Sunday, January 29, 2017

Scale models at the state fair

Modelers often have conversations, face-to-face or online, about how to increase interest in the hobby. I’ve heard ideas about how to introduce the hobby to young people and adults alike, though it’s the latter group who I believe should be our target audience — that is adults who have an interest in aviation, militaria, naval history, or cars.

Regardless of where you stand, the members of Albuquerque Scale Modelers Club know how to promote the hobby.

For more than 10 years the club has run a model contest that’s part of the New Mexico State Fair. This is brilliant! State fairs attract thousands of children and adults, who just might have interests that could lead to a hobby in scale modeling. These fairs usually have arts and craft competitions, so it makes sense that scale modeling should be among the categories.

Last year the New Mexico State Fair model contest saw 69 models entered by 40 modelers, with categories for youth (11 years and under), senior youth (12 to 17 years), adults, and professionals (those who make a living as model makers, as well as all ASM members themselves). The club members serve as the judges, which ensures that judging is fair and consistent with what those in the hobby have come to expect.

I’d love to see other chapters follow ASM’s lead. I’m guessing that nearly every state has a state fair, so it’s an untapped resource in bringing newcomers into the hobby.

Kudos to the guys in Albuquerque! Take a look at photos from the 2016 fair, and browse their web site to enjoy photos from prior years.

Thanks to Joe Walters, ASM’s Newsletter Editor, for permission to use the photo you see here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Grievous inaccuracies in movies

It’s always entertaining — if a bit frustrating — to read movie reviews from modelers, aviation enthusiasts, and armchair historians, who are always quick to call out inaccuracies to show how knowledgable they are. For example, one discussion I read a few months ago about “Sully” included the observation that the squadron Sully was assigned to at Nellis AFB flew the F-4D not the F-4E. Never mind that the producers had access only to an E model.

For what it’s worth, inaccuracies can be found in movies of all genres if you look for them. In "Bottle Shock,” a movie about the 1976 Judgement of Paris wine competition, there’s a scene that was filmed at Chateau Montana, a winery in California. If you look in the background you’ll see wine fermentation tank controls that, I’m told, where installed by Hale Winery Refrigeration. Unfortunately those tanks hadn’t been installed when the events in the movie took place.

Sounds ridiculous, right? Like, who the hell cares? I suspect that's how 99 percent of the viewers of "Sully" would respond if told about the inaccurate Phantom.

Sometimes I think our knowledge about a subject can get in our way of enjoying a simple movie.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

More of the same

Five days into the new year, and there’s already evidence that we’ll see yet more multiple releases of the same vehicles and aircraft from the manufacturers. Feel free to yawn now, and don’t be surprised if someone else yawns, too.

On January 1 Trumpeter announced a new kit of the BMR-3 on Facebook, and I complimented them on moving into the realm of engineering vehicles, an area that has been underserved by the manufacturers. But then yesterday Meng announced their own kit of the BMR-3.

What the what is going on among the manufacturers? Why do we see so many concurrent announcements and releases of the same subjects?

I pondered this question almost exactly a year ago. In that post I mentioned the T-10, SCUD-C, and MiG-31. Since then we’ve seen three new kits of the Su-34, two kits of the ZSU-23 Shilka, two kits of the 9A52-2 Smerch, three of the BMPT, two of the King Tiger, and several M1A2 Abrams in its different incarnations.

I point out this phenomenon again with the same frustration I felt a year ago, with the realization that for ever model kit that a manufacturer produces, it’s not producing something else. If Manufacturer A announces a kit of a vehicle or aircraft and then Manufacturer B decides to produce their own version of it, it means that Manufacturer B is not producing something else, something unique that could drive sales equally well. I don’t know who conceived the BMR-3 first, but the company that responded in kind should have chosen something different, like a BREM-1 T-72 recovery vehicle, which is not available in plastic form.

At the beginning of every new year I'm excited about new kits that have not been previously announced (there are always surprises), but that excitement is tempered this year knowing that several kits will be variations on a theme.

So, who's taking bets on how long it will be until Tiger or Takom announce their own BMR-3?