What a time to be alive as a scale modeler; at least that’s the perception. This is especially true if you like to build in the manscale and have an affinity for heavy bombers it seems. We all knew HK’s Lancaster kit was going to drop (after they already kicked off the market demand with their B-17s). But it was a real shock when Wingnut Wings came out of left field and announced their own Lancaster kit which looks to be destined to take the mantle of greatest injection molded kit ever.
The Hobby Boss B-24 hasn’t been as much of a surprise. The TrumpyBoss tag team has kind of been teasing this one for years (along with some other high demand 32nd projects). It has actually become kind of an inside joke in the industry – much like AMK’s failure to release their F-14 – but not nearly as fervent simple because TrumpyBoss doesn’t toot their own horn like AMK has.
Let me just begin by straight out saying, no, I don’t think you have a mental disorder for using aftermarket. Inevitably someone is going to read the title and get all incensed before reading the post, if they ever read it, so I thought I’d clear that up.
However, I do think in my case there’s some deeply clinical affliction in my own personal addiction to aftermarket. Over the past couple of days I’ve been thinking a lot about this; much of it spurred by my recent purchase of a resin set that cost me 150% of what the kit it is meant for did. And the aftermarket didn’t even stop with that set!
The Zactomodels Mig-29 upgrade set for the 1/32 Trumpeter kit is a lovely product. If you’re interested in a review, I made a video you can find here. But despite the loveliness of the resin, and the admitted upgrade the pieces are to the kit, is it going to make the build more enjoyable?
And thats my problem. Of late most aftermarket that’s gone beyond just simple seats and wheels has been more of a drain on my builds than a stimulating factor. I said in my Zacto review linked above that AM for me is a means to more, or better, detail. That is always my biggest motivator in acquiring these pieces. The Zacto set fits that requirement with most of it’s pieces, but a couple (the nose in particular) is more of a correction for misshapen kit parts. Coincidentally, it also appears to be the piece thats going to cause the most work. No extra level of detail. Just more work for more accuracy; something I don’t even care about.
So why am I going to put myself through the extra work? Some abnormal psychology created in adolescence probably. I remember the first time I realized aftermarket was a thing. After navigating my tween and teen building years surviving off Kmart and Toys R Us purchased kits, I found myself in a hobby store that stocked resin and photoetch. My desire for that resin Verlinden set for a Hasegawa Bf-109 was likely driven by a desire for modeling elitism (in my mind) as much as it was all the intricate detail that the kit had left out.
Who doesn’t fondly remember their first set of aftermarket parts?
I will just tell you, that didn’t end well. The kit was never finished. But that didn’t stop me from becoming obsessed with hoarding every little bit of resin or metal available for a kit even if it wasn’t always possible. From being a kid with limited financial means to a college student struggling with the first years of marriage and trying to survive, the reality was often trying to make craft acrylics work on Revell kits rather than amassing AM for high end kits. However, that stage of life has passed, and here we are.
Take a look at my last build. My Tamiya F-14 arrived with an Eduard Big Sin set and some resin seats from Quickboost. These parts made the kit more work than I intended for what was supposed to be a mojo building exercise. I had to take a belt sander to the QB seats so they wouldn’t sit too high, and the Eduard pit tricks you into thinking it fits. However. if you aim to close the canopy you’re left to learn that it spreads the fuselage enough to make that join ever so janky.
Yet I’m still amassing aftermarket.
Look, I feel when you’re in the manscale realm that certain aftermarket is mandatory. An injection molded ejection seat isn’t going to cut it. Wheels from a kit, especially when vinyl, just don’t live up to the scale requirements. If the Zacto set has taught me anything, it is probably that resin exhausts are equally mandatory.
But there needs to be a line, and with this Mig build, I think I have successfully drawn it. Full resin cockpits seem to be more trouble than they are worth. Ditto to wheel wells. My need to put some aftermarket into a kit is still there. There’s still this underlying psychosis that tricks me into thinking my models are less worthy of attention if they come straight from the box. And as long as there are no shrinks specializing in aftermarket response to intervention, I’m fucked.
Scale modeling at one time was considered by many to be a solitary hobby. Kids, or grown me, toiling away at their kitchen tables, their basement, garages, or spare bedrooms gluing plastic; painting. But human beings are naturally social animals, and at some point they realized there’s more enjoyment to be had in the hobby by sharing it with others. Thus, modeling clubs and organizations were born. IPMS and AMPS became a thing. Contests and monthly meetings became a way for scale modelers to meet, mingle and share the hobby.
The next evolution was fueled by the growth of the internet, and soon more and more modelers from diverse backgrounds were connected via newsgroups. The evolution has not stopped. Though it largely does remain online. The internet forum had its heyday, and still has a foothold on the online community. Facebook seems to be taking over the leading roll as the proliferation of modeling groups seems to suggest. Modelers have more ways than ever to socialize. In fact, we are in the golden years of interpersonal relationships built on a shared hobby.
I have always been an artistic person. I thrived in art class as a child taking a special interest in drawing. Most modestly, I always showed a high aptitude for it, and was encouraged to nurture that. As such, my modeling has always been an artistic outlet which is why I love painting and weathering so much.
Anyone who has spent any serious time drawing is probably fairly familiar with Betty Edwards’ “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.” The focus of this book, which has been a staple in art classes since it’s initial publication, aims to get the artist to approach drawing using the creative centers of the brain while rejecting the typical logical centered approach.
I hate shitty kits. At least that’s the impression some people have of me. It’s not entirley untrue, nor is it the complete story. As I’ve discussed before, the hobby is many things to many different people. Personally, the construction phase is my least favorite aspect. I like the painting and weathering; especially to match a tasty reference. This is why I like well engineered kits with great detail that go together how any kit ideally should.
Unfortunately, not everyone can wrap their heads around the idea of scale modeling as a spectrum hobby. There are those who will tell you you’re just an “assembler” if you don’t enjoy complicated construction and problem solving in that arena. Fine. Let them have it. I’m an assembler.
What often happens, though, is these same folks will conflate the issue. They will argue that it’s not the kit, it is the builder. They will tell you that any kit can be built into an award winner by the competent artist; that’s entirely true. But, it is also completley besides the point. Just because a dog kit (see anything Kitty Hawk releases) can be built into a show stopper, doesn’t mean it’s because of the greatness of the kit. In fact, it’s despite the kit.
Enter #operationconflation. The task is simple. Many of these masters of conflation have as much as said I lack the skill to build anything but shake-n-bake kits. Now, I’d point them to the fact that this is fallacious logic; my lack of desire to polish a turd doesn’t mean I can’t do it. However, there is some fairness to these people harboring this notion. That’s why I feel it’s time to prove otherwise, so that’s exactly what I am going to do. With a twist.
Enter Monogram’s 1977 release of the A-4E.
Monogram kits are an interesting thing. In their day, I firmly believe they were some of the best available. But that day has long passed. However, who among my generation who built models as kids in the 80’s and 90’s doesn’t have a soft spot for these kits? I bought a small fortunes worth of them during my formative years. Back then engineering and fit didn’t matter. Detail was unimportant. Though, because I’ve grown as a modeler, they no longer fill my needs. But I still love them.
It’s that love that finds me a member of the Monogram Facebook group. And during my membership there, my nostalgia has peeked. I thought this would be the perfect time to pull one out and do much more work than necessary to make it a stunner; considering the existence of better kits.
However, with typical Jim flair, you’re going to hear about every flaw and annoyance. Hopefully, I can impress upon you all that, yes, these kits can still win awards and grace the covers of magazines, but that doesn’t mean they hold up to contemporaries in terms of engineering. Unless we are talking about Kitty Hawk…then I’m not so sure they still don’t hold the upper hand.
I’ve got two projects on the go. When my Tamiya F-14 is done my focus will shift to finishing up the dueling Hornets build with The Combat Workshop. That being a small kit, I should be able to start this in earnest no later than the beginning of October. There will be blog posts, videos, and updates on my FB page. Until then, happy whatever makes your panties moist.
The other day I posted an editorial in which I proclaimed scale models are toys. Naturally, not everyone agreed with me. Some people just shouted how I am a dumbass failing to provide any real argument against. Others were able to more constructively verbalize their disagreement. And of course, there was a whole plethora of guys that just missed the whole point of the blog post completely; like “teh basic SCAIL Modler.” Although, (s)he has some of the dankest memes ever, so I’ll give a pass.
Then, another modeler, with his own Facebook page, asked The Scale Modeler’s Critique Group if kit collecting, or stashing, is a part of the hobby, or another hobby entirely. And, while I think this topic has merit, it was more a particular response that got me thinking about this particular blog post.
Matt, over at Doogs’ Models, identified kit stashing as an extension of the hobby; in addition to compiling references, decals, and aftermarket. Point being, we only spend so much time at the bench on any given day; provided we can even make it to the bench everyday. So, these other activities are an extension of the hobby we all love.
And that’s the case with my blog. And I would assume it’s the same for anyone with a blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page or group. It’s a way for us to enjoy the hobby through outlets other than just building. So, what’s the point, Jim?
A blog’s purpose
Or, at least, my blogs purpose is to spark debate. I am trading in the currency of ideas. You may note that the tagline for my whole site here is “the hyperbolic scale modeling blog.” Why? As much as people like “teh basic SCAIL Modler” want to believe, it’s not just to stir shit. No. It’s to spark conversation. Why do I declare with such fiat something like “model kits are toys?” It’s because I am challenging the community to enter dialogue with me on the issue. It’s about the discussion of ideas, numbskulls.
This is just who I am. I am deeply philosophical, and I am trying to bring that to the community and hobby I love. I am not trying to alienate people who have different opinions. However, if you scream “utter bullshit” at me as your only counter argument, yeah, you’re going to get pushback. I am an educator, so I expect when I challenge your beliefs that you defend them, and that you do so intelligently. Sadly, some people lack this ability.
Ultimately, we are all just dealing in thought and opinion. Sure, I could be more diplomatic in hem-hawing around ideas. My thesis instead of “model are toys, get over it” could be “maybe models are toys, let me tell you why I think so in the most limp wristed, unconvicted manner I can so I don’t upset anyone.” The latter is not my style. It doesn’t even mean I truly believe the first. Someone good at debate can argue either side. Maybe I argue the side I know is going to be less popular so I get more of you to engage in thought?
Simply put, this blog has a number of purposes:
Engage the modeling community in the debate of ideas.
Share the hobby I love with other hobbyist
Get fucking views
If you can’t add all three of those together and understand why my topics are designed to get people talking, then you probably don’t have a successful blog. And if you can’t discuss ideas about a hobby without being offended, it says more about you than me. I am not attached to any of these thoughts, and I am willing to discuss them. I hope more of you can be more open minded. I can’t always be at the bench.
Ultimately, there are those that just aren’t interested in ideas, or the exchange of them. They are the ones who will bitch about these types of topics posted in the group. They are intellectually lazy and would just rather see photos of your half painted stupid scale whatever. That’s fine. Sometimes, though, they should just practice the art of shutting the fuck up and scrolling on.
While you may hoard kits to engage in some way with the hobby and it’s community, I blog, and I get people to question things. They are just words and ideas.
So, this hilarious piece of “journalism” is floating around the modeling communities stirring up fake outrage.
Now, let’s not dwell on the political nature of the article for too long; other than to say it’s pretty silly. However, it’s from one of the UK’s printed toilet paper substitutes, so would anyone expect anything less? The absurdity of it all is that other than Airfix kits, UK journalism is probably the second biggest embarrassment to the country. Never-mind the fact that Airfix’s “sickest toy ever” has to be the unending stream of cancerous esoteric bullshit British airplane kits.