Friday 27 September 2013

Thursday 26 September 2013

That's what I want.

The Sprue Cutters' Union wants to know: what are my spending habits?

There have been periods in my life when I've spent on my hobby without restraint, which is how I've ended up with a stash far bigger than I need or can realistically expect to build in my lifetime. For the last couple of years however I've worked within a self-imposed monthly modelling budget. And I'm pretty self disciplined about it; once I've spent that amount, there's no 'borrowing' from next month (even if there's a 40% off Squadron Sale). If I don't spend the full  allowance for one month I carry it forward to the next. It's amazing the difference this has made to my spending – I evaluate each purchase much more carefully. Do I really need this kit that's going to eat up my entire budget this month, or should I leave the cash to accumulate until the model's on sale, or something better takes my fancy? (And it's amazing how often something I desparately needed when first I saw it is of no interest whatsoever two months later.) Since I buy a lot of stuff online and the shipping also comes out of the budget, I'm now much more selective about who and where I order from. I keep track of my spending using YNAB software. (Actually my wife and I use this for all of our household spending and it's great for monitoring where our money goes).

There are a couple of ways I can supplement my modelling budget. Any proceeds made from selling off kits on eBay go straight back into the kitty. The other main source is revenue from article writing, from which I put aside a percentage towards my hobby. 

In the last 12 months I've spent more on paint, adhesives, tools and aftemarket decals than models. Having a sizeable stash means I don't need a lot of new kits, and since I'm just as happy building a 70's Airfix model as the latest Chinese superkit, my expenditure is fairly low. I have bought 12 models this year, but have disposed of over twice that number so my budget is quite healthy at the moment. I feel a trip to Hannants' website coming on.

This year's acquisitions to date:

What other Union members think about this subject:-

Wednesday 18 September 2013

How many shades of grey..?

This week's Sprue Cutters' Union subject is paint, specifically "what paint(s) do you use?". The picture below shows a random selection from my motley collection of paints – as you can tell, I've had some of them for decades.
For the first twenty years of my modelling life I used enamels exclusively, because that's all there was: Airfix in the little glass bottles and Humbrol in the tinlets. Having learned to brush paint fairly well, it wasn't until I got my first single-action Badger airbrush in my late teens that I was able to achieve a reasonably smooth, consistent finish (after lots of practice and many ruined kits). At some point I made the change to acrylics, which wasn't a smooth transition as I struggled to find the right consistency that wouldn't clog the airbrush, dry with a grainy texture or blow off like dust from the model's surface. After lots more practice and some more ruined models I found the ratios and paints that I liked. Then, a few years ago a friend introduced me to Gunze lacquers which were by far the easiest paints to handle, requiring fewer ruined models before a satisfactory finish was achieved. So, in order of favourite brands:-

Gunze Mr Color lacquers: spray thinly and evenly, dry fast and a good range of colours. They have two main drawbacks. Firstly they're difficult to find in North America, and now many Far East mail-order outlets won't ship them either. I amassed quite a collection of them some years ago so I'm OK for a while, except for the second drawback – some colours seem to dry up in the jars very quickly. 

Tamiya acrylics: readily available, spray superbly (especially when thinned with lacquer thinner) and dry quickly. Main drawback: there aren't many aircraft specific shades, so if I'm looking for a particular FS or RLM match I usually end up mixing it from several colours.

Xtracrylix: great range of accurate aircraft colors, dry quickly and semi-gloss (perfect for decalling). They're not the easiest to use – some colours seem to dry on the needle tip, and I've found a primer coat an absolute must or they peel off along with the masking tape. Despite these idiosyncracies I use them a lot.

Vallejo Model Color acrylics: these are the ones in the plastic bottles, and I use them for brush-painting details. They're really opaque so cover well, and I like the convenience of the little squeezy bottles.

At the end of the day, although those are my preferred paints, if I need a particular shade and I have it in stock, I don't mind whether it's acrylic, enamel, lacquer or what brand it is. 

Now, achieving a good, gloss finish is another matter. If anyone reading this has a foolproof – i.e. not Future – method for gloss coating, please share...

Other Unionist posts:-
The Eternal Wargamer
Jay's Scale Model Adventures

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Monster problems

Monster Hobbies is a local hobby store in High River, Alberta, Canada, one of the towns worst affected by the recent floods. Most of the shop's inventory was destroyed by the flood, but the local modelling community is rallying round to help owner Trevor and his wife Julie get the store back up and running (for example the AMMS show this last Saturday held a kit-donation drive).

If you have any kits that you feel you'll never build (I know, unlikely right?) and would like to donate them to the Monster Hobbies re-build I know Trevor and Julie would be greatly appreciative. Since they'll be re-selling the kits they're looking for factory-sealed models, or if not then they should be complete, unstarted and in good condition. You can contact them via their website, or e-mail me for shipping info, etc.

Sunday 15 September 2013


Categories were a little odd this year, as 1/144, 1/72 and 1/48 models all competed against each other within the same categories. However they were differentiated according to basic, intermediate or advanced levels.

More 1/72 goodness from Dan Mackay

Dan's 1/72 Spitfire

The new-tool 1/72 Airfix Zero built by Dan Mackay

The new-tool 1/72 Airfix Zero built by Dan Mackay
A nicely done Tamiya 1/48 P-47D

Massimo Santarossa's 1/48 Hasegawa Spit (VIII?)

Italeri 1/48 Macchi, also by Massimo. Nice camo.

Rick Chin's 1/32 Bf108F

1/48 F-15 by Rick Chin

The Airfix 1/48 Lynx

1/48 F-86D, presumably the Pro-Modeler kit.

1/48 Nichimo Ki-51 Sonia

1/48 Val(?)

First actual build I've seen of the new Tamiya 1/32 Corsair.

Saturday 14 September 2013

AMMS Contest 2013

I spent the day at this year's Alberta Military Modellers' Show, held at the Military Museum in Calgary. Originally an armour-only contest, in the last few years it's been opened up to military models from all genres. Over the next few days I'll post pics, starting with some of the 1/72 entries.
Mike Tanguay's 1/72 Airfix Bf110 
Mike Tanguay's 1/72 Airfix Bf110 
MPM 1/72 SAAF Boston III by Massimo Santarossa
MPM 1/72 SAAF Boston III by Massimo Santarossa
Sword 1/72 Vultee P-66 Vanguard by Dan Mackay
Sword 1/72 Vultee P-66 Vanguard by Dan Mackay

Special Hobby 1/72 RCAF Digby Mk. 1 by Massimo Santarossa
Special Hobby 1/72 RCAF Digby Mk. 1 by Massimo Santarossa

1/72 Revell CH-135 Twin Huey

What-if 1/72 CAF MiG-31