Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Really Big Shew!

We recently had our annual Buckeye Classic Model Car Show here in Columbus and it went really well.  We got lots of positive feedback from all of the attendees and we had some great models and modelers show up.  I personally got a chance to meet some really great modelers and pick their brains a little.  We got coverage by the magazines, so guys can see their stuff in print.  The vendor room was full, but not so full we couldn't get more vendors in and I think all of the vendors did well, the couple I talked to sold almost everything.  The weather was chilly but sunny, so people would rather be inside with models rather than outside doing yard work, but not so cold and nasty so they wanted to stay home.  We had a new venue this year that everyone really likes and it was much easier for the vendors to load and unload.  There were no big problems and no big conflicts.  Everything went well.
So how does all of this happen?  Hard work by lots of people.  Our club really comes together to make this happen and everyone chips in to help.  From set up to tear down, we had lots of guys show up, carry tables, sweep floors, arrange stuff, and make sure all went well.  We had lots of help from some of the wives that took money, counted votes, and sold 50/50 tickets, you know, all the stuff that takes a brain!
It strikes me as very strange that I heard no complaints.  Let's face it, people like to complain, if there is some minor thing to complain about, folks will do it.  Nobody did.  Now I'm not complaining about no one complaining, but it's a little odd.  I'm just glad everyone had a good time.
Here's what I would like to see; more vendors and more contestants!  If you have a cottage business involving model cars in any way, you need to be at this show.  The tables are cheap on purpose, so you can make money on your stuff, and the admission to the show is cheap on purpose, so that guys will spend money on models not entry fees.  If you build model cars at any skill level, you need to attend.  Entry fees are cheap so you can enter as many models as you like, don't sweat whether or not they are "contest" quality, it's about having fun with the hobby you enjoy.  If you are an expert builder, it gives you a chance to help others improve their builds and they can enjoy the hobby more.  If you are a novice modeler, it gives you a chance to see what others are doing and ask them how they did it.  If you live within 3 hours or so of Columbus, Ohio, you need to attend this show!  Our club wants to return to the idea that a show is about hanging out talking models and showing off your skills.
Having said the above, am I unhappy with our turnout? Nope, we had a really good turn out.  I just have such a good time that I would like more people to share the experience.  So if you live in Australia, Alabama, Albania, or Alaska, go to your local show, hang out, talk models, and you might get the chance to share something that you did to help another modeler enjoy the hobby more.
"Rat Fink" Ron

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Death in the Family

I usually try to keep my blog positive and focused on how to improve modeling skills and attitudes.  This post is going to be different, it's all bad.  I few years ago I moved close to a major metropolis and close to a hobby shop.  Before that I lived over an hour away from the closest shop so I rarely went to them and when I did I had to make sure I got everything I needed for at least a month.  I used to take a random Saturday morning and hit a couple of places and stop at a few other stores we didn't have locally.  I didn't hang out there and I didn't know any modelers there, I was just a random customer.  I bought a few kits and fewer detailing parts, I wasn't exactly keep the hobby shops in business with my purchases.   I remember on particular day, I made the circuit of all the hobby shops in the Columbus area just to check them out.
After we moved close to Columbus, I found out that most of the hobby shops had closed.  It's the same old song about hobbies dying off with our generation and "them kids only wanna stare at their video games" that we've all heard or said a million times.  There is one hobby shop that is close to my house and I regularly go there, as a matter of fact, it's my Friday night hangout.  Several guys go there and hang out on Fridays and build models, we've gotten to know the owner quite well, and we basically get the run of the place.  After our weekly build sessions, we all go to a local restaurant and have a couple of beers and shoot the bull a little.  I spend reasonable money there, usually buying a kit a month and lots of detail parts, I would be considered a "good" customer.
The point of all of this is, this hobby shop is closing at the end of the month.  Gone.  I will now have to drive halfway across town for my Friday night modeling fix.  Luckily, the same guy owns the other store, so that relationship will continue.  In talking with the owner about this, his biggest reason for closing is poor sales and his greatest competition is the internet and Hobby Lobby.  He cannot match the prices.  Now I understand capitalism and all that, but let's examine what you really get when you buy from the local hobby shop.  Yes, kits cost way more than you can get them for with your 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby or you can order them for on the internet and I can blah, blah, blah about how the local guy has to keep the lights on, but you don't care, you just want your 10,000th kit for the cheapest price you can get it for.  Next time you're in Hobby Lobby ask the clerk about that nifty new photo etch kit you saw in a magazine or who's making that really cool resin conversion for the kit you just bought.  Go ahead, I'll wait.  That RC car you had to have so you bought it online because it was cheaper, feel free to email them about how to dial it in for optimum fun.  Again, I'll wait.  You need some quick service on it, feel free to swing by and have them help you out.  I'll wait.  You want to scratchbuild that gizmo on your dohicky?  Make a quick trip to the online hobby shop with your kit and compare sizes and thicknesses of Evergreen styrene to get exactly what you want.  I'll wait, I'm not real busy.  How about the thrill of having a 1/4 oz bottle of Testor's overnighted at a cost of $10 so you can finish up that model for a big contest?  Ask the swap meet guy to take a return on a kit because you already have that one and you don't need another, of course, you'll have to wait until you find him again months later. Again, I'll wait for you, take your time.
I agree, the cost of stuff at a hobby shop is higher than online, higher than Hobby Lobby, and higher than the swap meet guy. But you can't hang out with other modelers at any of these places (OK, you can at the swap meet because it's usually at a model show).  You don't get advice or tips there, and they don't recommend cool way to do stuff and then show you how to do it.  Don't give me the bullshit about how online forums are the same as hanging out, they are not.  Having been in both situations because I lived so far from a hobby shop I relied on the internet for all of my modeling interaction and then moved close enough to hang out at a shop, it ain't the same.  My modeling has improved greatly through personal interaction compared to online interaction.  To those guys who do not have the live interaction option, I feel for you.  As car modelers, we are a bunch of cheap bastards.  We want a superdetailed 100% accurate kit for $5.  We wouldn't spend $2 on a detail kit if it made the model run like a real car.  "Oh my God! $30 for a kit!  That's ridiculous!! I remember when these were $2 when I was a kid."  Get over it, gas was 19 cents a gallon and candy bars were a dime, too.  Hobby shop owners are not getting rich off of you, they are in it because they love it.  The guys trying to get rich left 30 years ago, this is a dying pastime, as it dies the cost will go up.
Next time you pontificate about the tragedy of the local hobby shop closing, ask yourself how much money you spent there in the last week.  Then think about how much money you spent at the last show, at Hobby Lobby at 40% off, and how much you spent online.  Then think about how you are going to get those basic supplies you need once the local hobby shop is gone.  Now who killed the local hobby shop?
"Rat Fink" Ron

Saturday, February 22, 2014

So You Want to Learn the Force... Help You I Can

What have you given back to this hobby?  I hear lots of chatter about getting kids involved in the hobby, but let's face it, if you were 12 and had to choose between sitting quietly and building a model or blowing shit up in a video game, you would choose the latter.  Times have changed and we are the dinosaurs we thought we'd never become.  So I'll repeat the question, what have you given back to the hobby?  If you go to a contest you will see guys building at all skill levels, from the bomb diggty super excellent over the top builder to the I wired the motor and slapped a decent paint job on it builder to the I used four tubes of glue and painted it in dust storm builder.  When was the last time you talked to those guys?  I bet you had no problem talking to the top shelf builder and spent a lot of time picking his brain about how he did this or that.  What about the up and comers? Did you make time for them?  At the club meeting are you seeking out the lesser skilled builders and offering advise and help if they want it?  Notice I didn't say criticism, some guys don't want to hear it, they are happy to build the way they are building.  Other guys are hungry to improve and want some advice on how to do that, find those guys and help them.
What I'm saying here is be a mentor and find a mentor.  For those who don't know a mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. This does not mean to glom on to the best builder you know, it means find a guy that is a little better, or a little more experienced than you and ask for advice.  Then take that advice.  That is the hard part, taking the advice, that is why your mentor must be trusted.  The other cool thing about a mentor ship is that it usually starts out as a friendship because a mentor has to be someone you trust.  You may also have to change mentors as your skill develops, of course that doesn't mean that you lose friends, it means you get to make more friends.  The cool thing about having a mentor is that you can be a mentor at the same time you are being mentored.  As you are developing your skills you can share the skills you already have and you can share how you learned it.  As with anything else, there are good mentors and bad, if a guy isn't helping you out, be friends but don't expect to gain from the friendship.
I have had several mentors throughout my building "career" and some didn't even know they were mentors, as these things are usually very informal.  I used to live in a small city and I didn't really know any modelers, so I built to what I thought was to a high standard, then I went to a contest and not just any contest, the Toledo NNL.  I thought my stuff was going to knock those guys eyes out.  About 15 minutes after I set my cars down and I looked around a little bit, I wanted to grab my crappy builds and run.  A couple of guys came up and talked to me and I looked at their cars and they looked at mine.  They were polite and the best part was, they kept talking to me like I knew what I was doing even after they saw my crappy shit .  I didn't go to another contest for a long time.  I later moved to a small town, built in my basement and collected kits until I finally found a club about 50 miles away and I got involved with them.  At the same time, I got involved in several groups online and got some good advice there.  Some guys from the club invited me to a few contests and because of the advice from them and others I actually won something.  I became good friends with one of the guys who had entered lots of contests and usually did pretty well but was not a "Best of Show" winner.  He gave me advise and help with the ins and outs of contests and I learned a ton.  Then I got as good as him at contests.  Another guy from the club started giving me advise on my builds and how to do things, he is a consistent "Best of Show" winner.  I learned more and my skills are improving.  Then a local IPMS guy who has won national awards several times and is a really good military modeler started to give me help and advice.  I'm positive my skills will improve.  By the way, these mentor ships all started out as friendships, trust is huge.  These guys also kind of "sought me out" as a builder who wants to improve and is willing to learn.  At the same time as these guys are helping me, I have tried to help others improve by sharing the skills I have mastered and giving advice and encouragement to guys that want to improve.
We all have a vision in our heads of what we want our models to look like.  Some of us come closer to that vision than others.  If you have the skill set to help a guy achieve his goal, help a brother out.  If you want to improve you building, seek out those who build better than you and learn from them.  Make friends with builders of all stripes and be a part of the community, and as Robocop would say, "Thank you for your support."
"Rat Fink" Ron

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Judgement Day

Yesterday was the local IPMS show here in Buckeye capital of the universe.  Every year they put on a great show and draw lots of models and modelers.  They had 525 entries this year which was a little down from previous years due to the weather.  Our club goes every year and we take lots of awards in both the adult and master categories, several guys have tables in the vendor area, and a few of us judge.  I am usually asked to judge the automotive categories and I usually decline and judge tanks or more appropriately, the armor category.  Since there are judging "teams" of 3 guys my lack of specific knowledge of tanks is really not a factor, but my knowledge of good modeling is welcome.  I find it really great to look at other styles of models with a critical eye and see what the other side of modeling is up to.  The tank and plane guys tend to look at car modelers as "just playing with toys" not as serious modelers while the car guys think the military guys are "rivet counters".  Both statements are true to some extent and both are foolish generalizations to some extent.  It is fun to see what the other half is up to and I always learn something when I judge tanks.
This year, I had to judge the cars.  They didn't really have enough car guys to judge the automotive stuff so another club member and I hopped in to help out, since both of us had cars in the master categories, we judged the adult classes.  Other club members had cars in the adult class so I had to judge cars that I had seen being built and in some cases, had offered advice on how to fix flaws.  This is the exact reason I don't like to judge cars, I'm pretty sure I'm way too hard on the cars I have seen and know from the guys in our club.  The guys in the IPMS always want a car guy to judge the automotive area but it is really hard since I usually know the car guys and their cars, it's hard to be objective.  I try to encourage the military guys to judge cars and the car guys to judge military not only to minimize bias, but to let modeling skills be judged on a level plane.  A good model shows up in the skill of the builder, not in the subject.  I prefer to judge and be judged on my modeling skill, rather than what kit I chose to build, I think most modelers are the same way.
So make sue when you go to a contest that you hop in and help with the judging, you may learn something and you may find out that the other side ain't so bad.
"Rat Fink" Ron

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Failure, Not As Epic As You Think

Failure.  No one likes it, but everyone does it.  We all fail at some point, no matter how much we try, plan, and prepare something goes wrong.  Sometimes failure seems to out weigh success and even the littlest thing just won't go the way we'd like it to go.  In modeling, failure is ultimately up to you, the builder, to decide.  Some kits fail on a monumental scale and you really have no say in the matter because no matter what you do, that puppy ain't going together.  That is a whole different matter, some kits are not meant to be built.  I'm talking more about the difference between paint that's "close enough" and paint that get a bath in the "purple pond".
The old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again" applies to modeling as well as life.  How well you deal with failure is the measure of your success.  I recently have been working on my 1957 Ford for an upcoming contest and I scratchbuilt the fuel injection set up for the 312 motor in the kit.  It came time to think about the injector stacks on it so I bought some short injector stacks from Detail Master.  For those that are unfamiliar with the old Ford Y-Blocks, the intake ports are stacked vertically in pairs, not in the usual horizontal arrangement we are used to seeing.  The injectors have to be short and very close together to fit in the tight space.  When the Detail Master parts arrived they were too big for the little Y-Block, so I had some tall injector stacks that were smaller in diameter so I cut them down to 1/8" to fit, still too tall.  I whacked off another 1/16" and they were still too big in diameter to fit correctly.  I tried flattening the sides to mover them closer together and they were still a little too wide to fit. I then had to create some 1/16" tall injector stacks out of aluminum tube to get them to fit.  This little exercise in failure took about four hours; and a lot of swearing.
Later, I needed to build a front spoiler, or "air plow" for this Bonneville Beast, so I got out a piece of aluminum, cut what I needed and then made a futile attempt at gluing it to front bumper of the old Ford. It never happened, it just wouldn't fit right and in the process I managed to rub all of the Alclad off the bumper, and scratched the black under coat to the point that I needed to redo it.  I then decided to glue the "air plow" to the bumper support and that worked better.  Total time for that little fiasco: about three hours.  I also sanded through the clear coat twice, which caused a repaint each time.  Lots of "fails" on one car.
I'm not writing this to impress you with my building ability or to whine about the trials and tribulations of model car building, I'm writing this to explore the idea of what makes a person successful.  Success with model building, as well as success in any endeavor, are directly related to a person's ability to handle failure.  I've been following a thread on the Model Cars Magazine Forum about a build of the Army Vega Funny car in 1/16th scale.  The craftsmanship on this car is amazing, so I commented on how nice it is and how I hope to improve my skills to this level.  I got a reply back from the builder that said,"Thank you sir. I appreciate the kind words. My advice about adding more detail is to not be afraid and go for it, and do it little steps at a time. I can't tell you how many things on this build that I redid 2 or 3 times."  We tend to forget that when we see the final product.  We don't know how many "fails" were involved to get it right.  Any great accomplishment has a history of failures to its name.  So next time you think you need to throw that model against the wall (which I have done) remember, you may be one redo away from success.
"Rat Fink" Ron

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Best Laid Plans...

I've been working on two projects for what seems like forever, and I'm kind of tired of them.  I'm not bored with them, I just want them to be done.  I still think they are great projects, but they are taking a long time to complete.  I'm at that point in the build where I'm down to the itty-bitty details that seem to make or break a build.  I want to be done so I begin to get in the mindset that I just want to get it done because it will be so cool when it's finished.  I start to rush and make mistakes which causes set backs.  I did some bodywork on my '68 Mustang and I was going to shave the door handles off and use some out of another kit to replace the molded in ones that are already on the body.  I shot the primer without shaving the handles off, more body work and more primer.  Instead of doing it once, I now have to do it twice.
At the same time, my 1957 Ford project has hit a snag, paint.  I finished the body work, primed it, and shot a gorgeous coat of light blue pearl paint on it, then cleared it.  It looked really good, even the wife was impressed.  I noticed some light orange peel in the paint so I wet sanded it and of course, I went through.  I guess I was a little heavy handed.  Well, back to square one.  Strip it , reprime it, and I planned to paint it today; except, I can't.  I have to repaint the underside of the body with enamel paint which takes forever to dry. So I guess I'm repainting it next week.
What makes these two event worse is, I have the local IPMS show coming up next month and the Mustang is kind of being built specifically for this show.  I'm not real sure it will be done.  The '57 Ford needs to be done by the end of March, I'm pretty sure it will make it.  The next project will be box stock, just to keep it simple!
"Rat Fink" Ron

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Come In Out of the Cold, We Have Hot Rods!

This weekend my wife and I went to the first car show of the year.  I know what you're thinking, "You lucky dog, you live someplace warm."  Yes I do; the very tropical Midwest, and in this tropical paradise I live in the best weather of all, Ohio.  Where as other states in the Midwest are much colder, have way more snow, and winter lasts longer, Ohio gets the prize for crappiness (like happiness, but it ain't).  Ohio warms up, then snows some, then has some freezing rain, then switches to some cold for a few days, then warms up and rains.  There is now pattern or reason to our weather, it may even do all of this in one day!  Enough about the weather.  The car show we went to was the Cavalcade of Customs in Cincinnati, an indoor show that I really enjoy.  Besides getting my automotive fix, there are some really cool cars there to see and they are super clean, and I get a chance to talk to other car guys.  To me, it's like a big cruise in, guys hanging out, bullshitting about cars, and checking out cool rides.  There are some over the top cars and trucks there that you know never get street driven, rare cars that get rolled out of the garage and into a trailer and never get driven anywhere, race cars, and regular guys cars that they can't wait for summer to get their car out.  As a matter of fact, all of these cars cleaned up, modified to the hilt, and with super trick custom paint, it reminds me of a full size model car show.
I find it to be a really great place to get ideas for my models because all the latest trends are represented and you can spend a lot of time looking them over.  They are also well displayed for the judges and the public to see everything on the car.  I typically take lots of detail photos as well as overall shots of cars.  There are also lots of old race cars at these events.  When a car is too old to be competitive, what do you do with it?  If you keep it long enough, you take it to shows so guys can see how it was "back in the day."  I have some really cool detail shots of Funny Cars, Dragsters, Salt Flat Cars, and Road Racers by going to indoor shows.  Guys are also more willing to spend some time talking about their car because there is really nothing else for them to do all day.  At an outdoor show there are usually lots of other activities and cars are coming and going constantly, not so at an indoor show.  You do have to fight the legion of sales folks, hey babies in short skirts and low cut tops trying to get you to try a product, and throngs of kiddies being drug around by dads who got the, "if you wanna go ya gotta take the kids" deal in order to get out of the house, but that's not terrible.
Like a big model car show, you see stuff that is well done, cars that are OK, and those WTF cars,  but that's what makes it fun.  You get to see all kinds of cars and some you may never see if you didn't go.  I've seen lots of magazine cars at these and to tell you the truth, lots of them look way better in person than in the magazines.  So if you get the opportunity, shake off the winter blahs and go to a car show.  I think you'll be glad you did!

"Rat Fink" Ron