Build models long enough and it begins to dawn on you that…outside of the modeling fraternity…we are very much the real life version of Rodney Dangerfield's constant complaint. We don't get no respect!
If your first reaction is a rejoinder that the statement is whiney, picky or just flat wrong, I'd suggest you stop and think about it. Sure, there are exceptions…my own parent's attitudes for one; but that's not the norm.
There's been thread after thread on the various modeling newsgroups about how many of you have to sneak kits, paint and books into the house in order to get the stuff past your mother, wife or significant other. Stories have been told about modelers who moved out on their own, planning on returning for their models and related supplies. By the time they got back…and even before their old bed was cold…their parents had disposed of all remaining possessions and redecorated the room!
And then there's John and Jane Q. Public. For starters, models are generally regarded by most non-modelers as 'toys'. Nor does it matter what the level of quality is. Museum level replicas certainly impress even members of the public, but deep in the dark recesses of their mind, it's still a toy. We modelers are thought to be little boys (and girls) who never grew up.
Still doubt me? Then consider the following experience involving my mother. She was working on the switchboard at a local hospital. As happens, she got into a conversation one day with another woman and the subject turned to their 'children' (I was in my 30s at the time) and what kind of work they did. When my mother told the woman that I was a model builder, the woman's reaction was to sniff derisively and say "Oh. My son used to do that….when he was a little boy."
Those of you familiar with the Warbird Tech Series from Specialty Press are in for a shock when you peruse their latest effort. A very nice shock, but still a shock. They've changed their format, changes that make this series better than ever. Expanded by four pages to 104 pages, you now get eight pages of color photos. The semi-stiff cover is heavier weight (50% thicker) and all of the pages are now glossy stock, which makes the black and white photos just jump off the page at you. Modelers will love it because fine details are far easier to see. With these kind of improvements, you're sitting there saying "Yeah, sure. But how much more's it gonna cost?". That's the best shock of all. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Nothing. Not an extra penny. Specialty Press has given you all these improvements and kept the price at $16.95 per copy. This, folks, is a deal. Oh, just in case you're wondering, all of the preceeding 29 volumes will be converted to the new format as they come up for another printing.
So what's the first volume utilizing this new format? Warbird Tech Series, Volume 30, Boeing C-17A Globemaster III by Bill Norton. Though you may have never heard of Bill Norton, his credentials underscore the quality of this book. According to the preface, he was a lead USAF flight test engineer and USAF officer beginning two years before first flight of the C-17 and continuing through the flight test program.
Considering that the design is only 10 years old and still in production, there's a prodigous amount of information crammed into this book. You'll find everything from an in-depth discussion of the AMST program that culminated in the C-17 to production lists, full specifications and significant dates. In between are some 160 photos and line drawings, including a dimensioned 3-view, cargo configurations, console, control stick and instrument panel drawings. Engine cutaways, landing gear drawings and on and on.
Photos provide full interior and exterior documentation. Among the in-flight shots is a couple taken during air-to-air refueling. We learn that all C-17s (except for two) are painted in a standard, overall, light gray and that one flew for some time in a 3-tone camouflage. That aircraft has been repainted in light gray, but the book has several photos in both black-and-white as well as color that depict the 3-tone pattern.
In short, if you have a liking (or a passion) for heavy lifter cargo planes, this is one book you absolutely do not want to miss. Support your local hobby shop or order the book directly from Specialty Press, 11605 Kost Dam Road, North Branch, MN 55056 or call them at 800-895-4585. Keep in mind that there is a $4.50 shipping and handling charge per order.
Those of you in the United Kingdom can order from Airlife Publishing, 101 Longden Road, Shrewbury SY3 9EB, ENGLAND or call them at 01743 235651.
Science fiction afficianados, especially devotees of classic science fiction films, are going to love the latest release from POLAR LIGHTS (http://www.polarlights.com). Those of you who remember (it's been some 40 years) Forbidden Planet, or have seen it on videotape, know that it was the progenitor...or one of the progenitors...of today's high budget, special effects laden science fiction films.
So what has POLAR LIGHTS given us? A gorgeous, 1/72 scale model of the film's ship, the C-57D starcruiser. Utilizing the classic flying saucer design with a dome area both above and below the main disc, the resulting model is both huge and magnificent. When finished, you'll be looking at a model that's 28 inches in diameter. If that's not enough, full interior detail on both decks is included and it can be built with both the gear and stairs down. You also get a dandy 1/72 scale Robby the Robot, standing with his arms outstretched.
To give you an idea of what you're getting into, the kit box is 23 x 15 x 5 inches and is crammed to the gills with 105 tan and clear styrene parts. Skill rating is Level 3 and recommended for ages 12 to adult. Moldings are crisp, clean and everything is contained in three bags. Price is a very reasonable $44.99.
While I haven't built it yet (but I will…and soon), dry fitting indicates that you will have little problem with assembly. A total of 12 pie-shaped parts comprise the upper and lower sections of the main disk. Maximum structural integrity is attained by overlapping the joints of the upper and lower sections. That way the seam of two upper panels falls in the middle of a lower panel and vice versa. There's also a clear upper dome that can be left clear to reveal the interior…or you can paint it to match the ship and leave it removeable so the interior can be seen on demand. Of course, you can also delete the interior detail and install the gear in retracted position, creating a C-57D configured for flight.
Instructions are typical POLAR LIGHTS retro style and will get the job done. Could the instructions have been expanded to provide greater clarity? Yes, they could have. However, if you just take your time you won't have any problems.
One thing that you need to be aware of is the fact that the multi-section design of the main disk leaves you with a total of 14 seams, each 11 inches long, on the main disk. Seven on top and seven on the bottom. The 'real' ship was seamless…at least to the naked eye. To replicate this, you'll need to putty and sand all fourteen seams. This is not as big a problem as you would think because the disk has no surface detail. Simply putty, sand smooth, primer, then repeat the process til you're satisfied.
Specified colors are keyed to Model Master paints. POLAR LIGHT'S color guide seems to hold very close to colors seen in the film. However, I'm not sure I'd use the recommended Chrome Silver as an overall ship color. External ship color varies in the film, ranging all the way from a metallic steel to an apparent buffed silver. Essentially, watch the movie and decide for yourself.
The finished model is large (to say the least) and display possibilities are many. If you hold fond memories of Forbidden Planet or happen to be a science fiction nut … hhrrumph…enthusiast in general, this C-57D kit is going to be well nigh irresistable.
Well, don't just sit there. Go buy one.
Also from POLAR LIGHTS, but at the opposite extreme, is a repop of one of the lesser known Aurora figure kits. The Forgotten Prisoner of Castel-Mare is a vignette depicting a forgotten prisoner shackled to the stone wall of a dungeon. That he's been there a considerable period of time is obvious from the fact that he's a mere shadow of his former self. His bare skeleton is only partially hidden by the tattered remnants of clothing. The fact that his remains are still erect is due entirely to the shackle around his neck from which he sags.
A few bones and skull from another victim litter the stone floor. Two rats momentarily investigate the remains while searching for another meal to provide sustenance.
The kit contains 37 dark gray styrene parts, all contained in a single bag. Quality is exactly what you've come to expect in POLAR LIGHTS repops of Aurora kits, which is to say excellent. Instructions match the tone of the kit. Price is $21.99.
If you've been looking for a kit to practice your old, aged bones technique on, this one will certainly provide the opportunity.
And that, unfortunately, is it for this month. It's not that I don't have more to talk about. I do. But that despicable creature called a deadline has reared it's head once again. See ya'll in July.