Gluing Shit Together 101

3443120112_a057975df2When I came back to modeling in 2010, I initially had a lot of questions about glue. After all, my last experience had been building models as a kid, and the glue situation was pretty much as follows:

  • Testors tube cement, which was gooey and didn’t work very well
  • Testors liquid cement, which just didn’t work very well
  • Superglue with accelerator, which worked really well but fogged the hell out of everything
  • White glue, which was for wusses

My questioning period lasted about two weeks, until I discovered the awesome power of modern solvents. But across various forums and groups, I still see glue questions pop up all the time. So here’s a quick primer.

Do you want to glue plastic to plastic?

Use a liquid cement, also known as solvent cement, liquid welder, or other variations and combinations of these words.

This stuff works by literally melting plastic, so that it fuses together and cures as a single piece. It is stunningly effective, and if you choose the right welder and have a good join to work with, the entire process from application to cured takes maybe a minute, tops. Continue reading

A Rocky Year…

Man. Somehow, it’s already late August. 2015 is just about two-thirds of the way done. And what do I have to show for it so far?

Two completed builds. Just two. And one of them was mostly done in 2014…

Granted. I’m rather happy with both..but still…two stinkin’ completions is pretty weak.

WTF Happened?

So. What’s happened to this year? Continue reading

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

The Combat Workshop asks an interesting question this month:

do you bother with details that won’t necessarily be seen on the finished model?

The short answer? No.

The longer answer? Usually not. It really depends on what “won’t necessarily be seen” means.

Will it be completely and totally invisible even with one of those colonoscopy cameras?

Like, say, the actual bodies of jet engines? Then hell no, I won’t detail it. I’m sorry, but “I know it’s there” is just an excuse for some weird OCD thing. The engine will be encased in plastic. It will never be seen. Why the hell would you waste paint on that? Hell, when it comes to something like that, I assemble only the bare minimum needed structurally and call it a day.

“Detailing” on Trumpeter’s big A-6E engines

Will it be invisible unless a colonoscopy camera is used?

If something might be visible, but only through some weird, unnatural means, fuck it. Not happening. Case in point – the top runs of tracks on tanks with prominent side skirts. If we’re talking rubber bands, fine. But if we’re talking some of those meticulous maddening indy link getups, why would I bother assembling another three hundred tiny pieces that will never be seen and convey zero benefit?

But what about the top run that’s so lazy!?!?



Will it just be hard to see?

There are a lot of areas on models that might be hard to see but are still visible from various angles. On aircraft, areas like landing gear bays and bomb bays come to mind.

These I will detail as much as makes sense. Take the A-6 Intruder or the F-16 Viper. Their main gear bays are rather more visible “on the ground”, whereas something like the F-5B Freedom Fighter I’m working on now has its bays stuck up in the wings where you basically have to pick the damn thing up to inspect them.

For the former, I will make modest additions with wire and such to busy the place up. For the later, painting and weathering suffice.

The same holds for a lot of cockpit detail. On subjects with huge cockpit apertures – like the A-6 Intruder or P-47 Thunderbolt, I will go to town with detail. But when you’re looking at something like an F4F Wildcat, why bother? Focus on the seat, instrument panel and armored  bulkhead and call it a day.

The only real exception? Wingnut Wings kits. A lot of Great War aircraft have tiny little cockpit apertures, but the WNW kits are so stuffed with detail that it’s hard to draw a line. Though generally anything behind the seat or in front of the instrument panel gets half-assed treatment.

On Engines

Engines – particularly radial engines – may seem to be an exception here, since I do tend to go to lengths to make them look decent.

Exhibit A: Trumpeter P-47

Exhibit B: Hasegawa Ki-84

Exhibit C: Tamiya F4U-1 Corsair

But the thing with radials is that I only pay any real attention to the parts that will be visible – the crankcase, ignition ring and wiring and the forward faces of the cylinders. Unless I’m going to be displaying the engine opened up, I don’t bother with the rest aside from just being consistent with the paint and washes.

Because…why bother? Once the R-2800 is shoved into a cowl, all you’ll see is the front facing portions. So why get bent out of shape about detailing the tops of the cylinders, or all the exhaust snakework behind the cylinders?

So..back to the short answer…no…if it can’t be seen I don’t bother detailing it.

How about you?

Thoughts on Tamiya’s New 1/32 Mosquito FB.VI

Well, it’s official…ish. Recently, Brett Green spilled the beans all over the interwebs. Tamiya’s next 1/32 kit will be the De Havilland Mosquito FB.VI.


Speculation regarding Tamiya’s next subject has been raging since the Corsair was announced two years ago. I heard it on “good authority” and “on the DL” from those with “an inside line” that the next kit would definitely be a Bf 109. Or a Hawker Hurricane. Or a P-40B Tomahawk. All of them, as it turned out, were wrong.

And so was I, with my fervent hope prediction of a 1/32 P-47 Thunderbolt.

Last time around, the months leading up to the announcement saw speculation solidify into rumors of a Corsair. This time around, the cat was let out of the bag much earlier when pictures of Tamiya’s engineers going over a Mossie were posted to Facebook. Even so, the confirmation still came as a mild surprise – probably given the impending release of HK’s Mosquito B.IV.


So…the Mosquito FB.VI.

We’re still a few weeks away from seeing the kit in all its glory at Shizuoka Hobby Show, but a few CAD illustrations have found their way online already. Between those and some educated guesses, I figured I’d put together a few thoughts on the Mossie and, yes, start the speculation of the next big Tamiya release!

Continue reading

Trumpeter 1/48 Su-9 Fishpot Quick Review


With the 1/48 Sukhoi Su-9 Fishpot, Trumpeter adds to the growing list of new-tool Soviet aircraft that have been ignored for too long.

The Su-9 was a heavy, all-weather interceptor designed to counter U.S. and NATO bombers. The Fishpot bears a strong resemblance to the MiG-21 Fishbed, but the two should not be confused – the Su-9 is far larger.

Trumpeter’s Su-9 is a relatively simple kit, comprising just over 110 parts and straightforward engineering that recalls their earlier MiG-21F-13.

AH-1Z (1 of 2)

Detail is restrained, perhaps too restrained. Panel lines and hatches are refined, with some minor rivet detail in places, although the prominent rivet lines around the nose are absent. Cockpit detail is a bit soft and not up to the standards seen with other recent Trumpeter releases like the A-37 Dragonfly. Aftermarket KM-3 ejection seats and AA-1 Alkali missiles are already available to enhance the kit’s detail, and cockpits, wheels and other items should be coming soon.

The kit decals are spartan, but so are the schemes they represent – both bare metal with red stars and numbers.

Fit is extremely good. Square plugs locate the shock cone and help align the fuselage. The wings and stabilators are push fit and should present no problems. The tail wobbles a bit, but should align nicely once glue is applied.

AH-1Z (2 of 2)

Overall, the Trumpeter Su-9 should be an easy, stress-free build. What it lacks in some detail it makes up for in simple, no-fuss engineering.

Lighten Up, Francis

Recently, I committed the apparently way over-the-line act of teasing someone who really, really cared quite a bit about the accuracy of a certain upcoming kit. By posting this…


Well, it kicked off a good old internet argument with lots of huffing and puffing and butthurt.

Then, I went and committed an even bigger transgression. I suggested that, when you step back and look at it, this hobby is ridiculous.

My oldest dog, Sam, when he identifies something to bark at, stands up all straight and the fur on his back poofs up. That’s pretty much exactly the reaction I got.

“Harumph! Have you ever made a living from this hobby? Well I have…”

“I’ll have you know, this hobby has brought me forty years of enjoyment, it’s not ridiculous”


Here’s my take. I love this hobby. I derive a great deal of satisfaction from it. It’s a fantastic decompression tool, it lets me work with my hands, geek out about history, gives my mind something to spin on, and in general keeps me sane.

But it’s still ridiculous. Just like most hobbies. We glue pieces of plastic together, then slather them with pigment suspended in some sort of chemical brew you probably shouldn’t drink. When we’re done, we take a bunch of pictures of them to share with other people doing the same thing. Sometimes, we convene in a location and pay money to put our pigment-slathered plastic assemblages on a table with other plastic assemblages, or just to look at other people’s plastic assemblages. Entire companies make money by making different pieces of plastic, or putting together articles about how to put the pieces of plastic together.

It is ridiculous. It is frivolous. It is silly. And there is nothing wrong with admitting that.

If you can’t step back and look at this hobby and have a chuckle about that, odds are you’re probably not the kind of modeler I want to associate with.

Learning to Let Go


I used to get pretty worked up about the way people would dismissively label different “types” within this hobby. Your rivet counters or box-shakers or builders vs. assemblers or paint nazis or whatever.

But over time, I realized two things.

First, all (or at least most) of us are all of these things and none of these things and often skate somewhere in between. I’m no rivet counter, but I will get all bent out of shape when certain details are completely flubbed – like the tread pattern on HK’s B-25 tires or the lack of clear seeker heads for the Hellfires in Kitty Hawk’s AH-1Z Viper. I’m no paint nazi – but I will obsess about my paint mix for a certain color until I get it where I want it. I don’t like scratchbuilding, but I don’t know if I’ve built a single aircraft kit without modifying something.

Second, the people who take these to absolutes or use them to disparage others who aren’t like them generally turn out to be assholes. Or at least on the asshole spectrum. Just because somebody doesn’t place as high an importance on accuracy as you do doesn’t mean they don’t care about it at all. Just because somebody doesn’t want to scratchbuild their way out of a shitty old Revell kit doesn’t make them an assembler. Just because somebody really, really cares about getting RLM 02 right doesn’t mean they give two flicks about getting a perfect match for Dark Sea Blue or CARC Green.

These two realizations led me to a third.

The Problem is People Who Take This Too Seriously


Honestly, this is probably a larger societal problem, but let’s not go there, shall we?

The thing is, when you take something so seriously that you can’t laugh about it, you quickly enter righteousness territory. Because you’re right, damnit, and that other guy is just a dipshit because he won’t realize how right you are.

There are some things that are worth being righteous about. Modeling is not one of them. People aren’t being crucified in Syria because they picked the wrong olive drab or didn’t correct the cowl bulges on their Bf 109G-6.

So the next time you see someone getting all high and might about some aspect of modeling, laugh at them, and encourage them to laugh at themselves as well. Because ultimately, as ridiculous as modeling is, getting all bent out of shape about what someone else thinks about modeling is even moreso.

Happy Place


Modeling is supposed to be a hobby, right? A way to have some fun and relax. But let’s face it, there’s a whole spectrum of fun and relaxing. At one end, there’s swearing horrible seams in prominent-but-hard-to-reach places, swearing at terrible decals, swearing at that tiny piece that just pinged out of your tweezers, bound for parts unknown, swearing at bad instructions, and so on. At the other end is that sort of Platonic ideal of the perfect build. The one that is pure stress relief.

For this month’s Sprue Cutters’ Union topic, The Combat Workshop wants to know:

What subject relaxes you the most?

I find this kind of question maddening. It’s like trying to pare down your favorite movie. I mean, how do you pick between Aliens or Ghostbusters? Citizen Kane or Ben-Hur? I have a ton of movies that I love, often for different reasons. Picking a single favorite just isn’t happening.

Instead of giving a single, straight answer, I’m going to give two.


In terms of subject, I think the answer is fairly obvious.

World War II single-engine aircraft.

Here’s the thing. When it comes to WWII aircraft, I have the beats of the build down cold.

With jets or helicopters or tanks, I don’t. I feel like there’s a lot more that has to be taken into account during the build. Intakes! Tracks! There’s also a lot more that has to be taken into account after you come out of main painting. With jets, it’s the amount of stores slung off the wings. With tanks, it’s when and how to mount all the damn tools, how to deal with clear parts, when and how to weather. And with helicopters, you’ve not only got weapons, but the rotors.

All of these slow me up and stress me out – and it’s little wonder that the two modern jets I’ve been able to finish didn’t force me to deal overmuch with intakes.

So subject-wise, definitely WWII props.

Build Experience

I count the build experience as a whole different thing entirely. My ideal, stress-free build is one that doesn’t fight me and that was obviously engineered with care and passion. One that goes together and doesn’t force me to “improve” it or fight seams-a-million.

For me, the build is a means to an end. My love is in bringing assemblages of plastic to life through painting and weathering. The most stress-free builds get me to that point and beyond without tripping me up with lazy bullshit.

For the most stress-free builds, I just have to go with Tamiya’s 1/32 props and pretty much anything Wingnut Wings puts in a box. But I try not to build them too often, lest I become spoiled and unable to build anything else!

What about you? What’s your idea of a stress-free build?