Friday, July 20, 2007

Bulletin: July 2007

by Bobby the Blue
June kept the wave going. We had 32 members and one guest bringing in 17 models mostly for the theme contest. There were also a couple tables of old models in the original boxes on display as well.
PIZZA NIGHT: Pizza night usually has members coming out from hiding, and we got to see some faces we haven’t seen in a while. The funny part was that a lot of usual faces weren’t there to partake on the treats. That’s okay, the rest of the group took up some slack.

THEME CONTEST NIGHT: VINTAGE 1965 This was the first theme contest of the year. The “Top Three” were Jimmy’s Stalin Tank, Hugh’s P-40B, and Frank C’s Nike Rocket. Others awarded were: Frank T., Jeff, Israel, Phil, Don, Dan, Kevin, and your humble narrator.

And now a word from our sponsor…

Thanks to the fellows from the BPMS for allowing me, a non-member, to sponsor a theme contest. I enjoyed seeing what kits were brought in both built and boxed. From the selection it was clear how diversified the plastic model field was back in the mid-50s to mid-60s. We saw tanks, planes (both military and civilian), missiles, figures, educational kits, and ships. Also, bear in mind that these kits were made here in America not overseas as most models are today. To those who received awards (both plastic and paper), a brief explanation of the design is in order. Having a year to prepare, I did research into the styles popular as outlined by the theme. The company logos were all chosen from kits and magazines from the era; scanned and turned into engraved images. All the typestyles were from websites specializing in 1950s era lettering. On the three engraved awards, the choice of colors was also deliberate, drawing from the use of pastel colors popular in the late 1950s. For those interested, I used four books in helping me layout the awards:

Hine, Thomas Populuxe Alfred A. Knopf New York 1986 ISBN 0-394-54593-1

Though now out of print, Populuxe is an excellent introduction into the popular designs of the 1950s.

Heimann, Jim ed. All-American Ads 50s Taschen New York 2001 ISBN 3-8228-1158-0

A huge book full of advertisements from all aspects of American life: food, clothing, furnishings, industry, entertainment and technology.

Waggoner, Susan It’s a Wonderful Christmas The Best of the Holidays 1940-1965 Stewart,
Tabori & Chang New York 2004 ISBN 1-58479-327-9

This seasonal book looks at Christmas traditions their origins and how they were represented in post-WWII American culture.

Yenne, Bill Going Home to the Fifties Last Gasp San Francisco 2002 ISBN 0-86719-643-2

A charming book looking at the Fifties as a unique time in American culture, one never duplicated since. The author is best known for his books on aerospace.

Finally, my choice of a vintage figure to exhibit was not random. Figures reached the apex of their popularity during the first half of the 1960s chiefly due to Aurora Plastics of West Hempstead, LI. Many of their kits have been re-issued numerous times over the past 40+ years. In fact, the demise of Polar Lights in 2005 has seen two new ‘garage kit’ companies appear this year. Moebius Models (www.moebiusmodels.com) has already re-created Aurora’s “Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde” model kit and has plans for the following:

The Seaview from “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”. This is a huge 39” newly-tooled styrene model.

The Voyager from the animated TV series “Fantastic Voyage” This is an exact re-creation of the rare Aurora kit from the late 1960s.

Jungle Swamp from Aurora’s early 1970s “Prehistoric Scenes” line. Never re-issued by Revell/Monogram and hard to find complete, it could be the first in a line of dinosaur kits.

Rommel’s Rod The popular but rare Monogram show car kit is being re-tooled under the direction of its creator Tom Daniels.

Captain Action Aurora’s 1/6th scale model of the popular Ideal Toy Co. action figure is due out this year.

Monarch Models (www.monarchmodels.net) is start-up company determined to produce kits in the vintage 1960s Aurora style. The first kit is “Nosferatu” sculpted in 1/8th scale by Jeff Yagher with box art and instructions by Gary Makatura know for his “What If” Aurora fantasy boxes produced in the 1990s. Their second kit announced is “The Ghost of Castel Mare” a kit designed to complement Aurora’s “The Forgotten Prisoner of Castel Mare”. The third kit announced last month is an early 1960s moon suit similar to the one pictured on this cover of LIFE magazine.

As you can see, with re-issues, re-creations and new kits designed to evoke the Golden Age of plastic modeling the spirit of that era is still with us today more than four decades later.
On the agenda: July
RED, WHITE, & BLUE THEME NIGHT: This is another theme night, not for prizes, but for the fun of it. Build something that reminds you of the USA in some way, Show us your stars and stripes! Be prepared to tell the group a couple words about what you bring in.

FAVORITE MODEL NIGHT: Bring in your favorite model, built or unbuilt. BE prepared the tell the group why this model has a special spot in your heart!
Details for the December theme contest “WE MEAN BUSINESS,” which will be honoring the memory of founding member Bert Berg, will be forthcoming. We have sponsors and are ready to roll!

A Request for Spare Parts: As part of my current project I am looking for some spare parts. I need the front light fixtures of a modern tank, any modern tank will do although the lights of a Leclerc would be ideal. 1/35 would be perfect too (I don't think 1/72 tanks have those lights moulded as separate parts). If anyone has these parts available they can contact me via email and we can arrange the swap/purchase. Thanks! ~Fernando
The Man - The Myth - The Model Kit
By Ed D.
The story is that of legend: On the distant planet Krypton a brave scientist named Jor-El tried to convince the rulers of his city that their red giant star Rao would soon explode destroying their planet. Unable to persuade them and forbidden to leave the doomed world, he built a small spaceship where he placed his infant son Kal-El and launched him into deep space headed towards a small, primitive planet called Earth.

Landing near the city of Smallville, Kansas in the heartland of America, the boy is discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent who adopt the orphan unaware of his unique heritage. Raised on the Kent family farm and instilled with strong morals the boy begins to display amazing abilities as he grows. He can move with incredible speed, leap higher and higher (eventually flying), lift enormous weights and becomes impervious to injury. In addition to super-hearing, he can generate beams of intense infra-red radiation from his eyes and see in different wavelengths beyond the visible spectrum.

Leaving the farm upon reaching adulthood, Clark Kent, moves to Metropolis becoming a reporter for the Daily Planet. However, when there is a situation that requires powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, he dons a bright blue suit with red boots and cape and emblazoned on his chest is his Kryptonian family crest (which resembles the letter ‘S’) becoming Earth’s greatest champion…Superman!

Over the years Superman has battled numerous enemies such as brilliant scientist Lex Luthor, the Parasite, Metallo, the Toyman, an imperfect duplicate of himself named Bizzaro, Mr. Mxyzptlk an imp from the 5th Dimension, as well as extraterrestrial villains such as Brainiac, Darkseid and Mongul. Among his friends are fellow reporter Lois Lane, childhood sweetheart Lana Lang, photographer and cub reporter for the Daily Planet Jimmy Olsen and its editor Perry White.

Superman’s only weakness is kryptonite – radioactive fragments of his home world that come in a variety of colors. The most powerful kinds are green kryptonite which can sicken and kill him, red which causes physical and psychological mutations, and gold which removes his powers permanently.

Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster created the idea of a ‘superman’ in 1933 with several re-imaginings and re-writes over the next six years as they shopped around to several publishers during the Great Depression. Finally purchased by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicolson the character first appeared in his new magazine Action Comics #1 dated June 1938. The following year saw a second comic book published simply entitled “Superman”. Over the next seven decades, the media in which Superman has appeared has grown and expanded. A daily newspaper strip started in 1939 and ran until 1966. A radio drama debuted on February 12, 1940 and lasted eleven years. Seventeen short animated cartoons were produced between 1941 and 1943 utilizing the voice of actor Bud Collyer, the same man who portrayed him on radio. A live-action movie serial was released in 1948 with actor Kirk Alyn with a second serial following in 1950. Having been extremely popular in comic books, radio and movie serials, it was inevitable that the new medium of television would soon see The Man of Steel. A series was commissioned in 1951 starring actor George Reeves. It aired from 1952-1958 with its 104 episodes (both in black and white and color) being re-run for decades. An animated series produced by Filmation ran from 1966-1969 called The New Adventures of Superman with Bud Collyer reprising his role. Yet another series, Super Friends animated by Hanna-Barbera was aired from 1973-1984 with stories containing various other DC Comics superheroes.

Superman returned to movie theatres in December 1978, with director Richard Donner's Superman:The Movie starring Christopher Reeve. Three sequels followed, Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). In 1988 Superman returned to television in the Ruby Spears animated series Superman, and also in Superboy, a live action series which ran until 1992. Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman premiered on television in 1993, starring Dean Cain as Superman and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane. The series ran until 1997. Superman: The Animated Series, produced by Warner Bros. ran from 1996 until 2000. In 2001 the television series Smallville premiered, focusing on the adventures of Clark Kent (played by actor Tom Welling) as a teenager before he becomes Superman. Superman was also a regular character in both the “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited” animated series on The Cartoon Network. In 2006 Bryan Singer directed Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh as Superman. The film was intended as a sequel to the first two Christopher Reeve movies with numerous tributes to them (including using footage of Marlon Brando as Jor-El) as well as nods to the 1950s television series. A sequel, tentatively titled “The Man of Steel” is scheduled for release in 2009.

Aurora Plastics’ 1/8th scale model kit of Superman was released in 1964 (as kit #462) and was the first based upon comic book superheroes. It was a brilliant follow-up to their enormously successful line of monster models. Sculpted by Bill Lemon and molded in light blue plastic, the kit (along with their Batman, Robin and Superboy model kits) was heavily advertised in comic books which helped increase sales. It remained in their catalogue until 1970. In 1974, Aurora re-issued several of its comic book characters in their “Comic Scenes” line. Each model kit came with a comic book in which one or two pages acted as a backdrop for the model itself. Two modifications were made to the mold however: the engraved “S” on Superman’s chest and cape were removed in favor of stickers and his small nameplate was eliminated. The kit was now molded in a brilliant azure blue plastic.

When Aurora went out of business in 1977, many of its injection molds were sold to Monogram including Superman. One year later, Monogram would re-issue the kit (now #6301) in dark blue plastic. It would be produced until 1979.

MPC re-issued the model by contracting Monogram to produce bagged kits which they boxed under their name in a series called “Super Powers” that included Aurora’s Batman model too. The kit (now #1-1701) was released in 1984 with a re-sculpted head that was oversized and crudely done compared to the original Bill Lemon sculpt of twenty years prior.

The most recent incarnation of this 40+ year old model is a 1999 issue by Revell as kit #3635 in white plastic. Unfortunately, though the box lid states “RETRO CLASSIC! This re-issued model kit contains all the plastic model parts as they originally appeared in 1964.” the model inside still has the modifications made to it in 1974 and 1984. For purists, vintage models (built and un-built) as well as original parts and resin castings of them can be found on the internet through online auction sites or modeling sites that specialize in Aurora models.

Daniels, Les Superman: The Complete History Chronicle Books, San Francisco 1998, ISBN 0-8118-2162-5
Grossman, Gary Superman: Serial to Cereal Popular Library, New York 1977, ISBN 0-445-04054-8
Kidd, Chip and Spear, Geoff Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross Pantheon Books, New York 2005, ISBN 0-375-71462-6
Waid, Mark and Ross, Alex Kingdom Come DC Comics 1997, ISBN 1-56389 330-4

The two serials, vintage 1940s animated short films, and six complete seasons of George Reeves “Adventures of Superman” are available on DVD. All four of Christopher Reeve’s films are on DVD, including a new director’s cut of “Superman II” as originally envisioned by Richard Donner. It is far superior to the theatrical release credited to director Richard Lester. There is an excellent documentary entitled Look! Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman narrated by actor Kevin Spacey who played Lex Luthor in the most recent film. Three seasons of Superman: The Animated Series as well as Justice League (two seasons) and Justice League Unlimited (also two seasons) are all currently on DVD. Finally, six years of Smallville are available as is the 2006 film Superman Returns.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Oil Wash Technique

By Hugh A.

At meetings, I’ve been asked about my process for applying a wash to panel lines on airplanes. My technique is based on a demonstration by Eric, a former BPMS member back in the day when we met at Floyd Bennett in the National Park’s Department building. This description is tailored to airplane applications, but it should be adaptable to most categories of kits. Note that this technique assumes that the model has been gloss-coated with an acrylic paint, as the naphtha in the lighter fluid will not attack acrylic in the amounts used in a wash.

The supplies are simple: artist oils in various shades, lighter fluid, some empty paint bottles, and a calligraphy pen (Figure 1). I purchased the artist oil paints at various art supply or craft stores, selecting shades that complement the usual camouflage colors of grays, greens, browns, and light blue and blue-grey. Ray Umber, Burnt Sienna, and Payne’s Grey are good basic colors that work well on a variety of color schemes. White and black are used to lighten or darken the basic colors. I never use straight black as the effect is too harsh for my tastes. The lighter fluid is left over from the long ago days when I used to smoke cigars, so I can’t say where I would buy it today; perhaps a drug store. The calligraphy pen goes back further than the lighter fluid - to my 8th grade art class (it’s true - modelers never throw anything away that could remotely be useful in the hobby). I would expect that the pens are still available in any art store. I’ve tried a drafting pen, but I find the straight tip of the calligraphy pen provides more control, ensuring that the wash mixture flows down the panel lines and not across the finish of the plane.

Figure 1

As mentioned above, the model should be gloss-coated before using the wash. I use Polly S clear gloss, but any other acrylic should do. Even though the model was probably gloss-coated prior to applying the decals, it’s wise to apply a thin gloss coat over the decals in order to seal them, thus ensuring that the wash will not run under a decal. I found that using the wash after the flat coat made it more difficult to remove wash from unwanted areas.

The process starts with squirting some lighter fluid into a paint bottle, enough to fill the bottle to a depth of approximately three-eighths to half an inch. Add a very, very small dab of the base color - Burnt Sienna, for example - to the lighter fluid and stir. Dip the pin in the mixture and first try it on a paper towel to judge how dark it is. If it appears dark, add more lighter fluid. When applying it to the airplane, apply the wash first to an engraved line representing a control surface hinge line, e.g., the leading edge of an aileron or elevator. These lines are naturally the darker lines on the plane and will tolerate a wash that is too dark. Just touch the pen to the panel line and let the wash flow along the panel line. In 1/72 scale, I feel that I’ve achieved the correct density when I have to look at the other, unwashed surface to determine that there’s a difference. But this is a personal judgment call and you may want a darker effect. I usually do one entire surface, such as an upper wing, than take a piece of old nylon hose and rub off any excess wash that may have pooled alongside a panel line. There will usually be a slight “shadow” remaining where any excess was removed, which if subtle enough, adds to the wash effect. If it proves to be too dark and too stubborn for the cloth, use a pencil eraser to remove the excess. When washing the bottom of an aircraft with light-colored undersurfaces, mix up another wash using something like Payne’s Grey and a lot of white. The model will be a mixture of finish textures by the time you are through, but the flat coat will heal all! Remember, it’s usually a subtle effect you’re after, so err on the side of caution. It’s always better to have to apply another wash than to try and lighten lines that are too dark. Where darker applications are warranted, such as link chutes or engine cowling openings, use a darker mix. Finally, the mix will start to clump in a very short time, so plan on doing the wash in one day or be prepared to mix some more.

[1] The good news is that lighter fluid seems to have a shelf life of forever, based on my personal experience - it’s been twenty years since I smoked cigars.

Speicher Update - June 2007

WOW! The contributions for May and June were literally over the top in that they were spilling over the boxes, even though I brought a much bigger box in June! Thanks to everyone for their whole-hearted support.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

June Meeting Pics are up!

Photos from June Meeting are all up and on display!

6/15/2007 Member's Works Index