Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Haven't been posting any update for the past couple of month since there wasn't anything to update. The Ferrari was untouched since the last time I place those decals on the body.

Really need to get my motivation back.

New year is around the corner. I suppose it is appropriate to start talking about new year's resolution. Model building-wise, here are my goals:
  1. Keep 2013 buying to less than 5 kits (baby steps)
  2. Finish the Ferrari
  3. Build and complete the Racing43 1981 Audi Quarttro before November
  4. Build 1 more kit, to be determined later
In 2012, I only managed to finish 2. The Simtek and the BAR. So, 2.5 is probably a quite realistic goal.

Anyway, today is 12/25. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blame it on the magazine

I wanted to subscribe (electronically) to F1 Racing magazine for a long time. It has been available on Zinio for a long time, but since I started several magazine subscription on Apple's iTunes store, I just do not want to create and manage yet another account. So, when I found out that the magazine is available through Apple, I subscribed immediately.

The October issue cover featured all the living F1 Champions. And since it was also the 200th issue of the magazine, it has an article on all the constructor's champion machines since the magazine's 1st issue.

And I did not know what happened, all of a sudden, I just want to have a collection of champion machines from 2000 to 2010. A quick inventory check showed that I already have:
2000 Schumacher Ferrari F2000
2005 Alonso Renault R25
2007 Raikkonen Ferrari F2007
2008 Hamilton McLaren MP4/23
2010 Vettel Red Bull RB6 

So, I bought a Ferrari F2001, F2002 and F2004 from eBay. I am still looking for a
2003 Schumacher F2003GA
2006 Alonso Renault R26
2009 Button Brawn BGP001

And of course, the biggest news lately was Hamilton moving to Mercedes followed by Schumacher's re-retirement. Then I saw an article in CAR Magazine contrasting the Schumacher's Benetton B192 (1st GP win) and the latest Mercedes W03. Then I saw a B192 on eBay... Sigh...

So, for the past month, I bought 5 more, but didn't even finish 1. It's all the magazine's fault!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Austrian & a German

Earlier today, Vettel won the Korean GP and took the lead in the very exciting driver's championship from Alonso.

The more exciting event happened in New Mexico. Felix Baumgarter jumped from more the edge of space, 24 miles from the ground and safely landed on the ground.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hitting the wall

Today is the day of Chicago Marathon. This is a huge annual event for the city of Chicago. The 3rd largest marathon in the world and 40,000 runners registered for the race this year. Those elite runners are amazing, finishing 26 miles in a bit more than 2 hours! I heard that at around the 20 mile mark, it is when most runners "hitting the wall", having difficulty to finish the last couple of miles of the race.

I am also "hitting the wall" right now with my Ferrari 641 project. Did not do anything for the past few weeks. Blame it on work. Because of flight schedule, I have been taking red eye flights back from California on Thursdays. That means I got home around 6am on Friday and head right back to work. I was dead tired Friday evening, the past couple of weekends were spent on just recovering, unpacking, doing laundry and repacking my bag.

I need to get my motivation back.

Because of the time difference, I was sleeping during the Japanese GP. Vettel won and Alonso DNF making the championship race even more interesting. Good to see Kobayashi on the podium. Sauber has a fast car, I hope to see an Asian standing on the top of the podium soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ferrari 641/2 7

Procarstinate [proh-kras-tuh-neyt]
verb, pro-cras-ti-nat-ed, pro-cras-ti-mat-ing
verb (used without object)
1. the reason why the progress of Ferrari F1-90 has been slow.

Only achieved a couple minor items and did not even apply a single piece of decal. Can I finish this before 2013?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Internet, eCommerce and Logistics

I was kind of an Otaku when I was growing up (I probably still am one), I read comic books, watch anime, build plastic models. My dad's office was in a complex attached to a shopping mall with shops and restaurants. Every now and then, we will go there to meet dad for lunch on Saturday. I especially like to go there because there is a Japanese department store, Tokyu 東急, inside that mall. So, when we were waiting to get seated in the restaurant, I would sneak to the book store section and check out the comic books, anime magazines and hobby magazines.

Back then when there was no internet, no eCommerce, selection of goods were only limited to what the stores' purchasing department thought they could sell. If a particular comic book or magazine was not on the shelf or in the rack, you are out of luck. In terms of model kits, shops only carry popular items. I still remember one Christmas, I had my eye on a MIG25 kit from Revell for months, but didn't have money to buy. Right before the holiday when I finally got money from my parents to buy myself a gift, the MIG25 was gone and I was very very disappointed. I read Hobby Japan every now and then. That's where I learned about all these cool resin or vinyl garage kits. But most hobby stores did not want to carry those items.

Fast forward to now. We have eBay, companies have their own webstores, there is Amazon. Then there are shipping companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL, or post office's EMS. Buying things from the opposite side of the globe is so much easier. As long you have a computer and a credit card, you can pretty much buy anything from anywhere. As a result...

Fresh from MFH, 1/43 1972 Lotus 72D Italian Grand Prix version. Reference book from MFH's Joe Honda Pictorial Series, Lotus 72 1970-72.

More leisure reading materials: Model Art's Auto Modeling vol. 27 and Motor Fan illustrated F1 Technology 4.

All freshly delivered from the other side of the world. Don't you think technology is amazing?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Assembly Instructions

For those of us growing up building injection plastic kits from Tamiya, Hasegawa, Bandai or any other established companies, we are spoiled by well written assembly instructions. And we probably took it for granted that model kits should come with very detailed assembly instructions. Even though we often do not follow exactly the step by step procedures, the instruction still can play the role of letting us know which piece is supposed to go to where.

But in the world of 1/43 car kits, that often not the case. In the old days, putting together a good assembly instruction requires a lot of effort. I wrote enough technical instructions so I know a lot of thoughts need to be put in to it. Good instruction needs a lot of pictures: "a picture is worth a thousand words". But then drawing takes a lot of time.

This is one of the older instruction from FDS. It's a very crude simple kit, not a lot of parts, so a simple 1 diagram is enough to do the job.

Here's an instruction sheet from SRC. Clear diagrams, step by step procedure. Not too bad.

This is from an older Tameo. Again, not very complicated, 1 sheet front and back, pretty clear instructions in the drawing.

Nowadays, kits have a lot more detail and have way more parts than before. 1 sheet is not enough anymore. Now Tameo's standard kits' instruction is a booklet printed in full color with photographs and 3D drawings directly from the 3D solid modeling program. The way that kits are designed nowadays has a lot more CAD/CAM involved, thanks to computers and solid modeling applications becoming more and more affordable.

Company size probably also makes a difference in how good the instructions are. The following is from BBR. With very clear instructions, including drill size. (I wish Tameo has drill size in the instructions, saves me time to measure with a caliper)

This is may be the worst instruction sheet that I've seen so far. From Provence Moulage. 1 tiny sheet single side with only a couple of photographs and very crude hand drawn pictures. No description on how the roll cage is put together. 

Nissan Nismo Skyline R33 Le Mans 95

Since last year, I have been building F1 cars. Almost all the 1/43 kit that I have are F1 cars. This one is an exception. After looking at the 1/24 scale one back home in California, I am very tempted to build this. I have this kit for over 10 years. It is a resin kit from Provence Moulage. The resin cast body was made well without much blemish.

First order of the day, modify the mirror. Like all other kit, the rear view mirrors are molded into a glob. So, I hollowed out the mirror housing and later will cut a small piece of polished aluminum as the mirror to add realism. The 2 mirrors are on the penny. The one on the left is what the mirror looks like before. The one on the right is after I hollowed out the housing.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Iceman Returns

Fresh from Italy, brand new Lotus E20 for Kimi Raikkonen's return to F1! The current Lotus F1 is not the same team that Colin Chapman found. Today's Lotus F1 actually originated as Toleman, which became Benetton, and then Renault.

This is not the only Lotus that I bought this month. I also ordered a MFH made Lotus 72D Type B Italian GP version. Still have the Lotus 79 on the shelf...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Skyline GT-R

I saw a KPGC110 when I was very small. At that time I had no idea it's a Skyline GT-R. To my brother, it was just another Datsun, but for some reason, the fast back, its stance caught my eye and I fell in love with Skyline. Fast forward to my high school years, all of a sudden, a box of a big scale 2 door sedan/coupe looking Fujimi kit showed up on display in the window of the hobby store that I used to go to. (Didn't build much models during my high school years, I believe I talked about that in other posts) That's the R32 Skyline GT-R. Later that year, saw the car dominated in Macau GP beating teams with German machines. I knew there is something special about the car and I fell in love with Skyline GT-R once again.

Due to emission standards and marketing reasons (some said technical reason also - the location of the exhaust manifold of the RB26 made it impossible to build left hand drive version for North America), R32 and subsequently the R33 were never imported to USA by Nissan. When I couldn't own one, I can surely build models of the car.

It was probably my first year after college, I had time to build models again. I picked up these 2 kits, both from Tamiya in 1/24 scale. One is a R32 in HKS color, the other is a R33 based GTR-LM, Nissan's entry to Le Mans 24 Hours.

These were built years ago and had been in my room back in California. Since I am back home, might as well take some pictures of it and post them up. Lighting was pretty bad, and I was only using the phone camera to take the pictures, so I apologize for the quality.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Old Friend and Gundam

Met an old friend of mine for lunch today. T and I when to the same high school. And we haven't seen each other since graduation which was almost a quarter of a century ago. While most of our classmates were into pop music, we were the few who were into Japanese comics, anime, Gundam models, airsoft guns... etc.

After eating ramen for lunch at a popular ramen restaurant in San Mateo, T took me to his storage where he is keeping a stockpile of toys. Most of the toys are various Gunpla (Gundam Plastic kits), many perfect grade, master grade from Gundam 0079, Z Gundam, Stardust Memory, to Gundam Seed. He also has collected some rare original SF3D kits which is now known as Ma K, some Imai made Macross kits, Gundam Fix Figuration, Evangelion, Mazinger Z, Getter Robot, Astro Boy...etc. More than enough to open up a store.

I used to be a Gunpla fan, but jump to the darker side of 1/43 cars. Anyway, it's always nice to catch up with an old friend, chatting on life, work and hobbies.

Here's a picture of T in his Gundam storage.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ferrari 641/2 6

Decals on the outside of the body are done. I'll let them dry and set before I spray a coat of clean on.

Next, front and rear wings.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ferrari 641/2 5

Started putting on decals. But then, it is Sunday night already, and I'll be on the road again tomorrow morning till late night Thursday. So, it will be a couple of weeks before the decals are done.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I did not build these

There are reasons that I sold or traded in my old cars. But human mind is a strange thing. It always block off bad memories. Every now and then I have flash back of my old cars and the fun times I had with them in the past. So, I started to buy 1/43 scale models of the cars that I had.

I bought my first car when I was a senior in college. It was a 1985 AW11 Toyota MR2. This model is made by Epoch, it is the 1985 version with black bumper, mirror and rear spoiler. Mine was just like the model, except it was silver and it has a moonroof.

After years of service, the AW11 had too many maintenance issue. And I traded it in for my second car. Which was a 1990 Z32 Nissan 300ZX 2+2. Unfortunately, all the models available are the twin turbo 2 seater. No one made a normally aspirated 2+2. This model is made by Kato. You heard it right Kato, the company that is famous for its model trains. Apparently they made toy cars too. While most of the models in 1/43 are diecast metal models, this one is actually injection molded plastic. Well, not really a surprise considering all the N scale and HO scale trains that Kato mad has plastic bodies.

I had a lot of fun with the Z32, drove it to a lot of places with my girlfriend at the time, started autocrossing in it and did a track day in it too. But then, it was also getting old and in 2003, when the Z33 was out, I traded that in for a 2003 Z33 Nissan 350Z. Mine was the track model with Brembo brakes. The car was black and I put 4 Gunmetal colored Rays TE37 wheels on and it was gorgeous. This model is from a set I got from Nissan that has several bodies with different color and different color interiors to mix and match. The base is actually from BBR. Not sure which company actually made this.

I was living in New England at that time. Rear wheel drive cars are not the ideal car to drive in the winter. So, I put the car in storage during winter and had a winter beater car. My first beater was a Ford Bronco II. But I have yet to find a nice 1/43 model of it. That car was so rusted and at the end, I donated it to charity. And I replaced it with a 1995 Subaru Legacy wagon BG. I bought a real cheap Legacy L in maroon color, but its life was cut short by a teenager in an SUV. That moron rear ended my Subaru which was parked on the street. But I like the legacy so much that I replaced it with a 1999 BG, this time it is the Legacy GT wagon. Although it looks like the GTB and has the hood scoop, the US version was actually a 2.5L N/A engine, not the 2.0L turbo in the GTB. And I am still driving my Legacy GT wagon. This is also a Epoch MTech model.

No, I don't own a Porsche 911 GT3. I don't even have a Porsche. But the GT3 is just too good looking. A Porsche dealer was selling it on eBay and I just cannot resist the idea of being able to buy a "Porsche" from a dealer. Hahaha. This one is made by Minichamps

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A real expensive 5 gallon of gasoline

Most people refuel their rental cars before returning the car to the rental company simply because it is cheaper to fill it up yourself then to let the rental car company charge you. I usually do not refuel the rental car before returning. Not because I have money to burn, just because when I rent, I am usually on business trip and the company's procurement had done a real good job negotiating deals with the car rental company, so returning without refueling may even cost less than buying gas from the gas station.

I was in California last week, for both business and personal purposes. Yesterday morning, after crossing the bay over the San Mateo bridge, I headed north on Highway 101. I should have followed my normal routine and head straight to return the car. Unfortunately, I did not. I have no idea what went through my mind, I decided to refuel the car before returning. There is a Chevron gas station on Millbrae Ave just south of SFO. I exited the freeway, headed west on Millbrae Ave, found the Chevron and refueled my car.

To get back to the freeway, I have to head east on Millbrae Avenue. But since there is a center divide in the middle, I cannot make a left turn out of the gas station to get back to the freeway. I have to right turn and head west and then somehow make a U-turn. Unfortunately, there is a huge no U-turn sign at the first traffic light. So, naturally, I made a left turn into the cross street and made a U-turn and headed back toward Millbrae Avenue. As I approached the intersection to make a right turn on-to Millbrae, I guess I was approaching the intersection fast enough to trigger the sensor. So even though I stopped right before the intersection, I saw a flash right in front of my eye. So, me and the rental car were photographed. I will probably getting a special present from "Big Brother".

It's bad enough to get a ticket for running a red light which I never ran over. It's even worse that since it's a rental car, the police will have to go to the rental car company to find me. And because of that, the rental car company is going to charge me another couple hundred dollars "processing charge".

Sigh... It's going to be a really expensive 5 gallon of gasoline. Way more than the amount any rental car company would have charged.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ferrari 641/2 4

The exit of the exhaust on the 641 is in the diffuser. The kit only provided 2 rectangular photo-etched plates with an oval indent in the middle for people to paint it black to pretend to be the exhaust outlet. They are in the bottom of the car and no one can possible see them. But then, I still took the effort to open the hole up. Who would have thought that my former job of corotron and scorotron design and prototyping them came handy? I used to fabricate the screens by cutting small opening on stainless steel sheet metal. Corotrons and scorotrons are electrostatic chargers usually used in xerographic application before Canon came up with a better way of laying down a coat of electrostatic charge to a photoconductor using primary charge roller. Getting confused? 

The picture shows 1 with 2 oval openings on the left and the stock one on the right. I'll work on the other one tomorrow.

Also put together the wheels.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Disclaimer: the Haynes Manual for RB6 and the bottle of Red Bull Blue Metallic paint has nothing to do with the box that reads Green Rabbit. *wink* *wink* :)

No, Haynes did not print a manual that teach people how to fix the Red Bull Racing RB6. But it has a lot of nice close up picture of different parts of the car that won the 2010 title. Good reference book to have.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ferrari 641/2 3

Seeing red!

Primed and sprayed a nice coat of red. Could have painted the bottom, the wing and all those suspension pieces, but I got lazy. Well, there is no need to rush things through. This is supposed to be a hobby, not work. There is no deadline to meet. Now I am going to sit back, watch TV and drink a bottle of soda. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ferrari 641/2 2

I did not usually test fit anything first in the old days when I was building plastic injection kits. That is because injection kits usually can fit quite well out of the box. The problem with these 1/43 white metal cast kits is, they do not fit together well. Parts often need modifications. I did not test fit parts when I built the first couple of 1/43 kits, and I had a lot of trouble fitting the suspension pieces to the body. Test fitting parts, make sure they fit together and getting an idea how they should fit together is very very important. Spending more time up front test fitting things will keep me from a lot of headaches and frustrations down the road.

I made pretty good progress last night and today. Got the transmission fitted with drive shaft and rear suspension. Also, the rear wing is put together. I suppose I can start painting pretty soon.

Ferrari 641/2 1

One thing I've learned is the importance of test fitting all the suspension pieces. 

I have a feeling that this one will be a quick build.

Friday, July 20, 2012

BAR 006 Complete

BAR Honda 006
Japanese G.P. 2004 P3
Jenson Button
Tameo Kits (SLK 015)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ferrari 641 French G.P. 1990 Alain Prost

At the rate that I build these kits and the rate that I have been buying them, I will never be able to finish all of them. So, right after I'm done with BAR 006, I have to start my next project.

The next project is Ferrari F1-90, more commonly known as 641. The kit TMK 375 is the French G.P. version which the Professor, Alain Prost, scored Ferrari's 100th Grand Prix win.

Hopefully, it won't take me 5 months to finish this guy.

Also, I just bought the kit of the car that won Ferrari's 200th Grand Prix win. It is F2007 at Chinese G.P., piloted by the Iceman, Kimi Raikkonen.

BAR 006 17

Done! Done! Done! Now I only need to mount it in the display case. 5 months of work (could have finished 2 month earlier, but thanks to the decal incident which set me back 2 months).

BAR 006 16

Very very close to finish. I can see the end of the tunnel now.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Animals and Ferrari Red

Guess what I got?


My animals from Italy are here! A 2 year old Green Rabbit and a 1 year old blue parrot! Sorry Black Bison, 3 years ago, you were not good enough in 2009 to deserve the WC name, and you will not be in my collection.

Now that I am winding up the BAR 006, I guess I should finish the Ferrari 641 first and then decide what should I build afterward. My current project at work will come to a conclusion by the end of next week and I do not have anything lined up yet. So, I will probably have some extra time to play with model cars.

Going back to the Ferrari 641. Which red is the correct red for the car? On TV and on photographs, the car is just red. But in real life, Ferrari F1 machines that I have seen were not exactly red. F310, F399 and F2000 that I've seen looked like they are in fluorescent red with a hint of orange. So, anyone has any idea which red Ferrari 641 is supposed to be in?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

BAR 006 15

Front and rear suspension done! Also put in the seat, the racing harness.