Friday, 29 July 2016

to weather or not, that is the question ! F-4 Phantom on the cover of Model Aircraft Monthly




I don't do 'opinion' pieces. Much. Too frightened of upsetting my readers I guess. But I thought I'd 'kill two birds with one stone' in this post. Great looking F-4 on the cover of the current issue of Model Aircraft Monthly. Depending on your point of view that is hopelessly over-done shading and other 'arty' effects - or not. One from the 'Spanish School' of super modelling. And the 'new' Model Aircraft Monthly, apparently another triumph of style over substance! Never in the field of modelling journalism has so much white space been seen in so few pages! And then I've been wanting to post a response to a "Weathering Rant" on Jon B's 'Combat Workshop' blog..

Now, I'm not against 'weathering' at all- that would be silly! But I do not for one moment agree with those recent blog posts from a couple of US modellers stating that weathering is "an essential part" of modelling. Their assumption that 'weathered' vs. 'clean' model aircraft are somehow much more 'realistic' rather irked me.

Now don't get me wrong I don't mind a bit of weathering. I will even occasionally introduce some - hopefully- subtle airbrush effects help to blur the line between 'plastic toy replica' and 'scale model'. If I didn't I'd probably just be happy with a new die-cast. Although how one can be happy with paying a small fortune for a block of metal featuring huge trench lines and a 'toy' finish hand-painted by some Chinese slave worker who has never seen a real aeroplane in his/her life is beyond me - £250 for a metal 32nd scale Bf 109 ?...no way. I've always said to myself, the day a die-cast looks as good as one of my finished models is probably the day I put the stash on ebay. But that's another rant!

 Back to weathering. Lets face it, there are those extreme 'weatherers' out there who probably use every product going - Mig, AK you name it. Some so-called 'super modellers' have turned this into an entire aftermarket industry - presumably nice little earners they are too! While trying of course to persuade us that we need their products to make 'proper' models. That special effect you used to be able to create with oils, pastels, chalks and other media is now most of the time available straight out of a (very expensive) little bottle!

The other problem that I have with most extreme "weatherers" is that they tend to lose all notion of 'scale realism' and get totally carried away with creating a replica that -in their eyes- is closer to 'artwork'. Get on with applying those MiG powders, AK pastes and God knows what else and totally lose all notion of 'scale effect' - exhaust stains, chipping, rust, mostly invisible to the eye had the real thing been scaled down to 72, 48th, 32nd or whatever. So much more superior than the straight forward OOB guys. Now I don't really want to get into the 'psychology' of weathering. but it seems to me that merely 'assembling' and constructing a plastic 'toy model' for the extreme 'weatherer' is a slightly shameful thing. In my book the aim is to disguise the fact that they stick pre-formed pieces of plastic together - but then isn't that the 'purpose' of a good model. To try and hide the fact that it is a model. Especially as any Tom, Dick or Harry can do it. So you have to 'disguise' what you do by dressing it up as 'art'. The 'extreme weatherer' is rarely capable of building a scale model and replicating what can be seen in a photo, they need to be Michelangelo in their own Sistine Chapel. You can see why some modellers appear to get totally carried away more often than not, giving free reign to their artistic sensibilities.

Now of course I'm being slightly tongue-in-cheek there! I have little chance of ever producing anything as superb looking as this F-4 which probably looks 'wrong' as is it is a 72nd scale kit rather blown up. My forthcoming Corsair will definitely need some weathering to stand any chance of looking half 'realistic'. But in the end I shall probably just settle for a bit of an oil wash, some pre and post-shading, maybe some 'salt' weathering over the wings. Each to his own. But then of course it won't appear on the cover of a magazine...




7 comments:

  1. I agree with the over weather look. In the 70's and 80's I work on Phantoms. The aircraft never got that dirt. The wash cycle was every 90 days. If the aircraft returned with red X conditions the aircraft ended up in the hanger. At that point any crew chief worth his salt would wash the aircraft. If that F-4 on cover was that dirty, my maintenance officer would of kicked my butt...

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  2. Glad to hear you share my view on this Gary, cheers

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  3. One thing that drives me nuts is the over shading and shadowing of panel lines like in the Phantom photo above. And model magazines seem to like it for reasons that I have yet to comprehend. To me it looks terrible and gawd awful.

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  4. ..your point about magazines liking these somewhat 'overdone' effects is one of the gripes I was trying to articulate Warren! Still, they got us talking about it!

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  5. I concur entirely with your point of view some of these pre shaded marvels look like they need some scale ground crew in the act of cleaning the too 'dirtied' airframes how do people think they look realistic ?

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  6. Funnily enough, the Phantom on MA brought the same reaction for me. I'm always rather in awe at some of the amazing things modellers can do, and I'm a keen buyer of (almost) all the aircraft scale model magazines. But, sometimes, it seems as if mastery of a technique (or, over-kill?) becomes an end in itself. I also wonder just how dirty aircraft do get. My only experience is as a RAFVR(t) officer (i.e., a CCF officer), but the various stations I visited over the years in the UK (Leuchars and Benson mostly) exhibited pretty clean a/c. And as for the Grobs that the cadets used, they were always spick and span. Admittedly, this was peacetime in the UK. Still, I'm a less is more supporter in this respect.

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  7. ..yes good points there guys - which I didn't really make too well... "..the technique becomes an end in itself.." well said..

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