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Everything posted by Schmitz

  1. I heard "if it ain't broke don't fix it" from my Dad starting about age 12. He was a mechanic and that was his frame of mind: cars either worked or were broke, and if they were broke you put them back the way the manufacturer built them. He sent me off to engineering school, where we learned that the people who designed things were constantly innovating and making tradeoffs trying to make things work better, because their competitors were doing the same thing. It's not obvious to me that everyone who didn't win would leave on Saturday morning. Many attendees would have already made travel plans, bought banquet tickets, raffle tickets, tour tickets, have non-refundable hotel reservations, be waiting for the vendor clearance-sale, or want to take one more circuit through the contest room. A modeler with vendor-money left in their wallet isn't about to leave. As long as there is stuff to do on Saturday afternoon there is no real reason to pack up early. There would be a tendency for non-winners to start packing up around 3-4:00 PM Saturday afternoon to beat the rush, but you could minimize that by having some "big event" about that time: a big name seminar or a pre-awards happy hour that was already included in the price of registration, so that people would want to stay for what they had already paid for. I'll be the first to admit trying this would be an experiment; we wouldn't know if it would work or not. That is the nature of innovation: you study it as well as you can and make contingency plans, but in the end you don't know if it works until you flip the switch and see what happens.
  2. If you like the thin elastic thread, it is available on a spool under the brand name "EZ Line" - check a hobby shop or type that into google/ebay/amazon to find an online seller. Don
  3. In the old days, I used Krylon Dull Aluminum - about $3 for a big spray can at WalMart - to paint anything that was supposed to be non-polished aluminum. It went down smooth - even on bare plastic, dried hard, looked like cast aluminum, and and it took washes extremely well. Then Sherwin Williams reformulated the whole paint line - probably took out all the chemicals that gave people in California cancer - and now the Matte Aluminimum that took its place looks just like silver paint (I'm pretty sure the new stuff has the same part-number as the original - 1403). I've weaned myself from the other Krylon paints, but I would really like to find something as cheap and easy to use as the original Dull Aluminum. Any chance its still available under a different name, or someone has old stock? I'm ready to order a case, but I want to be sure I don't get a case of the new stuff... Thanks! Don
  4. The hardware store paint thinner is great for cleaning brushes; whether it works to thin hobby paint (like Testors) is hit or miss; sometimes it will turn the paint to goop. In general its not a good idea to thin a whole bottle of paint at once - even if it doesn't immediately turn to goo it can happen a few days/weeks later. Don
  5. Monogram tooled a 1:24 scale '65 Convertible and a 65 Shelby fastback back in the 1980s. These two kits are basically the same except for the body, and you can swap the parts around to build a stock fastback or convertible Shelby if you wanted. The convertible kit I remember had Indy-500 Pace Car decals. At some point (15 years ago?) Monogram was bought by Revell, so you may see the same kit in Revell and Monogram boxes. The fastback kit seems to always be in production (it comes in at least 3 versions: GT350, GT350R (with Torque-thrust wheels, front air dam and special rear window), and a GT350H (molded in black plastic and with gold stripe decals). If I remember right, the only difference between a 65 and 66 would be the chrome trim in the side-coves; you could make those with a bit of plastic strip. AMT does have a kit of a 66 Coupe (notchback) - in both 1:25 and (bigger size) 1:16th scale - but you'd have to cut the roof off and find/make a boot to get a convertible out of those kits. All of these kits were re-released recently for the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, so they should be easy to find - probably even at your local hobby shop. I typed "revell mustang convertible kit" and "amt mustang kit" into ebay and got a few hits - mostly for under $20. Good luck... Don
  6. Bill, have you seen this website (with pix): http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=156950 The guy who built it sounds like he knows what he's talking about. Then google found this (looks like a painful scheme to mask and paint!) http://www.wikiwand.com/en/World_War_II_US_Navy_dazzle_camouflage_measures_31,_32_and_33:_cruisers Don
  7. The Embassy Suites makes for a really nice venue - the hotel is attached to the contest/vendor rooms, and the room rate includes a really good breakfast bar (omelettes to order) and free-drink happy hour, perfect if you don't want to waste any time traveling between models and food and drink. That probably makes the Embassy a lot more in demand than the overflow locations - I knew a few people making plans to book as soon as the rooms went on sale. Don
  8. John, I'm not sure how to answer you without trying to answer the "meaning of life", and I'm not up for that this early in the morning... A more practical answer is my chapter, which got an infusion of SciFi modelers a few years ago when it was showing definite signs of withering away. I really think that breathed new life into the club. Now our meetings have more people and more models on the show-n-tell table. One of those new guys helped us get our show into a good location and has taken over cooking the burgers at the club picnic. Its nice having younger backs to help set up tables and schlep vendor boxes at the show (our yearly show is still going strong when some of the neighboring clubs have given up). And it turns out the SciFi guys have a lot of the same interests in things like history and sports cars and action-movies (not to mention beer-and-pizza) that fuel a lot of conversations at club meetings. Some of them even build the occasional airplane or armor piece, and now some of our "old-guard" may build a space-ship from a movie or TV show they like. If you look back, the hobby and IPMS has already changed a lot - just so slowly that you probably haven't noticed. At Columbia it seemed that SciFi and Figures and Dioramas were way up in popularity. I can remember when resin and PE were exotic stuff only the "pros" used, and now its everywhere. Modern kits have more parts and (mostly) better fit making a lot of the "plastic surgery techniques" we learned less essential to building a good model. Like everything else, modeling keeps changing but at its core its still the same as when IPMS sent out its first mimeographed newsletter. We used to think of the SciFi guys in our club as "the young guys", but they are getting a little grayer too. I'm wondering who the next new wave of modelers will be the next time we need a kick in the pants. I hope someone is there to pick up the torch, regardless of what they build. Don
  9. I just looked through 200 or so aircraft models that took an award (1st, 2nd or 3rd) at the Columbia Nats (you can see the slides starting here: http://svsm.org/gallery/columbia2016-awards/100_G) There were maybe 5 that I'd call "heavily weathered", and most of those were WWII subjects (mostly Japanese), I think there were maybe 2 post WWII planes that I'd call weathered, and none of them were the extreme "dipped in mud" look you see now and then. IPMS judges can usually tell when weathering has been done to hide mistakes, and it rarely fools anyone. Maybe 10% of those 200 winning models had darkened panel lines and shading that seemed a little heavy handed in photographs, but probably looked better in person. I know real aircraft don't have black panel lines, but I see it a little like stage makeup on an actress - it isn't realistic but it helps compensate for lighting. The fact that most of those models had much more subtle panel-lines and shading suggests that judges don't really like the heavy handed shading either. Its hard to say what the judges at a local model show might like or not like, and there is no way IPMS/USA can really control that, but at least at the Nats it doesn't seem like weathering on planes of any era is common or helps in taking an award. Don
  10. I'm trying hard not to come off as callous and negative. I'm all for members and chapters being family friendly. It would be great if they came up with some sort of outreach program, or worked with scout troops or Big Brothers/Sisters, etc. I don't think a lack of cheap kits is preventing that. There are modelers going into old folks homes with 100s or 1000s of kits in the basement, and their families are selling them for cents on the dollar just to get rid of them. I'm pretty sure if we asked for kit donations at my chapter for a youth program we would average at least 1 decent, buildable kit from every member. Interestingly, the value of those kits would probably be more than my chapter's members send IPMS in dues every year. Look at the business meeting presentation; last year IPMS spent $22,000 more than they brought in. IPMS doesn't have the money to buy make-n-take kits or otherwise subsidize a youth program. IPMS membership today is the result of 10s of millions of kids building models 30 years ago. There is no way IPMS can reach out to 10s of millions of kids. The other ugly truth is that a lot more members would donate a kit than their time. Based on my chapter, most IPMS members are 50+ years old. Many have raised their own kids, they have already been Little League coaches and Scout leaders, and they have taken care of sick parents, and turned around and raised their grand kids because their kids are in two-job families trying to make ends meet. They are not looking to babysit someone else's kids, especially on the 1 day a month they go out with friends. So by all means put together a chapter youth program. Post here how you did it. But don't be surprised if everyone doesn't jump up to help you. Don
  11. GIL, you're right that the hobby will never be the same, but what is? You said that "hot rods" died in the 70s. As a long time "car guy", that's what we believed would happen in the 70s, but it didn't. Kids figured out how to hot-rod Hondas and VWs and other efficient little cars, and adopted technology like turbos and computers to build cars even faster than the big V8 cars of the 60s. And other kids came along and realized how much fun it was to drive those old V8 cars and now there is a second generation of hot-rodders restoring and modifying those old cars (and they have pushed the prices to insane levels). There are car modelers out there building model Hondas and RX7s, and low-riders and other esoteric subjects, but we see such a small fraction of all the car models at most IPMS shows that its easy to think they're not there. Think about the models at Columbia: 20 years ago would there have been nearly that many figures, sci-fi and space models or dioramas on the tables? Were there as many small-volume kits and detail sets and completely scratchbuilt models back in those "golden days"? The hobby has already changed, and it will keep on changing. Revell may go out of business in the next 10 years, but I'm willing to bet there will still be people building models of something - maybe not B17s and Sherman tanks - but something (although they may be stamping out kits on their desktop 3-D printers and stuffing them into their desktop painting robot). Something else that has changed is the path adults take into the hobby. Its taking young people longer to find good jobs and they are starting families later. That means there aren't as many little kids pulling their parents back into the hobby, but it also means those young people have more time and less money for hobbies - a good fit for modeling. There is an opportunity there. In the future, it may be that parents are the modelers first and their kids pick it up from them. Like hot-rodding, building models is too much fun to just disappear. The hobby will change, but I think there will be room for us old-guys for as long as we're likely to be around. Don
  12. Anything IPMS can do is spitting in the ocean: we have 4,000 National members, add in chapter members and we maybe get to 50,000 IPMS modelers vs. 25,000,000 American kids age 10-15 (prime modeling age) It will be a lot easier to reach 1-2000 new young-adult (30-something) members than 25M kids, and I think that's where we should put our limited resources. Sure, we can have outreach programs, but we shouldn't kid ourselves into it thinking we're saving the hobby. I'd bet most chapters could get their members to donate 1 kit a year to run a local make-n-take, and by making it a chapter activity we could probably do a better job of teaching the hobby than slapping a snap-kit together in 30 minutes at a contest. But again, we're just out-numbered as far as having any real impact. Don
  13. I've been to Las Vegas a couple times (once with my family on the way to seeing relatives in AZ, and once when work was paying for it) and I'm sure it will work. I'm not much of a gambler, so the casinos didn't really excite me (and the shows and restaurants outside of the casinos were not all that cheap). As you said, one of the great things about places like Vegas and Orlando is that there are lots of venues that can hold a convention, and lots of restaurants and attractions, and that competition keeps the prices down. I'm not sure that truly makes for a good convention as the theme-parks and casinos distract people from the show. I've taken my family to Orlando for a Nats twice, and I spent less time at the show or talking models at the hotel bar just because I was spending time with my wife and kids. I get it that combining a Nats with a family vacation is the only way a lot of people can make it, but I have to say I really liked the Loveland show where the hotel (and a small shopping plaza) was all you could see in all directions. Don
  14. Pete, not sure what happened with the link, it was to a Census Bureau page, I'll try again: https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/maps/2010popdistribution.html There are some better maps out there, but be careful if you go web surfing, as a few of them seem to be used as bait on spam sites. Take a look at your list of metro-areas and consider that Boston-NewYork-Philadelphia-Arlington-DC is basically one big metro-area, and that is 4 of the top-10 on your list. Chicago is the #3 metro area, and comparable to LA all by itself. More importantly, in between are a few top-25 cities that are better places to actually hold a Nats; LA/SF are handicapped by having nowhere big to draw from except each other (guess we could shoot for a Nats in San Luis Obispo). Don
  15. Pete, If you look at a population density map (try this one: https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/maps/2010popdistribution.html)you see that while Los Angeles and San Francisco have a lot of people, the north east corner of the US has even more. LA has the 2nd largest population in the US, but 4 of the 5 biggest cities are in a narrow corridor between New York and Chicago. And because LA and SF are so dense, prices for everything are going to be higher. That said, Phoenix is a prime spot for a Nats; you have to look at a map to see its drivable from LA, Las Vegas, Salt Lake and Albuquerque (and if you were a really hard core driver, SF and Denver). And its a Southwest Air hub for those coming from the east - I'm hoping they get one of the next slots. Denver was also a really nice Nats and I'd like to go back there, but it isn't really driving distance from anywhere... Don
  16. Wikipedia says Ford restyled the car to look like this in 1998, and they didn't change it much after that. I think they didn't start pushing it as a fleet vehicle until mid 2000s, so best guess for this car would be 2005-10.
  17. Kevin, Yeah, its pretty easy to find pictures of Goodlin in his Israeli days. There is a lot of information about the RCAF squadrons online, but Goodlin doesn't seem to be listed in any of the online registries. The article about him flying Spitfires with the RAF was a small-town newspaper piece that interviewed a few of his surviving family members when he died (2005); a lot of details in that article conflicted with other sources. His relatives would have been pretty old at that point, and the newspaper probably didn't put their star reporter on this, so I'm not sure how much to believe it. I did find mention that early in the war it was possible for RCAF pilots in England to end up in RAF units, and some of the RCAF units did fly Spitfires (although most of the RCAF units seem to have had the early Mustangs). Info and pictures from Goodlin's days in Africa seem nonexistent - too bad no one had camera-phones back them :) Don
  18. I've become obsessed with the story of Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin. Before he was an infamous Bell Aircraft test pilot, he was a western PA kid who left for Canada on his 18th birthday to join the RCAF. He would become the youngest pilot in the RCAF and his unit would ship out to England before his next birthday. From what I had read, due to his age he was made a flight instructor, but I recently came across an article on the Internets that suggest he did fly Spitfires in combat missions in England. Of course I'm thinking it would be cool to model one the planes he flew. I'm not much of a WWII expert; I was wondering if there are any official sources, books, etc I could check to see what units he was in and where they served during 1941 and 42? Any hints would be greatly appreciated! Don Schmitz
  19. Very nice build! I rarely see these actually get built. I've bought a couple of these kits at shows recently for very reasonable prices. At one show a friend of mine wanted to see how far he could haggle the price; when he was done he had had his fun and gave me the kit! By the way, Revell offered a Grand Sport kit that looked just like the Accurate Miniatures kit about a year ago - rumor has it those were left over AM kits - Revell doesn't have the molds and won't be able to reissue it. I have dreams to build car #4 as it was raced by the Grady Davis/Gulf Oil team when it was first built - before all the flares and scoops and vents were added. So many plans, so little time... Don
  20. Bob, I don't know how you would ever enforce such a contract; I can't imagine a chapter taking a vendor to court. The only leverage the contest has is to black-ball a vendor from future contests, and at least here in western PA its getting hard to fill up the vendor tables - (presumably a lot of kits are going direct to ebay). The shows need the vendors as much as they need us, might as well try to work with them. Don
  21. There is no way to stop a buyout; if we try to restrict it inside the show the buyouts will just move to the parking lot. In places where this is a problem, I think it would be fine to ask the vendors and re-sellers to wait until noon before starting the buy-outs. It couldn't hurt to point out to the vendors that the modelers at the show are probably going to pay more for stuff than the re-sellers. Don
  22. Just a reminder to R4 folks - TRICON - the Three Rivers (Pittsburgh PA) show - is next Saturday, March 12th. There are still a few vendor tables available - just contact me if you're interested. Don
  23. James, Just to be clear, when Atlanta did display only, it was only open to registered entrants, right? My concern was that if we offered a lower-priced "display only" registration then then many of the people who regularly come and don't bring models will take that cheaper option. I don't think Atlanta offered such a lower-cost option, did you? For the record, I agree with Mike and the Soup Doctor; start out with a few display-only tables, open it up to just registered attendees, and see how it works. I'd suggest recruiting a few guys who are good modelers and good at holding court (IPMS must have a few extroverts somewhere...) to bring some models and spend time there talking to people just to break the ice. Have plenty of chairs, and locate it as close to the bar as possible :) Don
  24. David, I tend to agree with your suggestion of starting small, but I don't think it is bad to think beyond that, even if its just a handful of us un-officially shooting the breeze on a weekend with neither the NFL or MLB on TV. A friend of mine is a draftsman; he has a saying that "paper is cheaper than steel", meaning its better to find and fix problems on the drawings instead of after the machine is bolted together. I can point to a few attempts to make changes in the Nats that fizzled largely because no one thought about the unintended consequences; having more people thinking and talking up front seems like a good idea. Don
  25. Rusty, I agree with you in principle, the problem is there are already lots of registrants who aren't entering the contest (40% according to an earlier post). There are also members who enter the contest knowing they have little chance of winning an award just to display their work. If you give members (or are we talking non-IPMS members too?) a way to participate without paying full registration, how many of that 40+% will take the cheaper option? I have on occasion registered, knowing I wasn't taking any models, for the privilege of paying still more to go on a tour or buy a banquet ticket so I could have dinner with friends. I have also had just 1 day to visit the Nats and paid for general admission, and went to seminars and even once judged (that was before the shows started announcing that you had to be registered to do those things). Compared to the cost of travel, a hotel room and restaurant meals the cost of registration was not a big deal either way for me, and I tried to follow the rules, but I can imagine there are members on tighter budgets who are mostly coming to shop the vendors and look at models who will save however they can. Maybe its time to think about an even more ala-carte pricing structure, where the base registration gets you a goodie-bag and admission to vendors/models/seminars and lets you judge, with extra fees for the banquet, display, and contest? This might be a way to keep the base-price of registration low enough for those on tight budgets (e.g. retirees on fixed income), while keeping up with ever rising event prices. I don't know if this is a good idea or not; setting prices is more black-art than science. Who would think something this simple could be so complicated? Don
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