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.

January


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


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.


March


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.


April


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.

May


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 Hronsk√Ĺ has arguably the best collection of photos (more than 900) on Flickr. Other albums can be found throughout Facebook.

June


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.

July


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.

August


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."


September


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.


October


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!


November


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.


December


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....

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Time to be thankful again

It’s been three years since I shared the things I’m thankful for, so I thought it time to reflect again on all the good things I enjoy in our hobby.

Scribing tape


I’ve always intended to write about my experience scribing -- because I’ve found it to be quite zen -- but just haven’t gotten around to it. The desire is stronger now after having discovered HIQ Carving Guide Tape via Hobbyworld USA. If you’ve struggled scribing around curved surfaces — trying to apply multiple layers of masking tape to create a scribing guide or cutting long strips of label tape — you’ll find that HIQ’s tape is the bee’s knees.


Modeling reference books


Over the last few years we've seen an explosion of magazines and books describing how master modelers, build, convert, paint, and weather their models. We’ve come a long way from simple 4-5 page articles in magazines. Today you can find a 25-step photo instruction on how to paint and weather a P-51D fuel tank and entire books dedicated to building a single model. With so many books explaining every little technique, there’s seemingly no excuse not to build a decent model.


Video reviews


YouTube has become a prime medium for delivering thorough in-box reviews of new kits. Web sites such as The Modeling News and BritModeller have long offered comprehensive photo coverage of new kits, but a video offers a new dimension to assessing them. Look at the BlitzGreigModelWorks or Genessis Models YouTube channel for good examples.


Facebook groups


I know I’ve been critical of the deluge of groups on Facebook, but the result has been an abundance of information shared from all corners of the globe. I suspect many of the groups we’ve joined have been created by modelers for modelers, but they attract real-world pilots, soldiers, seamen, etc. who are eager to share their photos and experiences. We modelers have everything to gain. I’m still concerned that content is being diluted when there are so many groups intended for the same subject (for example, nearly 15 groups for the F-4 Phantom), but the value of Facebook cannot be denied.

Our hobby


The older I get, the more I realize that most people don’t have a hobby. While those folks are wasting away watching television or doing god-knows-what, scale modelers like us are actively engaged in history, research, and craftsmanship. We’re lucky to have a passion that drives our thoughts and activities on a day to day basis.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

We visit Maraudercon

You know it's a great contest when there are vendors in the bathroom!


But seriously folks, I had the pleasure of attending Maraudercon, north of Baltimore, this past weekend, and it was arguably the best of the three contests I attended in 2018. The contest had more than 500 entries, and the vendors were a mix of professional dealers and private sellers, all of them offering a variety of paints, supplies, books, aftermarket, and kits. And oh were there bargains!

Maraudercon is a bit unusual in two respects — it’s held every two years, and two chapters join forces host it (IPMS Baltimore and IPMS/Washington DC). I can only guess why they choose not to make it an annual event, but after having attended in 2016, the show will definitely be on my must-attend list in the years to come. The only thing that might keep me away is an early snowstorm, like the one we saw here in the Northeast just two days earlier.

In the contest room, the tables were full and the quality high. Here are a few of my favorite entries, with others posted on my Facebook page.

My two favorite models on the table came from the same modeler, Nelson Key. This guy is expert at two of the more complex aircraft finishes that all of us have discussed on the discussion boards, the metallic-like paint of the F-22A Raptor and the tedious masking of the F-35A Lightning. The paint on his  Hasegawa F-22 was absolutely perfect, and the masking on the Meng F-35A as tight and precise as anyone could ask. It was a pleasure to see both in the flesh.




My long-time readers may remember my struggles with rigging several years ago, but the modeler of this 1/72 Voisin 3 (a combination of Eduard and Flashback kits) seems to have no problems with it whatsoever. I don’t know the modeler, but his models always impress.


This was the first time I’ve seen the newish Kitty Hawk 1/32 OS2U-2 Kingfisher in person, and it’s an impressive model on its own, but with the Eduard Big Ed set and skills to impress, the modeler of this example set a high bar to inspire others.



If I were to award just one model for degree of effort and overall success it would be this Testors 1/48 SR-71. I’ve never built one, but everyone of us has heard stories about how difficult the kit is to build. That this modeler was able to create such in impressive model speaks highly of his skills and dedication.



This Kitty Hawk 1/35 T-28B stood out in the large scale category and its entry form was accompanied by a long list of enhancements that took it to another level. The finish was well done, too, the modeler telling me that all of the weathering was done with traditional pastels and washes. No trendy products used here!




I really liked this simple BTR-40. It was expertly constructed and painted and shows that you needn’t apply heavy weathering techniques to create a remarkable example of an armored vehicle.


Speaking of newfangled products and such, it’s nice to see a modeler go “old school” and convert a model as we used to 20 years ago. This 1/35 T-54 is not a Miniart or Takom kit. It’s a kitbash of Tamiya, ESCI, Tank Workshop, and Chesapeake Model Designs kits and aftermarket.


I don't know much about automotive subjects, but this Etzell's Speed Classics 1/25 Miller was an eye-catcher. Those spoked wheels!


Mark your calendars for Maraudercon in two years, Saturday, October 17, 2020.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

eBay decal insanity

It’s been a long time since I shared some of the outrageous, model-related listings I’ve seen on eBay. I never expected it to stop, of course, but the ongoing insanity gives us another opportunity to laugh at some of the junk people try to sell on eBay. This time, it’s all about decals.

For just $5.00 – the price of a venti coffee at Starbucks – you can be the proud owner of these old, yellowed decals from a Monogram 1/72 F8F Bearcat. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll look great once applied to your latest masterpiece.


Experienced modelers know that we can fix a lot of things, but water or mildew stained decals is not one of them. Here's a sheet of 1/72 F/A-18 decals.


A sane person would toss these Mosquito decals out with today’s vegetable scraps, but not this eBay seller. At least he (or she) opened bidding at just over one dollar.


Here’s a crappy sheet of decals for your Hawk that will set you back just 1.15 GBP.


Are you looking for a set of completely useless decals for your Revell F-4? (And I know you are.) This set was available for $6.99 last year. Put them in a south-facing window for five to eight years and maybe, just maybe, that yellow decal film will fade away.


Enjoy earlier moments of eBay insanity here and here.