At the Museum by Johnny Brosnan

Article by Johnny Brosnan

DO YOU RESIN-ATE?

What’s this resin thing all about? Francois Verlinden, the man who put “aftermarket” on the map, was the one who brought resin out of the shadowy back rooms and into the forefront of our hobby. He made it into an industry which has spread like wildfire. Today, manufactures of resin kits and accessories abound — aircraft, armor, cars, ships, figures and sci-fi, you name it and you got it, chief.

Why resin? Resin also reproduces detail very well and is also cheaper to utilize when manufacturing kits in your “garage” (as compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to manufacture steel molds for mass producing styrene kits).

The subjects of resin kits are usually those the major model companies are unable or unwilling to produce as an injection-molded plastic kit. More often than not, resin kits themselves are manufactured by small-ish, do-it-yourself-styled “Mom & Pop” companies. Hence the “garage kit” manufacturer moniker.

Resin conversion pieces allow us to model variants unavailable in kit form. With a little surgery, your Spitfire, Sherman, or Hussar can be sporting some sexy new body parts and be the only kit on the block with a particular look. These aftermarket accessories make the possibilities and individuation endless.

Resin figures and accessories have succeeded yesteryear’s pewter and lead figures and accessories. They are certainly easier to modify and “kitbash” then their metal relatives.

Complete resin kits usually carry a higher price tag than a plastic kit, on average from two to four times the price of a comparable plastic kit (if one exists). This is due to the cost of the resin and other mold making compounds, not to mention R & D and labor (remember, most of these “garage” companies are usually small “Mom & Pop”-type operations.”)

Sadly, the higher price tag does not always mean a higher quality kit. Quality varies between manufacturers. Quality can run the gamut from superb to sub-par. Instructions
— particularly from kits originating Eastern Europe or Northern New Jersey — can be vague at best. So keep those research materials handy!

And be advised, that that high sticker cost may also buy you a lesson in expanding your modeling skills whether you want it or not! These kits don’t just “fall together” like a Tamiya or Accurate Miniatures release! Air bubbles are a common flaw to parts, and require filling. Paper-thin parts can complicate kit construction.

Resin kits will test your model building abilities, forcing you to really think things through and engineer the construction of your kit. You gotta work to build one of these up. Buyer beware that you may also be called upon to fabricate small parts for your resin purchase, so, beginners, be advised!

Another surprise for the resin FNG will be the big old mold “pours” growing out of your kit parts like a giant fungus. No sprue trees here, folks…these byproducts of the molding process must be carefully cut or sawed off and sanded smooth. Bear in mind that some resins can be tough while others are quite brittle…

The molding and clean-up process contribute to another downside: resin dust. This is truly dangerous stuff you DO NOT want in your lungs! So wear a respirator, clean up those mold pours outside, or in water, if possible, and try to keep your workbench clean.

Like plastic and metal, resin kits are no different and require clean up and prep before painting. And though I have not experienced it yet, some have mentioned an oily residue — a byproduct of certain type of resin — which is very unkind to your paint job. So don’t forget to prime (and keep a set of Rosaries handy)!

Plastic solvent tube or liquid glues will not work in the resin realm. This is a job for Super Glue! Use of Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue can initially be a little tricky for those used to liquid or tube-type model glues. How many times have you glued your fingers together? Hell, I’m typing with three fingers right now…

All in all, the basics are the same…a model is a model, right? New mediums require new techniques, but also open up the opportunities and expand our skills. Sure the materials and specifics differ with resin, but the basic dynamics are the same as plastic modeling. So get out there and get building! And thank gawd ya don’t have ta deal with those damned evil vacuforms!!

FOR A FIST FULL OF MODELS

No, I am not a model “collector.” Unfortunately, the “hobby shop” of un-built models in the closet says otherwise. Sure, I’ve got about 40 kits that I have been accumulating over the years in there. AND I PLAN TO BUILD EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM, DAMNIT!!

Really.

Okay, most modelers truly intend to assemble every kit we purchase. And if “it’s gonna be THE BEST ONE YET,” then why don’t these kits get built?

Are these the de facto purchase blues…? Nah! Most kits are just as good after the purchase as they were before.

Can’t “just say NO” to a new kit…? Being a disciplined Modeler DOES NOT make you a disciplined Consumer! It’s just, well, ya look, ya see and ya just GOTTA buy and build that new damned Stug from Tamiya! Arg! How could they do this to me?!! Again!

And hey, some kits DO go out of production, others are released as “limited editions” (no pressure there), and then there are those kits that we’ve been waiting for fer years! Can you say 1/35th scale DUKW…?! Woof.

A large part of our hobby is about ideas. We have “ideas” when we see each others’ work, read articles, peruse catalogues, or even ogle the kit still shrink wrapped box. It takes little to trigger visions of grand projects blitzkrieging through our heads. And as you delve deeper into the hobby and the techniques, it becomes impossible to turn the “idea tap” off. This is good stuff, but as the ideas continue to grow the kits keep stacking up along with ‘em. Easy as pie to explain to the Wife: “All these ten thousand unbuilt kits mean that I am an idea man, snookems! “ Tell that ta the flying rolling pin.

FACT: leisure time decreases as we advance into so-called “adulthood.” Little things like jobs, families, chores, etc., sidetrack us, leaving little time for our hobby. Lack of hobby time dictates that the kit excess naturally increases… A model surplus can quickly outgrow apartments and relationships… Garages become filled, loan officers and wives scratch their heads about the sanity of adding rooms to a domicile merely to warehouse model kits. Sure it’s a little strange…

The growing surplus can lead to such worldshaking decisions as contemplating the unthinkable: a scale change. “Hmmm, maybe I should consider switching over to something smaller and easier to store, like 76th or even 1/286th scale armor…” Yeah, when Santa leaves me a new set of eyes and the hands of a freakin’ brain surgeon. Until then it’s good old 1/35th, baby!

Other “solutions” include selling or auctioning off the kit cache. Hello, E-bay, right? I don’t THINK so. Yeah, I’ve got a couple of “what was I THINKING WHEN I BOUGHT THAT”-kits…you know, like that Vanilla Ice CD that got quietly dumped years ago, but only a couple. And I’m not Monte Hall, so I don’t wanna get caught up in the world of styrene wheeling and dealing…

Did I mention that I WILL BUILD ALL OF THOSE KITS, DAMNIT!!

Okay, maybe it’s a little obsessive-compulsive, but it’s small sickness! I can follow all twelve steps on the instruction sheet — and yes, I can stop at any time!! Now if only these bloody model companies would stop releasing such cool kits! Arg! I blame society…specifically Tamiya…Italerie…Dragon…and Ginger and Mary Ann, too!

Perhaps someday my grandchildren will stand at my side in my Museum of
Un-built Kits. They will look up at their old Grandad and marvel: “Gee-whiz, Granpa, are these all of the models you never built…?” After angrily changing my Depends I will proudly respond: I WILL build those kits…for I am Not a collector. I am a Model building Man.”

FAVORITE TIPS AND TRICKS

—To simulate blast damage on a spaceship, cut a match head off of its stem and place it on your model where you want the “hit” to appear. Light the severed matchhead, let it flare before quickly blowing it out. Remove the dead head and you’ve got a slight distortion and coloration making for a convincing blaster hit

— Avoid heartbreak by using a yellow highlighter on your instruction sheet to indicate skipped steps or parts left off for later. This will prevent the gnashing of teeth and much anguish when you discover a skipped a step or assembly that cannot be repeated.

—The string from Tea bags makes excellent 1/35th scale tie down rope. Let it soak in the tea to discolor.

—Use household wax paper to hold your (CA) Superglue. For whatever reasons, the CA does not dry as fast on the waxy surface. Just make sure Madge doesn’t wrap your lunch up in it.

–Melt some Tamiya plastic putty in liquid glue. You can get it quite thin. An added bonus is that the gray primes the area you are filling, helping to spot flaws.

—Free supplies on your next trip to the fast food joint: Salsa cups and toothpicks. Grab your self a supersized handful. You want fries with that?

—Keep a small notebook handy for writing down your paint type, color and sku numbers, as well as your mix ratios… That way when you go back for a touch up, you won’t waste time and paint trying to recreate a specific color.

HOBBY SHOPPING

Where do you buy your stuff? The local hobby shop? Via mail order catalogue? Through an on-line hobby shop’s website? Discount or toy store…? E-bay? Or maybe even at a swap meet?

Swap meets offer the free-form wheeling and dealing of a Marrakesh bazaar. You barter with the Dealers, agree on a price, pay up and move on… Discounts are most often in abundance in this arena. Particularly at the end of the day when vendors are packing up and eager to sell off items they don’t wish to haul off. Except for the vendor’s areas at model shows, there ain’t much fellowship here. Like the Mafia, it’s Business.

E-bay offers a similar bargaining atmosphere…and lots of opportunity to be gouged. It’s a great resource for the hard too find item, though prices tend to skyrocket. It is cold, ruthless, and electronic… LIKE (JOKE) And a great place to get e-taken.
Discount toy stores often offer good discounts on kits, especially the “cut-out” stores like KB Toys. The down side is that the paltry selection of models. And you’ve got to navigate screaming toddlers and aisles of white elephant toys.

Mail order and on line hobby shops, like Squadron Shop, VLS, and Great Chicks— uh, I mean, GreatModels.com, offer many great lines at discounted prices (no discounts from VLS). Some sites, like Great Models and Hobby Link Japan, take time — sometimes weeks or months — to get you your kits. The added bonus is that Mr. Postman brings it right to your door, so your ass can remain planted right in front of your workbench.

Hobby shops usually offer the best selection of kits, tools and accessories. As an added bonus, they are staffed by fellow hobbyists. Information, tips and such change hands. They are the equivilent of the bar in “Cheers,” a social gathering place to shoot the breeze, spend a few bucks and just hang out for a bit.

For most, the local hobby shop has been a social epicenter, a place to hang out, shoot the breeze, discuss the hobby, and oh yeah, purchase your modeling supplies.

Is one better than the other? Nah. It’s all based on preference. Get your stuff where and how you please — then build it, bring it in!

SCARDY KITS?

Ever buy a model kit or figure, then get spooked by it? The fear is ruining a kit or doing a sub-par job: “I’m not good enough!! I am unworthy! I’ll learn on another kit then come back! Gawd, I really suck! This kit is too beautiful to ruin! I need to learn such and such a technique” etc. ” Sound familiar?

Or how about a club show and tell or a visit to a modeling competition, where you experience the agony and the ecstasy of witnessing a model that you once built or would like to build, done up PERFECTO by a real pro. Arg! Examples of such amazing work make one think, “I could NEVER do that in a million years. I outta just hang it right up now!”

It’s really easy to fall into that one. So what do you do? Head for the couch of an overpriced Beverly Hills shrink, or get over it?!!! I screw up the courage to press on by going back to my youth. You know, like when like we wuz kids?!!

It SHOULD be like when you were a kid, grinning from ear to ear as you raced home with your model airplane, ready to tear into the box and go for it! At least for me, back then I would try ANYTHING…I didn’t succeed all that much, but at least I’d take a crack at something. So what if the Bismarck was purple—at least I got the damned thing done!

Today I find myself scratching my head doubtfully as I look at an unassembled kit sitting there…mocking me. Like I said, I can rationalize with the best of them, putting off building a kit until my skills improve or I can pull off a particular technique or effect.
Thus, I have to consciously remind myself what it was like to be a fearless modeler — granted, I am shooting for a higher standard these days, but the propulsion and end goals should be the same: enjoyment and the pride stemming from the fact that I built this.

Yeah, my modeling isn’t what I’d like it to be, but slowly but surely I am learning. And most of the time I’m having a good time, too! And ain’t THAT what it’s all about — that and the chicks, right?

In the long run, in the words of Private Shakespeare, “Isn’t it better to have built, then not to have built at all?” Or was that Shep Paine…? Anyway, I know that the only way I’ll ever learn is by doing and them kits ain’t doin’ me any good in the box, ya know?!

Sure I’d love to be a Master Modeler right now, but in the long run, even as I struggle to get there, I’m building, learning and having a damned good time. Heck, I even know now that the Bismarck ain’t purple!! Now that’s progress…

BOOK REVIEW: “JUNGLE TRACKS: AUSTRALIAN ARMOUR IN VIETNAM” by Gary McKay & Graeme Nicholas

Published by Allen & Unwin Press $14.95

Very little is written about the Australian participation in Vietnam, at least in this country. The book details the Royal Australian Armoured Corps in Vietnam and is very is well-written and readable. Armour and armoured cavalry are covered equally, with attention focusing mainly on Aussie Centurions and the M113s. Many never-before-seen pictures compliment the text.

The authors — both vets — provide an excellent explanation of unit training, structure, deployment and tactics. Terrain, interaction with Infantry, operations, and maintenance, are some of the many topics covered. Though virtually no stone is left unturned, an informative and exciting balance between detail and personal anecdotes is achieved; Horror, humor and history of the RAAC in Vietnam.

I’d give it four and one half grenades out of five. Make tracks to pick this one up if Aussie armor in “the Nam” is your sort of stuff.

NOTE: This book was purchased via mail order from Scholar’s Bookshelf, a mail-order/online bookstore that has a good selection of esoteric military books at affordable prices. Check ‘em out online at www.scholarsbookshelf.com

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