Two fairly prevalent aspects of the Wonderful World of Modelling Forums caused me to ponder this week. The first is those people who post queries, receive a whole slew of responses but then never acknowledge them. I don't get that. When there is only one response, from me, complete with sweeping my cape and twirling my moustache as I appear from the wings with my photospectrometer, Munsell codes and DE2000 calculations - "Muhahahaha!", and that goes unacknowledged I do kind of understand. There are those out there who no doubt think to themselves "I'm not replying to him" just as there are those out there who won't be told even were you to pour a tin of original Zero paint over their shoes and shove a detailed factory paint specification down the front of their shirt. Their heads are firmly entrenched in the sand and all that can be heard are the muffled determinations "Shan't", "Won't" and "Never" with an output of bright minty green Zero models ;-) One chap recently asked me to explain all the funny numbers in my posts so I did, patiently. Of course he never even acknowledged that. The request was probably only to make a point in the first place, a snide disparagement of my approach and no doubt in the hope that it would attract a little online mob shouting "burn the witch". Moderators are quick to jump in when things get heated but I am always surprised by the amount of snide sideswiping and venomous innuendo they let go - no wonder it thrives, especially on British forums.
But the second aspect is slightly more interesting. When someone asks a question, about colours, say, one presumes they ask from a position of wishing to be informed. The response "paint it whatever you like" or to just follow the kit instructions, usually with a sideswipe against the mythical "colour police" or, as one put it, "accuracy nut" (!) is becoming quite common. It is in effect a non-answer, because the person asking could have done that to begin with, without the suggestion. Very often those sort of non-replies follow detailed advice drawn from knowledge and experience which have already been posted by others or a serious discussion about probable colours. That is odd and one has to wonder at the motivation of people who want to do that. Being generous I suppose it is just an opinion and that person is entitled to articulate it, but I think there is probably more to it. I think people who post replies like that are actually seeking reassurance that their own more casual approach to building models is mainstream and that maybe they feel threatened by those who take it more seriously, at best considering them non-conformist eccentrics and at worst dangerous loons. But above all there seems to be the need to seek reassurance over perhaps a sense of inadequacy, a need to justify their lack of research or historical interest, to appeal to others just like them and to "burn the witch". This desire for people to conform to a particular approach can also be seen in the increasing number of queries that ask for a "consensus" on a subject as though afraid to step in a different direction. And it is not just in modelling, it is now becoming more prevalent in society as a whole.
Curiously this aspect of seeking to lower the bar does not appear to extend to generic modelling skills but is directed more towards matters of history and colour. And even more curiously when the subject in question is closer to home the position often changes. Suddenly those matters become more important and when Tamigawa suggest that Sea Vixen under surface is to be painted RLM 65 there is spluttering outrage.
But I suppose the most pernicious aspect of those sort of recommendations is that, if taken to their logical and ultimate conclusion, everyone would just paint their models any colour they liked or would follow the kit instructions and there would be no sharing of knowledge or experience at all. Ignorance would prevail. Modelling would be very dull.
For those interested in old kits it seems appropriate to mark the passing of Airfix's Old Zero with a bit of trivia. It is apparent that at some stage of production the kit was changed and that there were two types of kit both marketed with the earliest bag header (above). The first molding is in a duck egg green with heavy engraved panel lines on the fuselage, very fine raised detail on the wings (almost imperceptable) no rivets at all and includes the old style stand (similar in shape to the Frog stand). The revised molding is in a lighter duck egg blue plastic with different panel lines, lines of rivets added and the newer stand (see below). There is no other distinction in the packaging that I can see. I was suspicious that maybe a later kit had been backdated by using an old bag header but examination of two mint examples reveals that this is not the case. Watch out for the two types in your kit collecting travels - the older version is a very different build experience.
Image credits: Heading image Studio Straggler + net; Tinplate Zero Fighter net; Bag header © Airfix 1959; Kit parts schematic © 2011 Straggler 'Zero Hunter' comic book cover © Fleetway Publications Oct 1963