Friday, February 1, 2013

CAD and critics

It’s that time of year again. The New Year and the Nuremberg Toy Fair are giving us a look at the models we’ll see released throughout 2013. I’m very excited about more than a few of them, as well as the prospect of kits not yet announced yet implied, but I won’t bore you with my preferences.

With so many companies relying on computer aided design these days, it’s only natural that they choose to publicize upcoming releases with a few CAD images, and sadly that’s biting them in the butt.

If you regularly visit the popular forums you may have noticed critical remarks about some of these upcoming releases, criticism based solely on these CAD renderings. The Hobby Boss YF-23 has taken a good deal of abuse within the span of just the two days since the announcement of its release. It appears that some modelers are using the CAD renderings as evidence that the resulting kit will be inaccurate. What ensues are some pretty heated discussions…most of them pointless.

In defense of the prognosticators and rivet counters, I believe it’s completely fair of them to do this early analysis based on the available information, as limited as it may be. It’s not unique to our hobby. If you’re an automotive enthusiast you probably saw many of the predictions over the last 12-18 months of what the Seventh Generation Corvette would look like. Oenophiles regularly get early tastes of wines that are years away from retail shelves. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. What’s the alternative, just sit back and talk about how exciting these kits will be? How boring would that be?

That said, I think the rivet counters should must show more discretion, perhaps prefacing their comments with a disclaimer of some sort, such as, “Based on this early CAD rendering, it would appear that….” They should be open to the possibility that the images might be preliminary and far from representing what we’ll ultimately see in the box six or twelve months from now. Some of these previewers have even gone so far as to damn an entire company’s product line, with statements like, “Based on their history of getting things wrong, I’m sure they’ll screw this one up, too.” Maybe that’s fair – after all, a company’s reputation rises or falls on the quality of its products – but the negativism is a bit tiring, and I’m a fairly patient guy.

Speaking of the rank and file modeler (those of us not consumed with absolute accuracy), we need to be more tolerant of criticism and differing opinions. I, for one, I appreciate the analysis that the rivet counters provide. Look, I’m not an expert in anything, so if someone who’s familiar with the Mirage wants to feel his way all over the new Kitty Hawk kit and point out its two dozen flaws, that’s fine with me. Hell, let him condemn it to the trash bin for all I care. I’m an intelligent and clear-thinking man who can make his own choices based on the information presented to me. All of us should be strong enough to see through and ignore even the harshest criticism and make the best choice for us.

It’s just a hobby. Let people be the big fish in the small pond if that makes them feel good. Don’t let other people control your emotions. Have a nice day.

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