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Ralph Nardone

IPMS/USA Member
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Everything posted by Ralph Nardone

  1. Gloss: Future (or whatever they call it these days). Flat: Either Vallejo Matt Varnish or Liquitex Matte Varnish. In all reality, they're probably close to being the same thing. Semi-gloss: Either Vallejo Semi-Matt Varnish or the Liqitex Matte Varnish, un-stirred and unshaken. I thin Future with Isopropyl Alcohol, about 50-50. It is certainly thin enough to spray from the bottle, but I find the alcohol helps it to dry faster, and it does not dry to a mirror gloss but rather a smooth, slick, almost eggshell finish. I leave it to dry/cure for 36-48 hours before I start applying decals. If you get frosty patches from decal solvents, simply overspray the model with another coat of Future before you apply the final matte or semi-matte finish. Be careful with the flat clears mentioned--it is really easy to go just one coat too fat and wind up wit a white haze on the model. I normally invert the bottle once or twice (no shaking or stirring) and apply it in a few light mist coats. It doesn't take much.
  2. I'm going to deviate from the Testors demise just a bit. I'll circle back to it, I promise... For years, we've heard the lament that "the hobby is dying", and to a point, it has--it is no longer a pocket money hobby where I kid with a few bucks ($2 in my day, closer to $20 in this day and age) in his pocket can build and paint a model. Plastic modeling is going (and has been for two and a half decades, I think) the same direction as model railroading--it has become a hobby that attracts, for the most part, older men with disposable income. That's not sexist, it is what I saw every day I worked at hobby shops in two states and three cities on three separate occasions between 1995 and 2017. Who do we have to blame? Look in the mirror. We "serious" modelers demanded better-fitting and more accurate kits with exquisite detail and elaborate decals. We demanded accurate paints that are easily applied with brush or airbrush, that matched all color standards, that flowed like water, laid down like a satin sheet, and stuck to the model like a second skin. We demanded weathering products that were available in a one-stop shop. So, we wound up with $90 hyper-detailed kits that won't assemble correctly if there is so much as the thinnest film of paint overspray on the gluing surface (i.e., they fit like the proverbial glove), $8/bottle specialty paint "systems" with all the requisite additives (reducers, thinners, flow enhancers, retarders, etc.), $20 decal sheets with the most microscopic stenciling you've ever seen, and a range of custom weathering products at $8/pop. Is this necessarily bad? No, it is what we as a group asked for. But what happened is that the companies producing these marvelous products stopped making products to the older standard, which left a void in the market. What did we do in the past? WE learned to deal with fit issues. WE made the models more accurate. WE added the details. WE researched the markings and improved them. WE figured out that dried herbs make great scale leaves, and that driveway gravel makes great ground cover. WE figured out that we could buy several 4-ounce bottles of dry artists' pigments for less than the cost of one of the custom-mixed AK or Mig bottles. In case you haven't figured it out, WE=The Modeler. In our local clubs, we have several new modelers who firmly believe that they cannot become a "Master Modeler" without shucking out the big bucks for the name brand products. Several of them have learned, but there remain a few who continuously preach the Mig, AK, Wilder, or Rinaldi bibles--and send these firms their dough. And yeah, in the day we had Paine, Verlinden, Ray Anderson, Roscoe Creed, etc.--but, for the most part, they were using stuff you could find in the local hardware or drug store. Of that group, Verlinden was the only one to package a standard product and put his name on the box--usually in smaller quantities at an inflated price. We now have so many different products that, as we used to say in the hobby shop, we now have too much stuff chasing too few dollars. When you have a company like RPM, with shareholders, you have to answer to them. If your product isn't making the numbers, you have two choices--keep constantly explaining the perpetual loss to the shareholders, or axe the product. RPM chose the latter route with the Model Master, Pactra, and Aztek products. Whether or not the "original" Testors stuff (square bottle enamels, cheap brushes, generic aerosols, and glues) soldiers on remains to be seen--we've seen, in the space of two weeks, conflicting reports. But again, all is not gloom and doom--see my earlier post. Just as we learned to do things with what we had on hand, so will the next (perhaps smaller) generation of scale modelers. Most of us learned that if we wanted to visit the hobby shop, we had to ride our bicycle, or bum a ride. Modelers now will figure out that the online hobby shops are there and they'll figure out which ones can get them what they want--just as we did with the old brick-and-mortar, Mom-and-Pop hobby shops back in the day. We learned to save our allowance or wait for birthdays or holidays for those big-ticket items. It will be a big change, but not an insurmountable one. Cheers! Ralph
  3. Bingo, Nick! I had an appointment with my doctor on Tuesday, and we discussed COVID-19. Her words to me? "We simply still don't know what we don't know!" Cheers! Ralph
  4. Apparently, things have changed in even the past two months. Our local HobbyTown (Columbia, SC) was informed in March that the only Testors products that would be available were the square bottle enamels (in boxed sets only), generic aerosols, and the glues. Think back to 1975, and that's what they were laying out as their "new" lansdcape for 2020. As I've posted on several other forums, this may seem a shock, but there is precious little Testors produced that can not be found elsewhere. Do you like enamels? Humbrol is still available, as is Xtracolour. Also, True North Precision Paints makes an alkyd enamel that, from reports I've read, are as good as the Testors Model Master line. Lacquer fans abandoned Testors years ago when they squashed the original Floquil line. Now, we have Mr. Color, MRP, and Tru-Color. Acrylics users never really liked the Acyl line (I must be one of 50 people who got good results with few problems). Today, just look around--Vallejo, Mig, Lifecolour, AK Interactive, Mission Models Paints... Putties? Testors putty has always been the shop vac of suck anyway, and most people steer well clear of it. Brushes? There are literally dozens of places to buy paint brushes equal to or superior than Testors. Glues and cements? The last time I used Testors tube glue, I was still buying Monogram model kits for a dollar. The last time I used their liquid was to thin Squadron Green Putty (the old stuff, $1.98 a tube!) to a brushable consistency. Since then, I have used (in no particular order of appearance) Weld-On #3, Weld-On #4, Plastruct Plastic Weld, Ambroid, Tamiya Extra Thin. All are still available (the Weld-On products in quantity through Tap Plastics). See where this is going? Even the specialty products like flocking (which has been gone for a few years) can be found elsewhere. Metalizers have competition from Alclad, AK, and Vallejo. The only products I have heard lament for (outside the Model Master enamels) are the bottled Glosscote and Dullcote. I might add the Metalizer Sealer to the list, as it was a superb, near-bulletproof clear gloss. But even those have equivalent products available. You just might have to order them. And there is the rub--more on that later. What makes it a shock is that we lose a long-time, well-recognized, name branded product that was available in most any hobby shop and arts and crafts store--and, before that, drug stores, dime stores, discount stores, department stores, hardware stores, convenience stores, toy stores... As much as it pains me to say this, in all but a very few cases the brick-and-mortar hobby ship is on life support. I'm finding that I have to get more and more hobby stuff online. I do buy from the local shops when I see it, and I try to have things ordered through them when I can, but because they can't get everything, I have to do what I must. Look at the short list I gave above--those places also used to carry model kits... By the way, Rustoleum, contrary to what people seem to believe, does NOT own Testors (despite the Rustoleum logo on the recent bottles). Testors (and Floquil/Polly-S, and, later, Pactra) were acquired in the 1980's by Republic Powdered Metals, now RPM International. RPM also owns Rustoleum, Zinser, Bondo, and several other related companies.
  5. From the 2017 issue: https://www.scalemates.com/products/img/1/5/6/975156-40-instructions.pdf
  6. From the 1987 issue: https://www.scalemates.com/products/img/0/3/5/944035-29-instructions.pdf
  7. IPMS Region 13 includes cyber clubs: https://calendar.ipmsusa3.org/region/region-13-ak-satellite-international-and-cyber-clubs
  8. On old decals--you might want to get some Microscale Liquid Decal Film and apply a few coats to the decal sheet--this should give you insurance over splintering into a gazillion bits. You will have to trim each marking, as you have, in effect, created a single decal. If they are merely yellow, taping them in a window and allowing the sunlight to bleach them might work. if they're brown, that is probably the adhesive itself, and no amount of bleaching will help. On a replacement canopy, you might just have to go Old School and carve a master from balsa or basswood, then vacuum-form a replacement. If you haven't totally assembled the model, try using an epoxy putty or air-drying clay to make the master--tape the fuselage halves together, block off the cockpit opening with clear packing tape, then place a blob of the putty/clay over the opening and shape it. You can shape epoxy putty with a wet finger to get it close to the shape, let it cure, then sand to the final shape. AIr-drying clay is easily shaped, but it is grainier and more porous than the putty. Whatever you do, after the basic mold is made, apply several layers of lacquer primer and sand until it is as shiny as glass before you try to form a new canopy. Cheers! R
  9. You can also purchase store showcases in knock down kit form: https://www.displays2go.com/Class/Display-Cases-1099 https://www.storesupply.com/c-495-display-cases.aspx They may look expensive, but if you factor in all the costs of building one yourself, the money isn't too bad. Cheers! Ralph
  10. +1 on the Hakko unit. I've worked corporate jet avionics for 30+ years, and most shops I've worked for either had them or upgraded to them--they are of a much better quality than a comparable Weller unit.
  11. This is precisely why most RCs will ask the Chapters in their Region to carefully review the Charter Renewal Fact Sheet rather than just rubber stamp it and send it back. Frankly, I can't see how a Chapter can be rechartered if the Chapter Contact information the RC has is incorrect--if the CC doesn't get the paperwork, how can they recharter? And if the RC knows the CC info on file is no longer accurate, then it is on the RC to correct it.
  12. The particular fonts you are looking for are Amarillo USAF and Long Beach USN. Check your font menu on your word processing program--Amarillo may already be there. Long Beach used to only be available through TLai Enterprises, but dafont has a passable version listed as "USN Stencil" font.
  13. Very nicely done! I built the Revell kit many moons ago, and the Zukei Mura kit is certainly worlds apart! The diorama should be a sight to see, can't wait until you get it finished and post pictures. Cheers! Ralph I've moved the rest of my reply to Nick's thread in the Bull Pen.
  14. The kit dates back to 1970-1971. It was based on early information and wasn't one of Monogram's better kits--it lacked detail. The cockpit, seats and all, was molded in to the fuselage, and the wheel wells were greatly simplified. The exhausts were molded in, and the small parts were clunky. It was produced during the Mattel era, when all Mattel wanted was a way to turn model kits into toys that kids could play with. This was one of the first models that was compatible with the short-lived "Skystick" controller. The Tomcat was the only new-tooled airplane kit produced under Mattel--all other airplane released during that period were reissues of Monogram's older kits. If you want to build it as a nostalgia build, do it and have a blast. If you want something close to being an accurate, well-detailed model, there are better choices in 1/72 scale. Cheers! Ralph
  15. From what I've read, some of the USAFE Huns were painted with silver lacquer as early as 1958. As always, having a photo of the airplane you want to depict is a great way to tell--if the finish is more or less matt and uniform, it is lacquer. If there are different sheens and tones on the various panels, it is still bare metal. Cheers! Ralph
  16. A few random thoughts... Contest venues are expensive. Our one-day show in Columbia, SC is held at the National Guard Armory, and we pay $1,000 a day. That could be why it seems that contests are in decline. Perhaps, too, people are tired of the need to compete, the need to win at all costs, so they don't go. Perhaps they don't get anything out of a contest, so they stay home. As far as the misguided notion that contests are money-makers, that's largely hogwash. Any club that hosts a show as a fundraiser is going out far on a weak limb. Most shows break even, at best, and that's fine. The true goal of a show should be to offer exhibition space for folks who want to show their work, as a recruiting aid, and as the public face of the club--i.e., show the public what it is you do, and give them the avenue to get involved. Unless you have a compelling reason to host a two-day show, folks get tired and leave. Pushing the awards to 6PM on Sunday is a non-starter. Back in my Region 11 days (Florida), most shows that ran for two days wrapped up by Sunday at Noon. The last two day show I was involved with in South Florida (near Calder race course and whatever they call Joe Robbie Stadium these days), the venue cost $1,200 a day. For the four hours we occupied the venue on Sunday, we paid the same $1,200 as we did for the entire day Saturday (and this is 1999 money, I'd hate to see what the get these days!)--the show broke even (actually, it cost both host Chapters about $100 each). We could have saved the money and done the awards at 5PM on Saturday. Hotels cost money. Not everyone wants to pay for a night or two at a hotel for a local or regional show. Not everyone can do that. Even if you have seminars, they need to be compelling enough for folks to stick around to sit through them. Facebook is a hot issue. Some refuse to go near Facebook because of their well-publicized security issues. As for the RC's, Dave has it right--they volunteer. Finding a replacement RC is sometimes a long, drawn out process due to the lack of volunteers.
  17. When I need an overall white, I simply use Tamiya's "Superfine White" spray primer directly from the can. A few light coats, let 'em dry, then gloss/decal as usual. You can decant it and airbrush it if you wish, I don't like creating more work for myself--the paint sprays just fine from the can. Cheers! Ralph
  18. Plain old Elmer's White Glue. Tape the nacelles in place while it dries. It will hold the part in place, and when you need to separate them it "unsticks" easily. Peel the Elmer's off and reattach the part when you're ready to do so. You could also use small drops of CA, but that's a little more difficult to remove. Cheers! Ralph
  19. Nice work! And kids who look at it will only see a cool model of an X-Wing... About the same time Revell moved their molding to a the facility in China, their plastic also became softer--probably more vinyl and/or regrind added to the mix. That's the main reason that if I want a vintage Monogram kit, I buy the earliest issue I can find in order to get that sublime Monogram styrene...
  20. My take: I don't care about "winning" or "losing" at a model show--I've been on both ends of the spectrum many, many times. That's not why I build models and put them on a show table--I put my models out there to show what I've been doing. I welcome questions. I value critique. That's the only way to get better at something--have another set of eyes (or two, or two thousand) have a look and tell me what they see that maybe I could have done differently. Note--this is different from merely collecting a trophy that says I'm King Styrene for a Day and assuming that I need to copy what I did on the "winning" model in order to keep raking in the tin pots. TELL me what you see. TELL me what I might do differently. DISCUS different techniques. Don't assume I will learn through osmosis. That, that right there is why I prefer an Open Judging system that offers feedback. When I put my models in an AMPS show, I value the feedback more than I value the medal that goes with the score I earned. But even more to the point, I enjoy contests that use Open Judgng because the people involved are more apt to share. I've been to IPMS shows where the people who have entered models are stand-offish and tight lipped about which models they entered and how they did things--for some odd reason, they seem to think that if they share their techniques, they'll be giving away Government Secrets. One of the Facebook posts on this subject led to a sub-thread on Wonderfest. George Seletas (Wonderfest Chairman) summed it up nicely: " The most important thing is that we are in that room for fun and brotherhood and not to bump puffed chests like it's the NFL." Its supposed to be about the models, not the medals.
  21. Nick, I'm not disagreeing with you--as I indicated, a preponderance of the votes would have to be in favor of Open Junding before anything gets done.
  22. Jim, your question is a fair one. In theory, a model that earns Gold at one AMPS show should earn Gold at all AMPS shows. The system is presented to the judges that way, and the fact that judges' training is scripted and uniform aids in this. AMPS still allows OJT shifts, but in order to become a certified judge, you must sit through the training session and do two shifts. As I said on Facebook, a tie vote is no indication of a "win", and that in and of itself means that nothing will change. Maybe some will talk about it from time to time, but unless something drastic happens, this gets filed in the "Nice to Know" file. If IPMS does a similar survey two years from now and the results are the same, nothing will happen. The only way anything will change is if the preponderance to the votes indicate the membership wants change--and that change will take between 5 and 10 years to happen at the National level. It will not be immediate. A friend of mine made a comment that sparked some discussion. At the local level, what do the Chapter members (both IPMS members and non-members) have to say? At the National level, including non-members is a non-starter since you have to be a member to participate in the contest, but at the local level, I would hazard a guess that 80% of the people involved with a show are non-members, either through ignorance ("What's IPMS?", in which case the Chapter Contact isn't doing his or her job) or choice (don't want to, did it but got nothing from it, etc.). It would be interesting if each Chapter Contact polled their membership and posted their findings. That would become a planning tool for those clubs who host shows, too... I can say this--at the Region 12 Show several weeks ago, this very topic dominated the business meeting. There was a lot of interest shown by those in attendance...
  23. Nice work, and congratulations to the club! It is always nice to get the work out into the public eye, not only for them to see what it is we do, but to also add a touch of education to the mix, too. Cheers! Ralph
  24. Airliners, too--Braniff, Trans-Texas Airways, Continental...
  25. I can think of at least a dozen racers from Texas--stock cars, sports cars, drag racers, Indy cars...
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