Saturday, November 21, 2015

FlightPose Adjustable Stand Review


The majority of aircraft models we see are finished with their landing gear down. Considering an aircraft does spend most of its lifetime planted firmly on the ground, this makes sense. Furthermore, it is not often that a kit is accommodating enough to allow for a wheels up configuration. It takes more time ensuring the landing gear doors fit correctly, and should they not, fill and sand the ensuing gaps and seams. Then, of course, there is the issue of creating a base and stand to support the flying model. For the intrepid modeler who does wish to display an aircraft in flight, the solution to the issue of support can be found in a FlightPose adjustable stand.


A few months ago, I purchased one for the Revell 1/72 F-22 I built for a friend. It was my first experience with FlightPose, and a good one, so when I decided to model my latest project - Hasegawa's 1/72 F-105B - with it's wheels up, I naturally opted for one of these stands for my own use.
Since I have found them so useful for my own work, I felt obliged to spread the word should other modelers feel compelled to build an in-flight aircraft. So, lets take a look at what FlightPose has to offer.


The Website...

You can order your own stands straight from the website, aptly named FlightPose.com. The home page gives visitors a product description and images displaying various model aircraft that are using the stands. The Catalog lists the products that are available which include only three different lengths of clear rod - 2.5 inches, 4 inches, and 6 inches - and their prices. At $9.99 for each, regardless of length, its a pretty good deal. The website also gives potential buyers the option to buy one of each length for $27.99. Checking out is a simple process, made easier by the fact that they accept PayPal, a benefit that I have already described as essential for online hobby shops.
Should you lose them, or if perhaps your set does not include them, the website also provides assembly instructions.

In the Box...



Stands of every available length come in the same size packaging. Each package is marked with the appropriate rod length at the top right hand corner. Clearly visible and secure in the plastic blisters are all the parts necessary to assemble your FlightPose stand. Each package contains three rods, three screws, a cover plate and the base plate. A set of folded instructions are also inside.
The back of the package shows the product supporting an aircraft, details the features of the stand, as well as its alternative uses such as for holding the model while applying decals or painting. Also of note is that it is not recommended for items over two pounds...so keep it light!


Assembled...



Though the website says it takes a mere few seconds to assemble, the whole stand comes together in about a minute. Modelers are used to needing a multitude of tools to get the job done, but this process will only require a Philips head screwdriver. That's right, no glue necessary. The rods have rounded ends that fit in sockets on the base plate. A cover plate is screwed down over the top of the ball and socket keeping the rods secure but allowing them to move if some adjusting is needed. That is it.
Once its together, all you have to do is adjust the positioning of the rods to accommodate the aircraft you wish to display. The rubber tips on the end of the rods will help keep the model from slipping off once in place.

Final Thoughts...

FlightPose stands are a great solution for modelers who wish to display their models in flight. I have purchased two of them this year for a pair of 1/72 scale models. While it is a simple and cost effective way to accomplish a cool look, there are times when I think maybe the stand is a bit too large for smaller scales. Though we have the option to purchase rods in various lengths, I wonder if it would be beneficial to smaller scales to have rods that vary in width as well so as to not be so imposing compared to the model they are meant to hold. Never the less, the stands are more than capable of holding 1/48 and 1/32 scale options and will not look nearly so out of place.
Should you be looking to replicate the allure of flight with your next model, I recommend giving a FlightPose stand serious consideration.
Thanks for reading!

Also see Fox Thre3 Custom Models video review, and a video review from The Museum Modeler.

Monday, November 2, 2015

October SCU Roll Call


October was a very successful month for the Sprue Cutters Union. An unprecedented seventeen bloggers contributed to this month's topic! See what they all had to say about what they feel is the most important part of modeling...

Blog Roll


Here's to another great month and a bunch of great responses! Watch this space for November's topic, or keep an eye on Facebook for updates!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rant About Weathering


Weathering is an essential aspect of model making. There have been volumes written about proper techniques and materials needed to master tonal variation, washes, filters, chipping, stains, steaks and so on. There are even magazines and Facebook pages dedicated to giving your model that realistic used and abused look.
But is it realistic? While weathering is popular it is also fairly divisive. Not everyone believes in a worn finish and prefers a clean aircraft to a dirty one. That's fine and dandy. Clean aircraft exist just as much as filthy ones. They aren't as fun to model or as attractive to behold, but hey, it's your thing not mine. 
A little friendly disagreement ain't so bad. We're all grown ups, and I can tolerate another person's preferences (however erroneous) as the next guy. What I can't tolerate are absolutes, like when a modeler says "a jet would never get that dirty", or "you've over-weathered it". People like this attack the realism of weathering and base it on, what, a trip or two to the Smithsonian? A time they went to an air show? I don't know.
It's this type of thinking that bothers me more than straight up rivet counting. For as annoying as it may be to be told my model has the wrong avionics bay vent opening in panel 3306 on the right-hand strake for the version aircraft I am building, at least that assertion is based in reality and not in the clouds. I can work with that. Telling me I've over done my pigments? That doesn't help me.

Look! A Weathered Aircraft! 


I've used this photo time and again as the hallmark for a dirty, beat up modern fighter in the US inventory. It's got everything:


Chipping, grime, panel lines, faded paint, mismatched panel colors, it's just outstanding. Not to mention, this jet isn't even configured for combat. While I could feel comfortable resting my case here, there is bound to be a knuckle head or two who would say this photo is bunk, an exception to the rule. An abomination. So I'll go on. 

A typical USAF squadron is made up of about 18 aircraft. The vast majority of them will be outside while the remaining aircraft will spend some time indoors going through Phase maintenance, fuel system repairs or, if they're lucky, just chilling in a shelter instead of the flight line.
The jets that are outdoors are naturally exposed to whatever elements the season brings - baking hot sun, freezing rain, snow, humidity, high winds, you name it. The sun will fade their paint, the moisture will corrode their screws, and the dust will chip their finish.
 Once a jet is finished with it's maintenance in a cosy hangar, it's back to the harsh environment of the flight line to get dirty just like all the others. That's the thing. A weathered jet is no exception - it's the rule. To have ONLY a single jet amid an entire squadron that is in the kind of shape pictured above is unlikely. You can rest assured, if one F-16 looks like that, they all do, at least to a considerable degree.

But the crew chief would never...


Insisting that a crew chief would never let his aircraft attain such a level of filth is ridiculous. I can't help but think that the guys who make that statement have never experienced operations on an active flight line before. 
The aircraft maintainers have more to worry about than the simple cosmetics and aesthetics of the jets they are charged to keep. They are busy checking oil and hydraulics, filling tires with nitrogen, changing LOX bottles, launching and recovering the aircraft, fitting in additional maintenance as well as catching a bite to eat at some point. A jet can fly dirty. A jet can't fly with a flat tire. It's all about priorities and cleanliness is not up there on the list. 
So yes, in short, a crew chief would...

So, Where Does This Belief Come From? 


I don't want to delve into the psychology that makes these people tick. I would assume that the majority of folks like this have an aversion to weathering because they just don't know any better. They've founded their opinions and perpetuated this myth through their perceptions which are probably based on what they've seen at air shows, or museums. Another possibility is that they just simply can't do it. Weathering isn't easy, especially in its extreme. When a large chunk of the modeling community is capable of pulling off some incredible looks but you can't, well, some resentment toward the technique or the trend may arise whether they acknowledge it or not. As they say, those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't do either, criticize. 

Whatever the case may be, modern aircraft do, in fact, weather and get down right disgusting. Don't let some one tell you that you've over done it because if there is one photo reference backing you up, there are dozens more aircraft in the same squadron that look the same. Fight the good fight. Keep on weathering. 






Sunday, October 25, 2015

Worst Box Art

They say you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Model kits make their first impressions with their box art. While I've never based my decision to purchase a kit solely on what is essentially the hobby's version of a profile picture, a well done work of art does go a long way to inspire me. 
Here is a short list of box art that I consider some of the worst, and least inspiring. 

Hasegawa Real Thing


Hasegawa has been known to make some pretty attractive box art, but their trend toward using photographs of the real thing are just boring.

Revell's MiG-21PF

Revell's box art is typically OK. This one makes the list, however, because I'm not sure why this Fishbed would have it's air brakes open while in afterburner. 


All of Testor's Box Art

Basically the modeling equivalent of still life, it's just objects arranged in a some what photogenic manner that aren't even marginally better than the WIP photos I produce at my workbench. And what's with that paint brush? As if you could produce a finish like that with a Testor's brush that has bristles as thick as guitar strings...


This AMT Viper

This is more fitting for the cover of an early 90's computer game than scale model box art. It's also a bit of a mess - the proportions are off especially up front and the lettering on the tail is skewed. 


Trumpeter's Flagon-A

This is really just atrocious. Looks like they just copied their final CAD drawing and pasted it to a Windows 98 desktop background...hideous. 


You have any you'd like to add? Comment below or on Facebook!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

All About That Kit

What Is Imperative? 

This month the Sprue Cutters Union is discussing what we consider the most important aspect of modeling; areas that we refuse to cut corners or skimp on. The answers so far have been varied and quite relevant, from decals to the paint finish to even showing a little patience (gasp!) These are all important factors that can truly make or break a model if it's builder refuses to address them properly. Originally, I had intended to follow the same line. I was going to rattle off a few things in one post and call it good until I wrote the article last night on growing my stash, and it hit me. 

It's Obvious! 

It's the kit. The kit I'm building is the single most important aspect of the build. Well, duh, you say. I wouldn't blame you for rolling your eyes at this point because, after all, you can't model without a kit in the first place. But take a seat and let me explain.

The project you are working on right now had it beginnings a long time ago, well before you started cutting sprue and gluing plastic. You don't remember? It all started the day the kit caught your eye. Maybe it was at a local model contest, or a flea market, the hobby shop down the street, or an enticing online sale. Regardless of its origin, your build, and all the effort you will pour into it, began the day you bought it.

Spending money on models is hard to resist. There is something about buying a kit, getting it in the door and opening it up for the first time, rifling through it's contents and considering the possibilities and really gets the dopamine pumping. It's reward motivated behavior.
Buying kits is unavoidable. Like we agreed on earlier, we can't hobby without em. However, just like every other aspect of this intricate hobby, you have a say in how you manipulate a model. That includes making the decision to actually buy it.

Once a kit becomes yours, so too do you own whatever issues come with it.

My Stance

Early in my modeling life I spent waaaay too much money on sub-par kits and filled my stash with older kits from Monogram, ESCI, Fujimi and Heller, to name a few. As a result, I often found myself languishing in a pit of despair having to correct all the impending problems or settling for crappy detail or no detail. I have no time to screw around with what some old heads consider "modeling skills". I get, at best, six hours of solid modeling time a week. A week. That is a short amount of time
Waste of time...
which I do not want to squander on deciphering complex engineering or lathering the model in putty.
It isn't worth saving a few dollars by obtaining Monogram's Avenger, or ESCI's Jaguar Gr.1 just to lose time and sanity mired in fixes. The money is best spent elsewhere.
Once I realized I have the ability to control my own destiny at the bench, my enjoyment of the hobby really soared. Whatever kits I still owned that I knew were going to be an issue, I offloaded and used that money to get new kits. Did you know I had never to this point built a Tamiya kit? I own two now but you can see just how lacking my stash was at the time. Back then my kit selection had been based on availability, and not on anything that mattered. I saw a model in my budget and bought it. I was modeling for modeling sake, not my sake. 

Now I do my research and pay a little extra for a kit that will provide an enjoyable experience while also maximizing the time I have at the bench to do the things I prefer, like detail, paint, weather, and so on. I no longer buy kits on a whim, but I decide the subject matter I want to build then buy the kit. This means I am not left staring at my stash struggling to find motivation to build a model I was not personally invested in. Each purchase was well thought out before hand, its strengths and weaknesses weighed against my desire to build the subject.

The Caveat

I understand that no kit is perfect, though some come close. Totally avoiding gaps and seams or troublesome engineering may not always be possible depending on the kit you want to build. There also may be those few times when the subject you absolutely want to model is not represented in a kit that isn't a rudimentary re-pop of a mold that first hit the shelves in the 1980's. But that is OK. If you really want a particular subject on your shelf sometimes you have to take the bumps of being a modeler. Approaching a kit with the desire to build it makes tackling the obstacles a bit easier.

Maybe not the best kit, but I had to have it!
I am trying not to sound like I am knocking particular manufacturers or older kits. Well, maybe I am. Truthfully, there are a number of modern kits that are absolute dogs as well. For instance, the Kinetic F-16 that I am working on. But odds are, the older kits are going to require a great deal more effort to get right. Maybe you are OK with that. Perhaps filling and sanding gets you in the zone. Maybe you like the feeling of accomplishment you get after completing a kit that did nothing but fight you the whole time. Well, not me. Say what you will, but I like my "shake and bake" kits (whatever those are).

In the End...

Make an informed decision. If you're willing to accept the pitfalls for the sake of the finished model, then good on you. But I have found that there is no reason to suffer through a kit, especially when there is a better kit on the market. Sure it may cost a little bit more, but I'll make that money back in time spent at the bench. This hobby is for my pleasure, my relaxation. When that stupid hunk of inanimate plastic starts to get on my nerves, its no fun any more. As one person just told me, "life is too short for Lindberg". He's darn right. Figure out what you want to build, then find a kit that meets your expectations in terms of budget and in terms of suffering to be endured. Then there is only one thing left to do.
Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What Influences Your Stash?


About two years ago, spurned by an uncooperative Revell kit, I made up my mind to approach the models I buy a different way. Prior to this decision, I had just been throwing my money at various kits simply because they were available for a low price at my local hobby shop, or worse, the arts and craft store.
My stash was soon filled with an assortment of inexpensive, ubiquitous Revell kits and even cheaper and more primitive ESCI and Heller boxes purchased for next to nothing at nearby model shows. 
The collection of models I had amassed was substantial but lacking in quality. The majority of my model sessions were bogged down by lengthy periods of having to correct issues such as poor fit, filling gaps, sanding seams, and apologizing to the wife for my bouts of fitful screaming. Something had to change. 
I reached the tipping point while building Revell's Mi-24 Hind. The struggle to fit the canopy, among other things, was more than I could stand. I looked at my stash and realized there was only more pain to come. There were no kits that I absolutely wanted to build but they had found their way into my stash because I am a modeler and cheap kits are very persuasive. 
But I wasn't going to fall for that any more. I gathered up my kits and listed them on eBay. Of course they sold quickly, like I said, cheap kits are chum for modelers. Now I had room on my shelves and money in my pocket (or PayPal account as the case may be). As any good modeler would, I wanted to start buying kits again. The problem was, I didn't know what I wanted.
Up to this point, I had built my stash on a whim, hoarding kits because they were just that, kits. I had no vested interest in the subject matter besides they were aircraft, they were affordable, and they were models. I didn't just want to buy stuff because it was a cool looking plane. I needed a plan. How do I spend this money and recharge my stash?

To answer that question, I developed two goals. First, I decided each kit I spent hard earned coin on had to be a subject that I connected with on a personal level. Since I'm in the Air Force, this wouldn't be difficult. I maintain F-16's for the NJ ANG so naturally getting as many Vipers in New Jersey markings became my primary objective. But I'm not stopping with F-16's. I'm trying to gather as many aircraft kits as I can to represent aircraft flown by the 177th FW and the 108th, which include jets like the F-106 and F-105 as well as the P-51.


It's also opened my mind to aircraft I likely would not have considered previously, like the T-33A. I even consider aircraft that I've crossed paths with, like the Super Bugs from the Black Lions or Tomcatters that I loaded alongside this summer or the T-28 Trojan at a local museum. Since the model represents history that is intertwined now with my own, it makes for an interesting build. It also helps narrow down my selection.

My second goal was to make sure I bought kits that I knew were decent. That meant educating myself. I poured over reviews of models that I was interested in to see if it was worth my time and money. Decals won't be a worry as most of my markings will be purchased aftermarket. My biggest concern is avoiding kits that will get me bogged down performing plastic surgery. Ain't nobody got time for that!

It's adhering to these two goals that have seen my stash grow. The majority of my stash, which was once made up of Revell, is now a balanced mix of Hasegawa and Tamiya, complimented by Trumpeter and Kinetic. All of them are of decent quality and are subjects that mean something to me. Spending time to invest in the right kits for my stash has become just as much fun and just as much a part of my hobby as putting the actual model together.

Of course not everyone can have a personal connection to aircraft like I do. But something out there must motivate your purchases. So how about you? Is there a method to your stash building madness? Sound off! 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September SCU Roll Call


Ten total participants drafted some well thought out responses to September's Sprue Cutters Union topic. Read what they all had to say about what all modelers can't agree on...Scales!

The Eternal Wargamer
Scalebrain Workshop
Ninetalis Scale Models
Around the Sprue
The Commonplace Modeler
Shutterace
Jim's Models
Will Pattison
Doogs' Models
Motorsport Modeller
The Combat Workshop

A big thanks to all those who found time to participate this month! Be sure to watch this space for October's topic, or keep an eye on Facebook for updates!

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Scale Philosophy

A Response to September's Sprue Cutters Union Topic


I like to consider myself a well rounded modeler. I have never been one to limit myself to a single subject, and will try my hand at just about anything whether it be an aircraft, armor, or dioramas. This goes for scale as well. Though I do normally have to consider where I am going to be able to store the finished model, or even the kit box, I am not one of those modelers who works only in a specific scale. Reducing my options to only one scale would inevitably be constantly disappointing. How many times have you heard a fellow modeler lament that the latest Tamiya release won't be boxed in his scale?
I would rather keep my options open. Never the less, for the most part each scale has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. For what its worth, here are my opinions on various scales...

1/144

This scale is not particularly popular, either in the community as a whole or with my own preferences. However, I have built one kit in this scale and found it quite enjoyable. The good thing is that they are affordable which is obvious considering their size, and they are easy to assemble given their low parts count. The issue is that they are far too small for my tastes. If you're looking for detail, it'll be hard to see in these little kits, especially armor. While finding a place to display them is not difficult at all, they are not impressive and strike me more as a toy than a proper model. This is why I have zero in the stash at the moment.

1/72

A few years ago, I figured this scale would become my scale. I have limited space available in my house to display my models or even stash my kits so there was a time when I would only consider 1/72 scale for my future purchases. Most jet aircraft are manageable in this scale and do not take up a lot of room which is a plus for me. The scale is fairly popular among modelers and therefore is not neglected by the industry, making plenty of different subjects easy to find. I am no aftermarket connoisseur but if resin and photo etch are your thing, this scale has a decent selection, albeit not as good as 1/48. I like the scale because it allows me to build larger aircraft, like the F-105 and F-15 while remaining economical in display space. Being smaller, they are also more affordable and do not break my bank like some other scales. 
However, it has not become my exclusive scale as I thought it would have. Even though its a space saver, there are still some subjects that I need in a larger scale to show more detail or to simply be more impressive on my shelf. This is why about half of my stash consists of aircraft in 1/72 scale.

1/48

This scale generally has everything you could ever ask for. The industry is saturated with kits in this scale, most of which can be complimented by aftermarket accessories and decals to please almost every one. I am particularly picky about purchasing any thing in this scale because I can quickly lose a lot of space if I am not careful. Each 1/48 buy has to be well thought out. A-10? Not gonna fit. MiG-29? Not gonna happen. I just don't have the room for them. But I will make exceptions. For instance, my obsession with F-16's usually persuades me to overlook my space limitations. That is why I have at least four quarter scale Vipers in the stash, but only three other aircraft in the same scale.

1/35

Generally considered the go-to scale for armor. I love this scale as well but admittedly have not built a tank this size in years. While tanks do not take up a whole lot of room, armor is not one of my biggest interests. Secondly, they are fairly expensive kits, especially newer offerings. Third, I really like to build bases or dioramas for my armor so once I start considering a vignette or a dio, I must consider space and 1/35 is too large at the moment. This is why I only have 1/72 armor in my stash. Unfortunately, this is a compromise I must make not necessarily because I like braille scale for armor better but because I don't have room for a large scale diorama. Maybe some day I will be able to squeeze more armor into the ranks of my stash but for now its just not possible.

1/32

A grand scale. I really love it, despite my space issues. The larger scale is impressive, has great potential for detail and are fun to build. Of course, the aftermarket has not caught up with the growing popularity of the scale, so that makes supplementing detail a bit difficult. For me, the only subjects I will consider in this scale are WWII single engine fighters and, of course, F-16's. World War II aircraft are far more impressive in 1/32 scale than anything smaller. The larger scale is a great platform for weathering so prevalent on WWII subjects. As for the F-16, its a relatively small modern fighter so the larger scale is not as much of a burden as it could be. But what better way to display your favorite aircraft than in a huge scale?
Another downside is cost. The larger you get, the more expensive they become. Couple that with their immensity and that explains why I only have two 1/32 scale subjects in my stash.

1/24

This scale will probably never find its way into my stash. Far too large, and far too expensive for my tastes.


That is a brief look at my scale philosophy and what governs my purchases. What do you think? Do you have a preferred scale to work with? Sound off below!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Building a More Realistic Jet

Accuracy...you're doing it wrong.

If you have been on the internet at all today you would have seen that Doogs' Models posted a lengthy article rejecting the long-standing and ever popular technique known as pre-shading. It has generated a lot of views and conversation which has been both positive and negative. While I have been known to utilize that technique, and still do to a lesser degree, Doogs' has a point. Regardless of how I feel about pre-shading, his article got me thinking about other aspects of finishing a model that do not jive with real life examples.

The point of modeling is to recreate an accurate representation of the real subject in a smaller scale. While some folks did not appreciate the subjective tone of Doogs' now viral post, he was simply pointing out that in no way is pre-shading an accurate portrayal of what we typically see on an aircraft.
What I do for a living allows me the unique perspective of comparing actual fighter aircraft on the flight line to how they are represented by fellow modelers in scale. I can tell you right now that Doogs' is one hundred percent correct. Panel line pre-shading of the entire aircraft is bogus for two reasons.
First, because it is "shading". Look at a weathered or even pristine aircraft and you will notice that there is no "shading" along each individual panel line.
Second, because it is uniform. If you examine each model that uses a distinct pre-shading technique you will see that all the panel lines will have the same exact contrast and thickness and the center of each panel will be lightened uniformly across the entire model, suggesting that each surface of the aircraft has weathered exactly the same way.
A closer look at several real aircraft and you'll quickly see why pre-shading makes no sense...



However, let us not forget that modeling is an art, and as such, this topic is fairly objective. What one person sees as acceptable may not be so to another. This post is for those who want to get a closer idea of the realities of aircraft weathering, and perhaps push some one to strive for a bit more accuracy in their finish.
Of course, these issues do not end with pre-shading. Doogs' did a well enough job covering that topic so instead I thought about all the other areas of aircraft modeling that I feel are neglected or being executed in a fashion that doesn't sync with the real life examples. So, if you can stomach a little criticism, feel free to read about what else you might be doing wrong.

Uniformity

I touched on this above so I'll expand on it here. The issue I see with many models is that the builder has relied way too much on uniformity and has given no thought at all to breaking up the lines and patterns he has instinctively built into his aircraft. This is one of the biggest issues with pre and post shading. It creates way too much invariability, so if pre-shading is the only airbrushing technique you prescribe to...you're doing it wrong.
An aircraft weathers at random and does not create perfect little squares and rectangles with shading around the panels that are all the same thickness and color and faded to the same degree. There are streaks from leaking hydraulic lines, and fuel spills. Smudges and stains from various other maintenance jobs all mix together to create an aircraft that is weathered as uniquely as your finger prints. 


Notice the randomness of the weathering on the Viper above. Certainly not reminiscent of pre-shading. Even the most extreme examples are not uniform...


Uniformity can be further broken up by focusing on individual panels (or a lot of panels in some cases) and changing their color. Rather than lightening the center of each panel, a method popularly known as post-shading, pick out only a few panels across the aircraft.

For instance, look at the right wing on the aircraft below...


The upper left wing and dorsal area of the fuselage on the F-16 below are a noticeably different shade of gray than the surrounding surfaces...(not to mention the light gray trailing edge on the right wing). It also has a weapons load configuration that is not uniform.


Below you will see the canopy frame on the Viper is a lighter color, completely altering the curved gray line of the gray of the typical F-16 paint scheme...


Note the air brake and the right intake are lighter gray on this Strike Eagle...


It is plain to see the light gray panels on the fuselage of this A-10...


I am not saying pre-shading should be abandoned all together. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. Besides, if one keeps the idea that uniformity has no place on a weathered aircraft, a subtle pre-shade can still be effective. Take a look at this Oscar, for instance. Though the modeler has used a pre-shade, its a step in the right direction. He has broken up the over all finish with random panel shading and panel lines that are not over done...



(You can see more of the Oscar, HERE)

Uniformity is not constricted to pre/post shading either. For some reason, modelers seem to feel like whatever happens on one side of the aircraft must also happen equally to the other. No. Don't think that way. On the real aircraft bits and pieces move around, get swapped out for new ones, get repainted, so on and so forth that rarely do any two items look identical. Take these F-15 exhausts for instance...


Chipping

There are two kinds of people in this world: those that think modern aircraft do not chip, and those that are wrong. Chipping paint is generally a technique saved for armor modelers or WWII aircraft of the PTO variety but I am here to tell you that if you do not have any chipped paint on your jet aircraft, you're doing it wrong...






To extreme for you? Well, you can add a lesser degree of chipping to the aircraft's accessories, like the pylons seen here...


The next time a judge tells you that you have too much chipping on your jet, give him the finger for me...

Tires

Wheels are neglected by and large by modelers. While its nice that the kit makers and the aftermarket industry is creating detailed tires with crisp molds and finely sculpted treads, we modelers are over looking an important opportunity. How often do we build a jet as though its been through the rigors of combat and non-stop sorties but never pause to think that maybe the tires have gotten worn over time. 
No. I guess we just assume that the crew chiefs are quite dedicated and have nothing better to do than accomplish a double main tire change after every go. In reality most combat aircraft will fly with a few chunks missing from their rubber, exposing a couple of cords. So if you are one to just sand them to give the wheel a flat appearance and call it good, you're doing it wrong... 
While cutting into the precious resin wheels might be painful, it is just another way to kill some uniformity.

An extreme example...


And a tire with considerably less wear...


Bombs

You didn't think I'd go a whole post and not talk about munitions did you? Ordnance is another aspect of modeling so often forgotten about. Typically, the weapons are painted in olive drab and slapped onto the aircraft without a second thought. You're doing it wrong.
Bombs and missiles can be treated like little models themselves and be shown the same attention. After all, if you're building a combat aircraft don't you think you should highlight the tools it is bringing to the fight?
Ordnance, especially bombs, can be left outside in the elements for extended periods of time, especially if they are already loaded onto an aircraft. Munitions attached to a jet in a combat zone are not likely going to be removed unless the pilot releases them on a few bad guys below. So they sit, exposed to the sun, rain, sleet and snow, getting delightfully dirty in the process. Just look at the difference in color between the bombs below...


Again, not a hair of uniformity at all.



In the end it all comes down to preference. What looks good to you may not look good to others and the extent of detail you are happy with may fall short of other people's expectations. We are not all rivet counters. But we are all modelers. Each of us possessing a different level of interest, skill, passion, and creativity which is what makes the community more diverse. Despite this, we all strive for a certain level of detail and accuracy that fit our own measure of quality. In the case of this post, I am merely providing you with the tools you may need to reach a new level of realism that meets your caliber of excellence. 

Go build.

Monday, September 7, 2015

August SCU Roll Call


The ball has been rolling on the new Sprue Cutters Union for two months now, carried by the momentum of continuous participation. The August topic was answered by no less than eleven different bloggers. Follow the links below to read their take on whether spending time on detail that won't be seen on the finished model is a worthwhile undertaking.


Thanks for participating! Be sure to follow the blog and my Facebook page to catch the next topic of conversation!

Monday, August 17, 2015

1/35 Master Box "Hand to Hand" Diorama Completed


Its been a while since I added a completed work to this blog. Here is my latest, untitled work. The figures are from Master Box's exquisite Eastern Front Hand to Hand Combat set. They are nicely molded and I found the poses to be acceptable for the idea I had in mind. While the set features four figures (two Soviet, two German) I only used three as the second German did not fit well into the story line I had planned.
The Panther turret and the T-34 hull are both from Dragon and were built many years ago. They were in fairly bad shape, victims of a move across town and from my own inexperience as a modeler back then. So, I reused them in this setting, giving them new paint jobs and weathering them quite a bit to fit into the ruined environment. Though the turret is sitting on top of the T-34, my intent was not to imply they were once attached. Instead, in the chaos of battle, the turret landed atop the T-34 hull after becoming explosively dislodged from it's rightful, albeit previous, owner.

Enough talk. Here are the pics...







Friday, August 7, 2015

Sprue Cutters Union Update

Hi all! I am writing this brief post to let all of you know that the Sprue Cutters Union will no longer be hosted on this blogspot. Instead, I have given the Union its own space to grow, considering how this blog doesn't move as quickly as it once did.
If you are interested in following the antics of a few eccentric modelers, I encourage you to follow the link to the new Sprue Cutters Union blog and join the site.
Thanks!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

5 Ways Online Hobby Shops Can Improve

Its not just decent selection and fair pricing...

Online shopping has made our lives so much more convenient. There is no shortage of retailers representing the hobby on the internet, and of course, I have a few favorites I return to for my must haves. Never the less, I have made a list identifying areas where I believe online shops could profit and in turn benefit us modelers. Let's begin, in no particular order.

Get a Blog


I would like to see more online shops get into the business of blogging. Currently, Squadron.com maintains a blog attached to their website and even Eduard, which functions as a company producing scale model products and a seller, has a functioning blog. Unfortunately, they are the exception and not the norm. While most online retailers are fairly active on social media, as well they should be in this day and age, I would like to see them adopt a blog.
Facebook and Twitter has made it ultra simple to stay current on up coming releases, sales, and other updates but I see a blog creating the potential to keep modelers interested without simply targeting our wallets.
It has been my experience as a blogger that modelers are a vocal bunch who love to share their opinions on the hobby and truly love to follow modeling as much as they get enjoyment out of building a kit. If the blog features interesting hobby related material it will certainly draw our attention and drive traffic to the webpage. The right content will open a dialogue between the company and the consumer within which we can see the business is about the hobby and not just our money. A blog that promotes how-to tutorials, the historical background of kit subjects, or even simply general modeling discussion will keep us engaged, educated, inspired and coming back for more.

Reviews


Of course, you can't have a blog and not have a review section. Why is this important? One of the first thing any modeler is going to look for prior to purchasing a kit is a review. Rather than just showing us an image of what their website is selling they could dive inside a kit and treat us to an in-depth look at what is, or will soon be, on their shelves. If a review of a product is included on the site, it prevents me from having to scour the internet to find one. It also shows me the company takes interest in the product and is willing to take the extra step to ensure modelers are armed with the right information to make a decision. Most importantly for the business, it keeps us on their website. If you give me a place where I can browse products and get a peak inside the box, I will be happy.

Better Pics


If you're selling a product, you should take a little time and spend some effort making that product look desirable. I hate it when a retailer takes one grainy photo of a jumbled up bag of resin, posts it to the website and calls it satisfactory. Would it kill them to maybe arrange the parts in a manner that displays the quality of the molds, and intricacy of the detail so as to entice potential buyers? No, it won't kill them. Neither will taking a few shots of the sprues contained in each kit instead of slapping a thumbnail of the box art in the catalog.
Give modelers something to look at, to get excited about, like a kid finding his brother's stash of Playboys. It doesn't take much to make a modeler drool, you just have to know what to wave under our noses - sprue shots, images of the finished product, whatever - anything is better than the picture every other online hobby is using on their site. I want to be enticed!
Don't force me to find better images some where else. Because, you know, I will.

Let's Make a Deal


Every website has sales. My problem with them is that they just aren't good enough. Say what you will, but there was a time when I would get more excited about securing a 40% off coupon to Michael's Arts and Crafts or Hobby Lobby than I was about seeing any weekend sale listed on Squadron or elsewhere.
I am sorry but telling me I can take ten dollars off my order if I spend seventy-five dollars or more is not enticing. Neither is reducing the price of two or three kits that I have no interest in any way or directing me to the Clearance section which is almost assuredly stocked with kits no one wants. You can flash sale me all you like but there is still a good chance its cheaper on eBay.
Am I just complaining too much? Maybe. But what I'm after is not necessarily saving more money. I want creativity. Recently Sprue Brothers promoted a deal that offered customers several free sheets of decals if they purchased a particular kit. Genius. I very nearly caved in and bought the kit. Though I didn't, the concept really intrigued me and I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for similar promotions. Considering the depth of the aftermarket, the possibilities are endless...

PayPal


PayPal has quickly become one of the premier ways to transfer money online. It is fairly safe, secure and hassle free and if there are a hiccups in the process, PayPal is generally competent enough to refund your money and settle the issue. Most significantly, its fast. You don't need a credit card, just a positive balance and a valid email address and you can make your payment in seconds. It is for these reasons that I can't understand why more online retailers have not started utilizing it. Currently, neither Squadron nor Sprue Brothers have approved PayPal as a method of payment.
For modelers like me, who keep money in PayPal strictly for hobby purchases, this is frustrating, as I would rather not turn to my credit card for the answer. If you are a dedicated scale modeler you are probably on eBay and owning a PayPal account is virtually a requirement for transactions made there. Furthermore, there are countless social media buy/sell/trade sights that you would be foolish to operate on without a PayPal account. Online retailers need to recognize how we do business outside of their stores and start tapping into the preferred method of payment by modelers across the globe - PayPal. Make it happen.


What do you think? Are these ways that would improve your online shopping experience or do you think I've totally lost my mind? Let me hear about it in the comments!
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Stess Free Modeling

What do I work on when I need a relaxing build?

One of the most common positive attributes given to our great hobby is that it is relaxing. It truly is, considering how we tend to work in solitude, perhaps listening to our favorite tunes or drift in and out of an interesting documentary on the television. No one bothers us. It is simply us versus the model.
But sometimes that model is a stronger opponent than we might have estimated. What started as just a regular build soon turns into an ugly cage match against an unrelenting heavy weight who throws a mean right hook in the form of poor engineering and your only defense is more filler and lots of sanding. Soon your balance is off, your breathing is labored and that documentary is looking more and more interesting. As much as the hobby can be relaxing, so it can also suck the life out of you. It is at this point I like to throw in the towel and give myself the chance to harness my chi. I'll take on a small project that I know will not be an issue and one that will boost my confidence to step back into the ring.
Like a boxer working a speed bag, I pick quick projects to get me back in the rhythm, but most importantly, they don't strike back. While not being completely devoid of a challenge, they generally don't involve much construction which eliminates having to fuss over seams and the inevitable filling and sanding to follow. They also do not involve complicated paint schemes so I can rule out masking as a source of stress. Finally, each one requires that I create some ground work - arguably my favorite aspect of modeling.
Here are some examples:





You can see, they are all small and do not include full kits. Quite often they can be made up of old kit parts, like the one with the T-34 turret, or a pre-assembled model such as the 1/144 T-55. Keeping them simple allows me to complete a project quickly, giving me a feeling of accomplishment thus filling a void left by the more frustrating build. Of course, it doesn't solve the problem of actually finishing the initial model that gave me such trouble in the first place, but it certainly does wonders to restore my motivation. 
What is your stress reliever?

Read Some More!

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 the topic!


How to Join...

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 monthly 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.


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