Saturday, November 22, 2014

Clean that airbrush

I'm guessing that most of you use an airbrush on a regular basis. My first was an inexpensive Testors contraption powered by canned air. I eventually upgraded to a Paasche VL, powered with a compressor but no air regulator, and finally several years ago I upgraded to an Iwata HP-CH and compressor (with regulator).

I love my Iwata and would marry it if the State of New Jersey would sanctify such an unconventional union, but the paint control it provides is only as good as its cleanliness. I've always used cotton swabs to clean my airbrushes, but I always felt like I was leaving something behind.

I confirmed this recently when I purchased a set of small, stiff-bristled brushes on eBay. The smallest is perfect for getting into the tight spaces of the airbrush, such as the tunnel the needle passes through behind the trigger assembly. With my first cleaning using it, all kinds of pigment came out, which you can see in the photo below. I now use the brushes after every painting session, which I believe has allowed me to extend the intervals between my completing disassembling the airbrush and giving it a through cleaning.

If you don't have a set of these brushes I strongly recommend going to eBay or another source and buying them. It's a small investment, but it will contribute to the quality of your painting, not to mention extend the service life of your airbrush.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Your vomit is the wrong color

If you've ever painted a room in your house you've probably been amused by the paint names as you considered your options in the local Home Depot. Pensive Sky, Blushing Apricot, April Mist...who comes up with this stuff?

After receiving Squadron's latest 20 percent discount offer and paging through their new products (looking for something that's actually in stock) I stumbled upon Vallejo Vomit Special Effect.

My mind immediately pondered a number of random thoughts and musings:

  • Is there someone who actually needs this color?
  • If you need to portray vomit, what's so hard about mixing the color yourself?
  • I've never actually seen a diorama in which a figure is vomiting.
  • Can a single color adequately represent all forms of vomit and the countless variations of vomit contents?

I Googled Vallejo vomit and was surprised to discover a number of other weird colors in their line, such as Filthy Brown, Plague Brown, Parasite Brown, Charred Brown, and Scrofulous Brown. Mind you, the irony of so many gross variations on the color brown is not lost on me considering my last name is Brown. And yes, I admit I had to dust off my dictionary to learn what scrofulous means!

I also found that the wargaming paint manufacturer Citadel produces a number of similarly grotesque colors: Dead Flesh, Snot Green, Bubonic Brown, Scab Red. I guess these are targeted at the zombie enthusiasts among us and those of you modeling 14th century soldiers.

What made me laugh the hardest was finding Smelly Primer (yes, that's the actual name), from Citadel. Brilliant! Maybe it's just me, but if a primer isn't smelly I question its efficacy. Isn't that why everyone loved Floquil's grey primer? Or were we all just too high to realize we had other options.

I've shared my thoughts here about how lazy we're becoming and I've wondered why some people can't seem able to paint what they see, but finding Vallejo Vomit makes me think we're past a tipping point where craftsmanship has been replaced by paint-by-number solutions. Should I vomit in between my laughing fits at the hilariousness of these colors or should I just paint of figure of me vomiting?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Three dollar decals

I recently wrote about my first hobby shop, Carl’s Hobbies in tiny Inverness, Florida. As I was thinking back to those days enjoying the shop and the hobby, I remembered the excitement of discovering Microscale decals.

I first learned about them from an advertisement in Scale Modeler. There was a short list of new releases, and it seemed that – wow! – I wasn’t restricted to using the decals that came with the kits I bought. I could actually make my models unique!

Carl didn’t carry Microscale decals, but I asked him if he could special order them. He could. The price…$3.00! I couldn’t believe it! That’s a lot of damn money for just decals! Hell, the Monogram 1/72 F-15 I wanted them for cost me $6.00 at the toy store across the street! Luckily my friend Steve offered up $1.50 for the Streak Eagle markings that were included on the sheet, so my pain was halved, but still!

My first decal sheet. Note the $3.00 price tag!

I still have that very same decal sheet (I’ve used some of the markings as you can see), along with dozens of others that I’ve acquired over the years. I’m almost embarrassed at my stash of decals, but I’m glad I have them.

It’s amazing how much we now pay for decals given the three dollar price tag you can see on the Microscale decals above. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’ll be the first to support the cottage industry and argue the value of, not just decals, but our hobby as a whole, but these retrospective voyages back into my earliest experiences in the hobby sometimes prompt me to pause and assess what it is that I enjoy about scale modeling. For me, variation is important, and at the very least decals – even inaccurate decals, as many of those early Microscale decals were at times – allow us to create models that reflect our interests and creativity. They offer ideas and possibilities every time I browse through them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Two new figures for your Airfix 1/24 Typhoon

Figures are usually an afterthought within the aircraft modeling community. Unless you're showing an airplane in flight or creating a diorama of a plane being loaded with armament, figures rarely have a place with aircraft. I've always thought that unfortunate, because unless you – and the people who see your models – are familiar with aircraft, it's difficult to appreciate the size of any one particular airplane without a common point of reference. And what better point of reference than a human being, who we instinctively assume to be roughly six feet tall?

When you think about it, the lack of figures in the hobby shouldn't be surprising given how many poorly sculpted pilot figures are on the market. I've seen many great looking aircraft online or in contests where a shabby figure detracted from the overall appeal of the model.That's why I'm always excited to see quality figures of pilots. Series 77 was among the first of the major manufacturers to produce one back in the 1970s. In the 1980s Verlinden's cadre of (anonymous) sculptors gave us two or three more. Even today, there's generally a lack of really good figures of pilots.

But hold your horses! Two exceptional new figures are coming to the market this month, and those of you who own or are planning to buy Airfix's outstanding 1/24 Typhoon will want to take a look at them. Each is sculpted by one of the best sculptors in the figure hobby.

The first is from Steve Warrilow of The Fusilier. The company is best know for its extensive line of World War One subject matter, but this release comes as a welcome surprise to those with an affinity for World War Two aviation and the Typhoon. The figure can be displayed with or without the life vest and includes a choice of three heads.

The other figure comes to us via Barracuda Studios from the hands of one of my absolute favorite sculptors, Mike Good. Mike's work is unrivaled in the hobby, and all of his figures, regardless of the subject, are must-haves in my book. Mike reports on planetFigure that it will be available to those of you attending the Telford show.

Both figures look outstanding and will be an excellent addition to your display of the Airfix Typhoon. Not to mention as a standalone figure, too.