Random thoughts

/Random thoughts

Book review: Soldat

I love stories from “the other side”… stories you don’t often hear. We’ve seen Band of Brothers and The Pacific, great works of art that show the US solider’s experience through WWII. But the German side, at least for American audiences, goes largely untapped. To truly understand a conflict like WWII, it’s crucial to understand, even if you don’t support, all sides involved.

I recently read (although devoured is probably the better word), a book called Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949. This book followed a German soldier through his graduation from high school, enlistment in the military, service throughout the war, defense of Berlin, capture, and eventual placement in and release from a Soviet prison camp.

This book is an amazing read. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

By | 2014-05-11T13:15:55-05:00 May 11th, 2014|Random thoughts, Reviews|0 Comments

Hotel workbench

A few months back, my wife and I returned home from a great out of the country vacation to discover water sitting on our hardwood floors. Never a good things. And if you’ve been through this, you know that fixing such damage is never easy. In fact, our one story, all hardwood floored house had to get a complete floor replacement. You can’t patch it!

My family moved out last week, our stuff packed up in pods on the driveway so that the floors can be replaced. Oh, and we decided to get the house repainted and a few small renovation projects done at the same time. After all, we were moved out so what’s the harm in a few extra days?

Packing up my workbench was an opportunity to rethink my workbench layout. When we move back in, I’ll be considering everything I put back on the workbench and shelving with great specificity. If I don’t need it, it goes somewhere other than direct reach.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on the Trumpeter 01527 Sd. Kfz. 7/2 in the hotel. Fortunately, the toolbox of gear I packed for the multi-week hotel stay has paid off pretty well. I forgot a few things, but generally everything I need is handy.

The best thing I did was to bring my lighting gear with me. The hotel room lighting, as you can imagine, flat out sucks. So having decent lighting has made this hotel workbench more tolerable.

I’m hoping to finish the Trumpeter kit by the time we move back into the house. Wish me luck!

By | 2014-04-14T04:15:11-05:00 April 14th, 2014|Random thoughts|0 Comments

Build Log: M8 Build begins

The build begins! This project was prompted by a trip to the Armed Forces Military Museum in Largo, Florida. My wife and I stopped by on the way out of town from visiting family this past Thanksgiving. For $50, you could take a ride in an M8 Greyhound. Man oh man, that was fun. Well worth the money!

DSC_1638 - Version 2

I had never really been that excited about the M8 as a modeling subject, but after talking to our driver about the vehicle, I was fascinated. We always hear  about how crews lived in their vehicles, but there’s something experiencing that life first hand that makes the brain go wild. I can’t imagine cramming four men into a vehicle this small. And WOW this thing was much faster and smoother than expected!



As for the build, I wanted to go full out. The Tamiya M8 Greyhound kit I’m using as the base is nice, but very, very simple. I wanted to really detail the holy smokes out of this build. Here’s a list of the kits/add-on sets that will be used:

  • Tamiya M8 Greyhound kit
  • Aber #35A72 – Fenders for M8/20 Greyhound
  • Aber metal barrel
  • Verlinden #1455 – M8/M20 Stowage Compartments
  • Legend M8 Crew
  • Eduard 35200 M8 Greyhound detail set
  • Legend Productions LF1275 M8 Greyhound Stowage Set
  • Minimeca Accesorios 3533 M8 Greyhound tow cable
  • Royal Model 197 US M8 Greyhound detail kit
  • Verlinden 1442 M8/M20 Engine & Compartment
  • Verlinden Productions 1453 M8 Interior & Exterior Update Set (for Tamiya Kit)
  • DefModel DW30025 – M8/M20 Greyhound Wheel Set, Sagged

Pricey build… I better get this right!

To keep up with the build, make sure to watch the portfolio page where I collect up all the build log entries in one location.

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

ModelFiesta 2014 Photos

This past weekend was the yearly ModelFiesta show in San Antonio, Texas. I headed down and snapped a bunch of pictures. Check ’em out!

By | 2014-02-18T04:12:41-06:00 February 18th, 2014|Random thoughts|0 Comments

Review: Realistic Wood Effects book

Check out my review over on Armorama of the Realistic Wood Effects book.

Short version? Fantastic book whose awesomeness was squashed by horrible, horrible editing and translation. Horrible.

By | 2014-01-21T03:07:00-06:00 January 21st, 2014|Random thoughts|0 Comments

Raising our pitchforks for the great untapped modeling subject

One of the most interesting, opportunity filled areas of modeling has gone massively untapped. We modelers who love World War II as a subject have been radically underserved. The American Home Front is a subject we all should be shaking pitchforks in the air to get kit manufacturers to start thinking about the American Home Front.

There, I said it. I apologize for any riots I may have inadvertently just caused.

During WWII, America spun up an entire country into a massive manufacturing state. Factories were everywhere, entire chunks of industrial park camouflaged with netting, multiple types of home guard troops and volunteers. The entire country was overhauled. Trains, cars, buses, and wagons were all used in the efforts of both military and civilian daily tasks. It’s an absolutely fascinating period. Yes, America didn’t see carpet bombing destruction or massive tank battles. But the country transformed and created massive, unique opportunities for military and civilian vehicles and dioramas.

Manufacturing & Factories

Think about how many products were being manufactured: Higgins Boats, ships, tanks, planes, staff cars, food crates, shells, you name it. All of these products had test grounds, production lines, and factory floors associated with them. I’m sure they exist, but I’ve only seen one really awesome, non-bombed out factory floor diorama – Shep Paine’s B-26 factory floor.

Volunteer Corps

While not as showy as German Firemen or Policemen, perhaps, but the American Civil Defense efforts yielded lots of great uniforms (or at least partial uniforms). Civilians dressed up with CD white helmets and armbands, Red Cross workers, and more. Plus tons and tons of local fire, police, and emergency workers. Tons of interesting, rarely covered figure painting opportunities! And the vehicles…


Yep, vehicles. Between the buses, passenger cars, old trucks that were from an early time period, cool rescue vehicles, and military equipment in civilian form. Flip through the gallery at the bottom of this page for cool examples. Just imagine the possibilities!

Camouflage and air raid protections

Did you know that entire factories and city blocks were camouflaged so that planes flying over would only see an empty fields or houses? Imagine the diorama possibilities!

Women & Minorities

One thing that is dreadfully lacking in our hobby is equality. (Remember my rant?) Especially in WWII, the opportunities for non-male, non-white figures are nearly non-existent. But on the home front, minorities and women are in high supply. What better way to expand our hobby amongst those same non-white, non-male folks who don’t spend a ton of time modeling now?


Recruiting stands, rubber drives, bond drives, and many more activities could make great backdrops for dioramas, vehicles, and more. Did you know that the Mall in Washington, D.C. was covered in temporary housing structures during WWII?

Multiple locales 

Think about how varied the United States is. Forests, frozen tundra, deserts, beaches, mountains, and swamps. We have it all here, and so any type of diorama or weathering you want to do, have at it!

Vintage Americana

I don’t know about you, but I sure love those old 1920s style houses. Or the 1800s style brownstones. Or the quaint farmhouses. I also love the 1940s style. Plenty of cool modeling opportunities.

Now, I know what you’re likely to say…. “But there’s no rubble in American Home Front. There’s no burned out hulks of tanks that took a direct round. There’s no shell craters to model!” Sure, maybe not. But I’m beginning to wonder if the same types of rehashed (even if amazingly so) Tiger I tanks and Sherman tanks and Willys Jeeps are growing old to us modelers. Look at the enthusiasm on display when a manufacturer announces a tram, or a fire truck, or firemen. Or cars and more cars.

You may respond to that reality by telling me that, to Americans, American Home Front subjects wouldn’t be that interesting. We aren’t used to seeing vehicles that look like the European trams, or fire engines that look like the German fire engines. But if you take a look at some of the potential subject matter for the American Home Front, you’ll certainly find some amazingly cool, probably unseen subjects.

Like many of you, I watched “The Pacific” multiple times after it came out. One of the most fascinating parts to me was the Home Front scenes. There was a lot going on back home, with an amazing palette of vehicles, job roles, uniforms, structures, and scenes. Hopefully we’ll soon start seeing more of this coming to a hobby shop near us! We’ve seen the pendulum swing towards the weathered (or really, over-weathered) end of the spectrum. Maybe now it’s time to swing it back a bit to the factory floor clean?

What do you think? Am I crazy to hope for this? Am I the only one interested in this period/place?

UPDATE: I posted about this blog post over on armorama, and was immediately reminded that alternative history could be fun too. America Under Siege, and whatnot!

By | 2016-10-29T19:09:34-05:00 January 19th, 2014|Random thoughts|0 Comments

Painting my first figure!

I’ve been doing modeling for nearly 25 years… of course, with a 15 year gap in the middle there. But in all that time, I’ve never had the spine to attempt painting figures. Well, I’m happy to report that all changed this past weekend! That’s right, I painted my first figure!

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. I didn’t realize how nervous I was about attempting this pretty difficult task until after I started, realized it wasn’t so bad, and felt the nerves wash away.

Clearly, my first attempt wasn’t so great. There were more problems than successes, but I did it. And it’s not horrible. Well, it may be horrible, but I’ll always love it.


By | 2013-11-19T16:26:07-06:00 November 19th, 2013|Random thoughts|0 Comments

These Are Not Real Cars, Just a Mind-Bending Optical Illusion – TechEBlog

These Are Not Real Cars, Just a Mind-Bending Optical Illusion - TechEBlog

Professional model maker and photographer Michael Paul Smith spent the last 25 years making miniature vehicles and photographing them, set in a fictional 1950s American town called Elgin Park. His models are so detailed that when placed in miniature dioramas and photographed using forced perspective, you’ll think that they are real vehicles. 

via These Are Not Real Cars, Just a Mind-Bending Optical Illusion – TechEBlog.

By | 2016-10-29T19:09:35-05:00 October 23rd, 2013|Random thoughts|0 Comments

Austin Armor Builders Society – Annual Show 2013

This weekend, I headed to the local armor builders annual show. There was some great stuff there… sadly I walked off without my camera. I managed to get a few decent shots with my iPhone. There was a ton of great stuff, but two things stood out to me in particular. (Full gallery at the bottom of this post)

This fantastic destroyed truck and amazingly detailed engine:


This impressive diorama. It’s not just the build quality (which is great), but it’s the amazing story it tells:



By | 2016-10-29T19:09:35-05:00 September 21st, 2013|Random thoughts|0 Comments