Well now you’ve gone and done it, Airfix

PrintWhen Airfix announced they will be releasing a 1/48 scale P-40 in August of 2016, I actually had tears of joy. That may sound a bit daft if you’re not a scale modeler. But if you are- you understand. A really nice 1/48 scale P-40B has been the focus of so many forum discussions that it would not be a stretch to say it is probably one of the most desired kits on any aircraft modelers list.

Yet as soon as I read the announcement, and saw some CAD drawings Airfix posted, I knew what would soon follow.

The critics.

Now, I get that forums are all about discussion. People talk about accuracy of color, of shape, of detail. And for every one person that argues how important those factors are to them, there are equally as many people who say “get over it- it’s just a model”. And then a few pipe in and try to introduce the voice of reason… radical notions such as “everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”

I happen to be a Barney Builder. I like models. They like me. Let’s get together and build two or three. 🙂 So I’m quite happy with just about anything that resembles the subject in questions, especially if it’s a pleasant build and not too expensive.

And while I don’t get the obsession with accuracy, I DO get that others are very passionate about it. The fact that I don’t get their motivation doesn’t negate the fact that I can use my own understanding of what drives me to derive the fact that others have drives too, even if they are different.

So I’m not questioning folks who are passionate about accuracy. 

What I don’t understand is the handful who seem to allow that passion to deny them any apparent joy from participating in the hobby, or even watching other participate.

And the P-40B is a lightning rod for those folks.

To understand it, I suppose a bit of history needs to be reviewed. Many, many years ago, just at the close of the dinosaur era, Monogram released a P-40B. It wasn’t perfect. But it was good enough. No one mistook it for anything other than a P-40B.

So quite a few years go by, and Academy released a P-40B. It wasn’t perfect. But it was good enough. No one mistook it for anything other than a P-40B.

Another few years go by, and Trumpeter released a P-40B. It wasn’t perfect. But it was good enough. No one mistook it for anything other than a P-40B.

Granted, all of them had a few warts. Depending on who you asked, each failed in some area, and one of the three was declared the most accurate. (Which one depended on who you asked.)

Now, I have built all three, and in no case did anyone mistake them for an aardvark, a tuna sandwich, or some other WWII fighter. People would look at them and say “oh, cool, a P-40B. Looks great.” 

And then they’d ask what kit it was, and I’d tell them, and they’d proceed to tell me how awful the kit was.

So the P-40B is probably the most anticipated and most nitpicked model in existence.

And now “poor” Airfix has gone and committed the unpardonable sin and actually committed to kit one of the long-nosed Hawks. And the discussions have already started. The comparisons to drawings. The lines drawn to illustrate points.

And the few who seem to be unhappy with anything that any model company releases will charge out, ready to do battle with all who might say “Yeah, but I like it.” And even those who care about accuracy.

Maybe some good information will be presented. Maybe it will be right. Maybe Airfix will read it and say “oh, dear, we do need to adjust that starboard ailertooter by one-quarter of a scale inch.”

But the likelihood is that no matter how good their research is, now matter how carefully they document their work through historical research, no matter how many measurements they take on a real aircraft- something will not be perfect.

A few modelers will take their ball home and just not play. They’ll sit in their room, unhappy at the world, as they watch the other kids play with slightly imperfect toys. And while they may occasionally open their windows to chastise the rest for having fun, eventually they’ll clam up and just stew in their misery that the newest ball wasn’t perfectly round.

Until the next ball comes out. And they’ll charge back out to tell everyone that it’s impossible to have fun unless the ball is perfectly round.

I don’t get it.

We’re (mostly) middle-aged to old-aged men who have (mostly) expanded waistlines, (mostly) diminished hairlines, blood sugar that is (mostly) too high, fitness levels that are (mostly) too low, and generally (mostly) the social disposition of a turnip. And we get up at night to pee.

Oh yes, and to top it off, we play with plastic models.

For those of you who, like me, happily build most anything just for the fun of it, God bless you. For those who are passionate about accuracy, and take the time to adjust what you can, and have a great time doing it, God bless you too.

But for those who seem to only get joy in shouting how wrong it all is- I have a question for you.

Is it the models, or is it you? Because I really do feel sorry for you. I don’t say that flippantly, but with a true sense of compassion for what ever it is making a quest for such perfection so central to your life that even your hobby is not a source of joy.

I don’t know the answer. Only you can answer that. Just consider it something to think over while you’re not building models because all fall short.

And they all fall short. In some way or another.

In the meantime, I’ll be building an Eduard Spitfire, an Airfix Hurricane, a Trumpeter Sea Hornet, and who knows what else. 

And I’ll have fun while I’m doing it.

Airfix, I’m looking forward to the P-40B. Please accept my apologies for the few people in the community who want to trample the fun the rest of us will have with the kit. Please don’t let those voices deter you from tackling the tough kits, or the odd kits. You’re doing great work, and the majority of the modeling community really likes what you are doing.

And we’re all eagerly anticipating the next big surprise.

Which I’m sure you will agree should be a Vultee P-66 Vanguard in 48th scale. Just in case you needed ideas.

 

 

10 comments

  1. There are days when I wonder if modeling boards are just an online installment of MTV’s Punk’d. No sane person would ever make the statement that the airworthy “restoration is wrong,” but his red lines on grainy photos are correct. These guys are just winding up the kids, right?

  2. I remember back about seven years ago or so, I was accused by both modelers and the manufacturer of “killing the hobby” when I posted a review of the then-new Dragon P-51D in which I stated I had thrown it away for being such a POS. The manufacturer had one of their interns post on their website that modelers didn’t care what horrid people like me said, because “they only want to build models.” At a fairly well-known website, it was bandied about that I only wrote good reviews on models where the manufacturer gave me “a piece of the action” in the form of a percentage of the profits of kits I liked. A well-known modeler at that site got himself a copy of the kit, and began his review thus: “I don’t know anything about the P-51, but this kit looks really nice to me.” Several other modelers at other forums went out and got the kit and built it to show I was wrong, inadvertently proving all my criticisms of the kit in their own reviews (since they had failed to read more than “he threw it away!” on some other forum rather than read the review).

    What had shocked me about the kit was that a year before it was released, Dragon had shown “test shots” at various shows, and at each of them Subject Matter Experts had taken them aside and pointed out all the problems with the kit, to which Dragon’s answer was “this is just the test shot, we’ll take that into account and get it right when it’s released.” And then, what was released was *exactly* the same plastic everyone had seen and critiqued.

    It’s now seven years later and I note the hobby has not disappeared. I also note that Dragon has released several 1/32 kits since. In each one of them, the instruction sheet lists the Subject Matter Experts who helped with the project. And each one of them as been properly lauded in reviews as being excellent in terms of accuracy and fidelity of scale. I have built them myself. They really sre “the best kit of such-and-such in this scale”.

    It appears to me that somebody got the message. And I know for a fact other manufacturers looked at that little Brew-Ha-ha (my term for a modeler’s internet discussion, in which most of the idiot posts are made late at night after over-consumption of some adult beverage), and they “get the message” too.

    That said, the guy who started the P-40B thread over at The World’s Greatest Collection of Expert Modelers (ask them, they’ll tell you) really is an example of my “3-M Theory” of modeling (Many Modelers R Morons).

    Good blog here, Jon. “I’ll be back” (not said in an Ahhhnuld accent 🙂 )

  3. jon see your earlier article where you can’t tell it from a can of peas and you complain about the lack of accuracy to a p-40b.
    and now you say academy, monogram, and trumpeter are good enough
    your articles are full of contradictions.
    i don’t think the airfix kit looks that bad actually.

    joe

    1. I think perhaps you missed the point of both articles. The point I was trying to make in this article was that all of the current P-40B kits look like a P-40B. And the Airfix kit, at least the shots that have been shown, looks like it will be the best kit to date by far. Yet I almost feel bad for Airfix, because it seems no matter how well they do, the criticism will fly- and yet the model won’t be mistaken for anything other than a P-40B in the end. I’m quite looking forward to it.

      And the other article was very tongue in cheek- pointing out how every P-40B kit to date has looked like a P-40B, despite whatever warts it may have, and yet it’s almost as if some folks can’t even recognize it for what it is. Of course, it’s very facetious.

      And no worries- I make no claims to logical arguments, or avoiding contradictions. This is a blog posted by someone who plays with plastic toys despite his age. 🙂

      Thanks for reading! I do appreciate it.

  4. Well said, well said. I do hope Airfix gets it right because while I love it, the Monogram kit from 1964(?) Is well past due for a replacement. The Hobbycraft/Academy and Trumpeter have been huge disappointments. I expect Airfix will do quite a bit better.

    William

  5. Love the comment about your P-40Bs not being mistaken for an aardvaark, tuna sandwich or some other WW2 fighter.
    Agape modeling forum once had a similar remark about the many discussions about which manufacturere(Eduard, Hasegawa, Otaki) got F6F Hellcat grin most correct.
    I’ll be interested in getting my hands one of the Airfix 1-48 P-40B to see how it builds.

    I also try to be a Barney Modeler, but the darn perfectionism gets in the way and slows things down.

    peter

  6. Thank you very much for your comments. You were able to put into words, things that I have wanted to say for a while. I picked up the Airfix P-40B yesterday and someone commented on the bottom fuselage .

  7. I just bought it today and took a quick peek. I was surprised at the great number of parts. Looks like it has much more potential then any other 1/48 P-40 I’ve built in my 45 + years of model building. It’s nice to see Lt. Welch’s aircraft on the box portrayed in one of the P-40’s most important days. Airfix is to be commended for the great kits they’ve been releasing the past few years. Their Spitfire MkI is stellar. I hope they will see fit to produce a P-40K.

  8. Jon,

    I enjoyed the thoughts on the P-40 B/C model,I guess one can do both from the kit with little trouble, The outline looks very good and the parts seem to have good features, I would think this would be a good built up model, I do hope Airfix will redo more of the 1/48 models,

    I would like a P-66 Vanguard and a P-43 Lancer, These were early WW-2 aircraft ,Maybe someone would look at a newer P-36 model with better detail and decals and parts for many types including the Dutch version of early 1942 time period,They need to put decals in the kit for the planes that were used in the Caribbean area for two years there, The P-36 got around, but many did not notice it’s many uses. A good VULTEE VENGEANCE would be very nice also and all these models in 1/48 scale.

    Tom

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