Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When to call it quits

One bit of advice I often give modelers who are struggling with a challenging build is to continue it. Well, that's easy to say when the offending piece of shite is in someone else's hands!

Tonight I struggled with my latest project, a Hobby Boss 1/72 Rafale M. I've intended to take it to the IPMS Nats in August, and although I'm not a trophy hound by any measure, I'd like it to look good, and I generally try to make every model better than the last. But this thing is kicking my butt. Here's the list of things that have gone wrong:

  • I used the seat belts from Eduard's photoetch set, but the seat looked terrible after I painted it. I've since decided that I'll make my own seat belts from now on as I think they look much more realistic than PE.
  • I carelessly joined the two halves of one of the external fuel tanks, which resulted in a significant step that required more filling and sanding than it should have.
  • There's no intake trunking of any sort, but by the time I realized that I'd already assembled the fuselage.
  • The intake-to-fuselage join is very bad and required a great deal of finagling to get right. Yet more sanding awaits.
    Speaking of the intakes, I glued them to the fuselage before I added a nose landing gear bay / lower fuselage part, which also will require a lot of filling and sanding. In place, the intakes will obstruct my ability to adequately address that seam.
  • I think the main landing gear should be attached to the landing gear bays prior to joining the upper and lower wing assemblies. I didn't do that. I'm sure I can make them fit, but will the result be fragile? Don't know. Maybe.
  • I was planning to display the model on a mirror, so detail in the main landing gear bays was important. It would've been easier to do that prior to attaching the bays to the lower wing halves.

Here's my honest self-assessment. What this mess comes down to is poor planning on my part. I need to get better at "seeing" the model coming together, visualizing how the parts join and adjust the detailing and assembly processes accordingly.

Yes, the project can be salvaged, but it won't live up to my expectations, and that saps a great deal of my enthusiasm for it. I'm asking myself if I should continue to struggle with it or set it aside and buy a new Rafale M. I'm leaning toward the latter; time is precious and I tend to think we shouldn't waste it doing something that's not enjoyable.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

6 mistakes that companies make

Companies across the US, Europe, and Asia makes mistakes all the time. I'm not necessarily thinking about the big mistakes, like Coca Cola's introduction of "New Coke" back in 1985 -- which, by the way, I first tasted on a trip to a meeting of IPMS Ocala (Florida) or Pizza Hut's body spray. I'm thinking of the small mistakes that most people don't notice, such as the local restaurant whose employees can't give clear directions to their location.

Businesses in the scale modeling industry are not immune to these mistakes. We spend a lot of time discussing model accuracy -- and we should -- but I can't help but notice the simple things that companies do that could negatively affect their businesses.

Here are a few that I've seen. (The list does not apply to hobby shops.)

1. You show us CAD images of a new model when it's too late to make changes based on our feedback. Although I would argue that no company is obligated to incorporate customer feedback into their products, it's frustrating to see a model using, presumably, the very CAD images that will generate a kit and know that our feedback won't be reflected in the final product. Many manufacturers are getting better about this, but sometimes a simple line drawing or artwork is a better alternative.

2. You don't provide high-quality images of your products on your web site. Modelers face a huge number of options when choosing where to spend their money, so one of the best ways to entice us is by serving up good images of your models or aftermarket.

3. You have a section on one of the big discussion forums (e.g., ARC, Britmodeller, etc.) but don't keep it up-to-date. I know that's a time-consuming commitment, but an inactive forum makes your business look inactive. Stay on your customers' radar; post often.

4. You announce a new product on a discussion forum but fail to provide your web site or purchase information. This seems obvious to me, but it happens.

5. You don't accept PayPal. People complain about their fees and T&Cs, but PayPal has become the de facto standard for making electronic payments. Using PayPal won't make you a millionaire, but I suspect it will generate a few extra sales every month.

6. You publicly bash other manufacturers' products. It's unprofessional. Focus on producing high-quality products, and everything else will take care of itself.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

This is about something

Earlier this week my friend over at Doogs' Models vented a little, about the need to buy an airbrush. Before the week is complete I feel the need to vent as well, as always, in good fun.
Imagine if I walked up to you empty handed and asked, "What do you think about this?" and then gave you a blank look until you you were forced to respond, "What do I think about what?" That would be annoying, right?

Ambiguity. Not good.

That's what a few of you are doing on the forums. As yet another sign that I'm getting increasingly crotchety as I get older, here's a collection of the most ambiguous subject lines I've noticed so far this year, with my sarcastic responses that I wouldn't dare post for realz.

In need of some help Like how to write a clear subject line?
Looking for advice Always make a list before going grocery shopping.
Any plans for these? Do you mean my childhood hopes and dreams? Nope.
Need help with my bad memory Try Gingko Biloba.
Would this work? Yes, but only if you have faith. (See Faith conversation below.)
Any thoughts on this vehicle? Yes.
Is it true or a fantasy? If you're referring to my marriage to Kate Upton, it's pure fantasy...on her part.

Some people have an affinity for one-word subject lines:

Question *

* Arguably the most ambiguous subject line one could ever use on the interwebz.

And some people like to use ellipses, though not always correctly. I have a theory that these are Mad Men fans, aspiring copywriters trying to use a marketing ploy to entice us to click. Don Draper wannabes, you rock!

Model shops in.... Antarcta? No, but a the rate Hobby Lobby is expanding, you never know.
I wonder... Who wrote the book of love?
Cruel, but...... Unusual punishment.

The point I'm trying to make through this inept use of humor is, if you start discussions on the forums, please compose a descriptive subject line so we don't have to guess what you're asking about and be forced to click into a thread that we might not be able to contribute to. It's simply the polite thing to do.

BTW, does anyone remember the name of that actor who was in that war movie with the fighting and guns?