Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pink Polka Dots

I was reading the March 2010 issue of Scale Military Modeller International today and came across a remark so annoying I'm strongly tempted to stop buying the magazine entirely. Actually, the issue has a number of problems, which I may or may not expand upon later, but for now, I'm simply going to talk about Gary Hatcher's review of the Swash Designs photoetched set for some 1/35th scale motorcycles. The set isn't cheap - about $21 according to the review - but here's what Gary has to say about it:

The choice is yours - but if you want to settle for less than the best then maybe you might like to paint the thing with pink polka dots as well.

What the hell is this? All of a sudden if we don't buy every possible detail set for a model we aren't serious and we're infantile losers who daub pink polka dots on our armor models? Oh calm down, you say, Gary was just joking. Was he? I think any regular reader of his "Panzerschreck" column would have grounds to argue otherwise. This is the sort of anal bullshit that puts me off most model contests too, by the way - I simply don't accept the notion that I'm a loser because I don't buy detail sets.

Tell you what, Gary - you build your models the way you like, and I'll build mine the way I like, and I'll thank you to keep your holier-than-thou remarks to yourself. What really torques me about it is that in an indirect way I'm actually paying you to insult me. Well, I can fix that readily enough.

I'm also strongly tempted to stop buying Scale Aviation Modeller International because of a comment I read in Volume 16 Issue 2, to wit:

We do not issue bad reviews, and we shy away from negative comment. If a product has issues so great that we cannot justify published a review we prefer to contact the manufacturer and explain why we cannot cover their product.

Meantime, while these guys are busy protecting the reputations and egos of the manufacturers, the modelers (the people who pay the goddamned bills) are buying a crappy product even though SAMI knew it was a crappy product. Doesn't that make SAMI complicit in a cover-up? What's the point of pretending to review anything if you as a matter of editorial policy refuse to make negative comments? Why not just change your name to Scale Aviation Manufacturer International, since it is clearly the manufacturers you are pandering to, not the buying public who keep all of you in jobs in the first place? I rarely make buying decisions on the basis of what SAMI (or any other magazine) thinks of a given kit - I'm much more likely to buy on the basis of subject. But if someone knows that a kit has some serious problem with engineering or accuracy, I think I'd be interested in knowing that. I'll probably still buy the kit anyway - I paint pink polka dots on my models, after all - but I'd still be interested.

There's apparently no pleasing me, infantile loser that I am. I'd list some of the other things in the latest issue of SMMI that really cheese me (I mean really cheese me) but it occurs to me that I'm almost out of pink paint and I have to run to the hobby shop before it closes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ontological Crisis

I see Academy is releasing a 1/35th M50 Ontos, which excites me in my dry, sterile way.

The Ontos is an odd six-gunned tank destroyer, one of those US Marine attempts to achieve maximum anti-tank firepower with minimum weight - when all your armor has to come ashore in landing craft or sling-loaded under helicopters, weight is not an irrelevant issue. The Ontos looks like it's a jumped-up pedal-powered tractor, like the driver's knees can be seen furiously pumping up and down as it trundles along. But don't laugh too hard; its armament of six 106mm recoilless rifles is not to be sneezed at, at least for the first six shots. (I find it curious, though, that my memory indicates that the Marines also operated hand-me-down US Army M103 heavy tanks, which combined maximum firepower and maximum weight, kind of the antithesis of the whole Ontos mindset. A 120mm gun and two loaders? Oh my.)

I recall building an Ontos in my younger years. I suspect it was a Renwal or Adams kit, a contemporary of that magnificent 280mm Atomic Cannon. Also a contemporary of the T92 light tank kit - remember those? I remember them as being fabulously detailed and lifelike, but they were probably crude and toy-like by today's standards. Still, where are you going to find an Atomic Cannon or a T92 or - until now - an Ontos?

I happen to like Academy's armor kits. Academy's kits in general, actually. There's no particular price break on an Academy tank kit. They aren't quite as expensive as later Tamiya stuff, which I find quite pricey, but they aren't exactly cheap either. But they aren't as ridiculously over-engineered as Dragon, DML and Trumpeter kits. I suspect that the Ontos will turn out to be a nice kit indeed. Now I just need to keep an eye out for the old Revell M56 Scorpion. Does anyone make an LTVP-5, now that I'm thinking about early-Vietnam-era US Marine Corps armor?

Monday, March 8, 2010

That Explains That

Yeah, but where's Waldo?

A view of my workbench, taken just yesterday. The dinosaur, Star Wars models (note the tiny snowspeeders on the orange things that will become their bases eventually - Gatorade caps, by the way - and the AT-AT) and the stagecoach are fairly old projects that just generally clutter up my workbench without ever being finished. (To paraphrase a magnificent line from the novel The Coffee Trader by David Liss, "they are the hard turd in the ass of my forward progress".)

Also perhaps worth mentioning is the PM Models Su-15TM Flagon on top of the stagecoach. Not a great model, not up to your Hasegawa or later Revell-Germany standards, but where else are you going to find an Su-15, and for that low a price?

But what I really wanted to show off was the sudden profusion of small-scale tank transporters. It's like a regular cancer. One minute I had no tank transporters, and all of a sudden, I've got four. They aren't clearly visible in the photograph, but they are, from front to back, an Airfix 1/76th Scammel, an Academy 1/72nd "Dragon Wagon", a Revell-Germany 1/76th M19, and a Revell-Germany Faun Elefant (with its proposed load, a Revell-Germany Leopard 2A5, in place). The Dragon Wagon and the Elefant are very nice kits, by the way, as is the Leopard 2A5, but pay attention to the instructions - the kit includes the turret and track shields suitable for both a 2A4 and a 2A5, and they aren't impossible to confuse. Ask me how I know. That's what I get for watching The Mummy while building it, I guess.

So whatever else I was working on, like the Skybow WC63, got pushed back by this sudden eruption of tank transporters. And I'm not even done; I have to build loads for three of them, probably an A34 Comet for the Scammel, an M4A3(76)W for the Dragon Wagon, and probably an M7 Priest for the M19. And the thought of hand-painting that NATO three-color scheme on the Elefant and the Leopard 2A5? Brrr. It scares me. Three-color schemes on small-scale armor aren't exactly my cup of tea, but at least the green color was easy.