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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A wish for a happy 2015

Although the vast industrial might of the 72 Land production line have been pretty cold and bleak in 2014, we are hoping for a great revival in the new year. Even if we are still feeling like this at present: 

Not mine, but he seems to embody the mood quite well. 

I have been prowling around the stash looking for new victims. Plus I'm trying to retrieve some items from the Shelf of Shame. Keep an eye out for a new early RAF B-17, a whif B-36, and a number of projects from the earlier parts of WW2 (most by Airfix). There seem to be mostly prop types under consideration at present, but jets will no doubt figure into the queue eventually. 

In the meantime, I'd like to wish everyone who has been keeping an eye on the 72 Land Blog this year a very happy and prosperous 2015.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Canopy prep

Not much happening in the modelling dungeon this week, but I did have a chance to get the canopy of the P-1106 masked and attached to the model. A few more things need to be done before it enters the paint shop: it needs some minor seam work and the landing gear doors will need to be added.

I seem to have found many reasons to delay my return to airbrushing. I'm sure this is discomfort due to my understanding that I'm not terribly good at it. Until you put on the paint the model you are working on is still the best thing you've ever done, after all. The fact that I was having actual mechanical problems with the brush itself earlier this year doesn't help. They seemed to be improving (when I added a new O-ring to the nose) before the summer season hit, but we'll see when I get around to an actual session.

Here is a shot of the current state of the Huma P-1106. I still think it is a great aeronautical shape, no matter what the flight characteristics were projected to be. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Setting up some airbrush time

When it rains. Somehow I've managed to destroy my lower back doing something strenuous (like, k'now, standing up). So you'll have to imagine me at a 45 degree list as I type this. It's either laugh or get committed around here sometimes.

I'm working on setting up for my first airbrushing session in quite some time. There are already a few items in the queue, including the two Tamiya Spitfires I discovered half started while trying to sell them at the Spring Show and a Hasegawa B-26C that I just never was satisfied with the NMF I had originally applied. Shortly I will be masking off the lower surfaces of two HobbyBoss Hurricanes. And then, finally, I will be masking the canopy and doing some seam repair on the Huma P-1106 that I recently started a  mojo ignition project.

As I was taking a leisurely stroll through the decal box the other day I ran across some potential decals for the 1106. Tim is quite right (see comments for 9-28-14) that a projected Marseilles aircraft would be perfect for the type, but I'm trying to stick with items on hand as much as possible. I found a partially used Aeromaster sheet for Bf-109s from JG27. This is sheet 72-073. It is the third example on the first page, an F-2 Trop flown by Eduard Neumann in Libya in the winter of 1941. Well, mine will be a few years later and will assume that the Germans had not gotten chased out of North Africa before the new experimental jet aircraft started to arrive. But it is very similar to the paint scheme I found on the net, with a yellow nose and rudders, and a white fuselage stripe and wingtips. One requirement was to have the JG27 unit marking on the nose. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I've just noticed that my page-read counter has gone over 50,000. This would be a good time to give my heartfelt thanks to all the readers who have spent the time to take the occasional look at whatever weird stuff I spew out. Or at least that one guy who looked at the first page 50,000 times. 

My entire purpose in beginning this blog was to try and present modelling in a forthright positive light. There is so much negativity on some of the forums that I frequent. I wanted to show that models could be built, that if they aren't perfect it is not the end of the world, that enthusiasm can sometimes be shown to take the place of talent, that 1 mm is not a dealbreaker for everyone. I really am serious about being comfortable being a Profoundly Average Modeller, and will try to evangelize the concept where and when I can. 

Of course even I violate those principles on occasion (see recent rant), so, again, I appreciate everyone's patience and forbearance. Back to the bench! 

Airfix in 2015

We're just a few weeks out from the annual IPMS-UK Nationals. Although most kitmakers announce their new releases at intervals throughout the year, Airfix is one of the few manufacturers that tries to hold something back for the UK show. We all have types that we want someone to produce - so what 1:72 kits would I like to see from Airfix in 2015?

Imagine BBSS.

Fairey Battle. An important early war type that will fit in well with 2014's Blenheim and Do-17. Might even get the nose correct this time. 

HS Buccaneer. Something of a long shot, but it really is needed and is in line with their longstanding policy of redoing popular ancient kits.

Avro Shackleton. This has been rumored since the Nimrod was issued. And there is a tale that Airfix staff were measuring a restored example in the UK. Sometimes this is mentioned as a Lincoln. I'd go for either one.

Supermarine Scimitar. Another long shot, but if their research said a Swift would sell, this should be a natural.

And if they want something with less effort, just scale down the CAD file for the Javelin and cut some metal.

Despite being a Yank, Airfix is dear to me. I loved most of their 2014 program (Tiger Moth, ragwing Hurricane, Blenheim, Do-17, DC-3, Swift) and will likely be at least interested in whatever they release in my scale. Well, ok, if they come out with a line of F-16s that might cause me to go catatonic. Hopefully we'll get some answers at Telford this year.

Discuss amongst yourselves.... 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Looking for mojo

I've had a bit more than a week to decide if the last post was a heartfelt cri de coeur or the world's loudest whine. Still not quite sure how to categorize it.

However, there are two strategies for trying to revive your modelling mojo when you hit the wall, for whatever reason. First is to try and finish something that has lingered for some time or has fallen on to the Shelf of Shame. Second is to start something completely new. Being naturally inclined toward excess, I decided to do both.

First, the brand new item. I am well on my way to having built almost all of the line of Huma kits. Since the owner/creator of the brand has retired, this is one of those lines (like Merlin, but in respect for the squeamish we won't go there) where you actually can build everything they have produced. I'm well over halfway. But one of the kits I hadn't gotten to yet is the Messerschmitt P-1106. This is one of their Luftwaffe 1946 types, a subgenre that I still have a lot of love for even if the rest of the modelling world seems to have turned elsewhere.

Not a very complex kit, it consists of 30-some parts. It would be even simpler except for the parts that involve the engine, which only exists in the model because parts are visible through the landing gear bays. It is one of those Luft 46 types that looks fast while standing still, with the cockpit mounted well to the rear of the aircraft.

Once the fuselage is together and the interior (including that engine) are painted, the rest of the basic construction goes quickly. I can feel some rust on my modelling technique - it has been almost 5 months since I've done anything much - so there will be some cleanup required to the seams. One issue is that of nose weight. The only place to put anything is precisely where the engine is exposed by the wheel wells. So it looks like some sort of clear support will be in order, despite the fact that I kind of hate how that looks.

While grazing around the net, I stumbled on a paint scheme for the plane. It was a natural, given my interest in the desert war. I should be able to swipe the decals from any number of desert Bf-109 sheets. Attached is the color scheme, along with progress to date. Next up is masking the camo and laying down the lower surface RLM78. Though, on further review, it might be easier to do the white fuselage stripe and yellow nose first.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Withdrawing from the hobby?

This has been a quiet summer here in the 72 Land modelling bunker. There are actually reasons for this beyond common indifference, and some of them are rather grim.

First of all, this has been one of the hottest summers in my entire 30 year tenure in the Pacific Northwest. I was about ready to buy in to the oddball Nibiru stories about pole shift; it seemed we had ended up somewhere around Atlanta’s old location. From late June through mid-September, there couldn't have been more than a couple of days where the high was under 80. Those of you in more deserty climes will get a chuckle out of that, but that is extremely uncommon in the NW. And most of those 80+ days were actually 85+ days. We set numerous individual daytime high records, though thankfully we never broke the “hottest temp ever” record of 103. Don’t forget, those of you chuckling in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tunisia, that this is a region where virtually no one has home air conditioning. We are down to one fan in this household, and it had to stay wherever the most people were congregating. And that was not my workbench.

The economic news was worse. I am well into a fourth year of unemployment. This is not unique either, which I know from the various forums that I post to. Nobody wants a 55+ year old who hasn’t worked in his field for that long (some periods of temp work, but that doesn’t seem to count for anything). If the economy was blistering I could probably find something anyway due to my 25+ years of experience, but it is still in the dumps, with no clear sign of future improvement.

From this, the economics kick in. You can’t lose a $98k salary per year for that long without massive budget destruction. Everything is mortgage, monthly bills, food and fuel. And there is still a negative balance each month.

Which leads to the problem (that is actually related to the subject of the blog!) of having to sell off the stash. To a person who has the collector gene, the idea of selling your prized possessions is almost physically painful. Kits, books, magazines, collectors comics, things I have accumulated since the 70s are all going on the block. I long ago ran through the duplicates (of which I never had too many) and kits that I probably wasn’t going to build if I was honest. But now I’m well into things I didn’t want to let slip away. It is personally uncomfortable, depressing, even demeaning to know you’re in a spot where you have to do this. Ebay, for all its faults, at least provides a worldwide audience to allow your items to find someone who wants to pay for them.

But it is still depressing. I feel like one of those types who feels compelled to give away all of their possessions before they jump off a bridge or something. The miasma just sort of takes over your free time and you can’t summon the will to get on the workbench and keep on building, because you know that you’ll never finish those subcollections because you’ve had to sell off some of the kits that were going to take up spots in the lineup.

Like the blog header says, this feels like withdrawing from the hobby. But I’m fighting it. I certainly don’t want to become an ex-modeller with an empty garage. But consider your own hobby habits – where would you be if you couldn’t spend money on new kits, paints, glue, tools, display areas, books? It’s not a good place to be, but I have to keep reminding myself that there are still more kits in the stash than I can build in a reasonable remaining lifetime. And finally, as the cooler weather of autumn spreads into the region, maybe I can get my mojo back and get something back into the “completed” column.   

Here is what I'm dreaming of....

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cockpits and canopies

All finished with training and cross-training for the election support gig, so I was able to devote some time to ongoing modelling projects.

I was only able to mask one of the HobbyBoss Hurricane canopies. I didn't have an Eduard masking set (I personally prefer using a set, despite the cost) so had to do this one freehand. The Hurricane of course has fairly small window panels, which made this a bit of work. As always, a new scalpel blade and visual magnification helps, but I still managed to slice a gouge in one of my fingers during the session. Ours is a hobby that demands the occasional shedding of blood. I still have one Hurricane canopy to go before applying paint to the pair.

I also assembled a couple of cockpits. The first was for an Italeri DC-3 and the second for the Airfix Ford Trimotor. Since I tend to display canopies in the closed position, I don't generally spend much time on painting and detailing the cockpits. I am much more oriented toward the exterior color and markings, and less for the engineering details. This also explains my rather cavalier approach to detail accuracy. Typically I am happy enough with some spots of color for contrast, maybe a little drybrushing to highlight the raised details, and that is it. I'm only doing this for what can be seen through a closed canopy on a 1:72 scale kit, and that isn't much.

I have built both the ESCI and Italeri DC-3 before (I believe I have 5 total completed) so there weren't many surprises. I even used the military interior instead of the airliner version, since you really can't see the seats from outside.

While looking for something in the stash, I ran across a Frog/Novo Percival Proctor. I wasn't even aware I had one. Alas, it was strewn across the bottom of the storage box, having escaped from its plastic bag. All pieces seem to be accounted for but one, the left half of one of the wheel spats. I am currently ruminating on whether I want to try and mock up something to take its place or just wait until the part resurfaces at some undetermined future date. So it is not clear at present whether I will start this one or not. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Masking amid the sweat droplets

With the return of #1 son a number of months back, I had to move my model building operation out of his once and future bedroom. So the basic work table was exiled to a free wall in the living room and the books migrated to the downstairs library. For the last week or so I've been trying to figure out how to improve the layout. It seems to have encrusted with all sorts of growths: kit boxes, partially completed models, and of course my ebay operation is based on (translation: has taken over) the dining table nearby. Basically I decided that some of the boxes would have to go back to the garage to wait their turn and the dining table had to move a few feet to give me some more space around the work bench.

Alas, this decision landed right in the middle of this year's Northwest Heat Wave. You guys in Dallas can start laughing now, but an entire week of 90+ temperatures is enough to get the first 15 minutes on every local news broadcast here. And we were passing 95 in the middle of it all. That, to the pale skinned denizens of Washington, where about 2% of the houses have any sort of air conditioning at all, is the heat death of the galaxy in miniature. So most of the last week has been spent laying in front of a fan blowing warm humid air.

But at least I did get one thing accomplished. The masking for the two Spitfires was completed, clearing the way for the first coat of paint on the lower surfaces. So that means I will definitely have to confront my airbrushophobia in the near future.

Of course, since I am starting another temp job tomorrow (processing support for the WA state election), I can probably find excuses to delay that confrontation for a while at least.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day production

First of all, best wishes for your Independence Day if you are American, and - for the rest of the world - at least it is Friday! We here in the Great Northwest are being blessed with a beautiful day, mid 70s and mostly sunny. This is not common, as it is traditional to have it rain on the Fourth. But not this year.

While there have not been any great strides forward in the production queue, I did at least get the two Tamiya Spitfires stuck together. One of them had some issues with the wing/fuselage joint, though given that the other didn't I assume it was some sort of operator error. But a bit of Surfacer and sanding should sort things out quickly. Next up will be masking the two canopies and getting ready for the first paint coat. It will likely be the undersides in Sky.

I did begin some preliminary work on the Airfix Ford Tri-motor. I have both this and the elderly Monogram Tri-motor, and could not for the life of me remember which one was closer to 1:72, though the Airfix kit is visibly larger in dimension. A quick post on the 72 Scale Aircraft forum - thanks, gents - and the question was answered. The cockpit is currently unpainted, so that will become the next step. I'm not sure what markings to use on this one; possibly the Texaco scheme that is on an old Microscale sheet. Decals are always fun over a corrugated surface, so I will have to make sure I am well stocked on Microsol and Microset when the time comes.

Though the weather is pulling me outside, I will try to get a marathon masking session in gear sometime over the long holiday weekend.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Potential projects

So what is coming up in the 72 Land small aircraft production queue? As I mentioned, there are Ju-87s and Spitfires in there already, along with Hurricanes. I have a Hasegawa B-26 with a coat of Alclad, but I think I will reshoot that to improve the finish.

But what is next? Although I have sold a lot of kits via Ebay, the stash is still substantial and there is no shortage of new projects that are always vying for attention. I discovered that I had something like 20 aftermarket sheets - most with multiple options - for DC-3s. I could only find one actual DC-3 kit, which I believe is the ESCI molding, and it was missing one of the engine nacelle halves, so unless I can find another kit or the missing part that probably won't move ahead at present. Maybe I'll use these decals when the new tool Airfix DC-3 becomes available. 

I've been pawing an Italeri Fiat Br-20 and Ca-314, in an effort to expand my completed Italian AF collection. I even ran across a partially completed Fujimi Grumman KA-6D tanker that I might push on with. The only downside with the Intruder tanker is that this is from the time period when Fujimi was trying to maximize their output by building in options for multiple variants and then releasing single boxings for all of them. The result is an over-engineered kit with the resulting seams all over the place to deal with. The A-6, like their F-4s, seem to have a lot of little panels and bits to add in to fuselage and wings.

Others I am considering include the Bell P-63 (a single engined fighter I've never built before), a couple of Japanese options (their Me-163 clone and a couple of floatplane fighters), more Italian aircraft (like the SM-79, SM-81, and CantZ 501), a Mitsubishi Betty, a Do-24 to extend my series of German floatplanes, and the Revell Transall C-160 (which will be in Air France markings) that won't seem to go away. I even found a Hasegawa Lancaster that I had started when the kit was first released, with an aftermarket sheet for postwar Lancs. I'm not sure how many of these will actually result in finished models, but it looks like the summer won't lack for modelling work. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Two Spits appear

I seem to be suffering from Modelling ADHD this year. I get started on a new project, stall a bit, then wander off to begin another project, leaving partially completed aircraft strewn  in my wake. It's not exactly an obscure ailment in our hobby; everyone has a Shelf of Shame that holds the models that never quite saw the finish line. But it seems to have taken hold of me pretty strongly in 2014. I do have some items that are at least nearing their final stages - a desert snake Ju-87, a couple of HobbyBoss Hurricanes - but I am having to force myself to get back to working on them. Something is in the air, which no doubt explains my lack of production so far. I've had years where 50 completed models was in sight. Not so in 2014.

But one new thing I've started on began life as a surprising discovery at the 2014 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show. I was selling some kits from the stash and had put a couple of Tamiya Spitfire 1 kits into the stack. One person was looking into the box and noted that the kit was started. And I had no idea! In fact it turned out that both the Spitfires were in process, in one case the fuselage was together and the cockpit painted and installed. In the other the cockpit was partially built and already painted. And there were two aftermarket decal sheets in there as well. Once the customer had decided not to buy them I slipped them under the table. I didn't really want to sell the decals as part of the fairly cheap kit price, and decided that it would be more satisfying to just build them myself.

In keeping with today's theme of lacking focus, it took me the two months since the show to actually get the box open and do some work on the kits. As you would expect, the Tamiya is engineered very well and has no surprises even for the Profoundly Average Modeller™. I've gotten one example mostly built, and the other is almost ready to seal up, just needing some paint and final assembly in the pit. These will likely wear Battle of Britain markings, as that is what the aftermarket sheet covers. Most are just standard RAF markings - not much time for elaborate nose art in those dangerous times - but I might be able to find something with at least the split black and white undersides that some aircraft wore.

Next will come the masking and attachment of canopies, always a tedious business when I don't happen to have an Eduard set to allow my natural laziness to run free. Then I have to once again confront the formidable airbrush beast. Things seemed to be improving when I used it prior to my temp work imposed break over the last few weeks, but it is always a challenge for me. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Trumpeter Ilyushin Il-28 Beagle

We now return you to our regularly scheduled modelling blather.

One thing you won't find a great deal of in my display cabinets are Russian aircraft. I'm not sure why that is. Admittedly, I'm a child of the Cold War, and have never felt any sympathy for Russian political action. But then, I do enjoy German WW2 aircraft, and I certainly have no love for their political dealings either. Maybe it is just that I find Russian design to be exasperatingly utilitarian. Most Russian planes have more in common with a tractor than a bird.

But, occasionally, one will work its way through the construction process. Since I like prototypes, I've built models of the T-50, I-270, MG-144, and the J-10 and J-20 (and yes, I know they are Chinese). I have the three Russian trainers in process, though they seem to have stalled out a bit in the painting cycle. But in general I have never spent much effort on WW2 Soviet types. I will admit to having a Zvezda Pe-8 that doesn't seem to want to return to the stash, but its eventual fate is still undetermined.

About the only glimmer has been with postwar aircraft. I've toyed with the idea of a set displaying the MiG lineage. Eduard's new MiG-15 was the primary driver of that idea, along with the fact that I've never actually built a MiG-21, one of the more common fighters on the planet. There is a good possibility I will get around to that in 2014.

But I digress. Today's completion comes from one of my other preferred themes, the transitional periods in aircraft design. The Ilyushin Il-28 is a part of the early jet period, when straight wings were still common and the full potential of jet aircraft was still somewhat in the future. The type's first flight was in 1948 with aircraft entering service in the early 1950s.

The kit is from Trumpeter, though it has been reboxed by Italeri. It is not a difficult kit to put together, though for this particular variant you need to do some cutting and pasting on the rear fuselage to provide a different tail gun. If you are less hamfisted than I am, it probably will not be a problem, but it did provide me with some frustrating moments. Measure twice, cut once, indeed.

This also happened to fall into the timeframe when I was having airbrush troubles, so the spraying of overall Alclad caused a bit of hair-pulling as well. I still don't think the overall finish is particularly good, but I was rapidly approaching the point where it was more important to finish the model than to establish my artistic bona fides, so that is what I did. The color scheme isn't very imaginative either - another reason I'm not very excited by Russian aircraft, but it did have the benefit of being simple. All in all, it represents another scalp for the belt (ie, another model in the display case).

This is completed model #439 (#4 for the year), finished in March of 2014. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Looks like my temp work engagement is winding down, so I will shortly be returning to this blog. I still have to display the one model that has been complete for some time, and I have been giving some thought to what the next cluster of models to start. So stay tuned. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Not dead yet

But I have started a 6+ week engagement for some temporary work, so the entries in this blog may be sporadic at best for a short while. 

I am doing payment processing for a large charity here in Seattle. It is their annual capital campaign. Not my usual line of work (IT Project Manager) or, heh, rate. But it is income, which has been something of a struggle lately. 

I do have a completed model that I haven't yet photographed (Trumpeter/Italeri Ilyushin Il-28), and some thoughts on what my next few projects will be. I should be able to get that work done before too long. So stay tuned; content will begin flowing again shortly. Hopefully before the inspiration from the Seattle show completely dissipates. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show part 4

Another small selection of models from the 2014 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show.

Someone had the nerve to actually build the Revell Halifax! Well done that man! Next is the mistel combination of He-162 and Arado E-377 from Dragon. One of my favorite aircraft types in the BAe Hawk, and there was one example in its T-45 variant, complete with markings from the Centennial of Naval Aviation. I don't know if he used the Draw Decals set (though I should note that Greg Drawbauch was selling at the show). Finally a Matchbox Wellesley and about the only P-47 I saw this year. That's a bit unusual.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show part 3

My next selection of models for this year. As before, you can go to Photobucket to see the entire album at this link: 2014 Spring Show

Here are some jets. Although I don't personally like displaying models with the gear up, I do always like seeing a Eurofighter. It is followed by a sneaky Canadian Gripen. Followed by an Su-27 and a flying S-3. Finally, a very nicely done F-111.


 Once again, thanks to IPMS-Seattle for hosting the event this year. If you will be in Seattle in April of 2015, make your plans now! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show part 2

Some photos from last weekend's show. We'll start out with those three 707s. It has been noted that the civil/commercial categories are always strong at our show. Well, we are in Boeing country here, and that is reflected in the turnout. It always seems that half of the club is employed by the Big B, mostly in the engineering group.

Despite my minor carping about imaginative model selection, it wasn't all 109s and Spitfires. There were some interesting items included. The Bristol Bombay is the Contrail vac, it is always nice to see a Matchbox He-115 completed, and the hometown Boeing 40 came from the CMR resin kit.

Once again, you can access my album of 1:72 models from this year's show at this link..

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show part 1

Now that I am over 50, annual events seem to arrive with startling speed. Unlike certain yearly medical procedures, the annual Spring Show from IPMS-Seattle is something worth anticipating, since it is typically one of the largest shows in the western US. Lots of models, lots of vendors, and some really fine work on display.

One of our concerns for the show is usually weather. In years past, we've had it snow in the week before the event, and we've had it hit near 80 degrees. Both of these conditions will imperil attendance. This year it hit a happy medium, with mostly sunny skies and a temp of the upper 60s.

I was there as a vendor, doing some stash reduction, though I did a lot of flashing back to my Supply Depot days of being an online retailer. Just second-hand kits, though I did offer a free dead spider from my garage with every purchase. Since I've been doing some vending on ebay for the last year, some of these kits were items I didn't really want to sell, but did so for financial reality's sake. The net total at the end of the day was pretty much what I was expecting, so I consider it a successful sales day.

Halfway through the event I got hit with a migraine. If any of you are sufferers from this, you know that about the only thing you want to do is stay in a dark room for the next 12 hours. Not exactly possible in the middle of a sizeable model show! My symptoms are very classic: weird vision disruptions and a bullhammer of a headache.

Since my time was mostly spent at the sales table, I didn't have too much time to spend looking at the models. Luckily I was sharing the table, so my co-conspirators covered while I at least went out and photographed the 1:72 examples. That is my main interest in any case. The crop of 1:72 was impressive and nicely done, though I don't think in many cases the choice of subject was particularly adventurous. That is to be expected at shows; if you are building for competition, you tend to select the better kits as a starting point. Still, having 3 1:72 707s in the contest has to count for something!

Over the next couple of days I will be displaying some of the photos, along with commentary and additional details. If you don't want to wait, or would like to see the entire set, here is a link to the Photobucket album for this year's show. Sorry, but the other scales are not represented. You'll need to go to the IPMS-Seattle website to see those. 2014 Spring Show entries

Thanks and congratulations to all of the IPMS-Seattle fellows whose hard work has consistently made this a great show. There were around 650 entries, with a couple of hundred display only items. There were two vendor rooms. I thought the spectator / walkup traffic seemed considerably heavier than the last few years, but I'm waiting on confirmation on that. But if you are ever in Seattle (actually location: Renton) on the weekend of the show, it is worth your time to get there. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Next month's IPMS-Seattle Spring Show

Sorry to have dropped off the face of the earth temporarily. There has been a nasty cold/flu/bronchitis going around the family the last couple of weeks that well and truly knocked me for a loop. But I am currently in an upright position, so all should be well.

Nothing has been moving on the production line either, so in lieu of a construction report, let me give you some information on the upcoming IPMS-Seattle Spring Show, to be held on Saturday, 4-12-2014. This is club's major annual show, and it tends to be a good one. I'm told it is the largest show north of San Francisco and probably east of Chicago. There are usually around 700 models on display, both for competition and in display-only areas.

Vendors are arranged around the outside of the large display room (two gymnasiums side by side). Some are professional, some just fellows reducing the stash, but there are always interesting things on sale. I'll even be out there doing some creative stash reduction myself.
Each year I take photos of all the 1:72 entries and list them in my Photobucket account, but of course there are entries in all scales, formats, and subjects. We seem to have done especially well in 1:32 and naval subjects in years past, but be aware there is no way to predict the distribution. It's just potluck for whatever shows up on the day.

It will be held, as it has been for the last few years, at the Renton Community Center near the intersection of I-405 and Hwy 167 in Renton. It's a nice facility, but our show does tend to overwhelm the available parking, so getting there early is a wise choice unless your feet are looking for a workout. As I noted, we occupy two full gymnasiums so there is enough room for all.

Here is the link for further information: Spring Show

The fee is $10 for unlimited model entries ($5 for juniors) and $5 for spectators only. The floor opens at 9am, registration ends at noon, and awards usually are distributed around 3 or 4. It is a fun day for all. Hopefully some of you can make it; I hope to see you there! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Rising to the level of my own incompetence

This almost qualifies as a success. I'm not there yet, but I at least seem to have gotten back to the state from prior to this round of struggles.

Tonight I decided to do the RLM80 mottling on the desert snake, and paint the undersides of two Hobbyboss Hurricanes that had been hanging around the queue for a while now. I loaded up the brush with the Luftwaffe dark green and out it came from the airbrush. Not partial and pencil thin, but not a total gusher either. Now, one of the problems I have historically had with my compressor is that it has no add-ons. No moisture trap, no pressure regulator. To be honest, the thing is so old I'm lucky it doesn't run on buffalo dung. A proper upgrade (I've already got the new Iwata compressor picked out on an Amazon wish list) is awaiting the return to normal working income. So I am somewhat used to the technique of letting just the tiniest of pressures on the paint trigger move as little paint as possible onto the model. The RLM80 patches are fairly large on this plane, so it didn't go badly. But the edges do display some spatter and are not as tight as they need to be. But no worse than historically with this airbrush. 

The undersides of the two Hurricane 2c, one in Azure Blue and one in Sky, proceeded better. But now the problem seems to have migrated in the other direction. Lots of paint is exiting the brush. It never got to the point of causing runs, but there are a couple of spots that will likely require a small bit of buffing and repainting. Again, things that I have dealt with before and am used to. For the second, surface coat, you load the paint with lots of thinner and just allow it to fill in the valleys that you've buffed into it. It is nice when you can avoid that step but not onerous if you have to perform it.

So the Death of 1000 Cuts Via Airbrush continues. Tomorrow I think I will relax with some pure construction and decalling, as I finish up the Russian AF Ilyushin Il-28 from Trumpeter.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A glimmer of hope?

I must say that that was an interesting airbrush session. Not that all of my problems have been solved, but there does seem to be a glimmer of hope in the process tonight.

Previously on the 72 Land airbrush battle: As you will know from the earlier issue of this blog, I have been having significant airbrush problems. The paint just does not seem to want to push through the brush. At times the paint flow is absolute zero, even though air is still coming out. A blockage? Pressure leak?

After some research on the net, I realized that over the course of the Iwata's tenure (something like 10 years now) it had lost the o-ring that sits in the nose between the tip and the body. Apparently these things don't stand up well to lacquer thinner, which I use due to the quicker curing time for enamel paint. Could that have been causing the issues? Getting a new one was worth a try.

A couple of days back I received a new o-ring from TCP Global, a supplier of airbrush parts. The o-ring is a tiny bit, and the shipping was more than the part, but I was desperate. The first time I installed it and tightened down the tip, it seemed larger than it should have been, and actually deformed itself - a tiny loop extended past the airbrush. Much consternation ensued. Eventually I got it to the point that the loop was minimized. Nothing is easy, it seems.

I proceeded to the acid test, an actual painting session. I still didn't have a decent coverage of Alclad on the NMF of both the Il-28 and the B-26, so I started there. At first things looked better; paint was actually coming out of the front visibly. I think I got the Il-28 to a point I can live with, but things started to collapse as I worked the B-26. The paint stopped flowing and bubbles were rampant in the paint cup. On a completely different level, I decided that the surface prep I had done on the B-26 was entirely inadequate, and no matter how much Alclad was on the surface it wasn't going to look good enough. A complete repriming and more surface prep were required.

But that didn't explain the state of the brush. I broke it down and fiddled with it. Even when I filled it with pure thinner, it bubbled like the fumaroles at Yellowstone. More stripping, more sticking toothpicks into various orifices (man, what kind of traffic am going to get via Google with that line?) I decided to try again with a non-metallic paint. This time I decided on the RLM79 upper coat on the Ju-87 desert snake and more Dark Green on the world's largest whif.

And after a slow and rocky start, it finally began to work. Coverage was slow and at some points pencil thin - why couldn't I have been doing Luftwaffe mottling while this was going on? - but paint was being applied. After probably 40 minutes of continuous spraying, the areas of Dark Green were opaque enough to call it a day.

Since the airbrush has been down a couple of weeks, I have a fair amount of paint work backed up in the queue. Later in the weekend I will try it all again and see what I can come up with.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Italeri Savoia-Marchetti SM-82

For some reason 2014 seems to be developing into the year of Italian aircraft.  Today's completed model falls right into that category, being the Italeri Savoia-Marchetti SM-82 from a few years back. This is one in the long series of trimotors from this manufacturer; something of an Italian style point. And Italeri has followed suit, having produced the SM-79 and SM-81 as well.

I thought that the construction phase went very well, with good fit and decent detail inside and out. There were some anxious moments getting the landing gear to fit correctly, the tailwheel broke off more than once during the process, and I had some self-inflicted wounds that were incurred while painting the exhaust rings.

In fact, painting was a bit of an adventure. I was using White Ensign paints for the first time, and the experiment was generally successful. These are satin paints, a tiny bit more difficult to use than the fully gloss Xtracolours that I am more used to. I initially chose an incorrect green for the upper surfaces, which is in no way the paint's fault! But the original choice was not olive enough, and I didn't have WEM's Italian olive paint in my lineup (I had tried to buy it but at the time it was out of stock). I ended up using an Xtracolour rendition of the British olive drab, and I think it looks pretty decent. Markings were from the spares box - Tauro roundels and Xtradecal code numbers. The paint scheme itself came from a painted profile that I found on the internet at some point in the murky past, so I'm not sure who to credit for that.

Once again gratitude goes to Italeri, who have produced a good kit of an indigenous aircraft, which had formerly been available only in vacuform. Success with the SM-82 has led to some work being done on the Italeri Br-20 and Ca-311. I may have to tackle the yellow/green/red Italian camo before I'm done.

I'm in the middle of yet another display space shortage, so it appears that I will have to change the layout in my freestanding cases to accommodate more shelving. But that is a story for another day.

This is completed model #438 (#3 for the year), finished in February of 2014. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Light at the end of the airbrush tunnel?

I may have inadvertently discovered the answer to the great airbrush mystery. On the 72nd Scale Aircraft board there was a discussion concerning which airbrush everyone was using and why. The discussion wandered, as these things are prone to do, and eventually touched on thinners. Keith Rider, one of the board members, mentioned that his nozzle o-ring was destroyed by lacquer thinner. And I use lacquer thinner almost exclusively for airbrush work.

And that set the wheels to turning. Though I usually break down the nozzle for a cleaning after each session, I honestly could not remember seeing an o-ring in there. So I took the thing apart, and sure enough, no o-ring. Going to the Iwata website, I confirmed that the Eclipse HP-CS should indeed have said o-ring as part of the nozzle assembly.

So is this the origin point of my airbrush woes? Did the ring dissolve or fall out during one of the many cleaning sessions? No clue as of yet, but I do have a source for a replacement part, and will have one flying toward me within hours. I really should pick up a new nozzle tip and needle at the same time, but will try to get the new o-ring in place first.

So stay tuned; I don't think this story is over yet, but at least we may have some progress! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Airbrush Battle Royal round two - not quite there yet

I received some timely tips on airbrush malfunction in the comments section from both Joroen and Tim. (Thanks, gents). These involved helping to get a good seal on the forward parts of the airbrush with a blob of Vaseline in order to prevent air pressure loss. So I glopped a bit on the threads - you would be surprised how many questions your wife may come up with when you grab a jar of Vaseline and disappear into the basement - and tightened things up as best I could.

Soon the airbrush was running and I was spraying a matte topcoat onto the SM-82 that I recently completed (and which you'll be seeing on the blog shortly). The matte coat went on fairly well, so I thought the problem might be solved. Unfortunately, the next color up was a reshoot of the Alclad that sputtered out on me during the last session. Once again, the stream reduced and reduced until there was no paint emerging from the tip at all.

I don't thin Alclad (since it typically doesn't need it) so it wasn't a chemical reaction with thinner. There was some buildup around the outer portion of the airbrush tip, which is also unusual for Alclad. Was this another manifestation of the Alclad Curse, which only seems to be invoked whenever Alclad paint crosses the border into 72 Land? I'm not sure yet. The level of frustration was high and the evening was cold, so I decided to defer the experiment with another enamel paint until a later date.

So I'm not quite there yet, but I continue to experiment. Airbrushing is such an integral part of the modelling toolkit that I have to overcome this or start looking for a new hobby. Could I have slopped on too much Vaseline and contaminated the airstream, causing a chemical reaction with the lacquer thinner? Not sure - despite what you may have heard, I am not an expert in Vaseline usage - but I am not beaten yet. One other effect of the painting session was that I realized my surface prep for the Hasegawa B-26 was inadequate for a NMF, so I will need to do some additional buffing and put on a coat of primer.

On the other end of the production queue, I have decided to delay the start of work on two new kits - the Hasegawa Ta-154 and the DML He-219 - in favor of two Italeri models of Italian aircraft: the Fiat BR-20 and the Caproni Ca-314. With a great Sky Models decal sheet of Italian bombers to provide unique markings and the completion of two other Italian models in 2014, I figured I should strike while the proverbial iron is hot. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

RS Models Ambrosini SAI-207

I am a fan of Italian aircraft design, though I haven't completed very many models of them. I may be a bit intimated by the complex green/brown/dark yellow camo schemes that many of them carry, especially with my airbrushing limitations. But I decided that in 2014 I was going to get at least a few of them completed.

And the first one to come along is the Ambrosini SAI-207. Developed from the racer SAI-7, the fighter was small and fast, but not sound structurally. It was also badly underpowered. Still, it managed to make it out to three squadrons before the armistice in 1943. There were no foreign sales. The design continued to be refined in the SAI-403 Dardo.

RS Models makes the kit of the SAI-207 in short-run injected plastic, including (hooray!) an injected canopy. I admit to leaving most of the photoetch bits out of the cockpit, given the somewhat thick canopy, since little can be seen. The fit was decent though not exceptional; a bit of filler was needed on the fuselage seam and the wing/fuselage joint. Be careful with the prop, especially while separating it from the sprue - it is very thin and delicate. Beyond that, all the work is fairly straightforward. Decals came from the kit, and you can characterize them the same as I did the prop: thin and delicate. But in decals that's a good thing!

Luckily the SAI-107 never seems to have been painted in the tricolor camo, only the dark olive green uppers and grey lower surfaces. I originally used one of the White Ensign Models paints for the green, but contrary to the paint tin's lid, it turned out to be a lighter green than I was looking for. I believe it is actually one of the camo greens. I did use WEM for the lower grey, and it worked perfectly. Upon reflection I used the Xtracolour version of the RAF's olive drab, which I think came out just fine. I hope this will become the first of many Italian aircraft to find their way through the 72 Land production line this year.

This is completed aircraft #438 (#2 of the year), completed in February of 2014.

Monday, February 3, 2014

More airbrush woes

Though we here in the great Northwest are still in the warm afterglow of Superbowl 48, that does not mean that I haven't gotten a chance to do some modelling work. A little bit of construction and a paint session, after which I spent some time determining what new kits would be joining the front of the construction queue.

I got the last bits and pieces attached to the Hasegawa B-26, so now the main work will be on surface prep. This will be a NMF, so the question always is whether to prime the surface or take a chance that you can get the plastic smooth enough to do the job. In this case I think that a primer coat will be necessary, if only because there has been some putty on a couple of the panel lines and a bit of discretionary sanding going on. The smallest grit sandpaper that I have currently is 600, so I don't think I want to put Alclad directly over that. So I will likely give it a grey undercoat of some shade. I never put black under Alclad for fear of getting one of those blinding chrome-like surfaces that I personally think look toylike and unrealistic. With my average modelling skills I need to avoid the toy look as much as possible.

When I fired up the airbrush, it was firstly to get a matte topcoat on the RS Ambrosini SAI-207, which will feature in a completion entry shortly. Beyond that, there were other Alclad doings: props for the SM-82 and the Il-28 that has been patiently awaiting paint since Christmastime. I also got the RLM78 lower surfaces applied to the desert snake Stuka.

More airbrush related woes - there is something messed up in the internal portions which is sporadically preventing good air flow through the brush. It was unable to push Alclad through, and that stuff is mixed about as thin as paint thinner. All I get in the cup is bubbles, which implies that something is blocking the tip. But when I check, there is nothing obvious there. A mystery that I am going to have to solve. This left the Il-28 looking rather spotty, and it will need another coat.

It looks like the next two in the queue will be the Hasegawa Ta-154 and the Mitsubishi Betty. I also need to work in the beginnings of the Zvezda Pe-8. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2014 NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks

Now THAT was a dominating performance. Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for winning Super Bowl 48 in East Rutherford NJ. After having to listen to the media all week long, you would have thought that Peyton Manning was playing the game all by himself. You might have heard some talk of Seattle's defense, but only in terms of how difficult it was going to be for them to stop Manning's offense. Well, luckily, they seem to have overcome that obstacle. 

This is a big deal for this city. It's not a very good sports town. The only national championship they ever got was the 1979 NBA title. But there is something special about Seahawk fandom. They are rabid. They are noisy. Their cheers at home games routinely show up as minor earth tremors on the UW seismograph. Though Kansas City is a close second, Seattle is still the most noisy stadium in the NFL. 

So congratulations to the team and the city. There are going to be a lot of parties going on in the next 24 hours!