Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I am a cheater

There was a very interesting post by Spencer Pollard on Hyperscale a week ago bemoaning the lack of true modeling in the hobby today. Photos of the new Revell He-219 and discussions about the kit’s inaccurate propellers prompted Spencer to write, and I think his thoughts are particularly noteworthy given many of the new products that have come to the market over the last few years, and it’s something I’ve been intending to blog about myself.

Last week a friend told me he had just finished a Tamiya 1/72 A6M Zero, which is a jewel and will be a leading contender for my Kit of the Year. He used the Eduard canopy mask for the complex framing on the airplane and told me how much easier it made the painting process. But then he asked if using an aftermarket canopy mask was cheating.

Truth be told, I think it is cheating and I told him so. Yes, the masks are available to anyone who wishes to use them and, especially if you’re competitive, you’d be foolish not to. That said, I think our use of them as a community of craftsmen and artists (or whatever we think we are) is to the detriment of our skills and the hobby. Even though we all want to produce replicas in miniature, wouldn’t it be more fulfilling to master the skills ourselves rather than rely on others to do the “heavy lifting” for us?

To be fair, I have at least a dozen of Eduard’s canopy masks in my accessories stash, and I’m sure they’ll make my models better. They will not, I am sure, make me a better craftsman.

I feel the same way about pre-colored photoetch. That’s cheating, too. When they first came on the market I promised myself I’d never use them, but after trying them on a 1/72 F-105D I saw their value…despite the fact that my detail painting skills are no longer challenged and nurtured. I think that makes me a lesser modeler, but the reward (even if it’s a bit hollow) is a good looking model.

I could make the same argument about the turned metal barrels that I use on my armor and those beautiful, fine pitot tubes I can now buy from Asian suppliers.

I think what many of these conversations come down to is why any of us is in the hobby. Do you build models because you enjoy the craftsmanship of building models or because you want a replica of an airplane, tank, ship, or car on your mantel? For me it’s the former. I work in software, so I don’t actually create anything tangible, at least nothing I can hold in my hands to study and admire. Scale modeling gives me the opportunity to use -– and ideally: improve -– my mediocre craftsmanship skills.

By the way, what you just read was spell-checked by Microsoft Word.

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