Friday, June 28, 2013

Rigging done right

As I've entered my forties one of the important life lessons I've struggled with is finding happiness in other people's success when it feels I'm lagging behind. I've had to accept the fact some people are more fortunate than me, and that will always be so. For example, one of the founders of the company I work for is younger than me and is now effectively retired after the company went IPO four years ago. He's a millionaire. I'm not. Could you be sincerely and genuinely happy for him? Maybe it's simply fatalism, but I think I can.

A few months ago I wrote about my optimism in building a model with rigging (my first attempt in 30 years)...but soon after wrote about the decimation of my optimism when the project went FUBAR. You wouldn't be surprised to know how much I envy another modeler's success with the same task.

Mike Grant recently posted photos of his beautiful little 1/72 Avia Ba.122 on 72nd Scale Modelers. In my humble opinion, Mike's model is a perfect example of rigging done right. Maybe he has connections with The Man Upstairs. Maybe he has magical powers. More likely, maybe he's practiced (and failed) more times than I have. But to celebrate his talent is to remember that I might (might) one day be able to do the same thing with more practice and experience.

My thanks to Mike for allowing me to share the photo above. Be sure to check out his blog, Migrant's Wanderings, or Migrant Model Pix for photos of his models.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cuchi cuchi!

When I started this blog I had intentions of occasionally writing about topics unrelated to scale modeling yet still of interest to my readers. I haven’t done that, until now, and this is going to be a doozie! Let me know if you enjoy this and future brief diversions.

Like many of you, I grew up in the late 70s and early 80s. I was an only child, so I spent a good deal of time watching television with my mother and grandparents, and their tastes weren’t quite what a 10 year old would typically enjoy. Instead of listening to The Rolling Stones or The Beatles on a Friday night, I was watching The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. One of the most memorable, recurring characters on the former was Charo, who appeared on the show eight times. She is what you might call, a “bombshell.”

She was one of the more outlandish personalities of the 1970s, known for her guitar playing, comedy, and dancing. And if you thought Sofia Vergara’s accent is thick, Charo trumps her by a continent! I can only imagine the wow factor that Charo’s performances must have generated the first time someone saw her!
If you don’t know her, take a moment to watch this video.

As a young boy, Charo was an oddity. She seemed completely ridiculous to me. I didn’t understand her fame, and I’m not quite sure I do today. An older friend of mine tells me that even back then she was a curiosity, like a “less revolting Kardashian,” he said. He pointed out that during the 60s and early 70s, a time of great social and cultural shift, television didn't always keep up. Charo probably appealed to slightly older Americans who weren't ready to settle down with Lawrence Welk but weren’t prepared for Led Zeppelin’s sound either.

In addition, my friend reminded me that anything Latin was big, beginning as early as the 1950s when Latin dance music became popular with the mambo, chachacha, and rumba. Its distinctive sounds eventually found their way into the music of José Feliciano and Santana. "Girl from Ipanema" a bossa nova song written by Antônio Carlos Jobim, won the Grammy for best record of the year in 1965. Later, in 1974, Chico and the Man hit American television and had a four-year run. Charo was appealing because she was tied to an earlier, familiar scene, and because she was sexy, playful, and funny.

What you probably don’t know is that Charo starred in an ABC sitcom that presumably never aired in the US but was broadcast on the American Armed Forces Network. She played the wife of a Marine who danced at an off-limits club. Sounds like a winner, right?

If you want to see Charo perform live, I think she has a show in Branson, Missouri as well as Las Vegas. If you go, I’d really like to hear about it!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

You're ugly on the inside

We've seen countless outstanding models posted to the forums since the early days of the interwebz, and the quality has only increased over the last few years as painting and weathering techniques have become the focus of our attention. But one area is often overlooked...the interiors, particularly with aircraft.

Except for Patrick Bodet. He recently posted photos of his 1/48 I.A.R. 80 to Hyperscale, and as you can see from this photo weathering skills are simply outstanding.

Go to Hyperscale to see more photos of Patrick's model. You'll find that his exterior finishing techniques are as good as his interior techniques.

Thanks to Patrick for use of his photo.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Most book reviews suck

What's worse than a solar flare that renders all electronic devices across the globe useless? Books that are wrapped in plastic!

Okay, I may have exaggerated a little, but you have to admit that it's difficult to evaluate a book when it's wrapped in protective plastic. The online equivalent of that barrier are reviews that don't show pictures of a book's contents, and all too many web sites do just that.

That's why I'm begging anyone who will listen, if you review a book, please show us a few sample pages so we can get a feel for its contents and quality! Telling me that a book has 128 pages and 200 photographs doesn't tell me much. Showing me that each full color photo consumes half a page sets a much clearer expectation of what I'm likely to buy. Oh, and showing me the title page publisher's contact information, credits, and index pages don't count. Amazon, are you paying attention?

Who's doing book reviews right? Hyperscale, of course. Take a look a this review for the new 4+ Publication book on the Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik. This is the kind of review that sets the standard all others should follow.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Country music and rivet counters

Visit any discussion forum, click into any thread about a new kit, and you'll find a tangential conversation -- often heated -- about the value of nitpicking inaccuracies. Some of the so-called "rivet counters" are extremely vocal about their disappointment with a handful of the manufacturers who seem to consistently release models with inaccuracies. This rivet counting annoys more than a few modelers.

For what it's worth, this dichotomy is not unique to scale modeling.

I love music. I'll listen to anything -- pop, rock, rap, classical, country. Earlier this years I found Saving Country Music, a blog devoted to critiquing, sometimes in very harsh terms, the country music we hear on the radio. The webmaster, Kyle “The Triggerman” Coroneos, believes that the current crop of artists (Florida Georgia Line, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood) has twisted country music into a genre that sounds more like pop, and he's not happy about that at all.

For his ongoing critique of the industry, Trigger has come under fire by readers who ask why its necessary to criticize bad music. I'll let you read his full response, but some of his comments are applicable to our hobby.

"Professional criticism is something every artist should crave, and helps
maintain a healthy music environment that invites discussion on quality."

I have to believe that the manufacturers in our hobby are thick-skinned enough to read and accept criticism, and we have reason to believe they listen. For example, I wonder if the less prominent rivets on Trumpeter's latest releases is one example of a manufacturer listening to its customers.

"Criticism can also be an important tool to the music listener, especially
as the music world becomes evermore crowded with choice."

To this point, those of us who've been in the hobby for 20 year or more know there are thousands more products available today than ever before, and even if you've been building models for one year, no one has to tell you that prices on many of many kits are quite high. (I'll write more about that latter point in the future.) Most of us buy kits on a limited budget, so it's important that we know what we're buying. The rivet counters make us smarter consumers. I'd rather go into my LHS, or onto a favorite online shop, knowing more about the models I intend to buy than less. And for that I have the Triggers and the rivet counters of the world to thank.

P.S. For the record, I kinda like Blake Shelton's "Boys 'Round Here."

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Moldovan MiG-29-13

If my (admittedly) shabby pictures of Linden Hill's MiG-29-13 decals earlier this week weren't enough to spark an interest in building Great Wall's MiG-29, Guy Holroyd graciously sent me this photograph of one of the subjects on that sheet, a MiG-29-13 of the Moldovan Air Force. The photo was taken at Marculesti AB in the early 2000s.

Photo courtesy of Ion Soltan via Linden Hill Decals.
Guy said the tires "wouldn't pass a NY-DMV inspection." Given the poor condition of the aircraft serving the nations of these former Soviet Bloc nations, I often think their pilots have all the moxy of pilots in World War Two!