Monday, November 20, 2023

Black Friday Deals 2023

Let's see who's offering deals for Black Friday.

Did I miss you or a favorite vendor? Email me at

AMMO by Mig Jimenez Offers vary from day to day. Link
Andy's Hobby Headquarters 20% - 50% off select kits and tools. Link
Anyz 15% off. Link
Best Soldiers Lower prices on some figures. Link
DN-Models 20% off. Link
Ignis Art Discounts up to 35% on select items. Link
LB Models 30% off entire range Link
Lucky Model Discounts on products across the site. Link
Mr Black Productions 30% off select books. Link
Odyssey Collectibles 10% off select items. Link
20% off all STL file downloads.
Phase Hanger Resin Accessories
25% discount on all orders.
PK Productions 15% off select products. Link
Sabot Miniatures 20% off everything. Link
ScaleInDetail 20% off 338 Squadron 70 Years Anniversary Book Link
Sprue Brothers 10% to 25% off all model kits depending on your order total. Link
Squadron Daily discounts on select items. Link
Scale75 Up to 40% off select products. Link

Last updated: Wednesday, November 22, 2023, 7:30pm ET

Sunday, April 2, 2023

We visit Mosquitocon 2023

 IPMS New Jersey's annual Mosquitocon is always a good show and never disappoints. Here are a few of my favorite entries in the contest.

By far my favorite entry in the contest was this Nova 1/72 C-141 vacuform. I can't imagine the work required to build this model, much less drop the flaps and make it all look this good.

No, this isn't 1/48 scale. It's a 1/72 Tamiya F-16C beautifully weathered.

My first time seeing the new AFV Club 1/48 U-2, and it was stunning...and huge!

Check out this Kopro 1/48 Su-25UGT with scratchbuilt flaps, slats, and airbrakes. Dang!

Major conversion of a Monogram 1/48 F-15 into the F-15E prototype.

Speaking of vacuforms, here's a Contrail 1/72 Blackburn Kangaroo by Mike Terre, who is one of the best modelers in the hobby right now.

Expertly finished Tamiya 1/35 Japanese Type 61.

More beautifully done weathering, this time on a 1/35 M4A3E8 Sherman.

You don't have to buy an airline ticket to find the Spanish style here in the US. Here's Great Wall Hobby's 1/35 12.8cm K44 gun.

An excellent Dragon 1/35 Sdkfz 234/3 beautifully painted and weathered.

Another favorite, a 1/25 Ford Model T with an absolutely exquisite finish. If I'm ever tempted to show someone an example of artistry in our hobby, I'll pull up this model.

There's something about a Ferrari that compels a double-take, whether on the road or in a contest. Here are two favorites in the contest.

Here's a unique model, a Hachette 1/43 K-700 Soviet tractor.

Devin Poore's excellent Academy 1/700 USS Enterprise, including lights in the hanger bay.

Congrats to all the winners, who took home awards like this one, arguably the best-looking award from the club in years.

See you next year!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

123 in 2023

My stash is too big, so I'm going to reduce it by 123 models in 2023!

Okay, I have to be honest with myself and admit that that's an overly ambitious goal, but it sounds catchy and it captures the spirit of this downsizing effort, so I'm sticking with it.

Here's the thing -- having a large stash (in my experience) presents three very real problems.

First, I'll never build them all. I have 25 to 30 years of good eyesight and hand/eye coordination left to build models, so at my current rate of 5 models per year, that's just 150 models. Even if I double my build rate, that's only 300 models. Suffice to say, I have many more unbuilt models than that, not to mention new kits that we'll see see in the coming years. There's a psychological effect when I realize I can't build everything; it's depressing to look at, for example, that Hasegawa F-111E or the Trumpeter T-64AV and realize I may never build them. 

Second, my stash consists of many models that I find less interesting than others, so there's a risk of my wasting time building models that don't bring me joy. This has happened. Time is precious. Shouldn't I focus on the most enticing subjects and dispose of the others?

Finally, I really don't want to leave hundreds of models to my heirs when I go to the Great Hobby Shop in the Sky. I've seen a lot of modelers talk about the disposition of their stashes with, "I'll be dead, so I don't care what happens to my models." That crass attitude ignores the burden that your family or friends will endure to pack, organize, and sell your models. 

Just over two months into my downsizing, I can say that selecting models for sale is difficult. Like you, I can point to every model in my stash and tell you how I intend to paint it, the markings I'll use, and the weathering I envision. I bought each model for a reason (at the time), so I'm making tough choices.

Ultimately, I think 60-70 models seems more realistic than 123, but I expect to continue the task through 2024 and beyond. The models that remain on the shelves will be those I'm most passionate about. They are likely to be 1/72 aircraft from the 1960-2000 time period, roughly 25 1/48 modern aircraft from the same period, and 1/35 Soviet, Russian, and Israeli armor. Everything else is a candidate for culling.

I feel good about this. There's very little risk, in fact. As a fellow blogger pointed out a few years ago, if you sell something and then want to build it in the future, odds are you'll be able to buy it again. And, I would add, buying it with a strong, compelling desire to actually build it and not put it back on a shelf.

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.