Autumnal Telford, a wonderful weekend and here’s to the future……

DSC_0004

As I sit here a fortnight after the main event reflecting on all the fun the jokes the laughs the purchasing the walking the chatting the standing the eating the drinking and the wonderful models on show and on top of that it was all done in great company I can positively say it was a great scale model world 2017, I know there have been some negative comments concerning some peoples behaviour in the competition and the awful news that a model belonging to Chris Meddings had gone missing from the competition area which is something  I think virtually everyone finds unacceptable and something that definitely leaves a bad taste in the mouth however the show from  a personal point of view was great. The couple of weeks leading up to the show not so as it was full of the usual angst and stress as I did my best to cock up the 4 models that gradually became 2 that I wanted to finish for my club stand, my gloriously planned and badly executed Tamiya mid production Tiger 1 sadly got left behind partially painted in it’s box with it’s set of Friul metal tracks that I ran out of time to finish and maybe it was a project too far but hey you live and learn and the last few months have definitely been a learning curve for myself.  Shooting back a couple of months as the summer ended and my thoughts turned to the autumn model shows culminating in scale model world a fortnight ago I somehow managed to drag myself kicking and screaming back to the workbench and completed no less than 5 models a definite upturn in my modelling fortunes and this year has definitely turned out to be my most productive in living memory harking back those early days of build/paint/decal/finish within a couple of days of buying the kit.

Once we packed the car and  made the early morning journey up the M6 via the M25 and M40 arriving in a chilly Telford in early afternoon, after a quick sortie around the shops we carefully carried our box of models from the hotel and negotiated the short but sweaty 20 minute walk up to the International Centre, it was maybe not our best decision to carry the box that distance however it was the subject of several jokes and a lot of laughs across the weekend so all was not lost and once we had passed our box of models over to fellow Bulldog and amazing modeller Keith Forsyth grabbed our wrist bands for the weekend  it was once again back off for a bit of shopping before it was a swift return to the hotel for dinner and some rest and recuperation. Now Scale model world for me starts with a brisk early morning walk from the Telford central Premier Inn via McDonalds the cash machine and then joining the longish queue which was outside in the cold this year which makes a change then just waiting to get through the door and into the warm and great atmosphere that always welcomes us every November. Queuing outside this year wasn’t too much hardship as it wasn’t raining, it wasn’t too cold and we had a chat with Simon from IPMS Stafford which helped speed up the wait and once the doors opened it did not take us too long to get in find our club set up our models and our SMW was under way.

Some modellers go to scale model world to sit on a stand display their models and chat to people as they happen past, others go to socialise and others go to pick up modelling projects for the forthcoming year, for me and the ever suffering partner in crime Kerry it is a a balance of many things that come together to make a wonderful weekend. This includes some down time for the 2 of us away from work and normal life, time spent in great company loads of laughs and jokes and of course the opportunity to look at some great models display some of our own and the chance to pick up some projects for the forthcoming winter months to boot, not that I need any new projects however the chance to grab a few new kits is always an opportunity not to be missed and after all the traders are there to sell we are there to buy and of course it would be rude not too. The weekend sadly seems to just fly past, we often over the two day just go and sit in the catering area next to the kit swap and recharge our batteries having a drink and a bite to eat soaking up the atmosphere and trying not to check the time, which is hard not to do especially on the Sunday.  I read somewhere since our return that scale model world is the modellers Christmas and that is a sentiment I can relate too, the big build up the excitement the night before and all the lovely gifts you have at the end of it. As all good things must come to an end the weekend is over in what seems to be a blink of an eye one minute you are setting up your models for the weekend and before you know it you are packing them away then it’s back to the car and the long drive home.

After a quick toilet and food stop lots of driving we once again found ourselves back home and some time to reflect on what was a great weekend a decent cuppa and the opportunity to collate the purchases and the obligatory photo to see how much we actually bought. For me this year was not just about how much I had bought more of a case of buying what I went for and for the first time in the 9 years I have been attending I did exactly that, a few small projects and some bits for one I have had in my mind for quite a while. In the 10 or so days since we returned home my modelling time has been short and that has been ok, in the few weeks leading up to SMW it was a frantic oh! my god I have so much to do and so little time to do it in and I had been spending every spare minute finishing stuff off in blind panic and frantic hope, so a return to a more relaxed mode of modelling has been good.

Now the dust has settled on SMW and life has returned to some sort of normality I can reflect on the weekend with a fair bit of satisfaction with great memories and a return to my normal modelling habits and with just one model show left this year I can also reflect upon a good modelling year for me, the start of my blog and the fact that I have actually finished 5 models, 5 can you believe it. On my return from Telford last year I was suffering from a bit of burnout yet was satisfied that I had actually finished a model and it was sitting pride of place in the display cabinet, this year I have returned without any burnout and am now looking forward to getting back to the bench on a more regular basis, I have already built one kit since my return albeit a snap fix tank from the Meng world wartoons range never the less it is built and waiting paint which is not something that has been the norm down the years however it has been a welcome change to that norm. The first part of the year was a real toil for me whilst I struggled with lack of motivation and a really difficult time trying to regain that modelling mojo that had for some reason buggered off and left me. The one positive light was this blog which kept me sane and involved in the hobby whilst I waited for my missing mojo to finish it’s holiday, it returned in earnest over the summer and propelled me to get some projects over that much vaunted and sort after finish line. The future?, well I have some projects I want to finish, some I want to start and of course in the back of the mind are the builds for my club stand for next years scale model world, how many days is it?, that’s ok I have over 300 and that should be enough, and as for now?, I am happy modelling at a relaxed speed and not under any pressure to get things finished and I am once again happy to be blogging away.

The Average Modeller.

 

Here we go again 2 weeks to Telford and I have so so much to do, and oh no not again, airbrush problems arghh!!!!!

Fleet Air Arm Museum 155

As  I sit here with just under 2 weeks to go until the big day, in fact in 2 weeks time I will hopefully be sitting somewhere reflecting on a wonderful weekend spent in great company at the biggest and best model show in the world. Two weeks is probably a long time to some however in my case it may as well be minutes as the panic of the fast approaching trip to the midlands sets in and my frantic behaviour ridden modelling time reaches fever pitch and I get really really close to completely losing my mind. As this last week approached I was looking forward to finally adding the finishing touches to my collection of models that yours truly had planned to be ready for the club stand, I had a whole weekend to finish the building and prepare myself for the inevitable bouts of pulling my hair out as I painted them and got them ready to be boxed up for our trip to Telford. Saturday arrived and I cracked on finishing off my mid production Tiger 1 with some etch brass Zimmerit and getting a good solid coat of red primer on so that I could make a start on painting it either Sunday or the modelling evening I had planned for later that week, the airbrushes were gotten ready with a nice clean in preparation for the next days spraying. Now I do not know about you but I have a great trust in how I feel about something and as the cleaning of the airbrushes commenced I had a feeling that something was not quite right however I put it down to tiredness as I put the 2 brushes away ready for the morning and indulged in some relaxing TV viewing.

As Sunday morning arrived I set out my day priming a few things for the long suffering partner in crime and added the finishing touches to the priming of the Tiger, before that I decided to check the airbrush that had bothered me the night before and low and behold that nagging feeling I had was a bent needle tip, see you should always trust your instincts, not too much of an issue as I have 2 other brushes I can use 3 at a push. The rest of the day was littered with stop start use of the airbrush and problems with air pressure, nozzle blockages and the like and I found myself spending more time cleaning the damn things than actually using them. Now I am not going to lie my issues with my airbrushes are a constant irritant, it is not some errant issue with them but it is me, they are used sporadically and as my modelling mojo fluctuates so does their use. Over the years I had definitely been going with the school of thought that anybody can pick up and use an airbrush to a decent standard however recently it has come quite evident to me that this is not the case and you do need to practice practice and practice some more, I do not see myself as an artist or with any kind of eye for art in fact it was never a strong point of mine in school even though many members of my family are very artistic yet that particular gene pool seems to have skipped me by. As my weekend slowly dragged itself to a frustrating close I found myself with one less airbrush to use and no closer to getting anything remotely finished.

After having the issue with airbrush 1 and the weekends frustrations I decided to put the 2 nozzles I possess for airbrush 2 in a bottle of airbrush cleaner and leave them soaking over night no disaster there I thought to myself and I was right, that in itself was not the disaster, what I did next was where the disaster manifested itself, I shook them in the jar not once but many times trying to clean out the stubborn remnants of paint in the nozzle tips, bad idea the tips do not like being shook and low and behold when I removed them from the jar I had bent the tips on both of them, if ever there was a time when my level of stupidness astounded me, it was now, how could I have been so stupid shaking the 2 nozzles around like I was shaking a pair of maracas, after bending the needle of airbrush 1, bending the nozzle ends of airbrush 2, what other calamities could befall my ever failing collection of airbrushes, have no fear more was to come. Speeding ahead just 24 hours and with just 1 airbrush left, my new Iwata HP-CH what else could go wrong?…..

For Telford I have numerous kits in varying forms of completion which includes the mid production Tiger 1 that was mentioned earlier and a 1/48 scale T34, so with the little tank, paint, and airbrush in hand I went off to the shed to commence my evenings painting, after a few minutes the choice of colour for my highlights seemed a bit too bright so I decided to put that aside and move on to painting the Tiger, so off I went to clean the green paint out the airbrush and get ready for some nice coats of desert yellow or dunkelgelb to those who care. Whilst cleaning my airbrush I decided to run a small  cleaning brush through the nozzle cap which although it cleared out some paint remnants it had also put a slight burr on the edge of the hole and a slight split near the top which of course was unbeknown to me, so back off to the shed it was with a bottle of  Mig Dunkelgelb and my airbrush to spray the first coats of paint over my lovely red primer what could possibly go wrong? as I sprayed the first line of paint the airbrush did not sound right, it was spluttering, thinking it may be a bit clogged I sprayed some away from the model and then had another go, nope still spluttering I also noticed the paint was just sitting on the primer and not really covering it, not to be put off I went and picked up my very little used Iwata TR2, now this is an airbrush that I have never really got to grips with but now was it’s moment of glory. Sadly it was to be a false dawn as the paint I sprayed from it just sat on the model and looked awful, so after laying the airbrush down I ran the 3 parts of my Tiger under the tap and washed the remnants of the paint off now this is one of the many good points of using acrylic paints, it is water based, so with paint removed I put the parts in the airing cupboard to dry off until it’s next date with paint.

After cleaning my airbrushes, putting them away and calming my nerves with a pizza I bit the bullet and spent rather a large amount of money with the Airbrush Company replacing all the parts I had managed to bend break or damage over the last couple of days and sat down for a bout of detail painting which oddly I found quite calming and very therapeutic. Is there a moral to this story?, possibly however we are not finished yet. Not only had I had suffered self inflicted airbrush disasters there was also the fact that there were issues with the Mig paint that had been used and that is where the internet and specifically You tube comes in handy and one video later I was fully  understanding as to why it did not take, you have to use the Mig paint differently than say Tamiya Vallejo AK or Gunze Sangyo and that is for another time, so I ordered some Vallejo and AK interactive paint to speed up that particular job.

So here we are less than 2 weeks until we pack up and make the longish trek to Shropshire with me being maybe a little closer to being ready than I was a week ago but not as far forward as I would have hoped and definitely would liked to have been. I have now got less time to get those projects over the line yet it is doable however I am now up against it and under more pressure than ever, last year I was still matt varnishing my Tamiya MKIV on the Thursday night and drying it with a hair dryer, I do not plan to be doing that this year, a Thursday night of a take away and relaxation would be wonderful so the countdown is on. Now the moral to this particular tail is this, my mum used to say to me as a child you should not put anything in your ear sharper than your elbow wise words indeed yet the same can be said about airbrushes, they are precision tools with delicate easily damaged parts and they need to be handled and cleaned with care (please take note Jason), I am now going to change how I clean my collection of airbrushes thanks to my friend and club mate Keith Forsyth and we will see how I get on with that, the clock for Telford is definitely ticking and I have so so so much to do…..

The Average Modeller

When it is all going well and then it is all going terrible wrong…..

2005_0722warandpeace20050022

After getting over my shock of actually finishing some models ready for the Farnborough model show back in mid September modelling had sadly taken a back seat as life, work and other responsibilities had unfortunately gotten in the way. Last Tuesday I managed to return to the bench and look forward to the ominous spectre that is scale model world lurking somewhere in the very near future, whilst sitting in my chair I happened to notice my IPMS membership card hanging on the back of my work room door and as I picked it up to take a look you can imagine my horror when I discovered that somehow over the period since Farnborough it had somehow gotten wet and the usual clear information on it’s front had become a touch obscured, however after a quick email to Cliff Bassett IPMS UK membership secretary polarity was returned as he put my mind at rest as he told me that all should be ok as the relevant info was still legible, it never hurts to check these things especially with little over a month to go I did not fancy the indignation and disappointment of being told,  sorry you cannot come in.

I am not going to lie I have felt a little under pressure of late with that fast approaching trip to Telford and the need to get some things over the finish line, this weekend for me was a great opportunity to get my reluctant backside to the bench and try and sneak some things ever closer to that most sort after place, the finish line and with no football to ruin my day it was off to the workroom. To set the scene, I have been working on a Tamiya Tiger 1 mid production for a Tiger build challenge within the members of my model club with the idea of them being ready for our club stand at Telford, now for reasons only known to me instead of going for a simple out of the box build with maybe a Tamiya early or initial production Tiger I opted for a Mid production variant with the addition of some resin Zimmerit, some etch brass grills, a turned aluminium barrel and some metal tracks. Now being one that usually shy’s away from etch brass and resin it will come as no surprise that I was avoiding starting the project like the plague, unfortunately with time not really being on my side I had to bite the bullet and just get on with it. I thought with this build my approach would be slightly different as I was having to deal with some after market products and get it over the finish line and reasonably quickly, so I decided to actually follow the instructions and add the aftermarket as I went along, all was going ok until it came to the adding of the etch grills and of course the need to use super glue, now me and super glue have a sketchy past, occasionally everything goes according to plan, and other times everything goes to hell and back again and this tends to escalate quite quickly. Now I tend to avoid etch brass as it bends far too easily and some of the pieces of etch are so small they are very easily lost, pinging off into the atmosphere never ever to be found again plus there is the need to attach it with super glue. Surprisingly I only encountered a few issues attaching the four etch grills with only one needing an extra blob of glue to convince it to stay where I put it.

With the upper hull looking the part it was now time to turn my attention to the resin zimmerit, I have never used resin zimmerit before successfully, I had dabbled with an old Verlinden set some years ago this set from Atak was a lot different and I have to say this is very very thin resin, after deciding to tackle the lower chassis first I cut out the thin resin and glued it on, I am not going to lie it went on ok however I was having trouble with the glue drying too quick, I persevered though, the second part went on ok although I was still having trouble with the glue going off too quickly. Now if I had known then what was to happen later I would have stopped there and sourced myself some slower curing super glue, now as is the norm I changed tact, I went from using super glue to using some Gorilla white glue, sadly this did not quite go to plan and once again I  reached for the super glue. Feeling really pleased with how the lower hull was looking I moved onto the upper sides and once again the earlier issues were rearing there ugly head however I managed to get the complete lower hull finished within a couple of hours and sat back feeling really pleased with my work, not something I can honestly say I do very often.

With the lower hull complete I reluctantly moved my attention to the turret, now I perhaps should have started with the turret but being notoriously adept at avoiding things I do not want to do, I left it to last. They say hindsight is a wonderful thing and if it was possible to turn the clock back I would however without the benefit of either of these I turned my attention back to the turret and oh how I wish I had not, after carefully cleaning up the 2 thin resin turret sides I decided to apply my super glue, and this is where I went from complete success to an absolute disaster in one fell swoop. I had been using a micro brush to apply my super glue and my common sense was telling me that I should stick with this (no pun intended) however I did not follow the common sense route and decided to apply the glue straight from the pot and this is where my self made disaster manifested itself, now had the resin sheet gone on straight the issue of a bit too much glue could have been dealt with however it was not to be. The resin went on at a peculiar angle prompting a quick panicked response from me and within seconds I had a chunk of split and broken resin sheet stuck to the fingers of my left hand and super glue everywhere, luckily I keep a tidy and orderly bench otherwise the carnage would have been a whole lot worse. After a not so careful assessment of the carnage and a rant at my long suffering partner in crime Kerry I decided that the best and only course of action was to cut my losses and throw it in the bin, once carefully put in the bin I cleaned myself, the bathroom and my workbench up and after a short burst of exasperated huffing and puffing I retrieved it from the bin, setting aside the lower hull, upper hull gun mantlet and the spare unused resin parts I did my best to clean up the turret and the overglued zimmerit however it was becoming quite clear to me that I needed a new turret and some other kind of zimmerit to complete the project. As luck would have it I had a Tiger 1 turret that was going spare as part of an old project that I had long abandoned, all I needed to do is source some replacement  Zimmerit which I did via ebay and voila the day was saved.

The moral of this particular tale?, practice practice and more practice, I could not of envisaged the disaster that was going to unfold Saturday afternoon and as it was my first time using resin zimmerit coupled with my dodgy past with super glue the chances of it going wrong were probably high anyway, would I use resin zim again, probably yes after all if you never step out of your comfort zone, or never give anything new a try how are you ever going to know if you can do it or not, it is good to step out of it once in a while and after all we should have high aspirations and try and be better than our last project even though this is not always the case, we should at least try.

The Average Modeller

A weekend full of models…..

DSCI0119

Normally the opportunity to spend a whole weekend in the company of good friends and models occurs just once a year however this year is a bit different. In an advancement on the very fast approaching annual trip to Telford for Scale Model World this coming weekend will see myself and my ever suffering partner in crime Kerry attending the Farnborough model show and the new Euro Miniature Expo in sunny Folkestone, this last week or so has seen us extremely busy at the bench adding the finishing touches to a few models to fill the club stand with, or in my case completely weathering 3 tanks that look very much the same, there is not much variation on a green tank yet I have been slaving away doing my best to ruin the paint work I have been striving for who knows how long to look right. Now with just one day left to go until the 2 shows are upon us and it is just a case of adding the finishing touches, packing them all up for the journey, ironing the club attire charging the camera batteries and getting ourselves there.

It is not very often I say this however it has been quite a revelation the last 7/8 weeks as I found my way through 2 complete builds even though these have only been primed and base coated it is a far cry from my struggles in the early part of the year when the mere thought of opening a box full of plastic filled me with dread self doubt and highlighted a severe lack of drive and motivation, yet I have not only built 2 complete kits another 4 kits found there way to the shed to be airbrushed and 3 out of that 4 have made it to the final steps of my very disjointed and direction lacking weathering sequence. What I have learnt as I sat with a blank look on my face on where to start my weathering sequence is that finding a way that makes me happy and comfortable when applying weathering to my chosen project is something that needs to be found. Over the years I have read many an article on how I should be weathering my tank none of which have worked for me, maybe a different approach is needed by myself to find a suitable way of reaching the level and the finish I desire.

With the hotel booked and paid for and club members touched bass with our attention can now turn to getting through tomorrow, packing the car up and having that final sleep and then getting up at silly o’clock on a saturday to take the final hour or so drive over to Camberley for what is one of my favourite shows of the year, IPMS Farnboroughs  Modelfest, however before we do there is just the small fact of getting those 3 little green tanks finished, matt coated boxed and ready to display. Modelling for me at the moment is a journey, a journey of being motivated enough to make a start on something and the drive to see it through until the thing is built, it is then a case of taking a deep breath, spraying on some primer and trying different approaches until I manage to find a system that works for me, it may be an idea for me to make some notes so that each one that does not work for me can be crossed of until I find that winning formula, and then practice practice practice because after all practice does make perfect, well as perfect as I am ever gonna get. So until the next time I am journeying out into the shed for a little painting session I will just enjoy what I have done, what I am doing and enjoy that weekend full of models….

The Average Modeller

Why oh why do I do it to myself……

2005_0722warandpeace20050009

Before my latest blog kicks off with more of my musings I would like to take this opportunity to dedicate this weeks offering to my long suffering partner and better half Kerry who has to put up with my moans groans and shouts of frustration as I struggle getting to grips with my hobby especially the painting aspect.

This summer I have been going through what many would call a purple patch and have managed to start and complete the building of 2 complete kits, the Meng Models 1/35 Whippet and a Tamiya 1/48 T34, these builds have not been without incident however they have been quite enjoyable and it has felt really good being back at the cutting mat. The only problem with having 2 complete builds finished, they need to be painted, and this is where I begin to get nervous and the odds of a disaster get shorter. I will not sit here and lie to you all and say that painting is my favourite part because it is not I hate it and try to avoid it and if I could I would not do it at all, it may be completely irrational behaviour to something that should bring me enjoyment however for some reason it doesn’t.

As my two builds came to together in the final throws of completion my thoughts turned to the painting and the finishing of the damn things and have them ready for the Farnborough model show in mid September, the painting the decals the weathering, aarghh!!! it seems like a never ending list of possible disasters just waiting to happen. Now as my working week ended and I turned my attention to getting these 2 models well on the way to being completed this weekend I set about preparing the shed so it was tidy and ready for me to inflict paint upon my models, I set the airbrush and compressor up, ran some thinners through the airbrush as it has been a good 8/9 months since it last saw action, set the table up so I could do some detail painting on a couple of 1/48 Tamiya KV’s that have been on and off the back burner for the last couple of years and I was set. My Saturday morning was going as planned and I had moved an old Tamiya 1/35 Sherman onto the spraying area to get in a little practice before the main event.

Now when it comes to me and painting things very rarely go according to plan and the list of disasters could quite honestly be endless, last year in the build up to Telford whilst finishing my Tamiya MKIV I broke my 2 most used airbrushes lost decals broke the tracks and ruined the paint job itself on numerous occasions by simply not knowing when enough was enough. Painting and me shall we say is not a marriage made in heaven, I do not know what it is, it is as if I am just one step away from disaster at every turn. On my return from Telford last year I purchased some paint from Mig Jimenez’s range of paints consisting of 3 bottles of paint, a base coat, a shadow and a highlight, I bought these paints in 4 colours, Russian green, Panzer grey, Olive drab and Dunkelgelb (German desert yellow) and as quickly as they arrived they were as quickly put away for future use. Now Saturday was that day, the day of that future use, so off I went to the little plastic box they are kept in and I selected a base coat and highlight but no shadow, so I looked for the shadow in the other colours but to know avail, a very weird and strange turn of events, there I had on the floor in front of me was 8 bottles with their little yellow lids, 4 base coats and 4 highlights, where were my 4 yellow lidded bottles of shadow, the plot thickened and the hunt was on.

Being quite an organised person I knew that those 4 bottles of paint could not be far away, firstly I looked through and organised the modelling cupboard in the dining room, nope loads of paints but not the 4 I was looking for, it was then off to the shed to see if for some unknown reason these 4 little bottles had been banished out there and once again I returned empty handed, standing scratching my head deciding that there was only one place left that they could be, the workroom. I looked in every drawer, cupboard and storage box, I opened every part built kit and the ones I have bought since last years Scale model world yet I was still coming up empty, where could I have put these 4 bloody bottles???, yes it was the burning question even the million dollar question, where could they be??. Deciding that it was only a couple of bottles I turned to the internet and re-ordered the 4 bottles plus some green moss from the same range to paint the Whippet, now it was back to the job in hand, painting. Feeling a bit fed up and slightly demoralised however undeterred and although a large chunk of my day had been used up by trying to hunt the 4 bottles down I returned to the shed and put away the Sherman I had put out earlier to practice upon and decided that it was time to prime. Out came the Whippet and T34 and I spent the rest of the evening spraying the 2 tanks with Tamiya fine surface primer being my trusted choice. Now not being one to listen to what my Mum would call old wives tails however a lot can be said that when you have lost something it is always in the first place you look and sadly on this occasion it turned out to be very very very true, while in between visits to the shed to apply yet another coat of primer I was busy applying detail paint to a Tamiya KV, and it was while I was looking for a bottle of dark rust for my exhausts I came across a bottle of Mig olive drab shadow followed by the other 3 bottles of shadow that I had spent hours looking for in exactly the first place I had looked you just could not make it up, now before any of you think it may be a good idea to get me analysed and locked away for my own safety the 4 bottles had orange lids and not yellow, who would have thought it and believed it? Mig bottles with orange lids, I just could not believe it, and the moral of the story?, perhaps I should have looked properly in the first place.

With the weekend of painting not quite over I went back to the shed this morning and I  finally managed get some painting done but not without some issues, I glossed a KV, base coated another KV chassis yet made a mess of the turret, I added shadow to the Whippet at a second attempt after not mixing the paint properly and I managed to highlight the T34 and stopped there as I had avoided any major disasters and felt I was edging my bets ever so slightly. Painting? why does it cause me such dread and anxiety, I am not really sure, maybe it is because I over complicate things trying new and untested products or techniques on my latest projects, it could be that I find the airbrush an unpredictable tool that I have not used and practiced enough with, or trying out new paints when I should stick with a medium I am familiar and comfortable with, what I do know is that I need to change my whole approach to painting so that I feel more comfortable with it, learn to mix paint better selecting the correct air pressure understanding how to get the best out of my compressor and practice using the airbrush so I feel more comfortable with this whole painting thing, there must be a magic and simple formula to it and I need to find it over the coming months.

The Average Modeller

Moaning modellers, are we spoilt or are we just too hard to please??..

DSC_0407

I was flicking through social media the other lunchtime and specifically Facebook and was reading with not too much enthusiasm the news that Takom, or it could have been Meng or perhaps both announce the release of the Panther A family in 1/35 scale, please do not get me wrong I love a Panther it is a great looking tank, although I do prefer the G variant, I am digressing, of course it is just another model of just another tank that has been released before by someone else, now I am no real judge of the decisions made by model manufacturers as to what they should or should not release but please why do they need to recycle what has been done before when there are numerous subjects that have yet to see the light of day in plastic, and why oh why does one manufacturer announce a kit and low and behold someone else announces the same kit a week or so later, it smells of a lack of imagination from my point of view. During the same visit to the said social media platform I also noticed that Tamiya had announced a 1/35 British Archer SPG which raised a few social media eyebrows however from my point of view it is a far better choice than yet another model of yet another tank that has been released before, now I am aware that the Archer was released by Bronco a few years back however you can’t beat a new release from the big T.

I am playing devils advocate of course, when I started modelling in the early 90’s and back then when you visited the local model shop, we had no internet in those days you had very few choices to what you could see on those model shop shelves, Tamiya italeri Airfix Hasegawa and very early Dragon kits were all that you could spend your hard earned cash on and new kits were few and far between jump forward 25 years and the plethora of kits available is mind blowing in comparison we have never had it so good, so why is it when another new kit is announced we all groan with a lack of enthusiasm and excitement, we then start seeing the CAD rendered drawings being picked apart by the so called social media and forum dwelling ‘experts’, I have a theory on this we have become spoilt, spoilt by the amount of subjects being released, spoilt by the openness of kit manufacturers who are willing to share with us theses early rendered drawings and sprue shots and spoilt by our willingness to take to the internet and have a moan about yet another panzer Messerschmitt or Spitfire that will soon be hitting the model shop shelves.

Since the advent of mass internet access in the mid to late 90’s it has become quite normal to see a new kit announced and then see it being picked apart and the manufacturer criticized by forum and armchair experts as to their subject choice, we are not being made to buy what is being released, nobody is visiting your house in the middle of the night dragging you out of bed holding a gun to your head until you buy it, we all have a choice as to whether we buy this newly released kit or not. From a personal point of view when I see a new kit announced or released it either excites me or it doesn’t, I will either buy it or not, I do not see the point in criticizing it just for the sake of it, yet sadly there are those out there that do, those who just like to moan just for the sake of moaning picking new kits apart like they are some kind of rotting carcass by the modelling definition of vultures who are just waiting to do so.

Modelling in 2017 is a great place to be we are seeing kits being announced on a nearly weekly basis, and the subjects that are seeing the light of day are ones we could have only dreamed about 10/15 years ago, I can remember drooling over Accurate Armours selection of Scammel’s wishing that they would be available in plastic and low and behold this year we have seen them being released by Thunder and IBG models respectively, a definite golden age of modelling. Earlier this year Kittyhawk released the Sukhoi Fitter in 1/48 scale a kit that took quite a bit of negative press when it was released, now I will be honest it isn’t a kit that I am ever likely to build although when I saw a pair flying at RIAT in 2015 I may have been tempted however I have a huge amount of kits to build and I do not really need to add to them. There have been many negative comments littering the many internet forums about it’s alleged flaws and fit issues however I have also seen many positive comments and have seen one or two built up on the internet, I think this is a prime example of trial by internet and the way I see it is it is all opinion based. Now there is nothing wrong with voicing your opinion and after all we all like to do it however it does not help when all this opinion is not based on actual fact, I can’t say that the Kittyhawk Fitter is accurate easy to build and goes together like a dream as I do not have one and have not built it, what I do know is that there are those that are in a better position than I who have seen one, built it and these are the people who in my mind are the ones whose opinion we should be listening to and not those keyboard moaners who like nothing better than to moan, it also has a negative effect and puts off the newcomers to the hobby, there is nothing worse than seeing a kit of something you would love to build only to visit a forum to court opinion and all you see is negative comments and opinions, it’s not helpful one bit, although I believe the kitthawk Fitter is quite a complex kit and not an ideal kit for a beginner to cut there teeth on there are plenty of kits out there that are perfectly suited to this task, I personally would never reach for anything complex if I was to say change my area of modelling to say aircraft, I would love to build a wingnut wings aircraft they just look so beautiful built up and painted however I am well aware of my shortcomings and they are just to complex for my skills set for now, maybe soon but not just yet.

In this golden age of modelling with the large range of kits and accessories available to us, the huge amount of specialist tools paints and finishing products, the vast amount of specialist books and magazines, access to the internet and the many forums and meeting places to share information and research yet we still have the nerve to moan about this and moan about that like petulant spoilt children throwing a virtual tantrum every time a new kit is announced that is not to our liking. I can come to only one conclusion when I read internet threads bemoaning the fact that the next big release will be yet another non descript paper panzer and not something that we want personally and that is we have become very spoilt and very very very hard to please.

The Average Modeller.

 

 

Getting it over the finish line…

 

2006_0212Jaybees0064

Tamiya 1/35 Tiger 1 Early Version

 

The hardest part of modelling for me is getting the project across that finish line, when I find myself in the zone, which does not happen as often as I would like, I select the project which is usually inspired by a model I see in a magazine or online, do a bit of research source the kit or reach for one from the stash and start the building process, this of course has to fit into my stringent set of parameters, is it Tamiya, can it be built in a couple of weeks because if it doesn’t I am likely to lose interest, can it be painted in a single colour, if the answer to all of them are a resounding yes then on we go. Once the build starts I make my way through the instructions usually ignoring the parts that I don’t fancy plus the wheels and tracks which I tend to revisit bit by bit whilst doing the bits that I do like, it is something that works for me and helps me get those repetitive jobs done bit by bit and helps to hold my interest. There are occasions when I am building a tank when I will digress if I have trouble with the barrel or tracks or need some etched brass especially on an older kit and I will spend hours tracking replacements down on the internet when I should have really done this at the planning stage (not that I have much of a planning stage to be honest) and not when I am part of the way through, sadly I never seem to ever learn my lesson as it is a habit that I have repeated over and over again for as long as I can remember.

 

DSCF4615

Tamiya 1/48 Komatsu Bulldozer

 

Once the build is completed as far as the construction phase is concerned this is where it goes a bit awry and where the wheels can begin to fall of my project, not literally of course however they may as well as this is the hurdle where most of my projects fail, the painting stage. I have read many articles and internet posts by some of the worlds top modellers who say that the building of the kit is the bit they least enjoy and that the painting is where they get the most enjoyment, for me it is the other way round I dread the painting I don’t quite understand it to be honest, it is possibly because this is where it can go spectacularly wrong and all that time building the kit can be messed up in a couple of minutes and I do have previous. I remember building Tamiya’s older Jagdtiger kit in about 1993 and in the painting guide it said that it could be painted in a lovely dark panzer grey with what I can only describe as lime green blobs, so after having an uneventful and enjoyable build, I even cut down the side skirts to replicate damage which showed how I was developing as a modeller, plus I used some etch brass for the first time in the shape of some mesh for the engine vents on the rear deck. Feeling very happy and accomplished with the build I reached for the airbrush, a tin of Humbrol 112 tarmac (think I read about it being a good likeness for Panzer grey in a magazine) thinned it and sprayed away, can you imagine my horror as all the paint just ran off the side of the tank like I was just giving it a random wash over of water, I was gutted and the tank was put to one side in a box, all my hard work down the drain in just a few moments of madness, that may of been the last time I airbrushed with enamels, and was probably the catalyst to my dislike of painting.

 

2005_1028thisyear0018

Tamiya 1/35 M13/40

 

If my project is going to progress any further than just the building process this is the moment, the moment I start contemplating painting the damn thing. I do not know about anyone else I give my build a wash in the sink before I think about painting in some diluted screen wash, I don’t know if this does any good or not but I do it anyway, once it has been washed I pop it in my airing cupboard, (top shelf so it does not suffer from any damage due to a towel being dragged from underneath it) for a day or so until I can be sure it is dry then it is off to the shed for some primer, a bit like the bath it receives I am not sure why I do this but it is something that I have been doing as far back as I can remember. This is another instant where my project can stall, many projects are sitting in little plastic boxes primed in a lovely grey colour just waiting for me to take interest again and move it forward, I think that many of my projects stall here because at this point the airbrush needs to come out, yes I could paint them by hand and I know quite a few modellers still use this mode of painting however I am a bit of a perfectionist and I like the finish you get from using an airbrush so that is always my preferred choice and has been since I got my first ‘spray gun’ back in 1993. I have had quite a few airbrushes down the years, a badger 250-2 basic spray gun, a badger 200 which was my first proper airbrush, I then moved on to an Aztec A4709 which I just could not get on with at all, then it was Iwata time, the only time I have ever felt comfortable with using an airbrush, this of course has not been without it’s triumphs and disasters, I have ruined more paint jobs than I care to think about, badly mixed paint, too mush pressure, lack of concentration, interruptions, and most recently using the airbrush without the lid on the colour cup which enabled me to splash paint all over the place including onto the model I was painting, I have bent needles, split air hoses and sheered off the smallest of parts whilst cleaning the smallest of nozzles, airbrushes and me have a love hate relationship.

 

2004_1022Antstiger10013

Tamiya 1/35 Tiger 1 Mid Production (model by Anthony Finney)

 

Now if that is not enough to put me off painting and finishing what comes next most definitely is, once I have washed, primed, highlighted, although I am not sure why I add highlights as for most of my projects I get carried away and paint over them completely. Once the highlights are done, on goes the main base colour, normally either sand yellow dark grey brown or varying shades of green, once this is done and dry I paint all the bits that do not need to be this boring monotonous colour by hand and I have to admit it is not a part I enjoy,  using a paint brush adds more danger to my project as it is so easy to slip and mess up the base coat. If I could find a kit that needs to be the same colour all over with no wheels, tracks tow cables and tools I would be a happy man. That is if, and it is a big if the project gets this far and has not fallen at some hurdle way down the line. When and if we get this far it is time for a gloss coat, I have dabbled with several gloss coats over  the years from Johnsons Klear to Vallejo gloss varnish however when I built my Tamiya MKIV last year I used a tip from esteemed and highly respected modeller Spencer Pollard and mixed some Tamiya X22 and Mr Color levelling thinner which gave me the best finish I have ever found for decaling and weathering. Now this is definitely a hurdle I would avoid if I could, I hate decaling with a passion, I have reached this stage with many models only to come up short and drag a disaster from an odds on triumph, I admire these finished models with their perfect looking decals, luckily tanks and military vehicles have few in comparison to their flying companions, I have used all the decal setting solutions however I have yet to find one that does the decaling for you. Once the decaling is done I return to the airbrush and spray over some more of that gloss finish and the weathering can begin. Now if I have reached this stage and the project has survived the building, washing, priming, highlighting, base coating, detail painting, the glossing the decaling the glossing again the chances are that it may actual stand a good chance of being finished, now I won’t bore you all with how and with what I weather the thing with as it is always a bit hit and miss and I tend to make it up as I go along until I like what I look at and as I have only finished one kit in living memory that does not happen very often. Once I am happy with what I see I go back to the airbrush and give it a couple of coats of matt varnish, then voila it is done, I could say I then add numerous figures and put it on a base but I would be lying, it is something I really need to look at as a next step however getting projects finished is what I am working on achieving at this moment in time.

 

2009_0608Imagebitz12009etc0008

Tamiya 1/35 M113 ACAV

 

The process that starts the moment you snip off that first piece of plastic with the sidecutters is a lengthy one and is always fraught with danger and far too many opportunities for things to go wrong and the project go to the dogs. I can admit that my approach to modelling is in a way very haphazard, could do with a bit of organising and I give away far too many opportunities for things to go wrong. There is a very true statement that says practice makes perfect, I need to take time to practise and perhaps find a way that I feel is more me when it comes to finishing off projects as far too many stall at the many stages along the way for far too many reasons. Over the years that I have been modelling it has become far too easy for myself to become bogged down while trying to copy how other modellers approach the hobby, maybe what I need to do is find my own approach, work out my own ways of over coming the problems that I face whether that be in the building painting decaling or presenting my models, I certainly need to change something as I need to get more projects over that most vaulted of places the finish line.

The Average Modeller.