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Modeling for Competition:Basic Contruction






Ok here is where the rubber hits the road! We have decided to get serious. We are getting a handle on competition rules. The kit has been selected. Research of the subject is underway. Now it’s time to start putting the things we are learning into practice.

Competition rules can be a club to beat us up with or they can be a tool for success. Let’s use them as a tool shall we. I look at the IPMS rules as check list of things that need to be done or considered. So let’s look at them again and see where we need to start.


Basic Construction

1. Flash, mold seams, sinks marks, copyright marks, ejector-pin marks, and similar molding flaws eliminated.

2. Seams filled if not present on the actual aircraft.

3. Contour errors corrected.

4. Any detailing removed while correcting errors, filling seams, etc. restored to a level consistent with the rest of the model.

5. Alignment:

A. Wings/tailplanes: same dihedral or anhedral on both sides.
B. Plan view: wings and stabilizers aligned correctly with, and identically on both sides of, centerline.
C. Multiple fins/rudders: fin-to-stabilizer angles correct; aligned with each other in front and side views where appropriate.
D. Engine nacelles/cowlings: lined up correctly in front, side, and plan views.
E. Landing gear: components properly aligned with airframe and with each other in front, side, and plan views.
F. Ordnance items (bombs, rockets, pylons, etc.) aligned correctly with aircraft and with each other.

6. Canopies and other clear areas:

A. Clear and free of crazing caused by adhesives or finishing coats.
B. Gaps between windscreen, canopy, or other clear parts eliminated where applicable.
C. All clear areas scratch-, blemish-, and paint-free.

7. Decals must look painted on if depicting painted markings (conforming to surface contours, no silvering or bubbling, no decal film apparent).

Armor/Military Vehicles

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:

A. Road wheels on tracked vehicles (along with idler, drive, and return rollers, if any) at the same distance from the lower chassis centerline.
B. Road wheels sitting flush on the track.
C. 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).
D. All wheels/tracks sitting firmly on the ground.
E. Vehicle components square and aligned.
F. Gun(s) (on most turreted vehicles) parallel to turret centerline when viewed from above.
G. Items positioned symmetrically on actual vehicle (e.g., headlights and guards, fenders, mud flaps, etc.) positioned symmetrically on model, unless represented as damaged.


Basic Construction

1. Flash, sink marks, mold marks, ejector-pin marks, and similar molding flaws eliminated.

2. Seams filled if not found on the actual vehicle. (This is especially important on the car’s body. Rubberized kit tires usually also have a mold seam that must be removed.)

3. Contour errors corrected.

4. Gaps between body and chassis eliminated as applicable.

5. Detailing removed while accomplishing the above steps restored to a level consistent with the rest of the model.

6. Alignment:

A. Where applicable, external items (e.g., mirrors, exhaust pipes) aligned symmetrically.
B. Internal items (e.g., seats, some engine/drive components) aligned properly.
C. Wheels: All wheels touching the ground and aligned properly when viewed from front or rear of the vehicle. If turned, front wheels should be aligned in the same direction.

7. Windshields and other clear areas:

A. Clear and free of crazing caused by adhesives or finishing coats.
B. Gaps between windshield, windows, or other clear parts eliminated where applicable.
C. All clear areas scratch-, blemish-, and paint-free.

As you can see the “rules” look more like a check list. On aircraft the first four items, armor the first eight, and automotive the first five deal with the preparation of the parts. While the other items really deal with assembly and most of the items listed are self-explanatory except for maybe item one. Now let’s take a moment and talk about item one “Flash, mold seams, sinks marks, copyright marks, ejector-pin marks, and similar molding flaws”.


•Excess plastic at parting line or mating surface of the mold
•Normally very thin and flat protrusion of plastic along an edge of a part


Sink marks

•Surface depression caused by non-uniform material solidification and shrinkage.
•Most often noted at interface between differing wall thicknesses.


Mold seams

•These are created when the two halves of the injection mold come together.


Ejection pin marks

•A rod, pin or sleeve which pushes a molding off of a core or out of a cavity of a mold.
•The pin will leave a mark or depression in the part.



•The Gate is the end of the runner. It is the entrance to the cavity.


Ok now that you have had a crash course in plastic injection molding I hope you will have a better understanding of the areas that may need your attention while preparing your kit parts for assembly.

Basic Construction Tools

1. Knife or scalpel


2. Sprue cutter


3. Sanding sticks


4. Cement/Glue


The tools for modeling are many and varied. Each modeler has their own way of modeling, but I think we can agree that these 4 items are basic to model building. As we go along with the building process we will get to see how each modeler in our class uses their tools to overcome the problems with the kits they have chosen. Hopefully we will learn some new things and master some others.

Basic Construction Steps

1. Study the instructions: instructions are like a roadmap so look the instructions over for anything special that needs to be done.

2. Do the steps in order: The manufacturer has arranged the steps for a reason. If you do things out of order you may regret it later.

3. Dry fit the parts: Check the fit of parts and assemblies before any cement is applied. Glue is not very forgiving.

4. Use a minimal amount of glue: Glue marks are first thing judges look for at a contest. Use just enough glue to get the job done.

5. Take your time: Modeling is not sprint, but rather endurance test. Don’t get in a hurry you might tear something up.

Ok I think we have enough to get started. So open those boxes and start cutting plastic. As usual I want to see pictures and explanations about what you are doing. This will help everyone learn something new. The next installment will be “Details”. From now on we will keep working as the next topics are closely related. Well let’s go!

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Fly Models 1/32 BACHEM BA 349 V Natter

Fly Models 1/32 BACHEM BA 349 V Natter


This is a kit that is fairly simple but of great interest to modelers of 1945 subjects.
The company is fly and I have not seen any other kits from this manufacturer but I found this subject irresistible in 1/32 scale.
The box is quite small and is only about the size of a 1/48 scale fighter model package.

Cost $55.00 U.S
The model kit is comprised of
1. 1 x Main body sprue
2. 1x Canopy sprue
3. 1x Photo etch sheet
4. 1x decal sheet for 3 versions
5. Instruction sheet

The paint scheme guide is printed on the back of the box.

The Natter was one of those Nazi 'wonder weapons' that give the last year of the war that desperate flavor that keeps enthusiasts coming back for more.
The first of just 15 Natters that were completed became available in October 1944, and was used for four unpowered handling trials, towed aloft behind a Heinkel He 111 twin-engine bomber.
The first vertical launch with booster and rockets firing, but without a pilot in the cockpit, took place Feb. 23, 1945. The last flight was on March 1st 1945 when the piloted vertical launch went wrong and killed the test pilot. Himmler then cancelled the program.
The photo below was taken by US Forces when they captured vehicles abandoned by the Germans in Austria 1945.

Read more: Fly Models 1/32 BACHEM BA 349 V Natter

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Why do any research at all because models are always accurate right? Sure they are and hey by the way I have a bridge to sell ya. The reality is that there are no completely accurate kits out there. Tooling costs, molding constraints, and poor manufacturer research all contribute to inaccurate models. Having worked as plastics part designer for 15 years I can tell you some things just can’t be done. The process is getting better, but still challenges remain. A lot of the kits we build especially from the older manufacturers are using tooling that is pushing 40 years or more. They may add some new parts to spruce up the kit and release it again, but for the most part that Monogram B-17 is still the same mold they were using in the 1970’s. Manufacturers do this to save cost. Fifteen years ago a four cavity tool could cost $100,000+. A lot has happened in that time but as you can attest kit prices are not going down. It costs a lot of money to bring you your one off paper panzer. The point is unless it says “all new tooling” you can expect some of the parts in the box have been run before and if those parts were wrong the first time they are probably still wrong. The question is how do you know they’re wrong? Answer research!

One of the first things I do after selecting the kit is to find out as much about the subject as possibly. I try to break down the research process by the different steps in the kit instructions. So if it is aircraft I will look for information about the cockpit or engine whichever is step one. For me the research process may be on going all through the build depending how much I already know about it.

Pictures….pictures……pictures! I want pictures of the real thing. Over the years I have accumulated pretty large reference library, but there are still plenty of holes in it. So I turn to the internet. There is information about just about anything you might be doing. Don’t be afraid to be specific with your searches. I put in “1974 diamond reo rear air brakes” and came across several pictures I could use. There are all kinds of “walk arounds” on the net. There are plenty websites dedicated to just that Prime Portal be one. So spend some time surfing.

Read the history! I read up on the subject because it’s not just about how it’s made for me, rather how was it used, how did it work. While working on DH2 (still under construction) I noticed that there was just one return spring on the rudder controls. I thought that was odd until I read that because of the spinning engine the plane was difficult to control without it. So read there may be a reason why Sherman crews tied logs to the side of their tanks.

Start building your own library! There are all kinds of books, cd’s, dvds, etc….etc.….out there and some are very expensive, but (not to plug Squadron) the Squadron “in action” books and now the “walk arounds” will give you pictures and history on most military subjects for not a lot of money. For cars I use good old plain “hot rod” magazines. They are a great source for pictures and often show car broke down to the frame.

Study the real thing! I am always looking for reference material. I carry a camera and most of you have them as part of you phones. When you see something you are working on take a picture of it (with permission). I nearly wrecked the car while looking at the details of semi next to me (don’t do that). Be a reference collector. Sherman18 is particularly good at that and has posted many many pictures on the forum.

From a contest standpoint IPMS is rather vague on research, but it is mentioned over and over particularly where paint and marking s of concerned “models with unusual colors should be supported by confirming documentation”. I would assume that any other unusual aspect of your model should be documented as well and that documentation be provided with the entry. In the IPMS rules there is an extensive section on accuracy that I think all modelers should keep in mind and in perspective when competing.

“Judges take lots of hits from modelers who know some minute aspect of a prototype and mistakenly believe that judges must also have that much detailed knowledge and more. It’s simply not possible for all IPMS judges to match, model for model, the expertise developed by our disparate and incredibly knowledgeable membership. Don’t assume that the judges know all the details you know. Help them and help yourself by putting a little time into the entry sheet or any other display material you put out with your model. Judges do read that stuff, and it could make the difference for you.”

AMPS rules provide .5 of a point if you do research and provide it with the entry. The rules are specific.

“Optional Research Bonus (0.5 point)

There is an additional bonus of 0.5 points for Research, which may be awarded by the judging team. To obtain this 0.5 point bonus, the modeler must document to the judging team the link between the research they performed and the finished model. This documentation need not be extensive (two pages or less), but must address, at a minimum, the following areas:

Description of Research: The modeler should provide a short description of the research they performed to build the model. The modeler must describe in his presentation how or why his model looks, either directly or indirectly, like the vehicles mentioned in the research. The model could look like the research by applying some of the following: similar paint schemes, markings, weathering, stowage, field modifications, or by using technical drawings to create the model displayed. The modeler can use pictures as part of this description.

Research References: The modeler should list the research references they used while building the model.

If the modeler provides a brag book or other description of how they constructed the model, without providing a description of their research in the format above, they will not be awarded the 0.5 point bonus. The link between the research and the model is established by replication and presentation of one, all or some of the following on the model being judged: paint schemes, markings, stowage, weathering, historical context, descriptions of similar vehicles or the use of technical drawings to create the model – based upon the research documentation provided.

Examples of acceptable research format are attached at Appendices 1 thru 3

Judges Note: Based on the information provided by the modeler, the judging team should ask the following questions.

1. Does the model, either directly or indirectly, match or look like the description(s), text explanations and/or pictures provided in the research? (paint schemes, markings, stowage, weathering, historical context, descriptions of similar vehicles or the use of technical drawings).

2. Is the research documentation format requirements met?

If the answer to both questions is YES, the judging team will award the 0.5 bonus. The Table Captain will add the 0.5 point research bonus after the total score has been determined. This score then becomes the official score for the model entered into the AMPS scoring system.”

Seems like a lot work, but I’ve seen entries win gold or silver by .5 of a point. To be honest I rarely do this and if you watch most don’t, but there is always that one guy. If you are doing something unusual I would strongly suggest submitting your references.

So what have learned? Research for modeling serves really two purposes 1 it helps you know and understand the kit you are building. This in turn helps you build a better model. 2 doing a little research may give you a leg up in a competition.

When we were kids we didn’t much care about the details, but if we are going to be serious modelers we need to put in the time to know what we’re doing. So do a little research! Learn a few things! I think your modeling will be more satisfying if you do.

Ok class I bet you thought you were going to get to build now right? WRONG! Your homework assignment is to research the model you have selected. Your next posts are going to be about documentation. I want to see pictures, written material, and history. If you plan to use aftermarket items I want to know why. If modifications to shapes are required I want to how you plan to do it. These are the things judges will be looking for and the thing that will make you an expert on the subject you are modeling.

Next installment "CONSTRUCTION"

Alright what are you waiting for....Get to work!

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TAMIYA Mosquito FB Mark VI in 1/32

TAMIYA Mosquito FB Mark VI in 1/32

I always liked the FB version of the Mosquito ever since receiving an Arfix kit back in elementary school for a Christmas present. Thus when TAMIYA released their version of this plane I was quite interested. With SprueBros offering an additional introductory discount it was bite the bullet time.

All the explanations should be in the photos, so enjoy!

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Iwata HP-TH review

Iwata HP-TH


Full disclosure, I love Iwata. I purchased my first, the HP-BC2 for use with makeup EFX 33 years ago on the fourth floor of the original Pearl Paint in Manhattan. It was well over $300 (my first car around the same time was $200). I remember it was the fourth floor because I had to take a freight elevator to get to this exotic land of airbrushes, where no one but photo retouchers ever ventured, where a hunched, old man peddled wisdom. I still use that very same brush today and didn't feel to the need to get another until about two years ago when I wanted to try a gravity feed for quicker color changes (Iwata HP-AH)

Recent discussions regarding proper spray coverage for primer and large colors prompted the need for a larger pattern brush. After looking at the ABs mentioned in Paul Budzik's videos, even the lowest priced, the Iwata Kustom 9200 was out of reach for me in the low $400s. I couldn't justify that cost for something that would mostly be used for primers and clear coats.

I was wrong, both on the price and usage capabilities.

I've been buying a lot of stuff from Japan over the years, from books, cooking utensils and supplies to model kits, and there's one strange phenomena regarding what is exported and what is sold in Japan. A great example is a 1/16 Tamiya RC tank kit. The kits released in the Home Island market includes a Futaba transmitter, receiver, battery and charger. Same kit released for anywhere else has a transmitter shaped void in the packing, along with the teasing pages in the directions on how to setup the radio you're not getting.

Turns out Iwata does the same thing. There are the Japan market releases and there are the rest of us. In the US, The Hi-Line Professional TH is released as the Kustom K9200 TH. It includes a grip style moisture trap and beautiful aluminum case. In Japan, the exact same brush is released as the HP-TH in a simple cardboard box without the moisture trap.

The rise of Japanese shops selling to overseas customers has broken open many options, not just for wet stones and Nori, but a lot of other good things. I just bought a Hasegawa Scribber for $12 shipped as well as a Fujimi Claude for $8.80. This Iwata HP-TH was $154 on Amazon, in my hands in two days.

Okay, on to the brush:

As mentioned, you get a simple cardboard box:


Inside you get the body, two air caps (circular and flat patterns), a sizeable color cup with lid, a small tube of Superlube, instructions (Japanese) and a Iwata bumper sticker.

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