Total Pageviews

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Progress on two what-ifs

While I’ve been distracting you with tales of my adventures on Ebay, I have had a couple of sessions in the paint room.

First of all, the new hose seems to be working as advertised, though I don’t think it is one that will reward rough handling. Still, “working” beats where I was last week.

Moving to the front of the production line is the What-if navalized P-51, which needed some repair and repainting to one spot on its overall Gloss Sea Blue surfaces. I also did a number of landing gear sets in Aluminum, so I should be able to make significant process toward finishing this one up as soon as the paint cures. I took a look at my decal stash to take a first stab at choosing markings. I figured that it probably makes sense to put late-war Corsair markings on this long range Sea Mustang. I looked for one that didn’t have large letters on the vertical tail surfaces, since the P-51 has much less real estate to use than the Corsair does.

The P-72 (USAAC European F4U1), on the other hand, seems most likely to end up in what were originally P-47 markings, so it got a coat of Neutral Grey on the undersides. I have a number of decals for the P-47N, and I’m not likely to build another Sword kit given the difficulties I’ve had finishing the one I have, so I may swipe some nose art from one of those sets. Maybe “Pris & Prissy”, since there seems to be some dispute about what colors it actually wore. More thought required.

The NA F-4J Fury got its underside painted white. The Halifax got its underside painted Black. I seem to be stuck on the undersides this week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ebay adventures (pt 3 of 3)

Then there is the issue of shipping. On eBay US, you can limit the bidders to domestic locations, or you can add Canada, or you can add all international buyers. I’m a bit torn on that. It’s true that you can expand your market by making international shipment a possibility, but you also expand your potential problems.

I never seem to have gotten a realistic estimate for foreign shipping online; usually it takes an actual trip to the USPS station with the box all ready to go. Then, after getting it estimated, you have to send out a new invoice to the buyer and wait for a response. And that assumes the item has already sold – I’ve gotten questions along the lines of “how much to ship to X?” I can make an estimate, but the farther off your estimate is from the eventual actual cost the more chance you run of having a dispute with someone who likely does not speak English. Though I have to say that my experience in this regard has been pretty positive so far; modellers are a pretty reasonable bunch in total, and their English is going to be by definition better than my Czech, Russian, Norwegian, or whatever.

The biggest downside of foreign sales is that you can’t get a delivery confirmation for international parcel rate, the only rate that is anywhere near reasonable price-wise. Luckily it has not come up yet, but what do I do if someone claims that the box never arrived? I honestly don’t know the eBay rules on that, and hopefully won’t find out anytime soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ebay adventures (pt 2 of 3)

The next decision is pricing. As I said, no one is going to pay full price for a used kit that they can get from an online retailer at 25% off. It doesn’t matter what you told your wife about how all your kits will only go up in value, it just isn’t true. Some will over the long haul, but most won’t. Again, scarcity is the primary factor affecting price.

I learned this on my very first eBay sale. I had a copy of the Zotz decal sheet for PV-1 Venturas, of course in 1:72. When I put it up for bid, I put a “buy it now” price as well as a minimum bid price. Personally, I would not do this for any item that you think might generate a bidding war due its scarcity or desirability. The “buy it now” price immediately sets a top end on the potential price. When the decal sheet sold less than an hour after I listed it, I knew that I should have put it on an auction basis. Obviously my set price was too low, which is why it was snapped up so quickly. Lesson learned.

7 day auctions seem to work best. But be aware that the first six and a half days are basically used to allow potential buyers to actually find and see the item. It is relatively uncommon for buyers to start bidding before the auction starts to count down. Most bids are made in the last hour of an auction. One indicator that you can go by is number of page views your item has had and the number of “watchers”, those who are keeping track on the item to be notified when someone bids on it and when the time limit is almost gone. The higher these numbers, the more likely your item will sell.

But be aware that sometimes your item won’t sell no matter if the price is reasonable, the kit is generally no longer available, and you’ve done your best to describe the item accurately. That’s just the fickle nature of the market. Sometimes you have to relist the item, price it a little differently, or adjust your expectations of what the item will draw.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ebay adventures (pt 1 of 3)

Part of what I have been doing while avoiding the model room this August and September (besides doing lawnwork and dealing with one of the worst cases of bronchitis I can remember) is selling a few stash items on eBay.

This is mostly due to guilt. Having not worked fulltime for a considerable period, I am having all those psychological issues that we gentlemen of a certain age experience when we realize that no one is terribly interested in us anymore. Well, I’m sure they’ll get more interested when the US unemployment rate comes down from its current 8%+ range, but that is certainly where we are now. So my bright idea to generate some cash and not leave my wife as the only income source was to sell portions of my various collections.

The first trick is to decide what to part with. For the first round of selections, that really wasn’t a difficult process, since I selected kits that had been superseded, or items of which I had duplicates (which isn’t many, as I’ve noted before). About the only way to get a decent price on eBay in these down economic times is to be selling something that is long out of production. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how many listings there were for kits that are in current production, and the seller was asking close to MSRP, or even more than MSRP. With discount sellers like Sprue Bros, or foreign sellers like HLJ or Hannants, that just doesn’t make any sense. Why would I pay full price plus shipping, when I could go to one of the online sellers and make a better deal? Needless to say, most of the listings like this were not getting bids.

But luckily I have a number of British vacs from the 80s, including Contrail, Sutcliffe, Project X, and Esoteric. And some duplicates (not boxes, but the same sprues) of current rather expensive Hasegawa and Fujimi kits. There are even some ancient bagged Airfix items, and lots of old resin that has been replaced by injection molded kits. Also, I have gathered a fair amount of Liveries Unlimited airliner sheets that seem to be prized by the airliner modelling community. Little wonder, since they tend to be nice sheets. Even the SuperScale line is long gone, so they can sometimes make some money.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New equipment

I’ve received the new air hose from Amazon. It is not a braided hose, so it is a bit on the undernourished side, but I think it will do what I need it to. My compressor, an aged little bit of equipment that really needs to be replaced, still soldiers on in its wheezing lethargic way (not unlike myself, in fact).

Airbrush hoses confront you with the problem of connector size. The one I chose was an Iwata hose, so I reasoned that it would at least fit the lower connector of an Iwata airbrush. And the other end seemed to be the large standard compressor attachment. But since I was doing this by mailorder, it was a matter of waiting til the parcel arrived to verify that it all fit correctly.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A tiny bit less stalled

Every so often in this hobby, you come to a crossroads that forces you to realize that if you don’t actual do something related to the hobby, you should be calling yourself a member of that hobby. So this week I decided that, inclined or not, I was going to have to fire up the airbrush and at least push some of the nine models that are held up in the paint queue out the other side.

I chose as victims representatives of the “stalled in the cockpit stage” (He-162 and Ar-234, both needing RLM02) and “stalled in the exterior painting stage” (F1J1/naval P-51 needing Gloss Sea Blue).

And then I discovered one of the problems the airbrush has been having lately. It is actually a recurrence of an issue I had probably 3 years or so ago. The brush doesn’t seem to be pushing much air out the front end, which didn’t cause problems so much with the cockpit painting as it did with the overall GSB. But as I grabbed the airbrush, I could actually feel air escaping around the screw-on connection between the lower part of the brush and the air hose that connects to the compressor. When this happened the first time, I found the cloth-covered rubber hose had actually split and was letting the air escape. It hasn’t progressed to this point yet, but the rubber and the connector have obviously begun to part ways. I probably should have thought to check that, but I honestly thought that the first occasion was a fluke that likely would never happen again. Umm, no.

So it looks like I’m in the market for a new connector hose again. I don’t think it was terribly expensive, and I believe I bought it last time from Amazon (Prime), which at least means I don’t have to pay shipping. $15 or so IIRC.

I may retain the hose because I suspect it would be great for painting mottling. Essentially what the airbrush is doing is dialing down the air pressure actually making it to the front of the brush, which I can’t do manually since I don’t have a pressure adjustment. So it might not be a total disaster. You always have to be on the lookout for positive aspects even when disaster strikes.

But it is going to put a stop to large painting jobs until I can replace the hose. As I said, I still was able to get the cockpits and wheel wells painted, but doing a full surface job on the F1J1 Sea Mustang was not easy. Basically like trying to empty a bathtub with a teaspoon. We’ll see how the surface behaved when the paint has a chance to cure. But since it took about 20 minutes to do the Mustang, I’m not inclined to paint the Black lower surfaces of the Halifax until I can get the new hose. At least I can continue work on the others.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Still stalled

When I noted that model production here in 72 Land had stalled, I didn’t realize how true that was going to be. I don’t think I’ve had the airbrush lit up since July. A combination of heat and other distractions, compounded by a strange period of high-intensity job interviews (none of which has yet produced a result) and then capped by a nasty cold that I still haven’t completely shaken have kept me away from the model room. There has been a bit of construction going on, but not much. I was able to finish major construction on the navalized P-51 because I started with a partially completed kit that already had its interior painted.

But the P-72 (European USAF service F4U1) still sits awaiting its interior paint. That is also the case with the He-162, Ar-234, P-47N, FJ-4, USAF Go-229, and Halifax. Clearly I need to overcome the airbrush inertia and get some painting done. But with another heat wave on its way (yeah, yeah, I know. I spoke to a fellow in Dallas this week who laughed uproariously when I described 87 as “hot”) I may not get back to it until next week. Unless I have a serious burst of fall activity, my unstated goal of 52 completed models in 2012 is in jeopardy.