Spring Break Building

It’s spring break time and miraculously I was able to get my vacation to coincide with my kids’ schedule. Getting older isn’t so bad when my seniority at work is starting to benefit me. Anyway, this years vacation brought us to Tennessee and along for the trip came my next four builds. The two Canberras, F-2, and Cougar are at the bare bones stage for now but my goal for the week is to get all the cockpits complete and the fuselage halves together. Not a far fetched idea but I don’t have a great track record of staying on target. There is a plethora of activities to do in this tourist trap so it will more than likely be late night building sessions all week. 

Before I left, I made sure to do a little preliminary painting so I could have a decent head start to the week. Basic detail work on the cockpits will be first to be worked on along with wings and horizontal stabilizer assembly. I may try to get the instrument panel decals on this morning to get a little farther tonight. We’ll see though. 


Macchi MC.205 Veltro

Another reason why I need to build more Italeri kits, the Veltro performed wonderfully. Like the Polikarpov, I had no real issues to complain about. I wish I would have utilized the smoke ring camouflage instead but I still think it came out pretty good. This just gives me an excuse to get another Veltro kit. All in all, a great build. 


Polikarpov I-153

The second build to get finished is the Polikarpov I-153. Hasegawa did a superb job with this kit. From start to finish, this aircraft was a joy to put together. There were no issues to hamper any progress other than my own blunders. 


Focke Wulf Fw-190A8

By far my favorite aircraft from the German Luftwaffe, the Fw-190 is complete. It took what seemed like forever to finish but not all things in the model building world come easily. Except for the build itself. 

Academy has done a wonderful job again. Kits like this are the reason I speak so highly of Academy. It’s a shame I got held up with the painting of it. Regardless of that happenstance, I won’t let it mar a good build. I’m very happy that I didn’t rush the unavoidable and risk ruining the paint job. I think the end result turned out great. I’m relieved and elated to add it to the shelf right next to the B-24(a little on the ironic side). 


Building The Stash

To follow up my recent post about “the stash”, I thought I could elaborate a little more into the decision process into building as well as maintaining an active model inventory. So as I have touched on before, the stash is a vital part of the hobby. No stash equals no immediate future builds. It may be very hard to believe but there was a time where I didn’t have a stash to work with. When I first came back to the hobby, I would order five or so kits at a time and build them all. Once those were finished, I would just start the process all over again. Now there certainly isn’t anything wrong that approach. I was still building models and enjoying it. To get to the point, I cycled through my stash on a regular basis and didn’t give myself enough time to create my stash. As my skills developed, I took more time for each build thus giving more time for kits to get added to my new forming stash. 

Growing my stash proved to be difficult at first but became increasingly easier over time. The usual Christmas and birthday presents would begin to add up and I was also buying more kits that I would not even try in the beginning. A lot of the growth in my stash was a direct result in not airbrushing for the first year or so. I would strictly use rattle cans. If you are in the hobby, you know that not every color needed is available in a spray can. That limited what I could build unless I painted them in the incorrect colors. So needles to say, the door opened up completely when I finally started to utilize my airbrush. The influx of kits that I had already owned that were what I referenced as staple kits were already in place to give me the go ahead to branch out even more. With the vastly important skill of airbrushing now in my toolbox, any kit was fair game.

After establishing the stash and then beginning the growth process of it, all that is left is the maintaining of it. This is actually the best part. The search for certain kits and deals has become an integral part in developing a fine tuned stash. By continually researching specific criteria, it keeps me knowledgeable with prices and availability of hundreds of kits. I am always looking to add kits so I like to know a general number that is fair to obtain a kit for. Also by constantly staying on the hunt, I am aware of what’s in the market if the need ever arises for a specific kit. It may seem like a whole lot of wasted time but I have learned to streamline my efforts and can finish a search in a matter of a few minutes now. 

So, what kind of new kit do I look to add on a regular basis? The real answer is all of them but it does go a little deeper. Right now, I have a main focus on acquiring a few staple airplanes that I keep an eye out for and will grab them when the price is fair. My top staple plane that I need more of right now are P-47’s. The ultimate goal would be to add about three more to the stash. After the staple aircraft, I like to look for wish list kits such as a C-2 Greyhound or a P-61 Black Widow. It’s an ongoing loop here at Amateur Airplanes.

The demand for new kits to my stash has become ever increasing the past couple of years. Every kit that I start is one less kit in the stash. In the last three years, I have built about one hundred and fifty kits. That’s quite a bit to replace. The numbers fluctuate from month to month. There is no number that I need in order to be happy. As long as there’s a distinct variety of aircraft, all is right at the workbench. So here are a few of the newly acquired kits over the past few months. 


Decal Day

Another big step for my current builds occurred over the weekend in the decal applications. I feel like I can finally breathe a little easier knowing that I don’t have to rely on the weather being perfect or having to sand and fill any seams. This is the fun part now. I am at the threshold of final assembly and hope to start finishing them up in the next few days.

The applications for all three kits applied very well. The Polikarpov’s were by far the best. There were no issues with either. Of the three builds so that made for an easy day of work. The next step will be a good coat of clear matte and then I can proceed with the weathering of the three. The Wildcat’s decals have still not arrived so I am thinking it’s time to get another set ordered. Realistically, it probably won’t get finished for another two weeks or so. We leave for vacation on Friday so If I miraculously receive the original set then it can join me in Tennessee. I’m not betting on that scenario so more than likely it will sit until after vacation. 


Righting The Ship

It had to happen eventually. Playing the odds long enough will emit a jackpot every now and then. My jackpot is here with the Fw 190, Macchi, and Polikarpov finished with final paint. After all the moaning and groaning, I am finally here and it feels great. If you remember, the Wildcat is also finished with paint and still awaits the mailman to deliver its decals. They were supposed to be here on the 7th and we are pretty well past that date so I’m sweating it a little. They still show that they are in transit so we’ll see. The rest of the three will get their respective decals applied soon and I can finally wrap them up. 


The Great Stash Debate

From time to time, the subject of a model builders stash comes into the spotlight. The mysterious “stash” is questioned by all and understood by few. To really comprehend what most think is insanely pointless, you have to experience the hobby in its true form. Building models travels deeper than just putting plastic parts together. There are layers to every model builder that dictate their levels of commitment to this great hobby. Skill level plays a big part in this all but when you really break it down, we all share the desire to build a good model. Whether it be an airplane, tank, or automobile, we enjoy the build. There are plenty of die-cast or even plastic renditions that we can easily purchase to display, but the satisfaction of creating the end product yourself wins out in the end. So where does the stash come into play in all of this?

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word stash as “an amount of something that is stored or hidden”. Now most of us have no shame in our stashes so we can omit the “hidden” in the definition. So if you have one unbuilt kit or five hundred, welcome to the club my friends. You officially have a stash. Now, the debate isn’t really directed at the stash itself. I find that it’s main focus is why we hoard such a multitude of kits. The main question when someone sees the amount of unbuilt kits I possess is “why do you need so many models?”. Everyone understands hobbies. We all have them and each one has a necessary evil to them. I am not convinced that having a stash is evil but it is necessary. As an example, let’s say that I suddenly get the inspiration to build an F-14 Tomcat. Well, the stash provides. I know that I have numerous options and don’t have to go through the hassle of searching for a kit online and over spending due to the demand that I created. The stash is the future of the model building world. Each kit in the stash represents possibilities. At any given time, I can turn to my own stash and literally build whatever I want. 

Growing the stash is another part of the equation. The amount you add varies on the hobbyist. For myself, I add whenever realistically and feasibly possible. If a kit has a premium price tag on it, it’s not likely that it will make an appearance across my workbench. On the other hand, if I have been watching said kit for a while and see no break in sight, I will ante up and purchase it. That does not happen very often here though. The bulk of my stash is built from clearance sales and coupon codes. When the price is right, buy it. I generally try to stay within the $10-20 range per kit. Obviously bigger kits are more expensive so I expect to pay the extra. 

When it comes to the content in growing my stash, I generally approach it the same way that I build. I try to be as diverse  as I possibly can with what I add. Any airplane is welcome. Another branch that I like to pay attention to are what I consider the staples of my stash. The milk and bread of the stash. I am always looking to add certain types of airplanes that are well used across the world resulting in numerous variants and paint schemes. A lot of WWII planes I consider to be the staples. These are always good to have on hand and make up a good percentage of my unbuilt kits.

After I have answered the why I have a stash question, I always get the follow up question, “are you ever going to build them all?”. Well quite honestly…no. To be even more honest, I don’t even have the slightest desire to try to build them all. It’s unrealistic to think that the stash needs to be emptied out by the time we are done with the hobby. My stash will outlive me and I understand that. That may seem like a waste but it’s really no different than an insurance policy. You can go your whole life without a claim but when you need it, it’s there. Whether you understand the reasons of the stash or not, it’s what we model builders put our hopes and imaginations in. 


BAe Sea Harrier FRS Mk.1

Building a Harrier never seems to get old here at the Amateur Airplanes workbench. This is my fourth such build in the past five years (different variants of course) and I enjoyed all of them. The design is so different from it’s other flying brethren and it certainly carries over into the scale model world. 

The British Harrier variant has been a staple on my to-build list for a long time and I am excited to finally have one completed and on display now. The only major issue surrounding this build was the wingtip gear not being long enough to touch the ground. At first I thought I may have installed the wings incorrectly but looking back through the directions, I was able to debunk that theory. Life goes on and I am still happy with my results. Now I know what to fix the next time around. It was a joy to work on and I am already in the market for another one. 


Still Plugging Away

Gauging my progress has become more and more of a difficult task lately. While I am not churning out results that I have seen in the recent past, I find myself getting used to the new laid back style of building. Once I can get through this set of builds and back to a fresh start, I think I can ease back into a normal pace. This afternoon proved no different in terms of progress and approach. I would be happy with my results any day. 

The Wildcat kicked off the afternoon with the final color of Sea Blue getting applied. The decals for this kit are in transit right now so it will sit for a couple of days until they arrive. That was it for activity at the airbrush today. The Macchi was next with a quick sanding on the windscreen. With all that handled, I noticed that I made the same mistake of not installing the windscreen on the Fw 190. They both will receive the same colors for the upper surfaces so there was no sense in painting the Macchi today if I couldn’t get the Fw 190 in too. I will finish up the Fw 190’s windscreen tomorrow and get them both out to paint. 

The Polikarpov was the forgotten child today. There was no apparent reason why I couldn’t get it back out for another application of yellow other than I spaced out. It will head out at the soonest available moment tomorrow.