Or the art of modelling on the move.
Bench time is a preciously scarce resource. That means traveling for work really knocks down my productivity and projects like the poor old Sex Machine lies neglected at home.
So close yet so far. Sex machine gathering dust at home.
Eventually things will change and before I know it I won't know what to do with myself but in the meantime it feels like nothing is getting built.
But there is an alternative.
Like most modelers I have a stash of kits that I want to get to one day. Chrissy would say otherwise it is a fairly modest stash as I basically quit actively trying to acquire new kits and have a very limited scope when I do. But with a production rate of something like one kit a year what I do have will last me quite a few decades.
The concept of wasted time bothers me no end so I have taken to using spare time on work trips more effectively. Whether it is drafting up blog posts or learning Fusion360 (always be learning folks) there is always something to occupy my time. I also try to take as many kits as I can so that I can so that I am getting something done. For example on my latest trip I brought the Moscato Hobby Models 1/350 scale Starfish and 1/48 scale M-72 Gabriel, ancient MPC Star Wars ROTJ AT-ST and the Dragon Models 1/35 Scale SdKfz 234/3.
Since painting kits would be a major hassle I didn’t bother even trying. Travelling with paints etc. Is just asking for trouble if something leaks and besides packing dangerous good like paint thinner etc. Is a big no no. Limiting myself to just the assemble meant that I could take a rudimentary set of tools that would see me through:
1 x Goodman Models Super Sanding Blocks
1 x half sheet of 800 grit wet and dry
1 x Scale Modellers Supply single edge nippers
1 x Excel saw with handle
1 x Set assorted jewelers files (flat, square, round, triangular etc.)
1 x small bastard file
1 x Side cutters
Quarantine tools - next time I won't be bringing the side cutters or as many files
While I didn’t get much of an opportunity to do any modelling in the first few weeks of the trip I ended up with loads of time when I got back to Australia (at time of writing it is mandatory to undertake two weeks of hotel quarantine). So I managed to clean up all of the resin parts for the two MHM kits to the point where I can start to assemble parts any time I am ready.
For the resin kits I set myself up at the sink with Netflix on in the background. These days I wince every time I see someone dry sand resin as there is no need for it. Abrasive paper suitable for wet sanding is readily available and a container of a suitable size easy to come by. Any shallow tray, plastic takeaway container or old plastic blister packs will do the job. For the tool whores out there Sean's Custom Model Tools has been prototyping a wet sanding accessory for the Super Sanding Blocks which looks very cool. Anyway long story short only jerks dry sand.
Hotel Wet Sanding Moscato Hobby Models and M-72 Gabriel in 2020
Sean's Custom Model Tools sanding tray
I use the saw to lop off casting blocks as close the the kit part as I dare. For efficiency I rip through the entire kit and then circle back around for the next step. After dealing with the big stuff I then switch to the excellent Goodman Models Super Sanding Blocks with 80 grit and finishing off with the 180 grit as a staring point. This process gets me pretty close to the point where I can assemble items later when I start the build proper.
Some of the cleaned up Starfish resin parts
I also managed to a lot of sub assemblies put together for the 8-rad. Although because it is an open top there were limits to how far I could go. If this was a regular tank (or even the 234/2 version) I could just about buttoned the whole think with tools and everything on it ready for primer.
Dragon Models sdKfz 234/3
Plus I managed to get the most of the AT ST put together as well.
MPC/ERTL Return of the Jedi AT-ST - the kit box is dated 1992
These kits won’t be making there way to the bench anytime soon. But but completing a bunch of the work now I can speed up the completion time later when they do. One thing to remember if you decide to start doing this kind of thing is that any sub assemblies not assembled to the kit itself or still on sprues need to be secured. For this I use zip lock bags which will keep everything sealed up nicely until they are needed.
Loos parts secured!
The other thing to remember is that as soon as you start messing with the kit any resale value will plummet and to be fair plastic kits are a pretty poor investment anyway. But where you might of got at least 50% of the cost of a kit back on the second hand market if it was intact you will get maybe a few bucks for a kit that that has been partly assembled. But if you can handle that then you are onto a winner.
Your mileage may vary on how useful this will be. For example fighter mode Valkyries have cockpits that are typically assembled and painted before being glued between the fuselage halves. But you may find a way around this like I will have to for the Sex Machine (I stripped the paint of the fuselage which also took all the paint out of the cockpit) or trade off may be worth it to have a bunch of kits sitting around just waiting for paint.
So there you have it - the concept I call Banking Time. Taking otherwise wasted time and investing it in a future project. This idea could be expanded as well to assembling kits at night while you chill out in front of telly. Or not because sometime the telly it really good and you need to pay attention.