Revisiting Puzzle Agony

Though I swore to myself I would not do another jigsaw puzzle, that’s exactly what I did

.April winter 004.JPG

What cruel circumstances led to this? Well, it is a combination of forgetful ambition and the words of a parent who seemed eager to do the puzzle.

The forgetful optimism allowed me to forget the agony of the last puzzle and think “Hey! A puzzle would be fun!” The words of my Mom made me think that she would like to do a puzzle together to, in her words, “keep me sharp.”  Well, she took one look at the pieces and said, “There really small.”  I guess that is what I get by buying the puzzle at the Dollar Tree.  I certainly wasn’t expecting perfection, I just hoped it wouldn’t be as bad as the last one.

April winter 003.JPG

In the end, it wasn’t terrible and I finished it rather quickly. Despite not containing trains or train tracks or similar stuff, it was a pretty nice picture.  Now all I have to do is find somebody who wants it.

Nanoblocks at the Dollar Store

Christmas 2015 008.JPG

Can you believe it? Nanoblocks at the dollar store?

I was rather sceptical myself, I thought that it might be untrue, but here is the photographic evidence. After getting them, I was curious as to how they ended up at the dollar store.  Maybe they were fake?  Maybe the package had a misprint?  I have checked the package out and everything seems legit….if you spot something let me know?

Christmas 2015 010.JPG

That would be pretty cool if I could get a bunch of sets for cheap at the dollar store and build something else. We will have to see.  I checked my Dollarama, but there weren’t any there.  I asked the person who bought them for me, but she said they only had that model and only at that particular Dollarama.

I don’t know what to make of it, but I am curious. I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.

Nothing But Blue Sky

I do indeed like doing puzzles, but they often come to the same conclusion.  I quickly assemble the edges (Sheldon Cooper would be so proud), and sort the sky, sky and land, and land parts.  Then I assemble the edges where the sky and land meet.  Then I fill in the land parts.

Then I am left with the sky.

The Blue sky.
As you can see, I might have left the daunting part for last.  Actually, there is no “might” about it.  I have left the most daunting part last.  If not for clouds and sky gradation, I would have to try each piece in each part.  No, that’s not true. I would have to try half the parts (the vertical versus the horizontal parts) in each spot.


As for this puzzle, also another dollar store find, it was of much better quality than the last one.  It was a little more challenging to assemble, but that is probably a good thing.  I also appreciated being able to use the box bottom as a sorting tray–something I was not able to do in the last puzzle.

I think this is my last puzzle for the foreseeable future–but who knows.

Hobby Hacks: Hobby Hack Number One

 
While I am waiting for my model helicopter parts to dry, I thought I would share something with you.  I have decided to call this a hobby hack.  These are useful tips that one can use while making models or other hobbies.

I can’t remember exactly where I bought these clips, but I am pretty sure it was a dollar store.  I can’t guarantee it was in Canadabecause it might have been from a 100 yen shop in Japan.  Sorry.

I am pretty sure I bought them to clamp something together, or hold something together while the glue was drying.  The funny thing is that I have never used them for that.  I think the clips are a bit too strong and could harm or scratch something (probably not, but you never know).  Instead I found a cool use for them.

They make a great stand for parts sprues while they are drying.  Let’s call this hobby hack number one.

A Quick Puzzle Before Christmas

Despite being the king (oops, I meant jack) of all hobbies, I have to admit, I haven ‘t done a lot of hobby related things lately.  I could blame the weather, or I could blame myself and the fall TV schedule.  Either way, I haven’t had a lot to write about.

I have been writing my other blog, whose links you can find on the right side of this page under the title “cool blogs”.  Mine is called Today’s Perfect Moment.  I have been putting a lot of energy there and have grown a rather large community in a short time.  There seems to be a lot more cross blogging done there and the page is set up to encourage followers.

HOBBY HAPPENINGS

While I haven’t done a lot, I have done some things.  Most recently, I got the itch to do a puzzle.  Maybe it is because I associate puzzles with Christmas.  I am surprised that no one gives these things as stocking stuffers anymore.  Knowing how addicting that can be, I really wasn’t in the mood to tackle a monster 5000 piece puzzle.  I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  What was my answer…the dollar store of course.

I found a couple of decent puzzles at the dollar store (Dollar Tree in this case) and purchased them for $1.25 each.  Even with Canadian tax, that still brought in two puzzles for less than $3.

I spent a couple of nights on the first one.  There seems to be no deterioration in my puzzle building skills and I was able to do it rather quickly.  Of course, that first night, I did the usual “just one more piece before I go to bed” thing, and wound up spending a hour or more when I should have been sleeping.  This probably was to the detriment of my students but I didn’t actually yawn while teaching.

The puzzle wasn’t the best quality.  The fit was a little loose and it came apart a couple of times.  Some pieces still had untrimmed edges (there seemed to be extra paper at the bottom layer of some of the pieces) and one was a little crumpled.  However, it only cost $1.25, so I can’t get tremendously angry about that.

When I lived in Japan, I bought frames and puzzle glue for the puzzles.  However, these days, now that I have finished, I will probably take it apart and give it to someone else to do.

When Something Needs Stirring…

 
 
We’ve all said it.  You’ve said, I’ve said it.  Like I said, we’ve all said it. You buy average tools all the time, and you buy quality tools only once.  Or maybe you said, the right tool makes the job easier.  The question is, do you really believe it?

I was doing some painting yesterday.  I noticed the paint needed to stirred up.  So I reached for my official Tamiya paint stirrer.  Yes, that’s right.  I have an official paint stirrer.  I could have used a tooth pick, but I employed the paint stirring tool.

At a 300 yen price tag (actually I bought it for 240 yen…and I won’t tell you where just in case Tamiya takes their recommended sales price overly seriously) I could have bought a box or two of toothpicks.  All I can really say, is that it was definitely worth it.  Two hundred and forty yen is just shy of three Canadian dollars, when tax is figured in.  Of course, I bought it in Japan, so if I include the price of airfare the overall price really skyrockets.

It isn’t so much that it works better than a toothpick, or that I couldn’t have MacGyvered something similar with a coat hanger, but I just feel that much more purposeful.  I feel like I am really working on a project and that the project is not working on me.  It is one less thing to worry about while I concentrate on the real task.

Sometimes you just need to have the right tools.  In my various hobbies, I have spent the money sometimes, and cheaped out sometimes.  Sometimes I have been creative and found very workable things at dollar stores.  Who knows?  All I know for sure is that the money I spent on the paint stirrers was not a waste.

Lindberg’s 1949 Tudor Coupe 1/32 scale

 
Usually shopping at Dollarama means looking for scratch building supplies or looking for some container that I need to organize my hobby stuff.  Today I came across a model kit for sale.  The price was a reasonable three bucks.  Hard to complain about that.  Of course, I once got a 1/24 Scale Ford Fairlane for $2 from Walmart, but since they don’t have models anymore, that was probably an unannounced clearance sale.

I really don’t need any more models.  I’ve got a shelf  full of unbuilt kits, and dozens of other hobbies to pursue–not to mention umpteen household chores that have been the victim of procrastination.  I guess curiosity got the better of me, and by writing this, hopefully it won’t get the better of you.  You will be armed with knowledge before scouring the Dollarama.

 
So, what came in the box?  Watch the YouTube video if you want to see the unboxing.  It will give you a good idea of what is inside.  Basically, this is a bare bones kit if I have ever seen one. No chrome, no rubber tires, the body comes in three pieces (and those other pieces are the sides, not the hood and truck lid) no engine and no decals of any kind.  The wheels are all plastic and need to be glued together.

Is this a good kit?  Well, for three dollars, I wasn’t expecting a Tamiya masterpiece.  I am pretty satisfied with the contents of the box.  The mould lines look good, and I don’t see any sink holes or injection marks….so I really shouldn’t complain.  With some good painting, and putty to fill up the gaps, this will turn into an acceptable model.  I will post pictures when I can.  I’ve got some bare metal foil to make the bumpers and grill, and I certainly have enough paint.  Mostly, I am probably worried more about what colour to paint it.  Red looks good, but I have never painted a red model that I have been satsified with.

The Dollarama in my neighbourhood had 3 different models:  two convertibles and this one.  If anyone finds different ones, please post here.  If anyone has completed one, feel free to send some pictures.

Spiro-graph! Dexterity and Patience Required

other than the rip in the paper, this turned out pretty good
 
 
I remember as a kid being fascinated by some of the stuff my sister had.  She is very much into arts and crafts and had lots of stuff like that.  She had a glass making kit and a candle making kit.  She had a wood burning set and even a jewellery making kit.  The best part was that she was actually able to use most of it and she produced some pretty good pieces.

One day she showed me her Spiro-graph kit.  That was pretty cool.  She was older and had greater dexterity, so she was able to actually make the stuff they displayed on the box.  I probably didn’t hurt that she also had a lot of patience and was a bit of a perfectionist.

I was never able to create the kinds of things that she did.  I certainly didn’t have the patience or the manual dexterity.  That, however, did not stop me from trying.  In the end, if I messed up bad enough, she probably took pity on me and made a good version herself.

For reasons unknown to me, the thought of her Spiro-graph kit came back to me a couple of weeks ago.  Even more peculiar, the idea took hold in my brain and I had a hard time shaking it (kind of like a song you hear on the radio and can’t get out of your head).  I went so far as to look up Spiro-graph kits on Amazon and see how much they cost.  I even had one on my wish list for a couple of days.

Rather than go that route, though it is often my go to route, I decided to poke around an art store.  The clerk, who took pity on me, or was just really helpful, told me that they didn’t sell it, but that she had seen the same kind of thing at the dollar store.

two dollars is a good price for a box of fun.
Really?

Short contemplation reasoned that maybe this was the better way to go.  I doubt the thing could hold my interest for very long–it’s not as if years and maturity have really solved the patience and dexterity gap–who’s kidding who?  Maybe one or two dollars was better than twenty.

Surprise, surprise, they did indeed have a Spiro-graph knockoff at the dollar store.  So, to get that monkey off my back, I plunked down two dollars, plus tax, and brought home my very own not actually Spiro-graph, Spiro-graph.

It was kind of fun, and the designs are cool, but it was harder than it looked to make a perfect design.  the gears keep slipping out of cogs….or the cogs slip out of the gears, or….you know what I mean.

One week later, I think I have put it behind me.  It is no longer an obsessive need, but a curiosity in the jack of all hobbies scrapbook.  I am left wondering though, is there an app that can do this for you already?

You Get What You Pay For

 
I would never say no to a bargain.  Who doesn’t love a good deal?  In my hobby life, I have come across some great deals.  Once I got a fantastic Ford Fairlane model kit for two dollars (I bought 3….because there were 3 customizing options).  Twice (and despite the deals, I do find this to be sad) I came upon hobby stores that were having going out of business sales.  My latest find were some puzzles.  While these weren’t $1 puzzles (which were a pretty good deal), they were on sale.  When I opened the box I understood why.

Maybe I should just stop complaining and call this a puzzle review.  Maybe then I could be more objective and less annoyed.  Either way, this puzzle leaves a lot to be desired.



a poor, but effective taping
In terms of packaging, I usually want to use the box top for something.  With car models, and puzzles (when I am not looking at the picture) I need the two box parts for sorting.  As you can see with this puzzle, this is going to require some work before that can happen.  My dollar store puzzles allowed me to use both box parts, why not this one?



I did what I had to do, and taped up the box.  Although this was neither time consuming nor money consuming, it still felt like an extra step that I did not want to take.  Usually unboxing something makes me pretty excited.  Based on my YouTube video of unboxing the Statue of Liberty kit in an earlier post (72 views as of today) it seems pretty cool to most of you out there as well.  This unboxing event left me a little cold.
a lot of my work done for me



Another annoying thing was the amount of already done pieces.  When I was a kid, I enjoyed this.  It meant less work for me.  However, as an adult, I feel a little cheated.  Usually there are only one or two already connected pieces, but there were quite a few more than that in this puzzle.  It isn’t a big deal but…..



The box also contained quite a bit of box dust, or box debris.  I expect a little of this, but certainly not the amount that I got in this one.  Again, if I compare it to my dollar store purchases, those had less.
A lot of debris in the box.

Did I learn a lesson?  I would like to say yes, but only time will tell.  My instinct to purchase train themed things and to look for a good deal usually trumps the voice of caution.  I have gotten better at this, but I would be lying if I said I always took the high road.



If any of you have had similar get what you pay for experiences, please feel free to comment.  Maybe hearing it from you would make it finally sink in.

An August Progress Report

I seem to have found myself with a little bit of spare time, so I thought a progress report was in order.
I went to the dollar store (I think this one was called Dollar Tree)  I had never been there before, but I was, pardon the cliché, in the neighbourhood.  I wonder if that applies to big box stores.  I guess what you can say is that I was in the general vicinity after shopping for some airbrush bottles at an art store.
In this new dollar store I was only really thinking about getting something to drink.  Somehow I managed to spend $7, so I guess their master plan worked.  I came out with 2 more jigsaw puzzles.  I don’t really regret it because you can’t really complain about paying $1.25 for a puzzle….. and yes, even though it is a dollar store, there are things that cost more than $1.
I decided to take the systematic approach first.
Step 1)  Get all the edges
Step 2 Separate into 3 piles: Sky, Buildings, and transition from building to sky
Step 3) attach all the pieces that transition from building to sky.
Step 4) fill in the building part
Step 5) scream because now I am left with only sky
I almost decided to quit the puzzle and move onto something else.  I mean, I had the picture done, all that was left was the sky.  That huge, multi-piece blue sky.  My friend who needs a hobby urged me to carry on, so today I finished it.
I also had some time to apply my first airbrush coat to one of the buildings for my train layout.  Never having worked with that paint before I have to say that I made it too thin.  The result wasn’t bad though, and the slight variation should look okay on the building.  This is Design Preservation Models Hayes’ Hardware (N scale).   It isn’t the most complex building, but it has served as a good introduction to this type of modeling.
 
I will apply the next, slightly thicker coat, tomorrow.
Now you know where things with me stand.