Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tamiya's new 1/32nd Spitfire

Spitfire HF VII, MD111 of 131 Squadron, based at Culmhead and seen a few weeks after D-Day. The high altitude wingtips have been replaced with standard tips. This aircraft is one of 4 subjects available in all 3 scales from BarracudaCals.

Hi Guys,

Those who know me even a little bit know I am a rabid Spitfire fanatic. I have studied the Spitfire for 30 years now, and combined with my eye for detail and shape, feel that I am reasonably qualified to comment on this new Mark IX from Tamiya.

There are plenty of reviews online that will give you a detailed breakdown of the kit and supply you with many nice images of the sprues, etched parts, hardware, instructions and decals. All will tell you what a terrific kit this is and how it has set a new standard for plastic model kits and on and on. Yada yada yada... The thing is, they are absolutely right. It is a remarkable piece of model engineering. Possibly the finest plastic airplane model ever produced. I haven't seen every kit ever made, but having been in the business for so many years, you tend to hear about the great ones, and eventually check them out for yourself.

For me, shape is everything. All the fancy engineering and amazing detail in the world means nothing if it doesn't capture the essence of the real thing. Witness the Trumpeter line. Beautifully detailed and terrific molding quality, but many of their kits are so fraught with errors that I have maybe five Trumpeter kits in my entire collection. The new 1/32 Swordfish would be a must have for me, but the fabric on the wings looks awful and overdone to my eye. Pass.

Now, I was as surprised as everyone else to hear that Tamiya had announced a 1/32 Spit IX. I also had some doubts as to whether or not this was going to be something I'd be buying, given the somewhat disappointing (in regards to accuracy) Spitfire Mk I and Vb in 1/48th scale. Those kits suffer from a short and somewhat fat fuselage, and a overly elliptic wing planform. The wing can be relatively easily fixed with some sanding, but the fuselage is much more difficult to address, so you either live with it, or find another route to getting an accurate looking single stage Spitfire in 1/48th.

Early reports from guys who's opinions regarding the Spitfire I respect seemed to be pointing to a thoroughly researched, and completely new, tool. I received my Spit IX a few weeks ago. I have gone over it with a fine tooth comb now (yes, I DO have a comb, I just haven't need to use it for the last 10 years!), and am happy to report that this kit, with a few very minor exceptions, is a superbly accurate and detailed kit. They have obviously worked from all new drawings, and have studied real Spits extensively.

The two stage Merlin engine is a kit unto itself, with over 50 parts going into the engine alone. This does not include firewall and its accessories, bearers, oil and header tanks, carb intakes and the like. The only thing missing is ROLLS ROYCE cast into the rocker covers, but then not all Merlins had this feature. Would have been cool if these were included, though!

The cockpit is very detailed, but there is room for a lot of extra detailing to be added. The wiring and hydraulic lines have thankfully not been molded in to the sidewalls. I hate this look in larger scale. You can add it yourself with a couple of hours of work. The leather backpad to the seat has been left off, the one somewhat glaring omission from the kit. I've never seen a Spit of any mark without the seat backpad. The spade grip is also missing the textured cover on the grip portion, but this is a small detail . The artificial horizon on the kit decal sheet, with its blue background, is a decidedly modern instrument, so this instrument decal should be replaced with something more period.

The only remaining small point is that the wide cannon blisters are a bit misshapen, being too square at the leading edge. Other than that, I am hard pressed to find other faults with this kit. Even the propeller blades, which are one of the most commonly badly represented parts on many kits of prop driven types, are superbly shaped and accurate looking.

I cannot say enough good about this kit. Is it perfect? No, but its damn close. Can it be improved upon? Sure!

That being the case, and despite the flurry of comments from those who will say I am gilding the Lilly, I am working away on a couple of resin sets for this model. Don't forget that I also have a set of interesting decals for the two stage Merlin Spitfire in 1/32nd. The roundels alone are an improvement over the kit decals, as the red Tamiya uses for the roundels is not "brick" colored enough .

More information to follow. There are at least 4 sets in development, and announcements will follow in the next week or so.

Happy modelling! Roy

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Barracuda Studios at IPMS UK Nationals - part 2

A rare restored Bristol Beaufort in Coastal Command colors.
Sopwith triplane on display at the RAF Museum Hendon.

Hi Guys,

Hey, at least its still the same month as the last posting... Back to my trip to the the other side of the pond for the IPMS/UK Nationals. I arrived at Heathrow Airport around 7AM, went through Customs and picked up my luggage. I was met by Robin Powell, who had, as previously mentioned, taken the week off. We loaded my stuff into his beloved Land Rover Discovery, and headed off to the RAF Museum at Hendon. My first plan, to visit the Mosquito Air Museum, had gone down in flames as they rolled up the sidewalks for the winter not 3 days earlier. I had been to Hendon twice before, more than 12 years ago. I was not all that excited to see it again, as I assumed that it would be much the same. I was wrong.

Arriving at Hendon at about 10:30, we soon discovered that the museum wasn't open until noon. OK, we'll go and sit down and have some breakfast in the cafeteria next door. Nope. No hot food until 11:30. OK... adapt, adopt, and improve. The guard told us that the WWI exhibit was open, and closes at noon! Right... So, off we went to see the bipes. A superb collection, focusing on British types mostly, and nicely displayed. We then grabbed a traditional English breakfast at the cafe.

By then, the main museum was open, so we entered the brand new Milestones of Flight Hall. While it is very new and modern looking, we were dismayed at how the aircraft were displayed. The only complete Hawker Tempest V on display anywhere, and not only is it hanging 30 feet in the air, but it is painted in Target Tug markings! WTH?? One of the RAFs best fighters of WWII, and its painted up in non-combat markings! At least they could have put it in Beamont's markings and had it chasing a V-1 or something! In fact, the only aircraft that were displayed on the ground were Luftwaffe and Japanese aircraft. If the whole Museum was like this, we were going to leave.

We moseyed over to the next hall (can you mosey in the UK? I guess you can!), and were greatly relieved. The hall was well laid out and reasonably well lit. While the aircraft were roped off, you could get pretty close to them and most aircraft were displayed so that you could see them from every angle. There are 3 main halls, filled with an outstanding collection of important and beautifully restored aircraft, just over 100 in all! Go to Wikipedia and type in RAF Museum Hendon to see a complete list. My favorite exhibits were the Bristol Beaufort (first one I've seen!), the Tempest II, the Lightning F6, and of course the Lanc and Spit 24. They also have a truly excellent display of weapons and engines. Many billions of pixels gave their all as I went on a mad photographic spree. I am very glad we stopped by.

An excellent museum, and I'd like the guys from Udvar-Hazy to see how a museum SHOULD be laid out. I'm not knocking all the hard work the Smithsonian guys put in, but the way the aircraft are displayed is useless to the serious historian or model builder. Many aircraft are only viewable from one angle, and you can't get within 30 feet of many of them. They are also militant about tripods and even balancing cameras on benches and the like.

Ok, rant over... for now. It was getting late, and we had a 2 hour drive (or more, I didn't keep time) to get to Poole where Robin and Linda live. The next morning (Friday), we started packing up and getting ready for the drive up to Telford for the IPMS show. Robin has run the Magna Models stand for the last few years, as the owner now lives in Spain, and does not make it out for the shows anymore. Jamming all the Magna and Barracuda Studios stuff into the Disco took some doing, but eventually it all fit, and by the early afternoon we were heading north.

The faint smell of plastic in the air driving us on...

Happy modelling! Roy

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Barracuda Studios at IPMS UK Nationals - part 1

The Station Inn in Horsehay, not far from Telford. A terrific pub.
L to R: Me, Mike Belcher, Robin Powell, Jan Belcher at the Station
Inn. Not seen is Linda, who is taking the picture. Great food here.
Note the extensive options on the board for the bangers and mash.

Hi Guys,

I'm back from my trip to the UK. I returned on Thursday and am finally getting back to PST time. It's interesting that jetlag is a lot more ferocious when travelling eastbound. Westbound, you seem to adjust a lot more quickly. I didn't have any trouble adjusting to the time change either direction this time, especially regarding sleep patterns, but the fatigue is another matter. It is hard to understand how sitting down for 11 hours is so exhausting, but I hear it is a combination of the altitude and constant jet noise that wears you out. Whatever it is, its a small price to pay to be able to travel 5,371 miles to attend the biggest plastic model convention in the world.

Telford, a small town just Northwest of Birmingham, England, has been the home of the IPMS UK National Convention for the last 11 years. Before that, it was held for a number of years at the Donnington Exhibition Centre. Prior to that, it was held at Stoneleigh Agricultural Centre. As the show has grown, the venue has become bigger (and more civilized). The Telford Exhibition Centre is a modern building purpos designed for conventions. It is well lit and properly heated, with plenty of space for the show to continue to grow. There are hotels very nearby, although there seems to be a local ordinance preventing restaurants from operating! To get to any decent restaurants, you need to travel to nearby Shifnal.

A word about English food. There is a widely held perception that English food is bland and awful. That has not been my experience, especially in recent years. I had some really great food on this last trip. I had a terrific burger in a pub in Horsehay called the Station Inn.

It was a beef and grain mustard burger with melted cheese and onion chutney on a tomato focaccia bread. Sound bland to you? It was amazing. Had bangers and mash another night. A choice of 8 different savory sausages to choose from, 6 different flavored and spiced mashed potatoes, with a choice of 6 different sauces, all in a Yorkshire pudding. Damn good. England has some of the best Indian food anywhere. Also had a Donner kebab (the Turkish equivalent of a Greek Gyro) that was excellent, and the old standard of cod and chips.

The beer is also worth the trip. Again, the myth of warm beer needs busting. Beer is served cool, not ice cold. The Natives will tell you that the only reason you need to chill a beer to near freezing is to kill the taste! In fact, getting ice in drinks is very uncommon, and they look at you funny if you ask. The beer I drank was mostly from local breweries. Bitters and Ales mostly. Ranging from good to excellent, the best being a local brew made for the fall season called Scream. Sorry, couldn't tell you the name of the Brewery.

Anyway, while I was in England, I was the guests of my good Friends Robin and Linda Powell. I met Robin more than 12 years ago at Silicon Valley Scale modelers meeting in Milpitas, CA. Robin is a native of the UK, but was living in California for a number of years, and working in Silicon Valley. He is an avid and fearless builder, tackling the most complex vacform and resin kits, as well as the occasional scratchbuild or major conversion. We have been friends ever since. About 5-6 years ago, he moved back to the UK. He was kind enough to invite me to stay during my trip, and even took off a week from work to squire me around to museums. They are good friends and I really enjoyed my stay. On Saturday and Sunday night, we met up with my old friends Mike and Jan Belcher, of Belcher Bits fame for dinner. On Saturday night, we were also joined by another long time modelling friend Adrian Constable.

Some say that modelling is a solitary hobby. I disagree. The friendships I have made over the years from attending shows and meetings are one of the highlights of this hobby for me.

Thats enough for now. Part 2 will follow soon and i'll get down to discussing the show. Part 3 will cover some of my museum trips, where I took more than 1600 photos!

Happy modelling! Roy

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's alive! Alive, I tell you!!

Hey guys. Well, I'm back after more than a month's absence. A lot has happened since my last post back in September. The secret project that I was alluding to suddenly had to get kicked into high gear. Everything else kind of fell to the wayside. The good news is that the project is finished and I think you will find that the wait will have been worth it.

The big news, if you haven't already guessed from the large image at the top of this post is... Barracuda Studios is expecting. A bouncing baby product line will be born on Saturday, November 7th, 2009 in Telford, England , at the Scale Modelworld, the IPMS/UK National Convention. Its name is BarracudaGraphs.

OK, enough baby metaphors... This new company is a division of Barracuda Studios, and will be publishing books and monographs on modelling related subjects... and possibly some other subjects, too! The first title has been completed and will be in hand and ready for sale at the Telford show in less than 3 weeks.

Here are the stats:

Flightline 1. de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW 1 and 2. Written by Roy Sutherland.

Containing 118 full color pages printed on high quality gloss stock, it features over 250 photos and illustrations, and measures 11.25" by 8.5" in a landscape format, so it will stay open on your model desk. The format is a close up photographic study of the Sea Vixen FAW 1 and 2, showing the entire airframe in great detail. There is a short history section written by noted Osprey author Chris Bucholtz, and supported by period photos of Sea Vixens in service. The in-depth captions reveal many little known details of the structure and systems.

I learned a lot about the beast writing the captions for this book. I had to do many hours of reading and study to be able to write reasonably intelligent captions. They reveal some interesting facts about the Sea Vixen. The rest of the interesting stuff I just made up.

OK, to clear the record: The Sea Vixen, in reality, is not a transforming robot named Migsmasher. Despite its unique design, it was not built using alien technology at Locale 86 of MISHMASH. This would be the British analog of Area 51, if such a thing existed, but it doesn't. So don't start nosing around, OK? The acronym stands for "Military Intelligence Special Handling - Most Awfully Secret, Hopefully". The radar system was also not based on the guts of a Kenmore kitchen microwave. Finally, the Observer was not placed next to the pilot (instead of behind him) so that he could serve him tea at 4 o clock. No truth to that one at all. That stuff did NOT make it into the book. Just the facts, ma'am.

By now you have come to know that I digress off into weird tangents from time to time, right? You still with me? Hello?

A number of these books will be for sale at the Telford show. The balance of the books will be available for sale a little later on, as rush shipping costs a LOT! I will let you know when they become available. Latest by early December, I would wager.

The BarracudaCals website is due for some minor changes. The main splash page will be changed from BarracudaCals to Barracuda Studios. From there you will be able to go to BarracudaCals to spend yourself into the poorhouse on decals, or to BarracudaGraphs to buy the new book. As far as seaching for the site, you can type in either BarracudaCals.com, BarracudaCast.com or BarracudaGraphs.com. It will take you to the same site. They are linked.

Well, that enough for now. I have a hungry teen that wants me to make dinner.

Can't promise that I'll be blogging regularly for the next few weeks. I have a lot to do to get ready for Telford, but I'll make an effort to post a few announcements about some new resin products that will be available for sale at Scale Modelworld before I leave.

Lots of exciting things to come.

Happy modelling! Roy

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Busy Week

Hi Guys,

Just a quick blog tonight. It's been a busy week for me. My son Cooper, now 15, started school on Monday. Turns out that this first week was testing for many of the classes. Cooper only has one class, and it is over by 11AM. So, between chauffeur and dad duties (OK, so I like to spend time with him!), the days have gone quickly. Next week returns to normal.

This week, I have been chasing the many details that need to happen now in order to get the new project up and running, so that "Product X" can debut on time in November at Scale Modelworld in the UK. This project has turned out to be more involved and complex than I originally thought. The good news is that after a lot of scrambling this week, I think I have gotten most everything rolling that needs to be rolling at this point.

Being a new venture, there is much to learn. So far so good. I am feeling confident that everything will go as planned, and that the deadlines will all be met.

On top of that, I am hoping to get the next batch of decals off to the printer shortly. For those who have been asking, yes, the P-40 sheets will be reduced to 1/48th and 1/72nd scales. New sheets will also be run, but I'm not ready to divulge them just yet. I would like to give you a hint about one of the subjects, but the thought of it makes the coarse hair on the back of my neck stand up. No hints.... nope. Not gonna do it!

Tonight, I am off to the Greasy Gourmet, to have a late dinner with some of my local modeling friends. I have not forgotten about the promised build article on the Spitfire HF VII. I will post the second installment by Saturday. "Sure you are! This is me holding my breath!" I can hear you all saying. Not that I blame you.

Back to work.

Happy modelling. Roy

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Barracuda Studios moving in new directions!

Hi Guys,

Time for an update from Barracuda Studios. "Barracuda Studios?" you ask in an unnaturally high, slightly incredulous voice. You clear your throat, and then add, in a more natural tone (actually deeper than usual, to make up for the first somewhat squeaky utterance) "What's that?"

BarracudaCals is a product line of the company properly referred to as Barracuda Studios. This line of decals was launched back on December of 2008. Not content to let sleeping dogs lie (who are they lying to anyway, what are they lying about, and who would even hear them when they are sleeping?), we are expanding out horizons.

We are proud to announce a new line of resin detail sets, to be called BarracudaCast. They are not ready for sale yet, but will be soon.

Now, some will say "Why not stick with Cooper Details?" There are a number of reasons. Some are personal, some logistical, but the most important is to unify the product lines. I have spent many years establishing Cooper Details as a line synonymous with quality. I am proud of the line, but the time has come for a change. A new start. A new hope. Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. You're my only...

Cooper Details is now BarracudaCast. BarracudaCast - Cooper Details. Hope that isn't too confusing. I will make sure that fact is covered in reviews until the new line is established. The line will launch in October some time, and will feature some of the old Cooper Details line, renumbered and in new packaging, as well as new sets. Watch the major modelling websites and our own website for announcements.

Pretty exciting, huh? No? Old news to you? OK, Mr. jaded modeler... well, here's something that you didn't know. Barracuda Studios will be launching yet another line at the UK Nationals in Telford. Get your tastebuds ready for BarracudaCandy! Yes, tender morsels of Blackfin Barracuda fillets covered in the finest Swiss dark chocolate and topped with coconut. Mmmmm... fish and chocolate. OK, that's not true. Or even the slightest bit appetizing.

The first release in this new line will be announced sometime in October, once I am sure it will be ready for the show. I am sure it will be an exciting addition to the growing world of BarracudaCrap for you to buy. I must be in a good mood. This entry is considerably more odd and sarcastic than most.

The UK show will feature the debut of a number of new resin sets from BarracudaCast, new decals from BarracudaCals, and the surprise launch of the new line. I'm looking forward to this show. Its always a lot of fun.

I now return you you to your regularly scheduled life, already in progress.

Happy modelling! Roy

PS. With a few simple clicks down in the Followers area in the right margin, you can become a follower . This only means that you will receive email notifications of new posts, and not that you have joined a strange cult where we chant strange incantations while wearing optivisors and drink decal setting solutions (don't try this at home... or at work or anywhere, really. It tastes really bad, and is probably not at all good for you).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Missing in Action

Hi Guys,

Its been awhile. Is there anyboy left out there?

The Nationals, for us in the cottage industry, are kind of like the Christmas rush for retailers. Its a time to hunker down and do everything you can to be ready for the onslaught of modelers with money burning a hole in their pockets.

The IPMS USA National Convention was held in in Columbus, Ohio this year from August 19th through the 23rd. With the current state of the economy, I was not expecting much from this show. Posts on various discussion groups about modellers cancelling at the last minute seemed to point to a quiet venue.

Nothing could be further from the truth. That's a strange statement. LOTS of things could be further from the truth. Politicians always have your best interests in mind. Hot chicks are turned on by guys who build models. You get my point. The show was jumping. Maybe jumping is not a good word for it. Some of these guys look like they haven't jumped since the Carter administration! Seriously, a great turnout, which was a very pleasant surprise. Despite some cancellations, all vendors tables were filled. Attendance was high, and guys were spending money, despite the tough times.

All in all, a great show. While there were a few hiccups, nothing ever goes perfectly, and the IPMS Columbus guys deserve a big thank you for hosting a great event. The model turnout, while not record breaking, was pretty impressive, with 2,525 model in the competition. Those kinds of numbers are what make the IPMS Nats the largest model contest in the world. While Scale Modelworld in the UK (BarracudaCals will be in attendance as a vendor again this year) is a considerably larger show, owing to the vast number of vendors and club display tables, their competition area is much smaller. They are both amazing shows, and you owe it to yourself to attend both at least once in your lifetime.

The above photo of the model room, taken by my good friend Lee Coll, illustrates two things: First, the vast quantity of models on display, and second, the somewhat... ahhh.. romantic lighting in the hall. It was one of the few disappointing aspects of the show. The lighting in the model room was poor. I mean bad. How could a convention center have such crappy lighting for a main room? It made judging very challenging, to put it tactfully.

More later. I am back. I have recovered from my trip at last. It took me almost 5 days to feel human again. It was a fun show, and I will post more images and recount some fascinating tales later today.

Happy modelling! Roy

Friday, July 31, 2009

Website Update and Big News!

Hi Guys,

It's been awhile since my last post, but I have a very good excuse. OK. I have a good excuse. Well, it's an excuse, anyway.

I mentioned back on the 18th in a post entitled "Two for the price of one" that I was going to attend the EAA Airventure show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I just got back last night. Now, I did promise that I'd post from the show with some updates. That didn't happen, obviously... I was not able to work out the logistics of getting my phone linked to this Blog. I am not the most tech savvy guy in the world. Not to say I am some sort of Luddite. I have learned a lot. That said, my 15 year old son, Cooper, can do many more things with a computer and a phone than I can. He rolls his eyes when I ask him how to do this and that, but I pay attention when he shows me. Problem was that he has been in Italy, so I had to try and figure it out on my own. No luck.

I will report on EAA Airventure 2009 starting this weekend. It was a great show. More on this later.

Tonight, I want to update you on changes to the BarracudaCals website. John Heck, my webmaster of ceremonies, was sick with Pneumonia for a number of weeks and wound up in the Hospital for a full week with a collapsed lung. He was released last weekend, and has been home regaining his strength after a tough fight with a tough, yet very teeny, adversary. Tonight, he has spent some time updating and generally cleaning up the site.

Some of the changes:

1) New slogan. OK, its the old slogan from Cooper Details, but John wouldn't let me go with my first choice: "BarracudaCals: Decals That Suck*" then a disclaimer in small type down in the corner that reads: "* down over every detail". I think he thought it was a little too goofy. He's probably right, but it appeals to my strange Canadian sense of humor.

2) 3 New decals sheets. P-47 Thunderbolt Part 3 in 4 major scales. See the website for details. Note that while the 1/72 (includes 1/144 marking as well) and 1/48th sheets cover the same airplanes, the 1/32nd sheet features 1 common and 2 different aircraft. Details and images of all three sheets are now properly formatted. Thanks again to Chapman, who stepped in and helped me get the new sheets loaded to the website while John was ill. These are some great P-47s. The funny thing is, I found images of Schmaltzie from the 57th FG, and thought it was a nice looking airplane. It is a pretty much unknown subject, so I did not think it would be much of a draw. I was wrong. I have gotten a number of compliments on this subject. Its hard to say what makes one scheme a hit and others a miss. In most cases, you have a pretty good idea of what will sell. The rest of the time, it's a mystery, doncha know. Sorry, still on Midwestern time.

3) New resin detail sets coming soon. With the IPMS USA Nationals on the 20th of August in Dayton, Ohio racing up, I am finding myself more and more strapped for time. Not sure how many new sets will be available for sale, but I'll do my best. They will be available for sale on the website starting ASAP in September .

4) Big News! We here at BarracudaCals understand that these are tough times for just about everyone. Even Donald Trump has had to cut back. He now lights his cigars with 50 dollar bills. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has felt the pinch as well. Recently it was divulged that the positions of Sock Drawer Supervisor and Assistant Underwear Wrangler have been consolidated. Talk about having to make tough choices to keep the lights on. Anywaaaaaay...

We have analyzed our shipping costs and have made some changes to make ordering more attractive. We have reduced our shipping prices to all locations, and have added the option of free shipping as follows:
  • Orders from the USA: Free shipping for orders over $30 US dollars *
  • Orders from Canada and Mexico: Free shipping for orders over $35 US dollars *
  • Orders from Overseas: Free shipping for orders over $40 US dollars *

*Please note: Total reflects merchandise only. Shipping and tax do not count towards total cost to get free shipping.

The Shopping Cart will automatically calculate your shipping charges, (once you have added your products to the shopping cart and filled in your name and mailing address) including free shipping as listed above.

BTW, That is Ian Robertson's beautiful P-47D at the top of this post. It features BarracudaCals markings for 1st Lieutenant Frank Oiler's "Eileen" from the 84th FS. Note that this is his Razorback. We are the only decal company to have ever produced the markings for this airplane. These markings are now available in all 3 scales.

It is now 5AM here, and I am up working on this blog, and have been for awhile. I guess I have not adjusted back to left coast time yet. That's enough for now.

Happy modelling! Roy

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New decals as promised.

Hi guys,

The big news is that there are new decals up on the BarracudaCals site and available for sale.

The new sheets are as follows:

BC72003 P-47 Thunderbolts Part 3
BC48003 P-47 Thunderbolts Part 3
BC32003 P-47 Thunderbolts Part 3

If you have not already figured it out, the prefix in the product number denotes the scale. 72003 being 1/72nd scale. 48003 being... say it with me... 1/48th scale. And so on.

A new feature started on the Spitfire sheet in 1/72 is the inclusion of markings in 1/144th scale at no extra cost. 72003 continues this newly established tradition, with markings for two of the Thunderbolts in 1/144th scale. These will go beautifully with the new Razorback and Bubbletop P-47s from Platz. Don't want the 1/144th scale markings? Sell them on Ebay for a million dollars... maybe more. Hey, it could happen.

I'm sorry about the image sizes on the website. My regular webmaster John is still quite ill, and needs all his strength to get better. In the meantime, My good friend Chapman has stepped into the breach and got the sheets up there and ready to sell. The image sizes will be adjusted later, once life returns somewhat to normal.

I love this batch of P-47 sheets, as it features one of my all time favorite P-47s, "Sleepy Jean III" from the 395th Fighter Squadron, 9th Air Force. That bold red nose flash and the spectacular pinup noseart, its a showstopper to my eye. There are two excellent color photos of this aircraft in Freeman's superb book "9th Air Force in Color".

The very popular Razorback scheme we did only in 1/32nd scale previously, Frank Oiler's "Eileen" in OD/NG, has now made it to 1/48th and 1/72nd scales. This aircraft has never been the subject of a decal sheet before in these scales. The Wasp artwork is beautifully drawn and printed, and the artwork on "Sleepy Jean III" "Boise Bee" and "Kansas Tornado" have been rendered as fully shaded, not printed in block colors. The quality of the noseart is very high, even in tiny 1/72nd scale.

The third option is a lesser known, but very colorful P-47 from the 57th FG. "Schmaltzie/ Mercedes" has also never been done in decal form before. The blue fuselage numbers and the 57th's red Fighting Cock badge, with yellow wing and tail bands make this stand out from the crowd.

In 1/32nd scale, "Sleepy Jean the Third" is joined by these much sought after Razorbacks - Howard Curran's"Kansas Tornado" and Duane Beeson's "Boise Bee".

You'd have to be crazy not to buy all three... in multiples. They make great Birthday, Labor Day, Halloween, and Christmas presents for relatives you don't much care for. "Here Uncle Dave... some model airplane decals for you" you'll say. Imagine their confusion when they don't even understand what the heck they are, or what they are for. Hilarity ensues as they try to pretend to be excited about this inappropriate gift. Just look at them and say "I was pretty sure you, more than anyone else I know, would appreciate these. Being that they were so expensive and non-refundable, I was crossing my fingers that you would not ask to return these to exchange them for something else, or some other selfish, jerky, cheapskate maneuver " Gotta love the holidays.

More decals are in the works. As a hint: our first US Navy sheets! New and cool subjects will be featured.

Gotta run.

Happy modelling! Roy

Sunday, July 19, 2009

1/72nd Spitfire HF VII Build - Part 1

Hi Guys.

Time for the first installment of the Spitfire HF VII build in 1/72nd scale.

The subject is MB820, coded ON-E. This aircraft was attached to 124 Squadron, and was flown by Flying Officer Barrit. On September 9th, 1943, Barrit was flying MB820 when he intercepted and shot down an FW-190A at 31,000 feet. How they got an FW-190 to fly at that altitude, I can't imagine. The Wurger had notoriously poor performance at higher altitudes, and was already losing performance at 25,000 feet, the altitude at which the US Daylight bomber formations usually flew.

September 9th was the day of Operation Starkey, the feigned invasion of Europe by the allied forces. It was, in reality, little more than an exercise. The plan was to make the Germans think the invasion, which was inevitable, had started, and that the landing was to be at Pas de Calais. Long story short; The Germans did not buy it, and barely reacted. In the long view, however, the operation did succeed on one important level. It convinced the German High Command that the Invasion, when it did come, would be at Pas de Calais... which of course was not the case. Even days into the Normandy Invasion, the Germans were still waiting for the main thrust of the forces to land at Pas de Calais. In your face, Nazi intelligence dudes!

Operation Starkey markings have always been a bit of a mystery . A number of attempts to represent them in artwork and model form have been made in the past, but until we came out with the Barracudacals Spitfire Mk IX Series Part 1 sheets in all 4 major scales, they have never been accurately represented, due to a lack of good information.

Apparently, we took a break from the slipshod and half baked research we usually do, as was alluded to (not specifically) in a pair of rambling, self congratulatory, online by-invitation-only (huh?) videos from a certain seemingly pantless manufacturer of vastly superior decals. All I can say is that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. People who who live in stone houses, shouldn't throw glass. People who live in concrete and steel houses can pretty much throw what they want, within reason, as long as they don't mind cleaning it up later. But seriously, building yourself up by running down the competition, while certainly not illegal, is just lacking in any kind of class. Our hobby is a very small world, and most of us aftermarket guys are friends, or at least treat each other with respect. Most of the time. Except that Obscureco guy... don't get me started about THAT necktie wearing weasel! :-)

Back to the topic at hand. Starkey markings. The key to unravelling the mystery was found in Chris Shores impressive 2nd Tactical Air Force volumes. That, and the 1.1 million dollar time machine I invented and patented... In volume 2 (IIRC) there is a official Ministry description of the application guidelines for the wing bands carried for this operation. As you will see, the black extends from the tips to a position on the wing where the chord is equal to 5 feet. Then, alternating 18" bands of white, black, white, and black. Ebony and Ivory...Living in perfect harmony. Unfortunately for us modelers, who love colorful and complex schemes, both the upper and lower roundels were to be overpainted when the bands were applied. You can leave yours uncovered, if you like. There is no proof that they were overpainted, but this one is going to be modeled compliant to the painting orders. The above diagram shows the upperwing roundels in place for those who want to show them unpainted-over.

Part 2 will follow shortly, and will deal with building, correcting, and converting the 1/72 Hasegawa Spit IX kit into an HF VII.

Happy modelling. Roy

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Two for the price of one.

I'm back, as promised.

This will just be a short blog... a bloguette, if you will.

The exciting news (for me anyway) is that I will be attending the EAA Airventure 2009 show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin from the 27th through the 30th of this month. My friend Gerald Voigt (of Hawkye Hobbies and Aeospace Modeller Magazine fame) has kindly agreed to let me sleep under his back porch during my stay. He will even allow me to use the hose! What a guy. Seriously, I will be staying with him and his family for the three days I will be there. I will have two full days at the show.

"Why should I care? What's in it for me?" you may be asking yourself. I thought you'd be happy for me. Well, OK, tell you what, if you are going to be that way about it, I'll post daily updates from the show, complete with pictures. Do you feel better now?

If I can make it work from my phone (and I will have to confer with Blogmaster Chapman about this), I should be able to post a few entries during the show. My cell has a 3.2 MP camera, so the images should not be the usual muddy, vague images people show you (Hey, your dog is cute! Oh, that's your wife?) on their phone.

That's it for now. If I start blogging twice a day, you guys will come to expect it. What gives? It's been 2 hours with no new blog from Roys Rants! What a rip!!

I have more news, but that will have to wait until next time.

Until then, happy modelling.


Kidnapped by aliens?

OK, I had no intention of taking this long of a break from Roy's Rants. There are a number of things happening that have kept me otherwise occupied since my last fascinating installment.

There are lots of news and announcements to be made, so I will be blogging much more frequently over the next few weeks. Blogging... sounds like something I used to do after a party in which my consumption of spirits may have been a little... how shall we say... overzealous? Blog. Its whats for breakfast! Blog. Another stupid made up word to add to a dictionary already stuffed with ridiculous words like "jiggy" "fo schizzle" "Twitter" and "Octomom". Blog...

There has been an unforeseen delay in getting the new decal sheets up on the website. John, my webmaster extraordinaire, came down with Pneumonia more than a week and a half ago, and he is pretty sick. It looks unlikely that he will be able to work on the site in the near future. His health is far more important. He is a good friend, and I would ask you all to keep him in your thoughts while he recovers.

I will be looking into other avenues to get the decals up on the site. My knowledge of all things webby is limited to clicking on links and cursing the gods when they do not work properly.

I will be posting again later on today, with some exciting bloggy type news. Hopefully, I will also be able to resolve the issue of uploading the new sheets as well.

Happy modelling. Roy

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Switching Gears

Hi Guys,

The older you get, the faster time seems to pass. Hard to believe that its been 4 days since my last entry. At this moment, my son is on the airplane, and they are probably pulling back from the gate on their way to Italy. He will be gone for over 3 weeks, so the last few days have involved a lot of running around in order to get all the last minute details taken care of.

With all this now behind me, the push to get ready for the IPMS Nationals in Columbus will be the focus of my attention. There is a lot to be done, and as always, probably not enough time to do it all. The US and UK Nationals are like the Christmas season for us cottage industry types. We all run around madly, trying to have a bunch of new product ready for sale at the show. The last few weeks usually involve a bunch of overnight marathon sessions. Pale, haggard, and slightly stupefied. That's how I usually am the first day of the show. And the second...

Along with some new decals, the Columbus show will see the return of Cooper Details. For those of you who have never heard of Cooper Details, here's a quick overview to bring you up to speed.

Cooper Details is a brand I created and launched back in 1989 (20 years ago!). CD is a line of resin aftermarket detail sets for aircraft models. The focus was, still is, and will most likely remain, WWII aircraft, with an emphasis on British and German fighters. That is not to say that other eras and genres do not show up from time to time. CD and Medallion Models were pretty much the first ones to release complete resin cockpit upgrade sets. We both officially launched at the 1990 IPMS USA National Convention.

My first cockpit set was for the Spitfire in 1/72nd scale. It has actually started life as a product in 1988, but was not generally available until the company was officially launched at the show. As with most cottage industries, it started out because I wanted it for myself. My plan was to build a complete collection of production Spitfire variants in 1/72nd. Scratchbuilding a new cockpit each time did not make much sense. Making copies was the natural next step, but back in those day, casting in Urethane resin was still new to the hobby. It took months of experimentation to learn how to get decent copies. I the intervening years, resins have greatly improved, and much information is readily available on casting.

More on the history of Cooper Details in the next episode. I will also be featuring a progress report with images on my 1/72 Hasegawa Spitfire HF VII.

If you wish to be informed of new postings to this blog, please click on the follow button in the right hand column, and add your name to the list. Its quick and painless. Until then...

Happy modelling. Roy

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hi Guys,

Hope everyone had a great weekend. It's Sunday night here, and I'm finally getting back to the computer after a few days away. This has turned out to be a very busy couple of weeks for me. The end of school for my son, Cooper, combined with his impending trip to Europe with a cultural exchange program, has had me running constantly, trying to get everything taken care of in time. On top of that, this is high season for his swim team.

Those of you who have teenage kids are most likely nodding knowingly right now. Those of you that don't have teenagers, I have one word of advice... vasectomy. I'm kidding of course. Really, I am. The rest of my time in the last few days has been taken up with filling orders, and getting new products ready to go.

This crush will be over on Thursday, as Cooper is off to the airport at oh-dark-thirty, as the saying goes, to comply with the new regulations that require you to be at the airport 17 hours before your flight leaves. This gives the security staff time to complete the CAT scans, DNA testing, and prefessional luggage ransacking required by the National Security Division of Unnecessary and Ridiculously Paranoid Travel Regulations. And that's just to park in the short term parking. If you want to FLY on an actual airplane, the testing gets much more rigorous and personal.

Being that the flight to Italy will be over 12 hours long, TWO bags of complimentary peanuts will be served as well as a complimentary beverage. No movies will be shown, but I understand that there are 6 viewmasters available per flight, and disks on How to Prepare for Y2K and The Wonders of BetaMax are free for the viewing. This is the Golden Age of flying my friends.

The only modelling related news today is that there is now a tab on the BarracudaCals website that takes you straight to this blog. That should help new readers to easily find it. Thanks to John for getting the link up and running.

I will be announcing the next three sheets at the end of this week. They should be available for sale by the middle of next week. I will be interested to see what you think.

More soon. Thanks for stopping by.

Happy modelling. Roy

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More new decals coming soon.

Hi Guys,

And by guys, I mean both men, women, and assorted other genders. All are welcome here. We have a "don't ask, don't tell, don't care as long as you buy something" policy here at BarracudaCals. Enough nonsense... for now.

BarracudaCals will be releasing 3 new decal sheets later next week. More new sheets are ready to go to the printer, and a backlog of new sheets
is growing by the week. When I started working on ideas for BarracudaCals about a year ago, my primary concern was that I would run out of schemes to do. In the meantime, I have come across so many subjects that are crying out to be done, that I still find it hard to believe.

BarracudaCals will be in attendance at the IPMS USA National Convention this August in Columbus, Ohio. There will be some new decals launched at the show. I have some other surprises in store as well. This is a great show, and if you have never attended, I highly recommend that you give it a shot. It is an impressive spectacle. Over 2,000 built models in one room. Hundreds of Vendor tables, with a huge variety of goods to drain your bank account, are begging to be perused.

Best of all are the attendees. The hall will be overrun with people from all over who share the same passion as you. I look forward to attending each year, as I get to see many friends I have known for years. I also enjoy talking with customers new and old. I am always interested to hear what people have to say about BarracudaCals or even the hobby in general.

Now, I will be signing off. I am going to finish masking the wing stripes off on my 1/72 Hasegawa Spit HF VII. It will be finished in the Operation Starkey markings from the BarracudaCals Spitfire IX Series Part 1 sheet. I have decided (as painful as it may be) to show it with the upper wing roundels overpainted by the temporary wing bands. While not as pretty this way, it seems to me that for this very short lived Operation, they would have not bothered to carefully paint around the upperwing roundels. Of course, whatever I decide; after the model is finished, a photo will surface showing that what I had chosen was wrong. Isn't that what usually happens?

I will post pictures up of this project tomorrow. I hope to have it in the decalling stages by the weekend. Keep your fingers crossed!

Happy modelling.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Welcome to Roys Rants!

Hi Guys!

Until this afternoon, my only experience with blogging was in reading the occasional update by Chris Bucholtz from Obscureco. Thanks to my good friend Chapman, I have now been plunged into the world of blogging. Blame him! He sat me down on the phone this afternoon and walked me through the process of getting Roy's Rants set up.

I woke up this morning sick as a dog with some sort of nasty stomach virus. My son was sick on Sunday and 48 hours later, I came down with the same thing. My head was splitting the whole time Chapman was helping me get it set up. I just wanted to go and bury my face in my pillow, but he persisted. I'll be grateful later... My cell phone finally died, and I collapsed into a fitful sleep.

Now, it's the next morning, and I am feeling a lot better, but my headache still persists. Luckily, headaches are a rare occurence for me, but it does help me to grasp a small part of what my friend Mike Braun goes through with his severe migraines. I can't even imagine...

The upshot of all this is that, now, I have a blog. "There will eventually be some discussion of the hobby on this blog?" you may well be asking. Yes. It will deal with a number of various subjects. Plastic modelling, my company Barracuda Studios and the decal line BarracudaCals, Cooper Details, RAF and FAA aircraft, updates on my personal projects, and even 21st Century Toys and my 5 plus years with that company.

Welcome to my blog. You can count on updates every few days, as well as full daily coverage of the IPMS US National Convention from the show with pictures.

Happy modelling!