Squidmar issues another miniature painting challenge on Fivver

After Boing Boing and other sites wrote about the Squidmar Miniatures video where Emil challenged painters on Fivver to paint a mini for him, the video went viral. Others painters approached him about doing another video that they could participate in and even Fivver itself wanted in on the action.

So, Emil decided to issue another challenge. With $600 provided by Fivver, he sent one mini from the Zarbag's Gitz warband for Warhammer Underworlds to eight painters (I guess paying them $75 each?). This time, he didn't give them any directive beyond using their creativity. For some additional inspiration, he also provided them with a little animated story describing Zarbag's Gitz.

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Model rocket pioneer, Vern Estes, celebrates his 90th birthday

When I was a juvie nerd, I lived for Estes (and Centuri) model rockets. I slept with my Estes catalog (sometimes literally). I would mow lawns, rake leaves, and save up my allowance to order from the catalog. I would have maybe ten dollars to spend and would agonize over each order, trying to squeeze out as many products as possible from my measly earnings.

I would finally place the order and wait with agonized impatience for it to arrive. I would always imagine a sizable box showing up in the mail. Every time, the box was disappointingly tiny. But I built what I received with whatever tools and supplies we had in the house, mainly Elmer's glue, scissors, Scotch tape, and (at least for my first rocket) house paint. I cut the balsa wood fins out with a razor blade. By the time I left my rocketry youth behind, I had built around 18 rockets and was Vice President of the Chester Virginia Rocketry Club (we had three members).

Several years ago, I unearthed my first rocket (the house-painted one) from the bowels of my basement. It is the only rocket from my childhood that survives. Here it is, in all of its fragile and funky glory:

The first time we launched it -- the launch controller connected to the battery in my dad's El Camino -- I had glued the launch lug (the small paper tube that holds the rocket to the launch rod) on crooked, so much so that the friction would not allow the rocket to freely travel up the rod. Read the rest

Teenager arrested for allegedly using RC car to smuggle meth from Mexico

On Sunday, a 16-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly using a remote control car to smuggle meth from Mexico. According to the US Border Patrol, the RC car likely made several trips back and forth to haul more than 50 pounds of meth near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in the San Diego-Tijuana region. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Border Patrol agents believe someone on the south side of the U.S.-Mexico border was able to slip the drug-laden car through a gap in the bollard-style fencing and then drive it to the teen waiting on the north side of the fence, said Border Patrol spokesman Theron Francisco.

An agent spotted the boy hiding in thick brush near the border, about a mile north of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, around 12:30 a.m. Sunday. The teen had two large duffel bags and a remote-controlled car with him, and agents found 50 packages of methamphetamine weighing more than 55 pounds in his bags.

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Thrift score: Vintage string art made by the guy who kicked off the fad

The picture doesn't do it justice but this string art mandala that I recently scored is really gorgeous. Plus, it has some cool history. When I saw it at the thrift store, it was just sitting on the floor. I immediately picked it up and flipped it over. That's when I saw this letter:

(Notice that it's addressed to "Rus," and that my name is Rusty!)

And this handwritten note by the artist:

I didn't recognize the artist's name and don't know much about string art but I liked the piece (and that terrific logo!), so I took it home. I soon discovered that the artist, John Eichinger, is the person who kicked off the string art fad in the late sixties with his String Mandalas. I also learned that he later designed patterns for mass-produced string art hobby kits.

String of the Art:

A popular hobby kit distributor at the time, Open Door Enterprises, first marketed his string art kits in the late 1960s. This is noted as one of the first times everyday people took interest in string art. It became widely popular in the 1970s with an uncountable amount of U.S. homes boasting home-made string art on their walls.

This was a real thrift score for me. I got this original Eichinger mandala for just $6.99.

Here's a closer look at the piece's details:

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Couple's afternoon at the beach yields almost 5 grams of gold

Hobbyist gold miners are a joy to behold. Their enthusiasm in panning for gold and running sand through sluices is clearly a labor of love. Watch as they put all their gear through its paces, with their delight and fascination never waning. Read the rest

Modelmaker creates base with cool explosions made of cotton balls

Want to take your modelmaking to the next level? here's a cool way to make dynamic bases with lit-up explosions. Read the rest

How to get started painting RPG miniatures without going broke

I love the Super Punch roundups of gorgeously painted role-playing game miniatures ganked from social media; they fill me with joy and envy, as I've always been an enthusiastic, if not very talented, miniature painter. Read the rest

The Mag Hand Workstation

The Mag Hand Workstation[Amazon link] by Hobby Creek is a 4.5 Lb steel platform with flexible, magnetic arms that hold delicate objects in place while I paint, solder and study them.  Since my side projects involve tiny antiques with itsy bitsy locking mechanisms, I used to have a habit of losing important pieces - but those days are behind me.

My Hydra-like workstation comes with 2 magnetic trays that can be positioned anywhere on the platform.

And because of built in magnets, even if tip the whole thing upside down, everything stays put. The pieces are modular and allows me to set the flexible matrix in any way I want. In fact, the arms and optional Mag Helper can simply be used by themselves when placed on any steel object.

Check out Hobby Creek if you enjoy delicate work but don’t like crawling around on your hands and knees looking for tiny, lost metal things. Read the rest

A little film about the world's largest model train installation

Some Kind of Quest is an 11-minute documentary short about Bruce Zaccagnino, whose model train installation near NYC is one of the world's largest. Read the rest

Explore super-detailing, weathering, and finishing in this gorgeous, comprehensive modeling encyclopedia

See sample pages of this book at Wink.

I have always had a great attraction to obsessive hobbies. When I was a teen, I didn't just want to have model trains, I needed the fully detailed train board, with forests, a mountain and tunnel, a town, and a coal mine. I didn't just want to play tabletop wargames with salt shakers and napkin holders for obstacles – I had to build an entire terrain board, with homemade buildings, impact craters, command bunkers, and the like. And when I'm not dabbling in my own all-in hobbies, I'm frequently found online, looking at forums about other people's hobby obsessions. One of these is super-detailed scale modeling.

Anyone who has done any military modeling is familiar with the AMMO brand of Mig Jimenez. Mig and AMMO are known for making the most amazing products for super-detailing models, paints, powders, and effects for painting, weathering, and basing, and high-end how-to books on model painting and finishing. Soon they will also be known for creating this incredible series, Encyclopedia of Aircraft Modelling Techniques.

I got Interiors and Assembly Volume 2 in the five-part series because I was looking for inspiration for interior detailing of some tank models that I'm building for a tabletop wargame. I was not disappointed in what I found in this book. These volumes are crammed with hundreds of high-quality, close-in photographs showing many tried and true techniques for using aftermarket parts, making your own parts, and getting the most out of the parts that came in your model kit. Read the rest

The benefits of owning a sailboat (with footnotes)

While perusing the Practical Sailor website, my husband came across this advertisement selling a 27-foot sailboat for $5000 (or best offer): Read the rest

Who are these crazy people out chasing tornadoes?

National Geographic News has an interview with Tim Samaras — an engineer, a scientist who studies severe storm systems, and a tornado chaser. Not all chasers are professionals like this. For many people, it's a hobby often motivated by a desire to help keep other people safe. Personally, I see a lot of similarities between hobbyist tornado chasers and the HAM radio folks — in fact, there's a lot of overlap between the two communities. And, as Samaras explains, if you want to get involved, there's training you really ought to do first. Read the rest

Machines that do nothing but switch themselves off

Useless machines are home-built devices that turn themselves off as soon as you turn them on — and that's it. That's all the they do. The more elaborate and gimmicky the method by which they accomplish this job, the better. As a hobby, useless machines have been around since the 1950s, but Abigail Pesta of the Wall Street Journal says they're making a comeback. Read the rest