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Scratching An Itch: Building Details For The Untalented

Many times a model will not have all the detail that is desired. And while there are often aftermarket solutions, many modelers turn to scratch building to improve various parts of their models.

Quite often it is amazing work, such as this stunning PBY-5A Catalina by Jorge Roberto Wolf., or Spencer Pollard’s amazing 1/24th scale Harrier T.4.

When I see work like that, I am first amazed, and then motivated. And on my next project, I’ll set out to try to do stuff like that.

And then reality sets in. And my laziness rears its ugly head. As does my lackadaisical attitude towards accuracy. And I set aside my plans, grab the kit parts, and say “whatever”. (And generally devolve into my 5-year-old self.)

Well, this time I decided to embrace my lazy, lackadaisical attitude, and scratch build anyway.

The two victims models in question were the Italeri (nee Kinetic) 1/48 S-2 Tracker, and Italeri’s 1/48 CR.42. I made it my strategy to try to emulate, not replicate. In the vernacular of the peasantry, I wanted to “make it look busy”.

For the CR.42, I glanced at a few photos, and thought that perhaps a few knobs and circles and other dealies would be useful. I’d found some micro-beads at a craft store that worked well as knobs, so I glued a few of those onto the side console. Various discs punched out with my punch and die set added some circle thingies. I worked with a basic goal of “keep adding stuff until there is no more room to add stuff, or until you get bored.”

I bored quickly.

However, I think once it’s painted, and viewed through the tiny cockpit opening, the added detail will look… well, busy. Which was my goal.

The weapons bay of the S-2 was the real challenge. As the handy-dandy meme shown to the right demonstrates, Kinetic didn’t exactly go out of their way to add detail to the weapons bay of the kit. (Nor the cockpit, which required some after-market dressing up.)

I found some great reference photos, as well as a photo of a nice photoetch set designed for the kit. I briefly considered getting that set, but after about 5 seconds of imagining myself attempting that many metal folds, and the resulting shouting, stomping, and throwing the parts around that would result, I decided to try some scratch building.

And I had high hopes. I would make it busy, busy, busy…

Did I mention I was lazy? Bored easily? Didn’t care too much for accuracy?


I dove in with good intentions. I carefully cut ribs and glued them in. I measured this and that, pored over reference photos, and had a great plan to add detail.

I added tiny parts, and cut little shapes, and stretched sprue, and wrestled with wire, and ornery super glue.

Eventually my boredom exceeded my enthusiasm. Especially after test fitting the two torpedoes that will go in the weapons bay and realizing that most of the work I’d done would be covered up.

Stupid scratch building.

So I called it enough, and set it aside, ready to be added into the fuselage and covered with torpedoes and then shipped to the buyer where it will sit on a shelf and no one will look at the underside anyway.

I have a few suggestions if you’re going to go down the scratch building road:

  • Scratch building requires patience
  • Proper tools are necessary
  • Good reference photos
  • Patience
  • Good materials
  • Practice
  • Did I mention patience?

So my overall conclusion is…

Scratch building is dumb and I hate it and I will now sit in the corner and sulk.

(All the while contemplating my next attempt at scratch building, and cursing Spencer Pollard and his stupid Harrier.)

2 thoughts on “Scratching An Itch: Building Details For The Untalented”

  1. lol – Very funny post Jon!

    I think your efforts in the weapons bay will be rewarded when it’s covered in paint, it’s not a bad effort.

    I like scratch building to an extent, then I’m with you, it can get a bit boring. But I do like to try and improve the detail in a lot of the kits I build.



  2. I may add a tiny detail or two. I’m also a middle-aged model builder that has fallen into the accuracy trap. There’s a guy in my IPMS group that will say, if you buy kit A, you will either “have” to buy aftermarket kit B or scratch build. Uggggh. I’ve added some lead wire and some sprue there. I just want to build, prime, paint, put on the decals and move on. I don’t want to be that “build a model a year” guy. I want to be that kid back in the mid-70s that put the Monogram kits together in a weekend, but only better. I’m getting there. Practice, practice, practic.

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