Monday, November 28, 2016

Where does the time go?

As I left work last Wednesday I was filled with enthusiasm. A four-day weekend was directly in front of me with the promise of copious free time to spend in the workshop. True, there was Thanksgiving, but unlike prior years, this year I was cooking only for my fiancée. I anticipated making great progress on my Thunderbirds F-16, applying a final coat of white paint, painting the exhaust and the black areas around the cockpit, and laying down a coat of Future for the decals. I also planned to start a new piece of armor so that I could continue trying all these newfangled weathering media and refine the techniques used to apply them. How exciting!

Alas, it was not meant to be.

Here I am, the day after this promising weekend, and I think I spent not more than five or six hours at the workbench. I didn’t touch the F-16, so it’s at least three or four days behind schedule. I did pull an old Tamiya Stug III from the stash and begin assembling it, and truth be told, made decent progress due in large part to my not detailing the model. But all those road wheels sucked at least 60-90 minutes of my time to clean up.

This feeling of frustration, this inability to make the time to build, is not unique to holiday weekends. It happens all too often. I could argue that it shouldn't be a big deal, that I should spend time at the bench only when I’m truly motivated, but when I look at my stash of unbuilt models the reality hits me that I’m unlikely to build them all, and that leaves me feeling dejected.

As I get older I’m exploring ways to re-frame my enjoyment of the hobby. Last year I offered five ideas to increase your modeling output and suggested that you paint cockpits black. But even with changes like that, I suspect we’re all left with the harsh reality that there’s simply not enough time to do everything we want. I think my challenge — and maybe yours, too — is to find satisfaction in whatever it is we are able to build and finish. There’s happiness in building five models as much as there is in building 10, or 50, or 100.

I just have to convince myself of that.

P.S. I have to admit that the weekend wasn’t a complete waste. I spent quality time with my fiancée, cooked four great meals (such as the butternut squash and kale risotto pictured below), enjoyed a number of good wines, watched a good horror movie and a few episodes of Shameless, and spent time with family. And those are good things.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Movie review: Toward the Unknown

I’d never had much interest in USAF aircraft of the 1950s. I grew up during the Cold War, so I’ve always had an affinity for the aircraft that flew during the 1970s and 80s. Then I visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force in 2015 and really studied these old aircraft up close, and I was hooked. There’s something intriguing about the raw functionality of those aircraft, their almost primitive nature (that is, primitive compared to an F-22, not a Wright Flyer).

You’re probably familiar with the aviation-themed movies from the 1950s. Strategic Air Command is probably the most famous and has received a good deal of buzz over the last couple of months with its release on DVD, but another notable movie is Toward the Unknown, starring William Holden and Lloyd Nolan. The movie was based on a novel by Beirne Lay, who went on to write the screenplay for another aviation movie, Above and Beyond, as well as Strategic Air Command.

Movies like this don’t have much of a plot. This one sees a broken fighter pilot make his return to the air at Edward AFB’s Flight Test Center thanks to the support of an old flame. Pretty boring stuff. Movies like this are worth your time just for the flying footage. If the B-36 and B-47 were the stars of Strategic Air Command, the weird and unusual XB-51 (dubbed the XF-120 for the film) is the star of this one. It’s a huge, ungainly aircraft — one that we almost never see or talk about — so watching it climb and dive is a real treat for enthusiasts like us. You’ll also see the F-100 and F-102 in flying sequences, and too many 50s era aircraft on the Edwards flightline to count.

It’s interesting to note that only two XB-51s were manufactured, and one crashed on its way to Eglin AFB for filming of the movie.

Check out the Turner Classic Movies web site for future airings of the movie. DVR the movie and fast-forward through the non-flying segments.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dustbin walkaround

Last month Replikant Technologies announced a new product, a 1/35 scale dustbin. This is another welcome addition to a growing trend in the hobby where we're seeing more and more diorama accessories. Miniart in particular has been producing some great products (you may recall my having fun at their expense last month), so it's good to see the cottage industry jumping on the bandwagon, too, enabled in large part by the growing availability of 3D printing technology.

Knowing how obsessive many of you can be in adding maximum detail to your models, I thought you might find it helpful if you had a thorough walkaround of an actual dustbin. I thought about offering these photos to Prime Portal, my favorite site for walkarounds, but since they don’t have a section for household items, I’ll just share them here.

Here's the first side of the bin. Note the dirt stains at the bottom where I "kick" the bin to tilt it over and pull it around. Also notice the wear on the plastic wheels.

Here's the left side of the bin. The Replikant item doesn't have the Toter Incorporated logo, so we can only hope that Eduard produced a photoetch set that includes it.

The front of the bin, which receives the most abuse when the sanitation engineers lift it and empty it into the garbage truck. The manufacturer's logo appears here as well.

The right side of the bin, again featuring the manufacturer's logo.

The bin lid, which features usage information and warnings, the latter I assume mandated by the government. These would be too small to read in 1/35 scale.

The underside of the lid. Notice how little wear and tear it receives, save for the edges.

The inside of the bin. My bin is used only for household trash, always bagged, so it's in relatively good shape, even after 15 years use. Be sure to put a few leaves in yours to add a degree of authenticity!

A detailed view of the lid's hinge mechanism. Note the use of rivets and not screws to join the two assemblies.

The underside of the bin, which as you might image receives the most abuse. A few strokes of a course grit sandpaper on Replikant's model should represent this wear quite accurately.

So there you have it. Scale Model Soup's first walkaround! I hope you find it useful.

Next month I’ll feature a walkaround of this milk jar to help you with Miniart’s 1/35 “Wooden Barrels & Village Utensils” set.

Be sure to check out Replikant's web site. They have some really cool products, most which don't require a bogus walkaround.