Random thoughts

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Friday Finds: July 12, 2014

I missed last week due to an international summer vacation with the family, so I’m going big to make up!

By | 2016-10-29T19:09:34-05:00 July 12th, 2014|Random thoughts|0 Comments

Friday Finds: June 20, 2014

Happy Friday! Is there anything better than a bunch of inspirational dioramas??

Is there anything more fun to share online than pictures of your workbench? Here’s one of many, many forum threads around the web on Armorama.  And of course, here’s my own post about my workbench! (Which reminds me… I need to update this post with the newest additions.

By | 2014-06-16T13:23:43-05:00 June 20th, 2014|Random thoughts|0 Comments

The Amazing Moson Model Show

While reading Armorama recently, I came across an amazing photo gallery of the Moson Model Show. The problem was, the images were just too small to pour over every detail. So I reached out to Mario Matijasic who had posted the original images and asked if he’d be willing to post the larger versions. I offered up this space (and my server space and bandwidth) to post them. Check them out over in the gallery:

Moson Model Show Gallery

And if you’re interested in more details about the show, Mario sent me a description. Adding Croatia to the travel wish list for 2015!

Moson Model Show was held in Mosonmagyaróvár, Hungary, from 12th till 13th of April 2014. What started as a small local show 18 years ago slowly transformed into a huge international event with about 1500 models displayed this year. The supporting program spurred a lot of interest… not just the fair with numerous companies and dealers offering wide variety of models and modeling products, but also workshops held by some of the big names in the modeling world: Adam Wilder, Chris Jerrett, Fernando Ruiz Ceano, Peter Horváth (Pepe), Jaume Ortiz, Jonatán Monerris Hernández, Jorge Lopez, Kamil Feliks Sztarbala, Kristof Pulinckx, Miguel Jimenez (MIG), Pere Pla, Radek Pituch, Gergő Szaszkó… Amazing experience indeed!

Enjoy the photos,


PS I only took photos that interested me. Hence a lot of figures, AFVs and dioramas, very few planes and no civilian cars, ships, sci-fi, etc. Sorry about that.

Mario Matijasic Senior Editor Armorama.com

The interesting thing to me about this gallery is how much “storytelling” is happening. Look at this diorama or this one or this other one. These are more than just “man on tank” stories. They are rich tapestries that are just fantastic to soak in. It’s a good prompt to up my game!

By | 2016-10-29T19:09:34-05:00 May 26th, 2014|Random thoughts|0 Comments

Squadron’s new magazine concept

One of my favorite online retails is Squadron. They’re based just a few hours away from me, so shipping is always quick. Prices and selection are usually pretty decent, and their site is a solid ecommerce experience…. something this industry doesn’t often get right. So I like to support them when I can.

They recently announced they were moving their monthly mailing to a paid model rather than a freebie. On the surface, I think this is a great idea that I wholeheartedly support. To be honest, for 20+ years, I’ve never gotten much value out of the magazine/flyer they send out. Simply put, it’s a long, uninteresting text list of kits and prices sprinkled with a few pictures of a random kit on that page. This is a product of a far gone era where we needed price lists pre-Internet.

These days, however, that format is utterly pointless. I want a richer shopping experience, like I assume most modelers do. If I know which kit I want already, I’m not going to dig through the catalog, I’m going to go straight to Squadron’s site, or one of their competitors, or even to the forums to ask about a trade. If I don’t know what kit I want, a name+kit number+price isn’t the visually rich, product review heavy method I want to shop by.

When I heard that Squadron was moving to a new model for this (expensive) marketing vehicle, I was excited that we were about to get something made for modern times. Sadly, that’s not what we got. The “new” flyer is simply the old flyer with some short (and interesting, certainly) articles bolted on.

Squadron hasn’t asked, but considering my work background, I thought I’d offer a few suggestions for them. In my humble opinion, these ideas could help make this truly awesome, and an absolute bargain at $10/year.

  • First off, change the name. It’s not a flyer. It’s not a catalog. It needs to be called the Squadron Magazine.
  • To that end, make a magazine… not a catalog. Go all in. Take the risk. Change the operating/business model for the magazine… it can’t be working, at least not for much longer, if it even is now. Don’t make a catalog with marginal sprinklings of Fine Scale Modeler, make a magazine that competes with all of the modeling magazines out there.
  • If the above point can be achieved, raise the price. People want what they value higher. And 83 cents an issue isn’t enough to create a sense of value. Again: go all in. Be brave enough to raise the price and show that you’re doing something new, or make it free and show the community this isn’t a cheap ploy to make a few extra bucks off a slightly new revenue stream.
  • At no point should you stop thinking about this as marketing/sales. It is and always should be. But this is content marketing, not direct marketing… those two are very different things, despite having “marketing” in both names. Content marketing is about attaching a sales message to a piece of content that people truly value. Go deep on product reviews. Give us tons of ideas on how we can use the products beyond the initial box art. Take a kit like the Tamiya Opel Blitz and give me 5 or 10 or 15 ideas on what else I could do with it besides build a WWII panzer grey German army truck. Show me that it could be a post-war fire truck. Or a burned out wreck. Or a weird field converted field kitchen. Give me the ideas so I want to buy more copies, or build a diorama I never thought of, or build a new conversion. Focus this around the purchase path, not just the modeling content and you have something truly unique.
  • Give us behind the scenes stories about your process, what you’re doing with the Warriors line, how you formulate your putties. Don’t let the Model Magazine be the only place this content gets out to the world… own this yourselves!
  • Be our ticket into the manufacturers. Help them hear us, what we want, what we’re interested in. If I know you’re talking to them on my behalf about what I want to buy, I’m much more inclined to buy. You represent me in that case. But I need to hear that you’re doing that to believe it. I need you to provide insight not just about the products that manufacturers are about to release, but about how they think, what they’re working on in the longer term, and how they too see the industry.
  • Make this about YOU and YOUR story. Tell us Show us that you’ve been around this space for years, that you know the industry inside and out, that you’re driving the future of the business. Make us all aware of your legacy,  your mission, your beliefs. Give us something to rally around and a reason to shop with you rather than your competition. And more importantly, give us a reason to believe so that we can be brand advocates on your behalf and convince others that yours is truly the best place on the planet to buy from.
  • If you’re going to have a magazine, create an app that I could download into my iPad Newstand. Compete along side all the rest of the magazines.

Lastly, don’t forget the UGC. User Generated Content is being added to commerce sites all over the map. Look at many of the Amazon product pages and you’ll find the official images, as well as user submitted images. This helps to round out the reason to visit the site, gives a better and more authentic insight into the product, and creates a community ownership effect that’s incredible for driving user/purchaser connection to your brand.

Squadron has to be one of the strongest, and also one of the least leveraged brands in the industry. We all know Squadron, feel good about ordering from them, and know that there’s some cool stuff of some sort going on behind the scenes. But when our main point of connection to the brand is an outdated price list sent via paper once a month, it feels like it’s a brand serving days gone by rather than the future.

By | 2016-10-29T19:09:34-05:00 May 14th, 2014|Random thoughts|0 Comments

IPMS Judging rules guide non-contest construction

I am going to be doing an Out of the Box (OOB) build for a local contest coming up in October. The rules for this particular category say that they will go by the IPMS judging rules… which I needed to look up. In doing so, I came across the IPMS Competition Handbook. It’s a collection of helpful information to understand how judges at model events will be looking at your competition models.

I thought it was worth sharing. Even if you don’t plan on entering contests, it’s a good checklist of things to watch during your build process.

Basic Construction

  1. Flash, sink marks, mold marks, ejector-pin marks, provisions for motorization eliminated.
  2. Seams filled where applicable, especially on cylindrical parts such as gun barrels, wheels, and auxiliary equipment.
  3. Contour errors corrected.
  4. Gaps between upper and lower hulls blanked off to prevent a “see-through” effect.
  5. Gap/overlap at point where track ends join eliminated.
  6. Machine guns, main guns, exhausts, vents, etc. drilled out/opened up.
  7. Cylindrical cross-section of gun barrels maintained.
  8. Track pattern (cleats) facing in the proper direction on both sides of vehicle.
  9. Alignment:
    1. Road wheels on tracked vehicles (along with idler, drive, and return rollers, if any) at the same distance from the lower chassis centerline.
    2. Road wheels sitting flush on the track.
    3. Tracks vertical (not leaning in or out when viewed from the front or back of the vehicle) and parallel (not toed in or out when viewed from top of vehicle).
    4. All wheels/tracks sitting firmly on the ground.
    5. Vehicle components square and aligned.
    6. Gun(s) (on most turreted vehicles) parallel to turret centerline when viewed from above.
    7. Items positioned symmetrically on actual vehicle (e.g., headlights and guards, fenders, mud flaps, etc.) positioned symmetrically on model, unless represented as damaged.


  1. Parts that are thick, over-scale, or coarse should be thinned, modified, or replaced.
  2. Weld marks should be simulated where applicable.
  3. Extra parts should be added if practical, with references used to confirm their existence on the actual vehicle. Such parts should be as close to scale as possible.
    1. Add (especially on conversion or scratch-built models) the small detail parts (rivets, nuts and bolts, etc.) usually found in standard injection-molded kits.
    2. Add tarps, bedrolls, chains, fuel cans, etc., but be sure to also add some method by which such items are attached to the vehicle (hook, rope, tie down). Jerrycans are not attached to real tanks with superglue.
    3. Aftermarket parts (photo-etched, white metal, resin, etc.) should integrate well with the basic model. Photo-etched parts that require forming should be precisely shaped, and any surfaces that require building up to a thicker cross-section should be smooth and uniform.
  4. Molded-on parts such as axes and shovels should be undercut or removed completely and replaced. This is especially true of molded screen, which should be replaced with real screen.
  5. Track “sag” on tracked vehicles should be duplicated where appropriate.
  6. Windshield wipers should be added where appropriate.
  7. Headlights and tail lights should be drilled out and have lenses added.
  8. Cable and electrical lines should be added to lights and smoke dischargers.
  9. Valve stems should be added to tires.
  10. Instrument faces on dashboards should have detail picked out and lenses added.
  11. Gas and brake pedals should be added to open-wheeled vehicles.
  12. Road wheel interiors should be detailed (this is especially necessary on the Hetzer).
  13. Molded grab handles and hatch levers should be replaced with wire or stretched sprue.
  14. Underside of model, if viewable, should be given the same attention to detail as the top; e.g., motor holes filled, paint applied, weathering on the inside of the road wheels consistent with that on the outside. If the vehicle being modeled was weathered, normal wear and tear to the bottom of the hull from riding over the usual rocks, brush, and other obstacles should be visible on the model.

Painting and finishing

  1. The model’s surface, once painted, should show no signs of the construction process (glue, file, or sanding marks; fingerprints; obvious discontinuities between kit plastic and filler materials; etc.).

  2. Finish should be even and smooth, unless irregularities in the actual vehicle’s finish are being duplicated. Exceptions such as zimmerit or non-slip surfaces should be documented.

    Paint edges that are supposed to be sharp should be sharp (no ragged edges caused by poor masking). Edges that are supposed to be soft or feathered should be in scale and without overspray.

    1. No brush marks, lint, brush hairs, etc.
    2. No “orange-peel” or “eggshell” effect; no “powdering” in recessed areas.
    3. No random differences in sheen of finish caused by misapplication of final clear coats.
  3. Weathering, if present, should show concern for scale (e.g., size of chipped areas), be consistent throughout the model, and be in accordance with the conditions in which the real vehicle was operating. Be careful to distinguish some of the purposely “heavy-handed” paint schemes from over-zealous weathering. Extreme examples should be documented. Weathering should not be used to attempt to hide flaws in construction or finishing.

  4. Decals:

    Colors: Paint colors, even from the same manufacturer and mixed to the same specs, can vary from batch to batch. Different operating environments can change colors in different ways. All paints fade from the effects of weather and sunlight, and viewing distance alone can change the look of virtually any color. Poor initial application and subsequent maintenance compound these problems. Therefore, color shade should not be used to determine a model’ s accuracy. Models with unusual colors or color schemes should be accompanied by documentation.

    1. Aligned properly. (If the real vehicle had a markings anomaly, the modeler should provide documentation to show that he is deliberately duplicating someone else’s error, not inadvertently making one of his own.)
    2. No silvering or bubbling of decal film. Decal film should be eliminated or hidden to make the markings appear painted on.

Let’s also take a look at the Figures content too.

The underlying premise of a miniature is that it should look like a small version of a real person. The closer the figure comes to that goal, the better the figure will appear to the judges.

Basic Construction

  1. Flash, mold seams, sink marks, and similar molding flaws eliminated.
  2. Mold seams removed.
  3. Construction seams filled in where appropriate (e.g., where arms meet shoulders, legs meet boots, etc.) and creases that cross these seams restored.
  4. Equipment properly attached, e.g., holsters not hanging in space, canteens attached to belts.
  5. Straps hanging properly. Rifle slings, horse harnesses, etc. hanging/sagging properly to depict their weight.
  6. Feet touching the ground/surface properly.


  1. Straps should have proper thickness.
  2. Gun barrels should be drilled/hollowed out.
  3. Accessories and equipment should be in proper scale for the figure.
  4. Ground bases should show footprints.
  5. Foliage should harmonize with the figure (e.g., no flowers present when figure is in winter clothes).
  6. Lapels and collars should be slightly raised whenever possible.
  7. Slings should be added to weapons where necessary.

Painting and Finishing 

  1. Cloth should have the proper sheen, e.g., a matt finish for wool.

  2. Leather should have a slight sheen except for dress shoes and polished belts.

  3. Finish should have an even texture. Brush marks should not be present.

  4. Dry-brushing should not be apparent as such.

  5. Blending of highlighted and shaded areas with the basic color should be smooth, gradual, and subtle. No demarcation lines should show.

  6. Shadows should be present when two surfaces meet (e.g., belts over tunics) and on undersurfaces (e.g., between legs and under arms).

  7. White should not be used in eyes in order to avoid a pop-eyed look.

  8. Eyes should be symmetrical; figure should not be wall-eyed or cross-eyed.

  9. Figures shown on ground should have feet/footwear slightly indented in the earth to depict weight.

  10. Weathering of feet or shoes, if depicted, should be appropriate to the ground cover.

  11. Equipment being worn by, or slung on, the figure should be given an appearance of weight, e.g., by indenting straps slightly into the shoulder.

  12. Headgear shadows should show on the figure’s face.

  13. Equipment such as swords should have a shadow shown on the figure.

  14. Flesh tones should reflect the climate in which the figure is depicted.

By | 2016-10-29T19:09:34-05:00 May 13th, 2014|Random thoughts|0 Comments

SCU: While you were out

I’ve been delinquent in Sprue Cutter’s Union posts, but this one was easy since I’ve already written about it! Here’s the latest prompt:

How do you stay in the hobby when you’re away from the bench?

This is a great question for me. I travel a lot for work, and the weekend time is in terribly low supply between my family time, chores, errands, and sleeping in. I have two categories of non-workbench focused modeling to occupy me.

1. Hands on modeling

If I want to take actual modeling work on the road with me, I focus on figuring painting. I wrote about my mobile painting setup recently, but since I hate checking bags with a fiery passion, I avoid anything with sharp edges. That means no knives, and therefore no construction.

That said, when we were out of our house for 2.5 weeks recently, I setup a mobile workbench in the hotel. From a model construction standpoint, I was surprised how minimal, yet how effective the collection of gear was.

2. Modeling related activities

My work travel is often (very long) single day trips. Lots of time on a plane, in a cab, or waiting in an airport. And even when I stay overnight, sometimes the trip leaves little time or energy back in the room to bust out the painting. So… what’s a traveling modeler to do? Here’s a few ideas:

  • Digital modeling magazines: I have subscribed to a number of digital modeling magazines on my iPad and planes are a great time to catchup on them all.
  • Modeling movies: Back to that magical iPad device, I stock it with modeling videos and movies.
  • This blog! That’s right, I sometimes write blog  posts at 33,000 feet.


Update: Steven over at Scale Model Soup has some additional thoughts on this topic that reminded me of a few things I missed. The biggest one is the “deep dive in the forums. I can get lost for days on Armorama!




By | 2016-10-29T19:09:34-05:00 May 13th, 2014|Random thoughts|1 Comment