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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New storage installed

Today I finished the large “temporary” storage box and moved a few items that had been stacking up in the upstairs hobby room into their new garage location. In the process I was able to get photos of two projects (one complete, one ongoing).

First, here is a shot of the new storage box painted and in place. On the one end, you can see the finished types in the V-Bombers group: Vulcan, Victor, and the very secretive Vector (actually an AMT XB-49, but don’t tell anyone).

Next comes the fifth-gen fighter project. Left to right: Sukhoi T-47 Berkut, MiG 1.44, Chengdu J-20, Lockheed-Martin F-22, and Sukhoi T-50.

Then there is the ongoing Eurofighter project. At present I have 4 of the 5 active duty squadrons represented. 6, 3,17 and 29 are finished; 11 yet to come.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2011 Total production

After all of our weather-related issues (and two days without power) here in Seattle, I finally got a chance to summarize my 2011 production, including a few models that never made it to the 72 Land blog, in a Photobucket album. Here is the link:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A blizzard followed by an ice storm followed by a windstorm!

Well, that was unpleasant.

After our 8-12” of snow, we got a weather condition that we only see about once a decade here in Washington: the ice snow. While unarguably beautiful, it is hugely destructive and dangerous to drive in. And worse, at our house (and about 175000 others) we lost power. Ice badly overburdens tree branches and any that are weak fall to the ground with a huge crash. Very often they take the power lines down with them.

You don’t realize how tied in you are to modern conveniences (internet information, music, even light and heat) until it goes away. With the outside temp a chilling 26 degrees, the house eventually dropped to 40 inside. Lots of windows and clearly insufficient insulation. It wasn’t hard to set up near a window, in about 10 layers of clothing, in order to read during daylight hours, but the nights with candles and flashlights did seem to go on forever. It went from an adventure to a chore to a bore to growlingly frustrating.

After 2 days we did get our power back, just as we were all about ready to strangle each other. But once I got on to to see what the forecast was, I found we were in line for a wind storm! A blizzard, followed by an ice storm, followed by a wind storm? Just exactly who did Washington get mad at them, anyway? Visions of losing power again chilled us worse than the winds, but as it turned out the power stayed on all night long.

As I write this, there is still significant snow around, but the roads except deep in the housing tracts have all melted down to asphalt and the 10-day forecast doesn’t even show any lows below 30. So it appears the remainder will gradually melt away and we can get back to our usual 6 months of grey overcast and light rain. And all to the good, since I have storage to complete and models to fill them with to build!

I’ve expanded the Photobucket album with additional pictures taken during the ice phase of our triple storm experience.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A "Weather Event"

Some of you may have been reading about the Great Snowstorm of 2012 in the Pacific Northwest. Though we are rather more famous for rain, we do get the occasional blast of cold air that manifests itself as a good steady snowstorm. In fact, the first year that we lived here (1985), there was a huge blast of 18" worth that basically shut down the entire city. We were concerned that that was going to be norm, but we have not had such as big snowstorm in the intervening 27 years.

On Monday we got an inch or so, and on Tuesday the temps remained in the 20s and gave us probably 10 to 12" more at our house. I would usually try to use this as proper modelling weather, but given that last year we didn't see so much as a single snowflake, it was just too tempting to go out and play.

Just a couple of photos. First, looking out the back door toward the street (which is on the other side of the fence).
Next, Tank (the French Bulldog) and Tug (the Pug) trying to cope with this new experience. Remember that they have never seen snow in their lives.

I've uploaded about a dozen photos to a Photobucket album if anyone is interested:

Friday, January 13, 2012

The problem of storage

Most modellers – at least those who have not gradually morphed into kit collectors over the years – have a problem with storage of completed models. If you have shelves, there is the every present menace of dust. If you have storage cabinets, you have probably paid upwards of a grand to get one. If you are one of the few that produces a significant number of finished models in any given year, there is the sheer matter of finding places on the shelves or cabinets.

While I was lucky enough to pick up three short retail display cases in the late 80s for $100 apiece from a retail salvage company in south Seattle, that barely contained the models that I had completed at that time. Eventually, inspired by a makeshift display that I had seen at the San Diego Air Museum of all places, I decided to search for some waist-high one level glass-topped cases. The search was a bit fruitless; even when I found some they were more than I was prepared to pay at the time. I eventually decided that I would build up a two-level display system: one of commercially built “real” display cabinets and a series of small flat boxes topped with a sheet of glass.

In fact, I was preparing to buy a full sized (6’H x 4’W x 2’D) glass-enclosed display case from Grand and Benedict when it became clear that the company I was working for didn’t have anything for me once my current software development project was completed. It didn’t seem like the right time to be spending $1500, so plans went on hold. It is still on my list for when the income returns to normal (not sure my wife would concur on that particular priority analysis), but in the meantime I would need some more “temporary” storage. That is in quotes because, as so often happens in the real world, temporary shortly turns into anything but. And in fact, the earliest of these glass-topped boxes was built in the early 90s and is still in my garage.

The concept is fairly simple. Two pieces of 6”H x 36”W x ½”D and two of 6”H x 30”W x ½”D formed into a rectangle, with a piece of 36” x 30” fibreboard (pegboard without the holes) nailed onto the bottom and a same-sized piece of glass laying on top. Most 1:72 aircraft fit well within that 6” of height.

In fact the biggest problem is that the boxes are in the garage, which is also where the airbrush resides. Hence the air is often filled with tiny particles of paint, which absolutely love to precipitate onto a flat surface and stay there. Unless I cover them with a sheet, I have to perform a twice-yearly ritual of cleaning the glass with paint thinner and Windex. I will put some more pictures of the layout in this blog, after I’ve finished the current cleaning ritual. But as you can see from the shot below, this one hasn't been cleaned yet...

In the meantime, I’ve built another big storage box. This one is 36”D x 90”W and requires three pieces of glass to sit on top. Since I don’t want to buy more glass right now, and no one really sees them but me unless someone from IPMS-Seattle drops by, this will actually rest on top of the other big box. So no access to the lower box until I get that formal display case and do a major space redesign. Once I do get the new display case I believe I’ll put it in the upstairs model room to keep it clean.

Below is a shot of the box in its unpainted state. Once it gets painted grey and I start moving things around I’ll get some other photos.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Time to decide

There are a number of strategies that one can use to combat mojo fatigue. But the best, I think, is to embark on a new project, preferably using a kit that is well engineered and helps to assure a competent result. December, though usually a productive month in the 72 Land modelling bunker, was almost silent this year. It was a combination of outside causes, really nothing to do with modelling as such. But I need something to jump-start the process.

Very often I will use a new kit as inspiration. I’m very anxious to acquire the new Airfix Swordfish and the Revell Germany Halifax. The Swordfish has gotten rave reviews, the Halifax less so (some have problems with the shape of the props and engine nacelles), but both are high on my list of kits I would like to start. Unfortunately neither has appeared at the US shops that I buy from (primarily Sprue Bros) so they are not on the table for this exercise at least.

So the new projects will have to come from the stash. This is a worthwhile exercise in itself, culling the inventory for kits that you enjoy making if only to lower the amount of overhead in the garage. I selected five kits for review, based on 1) interest; 2) ongoing project potential; and 3) the buildability quality of the kit itself.

The five (as seen in the photo) are the Airfix Spit 19, two Tamiya P-47s, and the Hasegawa A-3 and F-15. I’ve built many of the P-47s before, so I know that they are perfect for this sort of mojo restoration exercise. I also have a small set of Spitfires in the display cabinet, but a PR variant always allows for some uncommon paint schemes. The F-15 is one of the few modern jets that I have never built, even during my streak of current US fighters from last year (I think the only one that will remain is an F-18). And the A-3 is a naval aircraft that I find interesting for no particular reason – except that it is a huge airplane to be taking off from a carrier deck.

If I were one of those modellers who focus on one kit at a time, I’d have to decide which of these to do. Thankfully, since I allow my Modeller’s ADD full reign at all times, I can dig into all of them and just let them sort themselves out as construction progresses. Remember that I’ve also got probably a dozen projects already on the workbench, including the big Me-262 group I had just started around Thanksgiving. A few of those are fairly far along in the process (B-1, B-47, Vampire, 707) and I can hopefully move them forward in the queue as well.

And I’ll be mixing this in with the construction of another “temporary” display box that will be necessary to move out the 10 or so completed models that are taking up space in the modelling room! So with some old Ozzy concerts on the headphones and a cold Coke on the desk, I’ll start sorting through the cockpit bits on these new kits and see what I can come up with.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Here we are in the first week of the new year and I still seemed to mired in the mojo implosion that hit in early December. I am hoping that the Revell Halifax can pull me out of the funk - if it would finally hit an American online retailer. Maybe the Airfix Swordfish too.

Though I haven't seen a full official 2012 new-kit list (just the 2011 kits that didn't quite make it to market in time) I haven't seen much that really gets the blood pumping. There are always cool items in the Czech lists (SH's Balliol, AZ's Chipmunk) but not much has surfaced in the injected manufacturers' lists. Now it is early and both Airfix and Revell tend to make their official announcments at Nuremberg, so hopefully we'll see some exciting things before long. But I suspect that the extensive world recession has gone on so long that businesses, especially in a non-essential category like hobby retailing, have finally decided to pull back a bit in order to weather the storm in better shape.

The problem is that, in hobbies, NEW is everything. I spent ten years in the late 90s / early 00s as an online hobby retailer, and can tell you that what is new sells. No new product = limp sales. It's just the nature of it. A year of retrenchment we can probably all survive. But if it goes on too long, it becomes a dangerous death spiral. No new kits = no new income = no new development = no new kits. With the successes on the last 12 months I would love to see the momentum continue. I really think this has been one of the better years in memory, certainly in my scale of 1:72.

On another subject, we're celebrating the one-year anniversay of the 72 Land blog. Another reason to outwit Jack the Mojo-ripper. We seem to be increasing page hits on a monthly basis, even when the content doesn't keep up. It's been rather fun from my perspective, so I fully intend to keep on pumping these things out.

My total of completed kits in 2011 was 39, most of which have been displayed here. It's unlikely that I will exceed that in 2012 (at least if my employment status returns to normal) but I will keep posting the work that does get done. I'll shortly be posting a visual summary of those models at my other 1:72 scale home, Robert Renscho's 1:72 Aircraft site:

To all the readers and followers of 72 Land, I wish you a great and productive 2012.