No modeling, just model parts

This week is an Obscureco week – four orders already sent, many more to come. A lot of people don’t realize I do Obscureco as a sideline – it’s not my real job. If it were, I’d be living in a tent somewhere. So I get lots of help (Elizabeth has been taking stuff to the post office, for instance, and Bill Ferrante’s cranked out a lot of parts, although we’re again out of A-6B conversions and Hamilton Standard props in 1:48) and I count on customers being a little understanding.

That said, people are mostly interested in what’s next. I’ve started work on an A-3 Skywarrior interior, and people are asking for A-3 slatted wings, too. But many have their own very specific desires. These are very difficult to meet, and often they’d prove bad investments of my time from a business perspective. On the other hand, the 1:72 P-47D-10 conversion Roy Sutherland cooked up for us just needs some instructions, so that will be yet another new product this year. Still, carving out a little time to work on this stuff can be rough; it’s easy to be a victim of one’s own pseudo-success.

Speaking of pseudo-successes, Roy Sutherland is reviving Cooper Details with some great 1:72 cockpit sets for the Bf 109E, F and G. He’s also cranking out a bunch of decals under the Barracudacals logo (the as-yet unfinished website will be here ). Roy deserves your support; he helped start the whole resin aftermarket industry and he does very good work. He also does some subcontracting for Obscureco when we have an excess of demand. I also extend my thanks to him for casting up some copies of Dragon’s 1:72 F4F wheels for my FM-2, which took a third at this weekend’s Tri-Valley Classic in Fremont. Roy delivered them at 11:45 p.m. in a Denny’s parking lot, which is going well beyond the call of duty.

Cable enabled

Good news – my father gave me a spare cable for my old camera, so I can start getting photos up on the blog starting tomorrow. I apparently lost mine in Virginia Beach, or maybe it’s lost on my desk… I’m not sure which.

Anyway, there are photos of the landing gear on the FM-2 in there – before it was broken. The new version is okay, but since I built it in situ, I don’t actually know what it really looks like – it’s pretty dark in that wheel well.

Here’s a question for you all – is there anywhere one could get the Xtrakits Sea Vixen or Canberra PR.9 besides Hannants? I bagged my Meteor at the Orange County show, but I saw no sign of these kits in Virginia Beach. Have the Brits hogged them all for themselves?

Reality bites

Well, the P-40’s way behind schedule – I’ll never finish it in time to have it ready for the 31st of August. Ugh. It’ll join the list of partially-finished models and plod along to completion. Depressing, really.

The good news is that the FM-2 is nearly done – and not just done enough for the nationals, but really done. I’ve obtained some Dragon wheels, the landing gear is rebuilt, the antenna aerial is rigged, and the prop is back in place. I have some minor touch-ups to do, and the canopy needs to be re-added and I’m replacing the machine gun barrels, but that’s a short 40-minute session of work. In the meantime, here’s a photo of the model as it appeared at the IPMS Nationals:

It’ll look much better shortly.

Another sign that I am failing to keep up with the times: I was excited to get Academy’s new 1:72 Me 262 last night, and I check for a review on-line to get a feel for what I’d bought. Apparently, this came out almost exactly a year ago! New, huh? What was I thinking…?

Meanwhile, the tourney to choose the next build subject continues. We have another interesting matchup – P-51D vs. B-17…

Olympics: I can’t watch them and the model at the same time!

I put most of my effort into the FM-2 this weekend, rebuilding the landing gear one strut at a time inside the wheel wells with .020 styrene rod and fashioning a new prop shaft. I also spent a lot of time on the rigging of the aerial, which has been no fun. First, I found that there were about three different layouts for FM-2 aerials – one from the leading edge of the vertical fin to the mast and a line running to an insulator on the left side of the fuselage behind the mast (which is what I chose), one from a mast on top of the rudder to the mast and down to the same insulator, and a third from the leading edge of the fin to the mast and then down to an insulator on the right side of the fuselage ahead of the mast! Egad! Then, when I rigged the mast, I had the excitement of a high-speed aerial mast breakaway caused by the tension of the panty hose thread pulling it off its CA-glue mooring. I finally got smart and drilled a hole in the base of the mast and another in the fuselage, then pinned the mast in place. I haven’t added the drop-down aerial yet, but it ought to be a breeze now that the mast is secure.

I also started afresh on the P-40E, sanding off the ammunition tray blisters on the lower wing. The kit had them protruding about a scale eight inches; the P-40E I saw in Virginia at the Fighter Factory had them, but they were almost flush. I’ll replace them with .050 styrene.

I’ve started the “tournament” to pick the next model I’ll work on – it’s a 128-bracket round-robin, with LOTS of first-round byes. This morning’s winners were the Trislander and the Spitfire. I’m looking forward to the possible second-round match-up of P-51B vs. P-51D. The winner of that looks strong to go to the final four. That’ll probably actually happen around March, so it’s in keeping with the rest of this madness!

Light the Fire, Check for Tires (in the mailbox)

I have a donor for my F4F-4 wheels, and they should soon be in my mitts. I’ll ask Bill Ferrante to make up several sets – not for Obscureco, but for my own long-term Wildcat ambitions. I once planned to do one Wildcat a year for a while, but those ambitions have fallen way behind schedule since 1993 when I started (I have three, now).

In other news, I realized I have two weeks to finish my P-40E for the Fighter Pilots Symposium. Can I do it? Well, I did a Hurricane in two weeks a few years ago, and I have spent a little time on it… We shall see. Actually, having the niece here has been rough on my modeling time, since Elizabeth has been keeping her on a busy social calendar – which, of course, also includes me. Tonight it’s the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art… Tomorrow’s a girls’ night out (clearing the way for me to go to the SVSM meeting, which at first was protested by the wife!). Anyhow, the race is on yet again. Am I ever not in a hurry? (Please don’t mention the Maryland, which I’ve been working on for six years…)

Wildcat Redux

The FM-2 competed in the nationals, and now it sits in a largely disassembled state: no prop, no prop shaft, no landing gear, no landing gear doors, and certainly no wheels. The trip back took such a toll on the gear I had to pull it completely out (the triangular truss was just rattling around inside the well, and the hose detail I added just plain fell out). The wheels, by True Details, are abominations, but a good Samaritan on Hyperscale’s going to send a Dragon F4F-4 wheel that I’d like to copy in resin to replace this wheel. The prop shaft never looked right and it needs to be replaced with something a little more convincing. Had it not been for the damage, I’d have left it alone; as it is now, I’ll get the parts that bugged me right, including the missing aerial antenna.

Will it ever be finished?

Another great IPMS national convention is in the book. I don’t want to repeat too much of what will end up in the IPMS Journal, so I’ll keep it to what happened specifically to me.

My FM-2 was finished, but Southwest Airline’s pilots seem to be shooting for the 1-wire on landing and, as a result, the landing gear was broken on both ends of the trip! Not a problem – I can fix it, and squeeze yet more modeling enjoyment out of the Sword FM-2. It won’t really be done until I locate another Dragon F4F-4 and cast the wheels from that kit – they’re far better than even the Hasegawa wheels (no ejector pin marks on the back sides) and make that kit worth snapping up even if you don’t wish to fold the wings.

I didn’t win anything yet again, but that’s okay. My wife was enraged, however, and demanded to know what was wrong with the judges. I told her that they were clearly encumbered by perfect eyesight and a thorough understanding of the judging rules.

What did I get? Well, I found the CMK landing lights I wanted (and some 1:72 heads and hands), and I got all the show specials – the HL-20, the ECM pod for missile simulators and the decals for the Oceana A-4s that flew with them – but not much else from my list. The Fine Molds A6M2 Type 21 was picked up, with its accompanying magazines, from Hobby Link Japan for about $26, and I got some neat resin stowage and an F-105 interior from Goffy. Warhorse now makes decals for the A-6B Mod 1, so I grabbed them since I can now actually use an Obscureco product. I also picked up some B-24 decals and a couple 5-figure 1:72 packages from Prieser, and that was about it.

Obscureco did great – we moved a lot of resin. I shipped back some inventory, but it shared space with stuff Ben Pada bought, and I essentially emptied one large box of merchandise. Several items sold out, so Bill Ferrante will be busy the next week or so!

The show was wonderfully organized, and Vladimir Yakubov’s winners presentation went flawlessly. Vlad shot something like 5000 images at the show, so we have much fodder for the Journal and for the SVSM Website.

More stories will come later…

FM-2 Spotted for Launch

Well, the FM-2’s as done as it’s likely to get, less some small things (aerial) and a bit of weathering (pastel exhaust staining). It was a big fight all weekend. I can tell you a few things:

  • True Details’ wheels are too damned skinny. If I spot a Dragon folded-wing version of the F4F, I’m buying it for the wheels, which will be resin-copied for that new model and for all my other Wildcats, this one included.
  • The books all fail to point out that the wing-top lights are colored, green and red. I found that out from a DVD on the Wildcat that showed the Museum of Naval Aviation’s Wildcat in detail that I thought was quite useless when I first saw it – thanks, pause button!
  • You always lose one gun barrel into the wings when adding them at the end of the build. Always.

Anyhow, now my attentions turn to my Motorcycle and Jeep and how to display them. The tops of shaving cream cans painted flat black seems like a great option. Also, my dad bought me a neat little shepherd’s crook-style streetlight that I may be able to lean the bike against, and that would be a great way to display it. If I have time, I’ll make up a “WAR’S OVER!” copy of “Stars and Stripes” and pose that against the far side of the post, too. Can you have a diorama with no figures?

My plane leaves at 7:10 tomorrow and by 6:45 local time I’ll be in Virginia Beach.

2 days to the nationals!

Going Totally Mersh

Well, the FM-2 looks to be stalled as I get Obscureco stuff done for the nationals. We’ll have three new 1:72 products, two of which were mastered by Roy Sutherland (and the third by Mike Laxton). Now, it’s up to me to make up the instruction sheets. My wife has been on me about why I haven’t replaced my ancient Macintosh G3 with the shiny new PowerBook she got me in March – it’s for reasons like this. I can’t learn a new operating system – not to mention new graphics software – during crunch time before the nationals! Plus, I’ll have to re-do all my existing instruction sheets from PageMaker (!) to InDesign. That’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Plus my printer is acting psychotic. I’m also sweating an inventory crunch; I’m hoping Bill Ferrante can get me a bunch of stuff before Monday so I can have it at the nationals. I think we’re as low on inventory as we’ve ever been right before a show, except for P-51D wings. We have lots of those. We’ll do all right, but not as well as we could.

I am looking forward to leaving for the show Tuesday – that’ll mean that all this hurrying stuff is behind me! And I did, in fact, get the FM-2’s pitot probe installed, so all is not lost on that front…!

By the way, the title of this post is an homage to the Minutemen, whose considered their album of songs longer than 90 seconds to be “totally mersh,” or commercial in Mike Watt-ese.

FM-2 Deja vu: the feeling you’ve done something before, only easier

Two frustrating things about the FM-2 gear:

1. Getting all my scratchbuilt additions into the bay around the rest of the struts is a huge pain. At least the styrene rod flexes – I was able to squeeze the A-frame truss into the bay and only lost one easily-replaced strut in the process. Now, getting CA glue to the proper attachment points is the next big challenge – it’s not easy. I have three little struts to add, followed by some solder “hoses;” none of this is made easier by the dark sea blue color. It’s like a black hole in there. However, from the side, all these struts, wires and hoses will be readily visible, so I can’t just skip it

2. I’ve done this before – in 2002 with an F4F-4 – and I can’t remember how I did it! Ugh!

F4F-4 Wildcat - Hasegawa, 2002

Ohm, wait a second – I just discovered how by looking here at this build article. Turns out it was easy then. So, like so many things about the FM-2, it’s just innately harder than the Hasegawa kit. Sheesh.

(By the way, I like the 40mm barrels on the left;cropped right, they look like they’re in the foreground. The backdrop is a photo in the Ethell book on the USN, with the styrene deck section blocking off the stern end of the ship and its associated aircraft. The guns were impossible to place so they weren’t “in camera.” They look good – although the late Bill Surgi of VF-4 pointed out that they were anachronistic, since the plane went down with the Yorktown on June 6, 1942. Bill also pointed out the lack of tie-downs on deck – I don’t think Evergreen makes scribed stock with WWII-era carrier tie downs yet!)

I picked up some 1.5mm yellow-amber-red lenses for the belly signal lights at D&J last night – along with the Hunter FGA.9 from Revell Randy got me at Yanni’s. When that will be built is anyone’s guess…

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