December 16, 2015

Justin Skrakowski checks in with a "Listicle" of Five Tools You Thought You Might Not Need

There are some modeling tools/supplies that definitely seem like frivolities. The sort of things you would buy and have on your workbench were you loaded, or if you just had to have every single tool made by a certain manufacturer regardless of if they were useful or not. Well, luckily for you (I may not be loaded, but that hasn’t stopped me from buying every single piece of modeling equipment I could ever get my hands on), so here is a list of a few tools that may seem unnecessary but will actually make your work a whole heck of a lot easier!
In no particular order I give you “Justin’s List of Things That Might Seem Unnecessary But Are Actually Very Useful” (if you can come up with a better title then by all means…) Links have been included just so that if you have been eying these wonderful items and just haven’t been sure if they were worth spending the extra few bucks, then you can easily add them to your Xmas shopping cart :)

You get two of these stainless steel sticks per pack—and I started the list with these because this (for me) was the first type of “should I buy it?” tools that ended up being invaluable to my model-making. And I’m sure that just like me, you’re thinking, “Um, I have these things called toothpicks. You know, you buy them by the truckload for about $4.50, so… why would I possibly need expensive metal toothpicks?”

Well, first off, these are not toothpick shaped. One end is a sort of small spatula shape, and the other end is a tiny little concaved scoop, and especially once you’ve leveled up to using airbrushes in your work, you will appreciate having that tiny little concave end, where you can just add two or three drops of paint instead of (always) accidentally pouring more than half of your already miniscule ¼ oz. (or less) bottle of paint that you waited for weeks to arrive from Japan just to have the right color and then you spilled it all into your mixing cup that–uh-oh—had a few drops of satin black still floating in it, and now you’re stuck with a whole airbrush cup of an unusable color… all because you weren’t able to divvy out a few drops as needed like you’d be able to if you had that perfect little spoon end of these wonderful stirrers! And of course there’s the flat stirring end which works SO much better than a toothpick ever could, you will seriously be wondering why you went so long without picking up this set of stirrers (designate one for enamels and one for acrylics) AWESOME! And, if you care about the environment at all, then you can pat yourself on the back for not throwing out 50 toothpicks for every one jar of paint you have to stir, and if I learned anything from watching Tiny Toons when I was in the 3rd grade, it’s that it takes one tree to make each toothpick, so think of how many forests you’re saving!

 2. Tamiya Electric Handy Drill #74041 – This little AA battery powered drill is a life saver! I’ve probably spent a few days worth of hours using pin-vises until my fingertips were rubbed raw, just trying to hollow out some gun barrels. Then I got a Dremel and—Oops! I just disappeared whatever it was I working on because I cranked the speed up just too high, and now the barrel of my tank needs to look like a sawed-off shotgun… somehow.
This little hand drill (that you get to put together yourself! I found this very fun anyway) is the Goldilocks of drills, just enough torque to get those tiny jobs done in a flash, but not so much that you end up with a puddle of melted plastic of what used to be G27.

3. The Glue Looper CVD-101 – If the superglued areas of your models look like a second graders macaroni diorama, then you need these trusty little helpers. Precision super-gluing that cleans up easy and finally lets you see what photo-etch is supposed to look like. I tried using bent paper clips, but let the pros handle things like this, that’s why they became engineers in the first place, to help us become better modelers!

4. The Small Shop Hold and Fold Photo Etch Tool  SMS-003 Speaking of photo-etch, if you were having trouble like I was (throwing models out the window when the photo-etch went wrong) then maybe you need some help… well, lots of help. But what you don’t spend on therapy you can use to get yourself some excellent tools so that the photo etch on your models ends up looking how it should. And once you start to get the photo etch right, you will really start to feel like you are becoming a master, and your models will show every bit of that extra effort.  

5. Squadron Precision Putty Applicator 10205 – Once again, I can hear you thinking it, “But that’s what toothpicks are for!” Oh man, once you get one of these babies then puttying—well, it still might be the worst part of building the model, but I guarantee that it will be at least 50% less hateful than it used to be! And this Squadron one is really the best one that I’ve tried, especially if you just want one good all-purpose putty applicator. Of course there are sets with many differently shaped applicator blades that work wonders as well, but if you just want one and to keep your workbench nice and clutter free, then this is the best one if you are just going to have one!
That’s all for now, and I hope that these products help you as immensely as they did me. I really think they will up your game and save you lots of little headaches along the road to building better models.
Justin Skrakowski

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