Saturday 28 September 2013

Reading blogs

I recently noticed that the blog-reader at tends to skip certain blogs I follow or at least not show all of the posts that are made. Because I'd hate to miss out on some of the posts you guys have been writing, I'm now experimenting with It's okay so far.

Which website or tool do you use to follow your favourite blogs?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday 23 September 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #10: Spending Habits

The Sprue Cutters Union is steamrolling forward, steadily gathering momentum and new members. This week we want to know how we spend our hard-earned money on our hobby.

- What are your spending habits? -

It's actually quite easy for me to answer this, as I'm a bit OCD on my hobby-spendings. Well, it's only been a year, so it's easy to know what I've bought so far. Of course, the initial amount spent is heavily offset by having to buy paint and tools from scratch.

For my very first model, I needed to buy EVERYTHING, 6 bottles of paint, several paintbrushes, an airbrush, thinner, cleaner, scraping tools, sanding sticks, clamps, a desk lamp, ... and whatnot. The model (M60A3 tank with bulldozer) set me back a whopping €6, but I spend almost €100 on tools. I also bought a cheap Revell airbrush (with compressor) for €110.
From there on, it gets cheaper. The next model may only require 2 new colours, if you're lucky. After you've done a few, your paint collection starts to grow, but some of these bottles should last years and soon you can buy models without needing to buy extra paint.

The most expensive model I've bought (not counting one exception) is €29.95 for the M1A1 Abrams. I (normally) just browse the LHS and pick whatever jumps out, keeping a limit of around €25. I'd say the average amount spent on all my kits is around €15. I tend to spend a LOT of time contemplating before spending larger amounts. Say, 1 month per €50. (2 months for an airbrush, half a year for a new computer, ...)
I'm not (yet) into aftermarket stuff like decals, resin replacements or superdetailed photo-etch, but that may change as I grow more skilled and start to demand more accuracy. Not likely though, I'm not a perfectionist.

I made one HUGE exception after seeing the M1070. I fell in love with it and ordered it online for €139.95. It's indended to be a loooong project, but I wanna finish a few other models first.

I recently bought a 2nd hand (but unused) compressor and airbrush for €125. In the foreseeable future, I see myself buying a Badger Renegade Velocity as well, which should be around €110.

Friday 20 September 2013

Good things

They say good things come to those who wait, but acting quickly can also get you the goods faster than those with patience, who are left with nothing. I'm talking about seeing an interesting second-hand offer and considering it a while until you finally pick up the phone, only to be told it's already been sold.

Earlier this week, I decided I would buy a new airbrush, the Badger Renegade Velocity. But then I'd also need a decent compressor. A quick glance at the local options quickly told me this would cost around €200 for a Sparmax, a highly praised brand. 
Further Googling landed me on Kapaza (a website for selling second-hand things, from baseball-cards to cars and motorcycles) on a Sparmax AC-100 with a starting bid of €55. The seller's listing also contained an airbrush (Aztec, weird-looking thing, totally unknown to me) and several kits. Seems like he invested in the hobby, but never got it of the ground and now his eyes were degrading, so he decided to get rid of it all. The compressor and airbrush were unused, the kits unopened.

When I called, he already had a decent offer on the compressor and the airbrush together and a separate offer for all the kits. As I only needed the compressor, that would mean he would probably end up with the airbrush unsold. Some quick calculating and I decided to buy the brush as well. By the time I got in my car and was underway, I had already decided to buy all the kits, providing they looked well.

In short, I ended up buying his entire listing for the price I was willing to pay for a new compressor. 

It yielded me an airbrush I've never heard of, so I will experiment with it, hopefully this weekend. If it's a dud, it's still a cheap experiment and I can always still buy the Badger. If it turns out working perfectly and easily, it's a been a bargain.

The only way it can be truely disappointing, is if the compressor falls through after a few months, but let's hope it'll last several more years.

I now have 11 airplane kits, even though I've already said I don't want to do airplanes anymore :-). There's several I really like and a few I could use as test-subjects.  If I can sell half of them for 50-75% of their value, I will have the remaining kits for next to nothing.


Sprue Cutters Union #9: Paint

- What paint(s) do you use? -

As a teen, I painted with Revell and Humbrol enamels, because I didn't know any other paint. The shelves in the shop stocked those 2 and I never even considered there could have been an alternative. Actually, I don't belive there was one back then.

Last year, when I picked up modelling again, I researched airbrushing extensively and picked Vallejo Model Air, because they are less (or non-) toxic and Chung from the WarGamersConsortium spoke highly of it in his YouTube videos.

I didn't yet know I would be fighting the airbrush AND the paint at the same time, but in the meantime I've gotten better at it. When adding new colours to my collection, I stuck to the Vallejo brand, not because it's my preferred brand per se, but because I'm still experimenting with paints and products and want to limit the number of variables.

Don't get me wrong, in general I'm happy with the Vallejo paints. The Model Air generally airbrushes well and the Model Colour brushes very easily. The few models I've finished are painted to my (current) satisfaction. I'm sure I'll get better at it with time and (lots of) practice.

I experimented a little with LifeColor and Revell acrylics for brushpainting and found both to work well. I once smelled a Tamiya bottle and decided to steer away from this brand.

So far, I've always used primer, as the Vallejo paint seems to really need it. The Vallejo primer is very good, even though it occasionally clogs the airbrush, so I'm now about to change my way of working regarding this.

I'm less happy about the Vallejo varnishes, the Gloss in particular, or I simply lack the skill at airbrushing them. As an additive to a paint mix to modify the sheen, I like it, but not as a varnish itself. For this I've been experimenting with Alclad II Klear Kote, both matte and semi-matt, with very acceptable results. The smell is rather hard, so ventilation is important. I have one bottle of Tamiya gloss clear - also rather pungeunt - and am happy with the results.

Since I'm still only starting to experiment with weathering and because I suspect it might be a future topic, I won't go into the products I've been playing with.

Find out what other Union members prefer in the links below. Better yet, join the Sprue Cutters Union! All it requires is a blog and a passion for our shared hobby.

Friday 13 September 2013

Ford Shelby - Almost finished

With at least 6 layers of gloss, the Ford is finally starting to feel and look shiny, so I can finally proceed towards the final assembly. The clear insert that makes up the front and rear windshield is one piece, glued against the roof of the car. It wouldn't sit flush, so I clamped it down. I added a piece of tissue to prevent the clamps from scratching the roof.

I should have added more paper or a thicker piece of cloth, because the clamps made deep rectangular indentations in the roof :-(. I guess it takes a lot longer for the varnish to truely harden 100%.

Clearly visible in real life, but it requires a sharp eye to spot the faults in the pictures, so here's the finished result. After taking the pictures, I masked all but the roof and sanded the varnish as far as it would go without damaging the colour. I'll add new varnish next visit to the workbench.

For now, here are the pictures. I'll try to make better ones for the final post.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #8: Your World in Scale

This week's assignment from the Sprue Cutters Union asks us how living in the small scale world has influenced our day-to-day view of the 1:1 world, or to put it more blunt :

-  How obsessed with the hobby are you? -

<Me> "Hi, I'm Jeroen."
<Them> "Hi Jeroen!"
<Me> "I'm 35 and I'm addicted to ... scale modelling"
<sound of people clapping ...>

I'm not obsessed with scale modelling! Am I?

I do not run around the garden or any park we visit, looking for the "right shaped rock", grass root or piece of bark. That's easy, because I've never done a diorama. That may change, so I can't count it as an argument.

Teaser : I just started my first attempt on a mini-diorama, just to get the feel of it. I'll be posting about it when I feel it's getting somewhere.

I don't spend nearly as much time at the workbench as I'd like. I'm happy with 1 or 2 one-hour sessions per week. Some weeks see more action, sometimes there's a gap of several weeks.
That does not mean I'm not often planning ahead. Less time means I want to use it more efficiently. That means an airbrush session will see 3 different models being painted. I think ahead about which combinations of pieces need to be painted in the same colour, so I can reduce the time spent changing colour in the airbrush.
It also means I think a lot about how I want to do something, before I start experimenting, be it making mud for the M60 or how I'm going to provide colour modulation on the Battlestar Galactica.  I read alot of articles (magazine or digital) and blogs on certain topics that are new for me, to reduce the time spent mucking about and achieve actual results.
I already have an idea for a diorama for the M1070 truck, but I want better weathering skills AND a few diorama's done before I start it.

I do (or did) not view every truck, tank or airplane as a source of information on weathering and what-not, but now that someone mentioned this habit, I caught myself doing it anyway (there was an 8-wheeled military something 3 cars in front of me in traffic this monday).
I do like visiting airshows and/or military conventions. In fact, that is what  kept the hobby going for all those years. I did once take an excessive amount of pictures of a Willy's jeep. Front, back, sides, interior, the works. That's because I want reference material if I ever build one. My father-in-law is ex-military and drove around with it a lot. Might be a good idea for a gift some day, or a piece of artillery, or ...

I'm obsessed with modelling, aren't I? 


See how bad the fever is with the other Union members :

Monday 9 September 2013

USS Missouri - I made a boo-boo

As I mentoined earlier, the USS Missouri has terrible fit-issues. The deck and the hull are supposed to sit flush, but the deck protrudes up to 1-2 mm over just about the entire length of the ship.

First, I started sanding. I prefer sanding sticks over sanding paper, because they're easier to use, but they are more expensive. After running through several sticks and not even being halfway, I decided to go about it slightly more aggressive. I was visiting the hobby shop anyway and asked if they had metal files.
Did I want flat, round, triangular, square, ...? Uhm, show me a few? They turned out €2.99 a piece, or €6.99 for a set of 10. That's a no-brainer :-)

Needless to say, the metal files ate the plastic Missouri for breakfast. I had to be careful not to grind too much away.

At some point, though, I had to stop. The deck does contain some detail that's sitting pretty close to the edge of the ship. If I kept filing, I would be grinding away at the detail. How to fix the remaining gap? I decided to add a generous amount of putty (Vallejo) to effectively change the curvature of the hull more outward (I hope you understand what I mean), so it would fill the gap under the edge of the deck. After it was dry, I could sand it all flat.

Unfortunately, the Vallejo putty doesn't dry very hard, apparently. It stays pretty malleable. As a next resort, I switched to Tamiya putty. This stuff stinks a lot more and it affects the plastic (too much and it melts). I applied it generously again, then scraped it flat with a spatula.
The shape of the hull is slightly altered (bending a little more outwards where it reaches the deck) but I doubt anyone will ever notice. Compared to just leaving the gap as is, which is noticable from 5 feet away.

A lot more sanding - more careful now - yielded the result below. When it comes to priming, we'll see if I've done enough or if more repairs will be needed.

Now, I hear you ask, which part of this is the so-called boo-boo?
In my desire to make the hull fit (I spent several hours at it), I completely forgot to check the building instructions. The larger cannons are supposed to rotate. This is achieved by inserting them in their designated holes and inserting a pin to fix their position FROM THE INSIDE! Aaargh!

Oh well, any modeller will probably have experienced this. No matter how careful you are with moving parts, some step in construction, painting or weathering will ruin their mobility. It's not as if I'd every allow someone to actually touch the model and rotate the turrets :-)

Sunday 8 September 2013

M60 - Decals and mud

I couldn't stand looking at the pieces of the M60 sitting idle on my workbench anymore. I keep starting new projects, always intending them to be quick and "just as an in-between", but I end up with 6-7 works-in-progress in various stages of completion.
All this one needed was some black and white details on the turret, but I didn't feel like masking them AGAIN. So, time to put this Vallejo model colour to some good us, as I've been hearing so much good things about it's brushing qualities.

The black went down beautifully, without any brush strokes at all. The white too, but it needed more layers. I've never found white to easily cover anything, so no real surprises here. The end result is seen below. (no wheels and tracks yet)

After this, I added a layer of semi-matt varnish (Alclad) to protect against weathering and prepare for decals. Speaking of which : there were 2 decals that needed to go in the back, on top of a very detail-rich area, a raised panel with raised bolts on top. Needless to say, the decal was just floating on top of those bolts and would never stay there if I didn't do anything. Out with the MicroSol, since it's sole purpose is to make decals adhere to the detail. If that wouldn't work, I could always just leave those 2 off the model.

After applying a generous dose of MicroSol (the red one, slightly stronger than the blue MicroSet), the decals started to wrinkle. I started dabbing at it with a stiff brush, to push it down unto the model surface.
Careful! The decal is really fragile right now and could easily tear or be hopelessly ruined. The Revell decals are pretty sturdy tough. When I returned half an hour later, fearing to find a still wrinkly mess, I was amazed at how well MicroSol had done it's job. The picture below says it all.

At the same time, I started mixing mud for the underside of the fenders. I used Vallejo pigment binder for the first time. First, I brushed some binder on the fender and started sprinkling on pigments. This was way too slow, so I quickly switched to just mixing up a batch of mud with a puddle of the binder, mixed with dark earth, European earth and Africa dust (i.e. "sand") pigments.

Stabbing the model with a brush loaded with the mud mix, was more effective in removing the mud and making a big, clumpy mess in the brush's bristles than laying down a convincing layer of  mud, so I used whatever was needed to get it all on the model. I sprinkled extra pigments on top of the wet mix.

After fifteen minutes, I gently started poking the mud with another stiff brush, just to remove any visible traces of the spatula I used to apply it and make it seem ... well , more natural.

After 4 hours, it had dried a little, but was still looking like a wet paste. Touching it with my finger, easily left a small, flat spot in the mud, so I had to let it rest some more.

After 24 hours (picture below), you can easily see where it is still wet (where it was applied the thickest, of course).  The bottle says it dries slowly, but this is getting rather ridiculous.

Blowing on it removed some pigment (the ones I sprinkled on at the very end) and rubbing gently with a finger will stain the finger, but not excessively, and leaves the mud generally as it is. I guess the binder does some actual binding, but my test several months ago with heavily diluted white glue was far more efficient and a lot faster. The Vallejo binder seems more effective (and probably intended) for coating a model and working in pigments for subtle effects, not a muddy paste.

I'll just let it dry another couple of days and seal it in with a coat of varnish (as many modellers do). The sides of the tank will be done later with the normal (white) glue.

Bismarck - Flee market treasure

I was born and raised in a small village in the North of Belgium, where roughly 800 people live in 3 streets (and a few dead-end neighbourhoods). Once a year, there's a small fair and everyone is out in the streets.
I've moved away to a larger city (Ghent, 250k inhabitants) long ago, but we visit once every few months, to visit my parents and grandparents. 

Why am I telling you this? This year, on occasion of the yearly fair, they set up a big flee market (an entire street! :-)) and - as usual - we went and browsed the stalls for salvageable goods. Having a two year old, it's easy to pick a few winners from the tables, so we came away with a little kitchen, shopping cart and baskets, washing machine and new dress.

While quickly glancing over several more tables, my eye was caught by a familiar blue colour : Revell box blue. Closer inspection revealed Revell's 1/1200 Bismarck. The old lady wanted 1 euro for it, so I didn't need to think twice.

Okay, "treasure" is too strong a word, because it's only worth about €8, but it's still a winner because this kit would never have attracted my attention in a hobbyshop, between other models. It was the only one in the entire market and I wanted it.

The contents of the box were in perfect condition and it also contained 4 bottles of paint and a small bottle of glue. This box was obviously meant as a gift for a beginner modeller - perhaps the lady's grandson? - which had remained unsused and had made it into a perfect fleemarket candidate.
With the added content, it makes a perfect €15 gift for a young modeller. As it is, the paint will remain unused, as I've moved away to airbrushing acrylic paint.

The box contains 1 sprue - well protected - with all 31 parts. Details appear to be very nice and I could only find ONE easily removed piece of flash.

There's a 2 page instruction with colour callouts and paintguide and 6 simple decals with the Baltic camouflage.

The 2 pieces that make up the hull are connected with very large and sturdy pins. Dry fitting was impossible, because the fit is too tight, but with some glue in place and a 1 minute wait, they easily pressed all  the way down.
(For the novice reader : because the glue basically melts the plastic to join pieces together, it becomes malleable and if you press the pieces together hard, they become "welded" together)

With the 2 halves joined, I ran Tamiya extra thin liquid cement (my new favourite since I discovered it a few months ago) along the join and clamped everything together with my shiny new set of clamps.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #7: Your Significant Other...

This week's assignment for the Sprue Cutters Union is less about modelling, but about how it affects the people around us. 

- How does your significant other view your hobby? -

My girlfriend did not knowingly get into a relationship with a modeller. At the time, I was not actively building, but she knew it was something I did as a teen and I had a few models lying around. A model of Star Trek's Deep Space 9 was allowed to sit next to the TV, because it looked the least nerdy and could pass as a piece of art, to the untrained eye.

Last year, when I picked the hobby up again, she was very supportive and her urging to do something creative was one of the deciding factors.

She's been there for the ups and downs. When something goes really well, or I'm proud of something in particular, she shares in my happiness. When I'm frustrated at something (usually the airbrush) or at the fact of not being able to find time, she has to share that as well. For better or for worse? Definitely! 

Since I started finishing models earlier this year, she has graciously emptied several cupboards, so I can display finished models (which isn't many at the moment).

Slowly but steadily, I have taken over her entire desk as well (mine is already full of "computer-stuff"). Yes, it's a clutter and contains at least 5 models in various stages of completion, but I've already decided for myself to reduce the amount of simultaneous projects.

Pretty soon, though, she'll be getting her own desk again and this one will move to an adjacent room. Honey, if you're reading this : I promise!

See what the other Sprue Cutters had to say :

Sunday 1 September 2013

Starfury - Priming

The Starfury has been on hold for far too long, so I started priming it this week. The body is primed in grey, the rear thrusters and associated fins primed in black.

I handpainted the thruster nozzles and recessed details on the fins with silver. The idea was to lightly "mist" the basecoat over this, so the thrusters would be darker than the body and the silver effect would shine through in the details.

I see the term "misting" often enough, in several methods. The idea is to spray a heavily diluted paint over the entire body, covering it with the tiniest possible layer of paint, so everything is still it's original colour, but somewhat toned down.

  1. After a three-tone camouflage, to blend the colours and soften the contrast. 
  2. After you've pre-shaded the panel lines and other details, the base coat needs to be very thin, so the pre-shading can shine through. 

Alas, my first attempt at "misting" paint was not what I had hoped. The paint-droplets intended as mist were way too big to even suggest the idea of light coverage, so all I could do was spray it all up in one fully covering coat of grey.
I'll have to practice some more on getting the paint to the right consistency. Its difficult enough to spray normally sometimes, so this is going to be a challenge.