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Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 IPMS-Seattle Spring Show details

Autumn is by far the nicest of Washington’s four seasons: cool days after the summer, mostly dry until the winter monsoon starts to kick in, with visits to the pumpkin patch on the schedule. Spring tends to be a lot wetter, and just when you think you’ve got past all those days with highs in the 40s and 50s, you are confronted with a string that seems to last into May.

But one of the bright spots in what can be a gloomy grey season is the IPMS-Seattle Spring Show. Historically, it is the biggest show west of the Mississippi and north of San Francisco. The home club is 100+ members strong, and there are some very talented members doing aircraft, armor, figures, ships and even a few cars (though the car guys have mostly formed up other clubs, in the northwest at least).

The weather is a great wild card. We’ve had shows where snow was threatened and shows where the outside temperature was 80 degrees. Neither of which, I should point out, are good omens for show attendance.

It is held on Saturday, April 27 in the Renton Community Center, a large facility. We use two gymnasiums which are normally separated by a movable wall. There is a rug that keeps the gym floors from getting ruined. Lighting is fairly decent for a show with a high ceiling. Fees are $10 for unlimited entries and $5 for spectators with no entries. Vendors are arranged around the outer wall in the same room. Most of our vendors are private parties, though we always have Skyway Models and RJ Models, and occasionally get national fellows like Draw Decals and Kit Collectors Clearinghouse.

All the usual categories, using standard IPMS judging guidelines. There are a number of special awards, listed on the IPMS-Seattle website. IPMS Seattle

I encourage anyone within driving distance to give the show a try. For the last few years we’ve hovered around 600-700 models. Individual quality is quite good. Club members are friendly and helpful. You really can’t go wrong for generating some inspiration to get building a model. I could use some of that myself this spring!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Routine paint session

Now that things are approaching what passes for normal here in the soggy wastes of 72 Land, I actually spent some time in the garage this week putting some mileage on the airbrush.

Not much to tell from the session, really. It was a workmanlike effort with no major hair-tearing disasters. The red tends to take a day or more to cure completely, so I won’t be putting the White coat on the Global Flyer for a little while.

The Dark Admiralty Grey used on the three Hawks and the Sea Vixen is matte, so I should be able to do the detail painting on their interiors as soon as I have a free couple of hours. Expect some construction as soon as the cockpits are sorted out.

After last week’s debacle with the laptop, I was distressed to find my BluRay player also decided to go to the happy hunting grounds this week, as I was trying to watch “Skyfall”. Electronics seem to have something against me this month. Thankfully I don’t wear a pacemaker. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cockpits and construction

Now that I am finally able to turn from questions of technology and finance, it’s back to some good old fashioned modeling. And that, in my case, usually means queuing up for time in the paint shed.

I have no less than 6 models waiting for paint, but only two colors. Both the Global Flyer and the Phantom FG1 need PO Red (Flyer on the vertical tail surfaces, Phantom to patch some overspray on the tail). Dark Admiralty Grey will color the cockpits of 3 BAe Hawks and a Sea Vixen. I likely will use it, as an approximate dark gray, for the B-57 I rescued from the stalled box this week.

Here is a shot of the built Global Flyer. Since it was sponsored by Richard Branson and Virgin, it will have more than just the overall White of that earlier aircraft. There will be some red and dark blue-violet in there as well. You can also see the various Hawk bits on the tray also.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Post Battle report

Lest I forget, I should come back to the tale of the trashed kit. If you’ll recall, I mentioned that I had completely binned a partially completed model last week. For some that is nothing special, but I literally have not had cause to consider a model completely unsalvageable for many years. And the last (and only) prior summary execution was the Roden He-111C, a kit that has almost become a byword for atrocious fit.

So what was the victim? The MPM Fairey Battle. My understanding is that it was something of a co-production with Classic Airframes: MPM does the 1:72 while CA does the 1:48 kit, with the two sharing the research costs. And I do recall the CA kit got slammed pretty hard for its construction challenges too.

Almost everything went wrong. I’m no big fan of resin (requiring, as it does, the use of superglue, which was apparently made with the sole designed purpose of sticking fingers together). The cockpit is almost entirely resin, though there are strange little connecting pieces that are plastic. But the cockpit bits turned out to be entirely too wide for the fuselage. I tried grinding down one side, but I was about to break through the resin sidewall when I decided that was enough, and sealed up the fuselage halves. Unfortunately the fuselage itself is in multiple pieces, the top being separate to accommodate multiple configurations (two single canopies as well as the more usual one long greenhouse canopy).

Long story short, the still too wide cockpit distorted the fuselage. So there was no way that the upper fuselage piece was going to stretch over the gap. Plus it put the wings at sort of a weird angle; definitely not perpendicular. At this point my blood pressure was causing those little teakettle noises you hear in the cartoons. When I realized that I had not put any backing piece inside the fuselage to attach the exhausts to (which, btw, are six separate resin pieces), that was it. Into the bin it went.

Unless someone in the next couple of years decides to release a new mold of a Battle (hey, we’re getting a new Stirling in 2013, so anything is possible), I will dig up one of the old Airfix kits, cruddy nose and porcupine rivets and all, and build it. Even with all the sanding, it certainly would go together better than the MPM kit did. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New tech

It appears that our long national nightmare is over. 72 Land has a new laptop!

I’ll admit it is not state of the art by a long shot, though the size of RAM and HDD is miles beyond the stats on my 7-year-old dinosaur. But when you’re unemployed, even an unanticipated $500 expense can be pretty disruptive. And this is the same month that my wife’s glasses needed replacing too. Ah well, brace for impact, as they say.

So here is a photo of the industrial might of the 72 Land server farm.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Laptop update

The new Dell laptop arrived today and I am currently making sure that everything works. Then I'll be downloading my stick of documents and photos. Then comes the (probably) momentous task of getting the unit to communicate with my wireless router. In the meantime, the old laptop still hangs on by its metallic fingertips, so at least I can waste some time surfing the net. 

So it will still likely be a couple of days before modelling and blogging return to normal service. In the meantime, here is another hint about the kit that was binned mid-construction last week (as stated, only the second to suffer that fate in 28 years of modelling). It was a two-company collaboration, and apparently its design flaws are related to its 1:48 scale cousin...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Crash and burn

My computer is doing about as well as my modelling these days. We are currently experiencing a meltdown with a 7 year old Dell laptop that is falling to pieces as we speak. I mean, 7 years is a long time in computer terms, especially a laptop, but with my current income deficiency the timing is not very good. 

In any case, there may be a slight delay while I research, order and install the new laptop. Use of the old one is spotty at best. At least I was able to download all of my documents and photos to a stick. Though I am not a Luddite, this is one of the reasons I have never gotten into digital copies of publications. If your computer (or especially your HDD) fries a few years after you've paid for the magazine or book, you'd have to buy it again. Not interested, at this point. 

The good thing is that once you haven't bought a computer for eons, you get to see the advances in cost/performance that have happened while you were off the market. RAM, HDD, options are all multiple times what our ancient laptop can do. 

Alas, my bookmarks and saved websites are probably not transferable. There are a lot of them. 

When I return online I'll be sure to tell you the recent story of only the second model I have binned mid-construction in my 30 year history of modelling. The previous one was the Roden He-111C, so you know this one must be bad too. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

AModel Rutan Voyager

Though I’ve spent the last few entries talking about the models that are entering the front of the production line, that doesn’t mean that the end of the production line has been completely forsaken. While I work to clean up the problematic raspberry ripple paint job on the British Phantom, I completed the Scaled Composites Rutan Voyager.

This is a relatively early AModel release, which by and large means exactly what you think it does. The sprue attachment points are large and the engineering can be charitably described as lacking finesse. But the shape is certainly out of the ordinary, and thankfully the decals are good because there are no aftermarket supplies for a bird like this.

Fit is not bad, but there is a significant amount of filler on the various joins. With an unconventional layout like the Voyager, a lot of stress will be put onto the different wing and fuselage/pod joints, so be sure they are rock solid and cured before picking it up by one wing. Alignment is also an issue that requires attention; the angled relationships between the different flying surfaces can be a bit subtle and looking at photographs is helpful.

In case you are not familiar with the type, this was the first aircraft to go completely around the world without landing or refueling. This was back in the misty prehistory of 1986, piloted by designer Burt Rutan and Jeana Yeager. The flight took 9 days. It must have been a real challenge to get the thing off the ground with a full load of fuel. Rutan designs are always interesting, but not well served in the 1:72 kit market. AModel does do the SS1/WK2, the Global Flyer, and the upcoming Beech Starship, and if you want a true challenge, Unicraft does the Proteus.

Once it received a coat of white paint the process was quick. Decals performed as they should, and even scratched exhaust pipes for the engines didn’t throw up too much of a barrier. Generally speaking, I was pretty happy with how it all turned out, if only because it is satisfying to conquer one in a challenging line of kits. The same reason why I do resins and even the occasional vacform. Maybe it is like postnatal amnesia – I’ve already forgotten the trauma and am ready to start on the AModel Global Flyer.

This is completed model #424 (#5 for the year), finished in February of 2013. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

A group of Soviet trainers

And just in case a group of relatively unknown Polish civil types in short-run plastic doesn't sound sufficiently unnerving, how about the last new series: Advanced Russian jet trainers!

Part of this is because I had fairly good luck with the AModel Voyager. Even though there is a good tablespoon of filler under the paint of that model, the combination of unusual shape and survivable engineering meant that I counted it a success – as successes here in 72 Land go. So why not check out some other AModel choices and see what could be done?

I don’t have any of the AMonster giants, and I wasn't really looking for a fiberglass-body level challenge in this case. I’m sure that even an all plastic kit will turn more of my hair grey as it is. But I found two Russian prototypes: the Mig-AT and Yak-130. One is an older mold, the other newer (though not as clean as the Global Flyer). Then, just to add some spice, I found the MSV kit of the Su-28. They'll probably all be displayed with the Trumpeter Karakorum K-8 that I completed in 2012. 

All of the kits are in company demonstrator markings, though I think AModel has also released them in service camo as well. I don’t know if the MSV Su-28 is the same mold as the recently announced Art Model version of that type, but it wouldn't surprise me. The MSV molds are relatively crude, though they do have recessed panel lines. Although I like putting prototypes into their initial company demo markings, that will mean a lot of masking and painting on these three, and I’m still recovering from the work necessary on the raspberry ripple Phantom FG1. Still, as they say, in for a penny…