Monday, January 28, 2013

League Assignment - Arrrrr! Pirates!

 Cool and Collected, a blog about feeding our obsession with collecting toys, action figures, comic books, and the like, has been running a weekly effort to help boost inter-bloggersphere relationships and readership. Each week, an assignment is posted, and each week participants must blog about that topic.
This is the first time I have joined in the fun.

Most people will likely say that scale modeling and collecting, indeed action figure collecting, are completely different subjects. Well, that all depends on what you do with the action figure after you've collected it, I would say. Never the less, I am a modeler at heart and most modelers will agree that they have some sort of collection of plastic kits that we so humorously refer to as a "stash". Mine is modest but growing, and is complimented by a growing collection of action figures.
The relationship between modeling and action figures ties together when you see how one can use those large scale figures to create some pretty neat custom dioramas or vignettes. You see, I don't purchase action figures to have them collect dust on a shelf some where. I use them as the characters in a scene I create. Since action figures have such a wide range of subjects, the possibilities are limited only to my imagination. Though my creations may agitate the staunchest of collectors for ruining a perfectly good figure, I find action figures to be another medium for my artistic expression through modeling.

This week's assignment from the Leauge of Extraordinary Bloggers is "Pirates"...

Sweet 16 - Episode IX

Let the painting begin!

Ah, I was finally able to sit down and get a brief paint session under my belt. After a hectic year in 2012, with me being away at basic training and technical school, this is the first time I've picked up my Paasche VL in over a year. Ironically enough, the last model I painted with the beloved airbrush was a 1/48 F-16C, also from Academy. So, I've come full circle, but I'm a bit rusty yet.

The F-16 doesn't have the flashiest paint scheme, and its fairly easy to accomplish with little masking. I've never been real picky about my colors. If it looks about right, well then, it looks about right. My time in the military so far has shown me that no two vehicles or aircraft weather the same, and no two are necessarily the same color. 
I started by painting the whole thing dark gray. I don't pre-shade, I post-shade. The dark gray is followed up by highlighting each panel with white. It looks stark but its far easier than shading each panel line with black, especially on a 1/72 scale fighter. You can see the contrast on the upper surface of the wing.

Once the highlighting is complete, I go back over the area with a thinned coat of the final color. In this case, the underside of the F-16 is light gray. You can see that the contrast now is quite blended. Subtle, but nice. Its a technique I picked up from a fellow blogger at

So, there you have it. I still have a lot more painting to do, but I'm happy with how it is turning out so far. Slow and steady wins the race!
Stay tuned for the next episode!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sweet 16 - Episode VIII

Well, as a father of three, often the amount of time I get on the bench isn't ideal. With a baby who is slowly learning the benefits of sleeping all the way through the night, I am often times pulled away from my project to make a bottle, or relocate her misplaced pacifier. Each night I can guarantee that I will be interrupted at some point during the evening's paint session. Because of this, I have been hesitant to start painting. There is nothing worse having to stop half way through a base coat, or while attempting a pre-shade. So, I've been waiting it out. Hopefully she'll establish a schedule that doesn't include waking up between the hours of 9 PM and 12 AM.

Never the less, I am able to get a little bit of work done on the F-16. And by little bit, I'm not kidding. I masked the canopy in preparation for airbrushing. See, I wasn't lying. That's about as little progress as you can make in almost a week's worth of time.
I use Magic Masker, made by Walthers who specializes in model railroad products. It is a water soluble liquid mask that can be brushed on to whatever surface you don't want painted. When it dries, it is malleable like latex (because it probably is latex) and can be peeled off easily. I swear by it and use it to mask canopies on all my aircraft.

Once painted on, it doesn't look pretty but the coverage is excellent. I give it about 24 hours to dry completely before painting over it.
The mask leaves nice sharp edges with very little, if any, need for clean up once removed.

Well, if it wasn't ready to paint it certainly is now. So, hopefully tonight the airbrush will come out of hiding and the first coat of paint will be laid. Of course, small children don't tend to cooperate with the best of plans so bear with me. This F-16 will be finished...eventually.

Episode IV
Episode III
Episode II
Episode I

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Model Maniacs - Popsicle Stick AT-ST

If you'll remember, back in December of 2012, I did an article on how diverse the hobby of scale modeling can be. Prior to starting this blog, I never put much thought into all the clever ways a person can build a model, and all the resources they can use to do it. So, I think I'll start a new monthly article called Model Maniacs, covering the works of talented modelers who think outside of the pun intended.

I bumped into this month's highlight while perusing a website called Instructables. Basically, it allows people to share step-by-step instructions of how they created something, from new shelving units to black light Nerf guns. Or in this case, AT-ST's made out of Popsicle sticks. Kind of the Pinterest for the do-it-yourself crowd.

The artist, who goes by the handle Popsicle_mini-models, gives you complete instructions on how to create the little Scout Walkers you see there. This would make for a great craft to do with your kids, assuming they have the attention span long enough to let the glue dry.
This is not the only model he builds with Popsicles. He also shows you how to build a clever little UFO Interceptor and Star Wars Y-Wing. I get the feeling he will have more to follow.

To check out the full breadth of his work, visit and if you've got the time, eat those Popsicles you've been saving for summer and get to work!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nearly 40 Years of Fighting Falcons

You know, I don't like being beat to the punch, nor do I like being late, especially for an anniversary. And when that date just so happens to be for a subject as dear to my heart as the F-16, it really grinds my gears. Couple that with the fact that I'm building a model F-16 and I might as well be sleeping in the dog house tonight...
What can I say? Happy belated anniversary to you, you beautiful little fighter.

The first YF-16 rolled off the production line in December of 1973, but it did not make its first flight until January 20th, 1974. In a somewhat interesting turn of events, it took to its wings for the first time completely by accident. Apparently, during a high speed taxi test, a problem with roll-control oscillation caused the starboard stabilator to scrape the ground, steering the plane off course. The savvy pilot opted to take off rather than risk further damage to the aircraft. The YF-16's first flight would end six minutes later with a successful landing. The little damage that was done would be repaired in time for its scheduled maiden flight on February 2nd, 1974.

Almost a year later it would be announced that the YF-16 had beaten the YF-17 as the Air Force's next premier air combat fighter. General Dynamics began manufacturing the F-16s in Fort Worth, Texas and the first F-16A emerged on October 20th, 1976, with the initial production standard model flying for the first time in August 1978. The following year, the United States Air Force would take its first delivery and was given its official nickname "Fighting Falcon" in July of 1980. The 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing based out of Hill AFB would receive the first operational F-16s on October 1st, 1980.

Since then, the F-16 has seen numerous upgrades and has been delivered to at least 28 different countries, including Israel, Greece, and Taiwan. It has seen involvement in conflicts across the globe, from Operation Desert Storm, to recent engagements in Operation Enduring Freedom. It is scheduled to see service until 2025 when it is projected to be replaced my the F-35 JSF...we shall see.

Its first flight might have been a little rocky, but it developed into a great fighter with a wide range of capabilities. I'll be sure to wish her a happy 39th anniversary when I see her at drill...even if it is a bit late.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fend Off Zombies With Dark World Creations

I'm a huge zombie movie fan. I'm counting down the days before I can sit in front of my television and let the world of The Walking Dead consume an hour of my life every Sunday for the next several weeks. Never mind the Super Bowl, bring on the undead!
Every one should have their own plan for surviving the impending zombie apocalypse. Mine will involve lots of guns to clear any path I need through the hordes of my decayed, flesh eating neighbors. Do I need more specifics? No. I believe when it comes to zombies, the answer is peace through superior fire power, and since I haven't seen a zombie successfully use a weapon the odds are currently in my favor.

Sweet 16 - Episode VII

Landing Gear Detail

 The F-16 is coming together at a steady pace now. There was only a little bit more detail to add prior to letting the paint fly.

If you'll recall in Episode IV, I mentioned that I would be adding some of the hydraulic lines to spruce up the wheel wells. The F-16's landing gear bays are chocked full of stuff that I find it quite a wonder that any thing fits in there at all. I didn't find it necessary to replicate all the plumbing that is present on the real aircraft, but I felt the need to create at least a little bit more visual interest. This was done with a little bit of copper wire and super glue.

The copper wire does a fine job at 1:72 scale representing brake lines and other assorted hoses and cables.

Simple enough, really. A little patience is necessary, as bending and fitting the wire can be a pain. However, I think the end results fits my purposes. Now, the only glue left will be used to attach the bombs and stores to the hard points after painting. 
Thanks for reading! When you read the next episode, there will be paint!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sweet 16 - Episode VI

Weapons and Stores

Ah, weapons. As a new Aircraft Armament Systems apprentice in the United States Air Force, this marks the first time I have modeled a subject that I am personally familiar with. I have actually had direct contact with each munition and each store that will be represented on this little F-16. I find it neat, but then again, I'm not that hard to please...its the little things, you know?

Friday, January 18, 2013

How Do Others View Our Hobby?

And how do you view your hobby?

"Another word for creativity is courage."

Modeling has played a huge roll in life for a long time now. Though I've been modeling seriously for about ten years now, the joy of the hobby was ingrained in me by my father some two decades ago. Whenever some one asks me what my interests are, how I pass time, or what my favorite hobby is - the answer is unequivocally modeling.
Its hard not to tell some one that I build plastic models and not for a second, in the back of my mind, wonder what exactly it is that they are thinking. I have no problem admitting that this hobby is some what archaic, and guys like us are misconstrued as geeky history buffs who watch reruns of Wings on the Discovery Channel while painting that tank just the right shade of green...well, okay, that isn't far from the truth. I've certainly been met with my fair share of playful ridicule, from friends and strangers alike. So, whenever some one asks me what I like to do, before I respond I can't help but think of that scene from the movie 40 Year Old Virgin...

Now, that scene is probably not that dissimilar to what many of us have going on in our workshops, and basements...
Its not that I'm embarrassed to admit my passion for my hobby, its that I understand some people don't recognize the depth of my interest in it. To them it is superficial, and probably think we put too much effort into it and get nothing out of it.

"No great thing is created suddenly."

There are many stages to building a model, and what other people see is just the finished product. They do not appreciate the hours spent cutting parts from the sprue and cleaning up each piece for just the right fit. They don't understand the patience of waiting for glue to set; the frustration of poor fit corrected by lots of filler and sanding; the thrill of finding the right reference photos; the pain in your hand after hours of airbrushing, and the satisfaction of all the blood, sweat, and tears culminating into a finished work of art.
On the surface, what we do looks easy, but it sounds boring, which quite often doesn't appeal to a lot of people living in the fast pace world of reality television and instant gratification.  But its OK, I'm proud to be carrying on an interest that I've had since I was young. Far too many people grow up and abandon their childhood, spurred on by technology, or the pursuit of the next trend.
As for me, I'm comfortable living with my misinterpreted creative outlet. I get lots out of it. Modeling gives me a chance to relax, and decompress after a long day on the job, and coming home to three rowdy children. My body rests, but its a workout for my mind. In fact, the only limit of this hobby is my own imagination. It is a hobby rich in history, and covers a wide range of subjects from fact to fiction, to war and peace. Finally, I have the satisfaction of knowing that what I've made has not come easy; that I've created something from nothing, and I am proud of it!

So, despite what other people think of our pass time, we should continue to be creative modelers- expand your horizons, embrace what it has to offer, incorporate new ideas, techniques, and subjects! Continue to be courageous as an artist, and in the end, enjoy what you do, for that is the best defense of our hobby.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sweet 16 - Episode V

To follow up yesterday's post is another quick update on Academy's little F-16. The Viper is now pretty much all built, except for additional details that I'll add later. Of course, there are still the obvious things missing, like the weapons and avionics pods which will be covered in the next episode. You may also notice that I have left the wheels off. I tend to do that to make painting a bit easier. They be one of the last items attached.
So lets begin with a few pictures...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sweet 16 - Episode IV

So a little more progress has been made on the F-16. One thing about modeling is that it can be very tedious. Combine that with having a busy work day, coming home to three crazy kids, and having only about two to three hours of dedicated hobby time available means it can take a little while to finish a model! By my standards this is actually going pretty fast.
In this episode, I was able to finish up the main components of the landing gear and gear wells. Though there is still much scratch work to be done, like the addition of hydraulic lines and other cables, primary construction is complete.
Let me start off by saying that there were a lot of very tiny pieces that go into the gear assembly. With so many fiddly bits in this scale I was surprised the carpet monster didn't pay me another visit. Perhaps it is still digesting the parts from last week...
Any how, the pics are simple but show the nice detail of the kit...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tamiya Releasing Updated USS Missouri

The battleship was an iconic war machine. Its prominent place in military and naval history secured by it's actions in World War II. Despite its successes in the second world war, many pundits believed the battleship had seen its last conflict. With the rise of aircraft carriers and the dominance of air power displayed so greatly in that war, the battleship was seen as obsolete. Never the less, each Iowa class battleship born out of World War II would see action in Korea, and several of them would assist military operations well into the latter stages of the 20th century.
One of these such battleships was the USS Missouri. Earning 11 battle stars in her career, she saw action in World War II and Korea before being decommissioned. However, like her sister ships, she would be recommissioned in the 1980's to counteract the threat of a growing Soviet navy. Fitted with new electronics and upgraded weapons, such as the Tomahawk cruise missile and Harpoon anti-ship missile, the Missouri would again find herself off foreign shores. In the Persian Gulf the Missouri fired some 28 cruise missiles at Iraqi targets and shelled Iraqi positions with her massive 16 inch guns, marking the first time they had been fired in combat since 1953. This video will give you a nice look at the power of those deck guns...

My wife and I on the deck of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk,

Soon after completing her tour, the Missouri was struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 1995, and since 1998 sits as a floating museum in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Though I've not been able to visit the USS Missouri, I was fortunate to have stood on the decks of her sister, the Wisconsin. They are imposing ships that represent the might of the US Navy.

Tamiya has continued the legend of "Mighty Mo" by updating the kit to represent her as the ship would have appeared in 1991 in the Middle East. Some newly tooled parts include the bridge area, Tomahawk launcher deck, aft bridge deck, funnel, aft funnel mast, dome-shaped radar, No.1 turret ventilator, Mk.37 gun director, deck ventilator, and RQ-2 Pioneer. The 12.7cm guns are highly detailed, along with the Mk.38 Gun Fire Control System, and Mk.13 Fire Control Radar. Both plastic and photo-etched parts are included for more detailed representation of the AA radar, surface search radar, and discone-cage antenna.

At 1/350 scale, the Missouri comes in at a length of 774mm, with a 94.5mm beam, and a height of 182mm.
She will be released soon, probably February and will retail for $163.00.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Top 10 Worst Plastic Army Men of All Time

I was inspired by the post I made Friday to expand a little bit on my childhood passion for those ubiquitous little green army men. I remember having tons of them, of all different colors, sizes, and poses and I could spend hours setting them all up and then spend hours knocking them all down in mock combat.
I've always been passionate about army men. In grade school, while other children fawned over Woody and Buzz, my favorite characters in Disney-Pixar's Toy Story were the true heroes...the army men. In high school, I avoided doing homework by playing Sarge's Heroes on my N64.

I know, I're probably thinking what does any of this have to do with scale modeling? Well, though not directly related to scale modeling, I believe that army men played a role in developing my passion for military modeling and dioramas. I would bet that most modelers, especially those in the United States would say the same. After all, to some degree, aren't we modelers still enjoying plastic army men? They are just a bit more complex now.

Any way, in my eyes not all army men are created equal. Some performed at a higher level than others. And some were quite simply not fit for combat. I have made a list of those plastic soldiers who did not make the honor roll...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Master Box Ltd. - Great Figures for Dioramas

As a kid I used to spend many long hours playing war with my little green army men. It was always American GIs versus German infantry, or Marines versus the onrushing Japanese, or when manufactures started getting away from previous nationalist tendencies, Green versus Tan. I had my favorite soldiers, of course, and the other less favored were either left in the bucket or killed at the forefront of battle. 
To remain in the ranks of my good graces, a toy soldier had to ready for combat. This meant they had to be firing a rifle, manning a machine gun, heaving a grenade, or shouldering a bazooka - not dilly dallying behind a mine sweeper. If the soldier wasn't fixing to shoot something, he was fixing to be shot. That was my credo, any way, and I played by it.

Now that I've graduated to plastic models and military dioramas, suffice it to say my belief hasn't changed much. I prefer scenes full of action and drama. Not to say I can't appreciate a peaceful wartime display, which sounds strikingly like an oxymoron, but I like to see a struggle - whether its emotional or physical.
Master Box Ltd is one of the best manufacturers for catering to these preferences.

They have a line of plastic military figures that embodies drama through their unique poses and storyline. I just purchased their kit depicting a frontier hand to hand fight between Russians and Germans during the summer of 1941. It isn't a scene that I've viewed often in modeling circles, but this and others like it are what you can expect from a company like Master Box.
Judging by their upcoming releases, it looks like they will continue the trend of figure kits representing some intense wartime action - which if you're anything like me, is good news!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sweet 16 - Episode III

Well, after yesterday's dramatic episode, I'm glad to report that last night's effort was less traumatizing. Makes for a more boring blog entry, but so be it.

Of course, once I fixed the problem of losing parts E18, the intake came together alright. Like I said before, I is incredibly over engineered in my opinion, taking seven pieces to complete the over all assembly. Even so, the fit was decent, and I'll just have several miniscule gaps to fill up.
You can see the nose wheel well has some detail but I will be adding more in the future.


 With the intake in place, it was time to close her up. The fuselage is molded in two halves, upper and lower, rather than left and right halves that are typical of World War II aircraft kits. Again, the fit was not troubling and to ensure nothing moved and the glue set correctly, I taped her up tight. Try to get outta that one!

I always seem to forget how truly tiny the F-16 is. With a wing span of only 32 feet, in 1:72 scale its small dimensions are accentuated.
Again, I can't complain about the kit. The wings have plenty of detail and are molded in one piece.

When the F-16 is at rest, it is not uncommon for the flaperons to be canted down. I've hit my head on them enough times to know they are not always left at the horizontal plane.
So, to replicate this I gently scored the recessed lines of the flaperons until they had some play. Bending them down slightly presents the look that I am after...and one that my forehead is intimately familiar with.
 Finally, after that brief modification, the wings were attached. This is one of my favorite moments. The model starts to look more and more like an aircraft, taking on the lines of the beautiful jet fighter.
With the wings attached, I put the tail in place. The horizontal stabilizers have a lot of play in them in real life. Often times they, too, will not be left on the horizontal plane but tilted up slightly. The kit stabs don't have to be glued in place, they have a small nub that fits into a round hole in the aft fuselage, allowing them to articulate if necessary. Since I haven't made up my mind as to their final position, I  will not be gluing them.

So there you have it. A relatively peaceful night. No issues, and a model that is starting to look like a pretty sweet F-16.

Previous Episodes:
Episode II
Episode I
Kit Preview

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sweet 16 - Episode II

"El Diablo cazador de modelos"

There comes a time in every modeler's life when they must confront adversity - stubborn fit, corroded decals, small budget. But, to me, there is no greater source of frustration than losing a kit part. Throughout my modeling career I have been fortunate to have never lost a piece - damaged them, yes, but never lost for good. That is, until last night. Yes, last night will be forever remembered as the night the devil came for my model.
Every modeler knows the carpet monster that haunts their nightmares. Like the Yeti, or the Chupacabra, it remains elusive and terrifying. It strikes when you least expect it, swiftly carrying small parts into its lair, seldom to be seen again. I had thought it myth until today.

My run-in with the beast occurred late in the evening. The sun had set, the lamps in the house casting ominous shadows across the floor. I was growing tired, and Academy's over engineered air intake was not helping matters. Test fitting and sanding all seven pieces for the intake assembly was taking longer than I expected. I went to cut part E18 off the sprue. As one of the smallest parts in the kit, I should have been more wary.

With one side free from the sprue, I severed it's bond from the other side. Having not ensured it release safely, the action of cutting it lose flung it violently to the table surface, bouncing once before falling silently to the carpet.

My gaping eyes, wild in disbelief, tried fruitlessly to locate its position. Having no idea where it landed, I went into denial, hoping it had landed instead on my lap, or perhaps it was still on the table. A careful search of my person as well as the table top resulted in the confirmation of my worst fears. Knowing full well that time was running out, I got down on my hands and knees, my eyes close to the carpet probing the surface for any sign of part E18. After a ten minute search yielded no results, I sat back down. It was then that I noticed Academy had duplicated the E sprue, and there was a second E18. What luck! Immediately, my soured mood lightened. I was back in business, with minimal interruption. The carpet monster could have that piece for all I care!

No more games!
With the last mishap still in mind, I freed the second E18 a bit more carefully this time. Then I test fit it and saw that I needed to trim a bit of length off for it to fit snugly in place. I attempted to grab the end of the piece with my finger nails, and when it was free of its location within the air intake, the unthinkable happened...With a quiet pew, it jettisoned itself from my grasp and headed to the depths of the monsters den. I would not be ravaged twice - the same part, no less! I quickly grabbed a flashlight and sprung into action. I would make my stand here! It would not take E18 again without a fight.

With flashlight in hand I descended into the darkness, but after a half hour of searching, the dense carpet would not give up its victim. I called off the search, having put all I could into it. Prepared for battle, I faced the beast, but as always it remains mysterious and reclusive. Part E18 and Part E18(2) were recorded as MIA and I would have to find a way to make do. Which I did.

 Using a plastic strip cut from an old, used up gift card, I recreated the part as best I could. Though my pride was damaged, the crisis was averted.
After a long night, that is all I accomplished. After each model is finished and put neatly on the shelf, I like to reflect on what that build has taught me. This one didn't waste time in pointing out some careless deficiencies of mine, and losing the same piece twice in one night might have odds equivalent to being struck by lightning, attacked by a shark, or crushed by a vending machine. Either way, it was the first time that I had run into the devil who hunts models...and I fear now that it will not be the last.

Previous Episodes:
Episode I
Kit Preview

Monday, January 7, 2013

Video Review - Humbrol's Weathering Powders

If you're constantly wondering how to produce a nice weathered look using chalks, or pigments, or powders, or whatever the go-to terminology of the day is, then you may want to check out Humbrol's new video.
Humbrol has a line of weathering powders which allow the modeler to create realistic weathering effects by replicating mud, dirt, and rust, among other things, that tend to cling to the side of vehicles. It is a nice video with visuals supported by step-by-step commentary. It is also backed up by some smooth instrumentals which make for a more pleasurable viewing experience. Though the video shows these techniques on a locomotive, the same procedures are relevant for modelers of all subjects looking for the same results. It is a simple but effective video. At only 6 minutes and 42 seconds long, it certainly won't cut into your day.

If you'd like to see it for yourself, check it out on Humbrol's Youtube Channel.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sweet 16 - Episode I

It has begun! Glue is now being applied to plastic. 

I have always thought that the cockpit has to be one of the nicest looking features of any finished model aircraft. It is an area that contains a great concentration of detail, and viewers expect to see all the various features in the pilot's office. If a kit's cockpit detail is sparse it can be pretty tricky adding odds and ends to fill the void. I mean, just look at what is packed into a real cockpit of an F-16.

 Mmm hmmm, that is a lot of stuff. Fortunately, there are manufacturers out there who understand our concern and have taken it upon themselves to create cockpits that are accurate enough to mistake for the real thing...if you were a really tiny pilot that is. I generally do not lay down the cash for such opulent additions because I'm cheap. Instead, I either scratch build or rely on purchasing a kit of half decent quality. In this case, it is the latter.
Academy saw fit to make this kit nice enough for regular modeling Joe's like myself. And at 1:72 scale, much of the smaller detail isn't necessary any way. 
Like most aircraft models, this one starts with the ejection seat. The ejection seat is a fascinating invention, propelling the pilot out of a disabled aircraft via rocket motor, fast enough to deploy a parachute, hopefully before its too late. You can see that it can certainly get a pilot out of a tight spot quickly:

 My ejection seat doesn't do anything fancy like that, but I like the way it turned out. This is the first time I have modeled a subject that I have a personal attachment to. Since I work closely with F-16s, I've actually had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit. Modeling takes on a whole new meaning when its a subject you're very familiar with.
All I added to the ejection seat were straps made out of masking tape. The kit seat has molded straps, but in such a small scale are difficult to make out.

Compared to the real thing, not too bad...

With the seat finished, it fit nicely in the cockpit tub. There are dials and switches molded in place, which are not visually impressive but stand out enough to meet my satisfaction. The instrument panel does not have much detail, however, the kit includes two decals for the Multi Function Displays which are a nice addition. The only thing I've noticed that is missing, so far, is the throttle grip. It is an interesting subtraction since it is a prominent feature inside an F-16.

And with that, I'll begin work on the air frame tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!

Take a look inside the kit...