Thursday, October 31, 2013

Aircraft Wrecks: Examine the Possibilities!

Several days ago, I wrote up a short column about the many different ways a modeler can utilize destroyed armor in a diorama. It seemed to go over pretty well so I thought I'd offer up some references that will highlight some creative ways to use a wrecked aircraft for a scene.
In my opinion, the use of downed aircraft in dioramas is sorely lacking. There is probably one such scene for every four blown out tank dioramas. It probably has more to do with most aircraft modelers wanting to display their aircraft as naturally as possible and not as a hot mess like what you see above. Whatever the case may be, I hope this serves as some inspiration to get us thinking outside the box when it comes to destroying and displaying our model planes.

I don't have as organized a format to lay this post out like I did for the armor. I'm more interested is showcasing the different ways a wrecked plane can convey context in a certain scene. So, without further ado...Here we go!

You can always start very simply. There is nothing wrong with showing an aircraft that has recently been ditched due to battle damage, mechanical failure or the like. It wouldn't be unusual to have panels open, or missing so its the perfect option for aircraft modelers to showcase some scratch building skills without having to completely tear apart the model...

That may seem a bit too simple. One thing you can do is change the environment of your scene. Not all aircraft that had a hard landing went in with their wheels up on a flat hay field in France. Its okay to give the terrain some features, this way, if nothing else is going on in the scene, at least there is some elevation to move the eye. I particularly like the railroad tracks in the photo below...

 Or challenge yourself even more by adding a water feature...

Not enough water? Okay, well, if you're a Navy guy than you've got some other options as well...

Still not enough water? Now you're getting ambitious. One of these days I will attempt a scene similar to this...

Too much? How about an urban scene?

Much like some of the examples I provided in the wrecked armor post, the aircraft doesn't even have to be the main focus of the scene. Just having it in the background can imply a level of drama for the scene...

Or you can make it stand out even more if you wish to where it actually becomes the scenery...

Or to give your scene a sense of utter desolation, blend it into the environment completely...

Your scene can be a complicated mess, full of debris as far as the eye can see...

Or simple, a perhaps a little humorous...

Your wrecks can be fresh, or quite old and long forgotten...

And finally, you don't have to use planes from World War II either...

I could go on with this post for a long time. There are hundreds of photographs out there depicting aircraft in various states of disarray. The challenge is finding the right inspiration. Hopefully, I've at least provided that boost to some lucky reader. No matter what you do, just remember to have fun with it!
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An Unexpected Boost to the Stash

Modelers love to share recent acquisitions with fellow modelers. With the excitement of receiving a new kit comes a little bit of pride. It reminds me of bringing a new born home for the first time. Family and friends are present and you just can't keep from passing the little tyke around, and flooding everyone's news feed with photos and status updates. Inevitably, people start throwing advice at you about the proper way a child should be reared and warn you of the impending lack of sleep and poop filled diapers.

This is no different from when you bring a new kit home from the hobby shop, or where ever it is you go for your plastic fix. We proudly upload images of the box art, and display photos of the sprues and any aftermarket additions we might have splurged on. Our fellow hobbyists gather around, oooing and awing at our little bundle of joy. Of course, any one with experience on that kit will likely tell you the pit falls, warning you of the impending lack of sleep caused by the, uh, [insert synonym for "poop" here] fit you may encounter. Never the less, its an exchange that we all some how enjoy. The thrill of getting a new kit is shared among us all. You know what they say, "it takes a village to build a model."

Something like that.

Any way, I digress. Yesterday brought me some good news, and as I explained above, am excited to share it with you. A friend on mine shot me a text in the afternoon telling me that after giving his house a thorough cleaning he came across several model kits that have been neglected for years. Of course, this would come as no surprise to any of us considering the wide majority of our stashes sit neglected for the same amount of time...
Continuing on, he told me that he has no use for them. You may be thinking this is some kind of blasphemy, there is always a use for a model kit. I would agree with you, but I know that his background is in R/C planes, and he doesn't show much interest for the little plastic things we put together that don't actually fly. So, with that, he asked me if I wanted them. D'uh. Easy answer, right?

I told him, of course I would take them. Seeing the F-16C in the mix, how was I going to say no? Please, I wouldn't have said no regardless. Let's be real.
The molds are pretty old so I don't have much expectation for them. I'm aware of the short comings in the Monogram A-10 but really, it makes no difference to me. The Italeri F-16 has its issues too, but...its an F-16. Moreover, I'm actually quite excited about the A-4M from ESCI as I love the Scooter, especially in a nice Israeli scheme.

So, this is the unexpected boost to the stash. Its a basic set of kits, nothing flashy, but they were free. Of course, there is a lot of work to do before I even address one of these kits as a project. Never the less, I'm thankful that he thought of me in this regard and will ensure that they are comfortable in their new home.
Any one built these kits before? Hit me up in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hasegawa 1/32 Ki-43 Hayabusa: Mid Project Update

For the most part, I have ceased updating this blog with actual day-by-day progress shots of the project I'm working on. That is simply too demanding for the time that I have available. Hence forth, I'll just be doing a build preview, mid-production update, and final glamour shots. For WIP stuff, check out the Facebook page!

Any way, since abandoning the A-6 for the time being, I've picked up the Oscar that I started a while back and it really hasn't given me very much trouble. The molding is a bit old, and it shows in places, manifesting itself in the form of poor fit along the wing roots and other areas. Easily correctable, however, are these issues with a little bit of time, putty, and careful sanding.

I most enjoyed the interior, the details of which I supplemented with some parts from the spares bin and some scratch built seat harnesses made from masking tape and wire. The only disappointment so far being that the work done on the interior will not be easily seen when the fuselage halves are mated. Japanese cockpits were tight, but that is just the way it goes. I added a brake line to the wheels for a little added detail on the landing gear as well. That pretty much completed the build, and now she has an appointment with the paint booth.

The box allows for two color and marking option, neither of which I'm going to use. The first option calls for mottled green over natural metal. I have a strong distaste for NMF mainly because I am not good at it, and also because I don't have the tools necessary, like Alclad.
The second scheme is the basic IJA green over light gray, which is fine but much too monochromatic. So I've decided to go with a more eye catching option. Accurate or not, I really don't care. It looks good.

This will be the first trip to the paint shop since I botched the Intruder scheme (several times) so I'm hoping this will boost my confidence again, and get me back into the win column. The markings, except for maybe the Hinomaru on the wings and fuselage will be masked and painted. Wish me luck, the process should begin tonight!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #15: Everybody's A Critic

Modelers rely heavily on the comments, suggestions, and criticism of others in the hobby. That is why most of us are registered on twenty-five different forums, follow ten Facebook pages, read blogs like this, and subscribe to countless Youtube channels. We like to know what other like-minded people have to say. Encouragement goes a long way in this hobby. That said, we also like to offer up our own comments, suggestions, and criticism (maybe more so than we actually like to receive it) which is why we are registered on twenty-five...well, you get the picture. We are artists and artists thrive on criticism...

- What do you think makes an outstanding finished model? -

As individuals with different interests, we all have different opinions on what looks good and what does not. There is a lot of work out there to behold, and of course, not all models are created equal. So, when one happens to catch your eye and meet your approval, what are the characteristics of that build that move you to say wow, that is one great looking model

Remember, all it takes is a passion for this hobby and a blog to go along with it! All you have to do is write a post in response to this topic by Sunday and you can be a member of the Sprue Cutters Union. Take a look at the Sprue Cutters Union page for more detail. Once you've written your post, either email me the link or drop the link in the comment section below.
The goal is to send new readers to our sites, so don't forget to include the links to other modelers' responses when you get an opportunity.
Spread the word.
Join the Union!

Review: Model Scaler App from Woodland Scenics

Several months ago my wife and I stepped into the 21st Century by purchasing our first set of Smart Phones. Samsung has essentially put the hobby world at my finger tips, allowing me to update the Facebook page, post Tweets, check email, and search reference photos on the Internet in the same amount of time it would take simply to turn on the ol' PC.
So, I was intrigued to see that Woodland Scenics has a free app available called Model Scaler. The interface allows users to convert any measurement to a specific scale with as much ease as it takes for you to use that same phone to calculate your 20 percent gratuity at your favorite restaurant. Though I don't often find myself in a situation where conversion is necessary, I figured I would give it a go any way.
Plus, its free and available for iPad, iPhone, Android devices, Kindle Fire, Mac, PC and Linux.

After the brief download and installation process, the app opens to an exceedingly simple user interface. There are a series of scales the user can choose from that, when selected, open up the calculator. All you have to do is input the value of the actual size of the object in question, select the unit of measurement, and it will automatically convert it to the scale requested. This also works to scale up from miniature to actual size if necessary.

You may be worried, as I was initially, that this app only applies to the model railroad genre. Fear not, even though the Choose a Scale section lists G, O, HO, and N scale most prominently, you can see that their corresponding numerical scale value is listed to the right, which is also a great reference should you be looking to include some railroad features on your next military diorama. Knowing that O Scale is equivalent to 1/48 scale could come in handy some day...

The section at the bottom called More Scales features the less popular railroad scales like S and TT but it does include 1/72 and 1/32 for you military modelers out there.
But what about the most popular scale for military modelers? 1/35. Though not a preset value, the
app includes an option to create your own custom scale. Just type in the ratio and hit add. Voila, you now have a 1/35 scale conversion tool. There does not appear to be a limitation to the number of custom scales you can add, so if you're a versatile modeler you should be able to cover just about all your scaling needs.

I found the UI to be very user friendly as there are only two screens to navigate between. Selecting a scale brings up the calculator, then hitting the menu icon returns you to the Choose a Scale mode. The calculations are made almost instantaneously so time is of no issue. I mean, who wants to wait around while you wait to see what 23 ft scales down to in 1:160 scale? Aside from that, you can check out videos and products from Woodland Scenics as well as specific products that fit into your selected scale.

This isn't anything to lose your mind over. I know I didn't. Like I said, I'm not one to spend too much time worrying about getting exact measurements right. Even so, I'll keep it on my phone as it may prove handy and its good to know there is a quick and easy tool out there to make those conversions should I need one.
If complete accuracy down to the last millimeter is your thing, than I highly recommend this.

For more details or to download the app, check out the Model Scaler App on Woodland Scenics' website
Thanks for reading!

State of the Union: What We Hate

Last week's topic gave us an opportunity to share and reflect upon all the aspects of modeling we hate. It's not all rainbows and butterflies at the workbench, and that is certainly clear from the responses...

Give a warm welcome to Uncle Damian's Garage and Hangar, the latest blog to join the Union! Thanks for the continued participation! Keep an eye out for the next topic!

For all members, to help grow our respective audiences, don't forget to add the links from your fellow contributors onto your post.
If you want to join the Union, all you need is a blog and a passion for the hobby! Spread the word! Join the Union!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #14: What I Hate About This Hobby

Any modeler should find this week's Union topic fairly easy to answer. Most of us have a rather intense love/hate relationship with different aspects of the hobby. I could rattle off any number of things, like decaling, filling and sanding, photo etch, etc etc and this would be a really short post. While yes, I do hate those things, I don't hate them enough that it truly makes me want to flip a table in disgust.

So what does?

Indeed, sometimes the technical issues of a build really don't get along with me. I've had my share of silvering, or poor fit on a kit but really, who hasn't? Most of those issues are easy enough to overcome. My problem is that I am my own worst enemy. I hate myself. Well, that sounds a bit harsh doesn't it? I'm not saying I'm going to harm myself but there are times I feel like I should do myself a favor and go drown myself in a vat of Mr. Surfacer.

When a kit has a problem, like fit, that is one thing we all have to deal with. I can't get that angry at a situation we all know is a distinct possibility. Problems for me arise when I am the reason for the issue. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about. My model is sitting on my workbench, about 99% complete, it looks perfect, right? No, no it doesn't, I think to myself. It needs a little extra something. At this point I have something of an "out of body" experience. My better sense of judgement escapes and hovers over the workbench, yelling and screaming at me FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T TOUCH IT! but do I hear it? More than likely not, because the obtuse numpty that has taken over my body doesn't understand the concept known as "leave well enough alone". The devil within me always thinks that a tweak here, and a tweak there will really push it to the next level, meanwhile the angel on my shoulder is banging his head on a wall mumbling "you're going to ruin it" over and over.

He's usually right. It is hard to give a specific example but this usually occurs towards the end of a build, around the weathering or painting component. I'll say, yeah, a couple more streaks here will look outstanding. Or I'll say, hey, how about you try that awesome oil filtering process that you still haven't perfected yet but its obviously going to look great on this model! Yeah!
No. As soon as I make this disastrous attempt is when my better judgement returns as I think DEAR GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE??

[Commence the flipping of table]

Once the shock wares off, the hurtful self deprecation begins. Of course, then the debate about weather I should attempt to fix my error now or wait until the following night. Statistically speaking, these brain farts usually occur at the end of my work night leaving me no time to address the issue immediately. This means, the self loathing goes to bed with me, and I lay there thinking how I could possibly be so stupid. Then the entire next day is spent strategizing the repair attempt. Oh, and more self hate. Until finally I can fix it or if its bad enough, shelf it. Either way...

I hate myself.
I am the worst part of this hobby.


Part of being in the Union means you must include links to fellow contributors' posts within your own response. If you liked this post, then perhaps you'll enjoy what some other modelers have to say about this topic!


Want to join the Sprue Cutters Union? Its simple. If you model and have a blog that is all you need to start. Just write a post in response to the weekly topic, copy the link in the comments section for that week's assignment and you're in! Check out more detail about joining the Sprue Cutters Union.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wrecked Armor for Dioramas: Examine the Possibilities!

Modeling wrecked armor is hugely popular. Lets take a look at some different ways a blown out tank can be used to amplify your diorama or vignette!

I don't think there are many armor modelers out there who would not like to attempt to build a wrecked AFV of some kind, if they haven't already. As a matter of fact, the first tank I ever built was an Iraqi T-69 that had recently been blown out along side the road. Though it certainly wasn't my best effort, my fascination with rusty ruins has been with me ever since. 
A derelict vehicle, in any state, can add so much volume to a scene through context, composition, colors and textures, and are a great challenge for any modeler to hone their skills on. They can be a character in their own right, creating a story or sub-story just by sitting there. A wrecked tank is one of the most versatile elements of a diorama. Think about it. It conveys a sense of action, or previous action, terror, desolation, foreshadowing, and maybe even hope. 
Here are just a few references to get you all inspired to tackle some wrecked armor for your next big project...

Keep it Simple:
Perhaps you're not ready to go all hog wild, busting out the pigments and rust colors and buying resin interiors. No problem. There are plenty of ways to create the same story elements without having to nail the weathering or break the bank on aftermarket parts. Not all wrecks are the same. They don't have to be in a thousand pieces. Take these examples, for instance. You'll notice there is little visible damage beyond the cosmetic...

The tank above appears to be fine except for the penetration of the rear armor into the engine block. Never a good thing.

This tank has clearly thrown a track. Whether by hostile fire or from the rough terrain is unknown, but that is an element you can decide on your own.

Here you can see this Panzer IV has also thrown a track as in the middle of being repaired. For as simple as the wreck is, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this would make a tremendously dramatic diorama. Which brings me to my next topic...

Directly Related:
Often times, the wrecks that we see in scale play only a supporting role in a larger picture, where the abandoned tank has little to do with what is happening around it. As the picture above shows, incorporating the wreck directly into the story line can make for an interesting story. Impressive are the dioramas that incorporate the wreck, and make it directly related to the action going on within it. Having a crew bailing out of a Sherman that is brewing up is intense. Or like the scene below, wounded soldiers being taken prisoner while their ride smolders behind them... 

Supporting Role:
As I was saying above, the wreck is not always the centerpiece of the story, but rather it can add a lot of intrigue by just being off to the side.

Here the Germans are rolling through a small town in the winter of 1944. Though clearly not the main character of the scene, the blown out Sherman lends more to the story than if it was not there at all. It conveys a sense of the situation the modeler is trying to get across. If it is the Battle of the Bulge, it implies that the Germans have been successful of late, as opposed to the next picture...

The main story here is a Soviet army advance across the countryside. The ruined Panther serves as a nice backdrop and some context as to the state of the situation. Here it could be implied that the Germans are losing.

The Trophy:
Of course, there is a simple, however, less dramatic way at showing viewers who is having the most success. With so many tanks littering the battlefield, it wouldn't be difficult for curious grunts to snap some photos of themselves with these monsters. It would be like David posing with Goliath after his victory, or a hunter with his buck. It is an oddly light-hearted celebration of human destruction...

Defeated Giants:
Speaking of David and Goliath...The Germans, and even the Russians, created some rather imposing armored vehicles. Showing a King Tiger or KV-2 burned out along side the road is so much of a contradiction to what they should have been. They were suppose to influence the battlefield, not become a casualty of it. It shows the futility that was late-war German resistance and foreshadows their eventual defeat...

If you want to get really daring, you could throw caution into the wind and really get into the nitty-gritty of wrecked armor modeling - pull out all the stops, break out all the weathering pigments and references, crack open the piggy bank and buy a full interior.
You've seen the simple, now see the downright insane! If you want to show the desolation of war, this is certainly one way to do it...

It is hard to imagine the power and force that is required to leave a massive tank in shambles like that. In these types of scenes, its all up to your imagination. If a Panzer can wind up in a tree, I'm sure you're good to go with just about anything. You could put any model like this on any diorama and it would steal the show. If executed correctly, that is.

How can there be hope after so much destruction? Well, not all wrecks have to support a combat-related theme. You don't need action and drama to tell a story (though I prefer it). So, how do you convey hope with a ruined tank? Its not that hard actually. We've all seen pictures of young children playing atop the old wartime relics. The fight has passed them by and they are left with some rather cool playground equipment. The time for war has ended, and the time to rebuild has begun. It is a simple contrast of war and peace...

The Lonely Centerpiece:
You don't even need people in the scene to build this kind of contrast. As a matter of fact, you don't even need a story line. Of course, at this point it isn't a diorama anymore but a vignette. Never the less, the model itself, and the context of its environment, possesses the story line, representing a history that has long since past...

That concludes our brief look at wrecked armor and how it can add different context to your diorama. Of course, you are not bound to these several instances. The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to wrecked armor, this merely serves as inspiration! 
Next week, we'll take a look at the oft overlooked subject of wrecked aircraft!
Thanks for reading!