I started this blog back at the end of 2018. My only intention was to share my builds and any tips that helped me pursue this hobby. Of course, I added some observations and thoughts along the way. Originally, I was hoping to do at least two decent posts per month. Sometimes I met that goal and other times, not so much.
Now here we are at my hundredth post. The 100, the Hondo, the One-Zero-Zero, and with all things Hondo, we need to make it significant. So, in honor of this 100th post, I thought I would jot down the 100 things I enjoy most about this hobby. These are in no particular order. So grab a coke, tea or coffee and enjoy.
1. Opening up a fresh kit
Is there anything better than tearing off the plastic wrap and digging in? That new kit smell and then pulling out the parts for the first time while imagining the possibilities. Happiness truly is a fresh model kit.
2. Finding a research gem
This can be almost anything. For example, I was sent a set of prototype pictures with multiple views showing exactly how to paint a specific airplane. Another gem was the complete building blue prints that were held in the national archives. The latest one was simply an excerpt from a book that answered a question I had for years.
3. Finding the right decals
My issues with perfectly conforming decals aside. I love it when I can find the EXACT markings I need to complete an aircraft model. The complete opposite to this is finding the exact markings…but in the wrong scale.
4. When the Airbrush is in the zone
Despite years of painting with an airbrush, sometimes getting it perfect can be an elusive exercise. However, there are those nights when the Airbrush is perfectly clean and working flawlessly and the paint mix is all dialed in. Then my painting is in the zone. Every time the airbrush sprays perfectly, it is magic.
5. Figuring out a solution to a build problem
Most of the time a build should go together as the instructions state. But sometimes you get issues. Fuselages that don’t close perfectly, or have gaps, or have steps, or have panels that don’t line up. Sometimes the solution just takes some thinking or may require the development of some new skill. When the problem is fixed, it can take you all the way to the finish line.
6. Fixing a mistake
Despite our best efforts, we sometimes make a mistake. Some are bigger than others or occur later in the build. There have been times a build has been shelved while I figure out how to fix something big. However, when I can figure out a fix and then apply it with few side effects, that is a great feeling of accomplishment.
7. The Stash
This really is a hobby within a hobby. Whether it is actual collecting or stockpiling future builds, the stash always represents what could be. But remember to keep it within the realm of reasonability, there can be too much of a good thing.
8. Looking back at where I started
My first build when I came back to the hobby is nestled in the display case fairly close to my latest build some 14 years later. My abilities and ambitions have grown considerably but its always fun to see where where I started.
9. The Corsair
This is my favorite airplane. Others have their favorite airplanes. But this one is mine… No matter what, if there is a new kit, I’m always going to buy it. I can’t get enough of looking at Corsairs, reading about Corsairs and building Corsairs.
10. Model Shows
For the longest time I had zero interest in going to these. Then I decided to check out the local show in order to see the models and to get some magazines. That gave me the inspiration to up my game. The next show I decided to enter a model and maybe see if there were any deals on some pre-loved kits. Well, I’ve been going to model shows ever since.
11. My Local Hobby Shop
I am lucky to live 5 minutes away from my LHS and it is one of the finest in the country. I am lucky that my LHS always has something new to sell, be it new releases or a newly acquired collection of models. I really enjoy walking up and down the aisles and taking it all in.
In addition, I like talking to the owner, staff and the characters who frequent the store. Some say these are a dying breed that can’t ‘compete’ with an online store. Anyone who says that is missing the point of the LHS and certainly has not been to a good one. My LHS does a lot with the hobby community, he travels to shows and he goes the extra mile to attract buyers to the store.
12. Participating in Model Contests
Most model shows around here feature a contest. Now, I know there are a lot of opinions on contests. Lately these opinions are centered around whether the ’emphasis’ placed on contests is good for the hobby and whether the mechanics of judging could be improved. Personally, I think anything in moderation is healthy but obsession can be harmful. I can tell you this: Getting my builds ‘contest ready’ made me a better modeler and much happier with my build results. Its great if they get recognition at a contest. If they don’t, well, at least I got to spend a few hours with friends at a model show!
13. Finding Inspiration
This hobby generally bleeds into other areas of interest. I am inspired by historical events or engaging stories about pilots. I get my inspiration from attending model shows, history books, documentaries and visits to museums. Hopefully someday I can add some historical locations to the list.
14. Meeting like minded individuals
When I was a kid, most, if not all of my friends built models. Strangely, we all built these models by ourselves. When I picked up the hobby again as an adult, I did the same thing. I never realized there was a ‘social side’ to his hobby until a friend invited me out to an informal build night at the local hobby store. From there I started attending shows and eventually joined the local IPMS club. Turns out I like spending time with people who like to build models – go figure.
15. Build Nights
When I first started going to these build nights I figured it was a great way to see what others were doing and pick up some tips. Well, it was. However, and more importantly: it was about meeting others who share the same interest. We might start the evening talking about models but along the way topics tend to go off track, usually with much hilarity. I count these people as my friends and I am glad to have met them.
I was never into podcasts as a medium until I had an 11 hour drive ahead of me to WrightCon in 2019. I thought of my Ipod and then, for whatever reason, I decided to see if there were any podcasts that had some scale model content. At that time there were two. Well, I downloaded pretty much all of the episodes of On the Bench and the Scale Model Podcast. Those 20 some hours of driving just melted away. After that, I incorporated these model podcasts into my commute and added Plastic Model Mojo when it debuted in early 2020.
But it wasn’t until some months later that I gained a whole new appreciation for these podcasts. In the fall and winter of 2020-2021 my workplace changed significantly. I won’t go into detail but my worklife went from ‘fulfilling and generally pleasant’ to ‘maliciously toxic’. I needed a way to blow off steam and clear the mind. But, with it being winter and with gyms closed due to the pandemic, my options were limited. I soon discovered a whole network of forest trails and paths nearby. Armed with a walking stick, my modeling podcasts and my history podcast, I walked these trails for hours all winter.
Lucky for me, as we got to spring of 2021, I was able to find a fulfilling job at a mature workplace. I don’t think I would have had as much success in networking and interviewing without these much needed daily breaks in the woods – listening to podcasts about models and the Second World War.
For most of us, model building is an individual pursuit. A very knowledgeable model industry expert estimated that some 95% of people who buy a model never consume any model related media, never attend a show and simply build for their own entertainment. There is nothing wrong with that. My brain is wired a little differently I guess. It was the very idea I could get feedback, learn new tricks and improve my skills that brought me back to the hobby in 2007. I actively sought feedback from those who were ahead of me in experience.
The nature of the feedback I was looking for was not “constructive criticism” from the far reaches of the internets. To be blunt: I generally know when something is wrong or is not working. What I was looking for (and continue to look for) was exchanges: showing the issue, discussing the technique that failed, proposing solutions, and exchanging ideas and experience.
18. A manufacturer finally makes the kit I always wanted
And boy was it sweet when it happened!
19. Kit Radial Engines
I mean, who looks forward to assembling a rudder? Or getting that windshield on? No one, that’s who. On the other hand, I really, REALLY enjoy making kit engines – especially radial engines. At one time I thought that was what I was going to do for each model in my stash. Just open the kit and then build, detail and paint the engines.
20. Kit Cockpits
Right after the engines I enjoy getting that cockpit painted up and as detailed as
possible is reasonable. Over the years I’ve changed my approach when it comes to aftermarket bits. I now evaluate whether most of the cockpit will be hidden or too dark to appreciate. If there is a bit that will improve the look and will be easy to install, then it goes in. I have also modified my approach from getting the paint color as “accurate” as possible to using shading to show off the detail. No matter what, I really enjoy this part of the build.
21. My Display case
To say the display case is a place to simply store completed models is not quite right. No, the display case is more than that. Its not exactly a place to show off your victories, even if only to yourself. But it is close to that. For me the display case is progression. In it I have the first kit I completed and not too far away from that I have the latest kit I completed. The display case shows the kits I am most proud of. It is like a running tally of success as well as encouragement to try to do better on the next build.
22. Getting an answer to a question
One of my side passions is the early 20th century railroading that was going on where I like to cottage. At that time it seemed like little railroads sprung up and went bankrupt all the time. Eventually consolidation and the realization of economies in scale took these fledgling little lines and turned them into cross continental behemoths. The big lines might have survived for a while but the little ones always seemed more interesting to me. At any rate, on the beach there is a remnant of a pier. I was told long ago that a train used to push cars onto it to load from boats. That fascinated me as a kid. Do you know how long it took me to find a picture of what that looked like? At any rate, the pictures above show these operations around 1910-1920.
If there was ever a gateway drug to building models it is probably air shows but running a close second has got to be air museums. My model building inspiration comes primarily from history and museums are full of that. I could spend hours in these places. In fact, I think the first time I went to the Pima Air and Space Museum outside Tucson, I spent at least 4 hours and I felt incredibly rushed. The second time I went I took my time and was there from opening to last call. There are still so many I hope to get to.
24. Helping out a beginner
I am not sure when the transition happened from being the beginner to helping a beginner. I can tell you this, when it was me, I never understood how some modelers did not share tips and techniques. Others explained this as “helping the competition”. If that was the case, I think that is a pile of crap.
Let me explain. Way back in the day I was a regular participant in the ARC Forums. At one point I was posting my progress on a Corsair and I had a few questions about a specific aspect of the build. One builder, who went by Anthony in NZ came to the rescue. Not only did he tell me how he did it, he shared pictures as well. Now, Anthony was miles ahead of me in terms of build skills. I’ll never catch up to him, but that’s not the point. He knew where I was and wanted to help me along. I’ve never forgotten Anthony and I do my utmost to channel his kindness whenever I’m asked how I do something. In a way, its why I started this blog in the first place.
25. Model Clubs
I’m not much of a joiner because its been my experience that clubs for adults differ little from the clubs formed on elementary school playgrounds . Maybe with a bit more drama. I’ve heard the stories too. Tales of gargantuan unfairness at contests, perceived tribalism against whole categories of models, and a whole lot of taking balls and going home. Of course, much, if not all of this was 3rd hand and, as you would expect, heavily salted with exaggeration and conjecture. The truth is that a club only works when each member views the club as a 2-way street. Active participation, a willingness to contribute and share, and perhaps a bit of patience are the keys to a successful model club experience. In other words, you get from the club what you put into it.
I joined (some would say ‘finally joined’) my first formal model club in mid-2019 and I am glad that I did. Most, if not all of the apprehensions I had were simply not true. I put this on the Hondo List because for those few months before the world shut down, I really enjoyed the experience. I hope the meetings resume someday soon.
26. Tamiya Kits
You’ve heard this line before: “It fits as well as a Tamiya kit!” Do you know who doesn’t have to say that line to describe its products? Tamiya kits are not the most detailed, nor do they typically have any gimmicks. They are not the most accurate kits either. Tamiya doesn’t jam the box full of resin and photo etch bits and they don’t throw in cartograph decals (although, maybe they should… but that’s another post someday). See, that’s what everyone else does.
I love the build part of any kit but I know some detest it and rush to get to the paint stage. But this is not the case with a Tamiya kit. Tamiya seems to focus on making the build experience a pleasant one. The simple box top design, the familiar and simple instructions. Tamiya comes up with clever ways to make construction better and/or easier for the builder. This is no slog to get to the “good parts” of the model build because the entire process is the good part.
I have seen long time armor modelers pick up new Tamiya aircraft kits. When I asked why the response was: “Because I know it is a nice kit.”
There is an old saying that it is best to get someone into the hobby with a cheap, decades old model. I completely disagree. Those old kits are nothing but boxes of depression and regret. Get that someone a new tamiya kit. Give them a fighting chance at a great model. Even if its the last one they build, at least they had an excellent experience.
27. My Wife’s Support
I’ve read a lot of stories about how participation in this hobby can cause minor irritation to full blown marital strife. Everyone knows someone who has to “sneak” kits into the house or otherwise hide stashes either in various hard to find locations in the home or creative locations outside of it. I’ve long suspected the issues with the hobby were probably symptoms of a bigger problem that would probably exist regardless of the hobby. Fortunately for me my wife sees the benefit of my building and has been nothing but supportive. She has actually been brave enough to attend a model show and contest.
28. Tamiya AS-12
Or as I like to call it: ‘Forgiving Alclad’. Don’t get me wrong, Alclad II makes excellent paint and I recommend their entire line of metallic paints. But they require a perfect surface. If the surface has any, and I mean ANY blemish on it, Aclad will magnify and announce that imperfection to the world. On the other hand, Tamiya AS-12 can be sprayed on in very thin coats, it is rock solid as a base coat, it will laugh at masking tape and will forgive your minor scratches. If you want to do chipping under a color coat or plan to mask panels, this is your go to. If you must use paint in a jar, the closest equivalent is Tamiya LP-70 in their lacquer line.
I remember starting this hobby and gradually acquiring tools to help me build. Early on, I liberated one of those snap blade knives from the kitchen junk drawer. It did the job until my dad bought me an Xacto knife which suited me until I discovered the zen of a sharp scalpel blade. These have been a game changer and since I can get a box of 100 blades for $10, I always have a sharp blade ready for my projects.
30. Finding and Visiting a new hobby shop
It was not that long ago that every decent sized city had at least a few hobby shops. Most still have at least one. When traveling, I try to find some time to get to a new hobby shop. Some might think that all hobby shops are the same. Those people would be wrong. A new hobby shop is undiscovered country and always worth a visit.
31. Model Magazines
Ok, time to make some admissions. I used to have a bit of a problem when it came to model magazine consumption. Ever since the first model show I attended, I’d return home with at least a hand full of semi-recent magazines. Perhaps… perhaps I have too many. The thing is, I really enjoy reading them for inspiration and to pick up tips. I’ve tried the digital alternatives and it is just not the same.
Despite all of the serious issues related to social media, and I am not downplaying any of them, the benefit of YouTube for modelers is beyond obvious. If you want to know how to do any sort of technique – from folding and installing photo etch parts to panel line washes – there are YouTube videos for you. If a picture is worth 1000 words, a well produced 5 minute YouTube video that shows you exactly how to do something must be worth at least 10,000 words. Off on the side panel are a few of my favorite YouTube channels.
33. Finishing a kit
When you think about it, a lot of things need to go right to get to the finish line for a model. So when it is all done, there is a well deserved sense of accomplishment. More often than not a finished model also represents a collection of lessons learned that can be used towards the next model(s).
34. Build Magic
LED lighting, flasher circuits, explosions, propellers that turn, parts that move. Some may say they are not ‘realistic’ or ‘gimmicky’ but I don’t care, I like them all. I’ve done a few light ups myself and I have to say, they are a lot of fun to plan and integrate once you have the circuit figured out.
35. Planning a build
It usually starts with some form of inspiration. Doesn’t it always? But then the fun begins. A book or reference photo leads to finding a kit. If it is not the right variant then research about what needs to be changed. Once the kit has been secured, now its time to hunt down the decals and/or bits. Or maybe this time it will be just some airbrushed markings and simple engine and landing gear wiring. Or maybe an all out resin and photoetch avalanche! I don’t know how many times I’ve actually built the model before opening the box but I can tell you, it is a lot!
36. History behind the build
History is the primary driver behind many of my build and finishing choices. I like having the story behind my build. This generally in two areas: a battle or a person. My interest is mainly Pacific War and the more I read and find out about it, the more I am fascinated. For example, I never cared much about the P-39 until I read about their support missions during the horrific Guadalcanal campaign where they would literally be laying down supporting fire as they took off from the runway! Within a week I had an Accurate Miniatures P-39 in the build pile.
37. Great books
What makes a great book is so subjective. What might have had a profound effect on one person could be a total yawn on the next. I’m lucky to have found a few that have caught my imagination and were very hard to put down. Shattered Sword being one of them. I also enjoyed Masters of the Air and Devotion, but for entirely different reasons. I think most of us builders enjoy history books, I certainly do. I will admit one thing, I am less about books that endlessly list regimental numbers and dates and more about how things were done.
38. Finding that rare kit
I am not into vintage kits no matter how much they may be worth. However, there are a few kits that I’d snap up in a second if I ever saw them. I remember tracking down and finding the RF-86. That was a minor obsession of mine for a few months but I was eventually successful and it made for a great build.
Who doesn’t like a bargain? One of my favorite posts on this blog was the one about bargains and what strange and entertaining lengths I have gone to find them. Based on the feedback I received from that post, I’m confident I am not alone. It is great to find an expensive kit for pennies on the dollar. It is even better if that bargain basement kit is something you were actually looking for! My only advice for newbies when it comes to starting out and bargains: Pace yourself…… there will always be cheap model kits.
40. This is all on my time and pace
This is first and foremost a hobby. I have a hard rule when it comes to non-work activities: The moment it is no longer fun is the moment to move on. Over the years I have heard of some modelers who have done just that: Thrown in the towel, sold all their kits and equipment, and moved onto other things.
I’ve always thought that was a bit extreme because there are no expectations in this hobby and we are all doing this for ourselves. No one keeps stats on our ribbons, kit completions or build quality. No one cares if we take a break and enjoy other activities for a few seasons or years. Frankly, that is one of the things that makes this hobby so great.
41. Looking forward to new releases
First of all, we really are in the diamond encrusted platinum age of scale models. It seems to me that every month there is a boat full of new releases. And its not like these releases are minor ones. Actually, it sometimes seems as though there are an impossible amount of kits being released weekly. At one time I was under the impression that each kit mold cost $250,000 or more to make. That simply can’t be the case or there has been some other major in the economics of this industry that makes producing kits much less expensive than it was years ago. At any rate, enjoy this era because it’s never happened before.
42. Cutting Edge Kits
I may not be into building armor models but I sure enjoy looking at the latest and greatest armor kits. Same thing with aircraft kits – even those subjects that I am not into. I really enjoy seeing model makers pushing the envelope of what is possible.
43. The Stories & the Shenanigans
This is probably going to be the subject of a future blog post. There are some funny stories that I have heard over the years. These stories involve the accidental destruction of models moments after they were completed or a stack of contest ready models being knocked onto the floor of the contest room after travelling safely for thousands of miles. There are stories about models melting in the car on the way to the show and non-winning models being dramatically thrown into the garbage following the awards ceremony. I can even tell you about witnessing the very purposeful stomping of a German half track in mid-build, by someone who didn’t own the model, in order to make a point. Good times.
44. Build nights during hobby show weekends
Some people like kayak camping. Its a complete immersion into the outdoors. Everything on the boat… paddling all day…. finding a suitable campsite somewhere. Hell, catch dinner too. Build nights while out of town for a model show are similar: packing models for the show, model talk in the car on the way to to the show, days spent at the venue and at least one evening/night building models. Think of it as scale model immersion and you have access to climate control and indoor plumbing! I’m a big fan of these build nights (and indoor plumbing).
45. Good old 2 Sprue Wonders
I believe these 1/48 and 1/72 kits were perfected in the 1990s by the likes of Tamiya, Hasegawa and a couple other Japanese model companies. The name comes from the fact that most, if not all of the kit parts were molded on two sprues. These were the kits I was most attracted to when I got back into the hobby because they were reasonably well engineered, decently detailed, very well priced and plentiful, at least around here. I’d estimate these kits form about 75% of my stash. I still recommend these kits to anyone who wants to get into aircraft, especially Second World War props.
46. Aftermarket when it makes sense
There is good and bad aftermarket, isn’t there? I’ll level with you, I like seeing shiny and beautifully detailed aftermarket bits. But I have shifted my use of these things. I’ll gladly use an aftermarket bit if it adds visible detail while not adding days or weeks to the build. To put it another way, Ian at the On The Bench podcast, says that photo etch is your friend. But I’ll tell you, folding 25 teeny parts on a single fret can really test that friendship.
I’m big on quality aftermarket decals, Yahu instrument panels, Quinta cockpit sets, decent bang seats, metal pitot tubes and gun barrels.
47. Paint choice
I don’t think I would have come back to the hobby if there was no Tamiya acrylic paint. I do not believe that paint is any more “healthy” than the enamels I used as a kid (you should not be drinking or breathing in either). But for whatever reason, I find Tamiya acrylic paint to be the easiest to use and it cleans up nicely. Moreover, if you close the lid properly, it lasts forever and not many other paint lines can say that (ahem… Vallejo). That said, the last 5 or so years has seen an incredible rise of new paint lines. This has addressed the only knock I have on Tamiya paint: limited colors.
I have not tried them all but I have sprayed AK Real Colors, Gunze Aqueous, Vallejo Air (and non Air) and a few of those Revell box jars of paints. Although none of these new paints have made me think of throwing out all my Tamiya paint, I am very glad there are alternatives and I am glad these alternatives have specific colors that Tamiya doesn’t have. Choice is good. I just don’t know where the LHS is going to put the next paint rack!
48. New manufacturers
Not just the fact there are “new” makers of kits but they are good makers of kits! Arma Hobby, Clear Prop, Dora, Wingsy, A.B&K… and more. There are new manufacturers who have released some very interesting choices. More than that, they have moved far beyond “limited run” type kits that are the typical fare for new players. These guys have made some real quality kits that have raised the bar.
49. Learning from mistakes
At the time it is made, a mistake is disheartening – especially when it is at the end of a build. But at least we can learn from them, pass on the knowledge and move to the next project with that experience. My mistakes? Oh there are a few. Using non-acrylic caulking to mask canopies. Yeah, that was pretty dumb. Leaving a painted model in a sink full of dish detergent. Yup! And good bye paint job. Giving some random part just a little bit more oomph to snap it in place? Yeah… ‘snap’ all right.
50. Good dioramas
I do not know much about what makes a good diorama except that it is incredibly hard to do. The kits have to be completed to a high level as well as the figures, base, and the scenery. Everything has to fit or the whole thing falls apart. I’ve never attempted one and its because I am sure it would not look great. That said, when it all fits together, the entire package is impressive.
51. Giving models away
Over the years I have given a few completed models to friends and family. The Spitfire pictured was given to a friend of mine who’s dad flew these things in the Second World War. I had an awful time trying to find his squadron markings so I had to use ones that were reasonably close. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us but I hope he enjoyed the Spitfire. I’ve also specifically made an Iron Man (complete with home made lights) as well as an Avro Arrow and some sort of tie fighter. Everyone seems to like getting these.
52. Giving a kid his or her first model
I have a gaggle of nephews and a niece. Each one of them got some sort of model along the way. That’s how I got started. The whole point is to build something in an afternoon and have fun with it. One of my nephews got pretty good at it before packing it all up to pursue jobs and girls. Its a familiar story. He might be back one day.
I have my own little builder. She’s not into models like I was but she does enjoy putting them together beside me. I like how she has learned to read instructions and understand how things are built up in sub components. Maybe she won’t ever build a model again but no matter what, she will be very ready to unpack and put Ikea stuff together when she goes to college.
53. The vendor room (in general)
You know what it is? I just like looking at models: Completed models, new models, models boxes. I like it all. So, you know I’d like to walk around a gym or community room that is filled with model boxes… hell, even a parking lot that has tables and tables filled with models. Pro tip I learned through observation years ago when I showed up to a show with a models and registration sheets: When you get to the show, hit the vendor room first instead of standing in the registration line like a sucker. You’ve got until noon to register, but only until 9:03 to get the best of the pickings.
Think about it.
54. Finding something unexpected in the vendor room
Back in 2017 I attended an out of town model show. I got there relatively early and stood in the contest registration line like a sucker only to see every other show goer run out of the vendor room giggling with bags and bags of models. After carefully placing my models on the contest table I wandered over to the vendor room to see what was left. Yeah, it was picked over fairly well. But there was plenty to look at. I got to one table which was actually more like 4 tables placed end-to-end. The models were piled from the floor to a bit above eye level and the boxes ere placed with the ends sticking out.
In other words, you had to squint and read the box ends.
I stood back a little from the crowd of largish and elbow-ey guys trying out outmaneuver each other. Wouldn’t you know it? There were three very nice Hasegawa and Zoukei-Mura kits at knee level. They were also eye blinkingly cheap!
I am agile when I need to be.
As I was walking with my three kills towards the vendor, one of the would-be buyers whined: “Hey! I didn’t see those! I would have got them had I seen ’em!”
“…and if my aunt had balls…” I thought as I kept on walking. See, I didn’t feel bad at all. The registration line gave that guy at least a twenty minute head start.
55. Japanese Aircraft
I got back into the hobby knowing that I wanted to build a few Corsairs. I think I started with about 4 of them. These were Tamiya and Hasegawa kits. Not too long after those, I met a builder who was selling a Tamiya 1/32 Zero. The price was a good one and I had read the kit was an excellent one. It was not a Corsair but I was intrigued. I started working on it soon after pulling the trigger. That build opened my eyes to a whole other area of Second World War airplanes. Sure I had heard of the Zero, the George and the Frank but I had no idea there were dozens of others. Moreover, they had all sorts of interesting paint schemes and markings. As well, there were seemingly hundreds of kits of them!
56. Confidence for non-model projects
I am not a handyman but I am not afraid to try. Compared to my non-model building and very un-handy friends, I really think that my building models and using tools has given me some confidence to try my hand at other things. Everything from fixing bathrooms with tiling and plumbing to renting one person post diggers and putting up a new fence. I am not afraid to read up on a project, get the tools and go for it.
I started this blog to share what I do, post pictures of models and generally have fun. I started with builds but it did not take me long to start posting my thoughts and musings about various things hobby related. Through this blog I have met a pile of people and, hopefully, I have helped out some others. Otherwise, I am happy to see that some of these posts have started conversations outside this blog
The best part? None of my musings have attracted any mobs with pitchforks to my doorstep. Not yet anyway.
58. Posting Videos
I am very late to the party on this one but I am here now. Much like photography, printing 3d parts or scenery, shooting and editing video is like any other sub-hobby within the hobby. It takes practice to make something people enjoy watching. Making my own videos has given me a whole new appreciation for the work that others post on YouTube. I feel as though I’ve just started and I have miles to catch up but I enjoy the process.
I despise Facebook in general but a lot of my friends use FB as a way to keep in touch and share their work. I’ve learned to tailor my FB experience to my needs. It took a careful effort to cull all of the current events, politics, nonsense and other stupidity from my FB feed. And like my garden, the feed requires constant weeding. However, when FB is cleared of nonsense and only feeds me scale model content, it is a very helpful platform that keeps me up to date and gives me a lot of inspiration.
59. Occasionally stepping outside my comfort zone
I always liked little 1/700 ships. They look like little jewels. I’ve given two a try with various degrees of success. I am happy to say that both were completed and I have a whole new appreciation of those who build these kits. On the other hand, those railings and rigging… what a royal pain in the butt!
60. Slaying a Dragon
Finishing a kit is one thing. Enjoying an straightforward, no hiccups build is another. But finishing a nightmare kit from the dark ages, otherwise known as ‘Slaying a Dragon’, is a particular kind of accomplishment. Look at the build above from a fantastic builder who displayed at Torcan in 2019. Wow. I’ll admit to only having slayed a couple dragons up until now but I am happy I stuck to my guns and completed them.
Consider this: in 40 years, will builders consider the Tamiya 1/32 Corsair to be a dragon?
61. Mail Call
Is there anything better than getting kits or components in the mail? That delivery is off in the back of your mind soon after placing an order. It is sometimes forgotten until weeks later when you have that wonderful little wrapped parcel come surprise you at the end of the day.
62. Little Discoveries
Given the ease of promotion these days, even small garage outfits can announce things that will spread like wildfire but every now and then I find something on line that I’ve never heard of before. The last one I snapped up was a resin conversion set for a -3 Corsair. That was a great little find.
63. Learning new skills
I’ve come a long way from red tube glue, square bottle paint, sticky fingers and ripped decals. The best thing? I’m STILL learning and experimenting to see what works for me. I love learning new things and new skills, mastering them and applying them successfully. It is one of the best parts of this hobby!
64. Recovering a shelf queen
I have written about shelf queens before. I have thought about how to prevent a project from becoming a shelf queen and provided some ideas to get those shelf queens done. I can say this with confidence: no matter how you do it, it feels great to get one of these off the shelf and into the display case.
65. Winning something cool in the raffle
When I came home from my first model contest my lovely wife asked me if I won. I replied that I did and that I took home a second place in my category. She was genuinely surprised and excited: “Oh wow!” she exclaimed, “What did you win? A model?” When I showed her the wooden plaque she was puzzled. She thought winning a model would be much better. She’s probably right. Well, the only place to win a model at a show is in a raffle. Most shows have some sort of raffle to raise money for the host club. I always participate and if there are some real juicy prizes to win, well, I will buy a few more tickets. Everyone loves winning something.
66. The ride home
The post contest ride home, I mean. A model show recap and a debrief usually. Certainly a discussion about which models we liked and those we bought and intend to work on next. The ride home is a lot of fun when it is not in a blizzard (a real possibility for local spring shows!)
67. Seeing my models in print
I enjoy building models and showing them. I participate in model contests and I enjoy getting the nod that I am making decent models. Maybe I am a sucker for affirmation. but I really got a kick out of seeing my work published in hobby magazines.
68. The Airbrush
If there is one hobby tool I love, it has got to be the airbrush. I have had a few of them. I currently use 2 different Iwata airbrushes and one Harder & Steenbeck. I love each one of these things. I wore out the Badger Anthem I bought back in 2007. That was an excellent airbrush to get me started and it was a workhorse.
69. Trying a new technique (and it worked!)
New tricks are always fun to try out and we are lucky to have so many places to learn something new. Last year I tried chipping fluid and it worked and I liked the results. Before that I tried a variety of panel line techniques before discovering that wonderful Mig Ammo stuff.
70. Bringing the house down during a build night
I’ll level with you – most of the conversation at build night does not involve models. We tend to discuss current events, stupid elections, we solve the world’s problems and root for sports teams. The best part is every now and then someone will make a comment or snide remark that has us all laughing. Maybe that should be the motto of our unofficial build nights: “Come for the Models; Stay for the flippant remarks!”
71. Being trapped in a hobby shop
“I never thought it would happen to me…” but it is all true! My local hobby shop hosts a monthly build night. It is informal. It is fun. There are anywhere between 10 and 20 builders at any one of these evenings. We get started at the end of the day and we can stay a few hours after the store closes. Now, what usually happens is that one of the staff closes the cash, locks the main door and before he slips out the side door, he waives good bye to us. The owner then shows up a couple hours later to flush us out and properly close down for the night.
But one night… well, he must have forgot.
One of us first noticed that it was getting rather late. Watches were checked, quizzical looks shot across the tables and then shoulders were shrugged. Hey, more build time. But when one hour turned into two, more comments were made.
“Um… does anyone have his home number?”
“How do we set an alarm?”
“Are there any cots in the back?”
No hobby shop owner would ever voluntarily give out his home phone number and we’d already heard stories of how touchy that alarm pad was. I packed up my stuff and I joined some builders who were pouring over some new stock. Yeah, part of me was interested in what was fresh at the store but I was also eyeing potential sites for a comfortable place to bed down. Its always best to stake a claim while others are distracted.
It was all for naught. The owner came running to the store, he’d fallen asleep watching television.
72. There will always be better models
That bleeding edge kit from the mid 1990s seems so silly now. Those “uber” kits from the early 2000s? Yawn. Now, some won’t get out of bed for a kit that doesn’t come with at least 500 parts, resin, photoetch and a hard bound book! I’m kidding of course but the point is, this hobby is always improving. The detail and fit of kits has never been so good. The quality of everything, not just the most expensive kits, is night and day better than when I first started as a kid.
73. Seeing truly epic work
I am talking about those models that make you shake your head at the idea that the finished model came in pieces in a box. The assortment of shots above were all models that made me come back to check them out multiple times. They were all incredible and inspiring. I really miss seeing this stuff.
74. Watching your friends get better
I have a few model buddies and some of them show their stuff at build nights or contests. Over the years I have seen their models get better and better. Some of these guys are YouTube superstars and some just like to work out of their basement and occasionally share a masterpiece to our amazement. Some have even come close to inspiring me to drop all this aircraft stuff and pursue tanks.
Ok, maybe not that last part, but their stuff is still excellent.
75. Scratch building
I’ll admit I have not done a lot of this but I intend to do more in the future. I have scratch built missing gear doors, struts, and some interior features for aircraft. I have upgraded engines and cockpits with scratch built components. Each time I’ve done it (and sometimes it took more than one attempt) I have felt incredibly proud of the result. I definitely intend to ramp up this side of my building in the near future.
76. Unwrapping a fully masked model
This is like Christmas every time I do it. I love this part. I’m paranoid of overspray so I tend to mask everything when I paint. Sometimes this takes weeks to complete. When the masks come off and I see paint perfection…. magic. Hell, even if there is a bit of overspray here and there, it doesn’t take away from the fun.
77. Painted markings
My issues with crappy decals are widely known and I get the occasional ribbing because of it. Fair, I suppose. But when I started spraying on my markings (mostly in defiance) it opened up a new world for me. And for those who might hesitate to do this because of the time it takes to mask and paint, well, once you do it a few times, it goes pretty fast and well worth the effort.
78. Winning a kit on ebay
Ebaying for cheap model kits was something I did years ago before all of the changes and shipping cost explosion. Occasionally one could snipe at the very last minute and score big on a kit. Now I occasionally look for hard-to-find kits on ebay. Unfortunately, many of the sellers know very well what they have and adopt Rockefelleresque pricing in a hobby where most use dollar store paints. I wish those sellers the very best of luck. Either way, winning a kit on ebay is still a small bit of excitement
79. You meet the most interesting people from the most interesting places
This is primarily due to the marriage of scale models and the internet. I have met, virtually anyway, all sorts of people through this blog or the socials. Some of who I carry on regular ‘messenger’, ‘instagram’, texts and olde fashioned email conversations. I have no idea what else we may have in common, maybe nothing, but we all agree on models.
80. Fondling a model while watching TV
Sometimes I don’t have a few hours to build in the workshop. Sometimes I am burnt out at the end of the day or week and I just want to sit back and veg for a bit before calling it a night. Often I will take down a few kits from the stash and paw through them while watching some YouTube or Netflix. I usually remember where I got the model and more often than not get a happy surprise when I see the aftermarket decals or other goodies that I stuffed inside the box.
81. Reference Pictures
I believe there are real world realities and there are model making conventions. I am working on a future article about this. Things like invasion stripes always having to be crisp, even and perfect, exhausts needing to be orange-ey red rusty and canopies needing to be crystal clear. Each of these (and probably more) are culturally required on our models despite ample evidence these things are myths in the real world. Well, there is nothing like a great reference shot to not only prove a point but to work towards.
82. Crushing a build
From start to finish in record time. No oopses or fixes needed. No modeling in reverse. Everything just flows from the time you open the box to the point you put it on a base and set it in the display case. It’s all like butter and before you know it you are assembling the final bits, attaching the antenna and calling it done. I love it when this happens.
83. Rescuing a build
Poor little unloved built model…. sitting so sad on some table. Price? Probably $5. Pieces broken off, paint wonky, but otherwise a decent kit. Or I would finish someone else’s started kit. Either way, sometimes a challenge! I did this more often when I got back into the hobby. All it took was a little simple green here, a little gap filling there, maybe some resin wheels, some value priced decals and presto, whole new model!
84. Stress Relief
At times my job can be stressful and spending even an hour at the bench sanding some pieces or painting some wheels is a great way to clear my head at the end of a hard day. I am not a health professional but I believe that having some form of outlet to relieve stress is good for you and your family.
85. Someone else taking a pictures of my models
I think it is the ultimate compliment when someone takes a picture of your model. To me, it means there was something about my build that someone other than me appreciated enough to snap a picture.
86. Finding hobby supplies other than at a hobby shop
Dollar stores are where it is at for paint palletes, disposable brushes, paint mixing cups, stirrers, scenery paint, sanding sticks, teeny CA glue tubes, tape as well as other stuff. Big box stores pretty much fill the rest of these supplies. Actually, it makes having to go to these stores somewhat bearable if I can also pick up some hobby stuff at the same time.
87. Swap Meets
I’ve heard about these but I have only been to one of them. I had a blast. I hope to do it again.
88. Decals that actually work
Nothing dresses up a build like decals. Nothing causes more stress and disappointment than lousy decals. Maybe I need to take a course? I don’t know but I am pretty much always going to go with aftermarket decals. Why? Well, for me it is just not worth the risk to get to the final part of the model and then having to strip decals that wrinkle, do not settle, do not conform, or are simply too thick.
But, when the decals actually co-operate like on the Babs up above, oh man is it ever sweet. Those decals slid on smooth, they were in perfect register and immediately began to settle without any solutions, potions or elixirs… Ahhhh magic.
89. I can be as serious as I want to be
I really can’t mail it in at work or when I am playing team sports. Lollygag at those things and you will find yourself on the bench in a hurry. But when it comes to building, I can go all out on one build, out-of-box on the next, and experiment and fail with the one after that. It is all good. I am one of those builders who wants to get better but there are legions of builders happy where they are. The pool is big enough for everyone.
90. Practice will make me better
Know why I hate golf? Because no matter how much I practice, I will never improve. That is not the case with every other activity I do. The more I model, bike, paddle, make videos or come up with flippant remarks, the better I get at those things. It is not a wasted effort to put the time into these things.
91. IPMS Nationals
I crossed this one off my bucket list back in 2018. I wanted to go to Las Vegas in 2021 but we won’t talk about that. Imagine 4 days immersed in:
- Some of the best built models in the world;
- Tables and tables of kits, accessories, supplies and references;
- Excursions to cool museums or other model related outings;
- Seminars that will entertain and give you great tips; and
- A massive venue chock full of people who are as obsessed about models as you are.
I am booked to go to Omaha in 2022 and unless something completely unexpected happens, you will see me there. With my hat on!
92. The ability to pick up where I left off
There truly is no “model season” but I think most of us in the northern climates do less of it in the summer and resume it sometime after labour day. I am not sure this is a universal thing. This hobby can be paused and resumed at any time without any loss of season. Last summer I took some six weeks away from the bench. I jumped right back in and I didn’t feel as though I missed anything.
93. Finding a scale model in a garage sale
Now most of the time this model is going to be some small scale, raised panel line, picture box art kit from the mid-1980s. But some of the time you can get an old gem of a kit for a very reasonable price. I have seen old Tamiya, Dragon and Hasegawa at garage sales and even the big Revell Phantom at a flea market. Each time I’ve picked them up because the seller didn’t consider them “vintage” (sigh… just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s gold).
94. Looking at Other People’s Stashes & talking about legendary stashes
For some reason, nothing get more clicks than pictures or videos of stashes. I call it stash porn. And I’ll admit, I like seeing stash shots too. I think it is a combination of figuring out what makes another builder tick, maybe seeing if there are some rare gems or seeing if you have the same kits. Try this sometime: Strike up a conversation with a fellow builder. No matter how many he or she has, they will always know of someone who has “way more”. Unlike fishing stories or tales of teenage conquests, I actually believe all legend level stash stories. I’ve seen stashes that defy all logic and calculation.
95. It’s all about having fun.
I participate in various online groups and I do make the rounds of the socials from time to time. As with every other pursuit, there will always be some that just don’t get it or simply cannot play nice with others. They tend to suck the air out of every digital room and get that attention they so crave. However, they are easily discounted and ignored. No matter what, this is a hobby and an increasingly social and inclusive one. The only way to do this incorrectly is to have no fun at all.
96. Box Art
Box art is designed to indicate what is in the box as well as entice buyers. I think it is part of the whole build experience. I also think it is an expected aspect of the hobby. I can’t imagine any model maker being successful putting their kits in bland white boxes with simple lettering on the front. I usually throw out the box when I am done with the build but every now and then I save the box art.
97. These things keep their value (somewhat)
Not too long ago I had a shelf full of great kits that I picked up over the years for various reasons. Ok, truth be told, most were bought for no other reason except they were bargains. Some might have been opened for inspection and vague build planning, but the bags inside remained sealed and the sprues remained un-snipped. I found that pristine kits retain most of their value and I have pared down this shelf of kits for about what I paid to build it. I am not saying that hoarding kits is a viable way to plan for retirement, quite the opposite. But, if you do change your mind, you can recycle your kit investments into other projects.
98. The 7 Step Walmart Nail Buffer
This thing is cheap, widely available and awesome. I use it to make sure there are absolutely no scratch marks on the seams of my models and I have used it to fix canopies too. So long as you use each ‘step’ perpendicular to the last ‘step’ then you will end up with a completely smooth, almost glass like finish. You’ll know because on the last step, the plastic actually squeaks! Since all the grades of sanding stick are on one big buffer, I do not have to go running to find progressive grades of sanding sponges or cloths.
Plus, if you need your nails to look their best…
99. The future is bright
Let me be clear, the hobby has changed over the last half century. The hobby is marketed differently and a whole different dimension of the hobby is now being actively exploited by manufacturers for our benefit. Maybe we don’t see models in every corner store anymore. But ask yourself: Was there really a sustainable market for $300-$400 models in the early 1980s? I don’t think there was, but there sure is now. The future is bright my friends. Sure, this hobby may change and adapt again. But it is here to stay.
100. Letting it go
Honestly, why would I ever stress? These are not $5K golfclubs or a $15K bass fishing boat. As far as hobbies go, this one is incredibly cheap. Go see if you can spend only $50 in another hobby and enjoy that activity for 20 or more hours. So, if things don’t work out and the model is truly muffed…..well it really is not a big deal to send it to the great model stash in the sky. After all, one of the best things in this hobby is opening a new kit!
First of all, congratulations for making it this far – that was quite a slog. I hope I entertained you a little with my list. I am wondering if you agree with this list and you have some stories related to any of my liked. Or maybe you have different ‘likes’ when it comes to model making. Maybe I missed a big one. Either way, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.