Monday, July 26, 2010

The Countdown begins!

This closeup of the Grand Phoenix Firefly Mk. I as built by the very talented Jean Barby showcases the BarracudaCast resin upgrades for this otherwise very nice kit. Shown are the Early Mainwheels, the Prop and Spinner, and the Cannon Barrels, as well as the vac canopy .

The IPMS USA National Convention is bearing down on me like a freight train with the throttle stuck wide open. I'm sure many other cottage industry guys and modelers trying to finish models in time know exactly what I am talking about. As the show approaches, plans are constantly redrawn and some projects I was sure would be done in time have had to be shelved.

We have tables booked at the show and will be there with all the new resin, plus six NEW decal sheets to be announced tomorrow. These sheets are done, printed and on site. I am awaiting instructions from the printers to get them packaged and ready for sale.

For those of you that have known me and seen me at the Nationals for many years, this will be an interesting show, as Cooper (my son), will be making his first appearance at an IPMS show since he was 3 or 4 years old. He is now 16, so you just might not recognize him! He will be working the tables with me, so stop by and say hello.

Just a quick word about the new resin. Those of you that have ordered some of the new sets know that there have been a few production problems that have delayed shipping. The second biggest was the card labels, which took forever to arrive. The printer claimed one day turnaround on their website. That may be true, but what they failed to mention that once they turned it around in one day, it would then take them an additional 5 days to ship! Then they found the cheapest possible mailing service that takes about 7 business days to get from the East Coast to the West Coast! The Pony Express would have been faster.

But the bigger problem was that my printer, who has been excellent for the last two years, royally screwed up my header cards. After much discussion, we agreed that I would have to find another printer for this job, as it was beyond their capabilities. I am expecting the reprinted header cards (the card shown in my earlier post showing the Firefly and Sea Fury packaging) on Wednesday. Once they arrive, the orders will again start shipping. My sincere apologies for the delays.

The good news is that all orders will be shipped before I leave next week, and that all new resin sets will be available for sale at the show.

The new 365th FG book will also be showcased in Phoenix. This is such a cool project. The weekend before last, I attended a Hell Hawks symposium in Vacaville, CA and got to meet nine surviving pilots. They were all very interesting and nice guys, and I enjoyed meeting them. They are very excited about the new book, but are all a little bemused by the attention they have received in the last two years, after almost 60 years of near anonymity!

Anyway, I better get back to casting and packaging. There are a lot of orders to fill, and I don't want to keep anyone waiting any longer that I have to.

Happy modelling! Roy

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A major announcement from BarracudaGraphs!

BarracudaGraphs is extremely proud to announce a new book in development, due to be released in September of 2010.

365th Fighter Bomber Group - The Hell Hawk Thunderbolts in Profile by Don Barnes, John Crump, and Roy Sutherland will shine a bright light on a Group that, until recently, has been almost completely overlooked. This new work was inspired by the excellent book "Hell Hawks!" by Robert Dorr and Thomas Jones, which recounts the history of the 365th FG during the last 2 years of the war.

The Hell Hawks were a ground attack unit flying P-47 Thunderbolts with the 9th Air Force. They provided critical tactical air support to the Allied ground forces from the Normandy breakout until the last day of the war in Europe. Their stories are incredible; as fascinating and heroic as anything you'll hear from any other unit in World War II. Ranging from anti-Diver missions, to whirling aerial combats with the best the Luftwaffe had to offer, to amazing close air support missions against the Wehrmacht armies, the 365th FG brought the war home to the German armed forces in a brutal and relentless assault. The Hell Hawks flew some of the most dangerous missions of the war, and paid a heavy price.

Spurred on by his growing interest in the 365th, professional graphic artist and friend Don Barnes started looking into this unit, and found almost nothing had been done to document the men and airplanes of this unit. He undertook many months of in-depth research, and in the process befriended a number of the surviving pilots and their families, many of whom provided much of the information that will feature prominently in the book.
Don's relentless digging has uncovered a wealth of new information never seen before. He has spent many hours piecing together the complex jigsaw of photos, and has amassed a collection of 48 fully documented profiles, an astounding feat or research. Before this book, I have only ever seen one profile of an aircraft from the 365th, and even that contained errors. Don's profiles are complete down to mission markings and crew names. These beautifully rendered profiles will be printed one per page, supported with closeups of the artwork and scrap views of starboard side markings where applicable. Each aircraft will be supported by an in-depth description of the aircraft and it's pilot.

With captions and sidebars by John Crump and a detailed unit history by Roy Sutherland, this book just might set some new standards for unit histories. The book will be full color from cover to cover, and will be supported by hundreds of original, mostly unpublished period photos, printed in a large size on high quality paper. The final count on photos is still to be determined, but there will also be a number of unique and interesting features that will add life and interest to this new book.

The question that I have heard from many of those who have been aware of what we have been working on is "Will there be decals to support this new book?" My answer is a quizzical one-eyebrow-raised look and a "Now why didn't I think of that?" response. It's sarcasm, needless to say.

Of course decals will be released at the same time as the book, and I think that everyone will be surprised at just how colorful and interesting some of these aircraft are.

In the meantime, I highly recommend you buy and read "Hell Hawks!". The two books are complimentary. The Dorr/Jones book will give you the more in-depth and personal stories, where as our book will provide the chronological history and document the airplanes and pilots of the unit.

Its about time, long overdue in fact, that the men and the machines of the Ninth Air Force have finally started getting the exposure and notoriety they so richly deserve. We plan to address this disparity again in the future.

More news on this exciting new book as the publication date approaches.

Happy modelling! Roy

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Quest for Perfection

To quote George Fisher "When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target". This holds true for all areas of life, and decals are certainly no exception to this.

Producing decals is a tricky business. Th problem is, you can't possibly be an expert in all subjects. When planning a new sheet, I do all I can to research the subject. I talk to my network of guys who know way more than me on certain subjects... OK, more like MOST subjects! They often have other contacts that can flesh out the subject even more. Occasionally, a research impasse is reached, and a call for help goes out. As can be expected with anything that happened more than 60 years ago, not a lot of images and information have survived to the current day. So, you have to make due with what you have, sometimes making best guesses based on the surviving data.

The frustrating part is that once in a while, once a sheet has been released, someone comes forward with exactly what you had been looking for. Of course, the new information seldom shows that your informed interpretations were accurate! Thankfully, this has not happened a lot.

In this case, regarding the forthcoming Spitfire VIII sheet shown above, 2 guys came forward with corrections at the very last minute, spurred on by the announcement of the Spit VIII sheet as seen on the leading modelling websites.

The printers had not started burning the screens yet, so the job was put on hold to address the corrections. One correction is minor; a transposed serial, which is a quick and easy fix. The other involves a complete rework of some of the artwork based on much better photos, and a correction to the inaccurate interpretation of the color scheme based on research that has been superseded by new discoveries.

I am very grateful to these gentlemen for coming to the rescue at the last minute. A more accurate sheet will result.

The only downside to this is that the sheet will be delayed. Due to summer vacations from both my artist and my printer, the sheets (in both 1:32 and 1:48 scales) will be released later in August.

I mentioned in the original press release that there will be a bonus 6th scheme on the 1/48th scale sheet. The above image is the profile for this bonus scheme. While at first blush, a rather plain aircraft, it was flown by the beloved Kiwi pilot F/O Vic Bargh of 67 Squadron. It also has the great fortune to have my initials as its codes, thereby assuring itself a place on this sheet! Its good to be King...

So, the sheet will be delayed a little, but will be a better and more accurate sheet. A perfect sheet? Doubtful. But it is as accurate as it can be given the many hours of research that has gone into it.

As a final note, if you have any ideas for new decal sheets, especially if you have good documentation and photos of the subjects at hand, please contact me. I can't promise that every idea will wind up on a sheet, or that it may jump to the top of the cue, but if it is really interesting, it has a good shot! Email me at:

Happy modelling! Roy

Sunday, July 11, 2010

BarracudaCast is open for business!

Hi Guys. The last few months have been a really busy time here at Barracuda Studios. Yes, the blog has been pretty quiet, but it sometimes comes down to a choice between working on new stuff and talking about working on new stuff.

The result of all this work is a bonanza of new resin sets in 1/48th and 1/32nd scale. 14 new products in all; seven in 1/48th scale and seven in 1/32nd scale.

The 1/48th scale products are designed for the Grand Phoenix or AZ Models Fairey Firefly Mk I and the Trumpeter Hawker Sea Fury FB. 11:

BR48001 Firefly Mk. I Prop and Spinner
BR48002 Firefly Mk. I Cannon Barrels
BR48003 Firefly Mk. I Early Wheels
BR48004 Firefly Mk. I Late Wheels
BR48005 Firefly Mk. I Vacform Canopy
BR48006 Sea Fury Mainwheels and Tailwheel
BR48007 Sea Fury 90 Gallon Droptanks
The 1/32nd scale parts are designed for the spectacular Tamiya Spitfire Mk IX and their newly released Spitfire Mk VIII kits. These parts will also significantly upgrade the PCM Spitfire IX kits. Most of these parts can be used with the Mk I and V Spitfires in 1/32nd scale. they consist of:

BR32001 Spitfire Seat with Leather Backpad
BR32002 Spitfire Cockpit Door with Separate Crowbar
BR32003 Spitfire Cockpit Upgrade Set
BR32004 Spitfire IX Rocker Covers with Logos
BR32005 Spitfire 5-Slot Mainwheels
BR32006 Spitfire 4-Slot Mainwheels
BR32007 Spitfire Gun Covers with Wide Blister

Shipping on all products will begin on Tuesday. There is a bit of a backlog due to some delays in packaging and decals, but I hope to have everyone's order shipped by the end of the week.

Starting up a whole new product line is a big job, and there are often a number of logistical issues to be resolved, and this time was not much different. That's about all for tonight, but I have a whole number of new projects and products all coming together over the next few weeks and months, so you can count on a good number of blog entries , especially leading up to the IPMS/USA nationals in Phoenix next month.

I will post again in the next day or two with more new product announcements. Between now and August 8th, you can expect at least 8 new decal sheets. All will be available for sale (if all goes to plan) at the show.

Hope you are enjoying your summer.

Happy modelling! Roy