Ever wonder why modelbuilders don't get any respect...except from other modelbuilders? Think I'm a little off the beam? Give it some thought.
For starters, how many of you either sneak kits, references and other supplies into the house...or at least make sure your significant other doesn't know how much money you're spending? That's bad enough, but even worse are family members who aren't even interested in looking at your creations. Or refer to them as toys to their friends who visit ...and you're standing in plain sight at the time!
All of the above multiplies manyfold if you build models professionally. Even having a family member who respects and encourages your modelbuilding, as either a hobby or business, doesn't stop the insults and total lack of understanding.
Case in point, years ago an acquaintance of my mother's asked what kind of work I did. When told I was a modelbuilder, the reaction was "Oh. Well, my son used to do that.... when he was a little boy."
Modelbuilding, as we all know, allows the acquisition of practical skills in many disciplines. Engineering, design analysis, mathmatics, research, history, chemistry. In many cases it serves as a steppingstone to a career path. I could go on, but here I'm preaching to the choir.
So what can we do about the lack of respect and not being taken seriously? We have two choices. Either grow a skin, keep building models and try to educate people whenever the opportunity arises...or quit building. I don't plan on quitting. What about you?
First a correction. Thanks are due to Jim, whose eagle eye noticed that I erroneously listed the AMT/Ertl kit of Anakin's Podracer as 1/48 scale instead of the correct 1/32.
Kudos to REVELL-MONOGRAM. In case you're wondering what kind of response you'd get if you had to order a replacement part for one that you lost or boogered, wonder no more. I was working on their 1/48 SB2C-4 Helldiver kit and managed to lose a few of the photoetch seatbelt parts. Normally I wouldn't worry about it, but this kit was being built for a client. A quick phone call to their hotline number (800-833-3570) brought a promise to send out a replacement fret right away. They weren't kidding!
I called them on the 23rd of June and on the 29th of June a replacement fret arrived, properly reinforced with stiff card and packed in a box to prevent damage. That's FIVE DAYS from request to receipt...and with a weekend in the middle. You can't ask for better than that.
Phantom Phanatics, particularly devotees of 1/32 scale, will be overjoyed at one of the latest offerings from REVELL-MONOGRAM, namely the F-4E. Carrying a relatively paltry price of $36.25, this is an excellent effort.
Listed as skill level 3, all you have to do is open the large box to see how accurate the rating is. For starters you're confronted with four bags of parts, including a separate one for the clear components. Decals are lying loose in the bottom of the box, but since the 16-page, 61-step instruction booklet is the only other loose item in the box, no harm is done.
So what do you get for your money? And how does it compare to the original 1/32 REVELL kit of the F-4J that was released in 1973? To answer the second question, there is no comparison. While the 1973 kit was accurate...at least externally...it took a tremendous amount of work in the cockpit area. Not so here. Surface detail is also to current standards.
As for the first question, you get everything you'd expect and more. All parts, except for the clear components, are molded in a medium gray styrene. Molding quality is excellent. I haven't even been able to find any ejector pin marks on finished surfaces. Considering the number of parts in this kit, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few...but I've yet to run across them. The two aft fuselage halves (the break point is roughly even with the back of the cockpit) have their own bag. Surface detail is recessed and lightly done. One thing that is immediately apparent will have most of us breathing a sigh of relief. Pitot tubes that mount on the vertical fin are molded separately, so no longer do we have to worry about breaking the tubes while building the model! There's also a couple of recesses designed to accept clear moldings for the fin leading edge lights.
The second bag contains the forward fuselage, wings, cockpit components, missles and more. Interestingly, you also get two sets of instrument panels. While the instructions don't tell you, it's a safe guess that the alternate set are for a different Phantom variant.
Moving on to the third bag, you'll find the underwing tanks, both styles of centerline tanks, engine inserts for both intakes and exhausts (no longer will you be able to look thru the intake and see out the tailpipe) and all the myriad bits and pieces that are needed to finish out this beast. You're even given the choice of regular or weighted tires/wheels. Based on the parts numbers in the instructions, there's somewhere in the vicinity of 250 parts in this kit. And that includes a delightful 11-piece pilot's boarding ladder. To say that this critter will keep you busy for awhile is an understatement.
As I indicated earlier, all clear parts have their own bag. Molding is crisp with no flash other than the mold gates and clarity will not be a problem. Designed as a multi-part canopy, you'll have no problem finishing your Phantom with canopies open. Considering the level of kit-provided cockpit detail, along with the potential for super-detailing, why would you want to button it up?
Instructions are the typical drawings only style, but you will find brief notes as needed to clarify parts installation. Four pages are devoted to camouflage patterns and placement of stencils.
The ProModeler decal sheet is gorgeous. Markings give you a choice of two aircraft, one belonging to the 131st TFW, 110th TFS of the Missouri Air National Guard. This particular aircraft made two kills in Viet Nam (red stars are still on the splitter plate) and carries the legend "30 Years Of Phabulous Phantoms" on the fuselage. It also mounts a Sharkmouth. Your other markings option is an aircraft of the 108th TFW, 141st TFS, New Jersey Air National Guard. A Tigerhead is carried on either side of the nose. Among the markings that apply to both aircraft are decals for the lightstrips that you see on either side to the vertical tail.
1/32 Phantom Phreaks, your kit has arrived!
AMT/Ertl has recently released another Star Trek kit. This one is part of their ProShop line , a lighted kit of the U.S.S. Yamaguchi.
All parts are molded in clear, including the display base. The kit is essentially a clear version of their earlier Enterprise-C with some detail differences. Whether or not all the changes were made to reflect those differences are open to interpretation. I'd suggest that you do a little surfing among the science fiction sites for the nitty gritty details.
At any rate, everything is contained within three bags except for the decals and instructions, which are left loose in the box. Instructions, for the most part, spend more time on how to wire the model than how to build it. Not surprising really since anyone with a few kits under their belt will encounter few construction problems. They do give you a good three-view as a guide to color scheme and markings.
Lighting components are packed inside the battery box which, in turn, is slipped inside a white card box and the whole thing tossed into the kit box. By the way, if you're expecting the lighting system to utilize fiber optics, you need to change your expectations. This time around, AMT/Ertl used small light bulbs that are very similar to grain-of-wheat that used to be so popular. And considering the rectangular configuration of the ships windows, opting against fiber optics may have been a wise decision.
The kit's designed to be wired, built and painted in it's entirety. At that point, you are instructed to scrape the paint off areas where you wish the light to shine through. If it sounds tedious, it is. But done properly, it's also effective.
And if for some reason you don't want to add a Yamaguchi to your collection, the decal sheet provides alternate markings for the U.S.S. Excalibur. Priced at $35.50.
Now available from POLAR LIGHTS is a re-issue of The Creature From The Black Lagoon. Yep, it is the old AURORA kit that figure modelers fondly remember. Even more interesting is the fact that it was produced from the original molds that are now in the possession of REVELL-MONOGRAM.
REVELL-MONOGRAM owns the molds and CineModel, Inc. owns the AURORA logo. POLAR LIGHTS was licensed by Universal Studios to market the kit. Thanks to that kind of co-operation, we are now blessed with The Creature From The Black Lagoon in the original Aurora-style long box.
All 29 parts are molded in a dark green styrene. For the most part they're clean and crisp, though there is a small amount of flash. Considering that these molds go back some thirty-odd years, that's neither surprising or objectionable. What's really worth noting is that fit of the parts is quite good, even when compared to today's standards. Your need for putty will be minimal. Instructions are in the familiar Aurora style of the 1960s. The kit itself is a journey back in time to the days when we didn't pick models apart six months before they were released. Instead, we bought'em when they appeared on the shelves, built'em and had a barrel of fun in the process..
If you've had a yen to add The Creature From The Black Lagoon to your collection, now's your chance. And for only $25.99.
Besides The Creature, POLAR LIGHTS has released three more kits, two of'em being Aurora repops. And if you build monster or horror scenes, the repops are exactly what you've been looking for.
It's one thing to build a fantasy or horror kit that contains the primary creature. But your scene isn't complete without appropriate accessories to make it complete. That's where the Customizing Monster Kits come in. Yes, there are two of them and scaled to match the 1/8 scale monster kits.
The first kit features The Skull, Lizard and Rat. You'll recognize the Lizard because he's straight out of The Creature kit. Beyond that, you get a skull with three snakes twined thru the eye socket, a couple of bats, two more skulls, a pair of large tombstones, half a dozen damaged grave markers, one giant spider, two small spiders, four rats, assorted bones and more. Instructions are minimal but that's as it should be. There's very little assembly required and the key to this kit is how you use the parts on other projects.
Our second Customizing Monster Kit is titled The Vulture & Mad Dog. The title character is a large, hulking vulture that's ideal for posing on the limb of a big tree. Mad Dog is posed in a snarling,threatening, slinking postion. You also get another pair of bats, a couple of more rats and a screaming skull with a movable jaw. Just the thing for those Night Of The Living Dead dioramas! Because both the vulture and mad dog are legitimate, multi-part kits, the instructions go into some depth.
Combine the two kits with imagination and creativity and the possibilities are endless. And the prices, at $12.99 each, aren't bad either.Some of you will recall that, last year, I raved over a georgous 1/4 scale cold cast porcelain casting of The Wolfman as portrayed by Lon Chaney, Jr. in the 1941 film of the same name. Simply put, that kit was so good that I described it as the gold standard in casting quality that all resin manufacturers should aspire to. Of course, that level of quality also carried a quality price...$199.00 including shipping.
If you've been salivating over the 1/4 scale Wolfman but won't...or can't...pony up that kind of money, you now have an alternative. POLAR LIGHTS has pantographed the casting down to half size, which makes it 1/8 scale, and produced it as a styrene kit.
Aside from the smaller size, the only difference between the styrene kit and the resin casting are the greater number of parts...the styrene kit has 36...and the fact that you'll have seams to eliminate. This is not to say that the parts don't fit well. They do. It's just a fact of life that, with very rare exceptions, anytime you join two styrene parts you'll have to spend a little time on the seams to make them invisible.Instructions are very thorough and yet maintain the nostalgic Aurora style. Painting suggestions are excellent, though if you can track down a copy of the movie you might want to make a few adjustments. It depends on your own analysis of colors on a black and white film.
At a price of $20.99, it's a great way to add a replica of Lon Chaney's Wolfman to your showcase. And just in case building the styrene kit makes you start thinking seriously about maybe acquiring one of the cold cast porcelain kits, there's a color insert in the box with full pricing and orderinginformation...along with a convenient order form.
Whenever the subject of lighting models comes up, it's always a question of how to do it. Modelers have tried almost everything short of a lighted candle. Miniature flourescent tubes, grain-of-wheat bulbs, Lightsheets and the ever popular fiber optics. While most of these approaches have utilized plug-in low voltage transformers or battery packs for power, some of us have tried methods that would make the electric chair look tame!
Well, now there's another technique and it's a dandy. Electroluminescence from LIGHT WORKS USA . If you just said "Electro..what?", think cold light. Essentially you're sandwiching a layer of phosphor between two conductive layers. Apply AC voltage and the phosphor glows. Color and intensity depends on the specific phosphor.
Bottom line is that, modelwise, EL (electroluminescence) is ideally suited for neon style signs you see on buildings and the exotic lighting requirements of science fiction models. It's even possible to make lighted instrument panels for large scale aircraft and cars, illuminated titles for dioramas and vignettes and more. The only limit is your imagination.
Until LIGHT WORKS USA came along, it would've been one thing to know about EL and quite another to find a source for it. No longer.
They offer an extensive line of readymade EL signs, generally aimed at the model railroader. However, you can also order the lamps (the name is a misnomer when you consider that it takes the form of a flat sheet that's barely thicker than a piece of paper), overlays and power supplies separately. Thus you can use EL anywhere you see fit.
If you've never worked with EL (own a Timex Indiglo watch and you've seen it), a great place to start is by ordering the LIGHT WORKS USA Electroluminescence Experimenters Kit. You get a large, white lamp from which you can create up to six EL lamps, power supply, a selection of color overlays and full instructions. The only other thing you'll need is a pair of AAA batteries and you're off to the races. It'll set you back $22.95 plus $3.75 shipping, a most reasonable price. Order from Miller Engineering, P.O. Box 282, New Canaan, CT 06840. Their phone number is 203-595-0619.
Yet another new book is available from SPECIALTY PRESS, 11605 Kost Dam Road, North Branch, Minnesota 55056 (ph. 800-895-4585). You'll find a full review in the New Releases section. It is:
WARBIRD TECH SERIES, VOL. 22, DOUGLAS A-26 INVADER by Frederick A. Johnsen.
Several new catalogs of varying degrees of interest have put in an appearance. First up is the 1999/2000 catalog of card models from PAPER MODELS INTERNATIONAL , phone number 503-646-4289.
If you have any interest at all in card modeling, you'll find this catalog fascinating. Subjects run the gamut, all the way from aircraft, ships and buildings to the truly exotic. A 35 inch long blue whale for example.
The 1999/2000 25th Anniversary catalog is available from MODEL EXPO, phone 800-233-3876. At 160 pages it's a book in itself and is crammed with a wealth of wood ship kits, fittings, tools and more. Plastic modelers need to check this catalog out as well because of the several lines of plastic ship and aircraft kits they carry. And let's not overlook their line of Bluewater Navy 1/350 resin ship kits. I could go on but why? Just get the catalog and drool over it yourself.
Do you frequently find a way to adapt tools and equipment never intended for modelbuilding to modelbuilding? Then these next three catalogs, which are intended for woodworkers, are right up your alley.
KLINGSPOR'S SANDING CATALOGUE, 800-228-0000, focuses on -you guessed it- sandpaper. And any kind of accessory you can imagine that goes with it.
LEICHTUNG WORKSHOPS, 800-321-6840, has a 64-page catalog that covers all kinds of products for your workshop. A surprising number can be directly applicable to modelbuilding. As an example, several years ago I did an article for Scale Modeler on how to build a rollaround paint rack. In order to keep the paint in place I countersunk recesses for each bottle of paint...something on the order of 562 were needed. So that each recess would have a flat bottom, Forstner Bits of two different diameters were needed. LEICHTUNG WORKSHOPS had them both at very reasonable prices.
WOODWORKER'S SUPPLY, 800-645-9292, produces a 196-page catalog. Again, this is a catalog that's aimed at the serious woodworker. However, this is where I found that digital caliper I reviewed several months ago. One more time, just because most of the products will only be of interest to woodworkers doesn't mean there's nothing there for modelbuilders.
See you next month.
1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00
Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.
PO Box 90933