On the bench – for too long

Kopro Su-22M4Some of you who follow my Tweets and Facebook page will note the groundhog day we have got caught in. Things were going great as we worked on the undercarriage super-detailing of the Kopro 1/48th scale Su-22M4 up until the end of July this year (2014). Then we hit a brick wall and completely lost momentum. I went from lots of free time to no free time at all as I went to work in Manchester for three months. I started a new contract close to home in October and thought things would return to normal. Yet no. It is funny how you underestimate the momentum you pick up on a project. It gets under your finger-nails, in your hair, under your skin and just rolls and rolls. You don’t notice the time going by. However, if for any reason you have to stop and leave it for a while then it suddenly goes from pleasure to chore.

So this is what has happened to the Kopro Su-22M4. It is now stuck in a perpetual undercarriage super-detailing loop where are do very little and not very often. Fair’s fair – I don’t have a lot of spare time anyway and the Autumn/Winter months are not the best time. Then there was the disastrous wisdom tooth extraction that left me in no mood to make anything. Then it was Christmas. Bah humbug.

Then your mind starts to wander doesn’t it? You spend your time planning the NEXT model build, and the NEXT, and the NEXT, and so on… The more you get caught up in planning the next paper project the less inclined you are to finish what you were working on. And this is a problem for someone of my discipline who refuses to start any other project until he finishes what he has started. So – catch 22 – unable to finish what I started do to – hence lacking of enthusiasm & unable to move on. I hope desperately that I can just finish this darn undercarriage and move on to work on the cockpits of the OEZ Su-7 and Kopro Su-22. Still there are months’ of work left to do and I don’t know where I can find the reserves of patience to put up with this crap anymore.

Kopro Su-22M4But I am being over-dramatic. Progress has been made but it is hard to see. The undercart has been covered with all those little hydraulic couplings visible in the pictures. Each is painstakingly being joined up with copper wiring. The retraction struts have been completed and fixed in place. Some large pipes have been finished. When all this piping is finished we can move onto the nose undercarriage. We are also working on the main gear bay doors. The trouble is that as soon as you think you can move on there is always something else to do in the same area.

You get stuck in a super-detailing ‘rut’. Unable to get out. You raise the bar so high that you become unwilling to compromise. Hence it can take as long to do one tiny patch of the model as it takes most model makers to build an entire kit. Where I want to be is that point AFTER I have finished the undercarriage and the cockpits. Then I can start to work on prepping the odds’n’sods on the fuselage. We’ll be just one step from starting the painting then. My enthusiasm will lift once I am in the home straight. But then there are all those weapons and the pylons. Ugh. Hit head against brick wall.

Kopre Su-22M4So we have modeller’s malaise and see no end in sight. We can only hope that Spring comes along and I can get two clean months at home to crack on through this pain barrier. That is what is required. I really don’t want this project to roll into a third year. This is already its second year as we started at the back end of 2013! That will put it right up there with my previous royal pain-in-the-butt the three Il-2 Shturmoviks that took nearly three-and-a-half years to finish. They too got stuck at various phases in which nothing much happened and I kept forgetting what I was doing – then I couldn’t be bothered to remember where I was. Once again it took me a long period off work to get stuck in and finish the project. So I am back where I started.

Seems to me that I need lots of small projects. Things that do not need such excessive super-detailing. I have a habit of building multiple kits at the same time around a single topic. This may seem efficient but it is dragging me down. It is not working like a production line as it should, it is turning into a barrier. So here is what I should do: no more multiple builds. Build topics that need less skill and are more fun.

So this is why I am working on two or three ideas that will fit in where the Millennium Falcon did a couple of years ago. I built it after the horrible years of the Shturmoviks and it filled my heart with joy. It was quick, it was fun, it tested a different set of model making skills, I got a good result, it was relatively easy to do… etc, etc. It restored my faith both in my abilities and in model making. So I dug into the next project only to get bogged down again. Seems I didn’t learn my lesson. So what we have lined up are projects quite different from the cold war jets: we have the Fujimi 1/24th scale Bladerunner Spinner – something I have always wanted to build – the Hasegawa 1/20th scale Ammoknights and a plan to build the Revell 1/72 scale U-Boat.

Hasegawa AmmoknightsThis is a diverse set of topics. Two of them are science fiction topics of which one is completely free of any need to perform reference checks. The Ammoknights project is really unusual as I will be taking a fantasy subject supplied as an armoured suit in 1/20th scale then will apply 1/48th scale armour parts to turn them into walking tanks. This will be to render them as Soviet walking tanks of the Great Patriotic War of 1947. It is going to be a crazy kit mashup that will end up as diorama featuring the two figures walking through a field of tank traps (irony alert). I have a lot of 1/48th scale diorama accessories now suitable for tanks. The armoured suits will be turned into robotic walking tanks with T-34 turrets, rifles made of flak guns and a remodelled body to make it look more like a World War 2 Russian Tank and less like a sci fi fantasy figure. This requires more straight edges and welding beads. I will take parts of the tank bodywork and retrofit it to the armoured suit. Hopefully the result will not look too much like anything from the SF3D Ma.K. series of comic books.

Fujimi Bladerunner SpinnerThe Fujimi Bladerunner Spinner was a must-have when it appeared a year back. Somehow I managed to completely miss all news of it which is not a surprise because I focus on news about aircraft in 1/48th, 1/32nd and 1/24th scale. (Which is silly really because we do other topics-of-opportunity.) I was delighted to see that such a kit finally had been given life by a mainstream injection moulding manufacturer. I was less delighted by the price. What £60+? I got mine off Amazon for about £35. It came from a wholesaler in Hong Kong and was worth the wait. Even then I reckon this is still not worth £35! The quality is OK but the part count is very low and the kit is simplistic. For £40 I would expect photoetch and an LED lighting kit thrown in for free? Fujimi are taking the piss! Still, there you have it – your only option if you wish to build this icon of 1980’s science fiction. Reading around the topic I was surprised to learn that the “real” Spinners, from the movie set, were painted quite a light blue. My impression from the movie were that they were black. It was the way Ridley Scott shot the movie. Dark, moody, everything in shadow. I will probably paint it in a dark blue. Who cares about “accuracy” – I want it to look how I “felt” and “imagined” it to be. Afterall – it is sci fi and we can have fun.

The final topic of the U-Boat is not one I have done much work on. It will be BIG and will be the first and only water-born kit topic in my collection. It just has to be done. How complicated can it be?

So – all this is for future years. For now we should not feel too bad about 2014. I forget that, although the year ended in a downer for my super-detailing (“serious/grown-up”) projects – it was successful from my daughter’s perspective. Together we made three models: the dinky little 1/72nd scale Airfix Gnat, the Tamiya T-Rex and the Revel snap-together Star Wars X-Wing. She loved it – although got a little frustrated with Red Arrows Gnat because it was small, fiddly and not a good ‘intro-to-model-making’ for a seven year old. I ended up having to do most of the Gnat but we came together to do the Tamiya dinosaur which was fun to paint. The only bad point is that I still find it frustrating to find good models for a young girl (she is eight now) to build together with her Dad. There are not a lot of options in the snap-together field. There are really NO good dinosaur kits either. Seriously the Tamiya ones are all we can get and they are rubbish – the skin texture is like putty. They do not end up being likeable – most toys in the shops have better skin texture. Clearly my daughter’s age group is no longer targeted. Which is a shame because I am sure that Airfix used to do a lot of cute topics like Birds and Wallace & Gromit. Where are these novelty kits these days?

So that’s it for 2014. We’ll keep an eye out for fun model making topics for an eight year old (and a 45 year old!) and keep you posted. Please write in and let us know if you have some fun topics we could try. Until then have a great Christmas and have a happy New Year!

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