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Cold War (1950-1974)
Discuss the aircraft modeling subjects during the Cold War period.
Hosted by Tim Hatton
Best Starfighter Ever?
Staff MemberAssociate Editor
New York, United States
Joined: December 04, 2010
KitMaker: 11,666 posts
AeroScale: 7,410 posts
Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2020 - 05:36 AM UTC
From the Car guy: Wow You really nailed it. Loved the ride for the last 3 years. So what's next on your bench?

England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 16, 2010
KitMaker: 693 posts
AeroScale: 551 posts
Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2020 - 10:23 PM UTC
Ladies and gentleman, this is the end, beautiful friends, this is the end. The F-104C is finished. I started building this kit on October 17th 2017 - thatís two years, eight months and twenty-five days ago - with the idea that it would be my best kit ever. It has been quite a journey; one that tested my skills, patience and resilience. So, was all that time, effort, money and sometimes angst worth it? Is this my best model ever? Well, here are the pics, all taken in the F-104ís new home (more on the reason for that below). After the pics is a roundup of my thoughts and feelings. Iíll answer my own question. Feel free to stop at the pics - youíll have drawn your own conclusions by then.

Here we are then nearly three years later. Was it all worth it? Frustratingly, the answer in my mind is Ďyes and noí. Letís look on the positives first.

Yes, it was worth it because:

When I look at the finished kit thereís a lot to see. Detail and weathering draws me in, and the more I look the more I see. It makes the same-scale Mirage III sitting above look plain.

I learnt a huge amount about building, painting and my own strengths and weaknesses. My next build will benefit from all this and Iíll enjoy it the more for that.

I really enjoyed scratch building and adding details. In retrospect I think the cockpit is where I did my best work.

Writing this blog has been fun, and the support from Joel, Gaz and the many folks who looked in was inspiring and supportive. Thanks guys! Iím not sure I would have finished without the added incentive of writing for you.

Finally, I feel a sense of pride in the finished product. There are undoubtedly areas I rushed towards the end, and I see them, but none the less, I enjoy looking at the finished product. I like my own work, and I guess thatís ultimately why I build - to enjoy it.

And, now the counter-arguments:

Much of the painstaking detail I added is hidden. I spent hours and days building tiny things in the wheel wells, and cockpit, that just canít be seen now. In the end I could have bypassed much of this fiddly stuff.

I spent too much time correcting faults made by the manufacturer. That was really frustrating. Whatever I do next, it wonít involve a kit with the kind of basic moulding and fit errors that this one had.

I didnít crack the natural metal finish weathering. I like the wings, but the body isnít what I wanted. It looks OK, but compare it to photos and itís just not the same. Thereís more experimentation in the future (but not the immediate future).

Here are some things I learnt too:

Tiny photo-etch detail is almost useless. Unless youíre building for close up photography or video, the near-microscopic and fragile details vanish the moment the model is viewed. Maybe they add to the overall visual impression, but Iíve grown away from small PE in the course of building this kit. The work to reward ratio isnít high enough for me.

Start with the end in mind. Thinking many steps ahead really helped me out, and when I didnít (like not considering how to attach some of the fiddly sub-assemblies to the fuselage), it was usually a pain.

The best tools I own are my own skill and patience. I have draws full of tools I didnít use. In the end a few basics kept me going, but it was how I used them that made the difference.

Viewing a model is so different from looking at it in photos; the environment affects what you see. That's why I took my final shots in a display cabinet rather than on the workbench or a little studio set up.

This is an amazing hobby. There is much depth and reward to it. Some people might think all that time spent building a model is crazy, but for me, ultimately it has reaffirmed that I love this hobby, its creativity, and the people who contribute to it.

Well guys, thatís all from me for this build. Thanks again for your support, suggestion and interest. If youíve been lurking thatís cool too. Sometimes these blogs are spectator sports (and that thereís not much of that these days).

Now Iím going to take a long ride on my motorbike, then tidy my workbench, and then take an excited delve into the stash to decide what next. At this point Iím not sure. Thanks for staying until the end of the line.


Auckland, New Zealand
Joined: September 03, 2013
KitMaker: 1,808 posts
AeroScale: 195 posts
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 - 12:17 PM UTC
Thanks for your commitment Steve!
It is a great looking Starfighter - love the whole of plane photos.
I have followed this build because I have one in the stash It has both been educational and entertaining. I think your final comments reflect what I usually feel about completed builds -enjoy the satisfaction of completion and what will I do differently next time.
Look forward to your next build!

California, United States
Joined: December 01, 2013
KitMaker: 1,661 posts
AeroScale: 4 posts
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 - 01:25 PM UTC
Hi Steve,

This was well worth the wait to see done! Really a great project, that looks good both up close, and as an overall build.

I appreciate your closing thoughts on the whole process, and the pros and cons - interesting points. I enjoy building and looking at others' various scratch/detail work, which is often lost once the the project is buttoned up. I admire your honesty - or willingness to ask - "would I do all of the hidden detail again?" On the other hand, that's the fun of a build as opposed to a job - you can do what you want.

Hope you had a good ride on that bike!

Cheers and stay well -


Staff MemberAssociate Editor
Victoria, Australia
Joined: June 09, 2009
KitMaker: 8,156 posts
AeroScale: 3,756 posts
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 - 01:35 PM UTC
Steve, it looks like a pile of cr4p, throw it in the bin and start over mate!

Seriously, this has been an awesome thread to follow, start to finish. I've been one of the (mostly) quiet spectators, but I've learned a hell of a lot both from your progress details and philosophical musings, and quite a few laughs along the way. Outstanding result, a really beautiful build and a wonderful display piece. I love it!

I completely understand your feelings towards the work that went in to the details that are now completely hidden away. The struggle between the desire to do as much as possible on a complete build VS the "time better spent elsewhere" argument knowing that it will only ever be visible in the WIP images. I've just gone through the same process on a 1/48 Me262 build, and left about a dozen interior detail parts on the sprues.

Looking forward to the next adventure, can't wait to see what you choose from the stash.

Cheers, D
Victoria, Australia
Joined: June 27, 2010
KitMaker: 3,959 posts
AeroScale: 598 posts
Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 01:16 AM UTC
Incredible work Steve

Congratulations on a very fine build!

I too know the frustrations and the relief of finishing builds that stretch over years, having finished 2 ships builds that took 5 years each...

But for all the trials and challenges, what it really shows is that you have an inner strength to follow through with your ambitions!

Well done Sir! I look forward to seeing what you've got lined up next