Friday 23 January 2009

Swinging on The Bells

I always get suspicious when I read forum posts along the lines "I've been modelling for 50 years so my opinion about this kit counts for more than yours" or "Being a professional artist for 40 years I can determine colour from black & white photographs better than you plebs" (not really so brazen, but you get the idea).

Pre-qualifying an opinion with credentials is so infra dig. 

No wonder newer or younger modellers sometimes find it difficult to participate. Even I feel intimidated by some of these bozos and I've been studying colour and modelling for 250 years. ;-)

Image credit: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Warner Bros (1939)


Anonymous said...

Hi Nick,
I agree that for someone new to the hobby it can be overwhelming. It makes me think about when I was first interested in fly fishing, and the local fly shop treated me like I was an idiot simply because I asked basic questions.

I went on to self teach myself the sport...and feel it imperative for it to survive those who know and understand must share that with people new to the hobby.

As a side note, that same fly shop is now out of business. I wonder why.....


Anonymous said...

Re younger modelers, we really can't afford to alienate the small percentage that make up our numbers. It's tough enough for them in another aspect we old dogs probably don't consider much: money.

Say that you had decided you want to get into the hobby and start building models like the wizards on Hyperscale. Can you imagine what it takes money-wise to simply set up a workspace and stock it with tools and paints? It's no longer a kid's hobby. A small bottle of paint costs four or five bucks and a 1/48 Zero goes for sixty bucks now. It's a good thing my interests are fairly narrow, as I am not in the right tax bracket to hang in there otherwise! To restock the kits in my closet would not be a realistic propostion.

I remember my first IPMS meeting when I had just finished the Hawk TV-2 in the orange and white trainer scheme that the TV-2s at my Dad's Naval Air Station wore. He had loaned me his painter's masking tape to get the lines straight and I had used Testors Gloss International Orange and left the white plastic white for those parts - makes sense, right? - I had thought it was pretty sharp, had even painted the tires black. But some of the other models there were better than I could have imagined. A fellow there named Ray Waddey noticed that I was there for the first time and made a point of asking me about my model and saying some kind things about it. It turned out the best models at that meeting were his, with marvelous scratchbuilt cockpits, and I had a hundred questions, for which he had a hundred answers. At one of the next meetings he brought me a four dollar Grumbacher brush as a gift(this was 1968!) and said, "This will make a big difference." It did. This was years before I owned an airbrush.

He was an absolutely fearless modeler and I noticed that the people who were critical of him - dismissive would be a better word - never had any models to put on the table, but they knew what the colors should be, and his were wrong. But what remains in my mind more than anything was his gift for encouragement.

Which beats an unsolicited critique anytime!

Mark Smith

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Thanks for your comments on this guys. I love reading about modelling nostalgia and reminiscences. Another mainstream magazine bites the dust this month as it transitions from simple modelling pleasures to full-blown, full-on, multi-page, multi-illustrated and oh-so-boring ego-trip articles - huge models with weathering techniques worthy of the chimney sweep and aftermarket extensions requiring a second mortgage - that scare the hell out of those starting up or returning to the hobby after an absence. Browsing through these "state of the art" mags I have never seen so much soot. The 109's look exactly like the P-47's - grey, drab ultra-matt, sooty and vaguely sci-fi, like they have been pulled down from Jabba the Hutt's ceiling. Did I mention the soot? There is a point at which the level of exaggerated realism defeats the purpose of modelling and the subject ceases to become a model in the truest sense.

Another thing I noticed is that someone new to the subject asks a question and loads of people jump in with answers based on little more than their opinions. I feel embarrassed by some of it, especially where someone posts an opinion after someone else has already posted a full and correct answer. Why do they do that? Don't they read the posts? Many of these answers also contain snide sideswipes at the folk who take colours seriously and want to get it right - you know, the old "crew chief in a hurry" routine.

If they don't know the answer why comment at all? And if it's not their area of interest/expertise why don't they just stay the hell away from it instead of adding to the ignorance and confusion? If they want to paint their models in stupid colours - or even add sacks of soot - fine - but don't try to recommend it as any kind of sensible approach - especially to newcomers who deserve better.

It is no wonder there are private forums but unfortunately those don't help the ones starting up, new to the subject or returning from the days when it was so much simpler and so much more fun.


Anonymous said...

Hi Nick,
I really think that what we see online is a symptom of society as a whole. I work in a professional office, and the way that people (clients)communicate is very similar to what we read online- advice gets seemingly ignored, a general air of "disconnection" in personal courtesy, etc.

I realize this makes me sound like some "crusty old man"....but so be it! ;-)

Part of it (IMHO) also stems from how many of the online modeling crowd are also "competitive" modelers. I have been to a few IPMS shows, and though making a sweeping generalization here, do not see the IPMS format of contests as being healthy with the new people in our hobby, or for passing along the techniques.

I think that great advice for people looking for modeling and painting techniques is to read the various books from Shep Paine, a true artist and gentleman.....

Anonymous said...

Interesting observations.

It's not uncommon to see a forum post in which the poster displays his latest creation. He'll write of the various techniques used ending with the phrase 'good enough to be awarded' at some contest. An award makes a model worthy??? It wasn't a good model before the contest? I don't understand the thought process here and I don't understand the competition so many have to inject into this hobby.

Nick, in your wonderful ranting run-on sentence you never mentioned which magazine was so deserving to be added to the wothy of being discarded list. Curiosity makes me ask which one was it? English language magazines are difficult for me to obtain and also expensive. So many also are filled with uninteresting models built using the current finishing fad. The only modeling magazine I religiously seek out is Armour Modeling (with its delightful mixture of English and American spelling in the title) not that I am an armor modeler, but each issue contains interesting and innovative technique.

Several years ago while in graduate school, a student asked the instructor a question. Her response, "That's outside of my field of expertise" was simple, but one that spoke true knowledge. It's an unfortunate fact of the internet that so many respondents are unable to accept that some things may be outside of their expertise.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mark!

Your comments about Ray WADDEY are right on! Ray went on to become a world-class painter and he has many original-signed works of art preserving the memory of many aces who are now long-gone. Ray still lives and paints near GAINESVILLE, Florida. If you send me a PM I will give you the last telephone number I have for him. I am sure he would love to hear about the impact he made on your love for the hobby! Jim Lansdale

Anonymous said...

Hello Guys, I have been modelling aircraft and every now and again AFVs and ships since I was 8.
If anything I am more cofused about colors than when I was a kid.
back then d green was humbrol brunswick green, blue was #47 etc.
Things were simple but now I have about 20 pots of greens, too many of greys and it goes on. Are my kits anymore accurate? Last time I looked there wasnt a D4Y or Ki-44 on my block to compare against. Thorpe did some impressive work and whilst a lot of this now is criticized it was groundbreaking.
I believe some care needs to be exercised when quoting colors off b/w images and even relics. I for one do not believe in tan zeroes and wherever possible prefer on the spot quotes for references. Companies like Lifelike will tell some profiles are still a best guess and this is great. Unless your Tardis is better than mine we all have to make choices on what seems logical. When someone comes up with a genuine period photograph
well and good. As a modeller I have seen renditions of j aircraft that make me flinch but at least someone is having a go. Isnt this what modelling and research is all about? Regards Mark

Anonymous said...


I am continually impressed with the genuine interest and enthusiasm you have for all things to do with Japanese aviation. Your research is revealing and informative and it is a pleasure to visit your web log to discover the fascinating things you kindly share. Thank you.

Gary Wenko
Japanese Aviation SIG

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Thanks Gary. I appreciate your very kind comment here. But sitting behind a desk authoring a blog is easier than running a SIG, creating, editing and publishing a newsletter and flying the SIG flag at model shows with a determined and dedicated presence, driving many hours, lugging boxes of models, setting up the displays and all the other hard work that keeps the same subject and interest alive in the real rather than virtual world! That takes a genuine interest and enthusiasm too - plus a lot of physical effort and time. Shabash!