Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Great Wall Hobby's MiG-29-13 in vivid color

When I started this blog I mentioned that I had no intention of doing product reviews, and I still don’t. That said, I reserve the right to rave about new products that make me feel young again, and that’s just what happened when I saw Linden Hill Decals new release for the 1/48 MiG-29-13.

The MiG-29 has become to Russia what the F-16 has to the United States. The FMS folks at Mikoyan Gurevich have aggressively marketed and sold the airplane into some three dozen air forces throughout Europe and Asia over the years, so there’s no shortage of interesting paint schemes for it. As a modeler, as much as I like the original grey scheme of the MiG-29, many of the new schemes are very enticing.

If you scored the new Great Wall Hobbies MiG-29-13 this weekend during Squadron’s Memorial Day sale, Guy Holroyd of Linden Hill just released an timely set of decals that offers markings for 19 aircraft representing eight nations. You’ll find a few of the typical grey schemes as well as more colorful options featuring vivid blues, greens, and tans. The decals are expertly printed, and the instructions provide more than enough information to create an accurate model, including references to Akan paints (which are also available from Linden Hill).

You should also know that Linden Hill released a similar set of decals for the -12 variant at the same time. It features 12 aircraft from five nations. I would’ve purchased that sheet as well, but I’m planning to do my -12 in Polish markings, and I already have Aztec decals and the two Polish Wings books by Adam Golabek that thoroughly explain the service history of those 44 aircraft.

My problem now? I think I need at least two more kits to do some of these cool schemes!

My apologies for the shabby photos.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Attack Squadron's upcoming 1/72 K-MAX

The good folks at Attack Squadron are readying their next release, a 1/72 Kaman K-MAX.

If you're not familiar with the K-MAX (I wasn't), it's a helicopter that was designed for heavy lift operations and has been adapted for use in hazardous situations by removing the pilot, converting it to an unmanned vehicle. The US Marine Corps has been using two in Afghanistan since December 2011, having flown more than 1,000 missions. If you're wondering if this is a significant aircraft, you should know that it was nominated for the 2012 Collier Trophy.

Attack Squadron seems to have an keen interest in these tiny, unmanned aircraft. They previously released kits of the MQ-8B Fire Scout and RQ-7B Shadow in 1/72 scale (and the latter in 1/48 scale), and now they bring us what may be one of the most interesting releases of the year. UAV's are changing the way nations fight crime, defend their borders, and conduct warfare, so these kits will likely be of great interest to modelers.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Jorge Oppenheimer's Great Wall P-61 Black Widow

In case you missed it, Jorge Oppenheimer posted pictures of his outstanding build of Great Wall's 1/48 P-61 on Hyperscale. We all know how difficult it is to paint a black aircraft, but Jorge has beautifully balanced realism and artistry. This may be the best build we see of the P-61 this year!

Go to Hyperscale to see more of Jorge's P-61.

Thanks to Jorge for use of the photo.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The hype around 3D printers

With all the hype around 3D printers over the last year, it's time for a reality check.

This article on Gizmodo, written by the founder of a 3D printing company in London, highlights the many obstacles to creating items using CAD and 3D printing technology. It confirms what many of us suspected when we first heard about 3D printers...that the learning curve in mastering the technologies will be steep, and the expertise required to produce products that will stand up to the close scrutiny of scale modelers will take a good deal of time and experience.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but I don't think we'll see 3D printers being used by the average modeler for a long, long time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The long wait for an RF-8G Crusader

I'm often bewildered by the product choices that the manufacturers make. A discussion on Britmodeller recently got me thinking about the sometimes-odd selection of kits that we enjoy.

Why is it that we have a model of the Gloster Meteor F.8 Prone yet we've never had a kit of the RF-8G Crusader, which served longer in the US Navy than its fighter counterpart? This despite five major manufacturers having produced different variants of the F-8 in the three major scales. Surely it would've been relatively straightforward to tweak the mold and give us the reconnaissance variant. (Insert woeful sigh here.)

But, as I often say, all good things to those who wait! Hidden in this thread on Britmodeller, Jennings (a reliable and respected hobby insider) tells us that a new conversion may be on the horizon:

"There's a possibility of new conversions in 1/72 and 1/48. I'll post more if/when it happens."

Although I think we'd all prefer to see a complete kit from the likes of Trumpeter or Hobby Boss, this is good news given the rarity of the Falcon and Airmodel conversions.

Also in the near-term pipeline are decals for a VFP-63 RF-8G from Wolfpack Decals, which are due this month.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A visit to the MFCA figure show

Back in my high school days I was introduced to a corner of our hobby that few plastic modelers spend time exploring…figures. One evening the local IPMS chapter president called to tell me that the author of a FineScale Modeler article about painting figures lived in my small town. When he mentioned the guy’s name, I realized I knew of his son, David, a year younger than me in school.

I could be melodramatic here and say that that one phone call changed my life. I introduced myself to David, and nearly 30 years later he’s one of my best friends. (I wrote about our visit to a favorite hobby shop last year.) I also met David’s father. Larry quickly introduced me to the world of armor and figures and became an early mentor to me. Although I originally built aircraft, Larry’s influence led me to spending good chunks of time over the years building armor and painting figures.

Last weekend I attended the Miniature Figure Collectors of America MFCA Show and Mart in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, also known as “The Valley Forge Show” given its proximity to that historic site. If you’ve never attended a figure show, you should. You’ve probably glanced at the entries in the figure categories at local IPMS contests or even the IPMS National Convention, but with all due respect to those modelers, the level of artistry at a pure figure show is much higher. These shows attract the best painters from around the United States and Europe.

Having spent a good deal of time building plastic models (aircraft and armor) and figures, I’ve come to the conclusion that they are two completely different hobbies. The techniques and media used in each are very different, and while the focus with plastic models tends to be on engineering, the focus with figures is artistry. It’s a completely different mindset, and not every plastic modeler can make the transition (or vice versa).

Here are a few photos I took at the MFCA show to give you some appreciation for the work on display. The pictures don’t do the figures justice; in fact, the photos make many look worse. You really must see them in person. Unfortunately there aren’t as many pure figure shows as there are traditional model contests, so the opportunity of attending one relies on circumstance to some  extent.  But first, here’s a list of the clubs that sponsor the five major shows, should one be in your neck of the woods.

Military Miniature Society of Illinois
Miniature Figure Collectors of America
Long Island Historical Miniature Collectors Society
Historical Miniatures Society of Northeastern Oklahoma
Southern California Area Historical Miniatures Society

Fantasy pieces were very popular this year, like this scratchbuilt bad dream!

Another fantasy figure. Note that the blue light is not real. That illumination is painted!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Applying your modeling skills around the house

Sometimes I get this notion that I can extend my sweet modeling skills to other parts of my life. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

A year ago I painted my family room. It’s in the lower level of the house with one of those wainscoting deals that jut out from the wall (to accommodate the foundation). It’s white, and I set out to paint the walls above it a deep red. I set out on this task one weekend with great confidence. “Sheet,” I told myself, “If I can mask an anti-glare panel on a 1/72 P-47, surely this will be easy.”

Fast-forward six hours when I pulled away the 3M tape. I was horrified to find that the red paint had seeped under the tape in many locations, and it looked horrible. I realized what I’d done wrong -- not burnishing down the tap quite hard enough and brushing the paint toward the tape rather than away from it. Oh well, live and learn. See for yourself.

Fast-forward a year. I recently purchased a nice print of an F-100F on eBay and started looking for a suitable matt and frame. It’s an odd size, and I couldn’t find something off-the-shelf that it would fit. I found a nice frame that had a fine red line embedded within the frame that picked up the colors in the print, but at $55 it was a little too expensive for the $8 print. I found a similar frame for under $10 one aisle over, so I bought it. It didn’t have the fine red line of the more expensive frame, but I figured I could do it myself.

And so I did. As you can see, some careful masking, and airbrush, and Tamiya red did the trick.

What did I learn? I think the lesson is that the smaller the project, the greater the chance of success. Maybe I should build models of 1/700 scale aircraft.

P.S. My next household project? Repainting an old, inexpensive dresser. Stay tuned.