Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hand-crafted propellers

I've casually addressed the idea of "cheating" in an early post on Scale Model Soup (and admitted that I've done it myself), and I've talked about the value of craftsmanship, which I strongly believe is the essence of scale modeling and something that we're slowly losing. A new product recently reviewed on Aeroscale gives me further cause for concern.

A model maker in England is now producing hand-carved propellers from Ash and Mahogany for 1/32 World War One aircraft. To be sure, they are gorgeous examples of artistry and craftsmanship. But what about the buyers? Are we getting so lazy that we can't take the time to learn how to either paint a wood grain effect or carve the propellers ourselves?

Some will say there are modelers who have no interest in learning either one, that their primary interest is in the final product. If that's true then I have to wonder what the point is of "modeling" if you're going to leave the heavy lifting to others. At what point will manufacturers like Revell and Trumpeter simply produce pre-painted, pre-decaled models that you need only assemble? (Diecast manufacturer Norscot already does this with some of their 1/50 scale construction equipment.)

I don't think I'm the only person in the hobby who's interested in learning new skills and honing our craft. (I avoid calling it an art.) I build models, in part, because I'm what they call a "knowledge worker." I work in the software industry, so I don't really create anything that my friends and family can see or hold. Scale modeling is my way of creating something tangible and using skills that I don't leverage in my day-to-day employment.

One final thought. If you use a hand-craft part like one of these propellers, can you not enter the model in an IPMS competition? I would assume so. Fair warning, guys!

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