A Choice of Scales

As the jack of all hobbies I often find myself trying to spur others onto a hobby.  I have already related my efforts to get people to blog  and to find a hobby for my friend so as to keep him from other more dangerous hobbies.  Unfortunately my friend has not taken to blogging, and fortunately he hasn’t resorted to mind altering chemicals.  Neither of these things has deterred me from sticking my nose in and trying to raise interest in a hobby with a colleague of mine.

My colleague is a very good military modeller–prize winning in fact.  He is also far more disciplined than I–he actually completes most of the projects he starts.  We have been discussing his entry into the world of model trains.  Thanks to the internet he has done a lot of research and is pretty secure in his choice of era and subject matter.  My contribution has been mostly to act as a sounding board.  His only question is scale.

In Model trains there are several scales.  HO (as I have been told) is the most popular.  There are bigger trains: G, O and S and there are smaller scales.  These are N and Z.

My colleague is considering the two smallest scales.  He is fascinated by miniaturization and is currently leaning toward Z.  Of course he has never seen a Z scale train up close, let alone the buildings and landscape material.  We will probably have to travel to a couple of hobby shops (LHS–local hobby shop in the parlance of the model railroad crowd)  to get to see a good cross section of what is available.

When I started in trains I quickly gravitated toward N scale.  I had dreams of running 100 car freight trains all across my basement.  As unrealistic as that dream has shown itself to be, I can’t get that image out of my head.  Someday, probably when I join an N-track club, I will make that a reality.
something very Canadian

Choosing scales is a tough choice.  HO offers the biggest variety of equipment and accessories, and benefits from the volume of sales.  It’s biggest drawback is that it takes up a lot of room.  N which is not exactly half as big offers a slightly less wide variety but thanks to advanced manufacturing techniques doesn’t suffer from a lack of detail.

Z scale is the smallest, and perhaps hardest to find.  The biggest advantage of this is that you can pack a whole heck of a lot of railroad into a small space.  I have seen a lot of great creations involving tiny spaces and highly detailed Z scale layouts.  The biggest drawback is that there just isn’t as much stuff being produced in Z scale.  There aren’t walls of trains and building kits.  Sometimes there isn’t even a corner, just a small shelf or tiny display case.

I didn’t mention the difficulty you might encounter if your eyesight is not quite perfect–hoping of course that it was obvious.

the battery is to give you an idea of scale (AA)
Should you find yourself wanting to take up trains, get yourself to a hobby shop and see it up close before you go online and plunk down a lot of money.

I just thought that I would add some pictures of my collection of freight cars.  I haven’t included my Japanese trains, but someday (if people want that) I will put my pictures of them up on this blog.

Decals…..My Nemesis

I am not going to boast about my modeling skills–mostly because I can’t.  I am stuck in the intermediate phase and seemed destined to stay there forever.  On one of my current projects–Jacques Villeneuve’s Formula One car I had been making good progress until I met my nemesis.
My nemesis at car modeling that is…. my sink nemesis is this guy named Martin, and my bus seat nemesis doesn’t have a name, but he has sharp elbows that seem to stick me whenever he is texting someone…. whish is ALL THE TIME!  I seem to be digressing.
My nemesis in car modeling must be decals.  I have lots of good equipment. I have a good set of knives.  I have a steel ruler.  I have a really cool self healing cutting mat (not entirely sure what that is, but it sounds cool).  I’ve even got a full range of tweezers and some setting solution for the decals.  What I don’t have is patience for getting them on strait, judgement to know when to remove them from the water, and delicate fingers to stop them from ripping, folding or disintegrating.
I have, in the past, managed to get the decals on license plates, dashboards, air cleaner covers and manifolds.  As for this car, I have ruined a few, and now feel dejected.  I am not sure I want to finish this model, even though it started out with such good progress.
I wish I could blame the decals.  They seem very thin and fragile.  Maybe they are defective.  If I could comfort myself with that lie, I could probably tell myself the dozens of others that politicians and pseudo academics try to foist on me on a weekly basis.  Sadly, I cannot do that.  It is probably less about principles than practical honesty.
I had such high hopes for this car, but sadly, it may go back in the box to rest for a while.  A long while, if I can’t shake this funk and feeling of frustration.
I used to hate painting car bodies, but the airbrush has made that somewhat easier.  Of course, choosing the right colours and thinning the paint appropriately has also helped that, but I would rather thank the airbrush.  It is just simpler that way.
I used to hate taping walls and baseboards for painting, but the new tape (frog tape I think it is called–they must be competing with duct/duck tape.) has made that easier.
wiring up train tracks and lights used to be a pain, but that has been solved.
So basically, why can’t they make better decals for car models.
On a side note, as an ESL teacher, I am amused by the word decal.  Do you pronounce it /dee-kal/ or /deckle/ ?
these turned out relatively good

Dusting Incidents

As a modeller, car collector, stuff collector, train collector, and general hobbyist, I struggle with a way to display my stuff.  Sometimes it is because I have too much stuff to display.  Sometimes it because I can’t find the best way to showcase what I have.  Of course, sometimes it is because, besides myself, nobody really wants to see my stuff.
You might wonder why I need a display case anyway.  You have to realize that the biggest enemy of the hobbyist is dust.  Actually dust is the second biggest enemy.  In reality the biggest is the person doing the dusting.  Thousands of models, toys and collectibles are damaged and destroyed each year in dusting related incidents.  The only way to avoid it is to keep the stuff away from the dusting brush.  The best way to do that is to safely encase it is some display container. 

the dream
Certainly I would love a beautiful, French provincial oak display case that was more furniture than anything.  Sadly, the financial requirements for that go way beyond what I can afford.  Second best would probably be something from IKEA.  Though not as financially draining, it does require using an hex key.  Usually, I have to settle for something plastic.  It is functional, but classy it is not.

the reality
There are quite a few things I would like to put in display cases.  I would love to display my trains.  When I am not using them, it would be fantastic to put the in a nicely made display case on the wall.  Even when I wasn’t running them, I could admire them.

I certainly would love to display my car and military models.  At present I have them in plastic display cases that are stored up high in the hobby room.  They really can’t be seen, they are just kept from getting dusty.  Of course, I am not sure any of them are really worth displaying.  However, someday, I will build some that will be good enough to show people.
a cool idea

 would make me cry during lockou
I would love to put my Toronto Maple Leaf stuff in display cases.  I’ve got cards, jerseys (yes, that is plural), pucks. coffee mugs, glasses, bobble heads, key chains, and coasters.  Of course, if there is no hockey this year, such a display my bring me to tears.

I am pretty sure that my Japanese mini car collection would look good displayed.  It would look better if I could work in some of the boxes too.  I will have to research that one a bit more.

I am sure all of you out there are facing the same dilemma.  All I can say is good luck, and hope you can protect your stuff from the reckless dusting brush.

Collection Intervention?

It is pretty obvious that I have collected a lot of stuff in my life.  If you’ve been reading these posts for a while, you will have probably read my inadvertent collection post (maybe even both of them), but, I am not really a collector.  I collect stuff (inadvertently) but I don’t have a massive collection of anything…probably because I don’t have the money for it all.  Nonetheless, in a show of comradeship with my richer (and therefore not less fortunate) brethren, I must protest this new show on television called “Collection Intervention.”

Basically the show goes to the houses of people who have huge collections that have taken over their lives.  They have rooms and rooms of stuff, often so much that there isn’t any room to display it.  While I am not that kind of person, I can’t really bring a lot of scorn to these people.  They are not hoarders, just misguided.  This is not the part of the show that makes me write this.

The host, and counsellor, is one of the women from that great PBS show History Detectives.  And this is where this rant begins.  No, I can’t criticize her role on the show.  She performs admirably.  However, I have some problems.

so, this one is not about stamps, but this is a collection
  1. Is she really qualified to help these people?  The seem to suffer from some emotional or psychological issue, and probably need more than a host telling them they’ve got to get rid of some stuff.
  2. If she is good at this, is her role on History Detectives fakes as well.  I love that show.  I watch it even if I have no love or knowledge of the topic.  Sometimes they have whole shows about the civil war…..and I’m Canadian.  I still watch.  Now, I will carry around a bit of doubt with me.
  3. There is nothing intervention like about this program.

I doubt if I will watch this program again unless the collector actually collects something that I am really interested in…….okay, I realize, with my lengthy list of interests, it is highly likely that some collector in need of a television intervention by an ex PBS host probably collects something that I am interested in.  It is pretty inevitable after all.


YouTube, MeTube

Shortly the new fall TV season will be in full swing.  We will be deluged with soon forgotten, poorly conceived, badly acted and oddly contrived manifestations from Hollywood.    There will be a bunch of sitcoms, cop shows, and the odd drama.  Of course there will be a huge pile (and I use this word very knowingly) of unreal reality shows.  Through it all, even if I should somehow be caught up in the hype, I will never let it interfere with my two addictions–hockey and YouTube.

Of course the NHL may have beaten me to the punch and ruined the upcoming season.  I could start a rant–should start a rant–but I won’t.  I am not sure blogger would really allow all the bad words that I would have to use for my anger to subside.

As for YouTube…. what’s not to like about it…except that I seem to spend more time on it than most people would consider healthy.  I can’t really complain, except that it takes time away from my other hobbies.

I started out on YouTube mostly looking at videos from Japan.  I have watched enough apartment tours to become a real estate agent.  After all those videos, I can only conclude that my Japanese apartment was slightly below average–of course that was a long time  ago, and my memory might be playing tricks on me.

These apartment tours led me to Jvloggers.  Jvloggers are an interesting group of people that make video blogs on Japan.  Most are funny, some are informative, and some are just weird.  I still watch a lot of them to this day, and I certainly encourage you to watch the likes of tokyocooney, the late rodgerswan, brotherannie, BusanKevin (and his other page jlandkev), nihonjenn and others.  If you have an interest in Japan, I think you should check them out.

At one time I really wanted to become a Jvlogger myself.  I have written down a bunch of ideas that I would have made vlogs about.  Of course, I don’t live in Japan, and probably won’t (at least for the foreseeable future) so this idea is on hold….probably a long hold.  In fact, one of the reasons I started this blog was because of some of the blogs that the above vloggers have.  There really isn’t anything in my life that I would like to vlog about, but there seems to be quite a lot of stuff I am willing to blog about.

I also love YouTube because they have so many great videos about building models and model trains.  I have learned a lot by watching other people explain and build their models.  I even found a fantastic Japanese program with some truly incredible videos.  Fortunately for me my Japanese is good enough to follow these programs (though I wish it were better)

I also love it for the collection of weird stuff that’s on it.  Where else could you find Japanese Spiderman (you’ve got to see it to believe it) or space janitors, or IKEA Heights, or the wacky Japan”english series”, or the classic “will it blend?”  I even find the unboxing shows pretty cool.   If only they would put the travel in Japan series that Jane Seymour made onto it, it would be perfect.

Yes, I spend too much time on YouTube. that much is obvious.  There really isn’t much I can do about it….. and I probably wouldn’t even if I could.

Early September Progress

Progress in any hobby is well earned.  I have been working on a few projects lately–multitasking you might call it.  The weather has been good, so I really haven’t wanted to spend much time indoors doing hobby things, but I have managed to make some progress.
a shot of the kit and body parts
Here are some Wheels from Jacques Villeneuve’s ride.  They turned out pretty good.  I have not always had really good luck with tires.  They don’t always fit well, but these were awesome.
This kit is relatively easy to build.   It cries out for some super detailing, but I am not really up to the job.  In addition, this kit is a decal nightmare.  There are so many decals that I will have dishwasher hands by the time I do them all.
I am also working on my train buildings.  Not having made one before, it is a bit slow going.  I am not sure I chose the right colours, but I am satisfied with the first attempt.  I certainly learned the necessity of masking when doing this project.  As you you might be able to see, some areas did not turn out perfectly.  As it is an N scale building, this is quite small.  I probably should have put something beside this so you would have gotten a better idea of the scale.
I still need to do something to highlight the grout a little.  I should probably do something to make the widow frames stand out as well.  Of course it still needs windows, a view block, and general assembly.
looks okay from a distance
You can also see my progress on the 289 Cobra.  I had finished most of this a long time ago, but hit a stumbling block.  I had originally painted the body blue, but had to use oven cleaner to get that paint job off.  I decided on black because it was much more forgiving.  Overall this one has not turned out as good as I hoped, but it is nearing completion.
I am a big fan of the cobra.  It represents, my top five car model dreams.  In no particular order I want to someday build really nice examples of
1966 Mustang Fastback
1957 T-bird
Cobra (289 or 427)
32 Ford Roadster (with complete photo etched parts)
Alain Prost’s McLaren from a championship season.
Of course, I have lots of other model dreams that don’t involve cars.  They involve trains, planes, boats, castles, and a whole host of other things.  I may not get to do them all, but now my optimism is quite high, and I believe I am going to try.
Now you know where things stand.

Stress, thy name is anticipation

Hobby stress–yes, you heard me, hobby stress (and yes, I know hobbies are supposed to alleviate stress) comes from many places.  If you don’t believe me, through several of these blogs (because explaining more than one kind of hobby stress would be….. stressful) I will educate you.

For today, stress, thy name is anticipation.  For a hobbyist anytime you are waiting on something, whether to be released to the market, or to appear at your hobby shop, or to arrive at your home because you ordered it online, it feels like Christmas to a five year old.  Maybe that is why some of us hobbyists have been accused of never having grown up.

I took the plunge about one month ago and ordered a train kit.  Having been frustrated with my lack of progress on the train front I decided to basically start again, albeit with greater restraint.  Most people who like trains envision a grand plan that takes up a lot of space in the home, perhaps more than one room.  This is wonderful, and though costly, certainly will occupy a large amount of time (and money).  Unfortunately, this kind of ambitious planning can be a drawback if you lack the skill or determination to realize this dream.  Looking at myself, I have to admit both of these are true,  I was getting nowhere with my train layout, so it is back to square one.  So, to compliment my skill level, I bought a complete kit, layout, buildings, the whole thing in a box–actually three boxes, three kits.  Actually, ordered would be a better word.

That was a month ago.  I received two of the kits (buildings and track) but have yet to receive the layout part.  That’s right, the part that starts the whole thing off is missing.  I have contacted the seller, and apparently a replacement for my lost products is on the way.

Since my contact with the seller, I have waited patiently, or at least as patiently as a man child like myself can wait.  I don’t wake up every morning hoping my package mysteriously, wondrously appeared under my tree (it’s still only the end of August), but I have eagerly come home from work hoping to find the box or at the very least a note from the post office.

That was a month ago.

Can you understand the torture a hobbyist goes through now.  What can I do?

Okay, actually, like many hobbyists, I have a whack load of projects I could do.  There are models to build, house walls to paint, grass to cut, yo-yo tricks to practice, Dexter to watch, YouTube to watch and many others,  The problem is these are things I  could do, but not necessarily things I want to do.

So, here I sit, hoping against hope that the courier will arrive tomorrow with my much wanted box.  Only then will the waiting be over.