Here is what I accomplished in 2015:
As 2014 is drawing to an end, I thought it would be nice to recap what happened from a scale modelling point of view.
The first (and for me, the most exiciting) thing: I started my own business, producing and distributing accessoires that hopefully will help fellow modellers achieving more realistic markings for their aircraft and military vehicles. I decided to do that after the digital marketing agency I was working for was shut down by its mother company. During my self-imposed timeout I pondered the question what to do next – and finally settled on doing something I really like and spent the better part of 30 years on doing.
Next on my list of excitements is the amazing amount of developments in our hobby in the past twelve months. We have seen an explosion of new companies, be it kit manufacturers, aftermarket providers or producers of paints and finishing materials. Combine that with the ongoing [digital stuff copy goes here]
Apart from that, I was lucky to be able to spend lots of time on the bench, building a total of 14 kits in roughly 750 hours of work. Naturally, most of them are US aircraft, as this is my main area of interest at the moment. On the other hand, playing around with russian stuff (a first for me) and going back to armor modelling one time provided me with a very nice change of pace.
I have a couple of projects on the bench that most probably won’t be finished this year. And then there is that one annoying little kit that has been waiting for its rigging for more than a year…
- Academy P-36 Hawk
- Eduard P-38J Lightning
- Miniman Factory M916
- Classic Airframes P-6E Hawk
But in general, I’m rather happy with what I actually did finish this year, despite the stash getting larger and larger.
So, what’s next?
First off, development of new products will of course continue, with some surprises coming up 🙂 Apart from that, I have two large aircraft projects on my mind that will definitely take some time to finish. Most probably I will again go back to armor once in a while – and right now I’m thinking about venturing into ship modelling, purely to see if the skills needed in this area will help me achieve better results in other projects.
Ok, finally this year’s output, in roughly chronological order…
My favourite jet aircraft since my childhood, I knew it would be a long and involved build – featuring a fair share of aftermarket stuff and lots of research. Being somewhat limited when it comes to shelf space (and having a statsh that wants to be taken care of), I know that this will be my last Tomcat for quite some time. So I took my time and tried a couple of new things along the way.
The kit itself is good. Period. I haven’t built Hasegawa’s Tomcat, not even seen an unbuilt kit in the flesh, so I cannot comment on the pros and cons of Hobby Boss’ effort. Some issues, however, should be addressed:
- The air intake lips should not be parallel to the ground, and they are a bit thick. This was fixed by sanding the lips at an angle, thereby introducing a slight upward cant.
- The wings and stabilizers are covered in rivets that need to be filled. Multiple coats of Squadron putty, thinned with acetone, took care of that.
- The slats, when deployed, should protrude at a slight downward angle. Easiest fix is to carefully bend their attachment rods downward a bit.
- If you want to attach the AIM-7 Sparrow missiles to the wing glove pylons, they need to be positioned farther forward. I did that by cutting off the missile fin that should go into the pylon, the missile then can be attached in its proper position.
- The main landing gear struts lack some heavy springs which are quite noticable – instead, HB gives you a rather generic rod (parts F25/F26). Some thin wire, wrapped around these parts, does the trick.
Apart from these fixes, I used an Aires cockpit set, Aires exhaust nozzles and the Wheeliant wheels set. Fitting the cockpit resulted in the usual sanding mayhem, but it’s worth it. The nozzles, on the other hand, are more or less a drop fit.
Now would be the right time for some cheap “50 Shades of Grey” joke. Maybe next time. Some time ago I mentioned I wasn’t too impressed with the Gunze Ghost Greys (H307, H308 and H337 for FS36320, 36375 and 35237). These colors seem to be too dark and have a weird purple hue to them when compared to a neutral grey card. As mentioned elsewhere, as the US Navy’s Tactical Paint Scheme doesn’t show too much contrast between paint and markings, these deviations in tone can be rather problematic when applying your decals later on.
After testing a couple of different brands I settled on the Lifecolor range – which can be very tricky to get out of your airbrush. Some experimenting later, I finally have it worked out for me. It’s either a mix of color, distilled water and Vallejo flow improver (sprays good enough), or simply Vallejo Airbrush Cleaner (sprays excellent). And keep your air pressure down!
So, after a primer coat of Tamiya XF-19 and some very random preshading, the Lifecolor paints went on without a glitch.
Speaking of glitches… As I wanted to depict a bird from VF-111 (“The Sundowners”), I picked up a sheet from fcm Decals. Very nice, the decals are thin, the instructions complete. so everything went well – until I applied the last two decals. The large black “Sundowners” motif for the fins would first not adhere to the surface properly, then they wouldn’t react to any setting solution, and in the end they decided to crumple up really bad and produce a general mess. No clue what caused that, my only idea would be the color used on these decals – all the grey ones behaved very well, it was only these two buggers that just wouldn’t work.
In the end, I had to use the markings for another aircraft from that sheet, which meant stripping and repainting the tail section and all the areas were the other markings specific to that plane had already been applied.
After the usual coat of clear gloss (Tamiya X-22), I initially wanted to apply some salt weathering. I actually did start on the horizontal stabs, but then changed my mind. This method simply doesn’t cut it for me – not enough control over the final output, and too messy. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing models on the net that have been weathered using this technique, it’s just that I like to take my time and work slowly and deliberately. So back to my tried and tested method of oil filters and washes, various sizes of soft brushes and a couple of happy hours stippling away. By stippling the drying wash, reactivating it with small amounts of thinner, I found it easy to create that chuffed and beaten look so typical for Navy planes.
It has been a while since I finished something… Mainly because I have three projects on the go that take their time, and, to some extent, test ones resolve. So, in order to get a break, I picked another quick build from the stash.
AM’s A-36 is a very nice little kit with some small imperfections. Straight out of the box it builds into a beautiful model that captures the lines of an early Mustang pretty well. Some areas can be refined, as with any kit, but it’s up to you if you are willing to invest the extra effort.
One thing that is rather easy to fix is the missing armor plate behind the pilot’s seat. Some thin plastic sheet, a couple of swipes with a sanding stick, and you are done. Adding some cables to the radio set behind the cockpit pays off, because that area is very visible through the side windows. And finally, if you want to pose the canopy open you need to cut the clear part. Be careful, as the clear plastic is brittle and tends to crack if you apply too much pressure.
Apart from that I used Ultracast’s seat and wheels, the antenna mast was replaced with a whip antenna, and brake lines were added from thin copper wire. Painted with Tamiya and Gunze acrylics, weathered with oils.