WWII Display at the New Milford Library

On February 13, 2015, SAMSUNG CSCI finished a model that I had been working on for several weeks. It was the M3A1 Stuart that resides on the New Milford Town Green. This model was the last piece of a display that is the culmination of a year and a half of model building. It includes about half of my model collection, as well as several dioramas and photographs. One of my dioramas titled “The Longest Day” even won best in show at the Fairfield County 4-H Fair!

After finishing my final model for the display, I immediately brought them to the exhibit case at the New Milford Library, where they reside today. The exhibit will be on display until April, and includes the following: 2 dioramas in varying scales, many models, a collection of scale firearms that I hand-painted, and tons of information about each model on display. Since it is at the library, I also added in my two favorite WWII books and the reviews I have written for them.

The exhibit is on the main floor near the children’s department and is open during the library’s winter hours. It would be greatly appreciated if you could stop by to see it if you are in the area. If you do, make sure to leave a comment on this page or on the comment book next to the exhibit case at the library. I would love to hear what you think of it!

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The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History: Book Review

MM-UK-Cover-v2The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History is a nonfiction book (with a very long title) written by Robert M. Edsel. The book is about several members of the Monuments Men, a group of Allied soldiers who were tasked with finding art stolen by Nazis during World War II. The book quickly switches from one person to another, but the story still flows well and does not feel choppy. The Monuments Men are embroiled in the war, with many different takes on the fighting being explored in the book. Some Monuments Men were stationed in cities, some on the front, and some were even killed in combat. The book mainly follows a WWI Veteran turned Art Conservator, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and even a French resistance fighter.

The story is compelling, even though the subject matter is slightly odd. I was always very excited to see what happened next. The characters were so strange that it seemed like the book must be fiction.

Overall, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History is a superb book where the fact is more amazing than the fiction!

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Tamiya M41 Walker Bulldog Model Kit

hqdefaultWith some leftover Christmas money I bought a new tank model in early January. The kit was my first large scale tank model, and I was very nervous about spending too much money on a tank that might have been too much of a challenge. The kit was relatively expensive, but I had no idea what a blast it would be to build it!

For some background information, the M41 Walker Bulldog was a light tank developed during the 1950’s. It was small and compact, but wielded a decent gun, and could travel at breakneck speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. The M41 seemed like an obvious choice for a good first-time model kit, as it had a small size, but a good historical reputation, as well as some very interesting specifications. I think that the kit cost me around $25.

After opening the box, I was very happy to see that all of the pieces came in olive drab, meaning that I didn’t have to paint every piece. Instead of painting it, I immediately applied a brown wash to the whole model to create a worn effect. It also helped to make the pieces look like they were painted. The wash settled into the details of the model, and they stood out instantly. One of the best parts of the model kit is the incredibly detailed tank commander figure. My brown wash looked great on him, and brought out thSAMSUNG CSCe fine details of his uniform very well. The headlights, taillights, and machine gun, and periscopes all look great, but the amount of time I spent on them was next to nothing.   My last thing to paint was the wheels. The small tires were painted black, and the bolts were painted yellow. Even though there were many bolts and wheels, the whole painting process only took about an hour.

Now I had to assemble the model. This is when I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of Tamiya kits. I never felt that I was being cheated out of my money, and the pieces fit together perfectly with no filler. After buying some other brands, I think Tamiya has the best vehicles. However, because the pieces fit so well, the building process was very fast. I spent about 3 days working on it for several hours a day, and quickly finished.

Lastly I applied the decals. They were ordinary water-slide decals, and were unremarkable. Finally, the kit came with 2 US Infantry figures that look well made, but I never painted them because their clothing is historically inaccurate. The figures appear to be wearing WWII-era uniforms, which could be overlooked, however the firearms that they were using were completely wrong. One figure uses an M1A1 Thompson sub-machine gun, while the other uses an M-1 Garand. While these weapons were in use during the Korean War, the M41 was only tested there, and it would make almost no sense for the M41 to be with these figures. When the M41 was in service, the uniform and weapons had changed greatly.SAMSUNG CSC

Overall, the M41 is one of my favorite models, as well as a great tank. It is entirely perfect, except for the useless figures, and the short time it took to assemble. The tank gets a 9/10.

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Unbroken – Movie Review

unbroken_ver4-unbroken-2Almost a year ago, I wrote a review on Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It was a fantastic book, and I was unbearably excited for the movie. Now, the movie has been in theatres for almost a month. I have seen it three times with different people. Every time I have seen it, I notice another detail I missed.

This movie is one of my favorite movies of all time. The acting is good, the plot is very good, and most importantly, the movie follows the real life story almost perfectly. Seeing the sights I had read about in the book was breathtaking, and made the story of the book much more relatable.

By now, almost everybody knows the story of the movie. If not, you can read my review of Laura Hillenbrand’s book, click here. Here are some quotes from my family and friends that went to see the movie with me.

 “An incredible demonstration of the human capacity to survive extreme adversity, and to respond with forgiveness”  – My Dad

 “The movie Unbroken inspires you to believe that you can overcome anything”  – Treva (my friend’s mom)

“I am so glad that director Angelina Jolie kept so many original elements of the book that I enjoyed, a great story about a great man.”  – My Mom

Overall, I have almost nothing critical to say about this film. I would recommend it to anybody interested in a good movie. Unbroken gets a 9.8/10.

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Star Wars: Tarkin Book Review

TarkinCoverStar Wars: Tarkin is a new book written by my favorite Star Wars author, James Luceno. When I first opened the book, I was quite impressed. However, as the story progressed I became increasingly disinterested.

The only way I can describe the feeling that I had when reading Tarkin was “unpleasant”. The book attempts to portray Tarkin as a sort of antihero, and I could not help but be on his side. The supposed “bad guys” were actually people who were rebelling against the Empire. I might have been alright with this, but Luceno added way too much character to the rebels. Because of the extra character development of the rebels, I felt terrible for rooting for the Empire. I was never able to get over this fact and my allegiances were repeatedly switching.

Other than this complaint, the book was written very well, and was very well thought out. I rate it a 6/10.

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The Monuments Men – Movie Review

monuments3

The Monuments Men is a 2014 film directed by George Clooney. The movie centers around 7 soldiers who have joined the MFAA (Monuments, Fine Arts, Archives) section of the army during World War II. The story is loosely based on the real life Monuments Men, who were tasked with saving the art that was stolen by the Nazis during World War II. All of the stories included in the movie are based on those of the real counterparts to the actors. While the movie is based on real events, don’t watch the film expecting to see a documentary. It does have the same incredible overall story of the real life Monuments Men, but the individual stories are definitely edited.

While all of the characters are likeable, I don’t remember any of their names, except for the lead character. There is almost no interesting dialogue, and I didn’t care much about the characters. However, I felt that the overall quality of the film more than made up for these problems. I don’t know if it is just because I haven’t watched too many new movies, but Monuments Men seemed to have a perfect look and feel. This may be the real reason why Monuments Men is one of my favorite movies of all time. I found the story to be very gripping, the set pieces and atmosphere were perfect, and the sparse action sequences were well done and dramatic. Overall, I feel like Monuments Men is a great tribute to an amazing group of heroes. I rate this film a 9/10.

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Kerbal Space Center

kerbal_spaceKerbal Space Program is an interesting space simulation game for PC and Mac. The game allows the player to create a semi-realistic spacecraft from hundreds of different parts.

First, the player can visit the Vehicle Assembly Building, where construction occurs. The ship is created by using a simple drag and drop system which allows the player to create huge spacecraft very easily. The real difficulty comes in the form of various stages. After the initial rocket boosters go off, removing them will reduce drag and weight and increase your speed. It took many tries before I was able to figure out the staging sequence, and my first flights were disastrous. Because I couldn’t deploy my parachute at the end of the flight, it ejected immediately, ruining my flight. After some experimenting, I am now able to send my astronauts into the upper atmosphere and return them safely. Some of my flights now have over 4 stages involved, and several sets of rockets firing in sequence. One of my favorite parts of the game is the ability to control your ship as it ascends. I also like that the game includes a ship’s log that you can review after each mission.KerblestialStation1

The game is for sale online for $30, but there is also a free demo to try it out. Overall, I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in space flight.kerbal_space_program

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