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Junior Modelling
B-2 Spirit

by Gavin Brackley
and Angus McDonald

 

B-2 Spirit

 


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Introduction

 

A fuller version of this article has been published in Scale Models International, November 2003, volume 33 Issue 392. The article had two purposes. The first and main purpose was to give readers an idea of how to build a plastic model with a 6 year old boy. The secondary purpose was a review of the Revell B2 bomber.

Cue violins Cue box of tissues. Cue tears. Gavin Brackley is my step son. His father died when he was 8 weeks old. Iíve known him since he was 3 years old. As far as he is concerned I am his dad, and as far as I am concerned he is my son.

Fast forward to the present.

Master Brackley is a perfectly normal six and three quarter year old boy. He is boisterous, argumentative, hard-headed, sporty, intelligent, highly literate, plays the violin, plays F-22 Lightning and Harry Potter on the computer, loves his Gameboy, loves watching TV, etc. He claims to like aeroplanes. Actually he likes anything, be it naval, armour, aeronautical or fantasy that is bristling with guns, bombs, missiles, lasers, cannons, flame throwers, sharp throwing things, big blowy up things, fast zingy things: in essence anything that can reduce the known universe to a pile of rubble in the shortest time with the loudest bang and greatest amount of pyrotechnics.

One day, when he had just turned six, I asked Gavin what aeroplane he would like to build. I was mildly surprised when he immediately answered the B2 bomber. Apparently he had seen it on TV, and I think it also cropped up at school. Though the mind boggles as to the context. Anyway, as chance would have it the local Woolworths had a sale on of Revell kits, and I managed to get the last B2. Before he had built the B2 he had built (with considerable help from me) some Heller insects and a very small Space Shuttle.

 

 

Construction

 

Manufacturer: Revell
Kit: B2 with paints, glue, paintbrushes
Scale: 1/144th
Price: about £9.99 (half price from Woolworths.)
By Gavin Brackley and Angus McDonald.

Onto construction.

To begin with: RELAX. Chill out. Enjoy the experience.

Expect the following. Young children do not care about seam lines, glue oozing out of joins, finger prints in the plastic caused by polystyrene cement getting on their fingers, parts that are not aligned to perfection, painting the model, painting parts perfect colours, painting parts perfectly. Let the child put the model together to their expectations. However, as you can see from the photos, this doesnít stop you giving some Ďstealthyí help.

The way Gavin and I work is this. I ask him to look at the kit instructions to work out the steps needed to complete the model, and to try and work out what goes where. This isnít always obvious to me, let alone a 6 year old child, so be prepared to give a lot of latitude and help. Note, we do build out of sequence where required. Once he (we) have identified which part are needed, he uses a combination of small scissors and craft knife to cut out the parts. He gets help from me where the sprue gates are very thick. I clean up the sprue tabs from the model. He does not care in the slightest about sprue tabs.

Gavin then has a go of dry fitting the parts together. When he is happy, I apply polystyrene cement to the parts, and he sticks them together. To help him hold the parts and not get glue all over the place, I usually stick blobs of Blutak on to them, and he holds the Blutak. He usually has a good go at getting the parts together, but more often as not they parts are badly aligned. Gavin doesnít care, but I know it will be a devil of a job to get the model together if the parts arenít aligned properly, so I normally gently suggest I check the alignment, and craftily adjust the parts so they are true.

Gavin did his only bit of painting: the cockpit of the B2. His idea of painting was to slap the paint on any old how.

 

 

As you can see from the photos the paint job was very patchy, globbed on, with large areas of the black plastic showing. I asked him if he was happy with the paint job. He answered, yes, so I saw no point in making him do a perfect coverage. As an aside, I use acrylics, and I believe the kit comes with acrylic paints. I believe they are fairly safe (though I wouldnítí advocate ingesting any), they are dead easy to clean up, and they dry fast. This was a bonus, as the paint had dried in the cockpit area when it was time for Gavin to put the model together.

The B2, much to my surprise, was a snap together kit, and the parts hold reasonably well together. Gavin largely got all the parts snapped together with little help from me. Unfortunately the moulding were not that good, and Gavinís dry fitting threw up many problems with tabs and holes. I rectified these with a rat-tailed file, making the holes slightly larger where necessary. You can see him fitting the top of the buried engines onto the model in one of the photos.

All in all it took Gavin about 45 minutes to put the model together. At this point Gavinís attention was beginning to wander: 45 minutes is a long time for a 6 year old child to concentrate. So off he went to play with his baby sister. Dad then got up to a bit of stealthy rectification.

 



Without him looking, I took the model apart. I then glued all the bits together. Fit of this model really is quite excellent. Donít be put off by its snap together design. It is reasonably accurate, with raised suface detail, but excellent fit. That night, when Gavin had gone to bed, I masked off the leading edges and other bits, and shot the model with Halfords grey primer. Next day, I gave the model a couple of coats of Johnsons Klear (Future), and then applied the decals. The decals are not Revellís finest, but are reasonably thin and responded well to Micro sol. With the decals down, I applied another couple of coats of Klear.

Now, you may notice that the grey is a little on the light side. This was partly done on purpose. It contrasted with the black bits of the model and the decals. This is more exciting to a childís eye. For a similar reason the gloss finished afforded by the Klear varnish is more exciting, and (I reasoned) it would survive better the grubby fingers and knocks than a matt finish.



 

Conclusion

 

All in all, it took about 3 hours in total to put this model together. Yes, I did all the painting and decaling, all of which Gavin was unaware of. However, he participated in making a model with his dad. It was all terribly calm and relaxing, and most importantly non-critical. He is very happy with the model. Already it has been dinged, and under gone repairs, but that was due to his mother!!! Best of all, he is willing to make another model, which we have already started. If we keep this up, I think we will average about four to six models a year. Remember, they lose interest so quickly, but regain it equally quickly. The trick is not to force them into it or make it a drudgery or slog.

 



I never commenced the build with the thought of writing an article to be published, but once he and I started I realised such an article might be of interest to a wider audience, especially as Iíd already had some experience in building models with both my boys. I was quite surprised when Richard Franks published the article in Scale Models. Richard seems passionate about the hobby, and a far thinking editor.

Gavin and his mum were very excited about the article, taking both the magazine and model into school to show his teachers. He enjoyed his day of glory. It also boosted his confidence.

Gavin is now some eight months older, and we have commenced another model. Unlike us oldies, they soon tire of doing the same thing too often: it rapidly becomes a chore. Children grow up so quickly, and eight months has seen a large change in Gavin. I tried him out on a certain polystyrene glue dispenser, and so far he has applied the cement and stuck the parts together with no help from me. However this write up is for a future article.

On an aside. This is a means of influencing the content of magazines such as SAMI, Scale Models International, and possibly SAM. FSM I donít know about. Submit interesting and unusual articles.

Angus McDonald and Gavin Brackley.
 


Images, Text and Model Copyright 2003 by Angus McDonald
Page Created 10 December, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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