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  1. Fellow modelers, Europeans, and international travelers: My wife and I are considering visiting parts of France and Germany. From prior experience we're big fans of trains in Europe, but our previous adventure was in the United Kingdom only. When I look for information on train travel in France and Germany, the web offers a lot of different sites, all of whom are trying to sell things, and I think I need some feedback from a real person. (And if I can't trust plastic modeler builders, who can I trust?) Simply put, what are your favorite resources to learn about pricing, reservations, and trip planning for railway trips between cities in France and Germany? We also plan to do a lot of day trips out of cities on local railways, too, and I'm looking to see if any of those are covered by rail passes, too. Beyond these questions, any other advice is welcome!
  2. The hatch is attached at multiple welds because, being a ham-handed sort, I'm big on sturdiness. So rather than rip it back off I simply shaved away the old strap. I could labor over trying to provide a detailed replacement... ...or I can be a dirty cheater and simply add a vague strap, and then put scale maps on top! Of course, having introduced all this paper, I should probably add an officer to the scene, too. I've been pulled away from the M113 project for the past few months because of overtime work at my job, and this project, Miniart's "French Cafe." With vacuum-formed walls, this build was a real challenge for me. I made matters worse by modifying it for the 1980s, and to be a backdrop item that takes up fairly little room in a scene. Despite the rigor, my amateurish work, and my suspicion that it's a little over-scale, I think it's awesome since it makes diorama buildings a more realistic prospect. I've already procured more Miniart building components, and have all sorts of ideas for Cold War scenes. In this case, I might park some U.S. soldiers eating a fine German breakfast out front, with their M151 at the curb. ("It could be worse. They might have sent you to Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, Missouri.") Or add another building alongside, and maybe put a Bundeswehr 8-wheeled Spähpanzer in front. But that's a story for a different thread...
  3. Moai Jagger himself was all broken up when he learned David Bowie departed his mortal coil, no doubt. Typical. The Jedi funeral is full of a bunch of Naboo dignitaries dressed sillier than a Princeton commencement, and then includes Jar-Jar Binks and an R2 unit notorious for his lack of decorum. All the dignity of a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. By contrast, Darth Maul's funeral was an appropriately dark Metal Music festival. Even I must admit to getting a little emotional when Anthrax performed "Metal Thrashing Mad" as mourners solemnly poured plutonium vodka onto his chromed casket lid.
  4. I actually like the contrast between the missiles and the vehicle. It calls attention to the vehicle's reason to be. Great job on a historically interesting subject!
  5. Before he got out of the business, my LHS owner commented that video games probably sold more model kits than hurt them. I eagerly built World War II models as a kid because of early PC games focused on that subject. I wonder: if kitmakers had seriously committed to making kits of video game subjects--Mass Effect, Fallout, or even fantasy subjects like Dragon Age or Witcher--instead of just a few hesitant and token examples, would the hobby be in such pathetic shape as it is now in North America? Revell's HALO kits are an encouraging start, but...well let's see if isn't too late. I'm beginning to think a lot of this hobby's problems are self-inflicted. I'm a Cold War junkie, so I eagerly awaited M60A2 or F2H-2 kits. I just finished a 1/350 November Class submarine this morning. But really, are subjects like that realistic products for sale to many people, especially if we accept $50+ pricetags? This products might do well enough in a global market, but they're hardly helping recruit modelers under 60 years old. Hollywood keeps interest in Shermans, Tigers, Mustangs and even BF-109s high, but then the hobby industry in North America hasn't exactly capitalized on that, either.
  6. I can't decide if Rustoleum et. al. is making a rational disinvestment here. On the one hand, ours is now a decidedly wonk hobby in North America, and lots of us buy competitor products from overseas that are affordably priced and excellent quality. In this view, Rustoleum is tired of losing money to cater to a handful of hobbyists. On the other hand, Testors might have done more to market the plastic model hobby, and specifically update it's image. For example, compare their YouTube channel to that of Vallejo. This is part of bigger set of thoughts I've had over the past several years, that the remaining U.S. manufacturers, Testors and Revell, have just failed to re-image the hobby through marketing, to sell to younger adults. (I think trying to sell to kids is a waste of time.) They seemed to discover social media only belatedly, and still have a weak presence there in many respects. Independent YouTube builders seem loyal to other brands, so much so that I suspect those brands have given them stuff to work with. At some point, I suspect plastic models--probably science fiction, anime, or fantasy--will suddenly be rediscovered and "cool" again, which will also bring military and car modeling back to some prominence, too. But in North America, the hobby was built on baby-boomers, and I fear they'll take our manufacturers with them when they depart. Meanwhile in Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe, they seem to be building a sustainable business future for plastic modeling, and will be prepared for a resurgence.
  7. Ah well. I'll get it right next time around! I can still act on this, since I'll need to mess up the rear ramp, too. Not much to report this week. After adding exterior details, I began painting, starting with a coat of lacquer primer. Figuring that the division shape/color/number marking (1-36 Infantry) was a red circle, I painted for that, and added a mask on either side of the track. That is pure speculation; the period black-and-white photographs I have seem to suggest a different color than yellow (since it doesn't look like the same shade as the bridge mark), and has white instead of black lettering. But I'm fairly certain somebody will produce a color photograph proving me wrong! Next, I applied the dark base coat, a homebrew OD mixed from Tamiya Acrylics. I'll let this set up, add wheels and tracks, and then apply some lighter shades for highlights. Since I'm going to mud up the undercarriage, I'm not going to spend a lot of time meticulously painting the tracks or wheels. Also, I applied a dark base for the soldier. This is Vallejo's much-maligned polyurethane primer. Since I won't be masking this guy, it shouldn't be a problem. I'll build up lighter shades using Vallejo acrylics after this stuff has had time to cure. Oh, and probably take a knife or needle file to clear the flash off his fingers, too! That stuff is tough to see until the primer's on.
  8. All closed up. Time to start detailing the exterior.
  9. This build is usual for me; it didn't seem like it would be much more work to do an interior, especially with details only really visible through open hatches. But it turned out to be more work than I anticipated! So this is ready to close up. In the fall/early winter of 1963, these M113s were still fairly new. So weather was confined to some floor panel chipping (overdone! I got lazy and tried using a fine-tipped sharpie) and some dirt (Vallejo pigment, mixed with one of their washes.) I got some pads and belts on the seats, using Kneaditite putty and masking tape. The gear comes from various detail sets. The two ration boxes--appropriate for the 1960s--comes from Duplicata Productions. Fantastic products! I'll be using one of their Germany maps for this build later on. My only suggestion to them is to print carboard boxes onto brown craft paper, like Tamiya does. This makes folding the boxes much easier, is probably cheaper to manufacture, and the finished product still looks very convincing. This guy is about ready to paint. His gear is a mixture from World War II and Vietnam sets, placed according to photos in Walter Böhm's Tankograd series of books, and a few on the web. I still need to add a helmet cover (probably with a coat of Mr. Surfacer.)
  10. Message board sources claim that early M113s were simply white inside, rather than the pale green seen in M113s for most of their service life. I like using Archer dry transfers, and eagerly employed their M113 interior markings, but in retrospect these might be for later units. Perhaps I should have stuck to Tamiya's old decals. Now, I need to figure out how to add and arrange some interior stuff, visible through the open hatches. If I build the vehicle on exercise, my sources suggest that the units participating in Big Lift drew ammunition just like a war situation. I neglected to add seat cushions, and am now tempted to do so, although I think that would have been better done before painting!
  11. An Update. I still need to complete the infantrymen, but the BRDM guy is done.
  12. I sense that we're about to get a new crop of M113 kits from Asian manufacturers, which is fantastic news. Meantime, I figured I'd go one last round with Tamiya's ancient kit. I built a lot of these, including a few as a kid. When I didn't have a lot of money, it was good value, as it includes a basic interior and has potential for improvement by a determined modeler. The included '60s-'70s era U.S. infantry aren't bad, and could be used to easily depict other nation's troops as well. This time around, I'm building toward a 36th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Division M113 "slick" in late summer/early autumn 1963, just before the Big Lift Exercise in Germany. At that point these machines were new, having been issued to Spearhead along with M60 tanks. In Exercise Big Lift, 3AD played the bulk of the bad guys, combining new hardware, fictitious tactical nuclear weapons, and an aggressive spirit to give BLUE forces an appropriately dangerous adversary. I might put the maneuver markings on if I can get a color photograph confirming what color(s) they were. I don't have a lot of references for very-early M113s, so I'm flying blind and will probably commit some anachronisms. But I want to take advantage of the kit's interior, so I'll risk a few inaccuracies that only modelers would care about. From Dragon's "Remagen" set I've taken a 1st Army infantryman, and am updating his battle-rattle for the 1960s. He's been transferred to the Kennedy era, so his childhood was in postwar prosperity, rather than the Great Depression. The older generation carped that comic books and Elvis Presley's dance moves made him a "juvenile delinquent," but he seems to be well-adjusted enough. More controversially, he trades his M1 Garand for an M14 rifle - a good swap?
  13. Past the simplest examples (insert current date) using codes in Microsoft Word is just awful. Breathtakingly unfriendly syntax. Really, I'd rather be stabbed than be compelled to install a code that, for example, delivers the name of the previous month in a document. And this from a guy who loves figuring out complex formulae in Excel, and when he is not modeling, is learning a programming language.
  14. I'm trying to decide if I'm an uncultured barbaric simpleton or an adaptable, grateful non-complainer because I don't have strong opinions on pizza quality. Trying to order pizza with friends, family, and coworkers can be an ordeal when many in the crowd insist that a variety of pizza places are unacceptable. The crust is not good, they say, or the pizza is cooked wrong, or this one time in the past they had a bad experience, or they prefer some specialty pizza otherwise unavailable at most other places, and so on. Because of such demanding standards we're left with ordering from some place far away, that doesn't deliver, and still manages to not have the pizza finished after I've hacked and chopped my way through traffic to get there to pick it up. I'm not saying I have no opinion. I prefer local places to national chains, and will draw the line at gas station or snack bar slices. But I'm always the most flexible in the group when we're trying to decide where to order from, and...does it have to be this difficult? Pizza is hardly fine dining. If you're that meticulous about your food, put some going-out clothes on and go to a proper sit-down, cloth-napkin restaurant rather than order something that comes to you in cardboard, and is made by poorly-paid teenagers.
  15. After trying this with their acrylic lacquers, I don't often use their alcohol-based thinner anymore. The lacquer stuff speeds up drying to such an extent that I can mask over paint just after cleaning the airbrush. This means very quick painting, and the finish seems pretty hard, too.