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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More From The Archives

MPM 1/72nd scale XF-85 Goblin. I'd love to see the "Egg" version of this from Hasegawa.

1967 Corvette

Monogram 1/25th scale 1967 Corvette. Nice kit. Not so nice execution. The red-line decals for the tires disintegrated. I see now that I forgot to foil the "Corvette" badge on the tail. And there's a nasty blemish in the paint by the "Corvette" badge, courtesy of sneezing violently while holding a paint brush full of thinner. I tried to rub it out, but no sale.

The missing door handles are missing on purpose.

Oh, by the way, the paint is Testors two-part lacquer, GM Deep Red out of a spray can but without the clear top coat, which I find too glossy, if that makes any sense.

Mistel 5

This is the DML 1/72nd scale Mistel 5, which amounts to a Heinkel He 162 Volksjaeger jet fighter mounted and Arado something-or-the-other jet-propelled bomb. I wonder what the guys on the ground thought of that enormous takeoff trolley ripping across the countryside, completely out of control, once the Mistel 5 took off.

The Kettenkrad is Hasegawa; the standing pilot figure is by ICM, I believe. While I'm on the subject of figures, the figures in Hasagawa 1/72nd scale kits are awful. Compare the casual stance of the (presumably somewhat anxious) pilot to the stiff automatons in the Kettenkrad. It's sad.

The "concrete" is the upside-down lid of the box top, contact-cemented to a piece of plywood and painted grey, with expansion joints embossed into the cardboard with a ball point pen.

Rebel Base

Various views of a display I made out of some of the models in the MPC "Rebel Base" kit. The kit has a vacuum-formed base you're supposed to display the models on, but I chose to show them in flight.

The X-Wing had its wings ("S-foils", I guess) folded, so I cut them off and made new wings out of sheet plastic, and added new guns out of brass rod with blobs of white glue on the ends.

The Y-Wing was way too short and didn't have the open lattice in the exhaust, and the nose was way too rounded and blunt. I lengthened and reshaped the nose with epoxy putty, then used brass rod and a couple of aluminum rings cut out of some tubing to extend the engines. I made new nose guns and rear gunner guns out of stretched sprue.

The Millennium Falcon required the most work. As supplied, the side walls were flush with the edges of the hull, and bulged outward. I sawed and filed them off, and replaced them with a long floppy piece of sheet plastic that I bent to match the model. Then I glued random bits of junk from the parts box to replace some of the missing detail. The "dish" on top is the end of an enormous nutritional supplement capsule (red yeast powder, I think) and the guns are 40mm twin Bofors guns from some unsung 1/700th scale ship kit. Yes, I know they're really supposed to be quads...

They were painted a pretty dark grey, then extensively drybrushed with lighter shades before a few dulled details were painted in. The Y-wing carries markings from a Soviet "Guards" fighter unit on its nose, but the model is tiny and the decal is microscopic.

The base is half of a plastic sphere. It originally held a toy from the movie Akira, but my friend only wanted the toy, so I took the sphere. I filled it with Durham's putty and tried to paint it so it would look like a planet. I think its meteorology is a little suspect.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Modeling Terms

A recent issue of Finescale Modeler included a list of modeling terms. Nice, but they didn't have certain terms that I thought they should. So I offer below my own list of modeling terms. I was going to put the list in alphabetical order, but somehow it seemed more appropriate to leave it as disordered as my own thought processes.

Airbrush: The patron saint of frustration.

Anorak: A British term used pejoratively to refer to someone who knows more about any given subject than you do. There are equivalent American terms, but they're often much nastier.

Luft '46: A genre of modeling dealing with German "paper project" airplanes in the closing stages of World War Two. It's like science fiction, only with Experten.

Balsa wood: Slightly solidified air with grain.

Cement: That which you pour around Vinnie the Knife's ankles before tossing him in the river. Also, a substance often used to emboss personalized thumbprints into high-gloss finishes on model cars.

Compressor: The thing under your bench that kicks on and startles the crap out of you while you're trying to paint something very small.

Decal: Markings for a model printed on water-release film. Also, when they break, little scale models of plate tectonics in action, complete with transverse and thrust faults.

Debonder: What Dr. No should have invested in instead of that giant laser.

Basswood: I had that once, and it was good with a little butter sauce.

Experten: A guy who seems to know more about German aircraft or armor (or both) than seems possible - or advisable.

Resin: The stuff you get on your hands when you work with green wood. Also said to be detail parts made for specific models, but I wouldn't know.

White metal: A soft metal alloy used in making model parts which, paradoxically, isn't white. I think it used to contain lead, but for safety reasons the lead has been replaced with plutonium or something.

Photo-etch: The main constituent of the junk that accumulates in my carpet.

Swab: A guy who was in the navy, but it's best not to call him that unless you also were in the navy. Also, a device specially designed to leave hairs behind on your model.

Super-glue: A type of glue especially handy for fixing broken fingernails, bonding cat hair to canopies, and perfecting the Vulcan salute.

Scratchbuilt: What you call your model, even if it isn't.

Scribe: A guy who writes things down. Also, a variety of pointed tool useful for getting glue out from under your fingernails.

Out Of The Box: Building a model kit in such a way that you don't add anything to the kit; you only use what's in the box. "Almost Out Of The Box" refers to the same thing, except that you had to make a replacement for a missing part out of a piece of macaroni.

Sinkhole: What you realize you're in when it occurs to you that you just dropped 45% of your weekly income at the hobby shop.

Round: A type of figure with round body parts, as opposed to a flat. Rounds can sometimes be too flat, so can a flat sometimes be too round?

Decal solvent: A convenient means of getting rid of excess decals.

Bloat: The consequences of eating one too many tamales. Also, when you start out building 1/144th scale airplanes and next thing you know you've got a 1/32nd scale F4E Phantom on your bench.

Multimedia: Movies on your computer. Also, a justification for a 50% price increase.

Airfix: A famous and prolific British model kit manufacturer. It's also sort of a mindset, where absolute accuracy and perfect engraving are sort of secondary to just building the damn model for the sheer joy of it. To "Airfix" a model is to build it as though you're a 12 year old boy, haven't yet discovered girls or mortgages, and life is an endless holiday.

Ejector pin mark: a round molding blemish on your model that only becomes visible when you enter it in a show.

ZImmerit: A texture applied to German tanks during World War Two, designed to keep magnetic hollow-charge mines and decals from sticking.

Vinyl: An obsolete recording medium much treasured by hipsters. Also, a material used to make large-scale figures, AFV tracks and car tires, as difficult to work with as a fashion diva.

Weathering: The process of distressing a painted model so the crappy paint job isn't so apparent.

Epoxy: A kind of slow-setting two-part glue especially useful for bonding scraps of paper to the cat's feet.

Wet Sand: A granular substance often found inside my swim trunks.

Instructions: The things I can never find.

Spray Booth: Only a heel would call it a cardboard box.

RMS: A subset of modeling focusing on Rockets, Missiles and Spacecraft. Every time a new Pzkw-V Panther kit is announced instead of a new spacecraft model, it also stands for "Really Must Scream."

Aftermarket: The glow of satisfaction that comes after a highly successful trip to the grocery store. Also, see Sinkhole.

Panther: Oh God, not another one.

Canopy: Where I store my extra fingerprints.

Futuristic: Not quite science fiction, but not quite real either. Sometimes, confusingly, refers to things from the past when the present WAS the future.

Future: What comes later. Also, a variety of floor wax often used in modeling, since it works better than the stuff specially made for modeling.

RLM: Technically the ReichsLuftMinisterium or something like that, but nowadays used mainly to refer to the many drab colors used by the Luftwaffe by number. You know you're getting dangerously close to being an Experten when you meet your girlfriend for lunch and say "Your fingernails look especially nice in RLM-23!"

Diorama: A large vignette.

Vignette: A small diorama.

Silvering: Aging gracefully.

Parts Box: To a modeler what the morgue was to Dr. Frankenstein.

Figure: The scale people that come in various kits, especially armor kits, intended to keep us humble.

Vulcan Neck Pinch: What your wife gives you when you start to say things like "You know, that 1/72nd scale Gato submarine would look cool in the living room!"

Conversion: The act of finishing a model in a form other than original, often undertaken after you've lost enough parts you can't finish it the way it was originally made.

Dry Transfer: When you rub your fingertip wet with glue on any dry surface. I often use my shorts for this purpose.

Fisheye: A round imperfection in a coat of paint, proof that one shouldn't eat fried chicken at the workbench.

Preshadowing: When writers of horror novels use lightning or storms to presage difficulties ahead. Also, when painters of models apply dark shades to panel lines on models to presage difficulties ahead.

Ballectomy: When your round-handled knife rolls off the workbench and lands in your lap.

Kitbash: Combining two or more kits to make a single new model. Often used to make science fiction or what-if models, such as dropping a blown 392 Hemi into the engine compartment of a Tiger I.

Straightedge: A social current in punk rock. Also, a device designed to instill a sense of lazy complacency just before your scriber wanders all over the wing of your 1/24th scale Mosquito.

Panel line: That which I ignore.

Filler: Something, usually potatoes, designed to ease the pressure on the meat budget. Also, a substance applied to seams on models that sticks everywhere but where it's supposed to.

Lozenge: A camouflage pattern printed on the fabric of many German airplanes in World War One. More effective than Pokemon at inducing seizures.

Spray can: Bottled, pressurized frustration.

Reissue: Proof that nostalgia is more powerful than common sense.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone: A kind of solvent cement sometimes used in building models. It affects the nervous system in such a way that it makes the modeler say "Well, I didn't really need that part anyway."

Wash: It must be Saturday, because the clothes are in it.

Pin Vise: Not to be confused with "pin vice", which is a disturbing form of iniquity.

Pin wash: Something you use when your pins get filthy.

Rivet-Counter: A guy who can always find something wrong with your model. Yet, ironically, rivet-counters never seem to actually build any models of their own.

Dot Filter: I don't know what this is, but it sounds like something in MS-DOS 4.01.

Knife: A sharp device often employed when it turns out you have too much blood in your system.

Drybrush: When you realize your hair is a disaster and you try to brush it into some kind of order in the parking lot before going in to work. Also, the first step in deciding to repaint a model.

Scale: That which keeps all your models from being the same size.

Link And Length: Two guys in a TV cop show. Also, a molding technique for AFV tracks designed to make chemotherapy seem pleasant in comparison.

Cutter: A kind of horse and/or cowboy adept at getting a single cow out of a herd of same. Also, a device useful for catapulting small parts into the lower stratosphere.

Sprue: the plastic frame that holds the part that should be there, but isn't.

What-If: The business of putting unusual decals on a model, such as an F-14 Tomcat in Luftwaffe service, or a MiG-21 with British roundels. Chiefly the result of losing the kit's original decal sheet.

Superdetailed: The work of modelers who are way better than I am.

Tweezer: Humorous nickname for a guy with unfortunate facial hair. Also, a tool useful for dropping things.

Chrome: (Also Chrome Plating) The process of making plastic parts look cheap and toy-like, while also making them hard to work with.

Flocking: A social habit seen in birds, golfers and occasionally fans of death metal. Also, a powdery fibrous material useful for simulating carpet in model cars. I'll start using it when it comes complete with scale french fries and loose change.

Curbside: Where you leave old furniture in the hope that it will simply go away. Also a kind of car model with no engine detail because the intake manifold part went missing.

Forceps: Don't Bogart that photo-etch, man.

Loft Insulation: British term for your collection of unbuilt kits. In my locale, the collection could also be called "roadrunner habitat" as the horrid carnivorous miniature dinosaurs tend to take up residence therein. Also known to house guests as "what is all that junk".

Glue: Strong stuff.

Wax: A substance used in a last-ditch struggle to remove a dead moth from the freshly painted hood of a car model. Also, a popular and effective karate training aid.

Use The Force, Luke: The voice I hear in my head when I begin to think I can scribe a panel line without a guide or straightedge.

Humbrol: To messily spill paint or cement on your workbench, as in "Man, I just Humbroled a whole cup of coffee right into my decal box!" Comes from Humbrol paints, which are superb paints disgraced by dreadful cans ("those are tinlets, bub").

Pour Stub: The thick chunk of excess resin connected to your resin parts. Really just a thinly veiled excuse to invest in cool new power tools.

Slammer: A kind of car model subjected to drastic modification with a large hammer.

Wish List: A mental list of models that the modeler wishes someone would make. Judging from what the kit manufacturers actually release, most wish lists must read like "If it's German, I'll take it!"

Siberia: The vague depression that haunted modelers in the 1980s when it was almost impossible to find models of Soviet aircraft or armor, and the announcement of a new MiG-21 could cause the same wild, breathless excitement as the prospect of a date with Joan Jett.

Razor saw: A convenient means of shortening one's fingers.

Miter box: Where one keeps one's miters.

Paintbrush: Zen. With a handle.

Sheperd Paine: A really first-rate modeler who was hired to build dioramas for Monogram back in the 1970s. The Sheperd Paine inserts in Monogram kits of that day completely changed the way I viewed scale modeling, and I suspect I'm not alone.

Thinner: A Stephen King novel. Also, what many of us wish we were. Also also, a liquid useful for not quite cleaning a paintbrush.

Ferrule: The business end of a paint brush, the part that falls off just as you're about to paint a button on a Napoleonic Hussar's uniform.

Skewer: To accidentally poke yourself. Also a sharp bamboo stick intended for kitchen use, but which turns to be a multipurpose tool with about six thousand uses, none of which involve food.

Rat Droppings: The small rounded lumps of hardened epoxy putty left over from whatever you're working on. If you miscalculate and mix up too much epoxy putty and have a lot left over, you may be said to be in possession of a righteous turd.

Ploop: The ugly sound a tube of old-style model glue makes as it emits a giant blob of goo right in the middle of your Thunderbolt's canopy.

Work: That which both enables me to model, and prevents me from modeling. If I could ever come to terms with this paradox, I'd probably be a much wiser person.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

From The Archives

Old photographs from my modeling archive:

A scratchbuilt model of a Japanese Baka rocket-propelled suicide bomb, shown here moving out with considerable delta-vee (well, considerable delta-vee for an A engine, anyway). It flew pretty well, but it took so much weight in the nose to keep the CG ahead of the CP it came down like a brick and destroyed its parachute every time. This whole dry lake area is now a housing development, and the home-made launch pad was in the toolbox of my truck when someone stole my truck out of the parking lot at work. Grrrr.

The Screamin' Pinhead. Big model, but paradoxically easy and fun to paint. It came with the Altar of Souls and two puzzle boxes. I added chains and actual fishing hooks to one of the puzzle boxes, with super glue used to stiffen the chain and made it stand straight. This is almost all craft store acrylic paint, by the way, as enamels seem never to fully cure when applied to vinyl.

DML's 1/35th scale North Vietnamese Army set. I like painting these things and plopping them on a common case, even if the setting makes no particular sense. I wish I had known about horse hair before I did this; it's much easier to work with than the stuff shown here, grass from Woodland Scenics.

Tamiya 37mm FLAK-37 and "German Infantry At Rest" in a revetment made out of Celluclay, painted sawdust, and a whole lot of strip basswood, origin uncertain (I tend to buy bags of scale wood whenever I come across it, but I can't begin to remember the brand name, or where I bought it). This was my one experiment with Gunze Sanyo paint; they offered "field grey" and I thought I'd give it a try, but it's very glossy and I had no luck achieving any kind of respectably flat sheen. I later discovered that Delta makes an acrylic craft paint called "Hammered Iron" that is a dead ringer for field grey, and it's flat, and it's easier to use. There's a fourth guy, sitting in the corner of the revetment on the far right; you can just barely see a scrap of his helmet and the toe of one boot. Also note that they have a frying pan, but no stove... Hmmm....

From The Archives

Some random photographs from my archive of old pictures

1/35th scale diorama of German infantry about to ambush a Soviet 120mm mortar team, taken more or less from the movie Cross Of Iron, less the trees. The Soviet 120mm mortar and team are Zvezda, I think, and the Germans are Dragon, I think (I can't remember the name of the set, but the figures seem like they were based on Steiner, Kruger and Schnurrbart from the movie). The rest of it is Celluclay and a bunch of dried trimmings from a Lady Banks rose bush.

A simple diorama of some modern French Foreign Legionnaires sheltering behind an abandoned T55 medium tank, presumably in Chad during the Libyan invasion. The tank is an ancient Lindberg offering; the Legionnaires are DML, I think.

A German Panzer-IVD medium tank bypassing a broken-down French Char B, which itself is being picked over by curious German infantry. I intentionally made the road as narrow as possible to highlight the considerable size of the Char B heavy tank. The German tank is the good Tamiya kit; the Char B is an old and somewhat rough MB Models resin kit - it weighs a ton and had to be screwed to the base with a drywall screw to keep it from falling off. The German infantry are random figure parts, mostly Tamiya, I suspect.

Screamin's 1/6th scale (or was it 1/4th scale?) Boba Fett. Vinyl figures are not my specialty, but I take the occasional plunge. For such a large kit I thought it was a little soft in the detail department, but it was still fun.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When To Admit Defeat

When does one admit defeat? I have a hard time knowing when to stop fighting a given kit and save myself a lot of trouble by throwing it into the trash can. Sometimes I must resemble Captain Ahab just a little, snarled in the ropes and old harpoons on flank of Moby Dick, stabbing away as I go down with the whale. Okay, that's a little dramatic, but you know what I mean. Maybe it's pride - boasting "I can redeem this mess; I have the skill and I have the super glue." Maybe it's stupidity.

I have two models on my bench at the moment that are starting to resemble Moby Dick. One is a Hasegawa 1/72nd scale Grant medium tank; the other is a Hasegawa 1/72nd scale Churchill I infantry tank. They've been in my garage for years (they actually got lost behind the ramps we use to change oil in our cars). I got them out and glued them together while watching TV the other day. Hasegawa's older armor kits aren't great, but I kind of like them - at least they're cheap.

The Grant has sand shields, a common fitting in British service, so that means you have to sort of paint the undercarriage and tracks before installing the sand shields. I thought I would do the Churchill's tracks at the same time. Only now, the tracks are disintegrating. It seems that every morning, I go out to the workbench and find that the tracks have broken in a new spot. So I super-glue the broken tracks to the various wheels anew, touch up the paint, and the cycle repeats over and over. The Grant's tracks are largely hidden by the sand shields, but the Churchill had no fenders and the whole top run of track is clearly visible, and the more I glue and fret and snarl, the worse it all gets.

There are other things in my life, you know. Well, other models, anyway. Nicer models. Models whose tracks are not likely to break, or which don't have tracks at all. I have all the AMT 1/2500 Enterprises, for example, and they look like great fun. I have a Romulan cruiser (the double-decker, the "bivalve cruiser" as I call it) poised on the edge of being done. I always thought the Mirage F1 was a particularly sexy jet fighter, and I have several of them I could be working on.

But no, I'm spending all my time gluing broken fragments of tracks back together. Soon I'll be using an electron microscope to glue broken molecules of track back together, all to salvage a couple of tank models that weren't all that good even in the first place.

I draw back, harpoon in hand, ready to plunge it home even as the great white whale begins to sink beneath the waves.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time To Clean The Bench

What a mess. I should be ashamed of myself.

Note the Monogram 1967 Corvette on the left, the 'wings' from Slave-1 being weathered on the right, and the gloomy Viking in the background, next to the bottle of water, viewing this wretchedness with a certain amount of despair. As do I.

One of the reasons I tend not to finish very much - my habit of getting sidetracked.

The other night I was sitting at the workbench, drinking a beer (Newcastle brown ale, if you want to know) and trying to work up some enthusiasm for my current project, a 1967 Corvette. I had a piece of cedar wood, one of those "make your closet smell good" things that no longer smelled good. I had some HO scale figures I'd painted back during my brief but expensive flirtation with model railroading. And I had five 1/96th scale Rocketdyne F1 engines from the Revell Saturn V kit (I'm replacing them with batted F1s from Realspace Models, so they're just flotsam and jetsam now).

So off I went.

The engine seems way too big to me and I'm always thinking "No, I grabbed some N-scale people by accident." But no, they're really HO, and if anything the people are too big. Man! How big WAS the Saturn V???

The engine is pretty much stock, other than some sheet plastic plugs in the propellant inlets. The figures are Preiser. The wood is from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Airfix RE-8

Here is the Airfix 1/72nd scale RE-8. Sources on the Internet seem to disagree on whether the genuine article was any good or not (with a slight majority leaning toward "not") but I happen to like the shape a great deal. Something about that "bent in the middle" shape appeals to me.

Once again, the paint is basically just Tamiya Khaki Drab and Desert Yellow for the wooden bits.
I know that I earlier said I was going to rig the thing, and obviously I didn't. I started to stretch up a bunch of sprue for the task, but then I went inside, laid down for a while, and the fit passed. My defense for this is that the model would benefit from better machine guns (the kit-supplied parts are, in the immortal words of Jeremy Clarkson, "rubbish"), some kind of mesh in the nose radiator opening, and a better interior. The pilot's opening is particularly large and would reveal a detailed cockpit quite nicely... if I'd actually supplied one. (The figures are shocking, by the way. I'm not sure what nationality they are. I'm not sure what era they come from. I'm not even sure what species they are. But I saved them; someday when I built a science fiction diorama they might be useful, what with their third eyes and flat heads).


This is what happens to me when I go to a hobby shop - only instead of being ambushed by three-headed snakes, I'm ambushed by models. I go in for something simple, like some super glue or decal solvent, and I end up buying so much stuff I almost need a porter to help me get it all to the car. No wonder my tires are wearing out; I'm constantly hauling all that wretched cargo.

This is, of course, the recent re-release of the famous old kit. Not hard to build at all, though the three-headed snake was a bit ill-fitting. The snakes had seams in a concave part of the tops of their heads that I couldn't find a convenient way to fix, so I cut fake crests out of sheet plastic and glued them in to hide the seam (and to make them look a little less like ordinary terrestrial snakes). There are also bits of stretched sprue in their mouths, to hide other seams that I couldn't fix. And the strap for Spock's tricorder wasn't acceptable, so I cut it off and burned it (to to speak) and replaced it with a strip cut out of doubled-over electrician's tape. The final thing I did - I glued Woodland Scenics "blended turf" on instead of trying to paint and drybrush the molded grass. It looks a little park-like, but better than the stock parts, and it was useful for filling the yawning gaps between the asparagus-like tree and the base.

For whatever it's worth.