Monday 28 December 2015

2015 - Unfinished business

It's the end of 2015, and we've just passed the 300th post. At the end of 2013 (200 posts - a year in review), I had managed to make 200 posts in 18 months, meaning I've dropped from 11 per month to a measly 4.
Not that the number of posts is any indication about the quality of a blog, but it does reflect what I've been feeling : I've let it (the blog) and the hobby in general deteriorate a bit over the last year(s).
It's a tendency I detect in many things, be it a model kit, the garden or finishing the attic. Once past the half-way point, my interest starts to slip and it's difficult to find motivation to continue (let alone actually finish).
Luckily, at work, this tendency has no adverse affect on the quality of my work, as the people I work for know how to keep me motivated with a constant stream of new challenges. (Not always FUN challenges, but that's IT for ya)

Anyway, we're here to discuss modelling, not psychology, right?


In the course of 2015, I finished ONE model. I also finished one that I started in 2014. To be honest, it only needed minimal work.


I have 9 works-in-progress, but the space shuttle is looking more and more ready  to get tossed. Some parts are missing or damaged and some of the paintwork is over 20 years old and was badly done. If I ever want to finish a shuttle, I'd better just buy a new kit.

The remaining 8 are in various degrees of completion and presented below in most likely order of getting finished.

 1/72 Lunar module. Experimenting with Vallejo metal colour. Should be finished in a few weeks.

1/72 Colonial vipers, Mark II and VII. I wanted to do dot-filters with oil paint, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

From the New Year's meeting of IPMS Ghent, where we traditionally gift random stuff. Almost finished, except for some more weathering.

Haven't touched this 1/35 Panzerj├Ągerwagen since I finished soldering the PE-thingie for the turret. It was a lot of fun learning how to solder, but I got frustrated on other aspects of the build, mostly a) spraying the chipping fluid on too heavily, and b) experimenting with free-hand camouflage that didn't turn out as I had hoped. Currently in doubt if I should strip the paint of the turret or not.

1/72 Medival royal castle. Building this (ever so slowly) for my group of AD&D players. At least the keep is ready, so they have a place to sleep. Also developing skills on this model for weathering in general and using oil paints.

Starfury (from Babylon 5). Started this years ago (20?). Experimented on it with my first airbrush (which I never got to work properly), so finishing it should be easy actually ...

 USS Missouri. I don't really like ships, for some reason, but will finish it. Some day.

Sunday 13 December 2015

AC130H - Finished

Finished this one a coupld of weeks ago, but was waiting for a day with somewhat decent light to take the final pictures. I'm very happy with how it turned out. I have no space to put it though :-).
Hanging from the ceiling would be weird, with the loading ramp open and all, but once all the new closets are installed, this one will proudly sit on top of them.

Kit: AC130H Spectre II
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Esci
Price: around €12 (second-hand)
Number of parts: 202
Time spent: 38 hours
Project completion time: 7 months

Paint : (Vallejo)
  • Black primer
  • Pale grey blue (71.046) - Belly
  • Intermediate blue (71.005) - Overall colour
  • Interior green (71.010) - Cockpit
  • German grey (71.052) - "Black" details (I rarely use actua black anymore)
  • Details in flat yellow, scarlet red, olive drab, gun metal, ...

 Other products :
  • Alclad II klear kote (semi-matte)
  • Mig productions Abteiling 502 "starship filth" (overall sludge wash)
Findings or issues?
Overall fit isn't that great. Fitting the fuselage halves together was .... a challenge. The building instructions leave much to be desired. Some parts are never mentioned, but some steps later suddenly appear on the drawings.
  • E46 (the tips of the vulcan guns) isn't mentioned
  • H1-2-3 never mentioned
  • A22 (front door) never mentioned, but I'm thinking I should have used A21.
  • C34 should be E21
  • ...
Above issues can be remedied by paying extra attention and reading the instructions twice before you start, but there was also :
  • The positions for the 50mm cannon and 105mm Howitzer are swapped in the instructions but that would make no sense (and wouldn't fit properly)
  • There's no way you can fit C9 (staircase to cockpit) correctly
  • E35 (sensor unit) is way to small (at least 50%)
  • A29 (loading ramp) can be posed open, but the attachment points are too high
  • A30 (secondary part, aft of the loading bay doors) has no proper way to be positioned open/inside, thus blocking the view of the inside. (some extra styrene required)
  • The antenna wires that should run from the tail to the front, have no attachment points. You could scratch-built them, but I omitted them altogether.
I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but I don't want to sound ALL negative. Overall, I still enjoyed building it and it's a nice big(!) display piece.

Lunar module - Basecoat Vallejo metal colours

I must say, I'm rather impressed with Vallejo's new range "Metal color". I only tried duraluminium, but others have tried most of the colours and they behave the same way.

It sprays almost like water, so easy on the trigger is the most important message I can give you. The result is very ... well, "metallic" is the best word to describe it. If I had polished the primer a bit, it would probably have looked even better. Metallic paints are very unforgiving for surface flaws.

The gold on the descent stage (picture below) is regular old "Model color" and sprays badly (old bottle? bad technique?). Result is okay and since it's on an irregular surface (aluminium foil), it's hardly noticeable.

For the landing legs (which I've wrapped in aluminium foil for the proper texture), I will admit there's something extremely dissatisfying about priming aluminium foil in black and then painting it aluminium. (Reason; other colours will follow)

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Lunar module + Vallejo gloss black primer

First step in trying out Vallejo's new metallic colours, is seeing how well the accompanying gloss black primer behaves.

I can already tell you it sprays beautifully straight from the bottle. That may not sound surprising to you, as the entire Vallejo Model Air range and the primers is supposed to do so, but as I usually have to thin it 30-40% to get it right, this was an actual first. Low pressure and easy in the trigger.

In a quick few coats, the result is indeed very glossy, laying down what should be the perfect undercoat for their new metallic paint range.

Now THAT is glossy! 

I've wrapped some parts in aluminium foil and primed those as well. I haven't tested how durable the primer is when masking tape comes in the picture, but I'll let you know.

I'll be honest, sometimes I actually like the construction phase, especially when it's all fiddly bits. Getting on your knees to find them on the floor is the best!

Saturday 28 November 2015

Lunar Module - Part 1

Among last weekend's loot from the convention, was Airfix's 1/72 Lunar Module. This is a very old kit (1970), reboxed many times and likely to have flaws, sinkmarks and a whole lot of flash, but I bought it anyway.
It's a model I build 20 years ago, that got ruined in a moving accident. I can't remember the brand, but it wasn't Airfix. I think I bought it at Space-camp. I'm now rebuilding it for nostalgia's sake.

There's not that many pieces, but enough to keep me happy for a while again.

I found one picture of my old model. You can imagine what happens to all those fiddly bits when you drop a shelf on top of it, It was painted just one shade of aluminum, but it was a sad moment when I had to toss it in the bin.

The old model kit had a sheet of gold foil for the legs and descent stage. The Airfix model does not, but I'm going to try and see if I can replicate it with aluminum foil and paint it silver/gold/.... Call it another experiment.

Everytime I (intend to) start a more "casual" kit, it quickly escalates to more serious while doing research. I was just looking for which parts I needed to paint gold, when I found this site detailing which coating was used for every part of the module. Turns out they used over 10 different kinds of metal/fabric coating to protect all the parts. I guess painting will take a little longer that anticipated.

Artevelde Challenge 2015

I'm member of the local IPMS chapter (Ghent), which organizes it's own convention every two years. For me, it's the second time, and the first time helping out and being part of the jury.


(As avid D&D player and dungeon master, I can't let the opportunity pass to yell this out loud :-))

I'm on a tight budget, so I'm a sucker for second-hand tables. If you're early (easy, if you're helping with setting up), you can find nice things among the admittedly high amount of crap.
I usually buy once a year, at conventions, from people or clubs that I already know, so I'm sure that the kit is still in good condition, even though the box might have some dents.

Left to right, top to bottom, we have :

  • AFV Club's 1/35 leFK18 10.5cm Howitser
    Second-hand from the chairman of our club. Trustworthy fellow with an eye for quality, who tends to buy too many kits. Yay!
  • Lindberg's 1/35 T-55 Main Battle tank
    Second-hand from a fellow member, who's just never gonna build it.
  • Heller's 1/72 M4 Sherman "D-day"
    I decided to get a few smaller models. 1/35 takes a lot of my time and I want to give smaller scales a try. Cheaper, faster to build and paint, not necessarily lacking detail.
  • Revell's 1/72 Leopard 2A5
    Same scale, same reason to buy. It's in Belgian service and officially licensed by the builder of the tank.
  • Airfix 1/72 Lunar module
    Second-hand from the owner of a hobby shop I used to frequent, but sadly no longer exists. It's one of 2 models I once made that got crushed during a move, so I'm building it more for nostalgic value.
  • Esci's 1/72 Merkava
    Second-hand. LOVE the Merkava. €5. Nuf said.
  • A set of 10 drills
    I was lacking a few sizes and some of my older drills are getting worn and don't actually drill anymore. (Okay, I admit, I ruined them drilling tiny holes in plaster)
  • Vallejo's new metal colours.
    I already indicated I wanted to give these a try. 2 vendors had them at the convetion, but aluminium was already sold out.
    I'm guessing few people will point out the difference between aluminium and duraluminium, so I bought that instead, along with the gloss black primer and the metal varnish. (if that last one is even any different from the regular gloss varnish).

Jury duty

For the first time in my life, I was asked to be a judge in the scale mdel competition. My own models wouldn't stand long under the scrutinous eye of any jury, but that doesn't mean I don't know what to appreciate or look for in other models.

It was fun, but in some categories very difficult. Knowing all modellers spent many days, weeks or even months on their (often awesome) creations, it wasn't easy to pick one over the other.

Below, I few of the more interesting entries. The first one is scratch-build, the second one 3D-printed (in pieces of course). The last one wasn't a contest-entry, but too good not to share.