Tamiya Ducati 916 - An Exercise in Restrained Planning

- Restrained planning, it’s all about balance -

By balance, I mean being realistic about how much time and money can be put into a build as the ultimate goal is getting something finished and on the shelf. I usually plan out how many ‘must have’ details I want to include into the build and then when it comes to sub-assemblies I’ll make a call whether a certain area deserves any added attention. For example for some car kit builds, I’ll add PE bolt heads on the chassis, on other builds I’ll leave em out as the subject matter doesn’t captivate me as much as others. As for the must haves, if available, the disc brakes will get the PE treatment, include seat belts, and the wheels will be treated to machined air valves. Some of these details are minute but I feel the addition of them can really elevate the finished build. At time even to the same level as if I had added every nut and bolt. 

Also, because every build is a learning experience, it doesn’t mean that I can’t build the same kit twice and add that much more detail on the next one. An example of this would be the PL Refit. On the first build (which is currently on the bench) my goal is to focus on getting everything aligned, getting that translucent paint finish right and making a suitable stand for it. Having those main things down, I would consider adding lighting to a second build, which is a whole different monster. I find that this way, there’s less chance that I’ll reach that tipping point where I put the project on hold because it just became too big of an undertaking.

There’s also considering the budget. I’m not one to get every PE or resin set for a particular kit but if I have one of Tamiya’s Corsair kits in 1/32 on the bench then yeah, I’ll invest in some placard decals by Barracuda Studios or some aftermarket seat belts. But getting Eduard’s multi-sheet PE set would not be my go to as the detail supplied in the kit is pretty good as is, with any added detail required could be done via scratch-building. But I won’t spend the same amount as the kit on aftermarket accessories.

- If there is something I’m unsure of i’ll tackle it later on in the build -

Sometimes, I’ll be a little unsure of how to pursue or take on a certain aspect of a build. I’ve been on/off a Ducati 916 build for the last 9 years. One of the holds-ups was getting the mufflers to resemble a pair of Termignoni carbon units. When I first began building the kit I had zero skills with CF decals nor the know-how of re-chroming parts or where to get the Termignoni decals. Now, the skills and the supplies are within reach and I am hoping this will be my next completed build. 

- There are some things I like to tackle first -

When it comes to planning, there are some things that I like to tackle first. If the subject is automotive then the body pieces will get worked on first as the finish needs a good amount of time to cure properly. On other builds, I’ll concentrate of the larger sub-assemblies first, such as the wings of an aircraft or the saucer of a starship. Seeing either of these steps through helps me keep the momentum of the build strong. 

- Try something new -

It is also important for me to try something new with every build. For the Mercedes 300SL build, now that I have pretty good experience with laying down colour and getting the finish i want, my goal is to try metallic pigments on the engine block. I think this method will complement the era of the vehicle nicely and add a suitable level of patina to the engine bay. 

Happy building (and planning) folks :)





A considerable part of my stash is the result of supply vs demand. I’ve cut out emotional spending… you know, work life getting you bummed or you didn’t make it to the butchers on time, so you open the wallet for some new plastic to fill that empty black hole. And I’m not one to buy the cheapest kit, usually meaning very old, as they’re not usually the extra effort to bring them up to modern standards. Though the last couple of years, it’s been the former. Case in point would be the Star Wars kits by FineMolds. I knew the license was going to be transferred to another company and whatever stock was left was it. Any time wasted would mean purchasing them at a premium. So, I picked up as many as I could tuck away (more like hide from the missus). And when the 1/72 MF was re-leased a 3rd time, I clicked ‘add to cart’ without any hesitation. 

So, I picked up as many as I could tuck away,
more like hide from the missus.

While I respect Bandai’s offerings (of which I also purchased whatever I could), I will always yearn for more FM kits and relish/savour the ones I have. Fine Molds were the first mainstream manufacturer that treated the sci-fi community of builders with kits that were of a high level of detail and refinement, and fit and finish on par with the likes of Tamiya. Major castings weren’t amalgamated as a single blob of detail but rather treated as a blank, where each detail, whether a pipe or transmission casing, was its own part. Just like how the original ST studio models were built. Though FM kits weren’t perfect, they raised the bar for all future sci-fi kits to come. 

I’ll have to admit that the rate of growth of my stash also comes down to my foam-at-the-mouth addiction for new releases by the big T. LaFerrari, pre-ordered that one, thank you very much. New Panigale? Put me down for two please. It’s the ‘I want it, I want it now!’ syndrome. 

I want it, I want it now!

Will I build them all? Who knows and who cares! I’m content in knowing that I am set for retirement.


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Initial thoughts upon reading the topic post was to break it down into build categories: for automotive, having a glass-like finish for the body is priority or when building sci-fi subjects, adding that extra bit of scratch-built detail to bring that vehicle, that doesn’t even exist, to life/reality.

"What step do everyone of these plastic treasures receive?"

I then took a step back and asked myself "What step do everyone of these plastic treasures receive?" and then it struck me like a piece of flying styrene shrapnel. They all get the spa treatment. It doesn’t matter the subject I’m working on or the scale, but no cutters will touch a single sprue, nor a file to any plastic until everything has received a proper bath. That’s right, everything gets washed first. 

It’s actually pretty therapeutic, as I get to examine every part on every sprue. They usually get a nice soak in a warm detergent bath and then everything gets a thorough toothbrush scrub down, followed by a good rinse and then air dried. 

Seeing all the sprues laid out only increases the anticipation but it’s well worth the wait. Having a clean surface means every piece will have a stronger bond when glued and paint will adhere properly. Sometimes I’ll only wash a few sprues
at a time, so will mark those with a ‘W’. Bonus: you’ll really get to know the kit’s content and perhaps even foresee
any problems.

"You’ll really get to know the kit’s content and perhaps even foresee any problems." 

All this combined means you’ll have a smoother, and thus more enjoyable build. And isn’t that one of the reasons we partake in this hobby, for the sheer pleasure of building. Though, if the missus notices your scrubbing skills, you might
be stuck with dish duty more often. 


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My thoughts on scale is an easy one and to quote Jeremy Clarkson: "...the bigger, the better". It's not a very logical decision considering I live in a small apartment with barely any space on the shelves, less alone the storage space to store the kit boxes. In all honesty, I can't say I have the time needed to build even a small fraction of the ever looming pile of kits I've accrued over the years. None the less, I'm sticking to my guns... the bigger the scale, the better. And that's probably why I have five 1/350 scale USS Enterprises kits by Polar Lights, which are over three feet long when completed. A glance over my stash will reveal a handful of gorgeous Tamiya 1/32 airplane kits too and a REVELL 1/12 Shelby GT500.

‘the bigger, the better

But like most of us, at times it's more the budget restricting me from buying all those premium low-run large scale kits that make me drool such as those studio-scale sci-fi resin kits by Sovereign Replicas & NICE-N Model Designs or the gorgeous 1/12 multi-media race car offerings by Hiroboy. Though the budget can stretch to those large-scale offerings mentioned earlier by Polar Lights, Tamiya and Revell.

‘at times it's more the budget restricting me

I'll admit that it's the ‘inner kid’ that gets the better of me and I get giddy just thinking of having a completed large-scale replica of the Refit Enterprise or that 1/12 GT500 mustang in my collection. The shear size of them and the extra level of detail that each could receive never fails to put a smile on my face! As for the Refit E, having a fairly respectable model kit out of the box where it's possible to achieve levels of detail that make it near studio scale worthy, well it puts a childish grin on my stupid face. 

‘it puts a childish grin on my stupid face

I think the larger scale resonates with me too because when growing up, getting a kit by the 'big T', let alone one of the larger scales kits was completely out of reach. Now, if Tamiya 
s a new 1/32 plane kit, I can stretch the wallet and add one of these kits to the to build club. Not to mention, walking out of the store with that big-ass box makes me feel like a kid again. 

Sometimes being an adult can have it's advantages :)


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Tamiya Mercedes 300SL

In these days of never ending meetings, increased workload, tight deadlines and domestic duties, it seems there are never enough hours in a day. Or more importantly, it’s increasingly difficult to budget the time to complete a task with the time necessary to do it properly. As I currently don’t take on commissions to build models for others, I practice this hobby strictly for me and want the experience to be as rewarding as possible, by making the time to do it however I please. So, I would have to answer yes. I do add that little bit of detail that no one will ever see. I don’t think I take it to an extreme level either, just to what I feel is satisfying and respects the build I am working on. 

One of my more recent builds is Tamiya’s new 300SL. Its a beautiful kit and comes with a full trellis race frame that the body sits over. Initially, my mind was set on building the frame quickly and moving on as much of it won’t be seen. But it’s such a beautifully rendered structure, and though being made up of twelve pieces, everything lined up perfectly. A part of me wondered what it must’ve been like to fabricate one of these back in the day, the attention paid to preparing the tubes, laying down the welds and such...

...in the end I used the Weld’n’Sand technique over a couple of night’s, which resulted in a seamless tubular space frame. Though it won’t ever be seen in its entirety, building it with care and taking the time necessary to clean up the seams was really rewarding. I will probably add ignition wires and lines to the engine bay, amp up the shock absorbers with scratch-built items and add a few PE bolt heads here and there. It’ll take some time and I know a lot of it won’t ever be seen but in the end i’ll have a build I am really proud of and when I look back at it, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing where all that extra detail is.

And as much as I would love to have the real thing or a project car, my current budget, space and time won’t allow for it. But I can build it in scale and any added detail is also time I get to spend daydreaming about the real thing or think about the historical importance of the subject. 

I also like to think of the time spent has the added bonus of being good practice. Every time I work with those little PE bolt heads or making the seams flush using the Weld’n’Sand method, i get better at it and usually a bit quicker as I’m questioning the process less. In a sense, I treat my builds not only as quality downtime but as an opportunity to improve my craft.

Maybe I won’t (and don’t) get a gazillion models completed in a year, but the ones that do make it to the shelf, you can be damn sure that a lot of love went into them and were built with a great dedication to craft. 


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Setting up shop

Last year, my efforts at this hobby began with a bang. I had completed 2 models and well on my way to a third by end of February. I had a (realistic) list of kits I wanted to complete by end of year too. By mid year, life started to get busy with freelance, family, weddings and vital summer activities like drinking on the porch. And then towards the end of 2014, our family went through some very unfortunate events. All I can say is: Life is Precious. During this period, to help deal with everything and take some of the strain off, I decided to work on something big and majestic. I didn’t want to rush it, and there would be no hard dead line. This build was about enjoyment, dedicated downtime while nudging my build skills up some. So, after 8 years of daydreaming about it, I laid out the pieces of Polar Light’s amazing kit of the Refit Enterprise (measuring a giant 36” when complete) and got to work. 

I don’t think this will be a quick build by any means. I was hoping to have her assembled and primed with a coat of white by the end of 2014 but when the new year drew near, it wasn’t realistic but I didn’t really let it bother me much (which is a first for me). Those not familiar with this sexy beast, it should be said that the original studio model had one of the most spectacular paint jobs, with a type of Aztec pattern airbrushed on using different shades of pearlescent paint. Though there are decals available to replicate this, I am planning on investing in a fine tip airbrush (0.2) and apply it by hand with the aid of vinyl templates… which I think will offer ample amounts of quality downtime as well as pushing my skill set with that medium. This will be my main project for the rest of the year. I’ll definitely get to a few other kits too… have a few bikes and cars of italian origin I would like to see on my shelf at some point. In terms of adding to my stash, I suffer severely from purchasing kits and I'm planning on paring this back to one a month. Something I've been meaning to try is using metallic pigments to represent metal casting, such as an engine block. 

I also share a studio space with my missus and another friend, as living in the city, our apartments are a bit tight for space. Plus it gives us the opportunity to separate ‘work’ from ‘home’. Its been an ongoing challenge to get the whole space, as its a sub-lease through another friend, who uses it as a storage space. We’ve got access to half the space but it could still use a bit of TLC. So another goal for this year is to get that space set up properly with grown up furniture. This space would be my main area for satisfying my plastic addiction, having all my paints and supplies there as well as anything related such as books, scratch building material, compressor and spray booth. Pretty much the goal once all is sorted is to show up and get building. 

So to sum up, the plan is to work on one major project, with a few smaller ones on the side, improve my airbrushing skills and metallic rendering as well as set up a proper space in which to work. Also, I plan on finally getting a smart phone so I'll be able to post progress on builds in real time. Lastly, I think 2015 is going to be a great year! I’m really happy the Sprue Cutters Union is back and I’m looking forward to seeing what projects everyone is dedicating their time to!


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