In Progress Mecha Scifi

Bandai’s 1/72 Destroid Spartan: Glacial Progress

I suppose this must be the time of the year to restart stalled projects. First was the Brutishdog, then the Skyray, and now this Destroid Spartan from the Macross anime. (Or Robotech… depending on your viewpoint.. 😉 ) While I normally finish every kit I’ve started, for some reason over the last 18 months I’ve had a few that just slipped aside for various reasons.

This kit had been going along fine, really. I’d gotten the initial sub-assemblies completed, and then later painted it, including some modulation. I’m not really sure why the project was sidetracked at that point.

Look… A Tangent!

It was all going well enough, really. The painting and modulation turned out better than I’d expected, and provided a good basis for later steps. The garish red and white areas looked pretty good, conveying that this was absolutely the product of an anime world. (Red “shoot me” splotches abound! 🙂 )

But I suppose I could best be described as an “emotional builder”. 

By that I don’t mean that I get misty eyed at the thought of building a model. Well… maybe a newly tooled 1/48 P-66. But that’s not likely to happen, now is it?

My enthusiasm for modeling seems to be very much tied to my own frame of mind at any given time. When things are going well, I am open to most builds, and enjoy most builds. Yet as life closes in around me sometimes – which we all know it’s apt to do – mustering up the mental strength to plow through a build can often be very difficult.

Now I know this is not unique to me. I’ve known plenty of modelers that for whatever reason temporarily “lost the mojo”. In fact, I think it’s quite a common cycle. There is simply too many things in all of our lives that impede on simple enjoyment of the days we have. And those intrusions seem to suck the life out of the hobby for us quite often.

Addressing The Problem

Unfortunately, making all those problems go away is rarely possible. Some things I’m stuck with. The aches and health challenges of getting older, family health situations, financial difficulties, work realities, and so much more takes away slices of what I once heard described as our “sausage”. The writer compared our mental well-being with a sausage, and quipped that rarely does any one thing take away great chunks at a time, but rather it’s simply whittled away, slice by slice, until we wonder where it all went.

So removing those issues is not always an option. Some can be, over time, but for the most part they remain. And those that do go away by one means or another seem to be all to consistently supplanted by the next monster to come roaring over the hill.

However, one method that I’ve “discovered” (though I doubt it’s a discovery at all…) is what I have termed in my own brain as “micro-resolution”.

By that I mean that while I may not be able to pay off my debt, cure my diabetes, or fix the pain in my knees as I walk, I can focus on the smaller things. The tiny slices of the sausage, so to speak.

For example, I used to get very, very worked up driving to and from work. The commute is 12 miles each way, and most of it is on very busy roadways. While I was not one to speed through traffic, I generally tried to keep up with the flow of traffic – which meant getting involved in the craziness around me. Each trip was dreaded, and each arrival felt frazzled and full of anger.

One day I noticed a fellow tooling along my route, sticking right to the speed limit. At first I was annoyed, because he was in my way. But then, over several weeks, I noticed a funny thing. Through all the red lights, traffic hassles, and the various other annoyances that accompany motoring – this fellow generally arrived at the same point as I did to turn off for my office as I did. I might pass him a time or two on the way in, yet after it all sorted out, there we were – right next to each other.

So I tried his way.

Good Grief Will He Ever Get To The Model?

I drove the speed limit. A conservative gap of five car lengths was always given ahead of me. I slowed down to let people in, and when someone cut in front of me, I slipped back again until the determined gap was restored. I did this for two weeks. And an amazing thing happened.

My average time of travel increased by only 1 minute. ONE MINUTE. Over a 12 mile journey. One single, stinkin’ minute. For years I’d been slicing away great chunks of my “mental sausage” simply to gain what amounted to two minutes per day. 

So I started looking for other areas in my life that I could “deconflict”. I realized watching sports was one area that I tended to get far more worked up than the amount of joy I derived from it. Giving it up cold turkey (yes – I really did) led me to another discovery. I no longer needed cable TV. 

Other opportunities appeared. I found that by simply learning patience, learning to be content with what I had, learning to smile and just let idiots be idiots, the pile of stress in my life suddenly became quite smaller. Yes, the big rocks were still there. But all the little rocks and gravel and sand could be washed away.

Please, For The Love Of Plastic, Get To A Point

This thinking turned to my modeling. (Finally! He’s on track! 🙂 ) And I was shocked to discover  how much stress I’d allowed to build around what was supposed to be an enjoyable hobby that should be a diversion.

I started eliminating the little stresses there. Forums that seemed to spend more time in argument than beneficial discussion were quietly dropped from my bookmarks. A few folks were allowed to slip away from contact because I realized most of what they brought to the table was simply griping about things that really didn’t matter. Some groups that I had kept up with in the real world began to see my chair as vacant, as I realized that the overall benefit wasn’t worth the hassle.

The pressure of commission builds was definitely ejected. Kit choices changed. Even the struggle to improve was solidly confronted, to make sure it was more about enjoying the improvements rather than a chase for perfection. (Though admittedly that is still an ongoing struggle.)

The focus, as I talk about quite frequently on the pages of this blog, became the simple driving force I’d known as a kid.

Have fun.

That’s it. No more. 

It’s like orange juice. The best kind is just simply freshly squeezed. There’s an orange. There’s that juicer thingy. Here’s my glass. Orange juice.

Nothing added, nothing concentrated or preserved. Just orange juice.

So it is with my pursuit of modeling.

Have fun. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Getting The Spartan Back On Track

For whatever reason, I’d stopped building the Spartan because it just didn’t seem like it was all that fun. And for reasons equally unknown to me, the desire to get it back on the workbench came up, and within a very short time I was happily adding decals to it.

I’d left the model off at the point of being fully painted, but not gloss coated. It had been sitting on a shelf above my workbench, and the dust had gotten a bit thick. I used a large, soft flat brush to remove the dust, and in a few places a paper towel dampened with water cleaned up the rest. 

A coat of Future was next applied, going on thickly enough that the product’s self-leveling properties would come into play. I think sometimes I’ve applied it too thin, working from the “thin mist coats” angle, and this resulted in a less than smooth finish. Since I’ve switched to a more “wet” approach, the gloss coat is much smoother, and I think far more durable. (The stuff is designed to be walked on right? And I mean the Future, not the model… 😉 )

The decals were labeled “1982”, but I think they must have been a reissue, because they were far too glossy and new looking than 36-year-old decals should be. If they were that old – my hat is off to Bandai!

For the size of the model, there were actually quite a few very colorful markings. At first, I was hesitant to use them all, because they seemed so over the top. However, I decided that I’d aim for a more anime type finish – albeit weathered (eventually) – so I added them all on, with one exception. The instructions showed some red dashed lines around the lower “calf” on each leg, and for some reason I did not like the way it looked. Applying my “micro-resolution” thinking to the process, I came to a simple conclusion: leave them off. 

Decal application followed the method described in another blog entry on the subject. As always, I made use of my handy-dandy coffee cup warmer to keep my decal water warm, and this made short work of it all. Each was put in place, “squeegeed” a bit with cotton buds, and a generous coat of Solvaset was applied. I’ve tried most of the major brands of decal softeners, but I always return to Solvaset. 

Once the decals were in place and allowed to dry overnight, the model was given a close inspection for any decal oddities. A few places had raised “bubbles”, which were carefully sliced open with a new #11 hobby blade, and more Solvaset applied. That pulled things down nicely. Having addressed that, a final coat of gloss was added over the decals to seal them in for later weathering.

I’ve not yet decided how heavy I will go on this one in terms of weathering. That may not be determined until I actually get to that step and then serendipity may drive the whole process.

Basically, I’ll do what’s fun.

Focus On The Fun

I can’t say all of this has fully sunk in. At times, I still find myself obsessing over some bit of detail, to the point that it has gone far beyond “make it look cool” and into the realm of “you’re an obsessed idiot.” I try to recognize those times, and when they do come up, I step back. Maybe it means setting the model aside. Or perhaps saying “that’s good enough” and just moving along.

But I can testify that my enjoyment of the hobby has gone up significantly since I realized that it was one of the few areas where virtually all stress was self-induced – and thus can be, err…. self-un-induced. (If that is even a word…)

If you’ve lost focus on the hobby, or find it a chore, then perhaps you might also find it helpful to seek ways to simply by-pass the stress, and focus on the fun. It won’t cure the big problems that life throws at you, but it will allow the hobby time you do have to take the place it should have.

A simple, enjoyable diversion from the storm.

 

 

2 comments

  1. Hi Jon.
    Thanks for another peek behind the curtain. I’ve been a combative road user in the past myself but learned to drop out of the traffic light grand prix and other aspects of competitive driving. It coincided with the realisation that there are only two types of problem in life (Rule 1) – those you can influence and those you can do nothing about. So I ruthlessly stopped wasting time on the latter and capped the former (things I could resolve I resolved and those I could part cure I did so, then relegated to the latter). I stopped worrying about everything, as I had the means to divide up problems and deal with them without the millstone of emotional investment draining me. Frustration over things ended. Emotional fatigue ended.
    All this made me really consider what the real essence and root of happiness was. I decided it was one word, ‘acceptance’ (Rule 2). I realised that without acceptance there could be no happiness. I had to accept ‘what is’, family, work, money, health, the whole nine yards (which is a saying that arose from the P-51 Mustang, whose gun troughs were nine yards long. ‘I gave it the whole nine yards’ was a pilot reference to emptying all the ammunition at a target). Accepting ‘what is’, didn’t mean if issues came up in any of those areas they couldn’t or wouldn’t be addressed – I just applied Rule 1 accordingly, while accepting the prevailing circumstances as they existed; I simply co-operated with ‘what is’.
    Turns out Rule 2 is a core principle of the Tau and both rules have led to a calm I’ve not experienced before. It’s not that major issues haven’t cropped up – they have but I’m no longer the sponge that relentlessly soaked up what life threw.
    Modelling under Rules 1 and 2 means it’s fun, whatever the outcome. I’m still as slow as ever but so what when it’s fun!
    None of the above is intended to persuade; we pays our money and makes our choice.
    Well done on producing such a successful web site Jon – you’re building up a real head of steam on this and your following is growing accordingly off the back of your sound modelling philosophy. It’s great to see and I hope it continues to go from strength to strength; you deserve it. 🙂

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