Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rambling dissertation on scale modeling.

I've been doing some research in recent days to try and decide whether I want to give model building another try. In addition to some real-world subjects I'm interesting in, I've also been considering a few "What If" (aka "Whifs")... alternate, proposed or just made up designs for tanks, aircraft, etc. With this in mind, I went to my blog archives and found something I had originally posted a couple years ago. With a bit of editing, it still feels relevant and still reflects my general views.

As I said in my introductory post, this blog is about my hobbies. Although it's my intention for now to focus on 1/6 scale action figures expect some occasional side steps in to my other areas of interest. Scale modeling being one of those....

I'll have to admit that nowadays, I'm more of a model kit buyer than an avid model builder. Of course, I intend to get around to building these kits eventually but it never seems to pan out. For me, some of the issue is that scale modeling seems to be the exclusive domain of *cue dramatic music* REAL DAMN SERIOUS MODELERS! The simple pleasure of buying a kit and doing a nice, clean out-of-the box build seems lost on today's RDSMs. You can't really be a modeler unless you are willing to create a painstakingly detailed, 100% accurate miniature replica of your desired subject. Building a kit out of the box or doing simple kitbashed conversions (taking parts from different kits to create a model) isn't enough. You must start with the latest, most accurate (and expensive) kit of your subject then pile on photo etched and machined metal, cast resin, scratch built and parts from numerous kits to make it "perfect". Then there's the finishing which requires layers of paints and art materials that must, when finished, rival the best photo realistic paintings you've ever seen. The old days of painting on the base coat, detail painting and some washes and drybrushing to weather and bring out detailing are no more. And while I'm primarily thinking of 1/35 scale armor and military vehicle modeling, no scale or subject matter is immune. Even sci-fi modeling, once a bastion of creative building, is in the grasp of this trend.

 I have a huge amount of admiration for people who are willing and able to do this kind of work and create these strikingly accurate and detailed miniatures. However, I'm a little dismayed by the attitude that some of them have that if you don't also do what they do, you are outside of the "club", so to speak. What seems odd about this is that, supposedly, people today have less time for leisure activities (something I doubt when I compare the lives of myself and my fellows to, say, my grandparents) and yet, there doesn't seem much leisurely about dumping hundreds of dollars (or whatever currency you use) and hundreds of hours in to a single model. Obviously, I'm not alone in this perception since there's a rather sizable market of pre-finished miniatures, often very reasonably priced, in a variety of scales and subject matters. It seems kind of funny to me that I can buy a reasonably accurate 1/32 scale M1A2 Abrams tank, completely finished and ready to be displayed, for less than the cost of a 1/35 model kit of the same subject. Of course, that does preclude the simple joy of build a model, which to me is the primary reason to be a modeler in the first place.

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