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  1. 1/48 Tamiya A6M2 Review/Preview

    I think this review is excellent for those who haven't been building models for very long, or maybe are considering it for the first time. For various reasons, I think these people are a more important audience than me. And speaking with would-be modelers offline, they tell me they're intimidated by the cost, and their (mistaken) suspicion that this hobby is too hard to get into as an adult. Balanced assessments of old kits are a good remedy for both impressions. That said, I'd suggest that the reviewer remember that context. I've built a half-dozen of these kits and think they're a blast. Basically they're great for the new modeler that wants a historically famous plane, but cannot (yet) believe that anyone would pay $40+ USD for a plastic model kit. They read Saburo Sakai's memoir, or Sakai/Caiden's Zero, or watch Tora! Tora! Tora!, and then want a kit to build. Amazon has this cheap with prime 2 day shipping. Done. Sure, the kit cockpit isn't much compared to later Zeke kits, but for beginners, it is completely usable. For the newbie, it's more important that the parts fit without too much fuss. And let's be honest; under a closed greenhouse canopy it's a struggle to see much more than the kit has on board. Add some seatbelts made out of masking tape - now you're modeling! If you've built the kit, I'd also mention that gap in the wingroot. Some sheet styrene of the correct thickness is a quick fix for that. Remember, normal people don't yet know or care about the fine details of an A6M2 Type Zero Carrier-Based Fighter. Yet. We need to lure them into this hobby before they become maladjusted detail-mongering fanatics who part with irresponsible quantities of money for build-it-yourself toys.
  2. VERY early M113, 3AD 1963

    Thanks! Having surveyed my bloated, disgraceful collection of unfinished kits, I think I'm morally obligated to tackle at least one "shelf-queen." That'll probably be a long-neglected 1/72 P2V Neptune. A Cold War subject, but not armor.
  3. A Warning to Moai Vincent

    The Moai has given good advice in the past. I think he's warned pretty much every middle-class professional who doesn't like his or her cubicle job, but whose dinner guests complimented his or her cooking, to avoid getting into the restaurant business. It is, after all, one of the great sucker bets of 21st century America.
  4. google image test

    Tried some things with Google Drive-based photos. Didn't work either. Is there a "show the code" feature in the html editor, that I'm missing? If there was, maybe embedding code would work.
  5. A Warning to Moai Vincent

    Honestly, I'm the last guy to think chewy sweetarts sounds like a good idea. But these things are terrifyingly good. I'm glad I'm essentially without any official or professional authority, because I could potentially be bribed with these.
  6. Vallejo Surface Primer

    I must confess, I've had similar experiences with Vallejo's polyurethane primer. I wanted to like it, since I like some of Vallejo's other products, and have used other brands of acrylic paints for years with great success. And I did some fairly comprehensive testing on clean scrap plastic, adhering to any instructions I found. (Generally, the advice was layer it on with very thin coats.) But the stuff came up easily with my finger nail, and tape would reliably lift it, too. I find a lot of Vallejo's Model Color and Model Air paints are similarly fragile, too. Ironically they, including the polyurethane primers, seemed to reliably stick when applied over gunze lacquer primers. I'm using up the last of it where adhesion isn't particularly important. Looking forward to trying Mig products, and Stynylrez.
  7. A Warning to Moai Vincent

    I'm a little amused that the hobby paint products, broadly defined, are starting to look suspiciously like the cosmetics industry (examples from Tamiya and Ammo of Mig) For a long time we've been stealing cosmetics tools, but now I wonder if the companies are really the same behind the scenes. But I'm reasonably certain that our stuff isn't nearly as toxic as cosmetics, though. My wife opens a bottle of nail polish, and the whole room smells like genetic damage.
  8. A Warning to Moai Vincent

    Suspicious that Testors is not long for this world, I'm dutifully trying out a dozen brands of what I call the "millennial paints:" these brands that appeared sometime in the 1990s or later. (This is versus the ancient labels: Testors, Humbrol, Tamiya, and Gunze.) I can't help but think that Vallejo might be one of those very few brands or product lines that reached optionitis, or peak options. There's literally so many different colors and chemicals in so many labels (formulae?) and sets that a consumer gets exhausted and perhaps a little hesitant trying to figure out what to buy. People might end up going with a competitor simply because they have to know and think less to do it.
  9. VERY early M113, 3AD 1963

    I always forget something that I only discover at the post-project photo shoot. I need to add mud to their boots! (Well, at least those of the infantryman. The track commander might avoid dismounting, if he can help it.) Probably should add some engine exhaust. There's likely some other stuff that should be done, too. For the base, I simply painted a piece of construction pine cut from scrap. I added some groundwork and then the longest static grass I could find. With an airbrush, I dusted it with some-or-another Vallejo light green, since in the past I've had subjects seemingly "disappear" against dark faux grass. Extra mud for the track-marks was added with a Vallejo paste. I added mud and a little dust to the track, but only so far as source photos permitted. Militaria stores on Ebay supplied cheap claspback pins for the base. The printed label is covered in clear sheet styrene secured with two screws from the odds-and-ends hardware bin. Some takeaways: I'm semi-happy with the mud, but I think I'll experiment with other products to see if I can produce something that looks more convincing. I used the incredibly small letter-jungle supplied on a Echelon Decals' "Marks of a Soldier" sheet for the name tapes. I've never worked with decals that small before and am in no hurry to do it again. The black-and-gold "US Army" tapes are from an ancient Verlinden sheet, and I was lucky to get them to lay down. The rest of that sheet will be tossed. Archer transfers, when applied to their wet medium paper, worked beautifully. I expected they would be so fragile as to be useless. Not so! With Micros Sol and Set they conformed to the soldiers' arms, supplying the 3 AD patches and chevrons. In future I'll use this workflow for bumper codes, too. Honestly, I'm uncertain why Archer doesn't sell it's transfers already applied to the wet medium paper (shelf-life? scaleable production?) I really like the Olive Drab and brightly colored markings of this era. I'll have to build some more 1950s-1960s USAREUR subjects in future. Dragon supplied an M48, but we could really use an M59. Well, now it's on to something Warsaw Pact...
  10. VERY early M113, 3AD 1963

    The older I get, the more I'm a Cold War fan, and the hobby companies are fueling that addiction with new kits. I'm already trying (without much success) to decide my next Cold War project just to build down my stash. I don't see a lot of evidence that, during REFORGER exercises, U.S. engineers built Bailey-style bridging. I've found where perhaps Dutch or Belgian troops did, though. Still, I'd like to depict that using Bronco's bridge kits, in a late-Cold War setting. I've got an M109A3 I need to finish that, together with an M151 or M548, would make a nice column scene. Plus, I have a ton of Warsaw Pact hardware to play with.
  11. VERY early M113, 3AD 1963

    That's a good tip, especially since I imagine the sergeant as a professional or "lifer." I'll stick with a canteen, binocs and possibly a map case. I also need to place a helmet I cobbled together. It's a crude carving, but I mean to approximate a peculiar vehicle helmet that the army evidently only used briefly before the Vietnam-era helmet. I'm not at all sure, but I speculate the Army was continuing the tradition of using U.S. tackle football helmets as a model for CVC helmets!
  12. VERY early M113, 3AD 1963

    Not much. I was kept away from my workbench this fall by my job and other things. In the past few months I did manage to get some paint onto the two infantrymen, though. The NCO's head is a Hornet item. Both figures were airbrushed with various shades of Vallejo to establish the uniform OD. Next, I added an acrylic (Testors Acryl, if I recall) base for the flesh, and then overcoat that with artist's oils so I can blend different tones, and light and shadows. I'm out of practice with those techniques. Next will be detail painting, varnish, decals, and possibly some washes. I also managed to print some maneuver markings onto paper, and need to add them to the track. The rifleman, per the original Dragon sculpture, will be smoking a cigarette. This is entirely appropriate, since the Army's culture and logistics effectively encouraged millions of young men to smoke during the Cold War. (I work in higher education. In 2017, the only students who smoke are my G.I. Bill/veteran students.) Last week, I experimented on "scrap" figures with Vallejo acrylics. Until now I've never found acrylics very convincing for flesh tones, but there may be something to Vallejo, since they sell a glaze and a retarder for their paint, and suggest that the modeler use a wet palette. This is interesting to me, because oils are messy, and take a long time to dry; I wouldn't mind finding an easier method. My initial results aren't great, but in places were good enough to make me keep trying Vallejo for figures.
  13. SpPz2 Luchs

    I haven't finished it, but I assembled Revell's 1/35 scale version of this. Judging from that, and their 1/72 Fuchs, I'm guessing your Luchs has a zillion parts. But I really like Revell's kit, and look forward to getting it painted up. Before the end of the Cold War the Bundeswehr was painting Luchs in 3-color NATO-flage. But through the 1980s, there were probably units in Gelboliv, too. In the Tankograd Cold War volumes, it appears that Panzeraufklärungsbataillon 1 units taking part in the CERTAIN STRIKE exercise of 1987 might have had both finishes. A 3-color Luchs also appears as part of the referee team in the "Kecker Spatz" Franco-German exercise of that year. I haven't done it yet, but I was going to experiment with using Tamiya's Olive Drab (XF-62) as the darkest shade, and then gradually lighten it with their Dark Yellow (XF-60) and White through the mid ranges and highlights. (In the past I painted Gelboliv with Testors enamels.)
  14. Train travel in France, Germany

    My wife and I have the same strategy: a single, reasonable backpack each mainly to carry something to read or listen to on the flight, INFOSEC-sensitive documents and gear, and some emergency-wear in case the airline loses our big cases. The cases, containing clothing and stuff we buy there, go in the hold as Boeing, the airline, and probably God intended. Yes, checking luggage can be a pain and can cost money. But it's miserable to see people with multiple to-the-limit carry-on cases that slow down loading and unloading the plane, cause fights among passengers, and give the crew a massive headache! On a flight from Seattle I witnessed a hilariously stupid standoff where the crew finally said to passengers something like "Look, you've all got too damn much luggage in here. Somebody give us a bag or two to put in the hold, so we can take off." Nobody volunteered, and instead just looked at each other like a bunch of fifth-graders. At that point I volunteered my single small bag just to shame others, so the poor crew could get me home! Totally not surprised to learn that "carry-on shaming" is a thing.
  15. Train travel in France, Germany

    After action report: Both Deutsche Bahn and France's SNCF did an excellent job. Very few and small delays, reasonably clean (they're public transport after all) cars, friendly officials, and fairly predictable service overall. We traveled via a pass that I thought was reasonably priced, but somewhat in line with what you said, ChernayaAkula, DB didn't always have consistent information concerning routes on the web. But my wife and I could hardly complain; our country lacks such convenient railways, so it was marvelous to us. I'm glad we didn't rent a car. When riding shuttle buses the highways were frequently crowded and drivers seem no better than in the U.S. (speed up/slow down for no reason, little regard for fast lane/slow lane, odd and careless lane changes, road rage, and so on.) The traffic slowdowns looked positively savage in some places, especially when viewed from a fast train. At most places that seemed interesting, parking looked hellish. I was surprised that in the old parts of cities, and even in areas marked pedestrian-only, some drivers seemed determined to drive through thick pedestrian crowds, which was miserable. (I pointed out to my wife that there seemed nowhere safe from being run over by a Peugeot! Even as we climbed cathedral tower steps I instinctively glanced around for that menacing lion logo!) They moved slowly at best, and local pedestrians became so obviously irritated I would fear for the paint on the car. I didn't find the French less friendly than Germans, although I think they were a bit less confident about speaking English. I found the more I smiled or chuckled at my own broken French, the more they warmed up and were happy to help. For roughly sixty years, Western Germans had over a half million U.S., British, and Canadian troops among them, and it seemed everyone there spoke English as willingly and confidently as German. If I have a gripe left over, it has nothing to do with national customs, cultures, or infrastructure. It's people flying with too &*$#% much carry on luggage!