Have you noticed that model building has become a collection of specialties? For example, most of you who read this column equate model building with the construction of plastic kits, whether styrene, resin or vacform. Slice and dice it any way you want and we're still building plastic kits. From there, it breaks down even further. Some of us build WW-II aircraft... or armor...or ships. Others limit their interest to German...or Japanese...or American...or...you see where this is going.
I started out building tissue and stick, rubber band powered, flying models. None of 'em were all that great, didn't fly well or last very long...but it was model building and I learned from it. Since then, I've built almost everything you can name with the exception of gas powered flying models. About the only thing that kept me from trying those was lack of money and space. And I've done my fair share of scratchbuilding as well. Each category, whether wood, plastic, multimedia, scratchbuilt, aircraft, figures, armor, cars, trucks, whatever, has taught me something that...one way or another... has improved my next project, regardless of the subject or medium.
So what am I getting at? Simply put, keep an open mind. Be willing to tackle subjects that may not be your primary interest. Challenge your skills by taking on a project that requires techniques you've never attempted.
Case in point, farther down in this month's column, you'll find reviews of three wood ship kits. Building any of them is definitely a different experience from your familiar plastic kit. One of them even requires you to install planking over a jig structure, an approach that'll have most of us in over our heads from the get go. No matter, if we're really model builders, we'll adapt, learn the necessary techniques and successfully complete the project. Then we'll take the new skills we've learned and adapt them to our next plastic or resin kit project, thereby raising our abilities to a new level in that area.
Those of you who may be wondering what a properly finished kit of The Unholy Demon (available from MR. BONES MODELWORKS and reviewed in last month's SCALEWORLD) looks like, need wonder no longer. The photo you see here gives you a good idea of what can be done. Full particulars on it's construction and finishing will appear in the August/September installment of my new feature series, THE M FILES, in MODELER'S RESOURCE. Even if fantasy isn't your thing, it wouldn't hurt to browse the article anyway. Many of the techniques will transfer rather easily to other subjects.
While on the subject of MODELER'S RESOURCE and THE M FILES, take a look at the June/July issue (currently on the stands). Starting on p.52, THE M FILES spends four pages on an in-depth description of the techniques used to weather the POLAR LIGHTS kit of the Bates Mansion from the movie Psycho. Construction of the hill base and it's groundwork are described as well. Again, many of the weathering techniques will transfer easily to other subjects.
As I write this, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is dominating at the box office. Not surprisingly, marketing of licensed products is also in full sway... including models. You would expect Ertl/AMT to be in the middle of things, and they are. To date, I've managed to acquire four of their latest kits.
First up is also the largest and most complex (skill level 2) of the four kits, Anakin's Podracer. In 1/32 scale, it has all kinds of potential for superdetailing and creative dioramas.
While I have yet to see the movie (I know, I'm probably the only one in the country!), I have seen some promo clips of the race scene that features the Podracer. For practical purposes, the Podracer is a pair of large, exposed jet engines, linked to each other by bolts of energy. The engines, in turn, pull a pod (basically a cockpit module containing the pilot or driver) that's connected to the engines by a pair of steel (?) cables. A high tech version of a Roman Chariot, if you will.
If I'm counting correctly, there's somewhere around 160 parts, including the base and a reddish/violet translucent part that forms the energy bolts connecting the two engines. All parts are contained in two bags, except for the energy bolts, which are simply tossed in loose along with a small decal sheet and instructions. Parts are molded in a light to mid-gray styrene (except for the energy bolts, of course) and everything is packaged in a conventional top over bottom box. Instructions are the typical international style with nothing but drawings and symbols. Despite that, they're well done, clear and don't leave you wondering where this funny looking whatchamacallit goes. And considering the number of parts that go on the engines, that's an accomplishment. Priced at $19.50.
Next up is a 1/48-scale kit of the Naboo Fighter. A single seat design, it carries an R2-D2 droid just behind the cockpit in the same manner as Luke Skywalker's X-Wing does a generation later. What makes the Naboo Fighter a little on the strange side is the two long spikes that trail back from the engine nacelles, along with an aft fuselage that ends in the same manner. At first glance, you'd swear the spikes were at the front of the ship. The only thing that tells you which direction is forward is the canopy.
Anyway, the kit is part of Ertl/AMT's Snapfast line. Parts are molded in yellow and chrome, contained within two bags. The clear stand upright, canopy, decal sheet and instructions are loose in the box, which is a conventional top over bottom design.
Comprised of 18 parts plus the two-part stand, this is a quick build if all you want to do is snap it together and sit it on your shelf. On the other hand, spend some time cementing the parts, adding a little weathering or battle damage and you'd wind up with a quality addition to your collection of science fiction spacecraft. This one's $12.25.
Also part of the Snapfast line is another Star Wars ship, this one being a set of 1/48 scale Trade Federation Droid Fighters. This is probably the simplest kit of the batch. Each Droid Fighter contains four parts and you get enough parts for three Fighters. There's a large, round, black base and three uprights included as well. The Droid Fighters are molded in gray styrene and assemble so quickly that, once you nip the parts off the tree, assembly requires less than 55 seconds per fighter. Of course, as with the Naboo Fighter, you could cement all the parts and spend some time with a paintbrush. $12.25.
Finally we have what appears to be another styrene kit of a 1/48 Naboo Fighter... until you notice an imprint on the boxtop that says Diecast. And if that ain't enough to convince you, pick it up. This little puppy's got some heft to it. It's also packed in an endflap box that's sturdier than you'd first think because all the parts are contained in a corrugated tray insert.
Parts breakdown is nearly identical to the Snapfast version, with a couple of exceptions. First, there's a separate cockpit assembly that has to be installed before you join the upper and lower fuselage halves. Secondly, the stand base and upright are diecast and painted black. The base even comes pre-marked with the legend Naboo Starfighter.
Some parts of the engine cowlings, along with the trailing spikes are plastic. Other than that, the entire kit is metal. And before you ask, everything is pre-painted or chromed, even the plastic parts. The only exception is the cockpit parts and all you need there is some medium gray and leather paint. Cockpit components are also the only thing that will require cement.
Once past the cockpit, the only tool you'll need is a very small screwdriver. This means that construction goes relatively quickly. I had mine done in a couple of hours, and that included building and painting the cockpit module. Incidentally, I decided to leave the pilot out of my Fighter.
You'll wind up with a very nice model that'll look great sitting on an etagere or the TV. Just remember that this is diecast and not styrene. It does have seams/joints, but you'll find it doesn't detract from its final appearance. Considering that it's diecast, it carries a reasonable price of $29.00.
If spacecraft models are a bit too far in the future for you, there's a slew of new roadcraft (car) kits available from REVELL/MONOGRAM, nine to be exact, with all to 1/24 scale. And they run the gamut.
First up is a '69 Z-28 Camaro Deluxe Kit. The Deluxe appelation results from inclusion of three small tubs of non-toxic, water clean-up (I'm assuming Acrylic) paint, a basic brush and a small tube of Ambroid cement.
Beyond that, it's a standard, fully detailed car kit. This means full interior with roll bar, suspension and an engine and transmission that'll be most receptive to additional detailing. Everything is molded in yellow, except for the sprue of chrome parts and the clear. And you'll find all components bagged (clear parts have their own), except for the chrome, tires, decals and instructions. They're left loose in the clamshell box. Instructions are the familiar international style, but you'll find'em clear enough to get the job done. $14.50.
Another Deluxe Kit is a '55 Ford Panel Truck, configured as a customized Harley-Davidson hauler. It follows the same pattern as the '69 Camaro, even down to the clamshell style box, except that parts are molded in black.
The only fly in the ointment would be disappointment for those who are in need of a stock Panel Truck. Lack of alternate parts will leave you wanting. $16.25.
If you enjoy 70s vintage muscle cars, this kit should get the blood running just a bit faster. It's a '70 Buick GSX. Even better, the kit's designed as a 2 in 1, giving you the option of building it dead stock or customizing it. Whichever way you want to go, REVELL/MONOGRAM'S provided the parts. And considering the subject, it'd be a shame not to superdetail the engine. Hmmm?
In this case, all parts are molded in white and contained in a single bag. The chrome sprue, along with clear parts, instructions and tires (including a pair of wide rear tires) are left to rattle around loose. I suspect there's a good chance the windshield will take some polishing. Carries a price tag of $11.00.
Falling into the starter kit category is a group of four NASCAR models. They're all Snaptite assembly, use the same type packaging and are all pre-painted and pre-marked.
And they all sell for $16.75. Three of the kits use the Ford Taurus as their starting point, while the fourth one is a Chevy Monte Carlo. Specific subjects are the Cheerios Taurus, Cartoon Network Taurus, Exide Batteries Taurus and Kellogg's Corn Flakes Monte Carlo. Because they're all so similar, let's run thru them as a group.
Each REVELL PROFINISH Predecorated Model Kit is packed in an end flap box. A cellophane window is incorporated to allow you to see the one-piece, pre-finished body.
The box contains a very interesting two-level, compartmented insert that is literally taped in place. Not only does this method keep parts from shifting around it has the added advantage of adding considerable strength to the endflap box.
Of course, getting the parts out is fun. Besides the insert being taped in place, so is the car body and the parts bags (incidentally, everything is bagged on these kits). I wound up having to cut thru the tape with a knife.
When you finally get the parts out of the box, here's what you're gonna find. Keep in mind that these comments apply to all four kits. The body is one piece, pre-painted (actually molded in the appropriate color) and pre-marked. All other parts, except for clear parts and axles, are packed in a single bag. Clear parts have their own bag, as do the axles. Except for the tires/wheels, which do roll as a result of included metal axles, all parts are molded in either gray or silver gray. One thing that's nice to see in this kind of Snaptite kit is that you get a pretty nice interior and clear windows. It's not uncommon for kits of this type to use blacked out windows so that no interior in needed.
Instructions are strictly illustration style, but they work quite well. There's also a small sheet of "decals" so you can add a bunch of those small sponsor signs to the body for an even more realistic NASCAR look. The reason I put decals in quotes is that they're not waterslide decals. They're self adhesive, or as REVELL calls them, Peel N Stick Decals.
Afficianados of monster trucks will perk up at the sight of this next offering. This 1/24 "Mad Mudder" Chevy Truck is configured as you would see it in any of the regional truck pulling contests. It's basically a Chevy Blazer (model year not given) that has been modified. Priced at $12.25.
Kit parts are molded in white styrene and are bagged. The clear parts get their own bag this time. Only the chrome parts sprue and the huge Ground Hawg tires are loose in the clamshell box. There's a sheet of decals and the usual international style instructions.
Last of the cars for this month is another Snaptite kit, a Lamborghini Sportster. As we've come to expect, it's contained in their usual clamshell box. The body is molded in dark blue styrene with all other parts in a brownish tan color. This time around, everything is bagged except for the chrome wheels. Even the clear parts are bagged inside another bag. Instructions are the expected international style. And there's also a sheet of Peel N Stick graphics. $11.00.
Ertl/AMT has added another kit to their Adversaries line of 1/72 scale aircraft. This time it's an F-16A vs. MiG-29. And, yes, they are ESCI repops.
Packed in a conventional top over bottom box, all parts are molded in light gray. There are two parts sprues to each model and each sprue is individually bagged. Ergo, four bags. Canopies are simply tossed in loose, but since there's nothing to rub against, no harm is done. The kits show their age as a result of raised surface detail, but all parts are crisply molded with no obvious flash.
Instructions are the usual drawing and symbol variety. Decals look to be nicely done with everything in register and you're even provided with optional markings for each aircraft.
The F-16A can be finished as either a 138th TFS or 174th TFW bird as it appeared in Desert Storm. And the MiG-29 can carry either Russian or Yugoslavian colors.
While I haven't built either kit, all parts seem to have the right 'look' to them. At $21.25, it'd certainly be an economical way to add these two subjects to your collection.
Looking for something really different? Then consider the product line from DESIGN DETAIL, 5213-25th S.W., Seattle, WA 98106-1373 (ph. 206-938-2483). They offer a line of two-bay, 1/24-1/25 scale, multi-media service stations. Small they ain't, nor are they cheap (they're primarily resin and labor intensive), but now you can have a home for some of those contest quality cars you've been building. One of these stations can also form the basis for a truly spectacular diorama that'll get people's attention.
The one I have is #602, a two-bay Texaco station (I'm in Texas. The choice is obvious!) that carries a price of $160. This includes the driveway canopy that attaches to the front of the office and extends out over the pumps. Pumps are not included because they're available in several styles. I ordered a pair that would be appropriate for a late 50s thru the 60s period. These are the ones with the round Texaco sign on top of each pump. Even today, if you wander onto the back roads, you can still find stations with that style pump. And they say time travel doesn't exist! Anyway, the pumps are $12 each (two are needed) and decals for the pumps are $2. Throw in $15 shipping and the total tab comes to $201. Sounds expensive, but considering the subject and what you get, it really isn't.
So, now that you're in shock, let's tiptoe thru the kit and see what you get for your two C-notes. For starters, the kit comes packed in a large, sturdy, top flap, corrugated box that's 20 x 13 x 3 inches. It's also heavy because most of the parts, especially the large parts, are resin. Major components are encased in bubble wrap and the small bits and pieces, such as the cash register and other office items are contained in ziploc bags. Any remaining voids are filled with foam nuggets. Simply put, it'll get to you without damage.
As I've already implied, most of the parts are resin. Quality is excellent with a minimal amount of flash and voids. Components are laid out in such a manner that it should be fairly easy to either hide or eradicate the seams. For example, the entire front wall is a one-piece casting, all the way from the outer edge of the office to the other side of the work bays. There are sidewalk castings to fit around the office, concrete footing for your gas pumps, a separate office floor to replicate the height differential between the office and the work bays and on and on. Sheet styrene is provided for the station roof, as well as the construction of various details and doors. Structural styrene shapes are supplied for the roof beams. A selection of hoses is included so you can represent water and air hoses, as well as the bell hose that stretched across the driveway.
Better than eight pages of instructions and drawings are included to help you along. For the most part they keep you on the straight and narrow. I have found a few areas that'll be a little confusing, but it's nothing you can't overcome. And it's due, in large part, to the fact that there are so many variables in the kit. Depending on what you choose to have in your particular kit, it's quite likely that no one else will ever order an exact duplicate of yours.
The gas pumps combine resin and metal, along with their own instructions. Then there's plenty of vinyl hose, along with cast metal nozzles and other fittings. You also have the option of leaving those round, pump-top signs off for a more modern appearance.
I could go on, but then you'd be reading a complete article instead of a review. Put another way, this Texaco station looks like it's gonna be a delight when I finally get around to building it. All I can say is that if you enjoy craftsman level kits...and this is definitely a craftsman level kit... of unusual subjects, you'll love this one.
Do keep one thing in mind. Because these kits are hand-cast to match specific orders, you're not going to get next day shipping. Resin has to cure particularly large, flat pieces. Try to rush it and you wind up with unacceptable warpage. Having said that most orders ship within two weeks. Just realize that it can take longer.
Incidentally, Morris Johnson -the driving force behind DESIGN DETAIL- has a 24-page catalog available for $3.00. Containing several hundred items, all related to gas station models, it's the perfect starting point to deciding what you want your station to have on it.
Or give him a call.
Ever have the urge to build a ship kit? A wood ship kit? Then take a look at this 1/12 scale Lincolnville Wherry by LAUGHING WHALE, available from BLUEJACKET SHIPCRAFTERS, INC.
So what's a Lincolnville Wherry, you ask. Oversimplifying in the extreme, a Wherry is a small boat (some would call it a dorry) that looks for all the world like a rowboat on steroids. Larger than your garden variety rowboat at nearly 16 feet in length, it was used for Salmon fishing in the Atlantic, just off Ducktrap Harbor, Maine. The town that grew up around the harbor was originally named Ducktrap, Maine. Now, the whole area is part of Lincolnville, Maine. Since this particular Wherry originated for the specific purpose of Salmon fishing in the Ducktrap area, it became the Ducktrap Wherry. And eventually the Lincolnville Wherry.
As for the kit, it's like nothing you've ever seen if your model building experience has been limited to plastic and resin kits. What you get is a large, flat, top flap box that runs to 26 x 12 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches (remember, the scale is 1/12 and the finished boat is some 15 3/4 inches long). Inside, you'll find 3 sheets of 1/12-scale drawings, each sheet 22 x 28 inches in size. There's also a ten-page, spiral bound instruction manual. Kit parts themselves take the form of a bag of spacer blocks, two sheets of jigs, a bag of dowels and narrow wood strips and another bag containing all remaining parts. This includes five more sheets of wood parts and a couple of wood cradles. All parts on the various sheets are laser cut for accuracy. If you ever tackled any of those flying model kits with diecut parts, you've got a very rough idea of what you'll find in the box.
The reason you have two sheets of jigs is that this kit uses plank on frame construction. You first have to glue the jigs down onto a building board, following the drawings. Then, the planks that form the hull (or skin) are soaked in water or ammonia/water mixture so that they're flexible and cemented over the jigs. You're also building it upside down.
At any rate, the manual is very thorough and designed to keep beginners out of trouble. And believe it or not, this kit is rated right on the line between no experience with wood ship kits needed and some experience needed. In other words, a bit of a stretch if you've never tried a wood kit, but not unreasonably so. Considering that it carries a price tag of $75.00 plus $6.00 shipping, it's an economical way to get started in shipbuilding.
By the way, a call to BLUEJACKET SHIPCRAFTERS, INC. at 800-448-5567 will get you a copy of their catalog.
I'll be building this kit before very long and will include photos of it in a future SCALEWORLD. With luck, there may also be a construction article on it somewhere down the road.
If you'd like to cut your shipbuilding teeth on a kit that's even simpler and lower priced, take a look at this offering from BLUEJACKET SHIPBUILDERS, INC. A 1/192 scale model of the U.S.S. Monitor. Besides being an easy beginner's kit, you're also replicating a turning point in naval history. When the Monitor met the C.S.S. Virginia (ex-U.S.S. Merrimack) in battle, it would be the first combat between steam powered, ironclad ships. The day of the sail-laden man-of-war was done.
The kit itself contains a 10 3/4 inch long machine carved basswood hull, Brittania pewter fittings (including a pair of 11-inch Dahlgren guns), brass plating for the turret and a couple of pieces of wood to create other needed items. A sheet of drawings and full instructions complete the package. Everything comes in a sturdy, top flap corrugated carton for a most reasonable price of $47.00 plus $6.00 shipping. And if this is going to be your first effort at a ship, you might want to pony up another $10.00 for paint kit #1735 and $11.00 for baseboard #1283 so that you'll have everything on hand for a turnkey job. All three items combined will still only cost you $6.00 for shipping.
Because of the impact their battle had on naval history, Monitor and Virginia (more familiarly known to many as Monitor and Merrimack) are inextricably linked. As a result, how can you build one without the other? If you agree, then consider another kit from BLUEJACKET SHIPCRAFTERS, INC. as your second ship project. Besides being a natural fit with the Monitor, it also requires prior shipbuilding experience... that you now have.
In case you haven't guessed, I'm talking about a 1/192-scale kit of the C.S.S. Virginia (otherwise known as the Merrimack). Same scale as the Monitor kit, same approach but more involved because of her size (17 1/2 inches long) and configuration.
We start again with a machine carved basswood hull, a sheet of drawings and full instructions. But then you have stripwood and scribed sheet from which you have to make various components. There's also a brass stack and beaucoup fittings. The Brittania pewter fittings will keep you occupied for awhile, particularly when you consider that there are 61 rail stanchions alone that must be installed to an identical height. Not really difficult, but tedious as all getout. As with the Monitor, everything comes in a sturdy, corrugated box, but this time it's a familiar shipping style box with two flaps that meet on the centerline for taping. Even though Virginia carries a higher price of $77.00 plus $6.00 shipping, the much greater number of parts more than justifies it. If you wish, the paint kit #1741 is $12.00 and baseboard #1284 is $13.00.
One more thing, the current BLUEJACKET catalog is offering both Monitor and Virginia for $108.00 plus $10.00 shipping if you buy 'em at the same time.
Talk about being behind the power curve! It took me till now to track down a PROMODELER kit of that gorgeous 1/48 Junkers Ju-52. There's already been a construction article in an earlier issue of INTERNET MODELER, so there's little point in spending a lot of time on it here. However, in case there's someone besides me who has yet to find one, I'm going to do a quick fly-by.
The kit can be summed up in two words...it's be-ooot-i-ful! On a more rational level, the prominent skin corrugations are superbly done. Some grumbling has been heard about decals not having any 'stretch' built into them to compensate for the corrugations. Ignore it, because the corrugations aren't deep enough to cause a problem. And anyway, you're only talking about a few thousandths of an inch.
Detail is uniformly excellent, instructions look like they'll keep you out of trouble and the decals are outstanding. This is basically going to be an out of the box kit since there are only three options. One is to build it with or without wheel pants and this is determined by your choice of markings. Choose the Ju-52/3mg7e of 2.Staffel, KGzbV 1 in Greece during 1941 and you won't need the pants or the ventral gun tub. Opt for the Ju-52/3mg4e in Spanish Nationalist markings and you'll need both. And if you plan on hanging the finished model from your ceiling (but why?), you can build the gun tub in it's extended position.
There are also four multi-part paratroopers in standing poses that would come in very handy if you use the Ju-52 in a diorama. Otherwise, add'em to your parts box.
Price is an extremely reasonable $33.50, particularly when you consider the amount of detail and overall quality of the kit. All I can say is buy one and enjoy.
Latest books on the bench are from SPECIALTY PRESS, 11481 Kost Dam Road,
North Branch, Minnesota 55056 (ph. 800-895-4585). You'll find full reviews in the New Releases section. They are:
WARBIRD TECH SERIES, VOL. 20, FAIRCHILD-REPUBLIC A/OA-10 WARTHOG by Dennis R. Jenkins
WARBIRD TECH SERIES, VOL. 21, BOEING/BAe HARRIER by Dennis R. Jenkins
WARBIRD TECH SERIES, VOL. 14, BOEING B-29 SUPERFORTRESS by Peter M. Bowers
AIRLINER TECH SERIES, VOL. 1, LOCKHEED CONSTELLATION & SUPER CONSTELLATION by Scott E. Germain
AIRLINER TECH SERIES, VOL. 2, BOEING 777 by Jim Upton
See y'all next month.
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