Sprue Cutters’ Union – Old Dog, New Tricks


2015 is already off to a rocking start – The Combat Workshop’s Sprue Cutters’ Union is back!

Unfamiliar? Here’s the gist, straight from Jon:

Listen up noobs, all it takes is a passion for this hobby and a blog to go along with it! All you have to do is write a post in response to this topic by the end of the month and you can be a member of the Sprue Cutters Union. Take a look at the Sprue Cutters Union page for more detail. Once you’ve written your post, drop the link in the comment section below.

Me? I like to think of it as a blogging version of a group build. One topic, multiple blogs, multiple takes.

To kick off the new year, the topic is…

What new products/techniques will you purchase/attempt this year?

I’m a big fan of pushing outside of my comfort zone, playing with new subjects, attacking new challenges, trying new products and techniques. I’ve found that being a little bit scared of a build really has a way of focusing attention, and it’s usually those scary ones that turn out best.

2014 was full of experimentation – with new masking techniques, a serious stab at jets and modern armor, and new weathering techniques.

What am I looking at for 2015?

Combining “Black Basing” with Chromatic Variation

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I’ve had good success with the black-basing technique over the past year or so, but I think there’s room to refine it further. Right now it goes black, marble coat, blending coat. I want to experiment with different marble coats – perhaps variations of greens and browns under olive drab or similar – to see what impact that has on further tonal variation. Perhaps it’s a great way to get away from using oil dot filtering. Which is great, but introduces all kinds of annoyances including extra clear coats, more lint, and so on.

Experimenting with Texture Decals

I’m pretty happy with using oils to replicate woodgrain, but I’m eager to try transparent woodgrain decals like those offered by Uschi van der Rosten and HGW. My first new build of the year, Wingnut’s epic Felixstowe F.2a flying boat, has plywood siding outside the cockpit that would be perfect for these woodgrain decals. I’m also eager to play with HGW’s fabric texture decals. Something that’s always fascinated me about clear doped linen (CDL, as the cool kids say) is it’s translucent nature. In the right light, you can see the shadows of markings applied to the topside. Oil and grease stains seem to seep into the surface in a way that I have struggled to sort out how to represent – until now. I need to play around, but fabric texture decals may be just the thing to simulate that sort of “embedded” weathering.

Building Some Great War Armor

Up until, what, late 2012, the only choices in town for 1/35 Great War armor were old, crappy Emhar kits and other old, crappy Emhar kits. Then Meng dropped the Renault FT, Takom rolled out a St. Chamond, and now we’ve got British Mark IVs, a Scheider from Hobby Boss, and more goodness on the way. This year I am bound and determined to build one.

Using EZ-Line for Cable Bundles

Cockpit and gear bay cabling has always been a challenge for me. Regular wire is so springy that it’s hard to get it to behave right. Lead wire is certainly pliable enough, but rather fragile. Thread? Forget it.

So I was over the moon when I saw how Brian over at Large Scale Planes was approaching the prominent cabling bundles in the OV-10 Bronco – with EZ-Line! It looks phenomenal and pliable enough to be routed easily. I’ll be giving it a go in a few builds this year for sure.

Check out the rest of the Sprue Cutters’ Union

The Combat Workshop

The Museum Modeler

Yet Another Plastic Modeler

Weathering Tamiya’s 1/32 F4U-1 Corsair, Pt 1


After the painting (LINK) comes the fun part – the weathering!

No Clean Bird

Marine Corsairs weren’t exactly known for their cleanliness, and “Tojo Eats Shit” has to be one of the filthiest examples I’ve yet come across.

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There are so many factors at play here. Fading. Chipping. Gun and exhaust stains. Coral dust. Oil stains. All in all, it adds up to one thing:

Tons of weathering.

Let’s get started.

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Coming out of paint, the Corsair is already pretty weathered up through a combination of multi-layer chipping (LINK) and using a black base to manage tonal variation (LINK). But there’s so much more that can be done.
Continue reading

2015 Modeling Resolutions


2015 is nearly upon us (how did that happen?!?), and looking ahead, I thought I’d throw out a few modeling resolutions for the new year. Hopefully these have more staying power than my personal resolutions, which usually fall apart around the time Girl Scout cookies make their annual appearance!

Buy only new kits (and be more judicious with those)

I’m not going to kid myself and say I’m going to stop buying kits. But I do want to knock down the stash and slow the pace at which I add to it. A quick way to do that? Stop buying existing kits and save it for the new tools. And be more picky with the new releases I spring for. Case in point – earlier this year I snagged Trumpeter’s new 1/48 A-37A Dragonfly. WHY?!? I don’t care about the -A. I want a Dragonfly, but I want the -B. Which as it happens is coming out early next year.

Of course, at the way manufacturers keep dropping amazing new kits…

Write more technique posts

I started this blog for two reasons. First, to chronicle my adventures in scale modeling…initially as a return to the hobby and now, well, I guess just as part of the ongoing journey. Second, to give back. The internet has had an enormous impact on my building and painting. So as I have tips and techniques to share, I like to do so. And those of you who stumble across this blog seem to like the technique posts, too – the Black Basing and Multi-Layer Chipping pieces are the two most-viewed posts I wrote in 2014.

So in 2015, more of that. If you have any techniques you’d like me to cover, please speak up in the comments or over on Facebook.

Make fewer false starts

Some years, it feels like I start and then abandon as many builds as I finish. I need to do better, and part of that is being more disciplined in how many kits I have on the go at a given time. In 2015 I’m planning to be a lot more strict on my “Rule of Three” – no more than three builds on the go at once, ideally with them spread out among 1/32 props, 1/48 jets and 1/35 armor to keep things varied.

Lighten up

Over the past year, I’ve been really focused – at least on my aircraft builds – with achieving good tonal variation in my paint jobs. I feel I’m at a point now where I’m getting pretty adept at overcoming tonal crush. But I can take it further still by being more aggressive with how I mix paints up front, adding in more lightness early on rather than trying to enforce it through oils. This would also free me up on the weathering front to play more with filters to further dirty things up. Stay tuned!

That’s it for me. What are your modeling resolutions for the new year?

2014 – The Year in Review


2014 is just about in the books, and so it’s time for that annual tradition – the “Year in Review” post. Looking back at 2013, it’s striking how far I’ve come in a year. Life remains hectic, but in a far more settled manner. No layoff. No shattering of routines to make way for a new kid. No major shocks, just the unrelenting pressures of a challenging-but-rewarding career and raising three young children. On whole, I have very little to complain about (though I still find ways).

In terms of modeling, I feel like 2014 was a year of both growth and frustration. Overall, I completed eight builds, just one more than last year. I’d hoped to put in a slightly better showing in that regard, but a few false starts and one build abandoned only when the decals proved to be trash definitely hampered my summer months. I feel like I rallied in the fall, however, with two builds that definitely feel like big steps forward in the quality of my building.

A few thoughts, in no particular order, and then on to the builds. Continue reading

Looking Ahead to 2015

PicMonkey Collage

As 2014 draws to a close, I’ve got three builds on the bench. There’s the Trumpeter Bf 109G-10 I’m building for The Weathering Magazine, which should be wrapping before the end of the year. And Tamiya’s 1/32 F4U-1 Birdcage Corsair, which is well into weathering and will be wrapped by mid-January at the latest. Then, last and certainly least, there’s the tiny 1/72 Trumpeter M4A1(76)W Sherman…

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It’s nowhere near as far along as the wingy things, but it’s also about the size of a Hot Wheels car, so it won’t take too long to knock out.

Whatever the case, by the end of January I’ll be looking at a wide open bench for the first time in months.

So obviously the question turns to…what to build next? Among my three main scales/genres, I’m all across the spectrum. With armor, I know exactly what I’m going to tackle. With props and jets, I’m far less settled.

1/35 Armor – Kitty Kitty Bang Bang

Armor is where my mind is made up. I’ll be taking on a double dose of Leopards – Meng’s Leopard 1A3/4 and Takom’s Leopard 1A5/C2.

The Meng will be built as your standard late Cold War, West German, NATO-camoflage-wearing Leopard. Fancied up with what looks like a great Voyager upgrade set.


The Takom kit, meanwhile, will be built as a Canadian Leopard C2. Interesting fun fact is that the Canadian C2s were a marriage of a C1 chassis and C2 turret. Usually they were painted an overall olive green, but there are instances where the green turret was placed onto a chassis still wearing the old three-tone camoflage. That’s exactly what I’ll be doing, opening up some good visual interest and diverging weathering opportunities.

Leopard C2 (1A5 turret on 1A3 chassis) IMG_6329

1/48 Jets – Quick and Dirty

2014 was the year I finally built some jets – Trumpeter’s MiG-21F-13 (LINK) and Hasegawa’s A-4F Skyhawk (LINK).

I want to build on that in 2015…but jets remain a tricky subject for me. Part of it is that I just don’t have the muscle memory the way I do for props. And part of it is dealing with those @#^#$!@! intakes.

The question isn’t whether I want to continue building jets – but how.

Part of me wants to get back to the Hobby Boss A-6E Intruder I had to set aside during the summer.

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It’s a fine kit, but other builds and the trickiness of the IP shroud-and-windscreen fit have kept me away from it. Do I really want to go back to it, or put something else on the bench first? Something simpler?

Sooner or later – before the Intruder or after it – I’m going to dive into a simpler jet. But which one? Which subject? Which manufacturer? Right now I’m leaning toward one of Eduard’s MiG-21s – lord knows I have enough of them. Or perhaps Airfix’s EE Lightning. Or Eduard’s boxing of the Hasegawa F-104G Starfighter. Or…

1/32 Props – How Ambitious?

The question with 1/32 isn’t what I want to build next, but how in the hell I’m supposed to just land on one. Right now, I’ve got three pretty awesome kits all vying for my attention after the Corsair clears the bench – Tamiya’s F4U-1A Corsair (strike while the iron’s hot), Kitty Hawk’s new OV-10D Bronco, and Wingnut Wings’ Felixstowe F.2a, which looks like a rather arduous project.


Honestly, any of them would make an awesome project. And I may choose one, or may go with something else entirely. At this point I can’t say.

What I can say is that 2015 is looking to be an awesome year for building.

What do you have on deck for the coming year?


Should Tamiya Do a 1/32 Bf 109G?

Produktion von Messerschmitt Me 109

I know I’ve said in the past that Tamiya should not waste its time kitting a 1/32 Messerschmitt Bf 109. Maybe not on this blog, but certainly in various forums. Something along the lines of “there are already so many 109s, price, blah blah”.

Well you know what? I take it back. The door is wide open for a definitive Bf 109. At least among the later variants. By all accounts the Cyber Hobby Emils are rather the bee’s knees.

Let’s explore why… Continue reading