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


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: