The blog owner of プラモデルが好きだ！」のホームページです。 ('Love of Plastic Models! Homepage') has very kindly given permission to showcase some of his classic and very beautiful Ki-44 Shoki models built from the Hasegawa and Otaki/Arii kits to 1/48th scale. The love shines through and at the blog there is a very nice build of the UPC 1/50th 'Kamikaze' Ki-15 kit as well as other gems including a super collection of P-40s.
Aircraft modelling is a broad church but the trend in recent years has been towards the replica - a miniaturisation of the real thing where art often exceeds life - rather than the model which possesses such charm for being what it is and no more. The temptation is always to improve and superdetail kits, which often contibutes more to the unbuilt stash than to the display case and is one of the main factors in inducing 'AMS' - Advanced Modelling Syndrome - where enthusiasm is replaced with angst, production efficiency with trepidation, a sense of achievement with dissatisfaction and the works eventually get gummed up. Modelling forums where new kits now get picked over to the enth degree for their inevitable flaws and old kits, often respectable enough, get panned as not worth bothering with, can intimidate as much as inspire. And so the pure art of modelling gets somewhat lost in a kind of competitive technocracy of detail.
I built aircraft models throughout the 1960s but they were by no means 'clean' models. Although my efforts gradually improved, at first there were no filled seams, canopy frames remained unpainted and the horrid printers ink RAF roundels in Airfix kits were accepted in all their bright blue and vermilion lack of splendour. There was something seriously discouraging about matt brown and green paint slapped on with a brush, with the sky blue plastic grinning through and those lacklustre roundels. Although I subscribed to Airfix magazine the tiny monochrome and often fuzzy images of made up models served as no benchmark to my own lack of skill. I used to wonder at the Frog models built by a neighbour's Dad with their gloss Extra Dark Sea Grey and Sky paint so carefully applied but could not discern what it was that made such a difference. My own first attempt at painting canopy frames freehand on a model was on the LS Ki-67 'Hiryu' bomber kit, a circa 1968 Christmas present from my Grandmother, substantially aided by the moulding.
It was not until the mid-1970s when I discovered the American 'Scale Aircraft Modeler' magazines with their full page colour images of professionally photographed and largely built out of the box models that the charm and inspiration of 'clean' models became apparent. It was like a re-awakening of enthusiasm where skills within reach and focussed on care in finishing brought immense satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Those magazines took me straight back to the model shop with a new found determination to enjoy modelling again in the most simplest of ways. An Otaki Hayabusa took shape on the table, built and painted more carefully than ever before but with no "added ingedients". In my humble opinion the pure form of the airframe is presented and celebrated by such models such that one can still admire the beauty of a Frog Sea Fury, say, without getting hung up on its wheel hub detail.
With special thanks to the 'Plamo' blog owner for allowing me to share these images of such splendid Ki-44 models.
Image credits: All © 2016 http://www.ne.jp/asahi/chakkiri/plamo/index.htm