Sunday, April 30, 2017

Almost finished the Mustang cockpit

It's been a long haul, with a lot of things in everyday life meaning I didn't have much time for modelling in the last week and a half (freelance design jobs, visits from the in-laws).  But I have almost finished the Mustang's cockpit.

Here are a couple of teaser shots before I release a video in the next few days.

1/32 Hasegawa P-51D Mustang cockpit super detailed

1/32 Hasegawa P-51D Mustang cockpit super detailed

1/32 Hasegawa P-51D Mustang cockpit super detailed



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Video tutorial: How to scratch build detailed seatbelts and harness for an aircraft cockpit

As part of my build of the 1/32 Hasegawa P-51D Mustang, I have been working on detailing the cockpit. It’s an old kit, originally released in the 1960s, and under that big ol’ bubble-top canopy the undetailed pilot’s seat is going to look a bit bare – there are certainly no photoetched seatbelts in the kit; it doesn’t even hint at a harness in the moulded plastic of the pilot’s seat. That means it’s time to scratch build your own.

Luckily, I have an amazing technique for scratch building seatbelts, and so this has been the subject of my latest YouTube video tutorial.

The best thing about this technique is that you will not have to go out and purchase any new materials. Even the most basic model-makers’ toolbox will contain everything you need: plain old masking tape, and some thin, malleable wire.

That's right. Plain masking tape and wire.

I won’t lie: it is a slightly time-consuming technique until you get a mini production-line thing happening. But my god, is it a satisfying process, and the more you do the faster you get. And the result is a highly detailed, realistic, textured pilot’s harness that you will love. It will superdetail the office of any warbird you’re building, and the result is 100% personalized to your kit – nobody else will have that exact seatbelt.

BEFORE - I found this image by another modeller online - this is what the bog-standard kit looks like without any scratch building detail.

How to scratch build seat belts for scale model aircraft
AFTER - And this is what a little scratch building can do!

This process is totally customizable as well: it would also work for cars, sci-fi spaceships, anything that requires seatbelts.  And the colour can be tailored to any historically-accurate colour you want.

This took me about an hour from go to whoa, but that included fiddling about with cameras, lighting and focus – without that, I guess I could have had all four belts made and mounted in about 40 minutes.

How to scratch build seat belts for scale model aircraft
How good does that look? It's a great little technique.

Give it a try. You’ll feel a million bucks when you sit back and admire what a difference it makes.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Here in Australia and New Zealand we observe ANZAC Day every 25th April. It is a chance to reflect on war and sacrifice, and thank those who serve our country.

Sometimes it's a bit too easy to get caught up on the machines and equipment when modelling military subjects, and it is easy to forget the gruesome reality that most of what we build are weapons expressly designed to kill and maim human beings. It's good to take a moment to remember that now and then.

For information on ANZAC Day - Wikipedia article here.

Here is an astounding model in the Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand. It is from an exhibition commemorating New Zealand's involvement in World War I. The figures are 2.4 times normal human size (so that scale would be 2.4/1) and were built by Weta Workshops, a company which also worked on Peter Jackson's Middle Earth films. Truly outstanding modelling.


Lest we forget.

Monday, April 24, 2017

I finally purchased a 1/35 Tamiya Panther Ausf.G tank for my next project

On the weekend I visited Hobby HQ again, the excellent model shop in the northern suburbs of Melbourne which is soon closing down (I’ve mentioned it on my previous visit here).  I caught up there with my friend Ian and his mate Dave - you can never have too many Daves at any social event.

The good news

The good news is that I finally purchased a 1/35 Panther tank kit!  I have been wanting to build a Panther for ages, and it was on my 2016 Christmas model wish list.

I did a bit of research beforehand. I knew I wanted to build a Tamiya kit, because Tamiya are just my favourite kits to build. Perfectly engineered, they go together a dream, and the level of detail is just right. Not too fiddly with insane photoetch (I’m looking at you, Bronco models), but no compromise ending up with an over-simplified toy (ahem, yes, you two, Revell and Italeri).

I ended up knowing that I wanted a Panther Ausf.G for several reasons:
  • it is a fairly recent kit (the kit was first released in 1995 but this version is a recent update).
  • it is a good looking machine.
  •  I didn’t want to have to deal with Zimmerit – partly because I don’t like the way it looks, and partly because it is a pain in the arse to model well.
  • The two figures included in the kit tell an amazing story fresh out of the box. The diorama is begging to be built.
So now Tamiya 1/35 scale model Panther Type G (Tamiya code 35176) is mine!

35176 Tamiya 1/35 Panther Type G scale model and photoetch
Ooh, I can't wait to make this good and dirty. That sounds so wrong...

Box art for 35176 Tamiya 1/35 Panther Type G
Brilliant box art by Tamiya.

I also picked up the accompanying photoetched engine grills because they were there and the price was right.

35172 Photo etch grills for Tamiya 1/35 Panther G
Why not, eh?

The bad news

The bad news is that I’ve now added this damn fine kit to my stash. My ever-growing stash. How is that bad news? My spare time is so limited, and my output so slow, that I don’t know when I’m going to get time to build all the amazing kits in my stash. Sort of a good problem to have. 

As of today, I want to build this Panther so much, but I have a strict self-imposed policy of not having multiple builds on the go at once, so it will have to wait until the Mustang is completed. (I like to obsess over my current build, and more than one on the go at once dilutes that. Plus if you've seen my videos you know how messy my workbench is - two kits at once, forget it).

The great news

Ian bought a 1/35 Elefant tank, and it came as a package deal with a set of three wounded German figures. He doesn’t like building figures, so he donated them to me. Sweet, thanks Ian!

Not a bad little weekend outing.

So yep, that’s my next project sorted. Perhaps this will give me inspiration to finish the Mustang a bit quicker.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nearly 1000 subscribers on YouTube!

I just noticed that I'm almost at the magic 1000 subscribers to my YouTube channel. 1000!!! Wow. As of right now it's at 982.

I'm humbled and exceedingly chuffed that nearly 1000 people think my videos are worth coming back to.

Thanks to everyone who has subscribed. And if you haven't already, here is where you can check out my YouTube channel and subscribe as well.

Thanks people,



UPDATE - 24 April 2017:

We have hit the 1000 mark - thanks people!!! That is just brilliant. Here's to many, many more videos to share with you all.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Painting an old school instrument panel is Officially Not Fun

I've had some other stuff going on in my life this week (pfft, life, getting in the way of important modelling time...) but I did manage to snatch a quick hour to paint the instrument panel of my current Mustang project.

It's 1/32 scale, so it's pretty much the most forgiving, largest scale you can work with (apart from 1/24 which is just a bit too big for my display space once completed). But even then, it is brutal on the eyes and induces shakiness in the hands when you're trying to paint detail this fine.

1/32 P-51D Mustang instrument panel - scale model
Remember, each of those squares on the cutting mat is 1 centimeter square.
All I can offer in the way of advice is try to breathe slowly, wick off a little of the dot of paint on your 000 paintbrush each time you top up the paint on the tip, and have a good source of light!

You want more advice? Buy a more modern kit which offers instrument decals or celluloid film mounted behind the drilled-out fascia of the instrument panel. Painting old-school moulded instruments is a bitch.

That said, I'm happy with the end result. I'm looking forward to seeing this installed in the fuselage soon and getting a feel for how the entire cockpit will look.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New video: Making models with kids - building a balsa wood glider

This weekend I built a balsa wood glider with my four-and-a-half year old daughter. It was a great way to have some quality time with her, and further indoctrinate interest her in the modelmaking hobby  ;)

I'm not going to go on about it here in writing. Watch the video yourself and hear what I have to say.

She's a great kid, and I'm a lucky dad.



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

I've been lucky this long weekend, I've had a couple of hours free to work on my Mustang.

Whatever your beliefs, here's wishing you a happy Easter with lots of chocolate eggs. And egg planes, if that is what does it for you ;)



P-51 Mustang egg plane
In honour of the Mustang I'm working on, here's an Easter egg plane for you. Source.