Monday, August 23, 2010

Revell 1/72nd Sopwith Triplane

I don't build a lot of aeroplanes from World War One. Part of the problem is that I don't know what to call it. I think "First World War" is proper terminology in the UK and former Commonwealth; "World War One" seems to be a US thing; and "Great War" always makes think of Yoda saying "Oooh, wars not make one great!" But a big part of the problem is that World War One aeroplanes (it doesn't seem right to call them "airplanes") have a great deal of character, which makes them, to my mind, formidable modeling challenges. If a plank-on-frame sailing ship is the Everest of modeling, a good fully-rigged biplane must be the K2.

But I do like World War One aeroplanes. The first model I ever built was a Revell Fokker Dr.1, the light blue one that I think was flown by Werner Voss. And I've built the Sopwith Triplane at least a dozen times. But my absolute favorite is the RE.8; something about the way it looks bent in the middle appeals to me.

So, the Sopwith Triplane. Put on a DVD of The Blue Max and dig in. The molds are showing their age and the fit isn't great. The Vickers machine gun is pretty bad, and the pilot is starting to resemble a Sumo wrestler in a leather flying coat. But it isn't too hard to assemble, and the decals were excellent. I've read a lot of negative comments about the size and shape of the "Blymp" lettering and the serial numbers, and those comments may well be true, but the decals as decals worked very nicely. The decal sheet includes a seat belt decal, but considering that there's no interior detail at all and the only way to hide that fact is to shoehorn the portly flying officer in, well, that decal goes in the spares box.

I used Tamiya Khaki Drab to represent PC10. I think it looks a little too dark and maybe not quite brown enough, but PC10 is a hard color to duplicate; I bet everyone has their own interpretation of it. I used Model Master Sand to represent the clear doped linen. It's about the right lightness, but maybe not quite creamy enough, but it'll do. I painted the wooden fuselage decking Model Master Wood, and the struts Tamiya Desert Yellow.

You'll note two major deficiencies. One is that it has no windshield, something I intend to add later, and another is that it isn't rigged. At all. Maybe someday I'll rig it, but I bet I won't. I don't even know what's good for rigging. I used to rely on stretched sprue because it could be tightened with heat, but sometimes it turns out kind of uneven. Maybe some kind of very fine music wire would work. When I get around to building the RE.8 in my collection I'll probably try that. I can justify not rigging the Sopwith, but not the RE.8.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Curating the Collection

Way back in my (much) younger days I played Dungeons & Dragons. Maybe even a lot. This was in the days when there was only one edition of D&D, and if you were lucky you had copies of Greyhawk and Blackmoor. Later D&D figures started to come out, though by then I had largely stopped playing, due chiefly to the demands of work. But even though I never actually played the game with the figures, I enjoyed painting the figures. I have probably 150 of them in my collection, including a fair number of Shadowrun figures.

Anyway, at some point I bought the thing above from Ral Partha, I believe, called "Bridge of Sorrows". Or something like that. A largish dragon ambushing a wizard, a centaur and a scantily-clad fighter on a bridge. I built it and painted it, and then for fifteen or twenty years it sat around, getting dusty, paint flaking off, fading, slowly decomposing into dust. But lately I went through my whole collection of figures, cleaning them, touching up the paint, and in some cases repainting them entirely.

I subjected the bridge thing to a fairly thorough refreshing - I repainted the dragon and bridge, renewed the landscaping, added a tree, and painted the top of the base black and poured on a couple of thick layers of Future floor wax to (hopefully) simulate deep still water. The dragon is painted with Model Master acrylic hull red and insignia red, drybrushed with Testors gold. The landscaping is mostly Woodland Scenics stuff I had left over from an abortive stab at model railroading.

(I have up model railroading because even in N gauge I didn't have enough room for it, and when I got right down to the heart of the matter, I enjoying model railroading not because I like trains, but because I like building and painting HO scale trucks. So I skipped the railroad and kept building the trucks.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Polar Lights USS Enterprise

Polar Lights 1/1000th USS Enterprise, TOS-vintage. It's a fun kit - not many parts and not many really serious construction problems, except the obvious one of "How the hell do I hold it while I apply the decals?" Speaking of which, the decals were quite good. Many are very large and weirdly shaped, especially the window/racing stripe combo on the secondary hull, and they look like they're going to be awful trouble, but they really aren't. They respond to Micro-Sol, but slowly.

Here we see the only decal problem I had: the tail end of the red "racing stripe" on the starboard warp nacelle folded over on itself, and all my attempts to fix it just made it worse. Some of the other decals folded over, but I was able to save them. But not this one.

My plan was that after painting and applying the decals I would draw yellow and light orange lines on the warp nacelle caps with felt markers (Sharpies, to be specific). But yellow and light orange Sharpies have absolutely no coverage over gloss orange paint. None. Zero. I know they work - I colored my thumbnail testing them - but there's absolutely no sign of striping on the nacelles, either in person or in photographs. Had I known this, I would have left the caps off so I could stripe them with oil paints separately, without having to manhandle the whole steenking ship.

But it's a nice kit and I enjoyed it. Who's up for a battle-damaged Constellation?

PS: I think I like RLM-65 as Federation paint. It's more blue than the actual studio models, which have a distinctly greenish tint if you ask me, but the blue seems right to me. It looks more right under bright halogen lamps and less right under fluorescents, but on the whole, I think it's going to be my de facto standard Federation paint.

PPS: Back when I used to play Star Fleet Battles I collected and painted a few of the tiny Amarillo Design Bureau models - some odd Federation frigate or somesuch, a Kzinti battlecruiser, a Klingon D7 and B10, a Lyran catamaran-hull thing, some Tholian grooviness and so forth. On what amounted to a whim the other night I bought about 40 more on eBay - pretty much a whole Federation and Klingon fleet, plus some oddities, like a pair of Kzinti frigates that are about the size of pieces of breakfast cereal. I could swallow most of the fleet whole, now that I think about it... Anyway, my point was that RLM-65 is going to be way too dark in such a small scale, but I do think I'll "scale" it by adding a lot of white so my Federation fleet will have the same bluish tint.

A Good Time Had By All

The Haul. Less than I expected, really, but it certainly felt like more when I was hiking back to the car. Clockwise from the top: Anigrand X-20 Dyna-Soar, Miniart 1/16th Roman legionary (and VERY nice too, it appears), Airfix 1/72nd SH-3 Sea King (key to my hopes of one day building an Apollo 11 recovery diorama), Wespe Models Mack 5-ton truck (also very nice based on preliminary examination), Lindberg "Star Probe" reissue, and the Star Trek "Adversary Set" which includes the Romulan "Pierre Cardin" cruiser, a Ferengi horseshoe crab, and a Klingon Bird of Cloaked Prey. Also, in there somewhere, some forceps, tweezers, glue and spatuli. The TV remote control did not come from the convention.

The vendor room. Be still my quivering wallet.

The contest room. I didn't even bother trying to photograph any models with my wretched cell phone camera, but there were some exceedingly meritorious things on display. The dark blobs on the nearest table are a whole collection of Dragon 1/72nd Shermans in US, British and Canadian markings.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

IPMS Phoenix

Tomorrow I'm going to the IPMS-USA National Convention in Phoenix. I'd like to be all high-minded and say I'm going there to see great models, to witness a great contest, to attend great seminars and learn great stuff... But let's be serious, it's really all about the stuff.

I do what I can to support my local hobby shop ( but after four rounds of chemo, three bone marrow biopsies, two bone marrow transplants and a round of radiation therapy, well, there's only so much money left, and there's only so much time left. (I'd complain about the problems of building models in a garage in Arizona - today's temperature, 114 degrees F - but nobody likes a whiner.)

Anyway, I like Andy's hobby shop. But the vendor room at IPMS is all about the stuff. Rare stuff. Weird stuff. Stuff that Andy can't afford to stock, or can't get from his distributors. Not that I have a tremendously large list. But I'm quite sure that I'll stumble upon things that I simply have to have, and the question isn't really "How long are you going to stay" but "How long can you afford to stay".

A while, hopefully. Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Secondary Projects

I usually have several secondary projects going while I work on more serious things. It keeps me from getting stuck - when I run out of the gumption required to work on a serious project, I can work on something secondary instead of going inside to eat Cheetos and watch TV. Not that I eat Cheetos very often; that Orange Hand of Doom thing gets to me. (I sometimes have nightmares of picking up a partially completed model while both hands are completely covered with orange Cheetos-substance.)

Here are a couple of secondary things I've been tinkering with on and off while waiting for bright ideas on bigger projects. I don't think of myself as a figure painter by any means, but I kind of like painting them, at least as long as there aren't 34 of them to do at one time...

DML's 1/35th scale 88mm "Puppchen" antitank rocket launcher and crew. Nice kit, mediocre execution of same. Years ago I bought a stack of hexagonal styrofoam pieces designed to serve as terrain in tabletop wargaming (Micro-Armor in specific, as I recall). I never did really do much tabletop wargaming (not because I didn't want to, but because opponents were hard to find). These days I use them as bases for things of this sort. The snow is just Celluclay painted white a bunch of times, and the stuff that's supposed to look like dead winter grass poking up is mane hair snipped from one of my wife's horses. The kit contained no small arms, so I threw in a couple of MP-40s and a Panzerfaust from a generic Tamiya German weapons set.

I think this is a Verlinden figure, a 120mm figure of a soldier from the US 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. It's been in work for a while and the package is long gone, so I'm only guessing that it's Verlinden. The paper towel backdrop may be extra-absorbent, but it's also extra-cheesy.