Monday 23 March 2015

Sprue Cutters Union 32: The aftermarket

In this modern age, we have access to upgrade or extra parts, photo-etch or resin, fully detailed interior sets, decal sets and so on. Does this make it easier for us than modellers had it "back in the day"?

- Has the Aftermarket Taken All the Hard Work Out of Modeling? -

There are many considerations to take before throwing yourself on the aftermarket, "Cost" being a big one of them. I use the term cost and not price, because it's more than just the price tag.

I've seen fellow modellers turn out really impressive models, spending 3 or 4 times to kit's initial budget on extra resin stowage or whatever. The result is awe-inspiring, but for me, that price is too high. The joy of building is my main goal, without attacking the household budget. When showing off a model, my aim is "Nice!", not jaw-dropping awesome.

Time is also a cost and a big factor to consider if your modelling time - like mine - is rather limited.
I can spend 2 to 3 months (or more in some cases) on one model, building it out-of-the-box and being very happy with the result. I could spend twice that time with aftermarket fenders that have a "better scale-thickness", or I could have opened one hatch, revealing a tiny portion of a fully detailed resin engine kit, which can only really be admired by looking at the photos taken before closing up the model.
Frankly, I'd rather just start the next model. This is a personal preference, of course.

I have dabbled with scratch-building when I built an interior for the Chinook. I was not going to spend €20 for a fully detailed set on a €10 model. I found it very rewarding to make it myself, but I'm not going to be modifying every model from now on. I like building out of the box, as the designer of the kit intended it. I'm not fussed about inaccuracies or even blatant errors. If the lower hull is 2 scale inch short, I will not be going for 100% accuracy by performing mayor surgery on it.

Aftermarket photo-etch requires a skillset of it's own, bending, attaching and painting many tiny pieces. You're not necessarily making it easy for yourself by adding detail.

I guess washes and pigments also count as aftermarket? In this aspect of it, I'm guilty as charged. One bottle goes a looong way and makes my life easier by saving time. I have however also purchased a number of oils, because I want to try it the "old way" as well.

Whether you go OOB or AM, this hobby is about spending time. So, in short, my answer to this month's question is : NO.  Au contraire, if you choose to take the aftermarket-road, chances are you'll be spending a lot of extra time.

Opinions may differ. Check out the other Sprue Cutters' responses :

Saturday 7 March 2015

Viper - Part 7 (Decals)

After 2 layers of Alclad II varnish, it was time for decals. On the Mark VII that was done quickly, on the Mark II it was a whole other story.
Don't get me wrong. The Revell decals are sturdy AND flexible. Where needed, they respond extremely well to setting solutions (I use Microscale  Micro Set & Sol). There's just so many of them ...

The tail stripe is broken up in many pieces. Rather cleverly, each piece has no more than 1 irregular shape to conform to, making it a lot easier to get them in place. Below a picture of an almost finished stripe, just missing a small horizontal strip (and one on top of the tailfin).

After applying your preferred setting solution, wrinkling (shown below) may occur. Do not worry: it will go away again, UNLESS you can't resist touching it, or the decal wasn't entirely placed straight in the first place. It pays to go slow and not rush through the many decals.

I mentioned the clever tail stripe design? I can tell future makers of this kit to pay extra attention to the horizontal part. Make sure both the lower and upper parts of the stripe have a little extra to help cover this gap, otherwise you end up with the result below!

How to touch-up these parts? The 2 Vallejo bottles of red I have don't match the color of the decals, so I was dreading having to mix and match paint to cover this mistake, but then I remembered I still have a LOAD of Humbrol/Revell paint, bound to contain the right shade of red.

Bingo! Humbrol #19 (Gloss bright red) is a near exact match. The bottle is over 20 years old and a gooey mess, because the oil has separated from the pigments. But some stirring and some added white spirit yielded more than enough to work with. The result is more than satisfying.

Before and after.

The 2 sisters, side by side, ready for another coat of varnish, then on to some decent weathering.

One small setback. While doing the decals on the Mark VII, I noticed a huge and ugly seam line over the tailfin. No idea how I missed it so far. I should really go over the entire model with more attention befóre I start painting. Oh well, these models have gone back to the spraybooth so many times already, one more session won't hurt.