Build report: Accurate Miniature’s P-51C “Tuskegee Airmen”

accurate_miniatures_p-51c-9One of the blessings that I’ve received from the ministry and work of AgapeModels.com is the chance to meet folks who are in the modeling business. Some of have become good friends, and I am grateful for them. One of those friends is Tom Myers of Accurate Miniatures.

So what does this have to do with a P-51 build report? Stick with me….

I first got to know Tom in late 2007 after I’d conducted an interview with Accurate Miniatures’ president, Linda Habovick. Tom contacted me, and we began talking not only about modeling, but our faith also. Emails turned into Skype conversations, and it wasn’t long before we were talking fairly frequently.

In June of 2008, I had the chance to meet Tom in person. I’d taken the family for vacation to Atlanta, GA, to coincide with the IPMS show there. AgapeModels.com had a table there, and I looked forward to meeting Tom there, who would be manning the Accurate Miniatures’. Though we had talked many times, it would be the first time we’d actually met face-to-face.

While in the process of setting up the booth (with great help and ingenuity from long-time Agape supporter David Willis, aka Circuitrider on the Agape forums), I met one of the folks I’d share floor space with, James Green. James not only had an impressive collection of kits for sale, but he also had a beautiful painting of a P-51 he’d done on display.

When Tom arrived, it was fun to put the name and voice to the real person. We talked for a while as he set up. I mentioned James Green and his painting, and Tom said he’d be sure and check it out. I headed on over to my booth to wait for the crowds.

Later in the morning, I went over to see Tom. He mentioned he’d looked at James’ painting. Turns out he liked it so much, he’d talked to James about the possibility of doing some artwork for Accurate Miniatures, for their planned P-51C Tuskegee Airmen kit.

Over the next few months, Tom kept me updated on the P-51C kit, and we talked about it and other things- modeling or not. And I kept up with James Green, who sent me progress pics from time to time of his work. His final artwork was great– I thought it really captured the “Red-tailed Mustangs” in their environment- weaving protectively over the bombers they so capably shepherded to their targets and back. And Tom told me how much he liked it- it would be great box art for the kit.

I saw Tom again in November in Fayetteville, NC, at the IPMS show of my local club, Lafayette Scale Modelers. We shared lunch together at the show, sitting against the backwall of the display room, munching on burgers and fries, talking about models, Monty Python, progressive rock, and our love of the Lord. Tom was very excited- the year had gone very well for the business, he said. And 2009 was looking to be even better.

The last time I spoke to Tom was sometime late in the second week of December, 2008.

On Monday December 15th, I received word that Tom suffered from a ruptured carotid artery on Sunday night. Though I was told initially things were hopeful, by Monday night I’d received word that Tom was not going to make it. He passed away on December 18th.

It’s never easy when a friend or loved one dies. Especially when they’re not close to the age that one expects to deal with that. Yet I knew, just as Tom did, that God doesn’t make mistakes. Even when we don’t get it- God does. Tom and I talked about our faith many times. We prayed for each other, and shared in Christian fellowship and brotherhood. So though I grieved the loss of my friend in this life, I rejoiced knowing I’d see him again.

And that he was home with the Lord.

So that’s why a build report for Accurate Miniatures’ P-51C, for me, must be about Tom, and the artwork of James Green, and IPMS shows and a couple of Burger King Whoppers with no onions and large fries. I didn’t have anything to do with the kit, or with the art, or any of that. But I was blessed to be a small part of the process.

And thank the Lord, I was blessed to know Tom Myers.

The kit itself is exactly what you’d expect from an Accurate Miniatures Mustang- it’s great. In fact, I think their P-51’s are about as close as you can come to kit perfection. Right around 60 parts or so make up the kit, and it all fits together very well. You won’t find any areas to fuss over- just a fun build. The level of detail in the cockpit is excellent. For a modeler like me who prefers an OOB build, AM’s Mustangs are just right.

Canopy options for both the “bird cage” and the Malcolm hood mustangs are included. Weighted and non-weighted tires are also another nice option. The fit of the parts is excellent- some Tamiya Extra Thin Cement and tight clamping closes and gaps, and a quick swipe with a sanding stick cleans up the lines perfectly.

The instructions are written in Accurate Miniature’s narrative style, which I very much like. And they do a great job of getting the build sequence down. I did find one area that I departed from the sequence and it worked well- I glued in the tail sections to each fuselage side, instead of the recommended way of assembling them as separate units and joining them later. (As always, test fit- your mileage may vary.)

I used Alclad for the first time on this build. I’ve always read that for best results, you need a darn near glass-like finish. I now understand why.

As with many kits being molded in Asia, the texture of the plastic slightly “marbly”. Not overly so- to the touch it feels generally smooth. But it is visible. I’ve noticed it on Airfix, Dragon. Pegasus Hobbies and this AM kit. Light sanding generally takes care of it.

Having not used Alclad before, though, I thought it wouldn’t be a problem.

I was wrong. 🙂

Of course, being a lazy modelers, I didn’t sweat it too much and drove on.

The decals, as always with Accurate, are top notch. Tom always did great work on their decals. It was actually a bit emotional to work on the decals, as it really made me think about all the work Tom did on them. Printed by Cartograph, they snug down beautifully, and a little Polly Scale Decal Solution gets them into the panel lines nicely.

I did choose to paint the yellow-and-red stripes ont he nose, simply to try it. And it turned out pretty good, I think. Did take a while to mask off, though. 🙂

I highly recommend this kit. You’ll get a great looking Mustang, at a very good price, and a choice of 4 sets of markings for the historic Tuskegee airmen. It will be one of those builds that just goes right together- no fuss.

For me, this model will always hold a special place. Through the months it was in the works, I was able to get a neat insight into the model industry, and what it takes to get a kit to market.

But even more important, I spent time talking with my friend and brother in Christ Tom Myers. He always made me laugh, and he always made me feel like a brother. I do miss him.

Yet I am not too worried. Though I don’t understand why it was time for Tom to go, I have great faith that the Lord knows why. And that’s good enough.

And I know that the time I will spend rejoicing with Tom is far, far more than the time I won’t see him.

Tom would probably be embarrassed at the time I’ve spent going on about him. So I’ll close with something Tom said often to me- “Go build something.”

I would like to say a huge THANKS to Bob Johnson and Accurate Miniatures for sending me this review sample and support of this ministry. Please support Accurate Miniatures when you are buying a kit!