Category: Hobby Musings

Upcoming : A tale of 2 ‘Cats (Tamiya and AMK)

Wow… there sure is a lot of hate being hurled right now at Tamiya ever since they announced their 1/48 F-14A Tomcat at Shizuoka Hobby Show 2016. Personally it does look like an F-14…

And since it’s a Tamiya kit, we can pretty much be assured that it fits better than most other brands (I’m looking at you Hasegawa) and will probably be more accurate than others (ahem, Hobbyboss). Apparently it has been rumored for years that Tamiya would release an F-14 in 1/48 scale. So finally everyone’s wish has come true right? But then the sprue shots turned up online too. And the rage began. It seems like the wings will all be one piece. No options for flaps and slats to be down. No options for the nose gear to be down either so there’s no way you can do this kit up in a nice catapult launch shot. Both of which are available as options in the Hasegawa kit. But while I did finish one before, it is generally known that the Hasegawa F-14 is a bear to assemble. It has major fitting problems with the cockpit, fuselage and intakes. It’s also an old kit so it’s pretty much safe to assume that the Tamiya one will probably be more detailed.

I like the fact that the wings will be one piece since to save space, I pretty much always display swing-wing kits with their wings swung in. It will also make assembly less complicated. But I can understand why some folks will want the ‘all down’ option. What’s more mind boggling is that the weapons will be a separate option (addendum: the weapons are now included)! Tamiya kits are already expensive, and I expect this kit will be more expensive than even the Hasegawa. And now the weapons (which look very good) are an option for additional money. Yeesh. This also looks to build up only as an early F-14A and looking at Tamiya’s track record, there’s no guarantee they will ever release all the other versions (still no 2 seat F-16s for instance).

Oh in the meantime, Avantgrade Model Kits (AMK) announced in October last year that they will also have an F-14 in all 3 variants out in 2016. They’ve been getting a lot of kudos for it even though they haven’t released any additional information or even a photo ever since. It’s weird seeing the treatment the 2 companies are getting right now.

A 1/48 F-14 was one of my first ever properly done model kits so I have a soft spot for the subject. I also already own quite a few F-14 kits in various scales but at this point in my modeling life, I’ll take pretty good engineering, good detail with good fit over great engineering, great detail with challenging fit any day. I think depending on the price I will probably end up owning one of the these…

Making my rounds in Singapore’s hobby shops

So I had a short business trip to Singapore. As usual I also make a run at the model shops to see the goodies. There’s really nothing like being able to just go to a shop and leisurely look at the model kits and supplies. Even better is that these shops are all walking distance from my hotel. Here’s a short write-up of each and what I got there:

The M Workshop (MWS)
91 Bencoolen St. Sunshine Plaza #01-58 Singapore – Website

This is the one I always make sure I hit as MWS has the most eclectic mix of kits. Bernard and Julian are also very friendly and offer honest opinions of the stuff they carry. Most of the kits are also unsealed so you can ogle at the parts within. Nice. In particular they carry A&K interactive, Lifecolor and Vallejo though not all of the latter line. I usually try MWS first for anything I want before heading to other shops.

My hoard this time were:

  • 1/48 Tamiya F4U-1A Corsair
    I have a shelf queen of this which i botched the wings badly. So instead of trying to fix it i decided to just replace and redo
  • 1/48 Tamiya US Army Infantry GI Set
    I have a planned need for the tank commander figure. The others are in decent action poses and will give me figure painting practise
  • Hobbymate alligator clip heads
    There is always need for more alligator clips for painting. These require the addition of bamboo skewers to be complete. Those come in a huge bundle and are very cheap
  • No brand grass tuft
    A small container of artificial grass for basing. I have a bottle of darker colored ones to mix with
  • Vallejo Polyurethane Gloss Varnish
    I have a small bottle of this and since it works very well I figure I might as well get the large one

Hobby Kulture (Closed as of 31 July 2016)
3 Coleman Street #04-23 Singapore – Website

Kulture is pretty much the continuation of Achtung Hobby which was my go-to/hangout modeling shop when I was based in Singapore in the early 2000s. The guys have continued the tradition of bringing in a huge variety of new and classic kits every shipment. We are talking about kits so old the decals have yellowed though. Also following the Achtung tradition is that all the kits are unsealed and they won’t give you the stink eye if all you do is spend the whole visit just opening and looking at kits.

I am friends with some of the guys there and I usually end up spending a few hours chatting there. Alas this isn’t a full-time venture for them so the shop has very irregular and short hours. I’ve also heard they are closing for good soon. Pity.

I hoarded:

  • Gundam EFSF Decal (not shown)
    This is a third party decal sheet. I’m always on the lookout for ‘EFSF’ markings having almost all of the mass production Federation mobile suit kits in my stash
  • UStar Etch Processing Vise
    I haven’t really played with PE but I was told this would make my life immensely easier when that time comes
  • UStar airbrush QD adaptor
    A good buddy gave me his table top mini compressor which hopefully I can use in place of my Sparmax diaphragm compressor. I’m hoping this one will be a lot less noisy. This adaptor will me quick detach my 3 airbrushes.

Art Friend
Blk 231 Bain Street, Bras Basah Complex #03-33, Singapore 180231 – Website

This is the defacto shop for art supplies. One could get lost just looking at all the stuff they stock. Its a stop for me every time even if I’m not looking for anything in particular. Now that I’m into figure modeling, there are more things that interest me here. Incidentally Art Friend is the only supplier I know for X-acto products in Singapore.

  • A4 colored paper
    Black and Blue in this case to use as backgrounds for the photos of my figures
  • Cork board
    For figure basing purposes. This A4 Sheet will last me a long time for sure
  • Foam board (not shown)
    Same as above. It came as an A2 sheet which i cut to 4x A4 for easy transport
  • Talus Buff Fine
    Same as above. This will join my fine and course sand for all sorts of bases
  • X-acto #11 blades
    Always have spares ready
  • Wooden bases
    The long rectangular one is for one of my ‘bucket list’ builds while the oval one is for my future Speederbike build. All else are pretty much for figures

Blk 231 Bain Street, Bras Basah Complex #04-35, Singapore – Website

This is a smaller shop across from art friend where i found some small balsa blocks that i think will work very well for small individual figures.

Battle Bunker
201 Victoria Street, Bugis+ #03-16/17 , Singapore – Website

This is my first visit here since I’ve never used to be interested much in Warhammer 40k. They carry the whole Games Workshop and Citadel Paint line. Half of the shop are also set up for board gaming which is pretty cool. I also spotted Star Wars and even Talisman, a board game I used to play as a kid. Luckily they don’t carry Corvus Belli’s Infinity line. It would have been dangerous on my wallet haha. Slightly annoying is that most of the stuff on display don’t have price tags. The guy at the counter claims that their price tagging machine was broken. Interestingly, the stuff at the Funan the IT Mall branch also don’t have price tags. Hmm…

  • Games Workshop Grey Knights Purifier Squad
    I’ve been eyeing this kit as it allows me to have 5 different units of Grey Knights: I don’t play the game so I don’t need to have a squad of the same type of Knights. And come on, ‘a power armored Knight armed with arm mounted guns and a laser halberd with a jet backpack’… how bad ass does that sound?!

No I didn”t really hoard kits but pretty much yes for everything else haha. Most of these are probably available in Jakarta but are more likely spread out over multiple shops across the huge city. Probably available online too but I’d rather be able to see what I want to buy beforehand.

A good and large haul indeed. Luckily all of them are pretty small eh?

The modeler/hoarder’s workflow

My friend, Maxwinamp, the Plamo admin, came up with this. And it summarizes how our stash pretty much, never really ever goes down.

All roads lead to the big red box…

Stretching sprue is not difficult

Heck even I can do it!

This morning, with a handy lighter and the box itself as a ‘placemat’, I sat at my dining table and gave it a go before throwing away the leftover sprues of my VF-1A build.

I started to get the hang of it after a few tries. The key is how soon you can start pulling (the plastic has darkened and started to sag) and for how long before it snaps after cooling down.

So eventually I managed to pull the sprue longer and longer although it started to bend when it got too long. I can even use the ‘mistakes’ (right most) for detailing my figure bases I think.

Now why did I even try to do this? Well, I have a build right now that might need some sprues to replace raised panel lines. Let’s see how it turns out.

Stencils: yes or no?

So I’ve started on the decals for my Crusader and as is typical of a modern aircraft kit it comes with many stencils. And since it’s 1/72 scale many of the stencils are really tiny.

This got me thinking about whether modelers actually put on every stencil available. So I googled around and saw a wide range of responses: some put every little decal on. Some only have the main markings. Some others just have the more obvious markings on.

In real life, full stencils seem to only happen when the plane is first delivered. During a wartime footing, I’m sure maintenance crew don’t have the luxury of making sure every stencil is painted back on after patchng up the aircraft. But there are cases where the stencils actually take the center stage on an aircraft: see the JADSF F-4 Phantoms.

I have here 2 photos of an F/A-18F I took in 2002. It was quite brand new to the service then. From a distance, I couldn’t make out much stenciling.

Even up close, the stencils become more visible but are still not very obvious.

On a sidenote, note the lack of visible panel lines even up close. But that’s for a different post. 🙂

I guess at the end of the day it’s my project: I can be as realistic or as relaxed about it as I want. It’s going to be bad if it ever stops being fun especially if it happens because I had to spend a week putting on many 2 x 5mm sized decals. Besides, if I was striving for 100% realism I wouldn’t have left the ejection seat bare without seatbelts in the first place.

To that end I think for 1/72 and smaller kits I will just thread a middle ground: put on the more prominent stencils, and not worry about the smaller details. I will adjust as the scale goes larger.

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