

AMT Slave-1

AMT's Slave-1. The colors are Testors acrylic hull red, Testors acrylic RLM-02, and Tamiya NATO black, with an awful lot of black and grey washes over the top - my garage smelled like a paint thinner factory for a week. Instead of doing all the chipping with silver paint, I used a silver pencil. I'm not sure it's very realistic, but it's at least clean and easy. It looks better from a distance; up close I think the marks are too obviously pencil scribbles.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Camera

I finally broke down and ordered a new camera. It's a dinky little thing, hardly top of any line at all, but it already seems better than my old one. At least it's USB and I no longer have to mess around with floppy disks.

This is the first picture I took, a Romulan "bivalve" cruiser shown hovering over the cat's food dish, which will make the cat surly. Surlier.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Academy Super Sherman

Academy 1/35th scale Israeli Sherman M51, or "Super Sherman", shown in the hostile, arid expanses of the Sinai. Or is it my side yard? Either way, I have a fondness for strange Sherman variations, and this one in particular - the enormity of the French-made 105mm gun and its egadly huge muzzle brake appeal to me.

Keen-eyed observers may note a subtle homage to the movie Night of the Lepus, in that some of what appear to be pebbles are actually enormously large rabbit droppings. This is the general area where we throw watermelon rinds and such to the native rabbits, and they repay our kindness by pooping. I could have picked a better spot to take the picture, but it's some sort of fundamental law that I only notice things like that after I'm back indoors and viewing the photograph on my computer.

Whatever the case, it's a nice kit, and mirabile dictu, is has vinyl tracks! I'm SO excited.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Airfix Hanover CL.III

And now, for something entirely new. This is my latest completion, an Airfix 1/72nd scale Hanover CL.III observation aeroplane from the Great War. The Airfix kit isn't half-bad by any means. The machine guns are presentable and recognizable, and the crew figures (which are still being painted as I write this) are quite good.

My scheme is hypothetical, however. I chose not to paint on the largish hexagons the kit called for, and instead dug back into my diminishing stock of lozenge decal material. Years ago I bought out the stock of lozenge decal material at the only hobby shop that carried it, and have been limping along on that stock ever since.

Some thoughts on the lozenge: Yes, it's true that I used the paler underside lozenge pattern on the top surfaces. That's because the underside pattern is all I had left in 1/72nd, and I wanted to save my 1/48th scale lozenge decals for other projects. It's also true that I didn't apply all the rib tapes, but my defense is that the decal sheets don't supply nearly enough rib tapes to begin with - just enough to cover the seams between the decals, basically. And yes, it is true that the lozenge grain runs chordwise on the upper wing and spanwise on the lower wing - but since references seem to suggest that lozenge on the genuine article could be applied both ways, and perhaps even diagonally, I decided to go for two different directions.

Applying stiff, aging lozenge decals to a 1/72nd scale airplane is no picnic. Have lots of decal solvent handy, and be sure to brush up on suitable curses before making the attempt.

Tamiya BMW R80 Paris-Dakar

Tamiya's kit of a BMW R80 Paris-Dakar racer in 1/12th scale. It's another very nice kit, and the rider has a plausible stance for a desert racer, weight slightly back and up off the seat. This is one of the oldest models in my collection, and time has not been kind to it - for reasons entirely unknown, almost all the decals peeled and fell off. The only "decal" that is fully intact is the tiny route sheet that I drew and glued into the holder on the top of the gas tank.

It's mostly gloss white, Testors Guards Red, many shades of Metalizer on the engine, and some sand-colored paint highly thinned and painted into the knobby tires.

I think the decals originally identified the rider as Gaston Rahier, but you couldn't tell from the execution of the model, since all the decals fell off.

"Off Road Adventure Set"

Heaven knows what this really is. It was sold as an "Off Road Adventure Set" and it amounts to a pickup truck, two motorcycles and a motorcycle trailer. The truck is an odd hybrid of what looks like a Datsun cab coupled with an American shortbed stepside pickup. There's a V8 under the hood and it came with gaudy exhausts that resembled Funny Car exhaust, but they found their discrete way into the trash can.

The instructions call for painting the generic motorcycles "yellow". But the discerning eye quickly notes that they aren't Japanese motorcycles at all; they're highly passable replicas of old-school Husqvarna motocrossers, probably CR-250s or CR-360s.

The kit is worthwhile just for the motorcycles, I think.

(You may be curious. I said it came with two motorcycles, but there's only one in the pictures. The other was more than likely carried away by a bird or pack rat.)

Round 2 Pinto dirt tracker

This is a Round 2 reissue of something much older. I'm not normally a tremendous fan of this style of racing, but the cars are fun to model. I built this mainly because I drove a Pinto in the Dark Ages (the late 1970s) and the thought of someone actually racing one strikes me as being pretty funny. Of course, mine didn't have a Ford 426 engine; mine had an oil leak that made noise.

I rarely weather car models, but this one seemed to call for a little dirt splattered on the leading edges (acrylic paint flicked on with a toothbrush) and dirt caked on the tires (acrylic flat varnish painted on the tread area, then rolled in fine dirt sieved out of the yard).

Fujimi or Hasegawa Lancia Stratos

This is Fujimi's Lancia Stratos, surely one of my favorite rally cars of all time. It dates from a time before the WRC, back when there were still Group B cars.

You know, as I write this, I can't remember if it was Fujimi or Hasegawa. The more I think about it, the more I think it was Hasegawa. But it definitely wasn't Tamiya. This was a lovely kit, though difficult to decal. I think I went through a whole bottle of decal solvent on this one.

Tamiya WRC Corolla

Tamiya's Toyota Corolla World Rally Championship car. I confess I like the WRC, and I kind of like Carlos Sainz, so it was natural I would build his car. These WRC kits are kind of fun because they're mostly exercises in a whole lot of decaling.

I occasionally fiddle with a WRC driving simulator on my ancient X-Box, but the closest I can get to the "Scandinavian Flick" is when I flip a Swedish meatball off the plate for my dog to eat.

Link Within

I'd noticed the "Link Within" feature on Warren Zoell's excellent site ( and liked it so much I decided to see what it could do for my blog. I knew it was working when I realized I'd spent two hours following various "link within" links to hitherto unseen things on his blog.

Friday, October 29, 2010

AMT 1/24th Logging Truck

This is AMT's 1/24th scale Autocar dump truck and Peerless logging trailer. Obviously I left off all the dump truck bits and added in the front bunk and headache rack from the Peerless trailer kit. Since I'd stolen the tires from the Autocar dump truck for some other project, I had to steal tires from an AMT Paystar dump truck kit for this kit. They have a funny military-style ribbed tread which one doesn't normally see in Arizona, but then again, one doesn't normally see logging trucks in Arizona anyway since the sawmills in Flagstaff went out of business in the 1970s.

I had lost the instructions for the truck, so I had to build it by what amounted to trial and a little bit of error (the kit contains two completely different rear suspensions. I don't know which is appropriate for a logging truck, so I just picked the beefiest-looking one).

Tomorrow I have to hike around the property and find some suitable cargo for it. The three "logs" that came in the Peerless kit are so uniform they may as well be rolling pins, and I figure I can do better by looking for good sticks. Once I have the sticks, I can determine the final reach of the trailer and cut and fit the air hoses, and that'll be that.

The paint is mostly out of spray cans - Krylon "Marigold", Krylon "Slate Blue", and Krylon Fusion black. Most of the chromed parts were stripped and repainted with Testors Chrome Silver; the only part I tried to save was the radiator cover on the nose of the tractor.

Revell 1/72nd Faun and Leopard 2A5

Revell-Germany's 1/72nd scale Faun and Leopard 2A5 MBT. I think I posted this once before, but not this particular picture.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Squadron Day

I was out in the front yard a while ago, working in the landscaping. This is really a euphemism for "standing around and leaning on a rake and wishing my lawn tractor didn't have a dead battery". I suppose I could have jump-started it, but sometimes it's easier to stand around, lean on a rake, and admire a pleasant autumn day without all that engine noise.

Anyway, the mail man showed up, bearing my latest order from the Squadron Shop. If there's anything that makes me as a modeler feel better about the world than seeing the mail man getting out of his little Jeep with a box that I know contains kits, I don't know what it would be.

All of a sudden the landscaping didn't seem that important any more.

The real reason for the Squadron order was to score one of the Lindberg reissues of the "Satellite Explorer and Space Base", a pair of kits that I have historically felt some hunger for. But I hate to order just one thing - Squadron conveniently dangles the prospect of free shipping for orders over $100 in front of me, and like a hungry bass in an almost barren lake, I go for the bait every time, and with some verve.

So what's in my box this time? The usual stuff - 1/72 airplanes and 1/72 armor, for the most part, plus the aforementioned Satellite Explorer thing. I note that 1/72nd scale takes a lot of abuse these days. Especially on Facebook, where certain people seem to go out of their ways to make fun of 1/72nd scale and the people who dabble in it. But I like it. Or maybe, it's just what I'm used to. Either way, I'm not averse to bigger scales - who hasn't wanted a 1/32nd scale Gotha or a 1/32nd scale Ki-84 Hayate at least once? But on the basis of practicality, I tend to settle for smaller items.

I can actually pinpoint the exact moment when I stopped building really big models on a regular basis. It was when I got married, and my then-new wife looked up, saw the 1/48th scale B-29 hanging from the ceiling over what would become her desk, and asked "Are you trying to tell me something?" It's a good thing she didn't realize that it was wearing Enola Gay markings; I'd have had some 'splaining to do if she had.

My box also contained two 1/144th scale airplanes - the Attack MiG-21MF, and the old Academy Su-22 Fitter. Tiny little things! The MiG-21 in particular seems like something I'd pick popcorn residue out of my teeth with, not build for the purposes of display. But I'm curious to see what 1/144th scale is like. One thing is certain: panel lines are not going to occupy much of my time or attention.

And now, the hangover sets in. The kits have been looked at. The decals have been gawked at. The packing material and box have been discarded. The kits have been put away, or more properly thrown onto the top of the pile - I'm 6'4" and even I can't reach the topmost row of kits in my closet any more - and now it's time to get ready to go to work.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tank Transporters

I went through a phase not so long ago where it seemed to me the ideal way to recover from brutal chemotherapy was to build lots and lots of small-scale tank transporters.

Academy 1/72nd scale "Dragon Wagon" carrying a Revell M4A1(76) medium tank. The transporter kit is much nicer than the tank kit.

Revell 1/76th scale M19 tank transporter carrying a Revell M7 Priest self-propelled howitzer. Both are re-releases of older Matchbox kits.

Airfix 1/76th scale Scammell tank transporter with a Revell (formerly Matchbox) A34 Comet aboard. I find the Airfix kit difficult to assemble, perhaps the single hardest Airfix kit I've personally encountered. There's a whole lot of brass rod and epoxy in the tractor's lower works, replacing spindly plastic Airfix axles that buckle under the load of a single Cheezit.

The hindquarters of the Trumpeter 1/72nd scale [insert ominous-sounding German nomenclature here]. Nice kit. The Revell Sturmgeschutz-IV is pretty basic and I for one think the muzzle brake is deformed, but it looks like a Stug, and I guess that's the main thing.

The full Trumpeter [harsh-sounding German words here] tank transporter. The engine was nice, so I left the side covers off.