Science vs. Magic


Way back in 2007, I attended my first CES out in Las Vegas. Five (almost six) years on, most of the event is pretty hazy, but two things have stuck with me.

The first was the entire, massive show being completely overshadowed by Apple’s big reveal of the iPhone.

The other was a panel discussion I attended. I can’t recall the exact topic, but one of the panelists introduced his concept of “science versus magic”.

Science, he said, was logical, predictable, and repeatable. It had rules. In terms of technology and user interfaces, he referenced the iPod. Scroll the wheel one way, and it navigates down. Scroll the other way, and you go up. Simple. Logical. Repeatable.

Magic, on the other hand, was something not completely understood, something not predictable. He referenced Microsoft products. The way you stumble onto a fix to your problem with no idea how you got there or how to get back. The way that Word will just randomly reformat something one time, but not the next time.

This got me thinking – there’s a lot of magic in this hobby.

Here’s an example.

Recently, I was getting ready to spray some Alclad. Unhappy with the way my Tamiya X-1 Gloss Black base came out, I resprayed with some Tamiya TS-14 spray lacquer decanted from the rattlecan. It went down flawlessly, and turned mirror-smooth with a few swipes of micromesh.

Awesome! I’d found my new Alclad base!

Last night, I pulled out the TS-14 again. Decanted it again. Sprayed it again. And got a nasty, grainy finish. Same paint. Same airbrush. Same kit. Weather conditions more or less identical. Totally different result.

It struck me, as I stared at that finish in horror, that most of my tools and materials experiments are me seeking science in modeling. Predictable, repeatable results.

Something to think on…

Review: 1/48 Hobby Boss Fleet Air Arm Hellcat Mk.II

The Grumman F6F Hellcat was one of the most successful aircraft of World War II by pretty much any measure. By itself, the Hellcat boasted a staggering 19-to-1 kill ratio and created 305 aces on the way to recording 5,163 kills. But, let’s be honest, it’s also something of a bland design, and I think that’s why it often gets lost amid the sexier lines of the Mustang, Spitfire and Corsair, the sheer brutality of the Thunderbolt, and even the scrapiness of the P-40 Warhawk.

In preparing for this review, I did a brief census of the Hellcat’s representation in 1/48 scale, and was somewhat surprised to find kits from Arii, Eduard, Hasegawa, Hobby Boss, Lindberg and Revell. As with the real deal, the 1/48 Hellcat is a lot more prolific than common perception suggests.

Hobby Boss, like Eduard, has released several different boxings of the boxy fighter to cover different variants and markings. The latest of which is this Hellcat Mk.II serving with the British Fleet Air Arm. How does it stack up? Let’s find out.

Read the review over at Scale Plastic & Rail! And while you’re at it, check out the SPAR Forums!

Review: 1/48 Hobby Boss F8F-1B Bearcat

Perhaps the single best piston-engined fighter ever built, the Grumman F8F Bearcat was a creation caught between two worlds, but belonging to neither. While it technically entered service in 1945, it never saw active duty in World War II, and soon found itself squeezed out of usefulness by the jet age.

Despite its short and relatively uneventful career, the Bearcat remains a remarkably popular aircraft. My theory is because it was the last of its kind. That and the fact that it bears a family resemblance to the Wildcat and Hellcat with the exception that it’s actually attractive.

The enduring popularity of the Bearcat has seen it boxed several times, from the archaic Hawk/Testors kit to the more recent Hobbycraft, as well as the big 1/32 line released by Trumpeter a few years back.

Now, Hobby Boss has entered the ring with a 1/48 kit that one can only assume draws heavily on its 1/32 Trumpeter cousin. Is it any good? Let’s find out.


Interview: Returning to Modeling

Last week I was interviewed by Gerald Voigt – aka Hawkeye – of The Plastic Scale Modeling Hour about the experience of returning to modeling after an extended absence from the hobby. Have a listen below if you’re interested in hearing my awkward ramblings, and be sure to check out Hawkeye’s Squawkbox in the sidebar while you’re at it. Really solid blog with lots of excellent tips and insights!

The Plastic Scale Modeling Hour – Ep. 36

Guest Review: PropMaster Prop Jig

I’m thrilled to introduce our first guest post here on Doogs’ Models – Rick Kranias’ review of UMM-USA’s wickedly helpful PropMaster jig! Enjoy –Doogs

During the “stocking up my stash” directive last year I purchased MDC’s Hawker Typhoon.  It’s a beautiful resin kit and I look forward to build one of my favorite WWII ground pounders in 1:32.  As I studied the instructions I noticed the props (you get both a 3 and 4 bladed option) need some type of jig to align the angle or pitch of prop blades.

I called MDC and they have no jig available.  I was convinced this would be a challenge but doable.

As I acquired additional after market props for my 190’s and 109’s I realized prop alignment is now a typical building requirement for these resin upgrades.  Further, most of my 1:32 kits require prop blades to be individually inserted/glued into the spinner. Again, I totally felt comfortable with my skill-sets, “yeah, I can do this.”  However, deep down inside a little angst was brewing on making nice aligned props without a jig.  I had actually sketched a design to make my own prop jig using balsa wood sheet and 1/8” wooden dows.

Enter the UMM (Unique Master Models) -USA PropMaster.  While mining the UMM-USA site for lead wire I tripped over this prop alignment life line and it could not appeared at a better time. Continue reading

What to take to ASMS ’12?

The annual Austin Scale Modelers’ Society contest is less than a month away – on October 6th – and I’m working feverishly to get a current, under-the-radar build finished in time to grace the contest tables. But beyond that…what to take?

One thing I’ve learned from my last two contests is…the more the merrier. But it really comes down to a compromise…I only have so much space in the car to safely transport completed builds, and I have to keep some room open for the haul I’ll undoubtedly be carting back from the vendor tables!

Here are the options on the table:

1/48 Tamiya P-51D Mustang – “Petie 2nd”

For some reason I still can’t explain, I didn’t take the blue-nose to last year’s show – or to ModelFiesta – though I still feel it’s probably one of my stronger builds. But…competition in 1/48 aircraft is fierce, and this is one more to pack.

1/48 Tamiya P-47D Thunderbolt – “Magic Carpet”

“Magic Carpet” took home 1st place among 1/48 Allied Props at ModelFiesta in February. Will it make a run at a repeat performance?

1/48 Revell PV-1 Ventura

The Peevee is almost a lock, since it’s the only thing I have that would qualify for the multi-engine category.

1/48 Tamiya Dewoitine D.520

Very proud of the paint and weathering on this one, and yeah, I’m taking it.

1/48 Tamiya P-51B Mustang – “The Hun Hunter ~ Texas”

See the D.520 comments above. Plus…you just know Texas in the name will be a crowd-pleaser, even if it doesn’t win squat.

1/32 Pacific Coast Models Fiat G.55 Centauro

I’m torn on this one. My (in my opinion better) Spitfire Mk.VIII was shut out in the 1/32 category last year, and this one has a few flaws that could really ding it (the two-part gear doors…ugh). But the camo is so striking, and it’s a limited run kit and subject you just don’t see very often. Perhaps…

1/35 AFV Club Achilles IIc 17-pdr SPG

I don’t have much in the way of armor to trot out this year, but the Achilles did take 3rd in open-top armor at ModelFiesta and probably deserves a shot to repeat, especially considering last year there weren’t even three entries to judge between.

1/35 Dragon T-34/85

I like this one, but it’s basic. And the spare track links are a bit too…rusty. Perhaps I can try to tone them down a bit before the big show…but solid-color WWII tanks always make for a crowded category.

Sound off in the comments! What should stay and what should go?


How To: Get Started (or Restarted) Building Models

If there’s one common trait I’ve noticed among many modelers, it’s that most of us built models as kids, then drifted away to go about the business of growing up and starting a life, a career, a family. Years later, something brings us back. Maybe it’s seeing the latest FineScale Modeler on the magazine rack, the yearning to do something with your hands, or just the old itch returning. Or maybe you’re just picking it up for the first time.

Either way, ramping up in this hobby can be a daunting thing. The internet and the global marketplace have opened up a veritable sea of tools, paints, and options. And don’t even get me started on the wondrous variety of kits, aftermarket accessories, and knowledge to be had. In many ways, the hobby is truly in a golden age right now, but if you’re just dipping your toe (back) into the water, it can all be a little bit overwhelming.

With this how-to, it’s my aim to cut through to the heart of the matter – what do you need to accumulate to give it a go? Continue reading