The Little World – The Pile O’ Boxes

I used to laugh with scorn when told of the behaviour of other model builders – particularly those benighted souls who wanted to build plastic kits. It was not the fact that they were not scratch-building, and it was not the use of plastic – I can quite see the good sense of both approaches. It was the fact that they stockpiled kits.

I’d been told of people with rooms full of shelves full of kit boxes full of unbuilt kits. I considered they were full of it. After all, how could a red-blooded modeller not rip the packet open and start gluing and painting as soon as they got in the front door? Which of us did not want to cut Christmas dinner short and make a dash for the building board? Were these creatures of flesh and blood or mere zombies?

Well, time has a way of listening to our scornful laughter and then replaying it to us. I now have a small shelf of unbuilt kits to be ashamed of.

I have fallen into the trap of every other modeller – I have decided that I really need something long before I really need it. And now I am committed to getting the paint pots that are missing from the 45,000 ones that already sit on the shelf. And more brushes. And a different knife/airbrush/bandsaw/entire modelling shed/house and land. Anyone who said plastic modelling was a road to tranquility and content needs to have an Xacto needle file in the backside…

Well, at least I have this stash inside in an air-conditioned room. We are set for hot Christmas weather and I can retreat here and cut and glue while I wait for the cooler weather to come. The evenings should be perfect for spray painting.

 

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The Little World – Follow Me

One idea leads to another. Saturday experiments with a Pacific island set lead to a Sunday shopping trip to the hobby shops…and the delightful discovery of new model vehicles to add to the theme. All aircraft related.

I also discovered a hobbyist in England who makes plans and patterns for OO scale structures – including Nissen huts and airfield buildings. These are downloadable files in PDF format that allow me to print up as many buildings as I like. It looks as if I will be making raids on the cereal packet cardboard and recipe cards for building materials.

Today I concentrated on the USN and USMC aircraft. But the Japanese Army Air Force is coming along – I have 2 A6M models in different liveries – one has the engine exposed for maintenance. Now I have to research what their barracks and control towers looked like.

Looks like it will be a good summer spent building in the air conditioning!

 

The Little World – New Tenants

Spent the afternoon in the studio working up a new camera. It’s the latest in the series of the brand I prefer, but the lens that was used is the same one that served the previous model. That’s the beauty of sticking to one maker – if you have good glass it just keeps going on.

The subjects are the old tenants and the new tenants of a time-share holiday property. I believe there was some form of dispute over the tenancy and it became necessary to institute a noisy eviction.

Yet another example of the dictum that you must never let a chance pass you by. The palm trees were a plastic kit found in Melbourne, the planes picked up from Hobbytech here in Perth. Heaven knows where the tractor came from. The sky and sea are an image I purchased on a job-lot of CD disks from eBay. Some enthusiast decided to cash in on his holiday and hobby images and auctioned them off. I daresay he has done this many times and this beach may well turn up in other people’s pictures. Never mind – I paid for the picture and I think it has served very well.

They say that there is no money in stock photography these days – probably true if you are looking for a livable wage. But if you are prepared to sell your stuff off individually, there is hobby money in it. I’m not the only person who is searching out material for posters and flyers.

The Drones – Part Three – The Right To Menace

I am good at menacing. I do it every time I can find an innocent person who is in no position to defend themselves. There are plenty of these about – they work in retail shops. If I have five cents in my pocket I can go and browbeat them, traduce them, and terrify them with threats of exposure on Travelguide, YouTube, and Choice magazine. Or I can buy five cents worth of sweets and bugger off.

Some days it is a close run decision.

The drone menace, on the other hand, is less clear-cut. It would appear to have several aspects:

a. The drones may fall upon people and injure them. Quite apart from the physical weight of the things – which can be considerable if they are larger commercial jobs – they have anything up to eight flailing propellers working at high speed like knives in an abattoir. It’s not just the dropping on people that is dangerous – swishing through the crowd sideways may be horrifyingly worse.

If this is an inadvertent thing – failure of control or bad flying – it is one thing, but what it if were deliberate? We’ve seen people drive into crowds with murder in their hearts before.

b. The drones may be modified to carry destructive payloads. They need not drop themselves into a crowd if they can be rigged to drop something else. You can make up your own list of frightfulness that might be precipitated on others.*

c. The drones may interfere with other aircraft in the air…or even on the ground if they are operated within airports. We’re told that there are automatic controls that prohibit this in signals sent by the manufacturers via internet to the drones. From China. Now there’s foolproof, if ever I’ve heard it.

d. The drones may interfere with essential public services like firefighting by flying where aerial tankers are in operation. This has apparently happened.

e. The drones may intrude into secret governmental and military areas. Again we are told that there are controls in place to stop this…here I am inclined to have more faith. I’ll bet the SAS would love to open up on a drone over Campbell Barracks, and perhaps they have already. We’ll never know.

f. Drones may be used to snoop and spy on commercial properties for commercial or governmental purposes. Someone has already suggested council surveillance of blocks in rural areas to spy on people erecting sheds without permission. It sounds just petty enough to be true.

g. Drones may be used to snoop and spy on private matters for private delectation and troublemaking. Leading to private defence and public nuisance. What price privacy and good order?

h. Drones might be used to disrupt and harass legitimate events – sporting venues, religious ceremonies, weddings, civic affairs. Political parties could be targeted by their rivals.

Some of these troubles may be fended off already by technical means. Others might be circumscribed by the law but the fact of the matter is that at the moment of the offence any obedience to law would still rest with the person running the drone…and they might be willing to do it at any risk. There are already enough people who commit offences in all other divisions of law despite clearer sanctions and a history of enforcement. The drone situation is still very much in the ” hold my beer ” stage.

*Naturally I exclude the Air Force and Army drones that drop Hellfire missiles and 30mm cannon shells on people. These are perfectly all right.

 

 

 

 

” Break Not A Jest ” – Or – The Sturmovik In The Teacup

I think I have need to apologise to the shade of General George Washington – I’ve failed to follow his 64th rule for civility and decent behaviour – the one that prohibits ” breaking a jest where none take pleasure in mirth “. I may also have laughed out loud as I did so, which is further sin.

In my defence, it was a passing thing – an odd remark seen on the internet called forth an equally silly reply, and then a series of increasingly hyperbolic posts – culminating in  the heading picture of the Ilyushin Sturmovik and an account of a pilot who uses it to strafe the Oktoberfest grounds just for old-time’s sake. Please note that the picture is an Easy Model 1:72 scale model…$ 14.95 at good hobby shops all over town.

Well I probably would have got away with the joke if the person hosting the thing had not been worried about me interrupting her satirical Facebook page. The page itself is a hilarious send up describing arrogant and entitled people who live in the posh beachside suburbs of our city. Well worth a read – and apparently it has some 1200…or was it 12,000 readers in her data base? I can’t remember exactly how many she mentioned, but it was a lot, and I’ll bet that they all like that bit of good biting satire.

Apparently I also made a blunder when I described the old pilot of the Ilyushin as a Slav. Unbeknownst to me this word is racism, and needs to be apologised for, or so she says. Bit puzzling, that, as the Wikipedia article on the Slavic people lists a great deal of their history and seems to say that they are very nice. This is my opinion too, as nearly all the other people who I have met with some claim to the title seem to be energetic, intelligent, and cheerful.

I am going to have to be much more careful in the future – not about mentioning the various divisions of mankind ( or womankind…) – after all, everybody has to be from somewhere – whether that be from Pilsen or Posen – and no-one need be ashamed by any of it. I mean, I know about the Posen bit – that’s where my Grandmother Elizabeth came from. And the Pilsen was home base to a branch of the other side of the family.

No, what I’m going to have to do is make sure that the people I break a jest with take pleasure in mirth.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go pull through the prop on the Ilyushin. The front two cylinders tend to clog up with oil and Oktoberfest is just around the corner.

The Little World – The Unsalable Product Meets The Inscrutable Market…

If you are nervous about politics, ethnicity, or toy airplane kits, now would be the time to switch your computer to the next page. The rest of you can look on while I open a can of retail worms.

Nationalism, nostalgia, and narcissism are an integral part of the Little World. It is most readily seen in the model railway market – where firms who sell to a domestic market make marvelous ranges of models for their friends, relatives, and countrymen, but only pay the slightest attention to a foreign buyer. Märklin was just this in the 50’s to 70’s…they made superb models of German and European trains and dismal models of US prototypes. This was natural, and the only real puzzle was why they bothered to make a US model at all. It might have been to capture the US military market at the PX’s in Germany, for all I know…

In the die-cast car game there are many Chinese makers making models of US, European, and Asian prototypes for sale in those areas. They make Australian prototypes for Australia, and might indeed make other little ventures for other countries – provided there is sufficient money and buying pressure in those areas. This is as it should be, and my only gripe is that they do not make more 1:18th scale cars and trucks of the small domestic type. I am immune to super-cars and racing types…

But where the real interest in nationalism comes is in the die-cast aircraft market. Most of what sells to our local collectors is Western prototype. The predictable Spitfire, Me 109, Hellcat, Zero are all seen and there will always be a sale to someone of an airliner painted in QANTAS or Virgin colours. Why, I struggle to fathom, but I suspect that most of these go to grandparents stuck for a present.

But there is also a surprising amount of what I would have called unsalable stock in the local die-cast airplane market – the cheap productions of Chinese factories of Chinese, North Korean, Soviet, and other air forces. We might all recognise what a MiG 15 looks like, but very few of us want to have 14 of them in different camouflage schemes in our collection. The F-86, perhaps, but even here the offerings are nearly always of US or German markings and really don’t ring a local bell.

I was pondering on this in the new hobby shop, looking at the multiple shelves of Chinese MiG 15 models unsold, when it occurred to me that I might have forgotten something. The two suburbs closest to the shop – Winthrop and Leeming  – have a very high Asian population…specifically a Chinese one. Could it be that these MiGs are aimed at them? Is this the future of collection? Are they collectors of toy airplanes as well as of local rental properties?

Are they nostalgic for the good old days of fighter battles high over the Yalu?

Careers Day At The Charnel House

I am always fascinated to see career days, orientation days, and recruiting days at various institutions in Perth. They have always had them at hospitals, universities, technical schools, and government departments and lately they are being taken to major exhibition halls to draw in even more industries. But I think the most important ones are still missing out:

a. The Shenton Park Sewage Ponds are vital to the health of the city. They are a long-term governmental establishment that needs a steady supply of trained staff to operate – especially if they have lost a few to tsunamis in the settling ponds.

But they never advertise. There are no ” It’s A Man’s Life In the Regular Brown Dredgers ” posters at railway stations and even when the schools run career week there are no offers to come on down and paddle a poo canoe. I cannot imagine where they recruit their staff, other than amongst retired politicians and people who have had nasal surgery.

b. There are apparently a number of ” havens “, ” retreats “, ” resorts “, and ” parlours ” where young ladies entertain gentlemen upon an agreed commercial basis. I have no idea what they do there, though I did see a workman outside one of the establishments in East Perth diligently breaking up old wardrobes on the foot path and throwing them over the fence into the premises, so it may involve woodwork…Well, getting wood somehow…

But again, there are no placards on trains or buses advertising for young ladies to work at these places. And many of the buses and trains have young women passengers who are unemployed and would be able to break wood all day, by the looks of them.

c. There are recruiting posters and motion picture advertisements for the Army, Navy and Air Force, and they are exciting to watch. There are equally urgent advertisements for people to train in animation, games development, and media. But no-one asks for a candidate to step up and become a political stand over merchant or bagman. Yet these are just the people we need to facilitate local government. City councils won’t corrupt themselves, you know.