Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Modeling Has Gone to the Doogs!

Meet the man behind the models...

Photo and model by Matt McDougall

Welcome to the first installment of Scale Spotlight! Once a month, I will be using this feature to spotlight the work of a fellow modeler, and perhaps get to know them a little bit better. Its a way we can get a little more insight into the hobby and explore some blogs and pages that we might not have seen before. This month, I'm very pleased to announce that the inaugural guest is Matt McDougall, aka Doogs from Doogs' Models!

I first bumped into Matt when I was a fairly active participant on the Finescale Modeler forums several years ago. He is one of the more talented modelers I know, and certainly one of the most knowledgeable. If there is any one out there who can make me say I wish I could model like that, its Matt. His work is flawless and clean, and his photography brings out the best in his creations.
I have followed his builds, and his blog for a long time and I would be remiss not to admit that he was a great deal of the inspiration behind starting a blog of my own. He is also a member of the review staff at Scale Plastic and Rail and is very vocal on the Large Scale Modeller forums as well. His Facebook page has reached well over 2,000 likes so I thought it was a fitting celebration to highlight his work here! Now that I've given him a proper introduction, lets find out a little bit more about him...

The questions I asked Matt are in bold. These responses are his words and have not been edited in any way.

Cue the Spotlight!

How long have you been modeling?

I came back to modeling in July 2010, so just around three and a half years. Prior to that, I built as a kid, probably from 9 to around 16 or so.

What motivated you to start a blog?

When I took up modeling again, I was working as a creative director at a content marketing startup. The economy was still in shambles, our workload was somewhat light, and the client work we had was fairly dry, so I started the blog literally as an experiment in establishing a presence and growing an audience solely on the strength of solid content.

Since then, my career has bounced around a bit, but I still use the blog (and these days, my Facebook page) as a sandbox to help inform my professional life.

Anyone who has followed you for a length of time can see it’s pretty clear your focus is on aircraft of World War II. Why do you prefer those subjects?

This is a topic I’ve attempted to cover several times on my blog, always without success. Probably because the answer is a multi-faceted mess!

Part of it is certainly the history surrounding the aircraft and the men who flew them. I find that building models is a great way to connect to the past on a micro-scale, and let’s face it, World War II is chock full of rich micro-histories. That’s one reason I’m just not as interested in modern aircraft – one BVR kill or participation in a Tiger Meet just don’t have the same resonance.

Photo and model by Matt McDougall
Another part is the aircraft themselves, which just drip with character. I love exploring not just the history of the men who flew these machines, but the machines themselves. Often as not, the story of a particular aircraft’s origins is fascinating in its own right. I love that the original design for the P-51 Mustang was sketched on a cocktail napkin, and that De Havilland financed the initial prototype of the Mosquito when the RAF wouldn’t pay for it, and that Semyon Lavochkin developed the La-5 more or less by himself over the winter of 1941-42 by grafting an M82 radial onto the nose of a LaGG-3. It’s just such a contrast to the development cycles we see today with, say, the F-22 or F-35.

And finally, there’s the schemes, the nose art, and the weathering possibilities. So much more exciting than the naptime gray that pervades most of the world’s modern air forces.

When did you start seeing your interests shift to 1/32 as opposed to say 1/48?

I can tell you exactly when! February 2011, at the ModelFiesta contest in San Antonio. Someone entered a 1/32 P-47, and next to the 1/48 entries, the thing just had presence for miles. I’d just finished my first 1/32 build – Eduard’s Bf 109E-7 Trop – and honestly hadn’t planned on doing many more. The IKEA bookshelves that were my display cabinets weren’t big enough to accommodate anything larger than a 109.

Photo and model by Matt McDougall
But that Jug was the seed. By the end of the summer I’d knocked out Wingnut’s Pup and Tamiiya’s beautiful Spitfire Mk.VIII. In time, I scored some glass display cabinets from a local Hallmark store and my 1/32 stash started to grow.

I was still building 1/48…but that came to a sudden halt earlier this year. I was in the middle of a double build of Eduard’s Spitfire IXc and just hit this wall of disinterest. I jumped exclusively into 1/32 after that and haven’t looked back, though I’m holding on to a few 1/48 kits, just in case!

On the About page on your blog, you mention ships are a possibility. What are the chances of seeing you build a ship model any time soon?

To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve got a few ships in the stash – Academy’s Warspite, Zvezda’s Dreadnaught and Revell’s big 1/144 Fletcher – but they intimidate the hell out of me.

Now, if somebody would kit a 1/350 or 1/200 CV-6 Enterprise, it’d be a completely different story.

You’re a talented modeler, but what gives you the most trouble?

Probably the curse of false starts. I’ve completed seven builds in 2013, but I’ve easily started and abandoned just as many out of frustration or an evaporation of interest or uncertainty as to how I want to weather or paint something.

Beyond my own hangups, I think gloss coats are probably my nemesis. I’ve tried literally everything and every time I think I find  clear gloss that works for me, the next time it doesn’t. Why, oh why did Tamiya have to discontinue TS-13?

Are there any techniques out there that you haven’t tried but would like to?

Definitely. This crazy aluminum finish technique demonstrated by Bertl on the Large Scale Modeller forum.

What is the best kit you have experienced so far?

Photo and model by Matt McDougall
Easy. Tamiya’s Spitfire Mk.VIII. I know Tamiya has a reputation for making shake-and-bakes, and I’d say that’s definitely true of their 1/48 “two-sprue wonders” like the P-51 or Dewoitine D.520, but it’s not quite accurate for their 1/32 line. The Spitfire definitely demands respect, and that you keep your wits about you, but if you do, you’re treated to one of the most amazing build experiences possible in this hobby.

Buildability is huge for me. Not because I like my kits easy, but because buildability comes from the way the kit is engineered, and the only way something goes together as nicely as a Tamiya or Wingnut kit is with heaps of passion going into the engineering process. Tamiya’s big kits just drip with passion, from, yes, the way they’re engineered to the level of detail on display, the reference materials provided, and even the way the kit is packaged. I haven’t built their P-51 or Corsair yet, but they’re high on my list.

What manufacturer most impresses you at the moment?

Kitty Hawk.

First, because they’re making very interesting choices in terms of subjects, from their debut F-94C Starfire to Jaguars to the MiG-25 to the upcoming 1/32 T-6 Texan. The pace and variety of their releases has been staggering, and their selections rather imaginative.

Second, because of how far they’ve come in so short a time. I’ve had the pleasure to review several KH releases, and it’s simply staggering how far they’ve come between the F-94C Starfire and F-35B Lightning II and their recent MiG-25 Foxbat. The initial releases showed promise, sure, but plenty of rough edges, inconsistent detail and questionable choices. The Foxbat, on the other hand, is within spitting distance of Great Wall’s stunning MiG-29.

If they can improve that much in just one year, I can’t wait to see what they do going forward.

What do you hope to accomplish, in terms of modeling, for 2014?

I’d love to get my hands dirty with some vignettes, for starters.

Beyond that, I’m really hoping to tackle some armor and improve my game in that genre, and generally, I’d like to improve my completion rate…I’ve easily abandoned as many builds as I’ve finished this year, which frustrates me to no end!

Any sneak peeks at a project you have lined up?

I’ve actually gotten away from lining up projects. As tempting as it is, I found myself suffering from major lineup fatigue and just had to stop. These days I try to make myself finish a build before I pull the next one down.

As a family man, how do you balance your time between the wife, kids, and hobby?

I don’t! Modeling happens on my time, after the wife and kids have gone to bed. Typically, that’s from about 10 PM – 1 AM.

What do you do for fun when you are not at the workbench?

With three kids, a wife and a full-time job, I don’t really have too much time outside of modeling to pursue individual interests. I love hiking, mountain biking and seeing movies, but don’t get to those anywhere nearly as often as I’d like. Mostly my fun consists of playing with the kids and BSing with coworkers.

Are you active on other forums, aside from LSM and SPAR?

Yes, I’m also active on Large Scale Planes and Modelers’ Social Club

Do you have any nuggets of wisdom for the new modelers out there?

Don’t fall for the “start with cheap, crappy kits until you build your skills” line. Start with cheap, good kits that put a premium on buildability. Starting out, a kit that more or less falls together frees you up to focus on other skills. My personal recommendation is Tamiya’s 1/48 P-51 lineup. They’re excellent, simple, and can be found for around $20-25 if you look carefully. For armor, Tamiya’s 1/35 Shermans are a great place to start. You can literally build one in a night.

Also, don’t be afraid to try. I’ve seen a lot of that. You know, “this kit is too nice to risk on an untried technique”. Maybe if you’re tackling HK’s B-17 or HPH’s PBY Catalina. Otherwise, no it’s not. Modeling has a laughably miniscule failure cost. Try something new and fail in skydiving, and you die. Try something new and fail restoring an old car, and you might die. Try something new and fail in modeling, and…what? Probably, your kit is a bit less satisfying than it might otherwise be. The worst that could happen is you ruin the entire thing and you’re out, what, $20-100?

Just go for it and damn the torpedoes.

That's a Wrap!

Indeed Matt knows his sprue! Like I said before, be sure to head over to his site to catch all of his latest build progress and reviews. Many thanks to Matt McDougall for being my very first interviewee! I hope you all enjoyed this feature and be sure to come back next month for the another Spotlight!

Would you like to be featured here? Have a modeler in mind for an interview? Please feel free to let me know!

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