After a year’s hiatus I’m finally back on my Super VF-1D. It’s not an easy project and with a new baby in the house and an invasion of bird mites it’s been really hard to find time to work on it…
Huh…bird mites?!?!?! Yes, bird mites. I’m going to go on this tangent a while because I had never heard of such a thing (not the mites themselves, but them infesting a home) and I have a degree in Biology and took two Ornithology classes.
To start, never, ever, let birds build a nest on your house. Screw the wonders of nature and the Migratory Bird Act. If a pair of birds makes a nest on your house I doubt they’re that fucking rare anyway. In our case it was some House Finches. Still protected but just behind Rock Doves (pigeons), House Sparrows and maybe Starlings (all of which are non-native and non-protected) in the running for most common damn bird around. Okay, diclaimer: violate the Migratory Bird Act at your own risk. It’s a Federal Offense. Maybe just keep the windows closed…
So when the little birdies leave the nest, the mites they leave behind (which live in the nest, not on the birds) start looking for something else to eat. Like mosquitos they can detect and home in on the carbon dioxide you breath out and this bird nest was right outside my poor daughter’s open window so they just crawled right in during the night.
We thought we were battling lice and the RID shampoo didn’t kill them so we went to the doctor (who also thought they were lice, really tiny immature lice) and got some more powerful stuff (how many of you out there can say you’ve shampooed your hair with Malathion??? My daughter got Nix, less powerful but also did the trick). That got them off our bodies but they were still crawling around my daughter’s room, and a few hitched a ride to other parts of the house. When the ones we saw around my daughter’s room didn’t die like lice were supposed to (they can only live a few days off the host) my wife finally convinced me they were mites and not lice. Okay, I was wrong… Doubly embarrassing as a Bio major. But come on, your five-year old has tiny bugs in her hair and the school has sent three notices home over the course of the year about lice… Occam’s razor.
Having bird mites in the house feels like getting bedbugs. Their strategy is to come out, eat, and then find a nook or cranny to hide in. They can live for weeks without eating, whereas lice only live a few days. Once I realized they were mites and not lice and started doing my research it got very hard to say that lice wouldn’t have been better… There’s one very fortunate difference though and it’s that they don’t drink human blood (they bite, but they don’t inhale, haha) and without the blood they can’t breed once they get in the house. What scared the hell out of me was websites claiming that mites COULD drink human blood and WOULD breed in the house but I realized all those sites had links where you could pay your local exterminator to deal with the issue (jerks). All you boring neutral third party sites all agreed that bird mites pose no long-term threat. They’re just creepy as hell…
Over the course of a very miserable, stressful week and with the help of family we cleaned the whole damn house literally moving EVERYTHING out of our daughter’s room but the curtain rods. We took her furniture all apart and sprayed it down. Everything in the house except for the kitchen where we never saw any mites was either boiled, frozen, washed and dried on high heat, vacuumed (repeatedly), sprayed with copious amounts of Green Works cleaning spray (a damn RAID bug bomb didn’t kill the bastards but this stuff does, we went through 9 bottles of it) and/or bagged and thrown out in the garage. The garage is still a quarantine zone (you can’t walk through it it’s so full of bags like it’s like a hoarder’s livingroom) and as time goes by we’ll either get to washing/spraying what’s in the bags or declare that the last of the bugs must be dead after about 6 more weeks, whichever comes first. Ruby still hasn’t slept in her room yet and while the furniture is back in her room most of her toys and clothes are either in our bedroom where she’s been sleeping or still out in the garage. Once we declared the cleaning done and got the furniture moved back in, we did see two more of them in her room but we haven’t seen one in days so I think she’ll be back in her room this weekend.
So with all of this (plus $2500 shelled out on a new refrigerator, dental work, and termite control) and a new baby I’ve been stressed the hell out and VERY tempted to put aside the VF-1D again on the rationale that with all the demands on my life right now I ought to work on something easier. What’s kept me going is that this year marks the 30th Anniversary of Macross and I’ll be damned if this year of all years I don’t finally finish a Valkyrie.
So… when I left the Valkyrie it was primed but still had some surface flaws to deal with. The picture below is of the parts that still needed work and is sorted out to parts that just need to be reprimed after some sanding, parts that need panel lines rescribed, parts that need more putty and parts that needed punched circles to fill in ejector pin marks:
I got to use my BMC scribers for the first time rescribing panel lines that had been puttied over. They’re easier than the needle-in-the-pinvise because they carve the line without pushing up the plastic at the edges so you don’t have to scrape/sand all of your panel lines after you’ve made them.
Once surface prep was finally done I finally got to painting. I tried the Alclad gloss black base for the first time but REALLY didn’t like it. It says it’s lacquer but it also says it contains mineral spirits, a sure sign of it being enamel. The advantage is it comes in a big pre-thinned bottle. The disadvantage is it’s not as forgiving and doesn’t self-level like my beloved Mr. Color and even worse after a full 24 hours when I went to sand some imperfections, rather than sand smoothly with feathered edges like lacquer paints, the Alclad base flaked and came off in chunks in some places, leaving hard edges that showed through the following layers of paint. First and last time I’m using that stuff.
Fortunatley the Alclad metallics are still great and I used Steel, Pale Burnt Metal and Jet Exhaust on various vents, intakes and thrusters. This is as far as I got right before the Great Infestation of 2012. Afterwards I managed to preshade and paint the main gun pod, head lasers and FAST pack parts. I tried to keep the paint really thin and light so as not to fill in the delicate panel lines and surface detail on the model. In fact my plan for the white (up next) is to use the primer as the preshade and more or less avoid putting any more paint into the panel lines.