Where Do You Scale Out?

Originally written a year ago this is a perfect answer to this months SCU topic…


As a child I built whatever was in front of me. Some times it was a purchase I made, sometimes a gift, and sometimes it was whatever was sent from the “Young Model Builders Club”. I built everything from the AMT Hindenburg to the MPC 1/24th Stuka. Most of those choices were driven by the money I had in my pocket. The only thing I remember really being in such want that I saved money for it was the Monogram B-17G that I bought when it was released in 1977 from Military Hobbies on Taft Avenue in Orange California. I can still remember the man removing the kit from the wall behind the counter where it was proudly being shown off. But I digress…

Fast forward to my mid to late twenties when I was drawn to 1/72 scale aircraft for a couple of reasons. First I intended to build at least one of every type from WW2 that I could get my hands on. That meant a whole lot of models so space was an issue. That also meant time was an issue. I really had no interest in internal details. For me it was all about getting the paint scheme, colors, and markings correct. This is also the time that I became a research nut and that led to me becoming so anal about colors and markings that I pretty much just gave up. ???

Fast forward to my mid 30’s, I had a stash of about 250 1/72 kits that I had not touched for 8-10 years. Having young children in the house and not having a dedicated (read secure) building area had led me to put away the hobby. I had discouraging thoughts of what would happen if one of my kids had gotten a hold of a Xacto knife. 😥

A couple of things came together here. I received some 1/48 kits as gifts during these years and had purchased some of the Monogram 1/48 Vietnam era kits myself. I also realized my want to build all of those 1/72 kits was misguided and ended up selling them all for what amounted to nothing. I played with a few kits during this time but never really finished anything, at least nothing that I can remember.

Now lets move on to the last 5 years or so. I picked up a Tamiya P-47M on clearance at HL. I was absolutely terrified of botching it so it stayed in the box for a long time. I received another Monogram B-17G as a gift and proceeded to botch it up. It ended up in the round file. Then I ran across Gary at Scalespot while researching the P-47M kit and sent him an email. He really encouraged me to quit thinking about it and just build it. That and the upcoming local model show are what motivated me to finish that kit.

From that point on I’ve stuck with 1/48 scale as a great compromise between size and detail. I also want people to be able to see the size differences in A/C so having them all the same scale is a must. I love 1/32 scale stuff too but I just don’t see any reason to move up. That and the parts count means I may never finish the thing. Today’s 1/48 scale kits have amazing detail and can be done up even more with aftermarket parts. It’s really the sweet spot for me. (Besides, have you tried to mask a 1/72 German greenhouse canopy lately!)

So I went through all that to say this:

1/72: Great if you are more interested in specific markings than anything else. Or having a very large number of subjects in your collection.
1/48: A nice match between detail, size, and “buildability” for us older guys. Meaning I can’t see anything without my glasses on! 8)
1/32: Impressive! I really like a good 1/32 model but for me personally it just doesn’t seem that much of a jump from 1/48. Especially when you take into account today’s detail and kit quality.
1/24: Really impressive! This to me is where you want to be if big things are your fancy. I have two 1/24th kits on my want list. The MPC boxing of Airfix’s Stuka and the hopefully soon to be released VFS P-47M.

And that’s my $1.25 😉

– Originally published September 14th, 2014

Sprue Cutters Union – Invisible Detail

Let’s be honest here. Who really looks at your models? Who comes into your display area and really digs into the details on any given build? I’m willing to bet no one does. The friends that I can coax into checking out my models usually just give them a look over. No one ever notices or asks if they represent specific subjects from specific times. The fact is they don’t care.

Contests, shows, club meetings and other events are a completely different crowd. These are people who share an appreciation for your craft and possibly even your subject. I’m sure you would agree that these are two totally different audiences. These people not only have interest in your subjects but there is a good chance you will run across someone who knows more about one or more of them than you do.

What does all this have to do with invisible detail? Nothing. No one, regardless of level of interest, will ever see invisible detail. By definition it is unseen, not visible. So what’s the point? Why do some of us include things unseen? Some do it for the practice it gives them thereby improving their skill set. Some do it because they insist on using every part possible in the kit. Some do it because they have that drive to detail every nook and cranny regardless of it ever being seen again.

I am not a methodical modeller. I do have some standard ways I do things but each model I build is done in a unique way. Each one includes detail and processes that I have never used before and may never use again. For me it keeps the hobby fresh. What drives me is the desire to try things I have never done before. To at least attempt things I never have. Besides, organization and methodology are for the workplace and have no business in my hobby room.

My Monogram B-29 build is a great example of my want to try new things and the inclusion of hidden detail. The build includes the use of the Eduard Big Ed PE set which includes every detail you can possibly imagine both inside and out. But this build isn’t about all that detail. It’s about the PE. My only experience with PE up until this project were the grenade screens on a Tamiya Sd.Kfz. 222 and some cockpit panels in a Dragon FW190. Only one piece of which required any need to bend or shape it. I got tired of seeing all the comments online by people about how they don’t have the skills to do PE. So, when I had the chance to get a review sample of a set for a kit I already had, I jumped right in. My intention is to show that even a PE newbie with a limited set of tools can not only do it but do it well. That’s my drive on this one, not the detail.

There are others in my collection like the Trumpeter FW200 with the fuselage full of unseen fuel tanks and countless others with painstakingly done instrument panels. That’s not really the norm anymore because I realized my goal is to get them done and on the display shelf not to get them perfect…

Besides, no one ever looks at them anyway.


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