Friday, March 30, 2012

Checking Out for a Bit

Time for a well-earned break. I haven't had a day off (aside from weekends) since the new year, which always makes the Jan-Feb-March slog a tough one. So I am taking next week off and taking the wife and kids to Florida. The kids will get to see their grandparents, and I'll get to soak up some sun and drink some adult beverages.

On the way, we'll stop at the Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, so that should be inspiring. Other than that, probably not much in the way of hobby-related activities. Even my reading list isn't hobby-related: Seabiscuit and Hunger Games.

So until later!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Return of the Mini

We’ve all done it. Had that miniature or part seemingly just disappear into thin air. I’ll probably never know what happened to that 1/144 Tornado canopy, which went MIA and caused me to never build the kit, which still languishes in a closet some 15 years later.

But this is the story of a mini that went missing longer ago than that – and came home. Bear with me.

It’s funny how some minis or kits really make an impression. That’s especially true in our younger days, when we are initially getting into the hobby. Every mini meant something then.

For example, I have explicit memories of where this one came from. It must have been about 1980 or so, maybe 81. I had just started dabbling in D&D, the classic old red box, with some friends in elementary school. And for my birthday, my parents got me the complete Lord of the Rings set of books. I think I had read the hobbit, or seen the cartoon or something by then, so of course the whole thing just enthralled me. Heady stuff for a kid maybe 12 years old.

This was also back in the day when there were actually real hobby shops in malls. It was a great place to go while mom did her shopping, and a few of us managed to get some Grenadier D&D minis. I remember I got a dwarf for my character (Thurin? I can’t remember the name at the moment, but I’m sure it was Tolkienesque) and a thief (Black Thorn – I do remember him).

The collection slowly expanded at school as we traded minis around like baseball cards.

Anyway, one day the family headed up to see my grandparents, and we stopped at a different mall. Well, this one had a hobby shop, too, with a rack of minis dedicated to the Lord of the Rings! This was impressive stuff indeed.

Sensing my excitement, I remember my parents, in time-honored tradition, telling me I could pick one. Oh, the decision! Should I get the heroic Bilbo and fellow hobbits? How about Gandalf? Oooh, elves. And men of Dale. And Smaug!? Finally, I settled on a set of six dwarves of the Iron Hills with spears. Two poses, three of each.

And that was all I ever got from that collection. In retrospect, they aren’t great minis. Pretty crude, even compared to the old Grenadier and Ral Partha of the day. I can’t even remember who made them. Minifigs maybe? But that set did duty as my “army” for a long time. Tortured with minimal Testors enamel paint, spears eventually all broken, they soldiered on. And all six didn’t make it.

I think most of them are still in the stash somewhere, but imagine my surprise at Christmas when my mother handed me a small bag of bits and pieces found when she was cleaning out a heating vent. (My parents still live in the same home I grew up in.) Lo and behold, there was this dwarf. Considering I left home in 1987, and probably hadn’t done much with these for a few years before that, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this little guy spent more than 25 years stuck in a heating vent.

I think I need to find a place of honor for him now, though I don’t know if I can bring myself to actually paint him. I think the current patina shall serve as his badge of honor.

Welcome back, dwarf of the Iron Hills. Well met.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Space Cadet

I guess I can be a bit of a space cadet at times. At least in terms of focusing on one hobby!

So just in case I needed something different, I was inspired over the weekend to order this collection of US manned space launch vehicles from Squadron. It's an old kit, AMT's Men in Space set, and includes five rockets from the golden age (read: early days) of manned space flight: the Mercury Redstone, Mercury Atlas, Gemini Titan II, Saturn 1B and the massive Saturn V. Even in 1/200 scale, apparently the Saturn V checks in at about 21 inches high.

I also ordered a replacement set of decals from Indycals. If this project goes well, I'm looking at a Hasegawa 1/200 scale shuttle to complete the set.

Part of the inspiration came from plans to visit the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, this coming weekend. We're heading to Florida for a week, and decided to stop to see an old friend (and best man in my wedding) who works at NASA there. We don't have a ton of time, but have scheduled a tour with him.

I think I've just been getting burned out on some other hobby aspects, and just need something different on the table.

Updates as events warrant!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fast Friday: Indycar is back!

Sorry it’s been quiet lately. The weather has just been too nice to be doing much in the way of indoor hobby activities!

I should mention one “hobby”-related activity this week. I filed papers in court against the bozo that was supposed to do the body work on the Mustang. My first lawsuit. That has just turned into one big headache. I have a home address for the guy, but I suspect he’s not even there. His Facebook pages (personal and business) have both been taken down. So I’m not even sure how the court will serve papers, let alone if I will be able to collect. I doubt he has two nickels to rub together. If nothing else, I hope he will at least have a record after this and won’t be able to apply for another loan to start a business again. I have a May 3 court date. Should be interesting.
I had dreams of driving the car this summer. I doubt it will be close to done by fall.

Anyway, in brighter news, racing season starts for real this weekend. Yes, there has been the Daytona 24. And the Daytona 500. And even the Australian Grand Prix (which I missed). But this weekend the Indy cars hit the track for the first time in 2012.

It’s the first race since that disaster in Las Vegas, and a lot has changed since then, not the least of which is the new DW12 chassis and the new Honda, Chevy and Lotus V6 turbo engines. Only two months until May!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Has Sprung - And Hobbies Lose

Though technically the calendar says spring doesn’t start until next week, it has been unseasonably warm here lately. The thermometer in my car read 81 degrees yesterday on my drive home!

Coupled with the early return to daylight savings time, and the last few evenings have been spent outside. Much to the detriment of everything on my hobby bench, but man, is it nice out! For mid-March in mid-Michigan, this is great.

It had led me to thoughts of getting back to putting the Mustang engine back together. I did get my sandblaster up and running the other day, and I’ve gotten to work cleaning up the oil pan.

And the weather is supposed to stay nice for the foreseeable future, so the wife and I are talking about tackling out screen room this weekend (which accumulates an amazing amount of junk over the course of a winter), and maybe the garage. The garage is pretty much a disaster, mostly with Mustang stuff.

Still nothing much to report on trying get my money back. He’s pretty much gone to ground again and won’t answer the phone or emails. I’ve even tried his mom. No dice. Can you say small claims court?

Yesterday sure would have been a great day to drive it. Sigh.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Game Room Dreams

Last night, the wife and I packed the kids up and went to look at a house for sale. We don’t need a new house, mind you, but sometimes it’s nice to just look and see what’s out there. We had driven by this one a couple weeks ago, and it piqued our interest, and since our daycare provider is also a realtor, it was easy to arrange a viewing.

Like any house, it’s not perfect. There was a lot not to like, probably enough that we won’t consider pursuing it as it’s really not enough of an upgrade over our current home. But at the same time, it did have its positive points, and one of them would be a perfect game/hobby room.

Well, in my dreams, at least.

There is what could best be described as a “bonus room” above the garage, probably 15 or so feet wide by about 30 feet deep. Steeply angled ceiling (walls) with dormer windows. My mind instantly put a table in the middle with scenery on it, with perhaps a model railroad against the back wall and shelves for books, minis etc all around. And a work desk. And a paint booth. Ah.

Then reality hit as it was pointed out it would be a great playroom for the kids, evolving into a “teen” room someday with TV, etc.

Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. We’re probably better off where we are anyway. Though we do need to purge, I’ll admit to that. If we could get to the garage, we could have a garage sale. But that means getting the Mustang back together. Which is not happening with any sense of urgency.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Fast Friday: End of an Era

This isn’t a record for the longest it ever took me to finish a model, but it was a long time. More than two years. I have GOT to pick up the pace!

Earlier this week I finally finished this, A.J. Foyt’s 1964 Indianapolis 500 winning Watson roadster. The basis is the venerable AMT Watson roadster kit. After that, a lot was added and done:
  • Lance Sellers’ 1964 Watson conversion set. This supplied the nose, and the main part of the body around the cockpit and the rear, as well as the wheels and tires.
  • Indycals decals. Both the main livery and all those dzus fasteners you see. Highly recommended.
  • Cockpit rebuild: the black and white checker pattern on the seat is a decal, the seatbelts feature photo etch buckles. I also redid the instrument panel with photoetch gauge bezels.
  • Paint I think is Testors pearl white with Tamiya Italian Red.

The 1964 500 was one of mixed emotions. It featured many accidents, including the horrific Sachs-MacDonald crash in the early stages. In the end, the day belonged to Foyt. It was a bittersweet win, though, and marked the end of an era: it was the last time a front-engine car would win the 500.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fast Friday: Arie Luyendyk 1988 Lola Cosworth

Yes, it's true. This week you got not one, but two Fast Fridays.

Today I present you with a straight up out-of-the-box build of Arie Luyendyk's 1988 Lola Cosworth. Indycals has since done a much better set of decals for this car as it ran at Indy, so I may redo it some day. There's just something about a black race car, no?

AMT kit and decals, and I think it was Testors enamel spray paint. Nothing special, but it looks all right on the shelf.