Next time you're waiting for the paint to dry, get a magnifying glass and read the fine print on that bottle of paint or can of thinner…or take a look at your latest kit's boxtop or instructions.
By the time you've finished the warning labels that are affixed to thinner, paint and kits…assuming you follow the recommendations to the letter…you're going to be working in a shop that's the modeler's equivalent of a NASA clean room, encased from head to toe in a CBW protective suit, just as our super-cautious modeler in the above illustration is.
Doubt me? Then consider that kit instructions constantly warn, at one time or another (and occasionally all at once), that model cement can catch fire, it can hurt you if it gets on your skin or in your eyes, to be sure to NEVER draw a knife toward you but to trim parts by PUSHING the knife away from you. They also want you to know that knives are sharp and can hurt you. Some go so far as to suggest that parts should be trimmed by an adult if the modeler is under 14 years old, even instructing the modeler to only use fine sandpaper wet in order to eliminate airborne dust. There have been articles on modeling safety that would have you wear goggles, double-element respirator, impermeable rubber apron, transparent face mask (over the goggles), hearing protectors whenever you use a motor tool, latex surgical gloves at all times (to protect the model from your skin oil), and heavy, gauntlet-style gloves when working with chemicals (such as opening a bottle of paint). The instructions of one kit actually advises the modeler to wear THICK gloves whenever a tube of cement is in use.
Thinner and paint containers are no better. Take all of their warnings literally and not only will you be afraid to open the bottle, you'll have an overwhelming urge to take cover in the nearest hardened bunker in case the thing explodes! And lest you think that none of this applies to you because you use acrylics, think again. Oxymoronically, the label states on one hand that the paint is certified non-toxic….and on the other, warns that the product contains Glycol Ethers and is not to be taken internally. Go figure.
So how to avoid that CBW suit? By the application of good ol' fashioned common sense. Despite the fact that it's a commodity that's currently in seriously short supply, it's use would obviate…and eliminate the need for….that suit.
For example, no one should panic at the idea that model cement can catch fire. Whether tube or liquid, the basis of all cement is a solvent and solvents burn…if you apply a match. They will not spontaneously combust at anything approaching normal temperatures. In fact, I had several bottles of liquid cement sitting on a bench when the temperature reached 115 degrees and NOTHING HAPPENED. Of course, if someone's dumb enough to wave a lighted match above the open mouth of a cement bottle………. And most of us aren't going to take a bath in it or use it for eyedrops, so the skin and eye warnings aren't something to get all het up over.
When it comes to advising us to push knives away from us in order to trim parts because the nasty little things are sharp, consider a couple of resulting problems. First, pushing the blade away from you guarantees less control, leading to potential gouging of the parts. Also, drawing the knife toward you is a natural reflex, besides providing better control. Is it safer? Of course not. I've got a multitude of small scars on my thumb and a larger scar with 5 stitches in my hand to prove that. But keep in mind that I've acquired that collection over a period of some 49+ years. All you need do is pay attention to what you're doing. Besides, if you're really worried about it, wear a thimble.
As for the knife being sharp, OF COURSE IT'S SHARP! What are we supposed to do, build models with a dull blade? On the other hand, we could emulate the beaver and start trimming parts with our teeth!
Similar comments apply to everything else we use in modelbuilding. If you're crazy enough to spray a high volume of paint in a closed room with no ventilation and an open flame heater, the result is a dust explosion. Not only will it ruin your modelbuilding for that day, you won't ever build another model…unless you can do it wearing a halo and playing a harp.
Should you pay attention to the admonition against taking paint internally? Only if you're planning on drinking the stuff. And I don't think any of us are intending to stick an airbrush in our mouth and camouflage our tongue. Are we?
Heck, even sandpaper is hazardous to your skin…or it can be. How many of us have paid more attention to the part we were sanding than the hand that was holding it…and blithely sanded thru the first six layers of our hide? Smarts like the dickens but the skin grows back. Does that mean that just because we didn't watch what we were doing that we should be warned to wear thick gloves before using sandpaper…or place a warning label on sandpaper advising that it's use may endanger our skin? Thanks to an aggressively litigious society, warning labels are multiplying like rabbits. Manufacturers include them to avoid…or at least minimize…lawsuits that usually are the result of consumers abdicating their own responsibility, relying on others to protect them from themselves and refusing to apply even a modicum of common sense.
Common sense is already an endangered species. If it goes the way of the Dodo bird, we modelbuilders may find ourselves regulated and protected into that CBW suit.
Does it have to come to that?
Slight correction: When I reviewed the B-17 pilot figure last month, I mistakenly spelled the manufacturer's name incorrectly. It's WILCO!MODELS and not WILKO!MODELS. Sorry about that, Bill. Would you believe that was my first mistake this year? No? Gee, I wonder why!
Regular readers of this column know that the B-17 pilot isn't the only offering from WILCO!MODELS (spelled it right this time), 2826 Russell Avenue, Abilene, TX 79605 (ph. 915-677-7009). The latest addition to their line of figures is a delightful 1/5 scale Navy Girl.
Based on the recruiting poster that had a Victorian-period girl wearing the 1915 style Navy blouse and white sailor's hat, this casting will appeal to both devotees of 'girl' figures and those whose interests lie with military subjects.
She sells for $85 plus $5 postage, which is extremely reasonable for a 1/5 scale figure. Particularly when you consider she stands a foot tall and most resin figure kits of a similar size go for double the price and more. So now that you know what she's priced at, what do you get for your 9/10ths of a C-note?
Consisting of six parts (head/upper torso/lower torso & legs/ base with feet and two ends of the scarf), she comes securely packed in a sturdy corrugated carton. You'll also find the two scarf ends contained in a plastic film bottle for protection. All parts are cast from a yellowish urethane resin.
Quality is excellent with a minimum of pinholes and flash. Instructions follow the format of their previous B-17 pilot. Fit is very good, but it will take a little work. This is due, in large part, to the sheer size of the casting. Pinning is definitely recommended for everything except the scarf ends. Probably the area that will require the most attention during assembly is the leg/foot joint. The base and feet are cast as a single piece while the lower torso/legs form a second. Pinning of these joints are an absolute necessity, but you will also need to take some time getting the alignment right.
Unless you wait til the casting resin is rock-solid cured (which really isn't feasible, as any resin caster will tell you), odds are that separate legs extending from a lower torso will not hold perfect alignment. Heating the legs with a heat gun and/or shoving a wedge between the legs to spread them apart a tad so everything lines up perfectly will solve the problem. Not that much of a problem but something to be aware of.
As you can see from the photo, once you get past the Navy blouse, she's wearing a ¾ length slip (keep in mind that, given the time period, the slip is most likely cotton) and a pair of strap shoes. Interestingly enough, this figure is not the usual idealized female figure. Her body is a little chunky, which is typical of many women around the turn of the century (1900, not 2000). The face is rather full (some might describe her as plain), which matches the body type of the period, yet winds up being quite attractive if you do a skilled paint job. Finally, she's standing on a base engraved to represent wooden boards aligned on a bias (diagonal). Take your pick, they could be the floor of her home or the deck of a ship.
All in all, Navy Girl makes for a most impressive addition to your display case. And wait'll you see what else WILCO!MODELS has up their sleeve!
As long as we’re talking about figures, consider five WW-II-era offerings fromCRAFTWORKS. All are to 1/32 scale (or 54mm) and all are standing figures of pilots. There’s an American, Russian, Japanese and two Italians.
Each kit is cast from yellowish urethane resin and each follows the same basic layout. In all cases, the basic body is one-piece from the neck to feet. Arms and head are separate. Most have one head, but the American A.V.G. pilot includes an optional head. You can choose between a bare-headed pilot and one with a flying helmet. Two of the figures (including one of the Italians) have separate parachute packs.
Because of the similarity from one kit to another, I've shown only the American A.V.G. pilot in the photo above. The other four figures are so similar in appearance that it's next to impossible to tell who's who if you put the photos of the bare resin parts side by each. That similarity even extends to the price, which is $14 apiece.
They all have good detail and would be an excellent way to dress up that 1/32 vignette you just started working on. And the choice of subject doesn’t hurt either. Especially in 1/32.
Devotees of classic hot rods will love one of the latest efforts from AMT/Ertl, a 1/25 scale ’32 Ford Phantom Vickie. This is one you will definitely want to take your time on.
For the uninitiated, we are not talking about your run-of-the-mill chopped '32 Ford Victoria. The Phantom Vickie was created by combining a '32 Ford Victoria Sedan, '32 Ford Phaeton and a '32 Roadster chassis. Then throw in Mustang suspension, a Mustang Cobra 4.6L V-8, Halibrand wheels, removable top & low-profile Goodyear Eagle tires and you begin to get an idea of what you're looking at. There's also a fuel cell instead of a gas tank.
The kit is typical AMT/Ertl with all parts, except for the clear and chrome, being molded in light gray styrene. Interestingly, just about all the parts are bagged….including the clear, which has it's own bag. All that's loose in the box are the red tail light lenses, soft vinyl tires, decals and instructions.
Keep in mind that this is a fully detailed kit. The suspension is built up piece by piece, even to the point of separate springs and shocks. You can detail the kit-provided engine to the nines without putting a tremendous amount of time into it. And one thing that really got my attention is the use of a two-part instrument panel that traps an instrument decal between them for maximum realism.
Instructions are the familiar AMT/Ertl style, but enhanced by identification of all parts by their real-life name. You'll also find notes on body/chassis preparation and a list of recommended colors.
If street rods are your thing, this is your kit. And all for the bargain basement price of $11.00.
Also for $11.00, but at the other end of the spectrum as far as car types is concerned, is a 1/25 scale kit of the '58 Edsel Pacer. If you're old enough to remember when the Edsel arrived in the showrooms, you'll also remember the degrading appellation used to describe it. An appellation that was the direct result of that rather unique grille design: Lemon-suckin' Chevy. One look at the front end of an Edsel would result in total understanding of that phrase.
The kit follows the same pattern as the '32 Vickie. All parts, except for the clear, chrome and whitewall inserts are molded in light gray styrene. Again, everything is bagged (including the clear), except for the tires, whitewall inserts and instructions. And, yes, it's a fully detailed kit that includes a positionable hood so you can expose the engine room…especially if you spend some time superdetailing it. Oh, before you ask, this kit does not provide decal instrument faces, but the raised detail on the molded instrument cluster can be easily detailed with a fine brush.
If you’re looking to add a rather rare production type to your collection, this would be a good choice.
Before you get the idea that manufacturers have run out of ways to tweak, modify or otherwise alter CAs (cyanoacrylates), take a look at this latest creation from BOB SMITH INDUSTRIES.
Called IC-2000, it stands out from any other CA you've ever seen for the simple fact that it's not clear. It's black. Black? Yep! The reason for the color is that it's toughened with rubber. If, by now, you're trying to figure out why anyone would add rubber to CA, there is a reason. And if you stop to think about it, it makes sense.
By adding rubber to the mix, you gain flexibility that you need to bond metals, fiberglass, rubber, carbon-fiber and other exotic materials. As far as the model world is concerned, it's actually intended to bond bulkheads, formers and servo rails to the interior of radio controlled fiberglass ship hulls and aircraft fuselages. Of course, when some of us static modelers start playing around with it, we're bound to find applications where styrene and resin kits are concerned.
Anyhoo, the stuff sets in 20-40 seconds…and can be accelerated. Once it's cured, it's still pliable enough to be carved with a knife and it'll endure a temperature range of -40 to +250 degrees. Since any model you use it on, as well as the modeler, won't survive that range, for all practical purposes IC-2000 is indestructible. Not bad for $7.99 an ounce.
Do keep in mind that BOB SMITH products are usually sold under private label. As a result, you're liable to find this stuff under many different brands. Just look for the IC-2000 name and the black color.
The last couple of months has brought a slew of new books that'll be particularly interesting to the aviation enthusiast. While it'll take another month or two to develop full reviews on each, all of the titles, their authors and publishers are listed below.
North American Aircraft 1934-1999, Volume 2 by Kevin Thompson. Available from Jonathan Thompson/Publisher, 1331 South Birch Street, Santa Ana, California 92707 (ph. 714-542-7145).
And from Specialty Press, 11605 Kost Dam Road, North Branch, MN 55056 (ph. 800-895-4585) comes the following:
Air Combat Photo History Series, Volume 1: Low Level Attack: The Pacific by John W. Lambert.
Air Combat Photo History Series, Volume 2: Bombs, Torpedoes And Kamikazes by John W. Lambert.
Air Combat Photo History Series, Volume 3: Low Level Attack: The Mediterranean & Europe by John W. Lambert.
Air Combat Photo History Series, Volume 4: Atlantic Air War: Sub Hunters Vs. U-Boats by John W. Lambert.
Airliner Tech Series, Volume 4: Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 by Harry Gann.
Warbird Tech Series, Volume 23: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt by Frederick A. Johnsen.
Warbird Tech Series, Volume 25: Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk by Dennis R. Jenkins.
Warbird Tech Series, Volume 26: Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan by Kev Darling.