Thursday, July 11, 2019

When real life is as silly as a model

I often make fun of egg planes and their tank and ship siblings — I’m referring here to Meng’s World War Toons tanks and Warship Builder vessels — because I find them, well…silly. But if they float your boat and keep you excited about the hobby, more power to you.

I was surprised to discover this photograph of an actual Navy vessel on Reddit, which looks a helluva lot like an egg ship.

Most readers didn’t know what it is, so Reddit user Emanking2000 explained:

"I operated one in Pearl Harbor, we used it to open and close the security’s gates you see floating at the entrances to Naval Bases. I’m sure it has other purposes that I am unaware of. But it is extremely versatile. The prop can operate at 360 degrees which is nice when pulling a heavy gate in wind while close to obstacles like rocks, piers or shore lines. They are slow as hell but fun to spin in circles when it’s choppy out. Just don’t let Chief see you trying to buck your shipmates off."

I found a picture of another boat from another Reddit thread.

From what I can tell these are more formally referred to as port operations small tugs. They look about as much fun to drive as a Smart Car, but I’d certainly take one out for a spin. Who knows. Seeing one in person could inspire me to build an egg of some sort!

You can read the entire thread on Reddit here.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

We visit Mosquitocon 2019

Once again the boys at IPMS New Jersey did a great job putting on the first show of the season here in the Northeast. Here are some of my favorite entries in the contest.

My favorite entry in the show was this 1/350 Pegasus Models Moon Lander, a concept vehicle from Wernher von Braun. Perfectly constructed and painted.

This 1/48 Wingsy Kits A5M4 Claude has an impeccable finish using decanted Tamiya AS-12 spray lacquer.

No one is better with an airbrush on 1/72 aircraft than Dario Guiliano. This Tamiya Corsair and Tamiya Fw-190 were amazing to see in person.

Amodel models are not the easiest to build much less turn into a masterpiece, but the modeler of this M-50 is to be commended not just for his effort but for the outstanding result.

I have the utmost of respect for ship modelers and their ability to manage such fine, detailed parts. This 1/350 USS Lake Erie, converted from Dragon's USS Mobile Bay, was beautifully assembled.

Incredible conversion of a '25 Ford chop top coup built from spare parts.

Here’s a 1/25 AMT 1970 Chevy Camaro with tons of details — scratchbuilt fender flares and rear suspension, detailed engine, custom food and scoop, and a finish to die for.

This B-24D shared the category my AC-119K was in and deservedly took first place.

An excellent Airfix 1/48 P-51D with Eduard cockpit, wheels, prop, and spinner.

This eye-catching vignette of a Dragon 1/72 M4 Sherman was incredibly well done. The groundwork even included sand the modeler gathered from Utah Beach.

I’ve always enjoyed the Miscellaneous categories in contests, and this year’s Mosquitocon contest was no different. I really liked this scratchbuilt 1/8 scale Hurst Jaws of Life.

See you next year!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

More base ideas from The Container Store

A few years ago I gave you some creative ideas for bases and mentioned The Container Store as a potential source of items you can re-purpose as bases. I recently visited my local store and noted several items that are currently available. Many of them can be used exactly as purchased, or you can paint them to make them more suitable for your latest model.

Stackable bamboo drawer organizers come in a variety of sizes, and when flipped over and a suitable surface applied (such as sheet plastic or a mirror cut to size), provide a 1-2 inch high base for any model. A bargain at between $3 to $8.

These display cubes come in only two sizes, 6” x 3 1/2” x 6” and 9” x 3 1/2” x 9”, but they’re perfect for armor, vignettes, and small dioramas. They come in brown, white, and black finishes.

These lacquered storage boxes come in four sizes and seven colors, and you can use the box itself for a base (think of the pedestal-like bases popular in European contests) as well as the lid; just flip them over! These cost between $8 and $20.

These accessory trays are similar to the lacquered storage boxes but are more shallow and without lids. Available in three sizes, they’re probably most suitable to small aircraft and armor.

While you’re in the store, keep an eye out for Novus’s polishing products, which you'll need for polishing aircraft canopies. They’re available individually in 8 oz. bottles and as a 2 oz. set.

Remember, the base you use can either complement or detract from a great looking model!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

F-16 nose art of the 56th TTW

Nose art has been seen on many aircraft types over the years, but less so on the F-16 for some reason. True, there was the flurry of art we saw during the Gulf War on Vipers from the 17th TFS, and a decade later a few Vipers of the 389th FS sported some very elaborate art upon their deployment to the war in Afghanistan. But compared to other aircraft types, the F-16 hasn’t been a canvas for much art.

Thanks to my membership in a Facebook group, I discovered nose art on an F-16 from the 56th TTW in 1990. These drawings were added to F-16C 87-0256 when it was assigned to the 61st TFTS during a TDY deployment to Tyndall AFB. (This particular airframe served at the 56th’s “Wing King,” which you can see in this image on Flikr.) What I find interesting is this artwork was added literally to the nose of the aircraft; the artwork added to the 17th and 389th aircraft was added below and behind the canopy.

I reached out to JC Berlan, the aircraft’s assistant crew chief during the deployment, and he told me that this first version of the artwork — depicting a rooster doing something terribly inappropriate to a dog — was allegedly drawn by someone from the 19th TFS. The F-16s from MacDill shared the flightline with the 19th just long enough for someone to add the risqué artwork when no one was looking.

Aviation enthusiasts and patch collectors will recall that a rooster is seen on the emblem of the 19th TFS. The dog represents the iconic bulldog on the 61st TFTS emblem, an image that goes back to the 56th FG during World War Two.

After the artwork was discovered, JC modified it by erasing everything except the eyes of the dog and replacing it with image of the shark about to consume an F-15, an aircraft in service at the time with Tyndall’s 325th TTW. By this point, he said, the 19th had returned to Shaw AFB, so presumably there was no reason to throw shade back in their direction. “Panama City 1990” commemorates the team’s brief deployment to Tyndall, and "Shark Bite" was a term the crew got from Club La Vela on Panama City Beach.

JC said the commander allowed the aircraft to return to MacDill with the artwork. It was quickly removed when they landed, because the aircraft was nominated for, and won, Proud Falcon, a program that recognized the Crew Chief of the Month.

Leave it to pilots and their maintainers to have a good time taking jabs at each other!

My thanks to JC Berlan for the information and to Rob Seibert for the photos. The 19th and 61st squadron patches are from my own collection.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The three weird trends of 2018

A few days ago I shared a summary of the big stories of 2018, but we should also reflect on the weird trends that caught my attention throughout the year.

Sexy women

2018 is likely to be the year of the #timesup and #metoo movements, but modelers could care less. We saw a large number of products depicting women in ways that many women wouldn’t be comfortable with.

Master Box released several female figures in their 1/24 scale “Trucker Series," from one that is likely intended to be a prostitute and a pair of sexy hitchhikers.

Master Box also added to their own Pinup Series.

Modern Armies in Miniatures released a number of 1/24 female figures depicting car models, runway models, and pinup girls.

Armor35 also jumped on the bombshell bandwagon with an extensive line of women in uniforms.

Even Dolman Miniatures, one of my favorite figure manufacturers with an outstanding lineup of military subjects, got in on the action with a couple of female figures, like this busty, saluting woman.

Not to be left out, Hasegawa offers these paddock girls.

Egg models

A few years ago I wrote about several trends in the hobby that I don’t understand, and one of them was egg planes. Apparently many of you enjoy them, because the trend exploded in 2018 with not just egg planes, but tanks and ships as well!

Freedom Model Kits released egg models of the F-5 and F-104 under a new “Compact Series.”

Meng Model released a number of weird warships in an egg-like series, such as the USS Missouri, USS Lexington, and the Scharnhorst.

They also have a line of armor, including the Tiger, Pz.Kpfw. III, and a Santa-themed M4 Sherman.

How do we know this is a legit theme? Well, there’s a book on the genre from AK Interactive, a Santa themed Sherman from Meng for the holidays, aftermarket (you read that right…aftermarket) from KASL Hobby, and a Facebook group (of course).

Oh, and a few modelers are doing conversions!

Bizarre German armor

The German military has been a source of fascination for modelers for a long time, and with the World of Tanks video game has provided fodder for the imaginations of modelers around the world. That’s manifested itself in a number of new kits of hypothetical German war machines.

I wrote about Revell’s flying saucer in my 2018 year-end review, but we also saw the strange Kugelpanzer 41 rolling ball thingamajig from MiniArt (with interior) and a huge line of 1/72 tanks from Modelcollect’s Fist of War series, such as an E-100 walking tank.

It's been a strange year in many ways. I can't imagine 2019 will be any different, but time will tell. Let's meet up here in a year and discuss what we saw.

Happy New Year, everyone! As always, build what makes you happy!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 in review

There are just a few days left in 2018, so let’s take a look back at the year that was and all of the things that generated buzz among modelers around the world.


Participants on Hyperscale’s forums went berserk when the site began loading slowly. “I don’t have time for this,” said one member. Another pointed out, “I can’t get into Plastic Pics at all.” Yet another found himself on the brink, exclaiming, "I’m giving up on Hyperscale until a new platform is found.”


February saw the release of the Great Wall Hobby 1/48 Su-35, which resulted in a 44-page discussion on ARC. We usually don’t see that level of conversation unless it’s a Bf-109 or AMK’s F-14.


The remains of the USS Lexington were located at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and aviation enthusiasts went crazy upon seeing clear images of the ship and its aircraft. One excited modeler even went so far to suggest that we modelers should petition the Navy to permit the recovery of the aircraft and start a Go Fund Me page to raise the millions of dollars required to do so.


After years of reluctance on the part of the webmaster, Hyperscale finally converted their forum to a format similar to other forums using the Tapatalk platform.


Armor modelers ooh’d and aaah’d at the amazing quality of models displays at the Moson show in Hungary. In case you were on another planet in May, Martin Hronský has arguably the best collection of photos (more than 900) on Flickr. Other albums can be found throughout Facebook.


In June modelers lost their shit when Revell pulled its weird model of a hypothetical German flying saucer from hobby shop shelves due to pressure from the PC police. Modellers got the last laugh when the model hit the number one spot on Hannants’ list of best-selling products a week or two later.

Then, just when we thought modelers had no more shit to lose, Eduard made a political statement about the US talks with North Korea that set off an even larger shit storm. Their post to Facebook earned almost 400 comments. A subsequent clarification generated more than 200.


The IPMS National Convention was held in July, which always generates a good deal of conversation. You can view IPMS's slideshow of the award winners here. Judges Best of Show went to this 1/35 Stryker.

On a somewhat related note, my Annual Virtual Convention was a total flop. I'm saying goodbye to that idea.


Modelcollect released its 1/72 B-52G, and despite modelers’ enthusiastic anticipation of the kit (including me), they were disappointed to find significant inaccuracies in the model. To their credit, Modelcollect has fixed those inaccuracies in subsequent releases.

August also saw a very early CAD image posted to Facebook of what appeared to be a Blackburn Buccaneer. When it was attributed to Kitty Hawk, lengthy discussions followed with the typical comments of "I'm glad we're getting a Buccaneer," versus the "It's going to be poorly engineered." As my friend John says, "Let's wait and see what happens."


Not to be outdone by Eduard, Meng entered the political fray when it announced they would include a resin figure of Donald Trump in an upcoming release of a 1/35 M1A2 Abrams. That wouldn’t be so bad except the figure was a horrific likeness of the man.


Wingnut Wings sent the modeling interwebz ablaze with their announcement of a 1/32 Lancaster, despite their having said over the years that they wouldn't produce anything beyond the WW1 time period. That’s a promise many modelers were happy to see broken. This will give us two 1/32 Lancasters to choose from, the other from HK Models. Wingnut Wings is taking their model a step further, representing stressed skin over the fuselage. Matt over at Doog’s Models suggested that this might be a trend we see in future releases. Let's hope so!


Mantis Miniatures’ exciting release of a 1/24 scale snail was overshadowed by two announcements at the show. Airfix showed off its 1/24 F6F Hellcat and Wingnut Wings its 1/32 Handley Page 0/400. Both of these kits could easily be considered the biggest announcement of the year.

What I really liked about Airfix's announcement of the Hellcat was the video that soon followed, which featured the model's designer, Christopher Parker-Joy. It's very unusual to know the names of the designers behind a model, so it was a treat to hear Chris explain his team's approach to designing and tooling the model.

As if their 1/32 Lancaster isn't reason enough to celebrate 2018, Wingnut Wings announced its upcoming 1/32 HP 0/400. I'm not as privy to conversations around the company's releases as many of you are, but I think the last model that generated so much conversation was their Felixstowe.


In a year full of political discord, Meng capped it off with a special edition of their 1/35 T-90A, which includes a figure of Vladimir Putin riding a bear.

That, my friends, was 2018. I wonder what 2019 will bring....