Here’s my latest build, an Imperial Star Destroyer by Bandai. It took all of one day to complete. It helped that, true to the movie version, it’s all shades of gray. Also, very little glue was used.

Way back in the 20th century, when no one owned a computer and phone messages were left on cassette tapes, snap-together models were frowned upon as being unserious. No longer. These days, Bandai designs and molds their kits with such precision that mere friction holds them together. They also fool-proof the kits with unique slots and pegs for each part making it almost impossible to put something in in the wrong place, upside down or backwards. 


And this kit is amazingly accurate. When ILM built the original models for the movies, they used parts from existing plastic model kits to add texture and detail. If you look closely at the surface of this model, you can see the wheels and suspension from a 1/35 scale Sherman tank shrunk down to 1/5000 scale. Like, wow.

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X-Wing Starfighter

Model Building

Another Christmas gift that would’ve been completed earlier, if I didn’t have to buy off-white paint for the fuselage.

Short End of the Stick

Bandai kits have many good points but the decals aren’t one of them. The kit comes with two identical sets. One set is the sticker type, and the other is the “wet” variety. The wet decals are still too thick for some of the places they’re supposed to go, like the instrument panels and the top of droid’s dome. In both cases, I had to toss the decals and finish the details with paint.

And some of the decals are tiny, like the ones that go on the pilot’s helmet. There are multiples of those provided so they must know what a pain they are to place properly.

No Need to Use the Force

This was an easy build. The pieces fit together perfectly and the “used future” of the Star Wars world made painting and weathering a delight.

First Order Stormtrooper

Model Building

Got this for Christmas. Bandai kits snap-together and sometimes there’s fussiness getting the parts to click together completely. I had to be careful not to break something by using use too much force.

It’s all about the painting.

The generic figures are an opportunity to break out and not paint the model like it is on the box. I’ve played enough Star Wards Battlefront to know that camouflage increases your chance of survival on the battlefield, plus it offers creative leeway. As I painted, I imagined a planet this guy would be suited for. Probably the Star Wars equivalent of Slovakia.

If you can’t fix it, feature it!

What I’d forgotten is that Bandai plastic doesn’t hold enamel paint well. I sprayed on a basic coat of Model Master “Light Earth” and it started to come off merely from handling the parts during assembly. I used that as a head start on the weathering process, highlighting the chips, dings and scrapes. “Olive Green” and “Hull Red” acrylics from Tamiya completed the pattern and I sealed the figure with Testors “Dull Cote”.

At 1:12 scale, the figure doesn’t take up too much room in the display case. It’s already up for sale at my Etsy shop.

Elon Musk Will Make America Great Again

News & Events
SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral

Last night, I watched a Falcon 9 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. Even from 100 miles away, it was an impressive sight. It was SpaceX’s 23rd launch of the year and the 100th flight overall for the workhorse Falcon 9. The booster returned to Earth, landing on a SpaceX recovery drone ship. The name of the ship is “Of Course I Still Love You,” which is what you would expect from Elon Musk, the brilliant eccentric who, more than President Trump, could Make America Great Again.

The United States is at its best when it has a frontier. How the West was won is still the stuff of legends. But we ran out of frontier over a hundred years ago, and we’ve been decaying ever since. America has since turned toward navel gazing, guilt, insecurity and scrolling through Instagram. Half the country doesn’t like where this is all going. They see no need to tear down statues and announce their preferred personal pronouns. These seventy million voted for Trump and his pledge to Make America Great Again.

.In his last State of the Union address, Trump declared “America’s manifest destiny in the stars.” But Trump is a real estate developer. Until he can build a hotel on the Moon, it’s merely an applause line from his speech writers. And Trump will be gone as of January 20, 2021, leaving it up to someone else to carry the flag to other planets.

That someone is Elon Musk, a guy smarter, richer and, yes, more ambitious than Trump. SpaceX has some epic projects underway. One is to return humans to the Moon. The SpaceX website describes the Moon’s surface as “inhabitable” and promises “an opportunity to gain valuable experience for missions to Mars and beyond.” The Mars mission will start with a visit to the surface, the literal first step toward the goal of making Mars inhabitable on a large scale. There is also talk of asteroid mining, with quadrillions of dollars of metals floating out there in the asteroid belt for anyone to claim. Exciting stuff.

A renewed manned space program is what the red states want but haven’t embraced yet. The solar system is big enough for every go-getter, maverick and pioneer on our planet, a place for people who work with their hands and aren’t afraid of a hard solar cycle’s work. Mars is for future homesteaders, ready to claim their own land without ever being accused of stealing it from the native inhabitants. The asteroid belt is for the prospectors and strike-it-rich types looking for a gold rush in a vacuum. It’ll be the ultimate space western. And, when the star dust settles, we could be a multi-planetary superpower.

Take it way, Elon:

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”

Covid 19 and the Coming Children’s Book Slump

Books, News & Events

The Wall Street Journal has an article today titled A Covid Baby Bust Is Bad News for These Businesses. The article focuses on businesses that will feel an immediate impact: the makers of baby products such as diapers and formula.

What it doesn’t get into is the longer-term effects on children’s books. Fewer children means fewer copies of board books, picture books, chapter books and so on, a ripple that goes all the way through YA.

Plan your careers accordingly.