Thursday, January 5, 2012

Down and dirty hobby tips.

This week in Down and dirty, I will be discussing more on tools, and one of the most important resources for the hobbyist.

After tools for scratch builds and " cut and paste conversions,' there are those for sculpting.  Obviously the first tool you need is the sculpting medium, there is green stuff, brown stuff and grey stuff. All are a two part kneadable epoxy that is used for sculpting details or filling gaps in models.

Green stuff is the most common and familiar. it is used by taking equal parts blue and yellow halves of the epoxy and kneading them together until it turns green, hence the name. Of the three, green stuff sets the most flexible, and is better for organic sculpts, as it does not take to sanding/filing as well as the other two.

Brown stuff is used the same as green stuff, but it is harder when set, making it good for harder, curved sculpts, as it sands/files well.

Grey stuff is in the middle, but is the stiffest to work with, making it better for when you want to square off a sculpt, such as when you are transitioning a join between scratch built components on a vehicle and the base model.

There are other sculpting media available, but I prefer green stuff and it's variants.

Then we get to the sculpting tools themselves. For most, a set of tools that look a lot like dentist's tools are all you need, as they provide a variety of shapes for working your medium. My set was made by Gale Force Nine, and came with a cloth case. It includes the standard sculpting tool wit ha blade end and a small " spoon" shaped end, it has a wide spoon, an awl shaped tool, narrow, bent tools, and others. 

Then there are custom built tools, most of which are used for one specific purpose, such as taking the standard tool and placing a small notch in the spoon end, which is then used for creating weld lines. Another common custom tool is taking a wood dowel and inserting a needle into it for superfine sculpting, such as inset letters, hair, and eyes.

Now we get to the subject of one of the most important resources a hobbyist can have: A local hobby shop. When I say this, I absolutely do not mean your FLGS. They do not carry the stock of sheet styrene or tools you need to do high quality conversion work. They also do not move enough of what they do carry to sell  it at a price point that makes your work viable for your budget.
What I am talking about is a hobby shop that is either a specialist in models or model trains.

The one I go to is Roy's train world. It is in Mesa, AZ, just north of Southern Avenue on Country Club Drive.When I go there, the staff is very friendly,  I am able to get my sheet styrene at about a quarter of the overall cost, I can get the exact dimensions I want, I can get just about any texture I want, they have shop cats, and they have a selection that can't be beat. Did I mention that they have shop cats? Another advantage of shops like Roy's train world is that they usually carry reference materials, not only for the subject you are modelling, but also those covering various techniques for modelling and painting your models to make them look as good as possible.

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