Well, folks, it's 1999. Sounds a little strange at the moment, not to mention all those checks that'll be dated January 1998! Be that as it may, Christmas is over and all the resulting bills...along with those ever popular tax forms...are on the way. Such is life!!
In spite of the above reality check, modelbuilding's golden age continues unabated. How unabated? Suffice to say that if it gets much better, we could drown in the largesse. Just the kit releases already scheduled for 1998..oops! 1999...will keep us busier'n a one-armed paper hanger. Throw in decal sheets, aftermarket products of all stripes, books, tools, ad infinitum and you begin to wonder how any of us will keep up. And consider that this does not include the plethora of products that'll be announced during 1999.
When it comes to gifts, most modelers would rather have yet another kit...particularly if it happens to be one of those coveted but exorbitantly priced offerings. Books likely run a close second and I imagine that any of the following publications would be welcomed with open arms by any aircraft modeler. You'll find full reviews on all four in the New Releases section, but I would suggest that any one would justify adding one more bruise to your credit card or taking the last of that Christmas cash (cash?). They are:
WW-II WAR EAGLES by Jeffrey L. Ethell & Warren M. Bodie. 225 original color photos in the European Theater. $39.95
WW-II PACIFIC WAR EAGLES by Jeffrey L. Ethell & Warren M. Bodie. 225 original color photos. $39.95
WORLD ENCYCL0PEDIA OF AERO ENGINES by Bill Gunston $39.95
Above titles available from Zenith Books, P.O. Box 1, Osceola, Wisconsin 54020-0001, 1-800-826-6600.
WARBIRDTECH SERIES VOLUME 16, U-2 DRAGON LADY by Dennis R. Jenkins. $16.95
WARBIRDTECH SERIES VOLUME 17, P-39/P-63 AIRACOBRA & KINGCOBRA by Frederick A. Johnsen. $16.95
Above titles available from Specialty Press, 11481 Kost Dam Road, North Branch, Minnesota 55056, 1-800-895-4585.
Then there's SECRETS OF EXPERT MOLD MAKING & RESIN CASTING, written and illustrated by Karl K. Juelch. Published by WINGNUT INTERNATIONAL, any modeler interested in learning to produce his own RTV mold and resin castings will gravitate to this book like a bird dog to point.
Karl Juelch has done a bang-up job. The book runs to 108 pages, is spiral bound and utilizes clear plastic covers. Very clear, thorough and logical data takes you step by step thru the various molding and casting processes. You'll find the text interspersed with large, clear drawings that eliminate any need for guesswork. Everything from the obvious to the esoteric is covered. For example, how to create the molds (of all types) is to be expected, along with descriptions of the different types of casting techniques. But what about info on building an adjustable mold leveling board? It makes the job of getting quality castings a lot easier, but how many times have you seen this covered in an article on mold making? I can't begin to list in this review the topics covered (the Table of Contents alone consumes three pages), but take it from me that you will know everything you need to know to produce quality molds and castings when you've finished reading his book.
Karl leaves nothing to chance. Mold materials, mold anatomy, essential tools and fixtures, mold design, tape bed molds, multi-part molds, core molds, how to use RTV and on and on. Same approach for the different methods of resin casting. With appropriate warnings, he also discusses casting machinery and how to build your own. This means vacuum chambers, pressure pots and pressure chamber ovens.
There's even a brief resource guide that'll help get you started. Particularly valuable is a couple of sources for non-inhibiting double-backed tape. This stuff is specifically designed to not inhibit the cure of RTV. As a result, you can use it to mount and de-mount original patterns. Not only is it easier and faster than gluing or screwing your patterns down to a mold board, no longer do you have to settle for permanent configurations.
Planning on developing resin casting skills? Then this book is worth the money. $19.95 plus $3 shipping and handling in the continental USA, $8 for the rest of North America & Europe, all other countries add $12. Checks or Money Orders only in U.S. funds. No credit cards. Order from WINGNUT INTERNATIONAL, 1065 RTE. 173W, SUITE 47, ASBURY, NJ 08802, USA.
Also available from WINGNUT INTERNATIONAL is a delightful, 1/72 scale, no surgery needed, conversion kit of the Junkers Ju-88G-10. What you get is two full length fuselage halves that are designed to replace the fuselage halves in the 1/72 AMT/Ertl Ju-88G-1/6 kit. All remaining stock kit parts and instructions are used as is. Can't get much simpler, can you?
As far as the WINGNUT parts are concerned, they're cast from off-white polyurethane resin and are just as thin as the injected plastic parts they replace. Surface detail takes the form of very delicate engraved panel lines. There's a recessed tail wheel well and engraved cockpit wall detail on the interior of both fuselage halves. The parts come packed in bubble wrap and a sturdy top flap cardboard box, accompanied by a data sheet with paragraphs on the aircraft's history, construction tips, options and finishing suggestions.
Do keep a couple of things in mind. First, since the conversion is a resin casting, CA (cyanoacrylate or super glue) will be needed for assembly. Also, as with most resin products, there are no locating pins. Given the quality of this product, that really isn't a problem. Just take your time and you'll be fine.
Bottom line? If your interest lies in WW-II German night fighters and 1/72's your scale, this one's for you. $17.95. Order from WINGNUT INTERNATIONAL at the address listed above. The same $3, $8 or $12 S&H charge listed for the Mold Making book applies to the Ju-88G-10 conversion kit as well.
For those of you who are always on the lookout for models that are unusual or different, one of the latest releases from POLAR LIGHTS should fill the bill. It's nothing if not..... different. IT is a 1/8 scale kit of the KISS Destroyer Rock Group. Each of the four artists are the focus of a separate kit, but the one I have is kit #5051, Paul Stanley.
The figure is posed in full silver-studed, bare-chested, pouty-lipped regalia, balanced on one stack-soled shoe atop a rock base. While the figure as sculpted in the kit is certainly dramatic, I have a sneaking suspicion that the kit's appeal (or lack of it) will depend on the generation you fall into. Those of us, including yours truly, who were into their 20s before KISS ever saw the light of day -and who also grew up on classic Country, Jazz, Big Band and Pop music- will probably wonder what to do with it. You who are contemporary with KISS won't be able to do without all four.
As far as the kit itself is concerned, it follows the typical POLAR LIGHTS pattern. There are 28 nicely molded light tan styrene parts, along with a rolled up full-color diorama background. Instructions are thorough and follow the same layout you're already familiar with from other POLAR LIGHTS kits. You'll also find an advertising insert for Amazing Figure Modeler magazine.
A rather interesting gimmick, for lack of a better word, is that if you buy and build all four of the KISS figures, you can place the completed figures side by side, mount one of the unrolled background sheets behind them and wind up with a 3-D replica of the KISS Destroyer Album cover.
If KISS isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty more releases coming from POLAR LIGHTS. Their latest press release lists quite a variety.
For starters, there's the Psycho House. In case you haven't kept up with the most recent movie releases, the kit replicates the victorian Bates Mansion as it appears in the remake of Psycho.
Particularly interesting is a 1/8 scale, styrene kit version of the 1/4 scale cold cast porcelain kit (see SCALEWORLD, September 1998) of Lon Chaney, jr.'s Wolfman.
If the 1/4 scale kit had you all lathered up but you couldn't -or wouldn't- justify the $199 price tag, you'll be able to satisfy your craving for a lot less money. Figure fans should consider this one a must.
Other releases that'll be coming from POLAR LIGHTS include The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Customizing Monster Kits #1 & #2, a brand new Godzilla kit based on the 1998 movie (now if they would only include a to-scale Chihuahua), Lost In Space Robot with Dr. Smith and separate kits for each of the 3 Stooges (No, you heard me right. The 3 Stooges.). Last but not least, a couple of brand new 1/24 scale funny car kits. Both are 1969 Dodge Chargers, the first being Mr. Norm's Grand-Spalding and the second being Roland Leong's "Hawaiian".
Ask modelers what they most dislike about modelbuilding and you'll frequently get one of two answers...masking and/or sanding. In the past few months, we've dealt with products that address the masking problem. But what about sanding?
It so happens that I stumbled across a little item that was mentioned in the Recon Report column of the current IPMS/USA Journal. Because it was bragged on to the extent that it was, my curiosity bump started itching to the point that I tracked one down.
The product in question is the Mini-Sander and it's manufactured by APPLIED DESIGN CO., P.O. BOX 3384, TORRANCE, CA 90510, 1-310-375-4120. This ingenious little item is essentially a plastic parallellogram with approximate dimensions of 1 1/2 " wide x 3 1/2 " long by 3/4" thick. Divided into two halves (top and bottom) with interlocking teeth on the mating faces, the combination is enveloped lengthways by a thin foam belt to provide padding.
Over that is a 1 1/2" wide strip of garnet sandpaper. Each end of the strip is notched so that it will fit into a metal clip, forming a loop. That resulting loop of sandpaper slips over the Mini-Sander, which is then tightened by nothing more than finger pressure when each half of the sander is pulled in opposite directions. The interlocking teeth guarantee that tension is maintained.
An improved version of the Mini-Sander replaces the garnet sandpaper strip with an aluminum oxide continuous sanding loop. While the change is simplicity itself, it makes an already excellent product even better. And considering how frequently any given item aimed at the hobbyist tends to be priced well into two figures, the Mini-Sander's price can easily put you in shock. $3.50 or $3.65 (counter display or bubble pack) for the original and $1 more ($4.50 or $4.65) if you prefer the improved version.
If your preference is for the larger scales, or you frequently find yourself with long seams to work down, you need to take a look at the Mini-Sander. Just keep one thing in mind. This is a product, as happens so often, that was designed for a completely different market...large radio controlled models. That it can work well for plastic modelers in many instances speaks volumes for it's versatility. With that in mind, either contact APPLIED DESIGN CO. directly or check out your local radio control airplane shop.
Believe me, it's worth the effort.