2021 Year in Review

2021 saw a return to some degree of normalcy, but as with any great disruption there have been some re-definitions of just what that means.  There was a return to live in-person shows which was sorely missed.  What has changed with the shows is now they are bigger and better attended, with more vendors, more model entries, and an overall increase in quality of the builds.  Fewer group activities have translated into additional modeling time for many people, and for socially introverted types this appears to have been a good thing.  It has certainly resulted in more and better models on display at the shows!

The display area of the 2021 Military Modeler’s Club of Louisville IPMS show.

I was able to go to three shows this year, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati.  All three were held in new venues, and all three were very successful and saw half again as many entries above what was normal for the club, if not more.  Many inspiring and innovative builds, and fellow modelers are always happy to share new techniques and tips to try out.  The guys at Plastic Model Mojo have taken their show on the road, and I was able to sit down with them and catch up in person, in addition to listening to their podcasts while I model.   Plastic Model Mojo here:  https://www.plasticmodelmojo.com/

Mojovians Dave and Mike in front of an Fw 190 replica at the Cincinnati IPMS show at the Tri-State Warbird Museum.

For bibliophiles the news is still not good.  Publication dates on many new books have slipped.  The secondary and overstock markets have fared little better, with fewer selections and higher prices all around.  After two years the Half Price Books traveling blow-out sale is still nowhere on the horizon, and I’m starting to wonder if it will ever return.  Hopefully soon!

Blog Statistics and News

The Inch High Guy blog has completed year three!  A big thanks to all who visit on a regular basis, whether new or old.  I am happy to report that I again managed to make a post each day, although there were a couple of near misses.  The blog received 139,675 views and 55,483 visitors, up from 73,992 views and 26,731 visitors last year.  The most popular post again this year was “Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Interior Colors Part I” with 3,267 views: 

https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-i/

Guess what? If you can see the ribbing on interior of a Fortress it should be Natural Aluminum, with only rare exceptions. Interior Green is for Warbirds!

Models Built in 2021

34 completions, 24 aircraft and 10 vehicles.  In addition I painted 42 figures, 14 horses, and constructed 8 diorama / vignette bases. Everything was built to 1/72 scale as is my preference.  The mosaic has a picture of each build, construction posts and additional finished pictures can be found by searching the blog.

Arma Hobby FM-2 Wildcat x 3

Azur Martin B-10

Trumpeter T-55

Takom MAZ-537 Tank Transporter

Airfix Spitfire Vc x 4

Vickers Mk. VI light tank resin print

Cunningham T1 light tank resin print x 2

Brengun Yak-1

Arma Hobby Yak-1b x 3

Hasegawa Yak-3

Dakoplast Yak-7 x 2

Valom Yak-7

Emher Yak-9

Hasegawa Fw 190D (old tool)

Hasegawa Fw 190D

Tamiya Fw 190D

Dragon Messerschmitt P.1011 x2

Dragon Julia

Revell Fw Fitzer

Revell Ho 229 (repaint)

First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette

ICM Sd.Kfz. 222

First to Fight Sd.Kfz. 247

Dragon Krupp Protze Kfz. 70

Italeri sK 18 10.5 cm Field Gun

What’s Ahead in 2022

This has been a year of exciting announcements for 1/72 scale modelers.  The new Focke Wulf Fw 190D series from ICB looks spectacular, and it even includes an accurate wheelwell for the first time in the scale.  The family will cover all the Dora subtypes.  Flyhawk released a new tool SBD Dauntless which will fix the dive brake issues with Hasegawa’s kit, and will hopefully continue to be available – something which can’t be said for several Hasegawa kits.  To top it off ICM and Special Hobby have both just announced a new-tool Ki-21 “Sally” for late 2022, a subject which has long been on the list of several modelers. The Sally was strangely missing from Hasegawa’s new-ish series of Japanese twins, modelers who had to have one searched for the MPM or 1976 Revell kits.

The big news for many modelers is that Arma is now shipping their P-51B/C kits.  The previous attempts from Academy and Hasegawa both suffered from fatal, difficult to correct shape issues.  Finally, for the first time, an accurate P-51B/C is on the way!  This kit should prove to be a license to print money for Arma, here’s hoping it is a windfall for them!  I have long agitated for this subject, so to put my money where my mouth is I have placed an order through my Local Hobby Store (support your LCS!) for one.  Case.  For starters.

Now Arma, if you’re listening, we could sure use an accurate Ki-43-II Hayabusa “Oscar” in 1/72 scale.

Arma’s P-51B/C

The second big release (for me) has a much more personal connection.  Takom has announced a U.S. Navy 16”/50 caliber triple turret in 1/72 scale, packaged as Turret One from USS Missouri (BB 63).  This kit has parts for the rangefinder which was later removed from the first turrets, but with a few modifications could represent any of the main battery turrets on the Iowa class battleships.  Now for the connection part – I served in the Navy, Missouri was my ship, Turret One was my turret.  1/72 scale Missouri’s in both the WWII and 1980’s configurations are on my bucket list, and this kit makes that project one step closer.  If the appropriate 5”/38 Mark 28 mount is ever kitted that would cinch the deal (the 1/72 scale 5”/38 Mark 38 mount included in Takom’s 1/700 Gearing class kit has an unarmored gun house, appropriate for destroyers but not battleships).

Takom’s 16″/50 turret

Lastly, we have purchased a wooded plot of land along the scenic White River, where we intend to build an energy efficient (net zero) home.  This is obviously a time-consuming project, and will inevitably impact time available for modeling and blogging.  In fact, the effects have already begun to be felt as I have been busy on the property cutting down the invasive Asian Bush Honeysuckle which is crowding out the native trees.  Hopefully there will still be opportunities for modeling, but the pace may slow a bit.  If I miss the daily posting on the blog in the coming months this will likely be the reason.

The mighty White River

May you each live long enough to build every model in your stash!

First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette Diorama Build in 1/72 Scale

Several of the blogs and boards I follow are devoted to the painting of (and/or gaming with) “minis”.  The work of these figure painters is fantastic and inspiring, but makes me more aware of the limitations of my own modeling skills.  I need practice, so I decided to add bases and figures to my recent batch of completed vehicles.

I’ve seen modelers try various ways of building bases on You Tube videos. This one didn’t look difficult and I already had most of the materials in the garage. This is just foam insulation glued to a wooden base. Instead of cutting the foam, I used the “fat lardie” method and contoured the foam by stepping on it on a concrete floor – worked like a charm!
The edges are dressed up with strips of 1 inch (25 mm) wide balsa wood from the Local Hobby Store. All this is glued with carpenter’s clue, clamped, and left to dry overnight.
I added surface contours with lightweight spackling compound. An advantage of the lightweight spackle is it can be compressed when dry without fracturing.
The base color is a suitable shade of acrylic beige wall paint. Cheap, and a quart will be a lifetime supply for modeling purposes.
I have become interested in the use of mounted cavalry during WWII, and surprisingly there are a few choices of figures available in 1/72 scale. These are First to Fight Polish Uhlans mounted on Zvezda horses. Turns out the Polish and Russian cavalry tack is similar, so only a few modifications were needed. The poses of the figures were modified, and reins and bedrolls are made from masking tape.
Here are the figures under a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000. The biggest improvement is the replacement of the molded-on reins, the tape reins are more dynamic and can be mated with the figures’ hands. The Mr. Surfacer and subsequent paint layers are generally sufficient to bond the reins, but a little dab of superglue doesn’t hurt either!
The mini-diorama depicts a TKS supporting the advance of a unit of Uhlan cavalry. The ground cover is a mix of Woodland Scenics products. I made indentations in the grass where the tracks of the TKS passed by rolling a coin, an example of where the ability of the lightweight spackling compound to compress came in handy. I’m definitely not quick about the figure painting and basing yet, but I do like the effect!

First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette Build in 1/72 Scale

This is kit number PL1939-001 from Polish manufacturer First to Fight. It was initially released in 2013, and re-released in 2019 with a turned metal gun barrel. It is an interesting design, and quite small. It carried a crew of two and makes me wonder just where is the line for being too small to be considered a tank. The main gun is a 20mm cannon, there was another version which carried a machine gun instead, which First to Fight also kits.
There is only a single sprue which contains twelve parts, plus a turned brass barrel which is a very nice touch. The suspension is mercifully molded as a single piece for each side and is very well detailed. For many subjects this approach is adequate for 1/72 scale, and much easier to build (and align!) than a pile of tweezer-bait. Instructions and a painting guide are printed on the back of the box.
The hull is split into top and bottom pieces. There is a gap under the mudguards, which is not obvious on the finished model from normal viewing angles but only takes a couple of minutes to fill with plastic card.
Assembly complete. The brass barrel is a nice touch as the molded barrel would be difficult to clean up and keep straight. I cut off the handles on the front plates and replaced them with wire stock, a simple improvement which enhances the looks of the model.
The model was primed with Mr. Surfacer to check for flaws, and then with black Alclad primer.
I followed the illustration on the box art for the camouflage scheme. It is interesting that the colors are so similar to those adopted by the Wehrmacht in 1943.
Here is the finished model after a panel wash and a light coat of dust. This kit goes together well and its simplicity and low parts count makes it a perfect choice for a quick build.