Sunday, January 29, 2023

This model is kaput

Our hobby should bring us joy, but at the moment this Arii 1/72 Ki-46 Dinah is not.

I wrote about the model a couple of weeks ago, asking myself why I'm building it. I didn't have a compelling reason then, and that feeling of apathy has remained. I haven't looked forward to working on it much less finishing it, and even after getting a coat of paint on the underside (which for me is when the real fun begins), I'm just not feeling it. And so...

I'm done with it.

The canopy has terrible fit, and a seam on the underside of the fuselage has opened up. I could use my basic modeling skills to fix these things, but I don't have it in me to finish it. The time that I spend on this model is time that I could spend on another model, one that truly excites me.

And so, if a model isn't bringing you joy, it's time to move on.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Why am I building this model?

Some of you will laugh at me, but I have to fess up.

A few days ago I was filling a nasty seam on this Arii 1/72 Ki-46 Dinah and found myself wondering, why am I building this model?

I've had the model in my stash for over 10 years, and as you can see I've also purchased aftermarket decals and the KV Models Canopy mask.

The thing is, I barely have a passing interest in Japanese aircraft, and I don't have a strong affinity for the Ki-46 in particular. The only reason I can think of for my decision to build the model is that its paint scheme won't be blue or grey. (The last model I built was an F-4S in the Ferris scheme, so to avoid the monotony of painting the same color over and over again, I try to select a different palate for each successive model I build.)

I don't have to tell any of you that when our heart isn't in a build, the process of building the model isn't satisfying. I don't look forward to spending time with the Dinah. Ultimately, I don't really care if the outcome is mediocre.

As I'm building the Dinah, I'm surrounded by a few hundred other models that I find much more compelling. Those are the models that should be on my workbench, not this one nor any other model that doesn't excite me.

I'll share more about the implications of this realization in the coming weeks, but I think it's interesting to consider why we build what we build. Or if we should be building something else.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

The Notable Moments of 2021

Let's take a look back at the best and most interesting models and moments of 2021.

We'll begin with the best box art of 2021. I think that award must go to Miniart for their Bulgarian Maybach T-IV H

The best box art for an aircraft goes to Jetmads for its 1/32 Viggen.

Most modelers would agree that the best release of 2021 was the Tamiya F-4B Phantom II, which hit the market in June. Sprue Brothers alone had more than 500 in stock. A trendy followed thereafter whereby every modeler who bought the kit was compelled to post a photo of it.

By mid-July the first Tamiya 1/48 F-4B was seen on the secondary market.

Border Models kicked off the year by announcing a 1/35 Bf-109G-6. That’s right…1/35 scale, not 1/32. I’ll be curious to see if we see additional 1/35 aircraft releases.

Also in January, without warning or any formal announcement, Squadron closed up shop for good. In April the Squadron name and the company’s inventory were auctioned with many of the lots going to smaller dealers. A month later Chris Decker — the force behind Midship Models, Yankee Modelworks, and Free Time Hobbies — announced his purchase of Squadron’s assets and his plan to re-launch the business.

In March Kinetic posted a teaser on their Facebook page about their next new release, which generated nearly 600 comments from their followers. The following month they announced the kit, a new tool 1/48 Fiat G.91. A keen eyed modeler found a minor inaccuracy in the wing leading edge, and Kinetic said they would postpone the release to fix the error.

In June Airfix announced that they were now on TikTok. I could be wrong, but I think they’re the first plastic model manufacturer to do that.

Also in June, Kitty Hawk announced they were closing up shop, which predictably generated mixed reactions within the aircraft modeling community. Many modelers suggested the company brought it on themselves with poorly engineered kits, though everyone seemed to agree that their subject choices were very strong. Either way, they will be missed.

There were other exciting and curious product releases throughout the year.

Just as the IPMS National Convention was kicking off, Sprue Brothers announced a joint effort with Phantom Phreaks to release 12 versions of the F-4 Phantom.

Some of the designers behind the defunct Wingnut Wings announced a new company, Kotare, and announced a 1/32 Spitfire Mk Ia for release in 2022.

Yenmodels released what must be the most specific kit of the year, a 1/35 Pripyat town sign.

CHINO MODEL announced what’s probably the most unusual item of the year, 3D printed ears. Yes, you heard that right, ears.

For those of you chomping at the bit to do a beach diorama, Armor35 released these figures.

Finally, the low point of 2021 has to be this 1/4 scale figure. 

It can only get better from here.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Armorcon and feedback on my models

After the IPMS National Convention a couple of months ago there was the typical cluster of conversations about judging, with modelers picking sides on the never-ending IPMS vs GSM debate. I see the value of both, albeit with tweaks to improve them, but that’s not my intent with this post.

What I’d like to do is share the value of the feedback that the GSM method (sometimes) provides. Last weekend I attended Armorcon in Connecticut, a show that I regularly attend. I took a few photos, but my photography skills are down there with my rigging skills, so I won’t embarrass myself by sharing them. Instead I’ll point you a great collection of photos that my neighbors at IPMS New Jersey shared on their Facebook page.

I entered three models in the contest, and I want to share the judges' feedback. (My thanks to IPMS NJ for allowing me to use their photos of my models.)

This is my Dragon 1/35 T-34/85 in Croatian markings. As points of reference, I used Voyager photoetch, an Eduard barrel, Kraya cables, a Hauler M2 machine gun, and Friulmodel tracks.

The judges' feedback:

  • Right front track sticks out past the fender, and bigger gap on the right than the other side of tracks.
  • Great paint finish.
  • Track alignment way off.
  • Decent build. Keep up the good work.
  • Three wheels float on left.
  • Rear left track crowded.
  • Nice screens.

Next is my Trumpeter 1/35 BTR-80 in Ukraine markings. I used Miniarm wheels, DAN Models sandbags, and a Master KPVT machine gun.

The judges’ feedback:

  • Left rear tires off the base.
  • Back left tire is towed out and not touching the ground.
  • Nice build.
  • Right front and left rear wheels don’t touch.
  • Small glue spots on hatch hinges.
  • Lens not in housing completely.

Finally my Italeri 1/35 L6/40 Carro, which has only a Greif lens and Friulmodel tracks.

The judges’ feedback:

  • Left idler wheel not attached to track.
  • Some missing paint.
  • Love those Italian tiny tankettes!
  • Nice paint overall.
  • Beware. Unpainted surfaces.
  • Friuli tracks not sitting.
  • Tracks not tight on idler.
  • Seam upper hull back.
  • Missing paint in spots.
  • Good decals.
  • Nice consistency on weathering and chipping. 
  • Friul not easy to deal with.
  • Paint looks a bit spotty and slight seam visible on upper hull.
  • Ejector pin marks on inside of bogey frames.

When I got home I looked at the feedback vis a vis the models, and each comment was fair and on point. With the exception of the compliments, each item is objective; there were no opinions that I could debate. Most importantly, it confirmed what I already know about my modeling, that I struggle with alignment. That information motivates me to be more diligent as I assemble my models, particularly the hull and running gear. 

What I find mildly amusing are the things that I don’t like about these models that the judges didn’t pick up on. For example, my self-made sandbags on the T-34/85 are, in hindsight, terribly executed; the judges said nothing about them. On my BTR-80, I’m disappointed in my painting of the aftermarket resin sandbags, but the judges either didn’t notice or thought they look good.

Ultimately contests are not about the competition. I know that’s strange to say, but I believe it’s true. I enjoyed looking at a couple hundred models and finding inspiration in others’ work. That I got some feedback on my models is pretty cool, too, so it was a day well spent.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Automotive modeling inspiration

I don’t write about automotive subjects often enough, if only because I build aircraft, armor, and figures. That said, I really enjoy ogling over a well detailed model of a car or truck, especially those intended for the racetrack. I have a couple of car models in my stash, so I’m always looking for inspiration to finally crack one open and see if my skills can do them justice.

There was no shortage of great looking automotive models at the IPMS National Convention last month, but one caught my eye. Daniel Valencia’s Italeri 1/35 Opel truck, which won first place in its category, Automotive Conversions and Scratchbuild.

The good folks with the Silicon Valley Scale Modelers kindly uploaded the convention awards presentation slide show with the scale modeling community, but the one photo of Daniel’s model wasn’t enough to indulge my curiosity, so I contacted him and he kindly sent me a few photos that I share here.

Daniel has a background in racing and has fabricated race cars himself, so he has an understanding of these vehicles that aided him immensely in this build. He said the model consists of roughly 3,000 parts. Many of them are scratchbuilt of course, and those that come from other models invariably required modification.

I hope you find Daniel’s work as inspiring as I do.

If you’d like more information about this truck, Daniel explains all of the design considerations that go into building the actual vehicle on his YouTube channel.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Contests are back! Mosquitocon 2021

Mosquitocon kicks off the contest season here in the Northeast every April, so when COVID struck last year the contest was cancelled, a big disappointment to area modelers. After another delay earlier this year, IPMS New Jersey was finally able to schedule the show for late July 2021. Based on the attendance and entries, it did not disappoint. Here are a few of my favorite entries across the major categories.

I always enjoy seeing the Revell 1/48 B-1B built up, particularly knowing how challenging it is to build. This entry featured the Armycast wing set; Barracuda intakes, wheels, and ECM bits; Metallic Details exhaust nozzles; scratchbuild fuel tank; and highly modified landing gear. One of the most impressive builds I’ve seen of the kit!

The finish on this Kinetic 1/48 Super Etendard was expertly done.

Speaking of finishes, this Tamiya 1/48 P-51D was beautifully painted with Gunze Super Metallic paint.

I wrote about in-flight aircraft a few years ago, so it’s always a treat to see a model represented in its natural environment, so to speak. This Airfix 1/72 Buccaneer was very nicely done.

A few of you are old enough to remember when vacuform kits were somewhat more mainstream than they are today, so it’s great to see one executed as well as this Execuform 1/72 XB-51. It included part of a True Details F-94 resin cockpit, modified landing gear from a Hasegawa B-47, and (as you might imagine) lots of scratchbuilt parts.

Brengun has produced some interesting models over the last few years, and this YHO-1A shows how well they can be built. All of the brass parts were soldered. The modeler noted that the rotor was driven by compressed air jets, which eliminated the need for a tail rotor.

While we’re looking at tiny models, this Sword 1/72 Beechcraft D17S  Staggerwing was absolutely gorgeous. Among all of the modifications the modeler made to the kit, most impressive was the scratchbuild windscreen and windows. I mean…wow!

My favorite armor entry was this Trumpeter 1/35 MTVR gun truck. It features several parts from Live Resin, Def Models, and Master Models. The weathering was excellently done, reflecting what we see from the best European modelers.

Another excellent finish I noticed was on this Cooper State Models 1/35 Lanchester armored car.

This Flyhawk 1/700 HMS Lively was gorgeous. The painting of many of the components and accessories really highlighted important parts of the ship.

I’m always intrigued by what a good modeler can do with cars, so this Revell 1/25 Tony Nancy 22 JR dragster was impressive.

Weathered cars is no longer a trend. This Revell 1/25 57 Ford Gasser finished as a barn fine was perfectly done. Built out-of-the-box, the weathering made it pop. 

One of the best figures in the contest was this Nosferatu bust.

Gundham, science fiction, and fantasy entries continue to gain in popularity. I think this year’s contest had more entries than ever. This Wave 1/20 Gans caught my attention. The modeler added weld beads, antenna, fuel tanks, and N scale train parts.

I always enjoy the miscellaneous entries, such as this Airfix 1/32 1804 locomotive. What was great about this entry — besides the model itself — was the advice the modeler provided on the entry form. I'd love to see this catch on.

See you next year. With any luck, in April!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

My go-to books

 It’s 10pm. You’re tired. Too tired to work on a model. You’re bored with the internet. But you want to feed your interest in the hobby, so you pull a few books off the shelf and browse them. What books do you typically select?

I had an interesting conversation with friends last week when someone asked what our go-to books are when we want to kill time or find inspiration. Because I often grab a book off the shelf when I want to read in bed, it was pretty easy for me to share my favorites.

Diego Quijano has inspired me for a long time, so his books are always within reach. His encyclopedia series offer a ton of rich content, so every time I browse them I’m reminded to try something new.

I can say the same thing about Adam Wilder’s books on armor. They are perfectly illustrated and offer a wealth of techniques and inspiration.

I’m a sentimental old fool, so Squadron’s line of books have long-offered more than a few ideas and always get my creative juices flowing and eager to start something new.

For armor subjects, Concord’s books are jam packed with excellent photos of armor in action. They are out of print now, but they’re an excellent value when you can find them online or at contests.

There you have it. What books do you find yourself looking at over and over?