Archive collection of Shop Blogs from 2015
30 Dec 15 Happy New year, the final blog for 2015. This year has passed so quickly and yet so much has happened, I hope 2016 will be a little bit slower paced in comparison. As anticipated the month of December was hectic, but apart from one customer I managed to deliver everyone their orders for Christmas and help out a few other people after Christmas with Ebay related problems. That is a nice feeling, but in the weeks before Christmas it often felt crazy with models and trains arriving and leaving within a few hours and delivery drivers calling up to 5 times in one day. My own modelling was put on hold, I had enough to do with commissions. This 1/15 88mm Flak gun was one I really enjoyed doing, and it was sad to see it go.
Thankfully I received a few kits and modelling related items for Christmas so indulged myself on the 28th. I've been wanting to try the Hataka Paint sets that we stock in store for a while so getting the Vietnam USAF set was a great excuse to sort through the loft and pull out a 1/48 Phantom. Now loft stashes are good for that sort of thing but as I discovered having a large ( very large) number of models collected over the years also can have its draw backs. Could I find the decals? and due to the kit having lost its box many years ago I discovered a nasty crack in the fuselage. Nothing some Plastiweld can't fix and some new decals have been ordered from Hannants, but I do wonder how many other kits in the stash have unknown issues after being moved from storage location to storage location over many years?
I seem to be building up a collection of un-made bi-planes in my stash too, my daughter presented me with Eduard's 1/72 Avia B.534 this year. This increase shows my procrastination at tackling a bucket list project:- rigging a bi-plane. I think we all have a subject we feel comfortable doing and that becomes the major area of interest, research, kit building and hopefully completion. For me dioramas, 1/35 AFV's and Sci-fi are probably what I gravitate toward most. But I do think it is important to stretch myself every now and then with something outside of my comfort zone. The Bi-plane and it's rigging is one of those tests and this Avia looks to be a nice kit to attempt. Also on that list is painting a horse in oils, that will be helped by the quality of Masterbox'es recent Napoleonic release, the sprue is perfect with no hint of flash or mould ridges to be scrapped away. I wonder if December 2016's blog will have me reflecting on 2 bucket list models completed?
On a more fun note my final picture is very self indulgent as I'm chuffed to say this 6 wheeled APC came 1st in the 'best dressed' category and 2nd in the 'Wheeled' vehicle race night. What am I on about? - The Local IPMS Model club decided to hold a fun contest on the last club night of 2015, the details having been announced in August. The main effort was to get some of those old 1970 motorised kits hidden in lofts built and raced against each other. It was a success with even a H20 and sodium powered car being built from a kit as well as an ancient clockwork Humber Hornet. To give everyone a fair chance in the race there was two classes, Wheels or Tracks as well as a collectively judged best finished model which gave the builders of the more underpowered vehicles something to aim for. Childish fun? yes probably but the turnout of completed models was higher than expected, and as these were all ' new ' builds it must have tapped into the enjoyment vein as it is easy to get bogged down in your latest project. Fuelled by mulled wine the night was fun and looks set to be repeated. A nice way to end the modelling year- SEASONS GREETINGS to you all, Dec at SMC.
30 Nov 15 Ok, just made it intime for a blog for November, where does the time go? I always get 'ground rush' as the year ends, and as I write the calendar is clicking over to December so the next 24 days will be just as busy.
I have decided to accept that all personal modelling will cease until Boxing day so I won't be drawn away from completing the commissions that are due this month. I have 3 to complete with the 4th due in January. I'll save a detailed run down for later in December but one deserves a mention as it tapped into the nostalgia vibe I mentioned a few months back. I've been asked to build a 1/72 Lancaster bomber, and as I have one in my own loft stash thought I'd build two simultaneously as I recall building an Airfix one as a boy ( the current ones are a Hasegawa and a Revell ).
I managed to find the older Airfix version and it was interesting to compare the different approaches to the model each company has followed. Airfix were right to re-tool the Lancaster as the old one was poor in comparison though I would still say that in terms of detail and value for money the Revell kit still gets my vote. I finished one project this month in very quick time, a Leopard II on one of GNR's cast plaster bases. The research for the tank was interesting as I wanted to show it in fording configuration. I was able to compare kits again as I found to my surprise that I had 3 Leopard II kits in my loft, 2 Esci and one Matchbox / Italeri tooling. Despite remembering the Esci kits with fondness as a kid, I was very disappointed with the levels of detail on the models when viewed today so settled on making the Matchbox kit. Annoyingly half way through construction I realised a few key parts were missing but thankfully I was able to combine parts from the Esci kit to allow completion of a single model. I needed to add some details particularly chains to the various bungs on the turret that the research had revealed. I couldn't find fine enough chain for the smoke discharges so resorted to twisting together two strands of wire which looked the part once painted.
The research also allowed me to modify a figure to man the conning tower.
For the first time ever I made the journey to Telford this month for 'Scale model world'. I will but up a folder of photos soon as there was a lot of excellent models to view, and if you wanted to purchase a bargain; Telford is the place. I resisted temptation though, much to my wife's surprise and limited myself to a display case.
13 Oct 15 Here it is, the final outstanding section of all my computer related stuff that needed updating. The Virus attack I reported on Facebook has been a real pain and I have had to work through nearly every element due to having to return my computer to factory settings and loosing operating systems that are no longer being supported. While Virus (Malware ) attacks are not common the trouble they cause is dire and you'll understand why this Blog was the last thing I have made time for as so much else was more important. In the intervening 3 months I have as always been busy with home life, computer problems as mentioned and my dad's death all vying for time and leaving little for hobbies and relaxation. However I was given a brief two week respite as my good wife was away and it is amazing how much modelling can be done when the dinner table isn't being used for ... well dinner.
In an unusual turn of modelling events I have completed in nearly 2 weeks a complete kit and medium sized base. It is in fact due to being asked to review some of Great North Roads new plaster casts. I felt a suitable vehicle would be needed to put the particular base in context and as nothing sat finished on my shelves, I delved into a new one. It is very close to done and by the time I next Blog the review will have been sent out so I'll save further details till then. I have also a few commissions underway including a 1/72 Lancaster bomber. I remember building one of the Airfix kits as a child and was glad to jump at this, in fact building two at once, the Revell kit alongside the Hasegawa Kit. One for commission and one for my own nostalgia trip. The FISTV diorama progresses very well, the actual vehicle is approx 90% done and my attention currently is on the base and a suitable figure.
I have been assembiling some 'Fredericus Rex' sunflowers in 1/35 scale from lazer cut paper and wire. Very nice they are too, though a bit fiddily and will need a blow over with the airbrush to tone the leaf colour down. The figure is a mash up of Tamiya, Academy, Italeri and Milliput. As well as wanting a specific pose, to tie the infantry man into the date of deployment of the FISTV meant getting the kit and equipment right. The whole scene will be set in Germany in 1986.
I'm not sure if you will consider the famous wax works 'Madame Tussards' modelling? I might be streaching things a bit to include it here on a model shop Blog but it is modelling to an extent, and the picture below shows how realistic the results of these 1:1 exhibits are. I travelled up with my daughter to London, it was a long overdue birthday treat and despite the hefty price I felt the day good value. There are often deals available, by keeping our train tickets we got in on a two for one. And as a customer recommended to me, getting in about 3.00pm means less queues. The whole place took about 2 hours to get through.
So thats about it. Not quite everything which means my next Blog will be far sooner, till then all the best.
11 June 15 You will no doubt have noticed the missing months, the lack of any Blogs. I am sorry and in fact did have some events to report on and model related musings. Sadly though my father, Brian went into terminal decline in April and passed away with his cremation taking place in May. You can imagine that my time was taken up with a great many things as well as ensuring the shop was open as normal through out. Unfortunately that meant Blog updates were pushed back but I hope to make amends now. I do feel a sense of calm now. My immediate schedule is clear, progress is being made on customer projects and repairs and I can focus on shop matters again. I do need to thank my son for stepping in at short notice to man the till, however it has taken a few weeks to sort out the stocking levels in the shop and the final area - railways as always- should be flowing as normal again soon. I am not one to languish in grief and will not be pouring out my feelings here. But strangely the recent events have led to some unexpected model orientated matters that I will pick up on again in a future Blog.
For now though a very quick revue of what I've be working on. The first 2 items were another high speed request to construct a pair of Tamiya Radio Controlled cars, 'The Boomerang'. Tamiya have been re-releasing their older classics such as 'The Boomerang', 'Hornet', Grasshopper, and Vanessa's Lunchbox'. There has been some changes, mostly on the type of materials used in certain areas. The biggest difference is the replacement of the servo controlled speed resistor with an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC). In some ways I preferred the older tech, it was more fun as you could get the cars to skid turn by flicking a touch of reverse at high speed while turning. This wasn't particularly good for the cars and the new ESC does prevent stripping the teeth off the gears.
Weathering of rolling stock continues for customers but I'll save any pictures for the future once I'm happy. The M198 FIST V pictured here should be mentioned at the same time though. It is being built for my own pleasure but also as a vehicle to test out a new budget airbrush we intend to stock in the store. I am always dubious of cheap airbrushes, the £20.00 Ebay specials usually are made from softer low grade metals so while they look the same as an Iwata for instance, they quickly start to wear. I decided to give the set up from EXPO a go. I was very pleasantly surprised, and the FIST V is looking pretty good I feel. As a build it had progressed very quickly, I kept research to a minimum as that often slows me, and tried to keep every thing in the box lid so I could build while watching TV with the wife. Unfortunately while on the home run I hit a problem that really is trivial but as so often happens has brought me to a complete stop until I can summon up the desire to fix the problem. The separate track links all have a sink mark that will require filling. I know it is no big deal but the boredom factor of doing it has diverted my attention. The FIST V is a variant of the M113 APC used for target acquisition and observation for artillery. The optics are in the box above the centre turret and this box is shaped to look like a TOW launcher so as to hide the vehicle's identity.
21 Mar 15 Railway modellers will be happy with today's blog update. I have been railway focused of late working to some extremely tight deadlines, but before all that something totally different....
As people are generally quick to critic but slow to praise I thought I should sing the praises of a fantastic Chip Shop and restaurant I recently ate at when I ended up in Budleigh Salterton on a cold day in Feb. I typed in the name of the 'Premier Fish and Chip Bar' to write a review and couldn't believe the poor reviews I read. Very different to the great food and great service we received. I duly posted a good review on trip adviser and reflected about my own shop. It is always nice when I hear customers happy when in the shop. It doesn't matter if they are buying or just taking a trip down memory lane. I am always aware that there are gaps in the stock. The best intentions still rely on a juggle between income and out goings. In that respect then there will always be an unhappy customer who has travelled in to find the paint colour they need is OOS or a newly released Loco isn't sat on the shelf waiting for them. Simultaneously two people are interpreting the same shop totally different. Regardless of that I am always saddened when I have not got what a customer wants, though that regret is soon replaced with indifference when they spout rudeness and sarcasm. Totally un-necessary and showing an ignorance of how difficult keeping a small business going is.
As far as railway modelling, phew what a month. I ended up being commissioned to build a 4ft x 3ft working railway layout in 00 along with 3 small railway dioramas. I expected a 3 month deadline. It was actually needed in 5 days. Even with the headaches caused by solvents, glue and paint, I really enjoyed the challenge. Due to the speed and focus needed I forgot to take any pictures until the final diorama was underway. This was to be a night scene at a level crossing so some lighting was added and a torch mounted inside the tunnel to add illumination and sell the effect.
After that and at a slower pace I have been weathering and adding the detail to a PRR railroad loco. Challenging due to the large number of detail parts that needed adding. I spent as much time on the floor looking for 'pinged' off ladder rungs as actually attaching the parts. My fat finger below gives an indication of the parts, the smallest windscreen wipers took the most patience. I really do like the finished model though, I do have a leaning toward foreign locomotion and the flat black base of the PRR was great to lightly weather. While having about 63 additional extra parts was a lot more than I expected, (a typical Hornby has about 12) it does mean the prices are cheaper as less labour time is used at the manufacturing end. I was lucky to have a real picture to work from so added the yellow trim too.
20 Feb 15 Licences are big business with George Lucas often seen as the first film maker to tap into the potential to earn from letting others use names and images that he created. This has an effect, it adds a cost to a basic kit just to have the name associated but you expect that with Lucas and Disney tie ins. Sadly more and more companies are becoming 'licence savy' and it is making a joke of the models themselves. I was leafing through the latest Revell catalogue and notice some odd changes. Where was HMS Victory? What about the re-released Land Rover? It seems Revell has had to adopt the same strategy as Tamiya ( GMC Humvee labelled as US 4 x 4 vehicle) Dragon (ContinentaU instead of Continental tyres) and Takom ( BMW titled as German civilian car). It seems some-one in Portsmouth dock yard has decided that after years of production Revell can no longer call their kit 'HMS Victory' despite it clearly being that ship unless a fee is paid. That fee would mean an increase to the kit's price, so thankfully rather than increase the cost Revell have opted to not use the name.
I don't understand it? Surely it represents good publicity to have models of the real thing correctly named. Why try and charge to have it correctly named? Model building often leads to an interest in the real thing and vice-versa. Perhaps next year we shall have 'doomed passenger ship' instead of Titanic as this year we have 'British Sailing Warship' instead of HMS Victory.
Model wise I completed the Panther ( or perhaps that should be German World War two Tank?). I still want to add the AA MG, and commanders headset but its about done. I had an incredibly fast turn round commission to build a theatre prop in 5 days. I hope to share more on that in the future. I have also 'started' the recently advertised Millennium falcon part work. Published byDeAgostini at £8.99 weekly for 100 weeks I initially thought that was too dear. But as I'm modelling far less these days I re-looked at it and thought that £8.99 for 20 min modelling each week is a small price to pay for actually getting something done. Though that all comes undone when I admit issue 7 is out and I've yet to open a packet, so much for started. It looks detailed, though there is room for improvement. And it is big! I have saved this picture to allow me to add detail to the seats.
16 Jan 15 To make up for an age with out updates, here is the second in just 2 days. A photo album taken at the LPMS, December 2014.
14 Jan 2015
Happy New Year. Well I’m disappointed to admit I’ve missed ‘Blogging’ for a couple of months, my time has been spread thin with a lot of things including pranging someone’s car, dealing with bank card fraud, doing up the shop’s Christmas windows and running in an RNLI charity event taking up a lot of time. Oh and I did manage to get along to Bugle Call in Avon and the London Plastic Model Show (LPMS) too.
The car prang and the fraud was a pain but everything was worked out in the end. Having no car for 3 weeks also slowed me down but I was able to get a lift from the Chairman of Salisbury IPMS to attend Bugle Call, and went by train to the LPMS. I had committed to Bugle call earlier in the year anticipating that i’d have a newly finished model by November to show on the club stand. Unfortunately as always happens in late October I began to realise I had not completed anything for myself this year. Taunting from Brian (a fellow but more productive modeller who was also attending the Avon show) meant I really had to pull something together quickly to counter his ‘collector or modeller’ jibes. I took stock of what i’d been working on in 2014. My new year’s resolution M1 had moved forward a mere step, no point in trying to complete that in time. The 1/35 Mutt had advanced well and at speed but the figures needed would have to be conversions and that would take more time than I had available too. The Panther mentioned in the last Blog was very close to being done, but as it was destined for something a lot bigger I didn’t want to have to commit to markings yet. So a wider look was needed, away from current builds and into the shed of languished projects.
And perhaps like many reading this Blog, I had a lot of forgotten projects so it was actually a good thing to have to dust of a few things and take stock. I settled on a large diorama that has been a work in progress for about 8 years. Now that isn’t an admission of being easily sidetracked by new models. This diorama had always been a test board for different ideas. The 3 story building was cast by myself using a Vac-form mold and patching plaster as was the cobbled road. The sewer water was an experiment with damp rot repair epoxy, and the tree utilised a dead bonsai. The original 1/35 tank that had been present on this diorama had long since gone so in its place went an E100 Jagdpanzer, a model ‘what if’ development of the E100 that was under construction at the end of WWII. The model had been made by Mick Hawes, a member of IPMS Salisbury who had passed away in 2013. To raise money for Salisbury Hospital some of his completed models had been auctioned off, a nice way to raise money, and it seemed fitting that I used it. For my part I added figures from Tamiya, Dragon and Academy as well as continuing to add detail to the building. It certainly looked good enough for taking to Avon, even if it still has much to add.
While Bugle call turned out to be a relatively quiet show, I was very impressed with the buzz at the London Plastic Modelling Show (LPMS). Held in the Islington Business design Centre the venue was very well laid out and clearly has space to grow. Sponsored by Guideline publications it was a nice mix of club stands, traders and a competition area upstairs. I recognised a number of Telford models in the competition which is to be expected so soon after the nationals. From Salisbury the LPMS is easy to reach by train and underground, and next year’s show is on Sunday the 6th December right after the Toy Soldier show held at the same venue.
I’m sure Christmas saw many of you receiving model related presents. My son bought me the Hobbyboss 4.7cm Pak(t) Sfl.auf Fgst Pz.Kpfw.35 R 7731(f). I dived into it as I recalled previous Hobbyboss kits being a joy to build due to sensible breakdown of parts. This 1/35 model is certainly a detailed and well presented model but far from a simple affair. I realised I was in for a long slog as I was adding the individual spark plugs! Testing though this build seems I must admit to being very impressed with how it looks. There is a huge amount of internal detail, much of which could remain unseen, so i’ll try and have a few hatches open to make the effort worthwhile.