Notes from the Asylum
As I’ve recently returned from a large regional model show, and as is my wont following such experiences, I’ve reflected on the nature of scale modelling, and modellers, notwithstanding the fact that I am now heavily sedated.
Viewing hundreds of display models can be an uplifting experience. (For ‘display,’ read individual models, vignettes, dioramas, ships and figures, whatever the genre, and whether or not the subject is plastic, resin, metal, or any combination thereof.) The process may resonate in one’s modelling Self where the long-cherished Pet Project is given new emphasis and energy when a similar project is found alive and well on a club table, but not too alike one’s own ideas that it kills the dream dead.
It also works obversely, that is, where the viewing of so many related subjects, e.g., Spitfires on a display base, Spitfires in airfield mock-up, Spitfires in simulated flight, deadens the experience. If I had a pound for every model tank I’ve seen parked under a tree or near a damaged building, I could buy you lunch every day until we were both very, very old.
I can recall that several years ago, Zvezda released a 1/48 BF109F, and it was considered the finest example ever produced. Such a claim has not, of course, deterred numerous manufacturers from releasing yet further examples of the type, the reason being that “it’s one for the Stash, for my 109 collection.” The manufacturers know that you will part with your cash, no matter how many similar types they produce, because, well, you will.
And the Stash, that euphemism for OCD hoarding, is another case in point. I have met a fairly large representation of modellers whose Modelling Life is indeed the Stash. They never seem to produce a model per se, but are ready with opinions about everyone else’s work, and when queried they confirm that the subject to hand is “in my Stash,” as though that counted as modelling, and that this fact is supporting evidence of their expertise on any subject.
The preponderance of Super Detailing in recent years, with resin, PE, alternative decals and wholesale unit replacement (think resin cockpits) has led to a subversive, self-deluding trend. As much money can now be spent cheerfully on aftermarket “upgrades” as on the original model kit. I recently saw a ‘detail-up’ set for the HK Models 1/32 B-17 that cost nearly £150 – not the kit, the upgrade. But the sometimes extraordinary level of internal detail is usually a fleeting shade. For all the beauty of internal cockpit and fuselage, when they’re buttoned-up you lose the detail altogether or are left with a few square millimetres on view.
There are modellers who appear to build the same model again and again, usually in the same scale and with only minor variations in decals or similar. The process continues for years, but with each “new” model appearing remarkably similar to every previous model, it falls to them to explain in teeth-grindingly dull detail the differences between this model and the last (“…and of course I had to fill the panel line here because everybody knows the Mk24 only had this in June 1945, and my model is immediately Post War…”).
Without Aircraft as a representative Class of models, there would be no modelling hobby, as we know it. In March here at iM, Aircraft or Aircraft-related Headlines constituted just over 60% of the posts, Armour about 12%, and Other just under 28%. The latter included reviews, show reports, ships and other related, including the daft No Comment series! Indeed, within this latter Other grouping the Ships’ element was probably skewed, where a new member may have posted several projects at once, and where no other ship project was posted. The Figures’ element was virtually nil. Dioramas are included by Subject and all percentages excluded WiP posts. Although March is sampled, it is certainly representative, not only of iM posts, but of all modelling forums unless specifically restricted by genre, e.g., German Battleships Only forum.
I have no Stash. I’m not a collector; I buy to build.
I have only a modest modelling talent, and too much time to reflect on all my modelling faults and general prejudices (See above.). As I get older- I am already quite old – I find enthusiasm for modelling projects has to be marshalled with the greatest care, as it is ephemeral, at times about as likely to be realised as a Jurassic jawbone in a pumpkin patch.
I’ve recently and objectively ‘recycled’ several older builds and dioramas – a periodic and somewhat therapeutic process. At present, my workroom is empty, and nothing is on order anywhere, and as is the case at the close of every project, I have to ask myself, “Was that the last?” Looking at enthusiastic modellers at the recent show, their large bags full of kits and with looks on their faces that convinced themselves at least that each kit was one-of-a-kind made for them alone, it’s easy to mine a sarcastic vein, perhaps as a way of masking one’s own modelling burn-out.
Maybe I should take a year off, but then maybe I wouldn’t come back. Repercussions? Few, if any.
In support of a sabbatical, I think if I see another blob of green and brown plastic on a table, hovered over conspiratorially by people who should know better, I won’t be responsible for my actions, but everyone seems happy, and it’s their Jurassic jawbone to pick over, after all.
Still, things might be looking up. My nurse, whom as you can see is quite attentive, tells me I’m still the highest bidder for that Albatros on Ebay, and the countdown has begun…