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pigsty last won the day on April 3 2015

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  • Birthday 01/19/1967

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  1. Try saying that to the people who put the Mars Climate Orbiter together. Well, to half of them.
  2. The metric system isn't just based on the size of the Earth. The underlying basis is decimal. Everything else was contrived to use powers of ten: first length (ten million metres is the distance from the equator to the poles); then volume (a litre is ten centimetres cubed); then mass (a kilogramme was the weight of a litre of water). And ten is a fairly obvious basis for calculation, especially before anyone invented writing, because we have ten fingers. It does have its problems: it's true that a third of anything decimal can be tricky. But as I always say: (i) go on then, what's a fifth of a shilling? and (ii) if we learned base 14 to count the pounds in a stone, we could have dropped both concepts without losing a thing, because we don't count in 14s for anything else. Anyway, to return to the subject, the handy thing about 1/72 and 1/48 is that they amount to six and four feet to the inch respectively. That's nice, simple mental arithmetic. A 1/48 kit is also one-and-a-half times the size of a 1/72 kit, which is another handy ratio, and that's why we have 1/32 when it doesn't divide by 12. In a culture that measures in feet and inches these scales make perfect sense. Other cultures don't, which is why 1/50 and 1/75 and 1/100 all appeared. They aren't used any more because they didn't succeed against the imperial scales in the world market, which was still dominated by British and American models. Had they been tried twenty years later, things would probably have been different. As to why we build one or the other: well, it's different for everyone. For me it's presence combined with practicality. Most aircraft come out best in 1/48 for me, because 1/72 is too small and 1/32 too expensive. But if there's no alternative, or if 1/48 would be stupidly large, I'll usually go to another scale. And while 1/35 is a barmy scale for anything, it's so prevalent that you can't avoid it. Looking at Airfix's old kits in 1/32, I do think it's a shame that it didn't get established in that market. But 1/35 is still easily big enough to make for an impressive kit with lots of faithful detail. The funny thing is, while tanks and such are obviously large and heavy, they fit all that into a smaller space than most aircraft, so (for me) armour has to be a scale larger than aviation to have that same presence. Luckily I don't do dioramas.
  3. The nice thing about model kits is all the free plastic. You can make a very decent spacer from the thickest bit of sprue in the box - the trick is to make it the right size. Measuring the length you need would be ideal, but with the best will in the world, it's impossible to be precise because in most cases you're measuring two separate parts and you know only that they're the wrong size when put together. So what I've generally done is eyeball it: produce one that you know is too long; dry-fit the parts in question and tape them together; fit the spacer as best you can to get an idea of how much too long it is; trim it; and repeat. And the closer you get to the right length the less you take off, so you don't end up too short. But you also want to be wary of unintended consequences. So if you'd end up opening up a gap somewhere else, or skewing an angle on something important, filling and sanding (or even replacement parts) might be the better option. One to watch for especially if you're playing around with a wing root is that you don't change the dihedral angle*, especially on only one side. * or anhedral, since you're building a Nesher
  4. And so will West Kent Scale Model Club.
  5. This may have been covered before, but it's not the sort of thing that shows easily up in a search. Right through to the Pz Kpfw IV, WWII German tanks came out in a logical order. You might get the odd pre-production batch or a small production run with minor variations given sub-designations, but the basics were clear: you start at Ausf A, you follow it with Ausf B, then C, and you just keep going in alphabetical order. One small exception is the Pz Kpfw II Ausf L, but you can sort of see some logic there if it was going to be called the Luchs. But the Panther and the Tiger had no logical order. And I can't find an explanation. Any number of references simply report that the Panther went Pz Kpfw V Ausf D, Ausf A, Ausf G, Ausf F as if it was the most natural thing in the world. And the Tiger - or more accurately the two unrelated Tigers - were the Pz Kpfw VI Ausf E and B, and there might even have been an Ausf H in there somewhere. This makes no sense to me. Does it to anyone else?
  6. Lord yes, that reminds me - all this stuff about suffix plates doesn't apply in Northern Ireland. That part of the country has its own system that never shows the car's age, and the three-letter group always includes an I or a Z. If anyone over there was daft enough to buy a Bug it would have used that style of plate - but not the options in your kit. (And there must have been one or two overseas sales ...)
  7. As well as all those Hawks, Curtiss built three Shrikes, all basically light bombers. And Marcel Dassault went through a phase of wanting to call everything a Mystère. Even the very first Mirage was originally the Mystère-Mirage or similar - and then, of course, while there were all those Mirage fighters, his first executive jet was the Mystère 20.
  8. That's always three letters, 1 2 or 3 numbers, and the suffix letter. And there's only one gap in the plate: it would be FEV 385L. After A, all changes were made once a year except for the E suffix in 1967. A was introduced in February 1963, and B followed on 1 January 1964, but before long car dealers were complaining about everyone not wanting their new cars until just after Christmas so the government decided to make the year start on 1 August. That was done in 1967, so the E suffix ran from 1 January to 31 July, then F started on 1 August 1967 and went to 31 July 1968. The system itself wasn't changed, only the timing, and it stayed like that until the run-up to the new system in 2001, which thankfully is much too late for your Bond Bug. (Incidentally, it makes E-reg cars a relative rarity, and as I'm E-reg myself I can pretend that I'm more valuable than I really am.) As the Bug was built from March 1970 to May 1974 the range of suffix letters is H, J, K, L and M. (I wasn't used; nor were O, Q, U and Z.) The reflective plates (white at the front, yellow at the back) were an option from 1967 and standard from 1 January 1973, so any Bug apart from an M-reg one could have either style, although if it was L-reg it'd be more likely to have the reflective ones. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the Owners' Club knows every registration ever applied to a Bug (there were less than 2500 of them) and could even tell you what style plates they all used. But of course you can always make up your own, or the plate you'd have wanted yourself. Your next challenge is the lettering. Since the 2001 system came in, number plates are all meant to use one standard style, which was developed from styles that were common in the earlier system. But there was a lot of variation back then, and that's before you think about whether the plate was printed or assembled out of separate letters or just painted. The correct styles have eluded a lot of decal companies, but the ones you've got are pretty close to authentic. Finally, [pedant mode on] it's licence, not license, but in fact cars in the UK have registrations and it's the drivers who hold licences. [pedant mode off]
  9. She sticks a second Flake in the ice-cream and hands it out of the van. “There we are, sir, your double 99. That’ll be £3.50, please.” “Thanks very much,” he says, and starts to turn away. She lifts an eyebrow. “We’ve a special offer on this week if you’re interested. I can give you a 69 at no extra charge.” “Sorry - did you say a 69?” “That’s right.” “You’re saying you’ll give me a 69 for nothing?” “Yup.” He thinks for less than a second. “I’ll take it,” he says. She reaches out, takes the ice-cream from his hand, removes one of the Flakes and sticks it back in the other way up. “There you are,” she says. “Enjoy.”
  10. A librarian is working away quietly one afternoon, stamping books and putting them on the trolley, when a chicken walks in. The chicken comes up to the counter and says "book, book, book". The librarian looks around, shrugs, and hands the chicken three books. Off it goes, books under one wing. A couple of days later it's another peaceful afternoon when the chicken returns. It goes up to the counter and says "book, book, book". The librarian gives it three more books and off it goes again, books under one wing. This goes on for a few weeks. Then one day the chicken turns up and says "book, book, book". "Hang on," thinks the librarian, "three weeks are up and it's not brought back that first lot." So she does nothing. But the chicken just stands there, peering up at her, and saying "book, book, book". Eventually she gives in, just to be rid of the thing - she hands it another three books and off it goes with them under one wing. This too goes on for a few weeks. By now the chicken has had several dozen books and not returned one of them. Nothing the librarian does seems to get the message across. Every time the chicken turns up, it ends up leaving with three books under its wing. By now she's getting worried. The missing books are starting to show, and she thinks she might get into a bit of trouble - not least for lending books to a chicken. So one day she decides to do something about it. The chicken arrives, walks up the counter, and says "book, book, book". The librarian hands it three books and off it goes with them under one wing. When it's turned the corner the librarian lifts the counter and tiptoes out after it. She trails it down the road, and across the park, and through the town, and past the school, and through a gate onto a farm, and down the farm track, and past the barn and the hayloft and even the chicken run, until at last she sees it by the side of a pond. She hides behind a couple of milk churns to watch. The chicken puts down the books and says "book, book, book". A frog crawls up out of the pond and picks them up. One by one it throws the books over its shoulder into the deepest part of the pond. And every time it does that, it says "reddit - reddit - reddit".
  11. No-one in my family knows where my cousin is. He was kidnapped by mime artists at a very young age, and we never heard from him again.
  12. The trouble is, this isn't a meaningful comparison. Inflation figures are an estimate, compiled from a bunch of fairly-to-very common items, but omitting all the thousands and thousands of others. And they change every year to reflect what people actually buy. I'd be astonished if any modelling-related item had ever been in that basket. If any individual item actually rises by the official figure, it's a fluke, because the figure is at best an average. Items can go up a lot more, or a lot less - just as you wonder why your pot of pasta salad is nearly 30% costlier when the rate is meant to be "only" 11%. In fact, I still chuckle at the memory of a petition to the government a few years ago, demanding that no price be allowed to rise more than the rate of inflation. There was someone who'd thoroughly mixed up cause and effect. The best comparisons are either with price inflation in toys generally (for these purposes they have to be classed as toys) or with moulded plastic goods. And then you have to account for the fact that no-one's obliged to stick to any rate of increase at all and they'll generally charge what the market will bear. This is in practical terms all but impossible, and it's why I ignore inflation and try to think in terms of buying power. How much of my hard-earned do I need to part with? If it's less (as a proportion) that it once was, I'm happy. Well, happy-ish.
  13. It's a bit tricky to explain without getting someone into trouble, but a friend does a lot of business with one of the very large retailers, and they've told him that Hornby turned down a six-figure stock order. If that's because they can't fulfil it, that's one thing. If it's because they won't, that's another. I too would be surprised if they stopped selling to retailers. Doesn't mean they won't, though. And perhaps it just affects large concerns that they feel would be competitors if they were to increase their volume of direct sales. So, back to the original question: does anyone know?
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