Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The hubub over the Kinetic F-16XL

Earlier this week Kinetic announced its next release, a 1/48 F-16XL. Like most of my reactions to life these days, I had mixed emotions. First I said to myself, "Cool!" Then I was all like, "Whatever." It seems that the modeling community shares my feelings.

Some modelers are not impressed. On Britmodeller, many readers expressed their disappointment.

"Leaves me stone-cold."

"Why waste research and plastic on this when there are so many other classic and contemporary subjects begging for a decent kit?"

"Not really looking forward to this release."

Others in the discussion were more positive. One pointed out that Kinetic, Hobby Boss, and Kitty Hawk are making greater contributions to the hobby than the older, more established companies such as Hasegawa and Tamiya. I think he's right. Although quality has been hit-or-miss, these newer manufacturers are giving us some very interesting models.

As insightful as these conversations have been, to this announcement as well as other releases as they've been announced, one important point is often missed. In the case of the F-16XL, let's remember that this is not Kinetic's final release! Even if you, like me, think there could've been better choices, we're going to see many more releases from Kinetic and the other manufacturers before they go the way of the dodo. For example, I'd really like to see a new-tool Su-22, and if I were at the helm at Kinetic or Kitty Hawk you'd all have one on your bench (or more likely, in your stash) by now. But I have to believe that an Su-22 is on someone's radar and we'll see one sooner or later.

As modelers we know the value of patience when building a model. Let's remember to apply it to the release of new models as well.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What will stick with me from the 2014 IPMS Nats

Think about all the contests you've been to. Think about all the models you've seen online. How many of them are memorable? I mean, you see a lot of extraordinary models over the course of your time in the hobby, but there's only a handful that you think about when you reflect on the best of the best.

The 2014 IPMS Nats are a week behind me now, and I'm already thinking about which of the 2,700 models in the contest will likely stay in the front of my mind six months, a year, maybe five years from now.

Two models in one of the Spacecraft categories by Texan David Carlton struck me last week, and I think they'll stay with me over time.

The first is a scratchbuilt 1/48 Vanguard Test Vehicle 3 as it was seen in 1957. It was displayed in a relatively intact configuration, with a satellite displayed at the top of the rocket.

The second model from David was a similar rocket, a scratchbuilt 1/48 Vanguard Satellite Launch Vehcile 4 as it was seen in 1959, which I can only presume was the production version of Vehicle 3. (I haven't taken the time to research either rocket.) This one was built and displayed to show the rocket's innards, as well as David's fine modeling skills.

Both models were beautifully built and detailed, and with their carefully considered display it's easy to picture them in a museum. Truly modeling at its finest!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The best of the 2014 IPMS Nats

Another IPMS National Convention is behind us, and it was a good one. There were more than 700 registrants who entered more than 2,700 models. Any contest is an opportunity to be inspired, but the Nats offers the chance to see literally thousands of models at one time.

It wasn't until I was on my way home, when the Sirius/XM 80s channel played the Top 40 from 1984, that I realized this year marks the 30th year since I attended my first convention, the 1984 Nats in Atlanta. The show never fails to deepen my enthusiasm for the hobby.

The models were impressive this year, and if I have any regret it's that I didn't spend nearly enough time in the contest room. Next year I need to commit to spending at least 3-4 solid hours really studying the models to learn what I can.

I photographed quite a few models across all the categories, but here are a few that I thought were particularly impressive, interesting, or memorable. Go to my Google Picasa gallery to see 180 photos from the contest.

One of my favorite 1/48 scale entries, a perfectly painted and weathered SB2U.

My favorite 1/72 entry, an F6F Hellcat. It was one of the best weathered 1/72 scale aircraft I've ever seen.

A beautifully executed 1/48 Ju-88 A-4 by Ricard Rivas of Venezuela.

My favorite 1/32 scale aircraft in the competition, an F-84G with a flawless natural metal finish.

Another favorite 1/72 entry, a AH-1W Cobra. It's rare to see a helicopter built and weathered so well.

A gorgeous vacuform PD-1 Flying Boat.

I'm a sucker for the obscure and unusual, so this scratchbuilt 1/72 Italian Obicie 305/17 DS artillery piece caught my eye.

An amazing scratchbuilt 1/9 scale Ariel W/NG 350cc Italian motorcycle by Alex deLeon, which took Best Military Subject. His trike (pictured on the IPMSs web site) won George Lee Judges' Grand Award.

A stunning 1/350 SMS Vulcan, a U-boat salvage tug.

Who doesn't like a red Ferrari. Here's a gorgeous 1/24 Fujimi 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spider.

Classic car lovers appreciated this 1/25 Moebius 1952 Hudson Hornet.

An excellent 1/20 Masterpiece Miniatures Apollo Saturn V engine by Ronnie Rutherford.

Best Space/Science Fiction Vehicle went to this amazing scratchbuilt 1/48 Curiosity rover by Mike Mackowski.

This Imperial II Class Star Destroyer had lights and everything!

If I were to give an award for most unusual model, it would be for this paper model of a Teddy Bear, seen in the pre-teen categroy. Seriously, that has to warm your heart, right?

See you in Columbus, Ohio next year!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Christmas in August

It’s that time of year again. The IPMS USA National Convention is less than a week away. Christmas for scale modelers! I’ll be attending the convention for the fourth year in a row this year it's within driving distance and I couldn’t be more excited. Well, I could be more excited, but not by much.

What am I looking forward to? First and foremost, looking at a helluva lot of models! I enjoy seeing models online throughout the year, but nothing beats seeing them in person. I always come away inspired and motivated. I’m particularly eager to see what shows up in the Miscellaneous categories; there are always two or three that surprise me with their creativity.

World Trade Center model at the 2012 IPMS National Convention
I’m looking forward to the vendors. I’ve been in the hobby long enough to have practically everything I want (and if I don’t, I can usually find it online), but it’s always fun to browse the vendors room and discover things I wasn’t really looking for. I’m excited about seeing the new Airfix 1/24 Typhoon in the flesh, eager to see what new tools John Vojtech brings, and looking forward to seeing Click2Detail’s products for the first time.

I’m looking forward to entering my models in the contest, which is something you should do, too. My models have flaws for sure. I know they’re not going to be competitive, but I appreciate the opportunity to share them with other modelers who, I hope, will enjoy seeing them, and my $35 registration fee plays a small part in supporting the convention.

Even though it’s an obligation and a challenge, I’m looking forward to judging. I was an “OJT” last year, so this time around I get to be a full-fledged player. (In truth, an OJT's observations are taken just as seriously as those of the certified judges.) With the possible exception of watching a master modeler at work, nothing will make you a better modeler than judging. I'm going to learn a lot.

I’m looking forward to seeing my friends, David, Lonny, Bruce, Jason, Mark, Adrian, and others whose attendance will surprise me. I’m also looking forward to the seven-hour road trip. I’ve already started to assemble my music playlists!

What am I NOT looking forward to? Most directly, I’ll miss my friends who cannot attend, Graham, Mark, Mark (2), John, and Awan. I’m bummed they can’t be there and the experience won’t be the same without them. I’m not looking forward to encountering “that guy.” He’ll be there, you can count on it. I’m not looking forward to the vendors room closing and the hour following the awards banquet when everyone is packing up their models. That’s the moment you realize the convention is over and you have to wait an entire year for the next convention. (Actually, the 2015 convention is in July, so it will be only 11 months away!)

If you’ll be at the convention, look for me and say hello. Like modeling itself, blogging can feel isolating at times, so it’s always a pleasure to meet folks in person. Until then, happy modeling or safe travels.