1/32 kits go to Cosford

P1070343

I’m really thrilled that I’ve found a safe home for the bulk of my larger scale WW1 models, many of which were beginning to rot (literally!) in boxes the loft. I’m honoured that they are on public show at the RAF Museum at Cosford, Shropshire, in the model and artefacts display area between hangars 2 and 3. As a frequent visitor to the museum I’ve always enjoyed looking at the models on show and for my son at least, it was an important part of his visit. I can only hope that some of my models will help inspire and bring a few people into the hobby in the future.

P1070344

 

In defence of hoarders

At the start of a new holiday I’m filling my mind full of promises – all the jobs that I haven’t managed so far this year. One near the top of the list is to clear a very full loft of clutter, something that will allow me to do more than gingerly step my way around piles of boxes and bags without injuring myself. This is a job that I’m looking forward to with equal measures of dread and excitement.

On the one hand the sheer immensity of the task is the reason why I’ve put it off for so long, but on the other who knows what lost treasures are up there. It’s going to take a considerable measure of discipline to stop me from picking up old editions of Scale Models, or leafing through my Uncle George’s football programme collection that I inherited, or looking through the boxes of old photographs, some of which I’m looking forward to sharing with my children for the first time.

So why the tin of paint?

I bought this in the early seventies when, as I kid I seemed to spend a serious amount of time and pocket money on my hobby. Judging by the satisfyingly liquid sound it makes when I shake it, I probably only used it a couple of times. Since changing the paints that I use, it, along with another thirty or so tins have been sat in a box in the garage for the past ten years or so, and before then some probably haven’t been used for twenty or more years. The point is that I still have them when common sense would probably dictate that they should have gone binwards long ago.

Today, my good friend and modeller Spencer Pollard is in the middle of a restoration project that dictates that he uses the exact paint used on the model when it was made over thirty years ago. On mentioning the fact that I had some old tinlets and would take a look for the two colours he needs, I was astounded to find the first tinlet that I picked out would be one of the exact colours he needs. The second colour alas I don’t have but Spence is a resourceful chap and I’m sure that one way or other he’ll manage.

The point is what exactly should I throw out of that loft? Probably nothing. The job has suddenly got a bit harder.

Is there anybody out there?

I’ve been reluctant to acknowledge the benefits of social media. In fact for many years I’ve been downright scathing. About six months ago I finally gave in when it was pointed out to me that there’s a whole modelling community out there who are wiling to share their ideas and models with you, and as your ‘friends’, you can ensure that the content that you send out will go to them only. Nervously I made my first posts and requested a few friendships with those that I knew. I posted some of my work and there have been some kind and supportive responses. With my modest collection of friends I had a reliable band of people who I know and have mostly met.

As time has gone on I’ve been invited to join a few groups and my network of friends has expanded. Now these are people I don’t really know, but I am secure in the knowledge that we have ‘mutual’ friends who I do know, and of course, any friend of theirs is a friend of mine. Some people have friends numbering thousands but I find this a little overwhelming, and am still tentatively making new ones.

p1050389

This weekend I posted a couple of models, and the power of this method of communication really hit home. One, the little Polikarpov I-5 was built to help me get out of the rut that I’ve been in for most of this year. It nearly went into the bin when the two decals needed to complete the scheme shattered into pieces when coming into contact with water, and there was no way I was going to attempt to reconstruct complex cyrillic script. I played around with the model by customising it a bit and I’m really pleased with the result. It doesn’t represent anything in particular but it looks pretty good, as acknowledged by the may ‘likes’ and a number of comments it received.

p1000309

The other model, a Wingnut Wings Albatros D.Va was completed around five years ago, the vehicle for a number of new sets of decals that had just been released. As the model had been given to me for review I had no qualms about missing out most of the time-consuming internal detail so that I could meet a deadline. To do this I draped the cockpit and engine with some oily sheets. This combined with a particularly attractive scheme made the model pretty distinctive, and I can only imagine that these are the reasons why it amassed a very large number of likes and comments over the past 24 hours (in fact the computer has ‘pinged’ as I write!).

Given the rut I found myself in this feedback has been both heartwarming and inspirational, particularly as some of the support has come from some notable individuals in the modelling community, and from many who are no slouches when it comes to putting a model together themselves. To them I once again say thank you.

It’s easy to believe that this hobby is, well, only a hobby, but it has been a good part of my life now for over fifty years, and I have to acknowledge that it is very important to me in its own way, though it certainly doesn’t consume me the way it does some. I’ve had a few months away and it’s done me good, and I’d do the same again if I needed to. I’m not that naive to think that Facebook is the emotional crutch that will magically solve anyone’s problems (of course there are some pretty nasty people out there) but I know that I probably wouldn’t need to go any further than to look towards my new Facebook friends for help and a bit of inspiration.

I’m back! Scale Modelworld 2016

p1050151

National Champion Stefano Marchetti

The break has definitely done the trick. A weekend at Scale Modelworld in Telford certainly helps, providing me with plenty of inspiration. Looking at the competition, it was the smaller scale models that generally caught my eye, providing me with the incentive to aim for at least one entry next year. However you couldn’t fail to be blown away by Stefano Marchetti’s vertical take off fantasy Ferarri with a level of detail that even manages it surpass his previous maglev Bugatti and steampunk motor bike. The man is a genius.

p1050172

In the land of lesser mortals I’d like to offer my support to my good friend Spencer Pollard who I know was disappointed with his silver medal for his superb 1/24 Harrier T.2 conversion. The model retains the bare minimum of original parts and the level of scratch built detail is breathtaking, the viewer being completely convinced of its accuracy and overall finish. A lifelong ambition to model this particular aircraft, he has every reason to be happy in the knowledge that he has given so much inspiration to the many modellers who have followed his progress on social media. The build can be followed in the current and coming issues of Model Airplane International.

img-8581_orig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would finally like to mention the products of Aviattic and the efforts of Richard Andrews, who seemed to be working his socks off for the entire weekend. Having to be forced to sit down and virtually hand fed by his colleagues, I was glad to see he was so busy and interest was taken in his products. Not only does he produce some of the best WW1 fabric decals on the market, but the forthcoming Ansaldo Balilla looks well worth all the effort he has poured into the project. Equally I wish him every success with his latest project, Luftkreig 1919.

It was great to meet up  with my club again, and the friends that I only get chance to see either once a year. Truly refreshed I’m looking forward to a new bout of model making. I might even open the box that contains that Demon!

 

Modeller’s block

image

For the first time for as long as I can remember, I have come to a complete standstill. For no reason that I can explain I cannot summon up any sort of enthusiasm at the moment for a hobby that has meant so much to me for so many years.

The picture above shows my modelling table photographed a few days ago, pretty much as I left it way back in August. The ancient Airfix Hawker Demon that I invested so much time in sits there in bits. It’s become a bit of a barrier, stopping me from making any clear decision about what I should do next. Not that the model wasn’t going well. There have been a few dodgy moments here and there, but considering that I have had to fashion a new kit out of a sixty year old one I’m pretty pleased with the results so far. Even the hand painted markings that I was dreading have turned out better than expected.

My malaise is not really the kits fault, though there’s no doubting the longer it has been left, the harder is has been to go back to it. So today I decided to clear the bench, packing the Demon into a box, out of sight and out of mind, for the time being at least. I had hopes that it would be ready in time for the Nationals in November and there’s still time, but I know what I’m like and it may be quite a while before it appears again. At least the bench is clear now and it’s a fresh start, if I want it to be.

I’ve been blessed with a pretty good summer holiday and I can usually get quite a bit of modelling done, but this apathy has crept up on me slowly, and I haven’t even had the enthusiasm to add to this blog. I haven’t yet turned my back on my local modelling club, and I do appreciate the friendship that the local meet offers, but I haven’t been to a meeting for some time now. Family and now work commitments have had to take priority, and I’m slowly shaking off a little bit of guilt. A bit of a break from all of this will surely do me good in the long run?

Just to check I visited my stash of kits in the loft today and peered into a few boxes, looking for something to get me enthused but it still must be too soon. So I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry about it and let my interests develop naturally and in good time. No deadlines for articles or competitions. I might even try a few other projects that I’ve been promising myself for some time now.

I don’t think I’ll be changing the name of my site just yet, but with the advancing years it’s time to start a few new challenges.

Muhammad Ali 1942-2016

image

In a year of notable celebrity deaths, it was of great sadness to hear when I woke up this morning of the passing of Muhammad Ali, one of my childhood heroes. He was part of my formative years, a constant in the media in the late sixties and early seventies for all of the reasons that many will recount and celebrate over the coming days. I remember him as part of that golden age of boxing that glued our family together, when all of us would sit around the TV to watch him as a sportsman and entertainer. As a kid in the UK his appearances on ‘Parkinson’ and his numerous interviews with Harry Carpenter were as important as any of his fights. For all of his motormouth bravado, he was a man who backed up his words with a deep honesty and integrity. He was a champion of the world in so many ways and easily one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.

Ironbridge WW2 Weekend

1940's 4

This took me by surprise a bit, particularly as it’s just a few miles from home. A local WW2 reinactment group raises funds for Pilgrim Bandits Charity by staging a World War 2 event during the last bank holiday weekend in May. Having outgrown its’ usual spot in Jackfield, it moved to Dale End Park in Ironbridge further up the road, opening it up for a much bigger event. Over a gloriously sunny weekend the park was full of Allied and Axis troups, Land Army Girls, ARP wardens, and many in period costume (including the inevitable spiv complete with briefcase!). There was a music tent which had a crooner performing when I got there, and a very authentic pub bar, not bad considering it was a temporary structure. There were lots of stalls, many with a period feel such as a ladies hair salon for that authentic look, and a concert and meal in the evening which I understand was sold out.

Everything was very convincing with everyone kitted out perfectly. The range of military equipment on show was very impressive, the vehicles mainly light transport, though there was an armoured car and the odd truck. I will keep an eye out for next years’ event as judging by the interest shown this year it can only get bigger and who knows, maybe we’ll see even more vehicles. My only disappointment was missing the Lancaster flyover due to a 90 minute delay.

You can find further details of the group and photos of the event on their website:

http://ironbridgeww2weekend.co.uk/index.php

1940's 5

1940's 10

1940's 9

1940's 8

1940's 3

1940's 2

1940's 7

1940's 6

1940's 1

Just put your foot on it!

train

When do you throw in the towel? At what point do you say “I’ve done my best, given it everything, but it’s time to move on”. As a model maker it’s something that I haven’t had to ask myself very often, as I usually persevere through an outburst of expletives, moaning, and much stomping about the house, and there’s usually a positive result. “I thought model making was meant to be fun?” my wife, quite reasonably asks, which doesn’t really help.

The reason for all this angst is my struggles with Eduard’s repackaging of Roden’s Gloster Gladiator, a kit with which I was very familiar having previously built two when it first appeared around the year 2000. For me to build two of anything is pretty remarkable, particularly as I did them one after the other, and it was at the time a pretty enjoyable and relatively painless experience even with a lot of photoetch embelishments. It was by viewing this experience through a large pair of rose-tinted spectacles that I agreed to take on Eduard’s kit for a review build, complete with its’ wonderful new decal sheet and a bag full of Eduard extras. What’s more, having previously built two classic silver wing fighters, this time I would challenge myself with a more complex camouflage scheme, camouflage being something that I don’t really do a lot of and to be honest, struggle with.

1/48 Roden kit

Roden’s kit from better times

To cut a long story short, the build didn’t go well. At least I thought it was until I decided to put the upper wing on, realising the that the slight, virtually imperceptible droop to the lower wings really did matter, lowering the level of the upper wing to a point half way down the windscreen. I turned a blind eye to this thinking that it wasn’t a problem, as after all, both previous models may have had the same fault but they went together OK, didn’t they?

Glad fit 2

No. This was a serious problem of my own doing because I was too lazy to check. What’s more, I found out at a very late stage of the build, post decal, pre final varnishing, washes, and putting the final bits together. In a frantic bid to rectify it I split the fuselage underside and inserted a few shims of plastic to form a wedge, so forcing the wings upwards. It did, but not enough. The cracking noises emitted  form the interior as I did so was painful, particularly as I’d lavished a good part of my Easter holiday on this kit, fiddling with microscopic particles of metal and with a complicated scheme that had been reworked three times until I got it right, and each time me thinking “this is doing me good, I’m learning all the time”.

Glad fit 3Glad fit 4

It then dawned on me that that I had three options open to me. The first was to make my own longer struts from brass using the distinctive lugs off the kit struts at each end, an extremely fiddly process where the geometry would have to be absolutely spot on. The second would be to build another. The third would be bin it and forget the whole thing. A good friend advised me: “Just put your foot on it. Move on. Life’s too short.”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Are you kidding? I just can’t do It! This confounded model represents all the time I could have spent doing a thousand other things during my holiday and free time. No amount of reassurance I gave to myself, that in spite of everything I will have learnt a lot from the process offered me no consolation whatsoever. My friend with the advice, a model maker of considerable skill and stature within the modelling community has astounded me with the lack of compassion he often shows towards his less successful efforts, borne out the necessity of the demands of his profession. But me, I make models for fun, and each one is a precious little creation. I just haven’t got the heart, and you never know, one day, in a better frame of mind, I might just have the patience. So the bits have gone into a box in the loft for another time. Maybe.

This idea of returning to a model after a period of frustration was swiftly put to the test the following day when I peered into the box of bits that represents the Blue Max Avro 504K that I started two years ago for Doncaster Air Museum. If you look under the “Latest Builds” section of this site you will see how much progress I’ve made, and I must admit, looking into the box after all this time I was pretty pleased with my efforts so far. I thought therefor that, with the kit 80% complete, I would get at least one model completed after the Gladiator disaster. Two days later I heard that voice again – “Put your foot on it”. With the white metal cabane struts in place I fitted the upper wing, only to find that all the metal struts that I’d previously prepared for the job were 1-2 mm short, and to compound what was turning into another swearfest, the cabane struts were coming away with my attempts to fit the wing. Everything is now back in the loft.

Doncaster Air Museum. I owe you all such a massive apology. I will, I swear, complete the kit that you gave me in good faith to make for you, sooner rather than later.

I’m not sure how different I am to other modellers but my approach to the making of kits is linear. You start one, you finish it, you start another. I’m not one for having lots of different things on at the same time. My free time is precious, modelling a means of relieving the many stresses of a stressful life, and I’ve been making models for most of it. So in a weird way I really mourn the loss of a model mid completion, and maybe a sensible form of closure would be to just get rid of it completely. As I mentioned at the start, this doesn’t happen often to me, but it did get me wondering how others deal with this. I’ve known many creative people, a lot of them artists, who are only as good as their last piece of work and see the no sense in getting  too emotionally attached to it. It’s either a financial means to an end or it’s the next stage in an ongoing path of learning. Mine is definitely not the former, so a bit of the latter thinking, for me, would probably do me good.

By the way, for anyone of a footcrushing persuasion, there is a blog for you: https://stompcrush.wordpress.com/2009/page/3/

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I love this place. The fourth time I’ve had the chance to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, just off the M1 to the East of Huddersfield, and each time I take something precious away with me. I just wish it were closer to home. Wonderful setting with acres of pasture (no grazing sheep or cows this time), woodlands and lake, peppered with world class sculpture. The visitors centre and exhibition space is one of the nicest I’ve been in (similar in feel to Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery), with a superb cafe terrace view.

Exhibitions this time included New York street artist Kaws with his large comic-like characters, and in complete contrast Bill Viola’s stunningly profound audio-visual works that dwell in the mind long after.

P1030712

 

P1030686

 

Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall), 2005. Video/sound installation. Performer: John Hay. Courtesy Bill Viola Studio (from YSP website)

Ill

P1030233

 

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front as I’ve taken some time out. I never get colds – maybe the odd sniffle, and occasionally what some might unkindly call ‘man flu’ – but it seems I’ve been saving it all up for an absolute beauty, one that came completely out of the blue. I’m getting over it now but after an ear infection my head still feels as if it’s stuffed full of cotton wool, and there’s a buzzer ringing constantly in my head. One has to look for the positives in any unhappy situation if they can, and in this case it has at least slowed me down, which is never a bad thing. I have to be ill to sleep beyond 7.00 and I’ve done that a few times this week. I also lost my appetite a bit, but I did find comfort food in the shape of Ambrosia Rice Pudding and Tapioca. I made my own rice pudding the other day which was very nice indeed, but nothing seems to touch the tinned stuff. And the other thing is Robitussin cough mixture. What do they put into that?! Has anyone thought about turning it into a lolly?