“Enter the Dragon” Dragon’s 32nd Scale P-51D Mustang


The P-51 American fighter and iconic aircraft of World War Two, was first introduced by North American Aviation. Requested by the British Air Ministry in the early part of world war two, and later improved upon in the later forms of the “B,C, and D” variant for the US Army Air Corp.

How can anyone argue that it was one of the best, if not the best fighter aircraft of the war? With its extended range and speed it allowed the escort of large bomber formations to and from raids deep inside Germany.

Dragons offering of the P-51 D is a very affordable kit compared to the likes of Tamiya, and at first look the exterior detail is fantastic. From there the kit goes downhill.


Don’t get me wrong here I still like the kit, but it is the fit of the kit that is disappointing. The forward windscreen is simply horrid in this department but with some simple trimming and sanding the problem can be overcome.

The basics of the kit is a great starting point if you are willing to put in the extra work, and come on we are model builder so on you go. I decided to do a bit of scratch building in the cockpit, to that end out with the old and in with the sheet plastic.

Here you can see the added detail of the side cockpit compartment.

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There is many aftermarket cockpits for the mustang with some minor modification these will save you time but will cost you a bit of cash, compared to the price of a sheet of good old plastruct. I used Epoxy Sculpt for the seat belts and side storage bags, pop can metal for the foot skid plates and balsa wood for the floor itself.

The engine has good detail but once again the fit is a problem the firewall seems to be too small so you will have to build that up and the exhausts pipes do not sit out evenly. In the end I did away with the assembly and added a plug to hold the spinner while rebuilding new pipes.


Painting, Markings and Weathering

Paints used:

Vallejo Model Acrylic Color Silver, Natural Steel, Oily Steel, Flat Red, USA Olive Drab, Black, Yellow, Model Masters Acrylic Interior Zink, Model Masters Enamel Steel and Black.

The great part of painting a Mustang is the endless paint schemes a builder has to choose from. My decision was to represent a P-51D from the 334th FS 4th FG “Iron Ass” flown by Lt Col Oberhansly Early 1945.

Kits World has these decals but I printed mine out using Testors decal paper I used Photoshop and a color inkjet printer.


Base coat paint was in Vallejo acrylic silver with a Model Masters enamel wash mix of steel and black, coated with future floor polish, decals were applied and then washed. I clear coated with Vallejo satin clear, weathering was dry brushed with steel and pastel black was brushed on for engine exhaust stains and gun stains.

This kit was not without its problems but none of them was horrible enough to want to shelf this kit for scrap. And as it turned out I would build this kit more than once. With the use of aftermarket parts it can be great, on the flip side of that is when you factor in the price of all the aftermarket kits for it, you are coming dangerously close to the better Tamiya offering.

Still for me with the addition of some minor scratch building it was a wonderful build.

Cheers Murph…

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Can’t A General Get A Ride!


Alpine Miniatures are quickly becoming my all time favorite 1/16th scale figures. With fidelity of detail and quality in the resin casting, they are without question a fantastic product. Alpine’s newest figure, item #16024, is of the old Desert Fox himself, General Rommel, sculptured by Satoshi Tsujimura. As with all Alpine figures, you receive a figure with his accessories and a spare head with a second type hat.

I began with priming the figure with AK Interactive black primer. I have started to develop a system where I will air brush my base coat in shadow and highlight respectively from top and bottom of the face. This saves me time in hand painting in many of the high lights and shadows, with only minor corrections to the face. I use a mix of Life Color brand flesh paint for the first layer. After the primary layer of flesh tone is added I like to paint in the eyes. Use an off white color for this – basic white is too stark. Paint in the iris and pupil, allow to dry, and use a super thinned out red to add in the tear duct. After the eyes have dried you’ll have to make corrections for shape with a bit of flesh tone shadow.

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Remember when painting in layers of highlight and shadows, try to hold the consistency of your paint very thin. It is better to paint several light layers, than one or two heavy layers. Many new figure painters will lay in the paint too thick and as a result be discouraged in the art of painting figures. With a bit of practice this method becomes quickly mastered. Next, I like to add cheek highlights with a small amount of shaved artist pastels. Be careful in this step for a little bit goes a long way. I’ll mix a bit of brown and just a touch of red together for the cheek bones and lips. Seal the artist powder in with a clear coat satin.  Air brush this clear on very lightly, so as not to build a thick layer.

Rule number one is to keep your painting light. Once the clear is dried I’ll begin to accent the crevice detail of the face. For this I like to use a burnt umber oil wash. Basically it is super thinned out oil paint – say fifteen parts mineral spirits to one part paint. Again, use this in a very light manner on the ears,  around the nose, and mouth.

With the face complete it’s on to the body. Our Rommel figure is wearing an old leather coat. You may think you should paint it black – don’t do it. Instead mix a dark grey with black. Paint this color in as the base and shadow with pure black to add slight contrast. For the worn area of the collar I used thin brown and worked my way to the upper edge with progressively lighter tones.


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There you have it – a wonderful General Rommel waiting on the five o’clock bus, all because of a soon to be fired driver, sent to the eastern front.

Alpine Miniatures continues to create fantastic figures for any modelers collection. They have a wonderful 1/16th scale line, and an ever expanding line in 1/35th scale. Add one of these to your lineup and you won’t be disappointed.

Remember, practice makes perfect and who doesn’t want to be perfect, unless you happen to be an ex-driver headed for the Eastern front.

Cheers Murph…

Dragon 1/6th Scale SAS Jeep “When GI Joe Needs a Ride”


Model building can sometimes get mundane. WHAT!?  Vile blasphemy you say! Please please wait, don’t hang me yet. Let me explain. There comes a time when you have to make a change, to refresh ones creativity. What better way than to change up on scale. “Go big Padawan or go Home”.

Dragons 1/6th Scale line is by no means a wide selection, containing twenty nine kits in total. It varies from small machine gun kits to the massive M3A1 Sherman Tank.  The latter made my pulse race and for more than one long minute Don was preparing CPR, to revive me from model builders overload.

I finally decided to hit that sweet spot and build the jeep. Dragon offers two versions of the SAS jeep – one Desert and one European theater. I wanted to go with a faded sand colored desert raider. So come along with me to North Africa and lets get cracking. ” Ummm no really, we are not going to build in the desert. You guys are so literal sometimes.

Modelers and collectors were delighted when Dragon released a large-scale 1/6 model of the famous 1/4-Ton 4×4 Truck (Item No. 75020). The kit bedazzled all with its intricate detail and pleasurable assembly, providing modelers with the ideal vehicle to accompany their 1/6 scale figures. Now Dragon is proud to announce a follow-up kit, this time featuring the iconic American 4×4 as a British Desert Raider vehicle. The Special Air Service (SAS) and Long-Range Desert Group (LRDG) widely used this kind of vehicle in North Africa. The SAS, formed in July 1941 by David Stirling, was a commando force designed to operate deep behind enemy lines – something it did very successfully.

The 1/6 model kit shows a vehicle heavily modified for desert operations by the SAS. It is heavily loaded with jerry cans containing spare fuel and water to allow reconnaissance missions deep behind the frontlines. For operations in the hot climate, the grill has been removed and a water condenser fitted. The SAS vehicle is also heavily armed with fast-firing Vickers K machine guns. Both a single Vickers K weapon and a twin-mount machine-gun are fitted ready for use against ground or aerial targets. This exciting kit is accurate in every detail, and it’s ready to range widely across the sandy desert terrain of North Africa.

I started as a typical out of box build, with the idea of using the kit as a platform to showcase various painting and weather techniques. I also wanted to test our new acrylic line of Life Color  model paints.
lifecolor Assembly was straight forward with the use of Tamiya super thin glue. Kit plastic was thick but spruce clean up was easy with the aid of Squadrons tapered sanding stick set. I can’t say enough about the quality of these sanding sticks and the longevity that they have, with the ability to be cleaned with a wipe on a cloth. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

IMG_20140313_223435694_HDRAlthough the kit has excellent detail, i was a bit disappointed in the fact that the jeep doesn’t come with a complete engine. With a bit of work you would be able to scratch build one to add to it. i wanted to have the hood closed so no big deal for me. I really liked the fact that the tires are made of vinyl and comes mounted  to the kit wheels.

Assembly started with the frame. Since this jeep was used in the desert it allowed a bit of liberty to go insane on the weathering effect I wanted to apply to it. Using the salt technique I weathered the frame.

When performing this paint weathering you have to have a plan of attack. I knew this frame was going to be beaten to death by desert sands and rocks. Paint would naturally be chipping and painted surfaces worn.  As you can see in the picture the effect is stunning.

IMG_20140306_094410317_HDR So, how do we accomplish this great looking effect? I primed the frame in a good acrylic black primer. I used black so that when I paint the final top coat color onto the model, it will lend  to varying shades of light and shadow. Just remember to go light in areas of coverage to achieve the desired effect. You can really see the effect in the picture of the Jerry cans.



Start with blocking in the under color. This will be the shade you want to see as the top sand color chips away. I wanted a black rusty color.  Let this coat dry thoroughly as you will be wetting this coat in selected areas for your chipping. The next step is to add the salt. For this scale I want to use a course ground sea salt. Wet the area and apply the salt in a random sprinkling. Remember you must allow this salt layer to dry – don’t worry about the salt messing up the under paint. It can stay on there for days and still be fine. I allowed it to dry for a few hours.

Next step is to apply the top coat of sand color paint. Allow the paint to dry completely then remove the salt with an old brush or tooth brush. Go ahead and use your significant others Tooth brush they won’t mind at all.  The chipping will look stark in comparison.  Don’t worry, we’ll tone this down and pull it altogether when we apply a filter wash.

Washing or applying a wash is nothing more than painting. When painting I’ll use an acrylic based water solvable paint. Since this paint is water based, the paint that I wash with will be oil or enamel based. This allows for the difference of paint mediums to not destroy the paint layer that the wash is applied to.
You can purchase a tube of artist oil paint in any color you wish to wash with and thin this with mineral spirits. I’ll use mineral spirits for the reason that it will not stain like a normal thinner will.
Two common ways of washing is to apply a clear gloss coat to the model, this allows the wash to flow through the panel lines and details.  The other is not to apply the clear gloss, in armor modelling this allows the wash to create more of a staining effect.

Notice how the wash on the axle hub of the jeep looks like seals that have leaked.
IMG_20140306_094327230_HDRWashes will always be super thin almost like a tinted thinner, build up your wash in layers for the desired effect. On the axle hub cover you can see that i wanted the look of long term leakage, to achieve this i used multiple layers of different colored washes. I also wanted that wet look, add a small amount of clear gloss to the final coat of wash.

Two ways to use a wash are pin washes and filter washes. Pin washes are the application of the wash in only selected areas. Pin washing is normally used to highlight the shadows of panel lines and corners, typically used on aircraft. Filter washes are used to pull down a base coat and to blend colors together, filter washes will be applied to the whole of the model and then allowed to dry. Filter washes will act as a tint to the base coat.
IMG_20140407_162632860_HDR I applied a filter wash to the wheels to darken them more than the body of the Jeep. This adds contrast and realism to the model. Try to replicate the real item that you are working on, i try to use as much reference material as i can find.

Applying weathering streaks, for this I’ll use artist pastel chalk sticks shave them with an razor knife into a powder. You can mix various shades into the color of your choice. To apply this select a fine bristled brush, remember to go light and build up the effect. You can see how it highlights the rivet detail of the model.
IMG_20140407_162639031_HDRBuilding up mud and dirt effects. Pigment powders are a great way to create that dust dirt and mud on a model kit, I’ll mix these powders into a slurry and apply them with a sponge or brush.  I like to load up the slurry on my brush hold it close and flick it, creating that splatter effect.


Experiment with these weathering techniques, you will be amazed at the realism added to any model you are working on. When you are out and about step back and really take a good look at how nature weathers metal, vehicles, or any other items that you work on.

For me there will always be a need to add these weathering steps to any model. Not all the kits you work on need such severe weathering added.  Lighter touches will highlight your detail and accent your kit with that much more reality.

Have fun and remember practice makes perfect, you’ll be amazed at how much better your models look in the end.

Cheers Murph…


Stack Talk – Vol.2 Issue 4


Spring has finally arrived and with it, apparently, the rainy season.  The Radio Control people are stuck indoors yearning for the return of the sun, while the train people have one last fling at their indoor hobby before it’s time to cut grass and plant stuff.  But there is a silver lining in all of this.  The radio control folks can inspect their vehicles and aircraft and if they need any repairs, tune-ups, or just some TLC, bring them in to our expert repair team now and have them back and ready to go when the sun shines.  The train folks can do the same with their trains and accessories.  Give them a good inspection and repair any damaged items now before the long summer hiatus.  Then when Fall and Christmas come around again, you are good to go.

This photo is only an example. It is not nearly as large as we envision the Smoke Stack Swap Meet becoming 🙂

Now, if you have an R/C vehicle, train engine or cars, plastic model, or anything else that you think is beyond repair (hobby related only please. No couches or grills :), or maybe you just don’t need anymore, we may have the answer for that too.  The first annual Smoke Stack Hobby Shop Swap Meet will be held on Saturday, May 10th.  Bring your own table, sell or swap out of your trunk, load up stuff in a pickup, or just bring boxes.  Whatever you have, bring it in.  Planes, trains, automobiles, models. rockets, whatever, bring it to swap or sell.  The event will run from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Parking will be in the back lot (we should have it marked for you).  And, we will have a meal deal of  hotdogs, drinks, and snacks for a $1 donation.  In the event of bad weather, check this site for a rain date.  We hope to see you all there!

Coming soon we will have a new web site.  While our current site has served us well, it does not list the wide variety of items that we have for sale in our shop.  The new site will have an expanded inventory list and most items we sell in our shop will be available online.  For those of you who live some distance from Lancaster, this will be a chance to purchase online and have the item shipped directly to you, saving you the time and expense of a trip.  We will keep you posted as the launch date approaches.


AR Drone Power Edition

New in this month is the AR Parrot Drone Power Edition.  It is the same drone as before, but this package comes with two HD batteries, 3 sets of blades, and a “blackout” body.  The HD batteries are 1500mAh each, while the standard batteries are 1000mAh.  Parrot claims 18 minutes of flight time on the two batteries combined.  The Power Edition sells for $369.  The standard edition sells for $299.  Extra HD batteries sell for $69, while standard batteries are $39.  So in the Power Edition, it nets out to one HD battery and 3 sets of blades for only $40 more!

We have also added a number of new Walthers Cornerstone HO and N scale kits, with more to come.  And, the news that Model Power is closing their doors led us to purchase as many of those kits as we could get.  They will be arriving any day now, but when they are gone, they are gone.

LaTrax has announced a new camera and light kit for the Alias quadcopter.   The camera adds crisp high-quality, full-color aerial photography and video capability with the new LaTrax 720p camera.  The LED light bar puts night flight in a whole new light.   High-intensity, ultra-bright LEDs provide maximum visibility.  They will be arriving soon, but in limited quantities as they are very hard to get.  If you are interested in picking up one of these add-ons, be sure to give as a call and reserve one for you.
latrax camera

latrax light bar
Light Bar
Axial AX10 Deadbolt Crawler

Also just in is the AX10 Deadbolt Crawler from Axial.  it features 4wd w/Dana 60 inspired AR60 OCP-Axles, a 20T brushed motor, and oil-filled shocks.  The battery tray accepts NiMH or LiPO packs.  The AX10 also has a trimmed body, w/dovetail cage,  locked diffs, 4-link suspension, ESC w/LiPo cutoff, reverse, & drag brake.  The only thing you need to supply is a battery charger.