Monday, February 28, 2011

My First Airfix Kit: Westland Scout

The 1/72 scale Westland Scout helicopter is the first Airfix model kit I ever built. The first time I walked into Peterson Hobby and Crafts my eyes were immediately drawn to the revolving rack of Airfix "carded" models. These were like candy for the eyes; the brightly colored kit parts could be seen through the clear bubble cover. The cardboard backing had colorful artwork, and an equally colorful and enticing painting guide on the flip side.
There were lots of airplanes on the Airfix rack to choose from, but I think I chose the Scout first because I liked the shape of its cabin. This model didn't last long in my original collection because it's very fragile, and I probably broke it early on.
On this rebuild, I left the green moulded parts unpainted because Airfix matched the plastic very close to the shade of green required for the British Army version. I used Testors Dark Brown for the brown bits. I was pleasantly reminded how detailed this kit is, with its fine rivet lines and antennae; but the biggest drawback is the clear canopy piece - it's horrible! It does not fit correctly at all across the top of the cabin, and gaps occur around the corners of the window frames. I chose to just glue it on the best I could and leave it. I didn't bother painting the lightly engraved window frame lines on the clear piece; it just wasn't worth it. Still, this was a fun model to build again, and I still like the overall shape and appearance of the Scout helicopter.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crown/AHM Axis Lilliputians

When I started shopping for model airplanes at Peterson's in Lancaster, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of imported kits, mostly from Japan. Peterson's was well-stocked with all the latest stuff from LS, Hasegawa, Tamiya, Fujimi, Mania, Otaki, and Crown. They were not all that expensive either compared to domestic brands. I usually went in there with only a couple bucks at a time, rather than saving for a nice large, deluxe kit. For a while I got stuck in a rut of buying cheap 1/144 Japanese kits, because I thought I was getting more for my money. The first time I tried this was with a four-set collection of Crown airplanes in 1/144 scale: Ju-87 Stuka, Me-110, Ki-61 Tony, and Zero with floats. The kit boxes were shrink-wrapped together like you see in the picture here. This was serious eye candy for a kid like me. I didn't know what "1/144 scale" meant size wise, so this set looked like I was getting four airplanes the size I was used to - 1/72 scale. When I got it home however, I was a little disappointed that the airplanes were so tiny. I built them any way, and the results were pretty good I thought. I went on to buy a few more models in 1/144 scale, which will be covered in later blog entries.
These little kits were fun to build again, and they took about as long to complete as one 1/48 scale kit! I didn't do much detailing; one could get real elaborate with these, but I stuck to my original project philosophy of "build it like you were a kid again." Standard painting was done in accordance with the box illustrations. The original decals went on well, despite their forty years of age.
My favorite plane in this group was the "Tony" because I thought it was the sleekest, most bad-ass looking fighter of WWII, along with the Mig-3, and the Westland Whirlwind. The minuscule Tony was the only one I ever built as a kid, even though there were larger Tony kits available at the time.

Crown/AHM had a whole series of these 1/144 scale fighters but these four were the only ones I got. The whole series would make a very impressive collection displayed all together. You can still piece together the whole series by finding them individually on EBay.