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Academy F-4B in Progress

Ever since I’ve finished the IL-2 kits last month, I’ve been opening and closing boxes, but just haven’t felt inspired to work on anything. Then about three weeks ago I pulled out the Academy F-4B that I began working on earlier this year. Its been a slow going, very careful project, but its just what I needed. Its a challenging but not frustrating model, and every little bit I add is a little triumph.

As a reminder, here is where I had left things back in March or whenever it was.

As the year went on I dabbled with the kit here and there, but it was really back in the middle of October that I began to focus on the model. Then  I spent the last two weekends painting the kit.

I started the decals this weekend. It took two evenings to finish the zillion little stencils on the bottom of the fuselage. I hope to have the rest finished by the following weekend.

Then there are a million other little tasks before I can call this project done, but I’m in no hurry to finish.  I’m recovering from the build quickly disorder I suffered from over the last few years.
Being away from home three nights a week for work, for the last month has helped keep me away from the desk, and has kept the project fresh.


Sprue Cutters Union #15: Outstanding Models

I missed last week’s entry on account of lack of time to formulate a well thought out response, but I hope this week’s Sprue Cutters Union topic generates interest amongst readers.  This week’s question is simple: what makes an outstanding model?

The answer is not so simple however. Having read the other union members’ replies, the most common thread  seems to be story telling. A good model should convey its history by means of detail, finish, and final presentation. I don’t disagree with this; but to me, story telling is not always the goal of modeling.

I strive to make models which can be decorative objects for my man-cave. Therefore my own modeling goal is to make attractive, eye catching builds.  To this end, I strive for bright, sharp builds. Detail that pops out, bright colors, and clean builds.  I don’t know if I’ve achieved this goal entirely with any of my builds, but it is something I strive for. There are modelers out there who do this quite well. Folks like Mike Grant, Greg Schmidt, Paul Boyer, Tony Greenland and many others build models that look; in a word, pretty! And I like pretty.

Now I don’t think that pretty has to come at the expense of realistic. But the lynch-pin comes with weathering. Making a pretty model and a well weathered model requires a careful balance. For the record, I don’t believe the “Spanish School” modelers have achieved that balance. They’re style looks pretty, but it is not realistic. Especially when applied to aircraft.  To my eye an outstanding model does not need to be heavily weathered to still look realistic. For example, a USN A-4 could look great with bright colorful decals over a gull gray and white finish and subtle variations in sheen on the base coats from satin to almost flat, a few cleverly placed scuff marks and fluid leaks to simulate wear and maintenance. I don’t feel that every panel line needs to be darkened, the center of each panel faded, and the paint scuffed and sun bleached.  But that’s just me.

Speaking of Skyhawks though. The pursuit of pretty does mean that I’ve been finding myself building a lot of US Navy schemes lately. Aircraft of the 1920s and 30s, and Japanese aircraft have also been finding their way to my shelves and stash as well. This doesn’t mean I don’t build anything in a green and brown camo. The more drab looking craft go a long way to keep the modeling shelf from looking too much like a circus. But when I look at pictures of my displays from years past, when drab and lo-vis were the norm, I can’t help but feel a bit numb.

Below are a few examples culled from around the web that represent outstanding models to my eye. These are just a few of the benchmarks to which I strive.

If any of the images below violate viewing rights, please contact me, and I will remove them.

Greg Schmidt’s 1/24 NASCAR Monte Carlo

Mike Grant’s 1/72 F-104 in flight

Barry Webb’s 1/72 T-33

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Mikeew’s (don’t know his real name- sorry) 1/48 Javelin (see – camo can be pretty too)


Patrick Lebecq’s 1/35 Horch

Thats all for now. Check out a few others’ opinions on the topic.
Yet Another Plastic Modeller
The Eternal Wargamer
Motorsport Modeller
Mattblackgod’s World
Miniature and Model Painting
Scale Model Soup
Scale Model Workben

The Combat Workshop

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Jet bottom blues

Modeling modern military aircraft is not all “spray it with gray, and call it a day”. I actually don’t build that many jets because I find some aspects of their construction to be tedious and frustrating.  This largely is due to the number of parts that need to be added after the model is painted. The complex landing gear components, various slats, flaps, aerials, and of course all those missiles, which can be kits in themselves.

Nevertheless, I like modern aircraft, and sometimes find myself drawn to building them.  A project that has been getting much of my attention lately, has been Fujimi’s excellent 1/72 scale F-14A.  I’m about 90% finished with the build, but am not squarely in the frustrating part of the project.

I’ve broken the missile pylons and gear doors off a few times already, and I’ve been having trouble getting the landing gear to look convincing. The red edging on the doors has led to smudges of red paint on areas nowhere near them, which meant lots of touchup painting.

Getting all those stripes on the missiles took a couple of nights, but I’m still not sure I like how they look. What do you readers think? What can I do to improve these parts of the kit, and make working on them less frustrating.

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Sprue Cutter’s Union #13: Preparation

Jon B., over at the http://thecombatworkshop.blogspot.com/ has introduced a fun shared feature, where various modeling bloggers participate in a weekly discussion/shared topic. This is the first one I am participating in. Check out his site, and the links therein to see what the previous discussions were about. Some of them are pretty interesting.

The topic for this week is preparation for a new build. The previously published discussion on this topic were interesting for me to read. Like with all things modeling, some folks devote extensive amounts of time to a preparing for a build, while others don’t pay it any mind. Guys like Jon at http://thecombatworkshop.blogspot.com/2013/10/sprue-cutters-union-13-how-i-prepare.html seem to invest a lot of time and effort into doing background research for a build. Others, such as Mike Grant at http://migrantswanderings.blogspot.com/2013/10/best-laid-plans.html and David Knight at http://dknights.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/sprue-cutters-union-13/ don’t take it as far.

I myself tend not to do much background research on a subject. This isn’t because I don’t like to do research. As a professional scientist, research is my business. Perhaps this is one reason I like to keep it away from my hobby in large part. Another reason I don’t invest much time or energy into prep work is that I have a tendency to fall into projects.

When I finish a model I don’t actively plan what I’ll work on next. Instead I tend to spend a few days (or weeks sometimes) waffling back and forth between multiple projects. At some stage I’ll finally get past some invisible threshold on one or two of the projects and devote more time to them. There is no rhyme or reason to what gets picked. If anything, I tend to follow the path of least resistance, and get drawn to projects which are either A) well along in the build, B) not throwing up undue challenges, or C) projects influenced by other peoples’ builds which have excited me.

For example, the last two months I worked on some IL-2 kits. I finished both and wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on next. I started tinkering with an old Monogram A-4, then wandered over to a Revell Tornado for a night or two. But the two projects which really caught my fancy were a Fujimi F-14 which was already about 80% complete and an old Revell/StarfighterDecals P-26, which was inspired by some great Yellow-wings build threads by a fellow who calls himeself “Inch-high” over at the 72nd aircraft forum ()

By the time I get to this stage in a build. I’m too drawn in to do extensive background research. I may do a quick web search to see if I can see photos of the aircraft or tank to determine how to best weather it, but I can’t be bothered to find unit histories, detail close-ups and the like.

That isn’t entirely true. I tend to get a bit more obsessive about my AFV kits than my aircraft kits. I don’t know why. Maybe something to explore in a future topic.

So there you have it. My preparation is to not prepare. I model by the seat of my pants. I do enough planning in real life, and don’t need to make it an aspect of the great escape that this hobby provides for me.

Thanks Jon B. for introducing this activity. I look forward to next week’s topic. Readers, I hope you enjoy these philosophical posts.


Check out the following for more responses:

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Revell’s P-26 with a twist.

Hello dear readers (and deer readers),

I’m going to go ahead and pretend it hasn’t been 2+ years since my previous update and just jump right into a new topic.

Tonight I have started work on Revell’s P-26 Peashooter. Its an elderly kit and is way short on detail. But like many kits of the era (late 60s) it has a fairly accurate overall shape.

I will be using the excellent resin upgrade sets from Starfighter Decals to bring the kit up to a more contemporary standard. In the past, the most I’ve ever done with resin was to install an ejection seat or a bomb or missile, so this is a bit intimidating to me.

The Starfighter set is most excellent. The quality of the castings is top notch, and the pieces are engineered in a way to make removal from casting blocks relatively easy.

The set also comes with a very detailed text with photos instruction guide, so if I screw up its going to be my fault and not Starfighter’s.

The eagle eyed will notice I’ve already removed the pilot’s side door, but I have not yet played with the resin bits. Construction will begin in earnest tomorrow. I got my breathing mask for when I start sanding resin (a carcinogen I’m told), and I’m excited to learn how to do something new.

Stay tuned for updates in the coming days.


Revell Fokker D.VII

Ok, so its been a good while since I actually posted any modeling content on here. That’s because I wasn’t building any “classic” kits I guess. Just a few days ago I found a 1/72 scale Revell Fokker D.VII at a flea market for less than $1.00. I couldn’t say no.

The kit is 1960s vintage and possesses none of the finesse of the Roden kit of the same aircraft. It is buildable though. In the coming weeks I’ll be documenting the build on here.

Lets begin.

To start with, I wanted to see if I could do something about the practical joke of a decal that Revell supplies for the underwing lozenge fabric. Its a white decal with the little polygons outlined in black. You’re supposed to paint each one in yourself. Yeah right! That’s going to look real good.

I wanted to see if I could get around that by coloring in the lozenges with Prismacolor pencils while the decal was still on its backing paper. The decals are pretty flat, so they take the colored pencils well. Revell gives you more of the lozenge than you will need, so I tested on a fragment by coating it with some Microscale Decal Film. I let it dry for about 20 minutes and then trimmed a fragment of the decal.

What do you know? It worked! Unfortunately it still looks fakey with those black outlines.
So. Time for plan B. What’s plan B? I’m not sure yet. I would rather not have to purchase aftermarket lozenge decals just yet. Maybe I can find a scheme that had no unpainted fabric. Anybody know of any?

Still, its good to know that Prismacolor pencils can be used to draw on white, flat coated, decal paper to make intricate designs. Tuck that tip away for safe-keeping next time you need some nose-art. Cool!

Off to party away the old year now, but look for more updates soon.

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2011, The Year of Indecision

Last day of the year, and it was a difficult one. A few things happened in real life this year which were less than pleasant. I won’t go into detail, but I will point out how the models I was working on while going through these events strongly remind me of what I felt at the time. So much so, that I began considering putting these kits out to pasture.

While going through these builds I began to look back on my modeling output for this year. I completed 18 kits; 11 1/72 scale aircraft, one 1/72 scale tank, two 1/35 scale tanks, and four 1/48 scale aircraft. There were at least a dozen other projects which I had either started this year, or continued to work on but didn’t finish. Among these were my two oldest in-progress builds: a Hasegawa B-26 I began in the fall of 2007, and an Esci F-5B first dabbled with in 2005. The B-26 is close to being done, the F-5, not so much.

Besides spitfires, of which I completed three, and almost finished a fourth, the common theme for this year was indecision. I bounced around from one project to another, unable to focus on any particular one. Modeling stops being fun when this happens, and often times, the kits suffer as a result. I ended up destroying two in-progress models, and canning a completed project mere months after it was done. Two of the four 48th scale planes will probably be scrapped for parts as well.

While I can’t foresee what 2012 will be like, I know one thing I can do to make it more fun is to not get so bogged down by multiple projects on the go. No more than two at at a time. Consider it a resolution.