You might be on a model building forum if…

  1. The original poster’s question has been answered in full, but 25 other guys have to show off that they also know the answer, so they answer it again.
  2. You ask how to improve some aspect of an older kit or tool you own, and the first reply is to buy the newer, better kit/tool.
  3. Somebody tells you your latest build is unrealistic because you didn’t use the latest en-vogue weathering technique.
  4. Some guy responds to every gallery post he sees with nothing but the most superlative hyperbole!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The quality of the build doesn’t seem to matter.
  5. An otherwise solid guy uses the term “noice!” all of the time.  He’s a really nice guy, so you don’t want to call him out on it, but dammit that looks silly – its something only dude-bros and spazzes should say.
  6. The blockhead who criticizes every new release for minor inaccuracies, doesn’t seem to actually build any models. Ever.
  7. When you see a model with visible seam-lines, wiggly canopy frames, and a 5 mm thick coat of shiny enamel, and offer polite creative criticism on how the modeler can improve his future work – you’re called out for being mean
  8. WeEd_LoRd69_420 appears out of nowhere and starts panhandling for free models.
  9. The dramatic keyboard warrior who always picks fights with others, gets boxed into a logic corner, and cries that the others are mean to him
  10. Some ding-dong (often same as #9) keeps making noise about how he’s going to leave the forum, because it sucks, and the mod is unfair, just never seems able to leave.Don’t take any of what I said too seriously. Forums are great.  They seem to be slowly going the way of the mammoth, and it is really a shame. Avoid the wasteland that is facebook (except for this blog’s corresponding site 😀 ), and support your local forum.  They are places for thoughtful discussion, well archived information about a variety of subjects, including technical data, build logs, and product reviews. Best of all – many have group builds!

    Scale Modeling Haven recommends the following.

    Aircraft Resource Center – Mostly jet guys these days, but for sheer volume of info – unsurpassed
    http://www.arcforums.com/forums/air/

    The Modeling Madness Forum – Solid, broad range knowledge base, minimal BS –
    http://s3.zetaboards.com/readersforum/index/

    Britmodeller – A great place for generalists. Tanks, planes, boats, figures – they’re all there, and more.  A good-natured crowd. Great place for well run group builds. Beware of the easily offended moderator.
    https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?act=idx

    Unofficial Airfix Modelers Forum – Don’t let the name fool you, all kinds of modeling is welcome here. The regulars have a deep appreciation for classic British kits, without fetishizing them, like some of their competing forums do.  These guys take a more laid back approach to modeling, some might call them amateurish, but there is plenty of talent if you look. You won’t find many rivet counters or “Experten” here.
    http://uamf.org.uk/

    International Scale Modeller Forum – I’m still feeling my way around this one. This is a generalist forum, but the car modeling section seems especially active, and there is a lot of great talent there. At the same time, there IS such a thing as a stupid question, and this place is a nexus for them. Nevertheless, it seems like a fun place to visit.
    http://www.intscalemodeller.com/index.php

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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

 photo IMG_0125.jpg

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

Image

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

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.

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:

How much do you build? Rambling Random Thoughts For This Week.

A question to my readers (I think there are upwards of five of you now!)

How often do you model?

Sometimes real-life gets in the way of our hobbies, but I wonder how much leisure time folks spend on building? My wife and I don’t have children, and we rent an apartment, so we don’t have to worry about taking care of little ones or of doing yard-work, or doing fixer-upper type things around the house. I have a dissertation that eats up a good bit of time, but we still have a lot of leisure time. Sometimes we spend it by going out with friends, watching movies, playing video-games, or spending time at the gym, or what have you. I also spend time making music, and practicing with my band, but both of us probably spend 75% of our free-time with our hobbies. For her that means knitting, for me its my plastic tanks and airplanes.

This came to me after looking at people’s 2010 modeling yearbooks on several modeling forums. The number of kits completed per year ranged from 0 to around 100, but for the most part ranged between 12 and 20 models. I built 24 kits last year, but had I not rushed on a few, I most likely would have fallen squarely into the 12-20 range.

If the other people who fall into that category build at about the rate that I do, then it probably averages out to 2-3 hours per evening for perhaps 9 months out of a year (not necessarily contiguously). That is a very unscientific and untested assumption. Instead, its based on my output from last year. I spent a lot of time at the workbench from January to March, then built nothing until July when things picked up again, and kept running at full tilt until right before Christmas.

I wonder how that compares to other builders. I wonder if the guys who produce one or two kits per year, typically build very deliberately and slowly, or if they just don’t have much time to build. I imagine both scenarios exist. I’d also be very interested to hear from those who are able to produce well over fifty kits per year. How much of your leisure time do you spend building?

Also would love to hear if your building episodes are punctuated by long breaks, or if you tend to keep a steady pace, barring real life interruptions.

Please share your thoughts. and vote in the poll below.
Remember, this is just to incite conversation, so no harsh judgments of each others habits.

Runaway modeling

No, not runway modeling, runaway modeling.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a fairly comfortable life, with a good job, a good wife, a healthy social life, and many interests and activities outside of gluing plastic. But I do have a propensity to blow huge chunks of time at the work bench (and yes, I realize this is very much a First World “problem”). I don’t have any children, so on some nights, when there is nothing else going on, I have, at least in theory, all afternoon and evening after I come home from work, to play with my models. Sounds fun, huh? It is for a bit.

The last few evenings I have been painting my Airfix BF-110. The kit is typical modern Airfix; generally accurate in shape, but a bit spartan in terms of detail, and with those heavy handed awful panel lines. But that isn’t the point. A few nights ago I painted the aircraft in a RLM 02/71 splinter camo as the instructions suggested. After I was finished I began poking around the web to see how winter whitewash camouflage was applied to these planes and realized Airfix might have gotten the colors wrong. I immediately went into OCD mode and began repainting. Its at times like these that I tend to get sloppy, and often mess up kits.

BF-110

The original scheme was airbrushed, and masked over the course of three or four one to two hour sessions. No big deal, right? Well, once I started to repaint I got the overwhelming urge to fix the mistake NOW! I don’t understand why I get that way, but I do. I began to brush paint a new camouflage over the old pattern. Things began to go wrong. I began getting brush marks, I began to get uneven coverage. I broke off one of the wheel well doors. And I was getting tired. All in all, I had spent about 4 hours trying to fix a mistake and making it worse. I went to bed still obsessing about how I was going to fix the mess.

The next day I went to work, and the moment I got home I went back to fussing with the kit. I began to airbrush over some of my mistakes, and produced an acceptable, if somewhat sloppy, reproduction of German early-mid war camouflage. This took some three hours, most of which I could have devoted to doing something with my wife, taking the dog for a walk, going for a jog, playing guitar…hell, anything! Why, because not for a moment during those three hours did I feel like modeling! Crazy, huh?

To top it off, I caught wind of the fact that perhaps my first camouflage wasn’t wrong anyway.

second incarnation

Nevertheless, at this point I was determined to make the model not look like a complete mess, so I continued to paint. I began misting on thin coats of white paint, irregularly to simulate the winter whitewash. It was starting to look ok, so after about an hour of this, I put the model away for the evening.

No longer freaking out; the next night I came home from work, went to the gym, had some family time, and finally sat down with the kit around 6:30 PM. I fully intended to spend no more than an hour or two at the bench. I “distressed” the winter whitewash, applied a coat of floor polish (which made things looks a bit wonky again – but no stress this time as I was expecting that), and walked away. I came back at it a few hours later, once the polish was dry, and applied some decals.

now with whitewash

I should have left it there. But I decided I didn’t like that the fuselage band yellow wasn’t matching the yellow on the decals. So I started trying to fix it! Well needless to say, there went the rest of the evening again. In the end I managed to get a more or less acceptable result, but not before almost ruining parts of the finish, and fraying more nerves.

What a waste of time! I burned away, I don’t know how many valuable hours the last few nights. I have a decent looking BF-110, which will probably look pretty good once its actually finished, but A) I’m tired of the model, and really have no inclination to keep working on it now, and B) No matter how decent it ends up looking, there will be minor scars from all of my “fixing” of things.

If I had not let myself obsess over mistakes which could have been addressed slowly, over the course of a few short, productive, and FUN modeling sessions, I probably would have had the model fixed by now anyway, and would still be viewing my time with the BF-110 as a treat, a pleasant distraction. Which is what modeling should be.

I tell myself I’ll never do it again. I will manage my time more efficiently and not waste time modeling, when modeling stops being fun. There are people out there who would kill to have the luxury of leisure time, and by letting myself turn my leisure time into frustration I am doing myself a disservice, and insulting them.

Comments?

Hello world!

Welcome to my modeling blog. Does the internet need another modeling blog? No doubt, it does not. So what will this page offer that others don’t? Perhaps little more than a portfolio of my own work, but in the process I hope to show casual modelers, young modelers, and other folks who don’t take this hobby too seriously, that you don’t need to be too pedantic to produce a nice representation of a real tank, aircraft, car, ship, or whatever else you wish to build.

There are plenty of pages out there for people who wish to know how to superdetail their kits, and how to track down the historic photo which will show exactly what a particular finish looked like. There is nothing wrong with seeking that level of detail, but that part of the modeling community is already being served by sites like http://www.armorama.com http://www.aircraftresourcecenter.com http://www.planetarmor.com and many many more.

All three of those sites are great sites, and feature great tips, and great forums. But that type of modeling is not for everybody. I’m one of those people who enjoys a kit for a what it is; a fun project which hopefully will look nice sitting on my display shelf. I will put in the effort to make things looks as good as I can, and if the kit has some glaring omissions, then I will try to fix them. For the most part though, I’m of the opinion that if it looks right, it is right.

With that said, I tend to gravitate towards older, simpler kits. While I will on occasion build one of the very expensive super-kits coming out of China and Japan,  I am far more likely to grab an old English or American (or French or Italian or whatever) beater model, and try to turn it into something impressive. It doesn’t take a great expensive kit to produce a great looking model.

A 1/35th scale Dragon Panzer Ia built in 2008 qualifies as a super kit. This is built right from the box and brush painted

A 1/72 scale Polish 7TP tank built from a cheap and simple Mirage kit

I hope that the techniques I show on this site can help other casual and younger modelers that they too can produce fine work, and that you don’t need to invest into aftermarket products and fancy expensive tools to make a nice kit.

I also hope to show the more serious modelers who have lost sight of the fun that this hobby can bring, that they too don’t need to spend months researching a topic, and then replacing every .5mm hex-bolt and wingnut in order create a nice model.

As this blog evolves, I intend for it to feature build-logs, kit reviews, occasional musings, and how-to articles. It will also serve as a gallery of my own work. If readers wish to contribute articles, they should contact me directly at the link onscreen