FOURTEEN scale models were the number of kits I was able to complete this year. But what does that mean? And moreover, who cares!
The numbers are relative. Anyone could have completed 14 kits. Even if I finished-up my two last work-in-progress and top my tally to sixteen kits, completed by December 31 2017, so fucking-what?
It’s a ‘Me’ Thing
For one thing, I always try to have both of my feet firmly on the ground. Meaning I don’t sway into silly daydreaming but more of a realist in how I approach things.
My ultimate goal in the scale model business is to beat myself. Yup, not you, not the guy behind you, not even the person reading these notes. The reason behind my desire to crank out more completed kits is to see weather I can outdone, outrun, and outproduce whatever I did in the past
My last build should be my masterpiece, my magnum-opus, my Monalisa – before I complete another build. Like having sex, if your last scale model build was “I had better”, then you may as well call it a failure.
The list of models that I managed to complete in the span of 12 months. Some were left-over WIPs from the previous year (2016, even 2015), but many others came from newly opened boxes.
- Hasegawa J-35 Draken, 1/72
- Academy M12 155mm SPG, 1/35 including figures in a vignette
- Hasegawa F-21 Kfir, 1/72
- Testor OV-10 Bronco, 1/48 in TNI-AU markings
- Takom SpPz Luchs, 1/35
- Tamiya M2A0 Bradley, 1/35 including figures in a vignette
- Kitty Hawk F-35C Lightning II, 1/48
- Hasegawa F-16I Sufa, 1/48
- Academy MiG-21MF Fishbed, 1/48
- Trumpeter F-100C Super Sabre, 1/48
- Academy British Warrior, 1/35
- Academy K9 Thunder SPG, 1/35 including figures in a vignette
- Dragon M2 105mm Howitzer, 1/35 including figures in a vignette
- Hobby Boss Kraz-255B, 1/35
If all I did was only to repeat what I have done on my last 14 kits, why bother making them in the first place. But again, there is nothing wrong with building fourteen kits using the same way, same approach, same glue-fill-sand-that-crap routine.
Sure, some modelers do that. Its perfectly fine. But life is all an adventure. Some absurd, some not. I take that cliche on life the same way I take for my scale model builds. If it doesn’t challenge me, if it doesn’t tickle my balls, then I would pass and choose another subject, project, or topic. Simple. Realistic.
The top of the “most challenging” list, of course went to Kitty Hawk’s 1/48 F-35C Lightning II which is I placed in my Most Horrible Kit category of the year. The 1/48 OV-10 Bronco was equally appalling but since it was a dinosaur kit, you would expect that from Testor. Still it was a shitty kit too, by any means.
Other kits in the list had their ‘challenging’ moments in their own different and colorful ways, mind you. All got mentions for different categories but unfortunately did not make enough points to have their names included in the Challenges Hall of Fame as the F-35C Lightning II and OV-10 Bronco did.
Curiosity killed the cat, but I don’t intend to die if a potential topic aroused my curiosity. I don’t mind making fourteen 1/48 scale P-51 Mustangs or split 50-50 with making seven 1/35 scale T-34 Russian tanks. As long they satisfy my attention for everything curious, I am OK. If not, meh. Why bother. Life is just too short to work on the same old song-and-dance.
Ideally, curiosity should push me to learn something new. Like working on a project that I have scant knowledge off will get me to look up new reference photos, reading articles about the actual subject, or trying out a new and untried technique. Regardless, it adds into your knowledge bank and skill set.
Most exciting were the vignette projects that included exploration into snow effects (Dragon 1/35 M2 105mm Howitzer); the use of still water for small muddy ponds (Academy 1/35 M12 155mm GMC); and testing the static grass applicator (Academy 1/35 K9 Thunder).
Painting figures is one of the most difficult skill set I am trying to master. This year saw a surge in working with 1/35 figures. And towards the later part of 2017, I think I found that gold nugget in painting faces and firmly felt that my skills have improved significantly.
Did I mention failures? I had my share of failures in my modeling life. I think I had more fuck-ups than I had completed builds. Every modeler is bound to experience failure at one point or the other. We all do. I won’t deny that I don’t.
My Hasegawa 1/72 RF-4C which I planned to enter into SMCG’s Phantom group build pretty much didn’t move an inch. I was going to continue the Italeri 1/72 C-130H Gunship at the beginning of the year but was so appalled with everything about it, I never tried going near the box again. The 1/48 MiG-31 from Hobbyboss was a huge let down, particularly the horrendous intakes joints that just took forever to fill, sand and clean.
For whatever reason, I don’t think these models would ever make the cut into the waning days of 2017. If I considered to mention projects that never saw the light of day from yesteryears, I can include 1/48 subjects like Italeri P-47D and Testor F8F2 Bearcat – these are horrible kits that I still couldn’t figure out why did I ever started building them.
Weathering, Full Throttle
This year was marked by my complete move to the weathering camp. Yessir, I left those clean, spotless, shiny models and moved into making models with a dirty, sooty, and filthy look. Not a single model was spared. Event the minty F-35C got a dash of weathering in its weapon load.
The alluring aura of beaten-up and sooty military equipment were too hard to resist. The dry mud, the splatter, oil stain, and fuel spills are all too attractive to miss. Weathering depends on the location, season, weather, and human factor where the subject operates. Whatever that means, I now have 101 ways to finish my models. How exciting is that!
My most expensive gamble was shelving monies into the AMMO MIG and AK weathering products and magazines. But guess what? It paid dividends. I think their stuff needs some commendations. Sold in small plastic bottles, their products help me mimic and get the look and feel of natures effects on vehicles with a fraction of the time and effort.
Of course, Their products alone won’t solve my weathering problems without ourselves doing proper research. For example, you could weather your Tiger I tank with North African pigment for a snowy Eastern Europe vignette. But it would be completely naive and foolish.
As stated, to properly use these products to great effect, a solid research into the whereabouts of the vehicles, its operational locations, or how it was used is something you cannot oversee.
I also found out that I needed a bit of creativity to mix and match their products with other materials to extend their usefulness. Face it, in reality there are a gazillion types, color, texture of mud, dust, grime, and soot. It would take a company so many bottles even just to cover a fraction of what nature has provided.
Foray into Writing
This year has been my first debut as a freelancer in providing content for modeling magazines such as Scale Aircraft Magazine and Scale Military Model International, and a comeback to blog writing, particularly in populating Monty Mahendra Miniatures.
English is not my native language and writing is not my forte. Though I admit that I love writing in my native language. With the other hobby being photography, I hope that one day I will be able to combine those two hobbies to support my scale models. So when I saw an opportunity to contribute, it was a chance I didn’t want to miss.
Each medium has its pros and cons. For example, writing for a magazine helps me learn to write more effective, and be more mindful of space limitation. There is also an editor and his team that you need to work with.
At the other spectrum, writing a blog is like… writing a blog. I can write anything I want and as long as I want. But gauging readers inputs, pushing content, sharing with other channels is still something that I am struggling at.
2018 and Near Misses
The clock will strike twelve at midnight New Years Eve. It won’t be a modeling Doomsday. There is still 2018 for many of us.
For those who have unfinished business like me, I am looking forward to a great start next year with already two projects in good swing. Here is a glimpse of the future.
- Korean War Vignette. So far the small diorama depicting some US Marines checking a burnt out T-34 is my favorite project.
- HobbyBoss MiG-31. What a complete bore but I am already 70% towards the finish line. got to make it happen.
- Group Builds. Some exciting new GBs coming online in SMCG, GKM, and SoN. I am potentially submitting a ship and submarine build for these.
- Ships and Gundams. I completely missed my yearly target of 1 (one) kit of each. Better luck in 2018!
- Shelf-of-Doom Clean-up. Maybe finally the Italeri 1/72 C-130H will get a chance, or the Hasegawa 1/72 PS-1 Shinmeiwa? or the RF-4C Phantom? who knows. All have merits.
I could not have reached what I think has been a very successful year without mentioning the fabulous folks at the Scale Model Critique Group. For a solid year, they have provided me with insurmountable inputs, comments, and critiques to all my scale model projects. Their contribution have been indispensable to the final work that you see in this page, my Facebook page and Flickr site.
Hope to see you all in 2018!