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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Painting some white Russians

As I try to re-engage with my modelling mojo, one of the more difficult parts is the act of airbrushing. There are so many things that can go wrong, and when the wave of Murphys Law hits, just about all of them do. So it was with gritted teeth that I got the brush assembled, the compressor turned on, and ventured into the garage for a painting session.

Thankfully, no obvious disasters. This is actually the second session this week, the first having produced the upper surface coat on the DML Sea Vixen (more on that in a few days) and the black on the undersides of the Trumpeter Wellington.

This session was primarily pointed toward the three Russian trainers that have been working their way down the production line over the last 6 months or so - probably not much faster than the real aircraft were put together. They are overall white, with some red and blue accenting that will be the result of much masking in the next few weeks. The white went on with minimal problems, at least none that I am willing to obsess over in my current state.

I decided to do another color while I was in the flow. Two of the four Hurricanes I have in process (two Hasegawa, two Hobbyboss) require MSG undersides, so they moved to the front of the queue and got that color. It looked like my mixing ratios must have been pretty close to proper, since there was no visible orange-peel effects or runs. If these were destined for competition, I would likely buff them out and apply a second coat to smooth the surface, but ruled against that. Next is some masking for these two kits as well, in preparation for getting their upper surfaces done.

Here are a couple of shots of last night's work, including a close up of the AModel Yak-130. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hard times

It is no secret that 72 Land has been pretty quiet over the last summer. To some extent this is just down to the usual causes: decent weather, other interests, competing priorities. But the bald fact is that the Land is going through a fairly difficult stretch. I am well into my third year of unemployment, barring a few temp positions. Unemployment payments are long gone. We have learned more than I ever cared to know about not spending any discretionary money. But we are still under water, and the details of managing that are many and oppressive.

My last contract as an IT Project Manager ended at Christmas of 2009. I imagine we all remember what a mess the economy was back then. Well, it has not improved much in the intervening time period. Yes, the unemployment rate went from 11% to 8%, but much of that was because of the weird way the feds measure unemployment. They don't consider how many people are unemployed, they consider how many people are drawing unemployment payments. Once your benefits expire, as mine did, you are no longer counted as unemployed, and the rate goes down! But that does not mean the number of people working has increased. And I hate their terminology for this: we are those who have "stopped looking". Nobody has stopped anything; we're just no longer drawing unemployment.

We have struggled along on my wife's salary, but the truth is that she makes 45% of what I typically do. So when I went jobless, we lost roughly 60% of our disposable income. Think about that for a second. Her income covers about 85% of the monthly recurring bills, but then you have to add food, fuel, medical expenses (copays and RXs), and any other unanticipated expense. And what happens when the car needs repair?

Long gone are the days of books, magazines, vacations, or stash expansion. Much the exact opposite in fact. I've been trying to sell things via ebay to help make ends come a bit closer together, and to try and feel a bit less useless in keeping us solvent. That is a painful process. It's like selling your kids (though in my experience kids tend to generate spending rather than profits...) At first it was things I probably wasn't going to build anyway: the odd 1:32 kit, a few 1:48 examples left over from The Supply Depot stock, some armor that I had amassed in the 30 years I have been modelling. But as the crisis continues the cuts get closer to the bone. The KMC 727 is gone, the Fliegerhorst G-38 is gone, my selection of Hasegawa Beaufighters is up for bid, my complete 20-volume set of Classic Publications Luftwaffe Colours / Jagdwaffe books is gone. And the bloodletting looks to continue for the foreseeable future. But it is never quite enough.

Oh, I do still do interviews. Second, even third interviews (where you have to figure that they are evaluating finalists). But no offers. I even apply for stuff I am massively overqualified for, like data entry or retail positions. But those employers don't want to waste time and money training someone who will likely bolt as soon as the economy improves. And be fair, they are probably right.

I'm far from alone. You can hear the cry on various boards, forums, or discussion groups. There are a lot of people, experienced professionals, unable to find work. Like an ebay sale, getting a job is a two-party transaction. If one party doesn't agree, for any conceivable reason, it will not happen. This is not a political discussion, but we live in a very business-unfriendly environment right now, and businesses will not expand when they are feeling pressured.

Not to bring everyone down, but I thought it was incumbent on me to give some insight as to why you weren't getting the every-other-day posts that I was managing for a while. There are just many days where I can't conjure the enthusiasm to stick plastic bits together, even though as a hobby, it is supposed to relieve stress rather than perpetuate it. But sometimes you just get a visit from Churchill's black dog, and the production line stops.

But let's end on a brighter note. On Sunday night I actually got the airbrush out for a short painting session. And I seem to be on the verge of finishing a decal job. No one is going to confuse it with a contest winner, but against all odds, I may actually finish a model this summer. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Russian trainers up on their gear

The modelling pace continues at glacial slowness even though the weather has reverted to a more typical climate for the Northwest. But activity hasn't been completely absent in the modelling dungeon.

I have gotten the landing gear on to the Yak-130 and the Su-28. Both of the wheel wells, as with many short-run kits, are vast spaces of virtually nothing, but I'm just not up to adding anything in them at present. With all the putty on these three models (which includes the MiG-AT), I can say with thorough confidence that they will never become contest-quality examples of the modelling art. Even assuming I started entering contests again. So I am okay with them just serving as shelf-fillers. They can do that job well since I have relatively few Russian aircraft in my display case. It's just never been one of my (many) aviation interests.

So here are some photos of the Yak-130 and Su-28 up on their pins and awaiting their turn in the painting queue.