Thursday 14 July 2016

Love of Plastic Models - Ki-44 Models

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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Nick,

Great to see these models. I still build models without an airbrush (I use spray cans and brushes) and no photo etch. I am happy with the results and I only have to satisfy me.

The first Ki-44 (85th Sentai markings) has blue drop tanks. I have never seen that before. Have you seen evidence of that color used for JAAF drop tanks?

Wind Swords

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

I have seen 85th Sentai commander Maj Togo Saito's Ki44 also depicted with blue painted drop tanks, most recently in Vol 2 of the Model Art book reviewed on 28 June, but unfortunately have no more information about that.


Michael Thurow said...

Hi Nick,

I find your thoughts about 'modelling madness' very comforting as I often catch myself with being too obsessed with detail as compared to my clean straight-forward models of earlier times.
No wonder that 25 years ago I finished two acceptable models in a year with ample time in between for other hobbies while it now takes me 1+ year to perfect just one!

Thank you, Michael

PFlint said...

those are some nice looking models.
especially the Otaki/Arii kits, they are not on the same level as Tamiya or Hasegawa but can be made to look good if you use patience , care and some good model-building skills.

Mark Smith said...

Thanks for showing us these models, they are beautifully done! Especially love the Ki-15 'Kamikaze,' it's not an easy thing to make that one look this good.

Ken Glass said...

All very impressive work.
Ken Glass

hulldriver said...

I can't agree more with the post. I keep accumulating kits (right now it seems Japanese aircraft) and threaten to build them. I always make up excuses to not build kits due to lack of proper (Read exact colors), or its too cold to spray, the moon needs to align with Venus, etc. There is a lot to be said for just building a basic kit and having fun. I think there is another syndrome we suffer from, MFD, or modelers forum disease. This is where we get caught up in the minutiae of color, accuracy,etc., to the point that we develop another complication, MA, or modelers Atrophy, where delicate skills like air brushing atrophy to the point that we have to re-learn the skill all over again. That's were I am in the great scheme of things. I just have to go in my craft room and build. Yup, soon as I re-arrange my origami collection.
Spitfire Addict