One of the aspects of the scale model “culture” that I’ve always found interesting is the willingness that normally independent people have towards accepting what they read on a forum or magazine as “modeling fact”. Whether it be something about particular colors, the minutiae of some internal detail, the accuracy of a kit, or whatever tidbit you can imagine, bits of information enter scale modeling group think and are seen as absolute. Even if they’re based on something with far less factual grounding than a Bigfoot sighting.
Not only is it not fun to be around, but I think it is detrimental to the hobby. It’s hard to convince a “newbie” that this process of gluing and painting plastic is fun after they’ve been exposed to the typical IPMS-US card carrier with a very low membership number.
Here’s an actual example of a conversation I overheard, sanitized to protect the innocent…. 🙂
Modeler 1: “I heard that model kit is no good, so I decided not to build it.”
Modeler 2: “Oh, did you read that in a kit review in a magazine?”
Modeler 1: “No, some guy posted it on CyberFineHyper Forum.”
Modeler 2: “Did he build the kit?”
Modeler 1: “No, but he said he knew a guy who had seen the kit.”
Modeler 2: “So you’ll pass up a kit based on third-party hearsay from someone who hasn’t even built or seen the model?”
Modeler 1: “Well… he said it’s no good.”
Yeah, I know – it sounds ridiculous. Yet that is not a made up example… I stood and listened to it. And when you’re standing next to a guy considering getting back in the hobby after a few decades out of it, and they hear how – essentially – everything is wrong… more than a few simply walk away.
And it happens all the time. I’ve had that conversation with others too. One time, a fellow said a certain kit was awful. So I asked “what problems did you have when you built it?” To which he replied “Oh, I’ve not built it. I haven’t built a kit in 5 years.“
Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
I’ll admit, I fell victim to this early on when I returned to the hobby in 2006. I “heard” kits with raised panel lines were just awful. I “heard” the Aztek airbrushes just couldn’t work. I “heard” it just wasn’t worth building a kit unless it was super accurate. And for a short while, I fell for this line of thinking. The people who told me those things were voices I trusted. They’d been building for years, and others said they were experts. They had an answer for everything.
But I started to look around more, to see what others were building, the equipment they used, and the results they achieved. Something just wasn’t fitting in. How could these awful kits, painted with less than perfect equipment, be turning out so nicely? (And conversely…. why did I see great kits finished with the best equipment turning out looking… not so nicely? To put it nicely… 😉 )
Most of the guys who just built stuff… consistently… remained fairly quiet. They might pipe up now and again, but it was generally based on fact. “When I built it that did not fit well.” “In my experience, on my last 30 models, that paint performed nicely.”
Finally, I woke up and realized that it’s just a hobby. It would be what I made it to be. So I changed my approach to modeling. I decided to have fun with it. To build how I wanted. And it transformed the hobby for me.
Over time, I’ve actually come to the point that I question if many older, “traditional” modelers actually enjoy the hobby at all. Quite often they get so caught up in an unrealistic quest for accuracy, and judge everything by whether it is “contest worthy”, that they forget to have fun along the way. And too often, that veiled misery overflows to the poor denizens of the interwebs who just want to glue and paint a model as a quiet diversion from the reality of modern life. (And I think some won’t even realize this description fits them!)
Now, when I hear the word “heard”, I view it as a red flag. I ask questions. I evaluate the source. I compare it to my own experience. I seek other voices. I basically do what we all do every day of our lives – I gather information and then make an informed, reasonable decision. (Even if the driving force behind that decision is “but it looks so cool! 🙂 )
Not to say that every “heard” is bad. Sometimes if you know the source, you realize it may have validity. “I heard from some guy” has far less weight than “I heard Brett Green said in a review…” In fact, those voices of reason are quite important, because you know by their very history that you can count on objectivity.
Of course, you may hate building kits with raised panel lines, using Aztek airbrushes (full confession: I switched to Badger), and can’t imagine building a kit out of the box. Which is fine. I just urge you do it because that’s what you want to do. Not based on what you “heard”. And be willing to accept that others may see it different.
You’ll be much happier in your hobby. Explore it, discover it, enjoy it.
At least that’s what I heard.