Not the sharpest tool in the box, but definitely the oldest.

I saw a thread on a forum a few weeks ago discussing the age of tools that people were still using. This got me thinking abot my own collection, and what might be the oldest piece of kit I’ve got. I’m pretty sure it’s this, which is an old butter knife my grandad gave me when I started ‘Airfixing’ in the 70s. It had already lost its handle, which is why I was allowed to use it to open Humbrol paint tinlets, and nearly fifty years later I still do.

Both sides were like this last week, with 5 decades of paint and glue scarring it, but last week I spent half an hour cleaning and polishing the hallmarked side. (Yes, it is solid silver.) I had imagined it was much older but the first hallmark seems to mean it was made in England in 1973. A very enjoyable process, bringing back lots of memories of childhood and my long deceased grand parents.

1/24 Martin Baker Mk.9 Finished

The basic brass and white metal is now painted, very lightly weathered to bring out some detail. The spare decal folder was raided and the best matches for the maintenance and warning stencils. I’ve never made a seat in this scale, or worked with so much photo etched brass. I’m very pleased with the result. On to the cockpit tub and instrument panel now.

1/24 Scale – A place where every last part is a model in its own right.

For the last week I’ve been exploring the pleasures of working in 1/24 scale, making a start on the Airfix Harrier GR.3. This will be one of the machines flown in the Falklands War, but quite which I haven’t decided yet. I’ve purchased the Flightpath photo etc detail set to improve Airfix’s plastic (which is very long in the tooth, originally being issued as the GR.1 in 1974 if I remember correctly, before being reissued with replacement nose for a GR.3 and Sea Harrier FRS.1) As a practice for working with the brass I also bought the Flightpath ‘Y’ type loader and BL.755 cluster bomb. Here it is, with a second weapon already provided in the Harrier set.

The bombs are pretty good but at 1/24 scale there’s lots of scope for improvement. I added many lines of Archer Transfers resin rivets, and sourced some white decal stripes from Fantasy Print Shop. Way better than those supplied by Airfix.

The Harrier set provides a complete replacement for the Martin Baker MB.9 ejection seat. Primarily in photo etched brass it requires a lot of folding and fiddling to get in to shape. Again, it’s a lovely model, but can be improved by the builder. The cushions are very basic so I added some piping to the bottom cushion, and some creases and folds to the back cushion. I also scratch built a representation of the central pillar the seat rides up when the handle is pulled. There around 60 parts to this so it’s been a week of work to get to this stage. Here it is in bare metal and then with a grey primer added.

1/48 RAF Pilots Vignette

After having the little office at the front of the house refurbished I’ve started moving some more of my models indoors from the shed. I found this little vignette up in the eaves, from the time I was trying to teach myself beyyer figure painting. These are Revell’s 1/48 WWII RAF crew, in a little scene inspired by the Rowley Birkin quote on the brass plaque. (I used to like taking this to shows and watching people’s reaction if they leaned in to read it. It was quite easy to spot the Fast Show fans.)

New build under way.

Have a look at the Work In Progress page to see the conversion of the old Hasegawa Lear Jet in to a Fuerza Area Argentina photo reconnaisance machine. (I’ve borrowed a photo of the box lid from Scalemates to provoke the same nostalgia I have when seeing it. I lusted for this kit when I was a boy!)

Not Your Usual Model Kit

Over the last few days I’ve been assembling the pieces of the ceramic poppy that belongs to my brother and sister in law. (I’m told their cat broke it, which is why people should have dogs. A dog would never do this. ;O) ) This is one of those that were part of the 2014 installation at the Tower of London, marking the centenary of the beginning of the Great War.

The ‘kit’ arrived from London as five large parts, and a couple of sherds. My brother-in-law had already tried to repair the poppy with cyano-acrylate glue, but it hadn’t stuck. This is slightly surprising as super glue usually works well with ceramics. First up was to remove the glue from the joints so as to get as close a fit as possible. About five hours work with super glue softener, tweezers and a bit of water did the trick. (I found out, quite by accident, that once the softener has had an effect you need to immerse the parts in water for a few minutes. This makes the glue turn white, and therefore easier to see so it can be picked off.)

Above you can see the cleaned parts. I joined each part with a couple of dots of super glue initially, and followed by flooding the joints with Roket Hot super thin super glue to complete. Despite painstaking cleaning I couldn’t get a perfect fit so had to use some filler. Being a modeller means I’ve got umpteen fillers and solvents on the shelves, so I used some Deluxe Materials Perfect Plastic Putty to fill in the gaps. I found that Tamiya X-20A paint thinner can be used to thin the putty, and make it easy to flow in to the gaps.

Above shows the poppy reassembled, and the putty in white before a bit of sanding back to tidy it up.

And below is the restored flower, with a couple of paint touch ups still pending. (It turns out Xtracolour BS538 Post Office Red is an almost perfect match.)

A very satisfying project. (In the UK we have a wildly popular TV programme called The Repair Shop, and I learned most of the techniques used from that, and the fantastic ceramic restoration work of @kirstenramsay2. If you haven’t seen it, have a look.)

1/48 Skyhawk In Progress

A long over due update. With the Dagger complete (and waiting in a box for a courier to take it to Argentina) I’ve moved it to its own page and started a new WIP of a Hasegawa 1/48 Skyhawk. This will be an Argentinian Air Force A-4P and will also be going to Argentina as a gift to the pilot who flew it during the conflict. Have a look on the Work In Progress page.

Bandai 1:1 Nissin Cup Noodle Instant Review

Well, this is a bit different. This is the Bandai 1:1 Nissin Cup Noodle kit. I believe Nissin were the first company to market instant noodles, back in 1971. I ate them many times when we were in Japan in 2015. The kit is typical of Bandai, with multi-coloured sprues and push fit construction.

There’s a multi-part noodle nest, and a full compliment of accompaniments, including prawns, egg, and soy meat substitute. There’s also a little strip of vinyl to cut in to small pieces to replicate the dried Leek bits. The pot itself is covered in engraved detail that can be painted, but Bandai also supply all the labelling as stickers, along with markings for the prawns. There are more frames than shown here, with parts for constructiong the pot itself. (One panel remains removable on the finished model so you can see the noodles in place, illustrating the ingenius way there are packed to avoid transit damage.) The whole thing is topped off with a self-adhesive foil lid, just like the real thing.

The instructions are a delight, being peppered with little info panels about the noodles themselves, detailing how they are paced, and the methd used to stop the dry noodles being broken up in transit. There’s also a potted (ahem…) history of the development of the noodles. Such a fun idea, and as a big fan of all instant noodles I really look forward to putting this together.