Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Five questions you need to stop asking

I enjoy reading modeling forums and discussion groups, going back to the days of the old rec.models.scale usenet group. I am genuinely impressed at the generosity of strangers willing to take the time to help others. Two weeks ago I had a pleasant conversation with a kind gent who helped me understand Bf-109 paint schemes, an area I know almost nothing about. What great people you are!

That said, as I move further into my middle years I admit to becoming increasingly grumpy and cranky. I'm easily annoyed by silly things -- people who wear sunglasses indoors, people who laugh a little too loudly, the fact that my laptop takes longer than 30 seconds to boot. It should be no surprise then that my irritability extends into our hobby, more specifically into online dialog. My enjoyment of Hyperscale, ARC, Missing Links, etc. is now somewhat tempered by annoying questions that are asked all too frequently. So in a spirit of middle age irritation and fun, I'm begging you...please stop asking these questions!

When is the new Tamigawa Fruitbat Mk IVc going to be released?

Look, I’m as excited about a number of upcoming releases as you are. There are a few I plan to buy immediately, such as the Kinetic MiG-25. But please, stop asking when they’re coming. They’ll get here when they get here. Go build one of the dozens or hundreds of kits in your stash while you wait. One day in the not too distant future you’ll log into your favorite forum to find that the kit or decal sheet that's been promised has just been released.

What color red/blue/yellow/black is that?

I see this question asked at least a dozen times a year. “What color blue are the ACMI pods on adversary A-4s circa March 1985?” “What shade of white is the underside of the A-6A?” "What paint should I use for the tires on Preddy's Mustang?" Cripes man, just pick a color out of your collection of paint that looks the same and use it. Assuming you’re not colorblind, trust your eye. As an early mentor once told me, “Paint what you see, not what you know is there.” Blue is blue. Red is red. Don't overthink things.

What should I build next?

Every couple of months someone poses this question to a forum community. He lists four or five models and asks us to vote. For crying out loud, man up and pick one yourself! It’s just a model, not a $300,000 house. My advice is always the same: build the model that most excites you. If you find yourself plagued with indifference, you're going to wind up with another half-built model collecting dust on a shelf as soon as something else catches your eye.

Can I do this?

This question really gets me. “Can I apply Maskol over Bare Metal Foil?” “Can I apply a thin coat of lacquer over Polly S Sky Blue?” “Can I use the natural oils from my skin as a weathering agent on 1/35 shovel handles?” I know the internet makes it very easy to reach out to each other for advice and help, but why not try something new or uncertain yourself? Take an old model (or part of a model), build it, paint it as far as necessary, and experiment. You may discover The Next Big Thing and become as famous as Francois Verlinden.

Is N's web site down?

Finally, my favorite...or should I say, least favorite, question. There are people who, when they can’t access a favorite web site, panic and immediate go onto the forums to ask if everyone else is experiencing the same problem. Friends, I’ve worked in the software industry for nearly 20 years, and I can tell you that web sites occasionally go offline, either for routine maintenance or due to a malfunction. Either way, there’s not much you can do about it. The next time this happens, simply walk away from the computer and try again 12, 24, even 48 hours later. Odds are the site will be back up sooner than later. In the meantime, go build a model. After all, that’s what we do.


  1. As one of those irritable middle aged guys (that would be an IMAG)I say 'bravo Steve!". You've hit the nail on the head. Can I add just one more pet peeve? It would be nice if posters knew how to manipulate the English language as opposed to mutilating it. The times I've cringed because someone doesn't know the difference between 'there' and 'their', well, if I had a dollar for every time I'd be wealthy...which I'm not! And, learning to spell the English language would be a bonus. Here endeth the gripe, click!

    1. And that thing that gets launched from aircraft? It's a M-I-S-S-I-L-E, not a missle! Gotta go, that vein in my forehead is about to pop!

    2. LOL. I've never seen that, but I do see ordinance instead of ordnance a lot!

  2. Nick, as a technical writer by trade, I couldn't agree with you more!

  3. And, I dislike the modelers who get all emotionally wrapped up in some alleged MAJOR ISSUE with a minor detail regarding accuracy (whatever that means in a scale plastic modeling context) in a model kit. It's like Chicken Little and the 'sky is falling syndrome' (SFS, we calls it...).

    And, I also agree that the mangling of english, grammar and punctuation drives me nuts. But, say something about it and you are immediately an egghead academic know-it-all. Ok. So what? Learn to write, says I.

    1. Ahhhh must be referring to the recent Hobby Boo Boo 1/48 P-80 fracas over on HyperScale initiated by a gentlemen who, well, let's just say who's judgement about making his thoughts public would appear somewhat impaired.

      If you haven't read the thread go check it out and see what 'emotional' is all about in the modelling community these days.

      I really feel for the manufacturers. We're currently experiencing the equivalent of modelling nirvana yet there are people who just don't seem to be satisfied.

      One should ask, are we modellers or assemblers of plastic bits? I'd like to think I'm the former given I've been working on a 1/48 Seafire XV (an amalgamation of two Airfix kits) for the past seven months and I'm only now starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

    2. Y'know, that's a very interesting angle on the ongoing accuracy debates. You're right, a lot of guys do get emotional. They take a mistake as a personal afront, like, "Oh Trumpeter, how could you do this to me?" It's as if their wife cheated on them, "Oh Nancy, how could you do this to me?"

  4. As I said on HS,,,,,I think that if a person asks for a specific color, anyone that knows should feel okay with giving a specific answer.

    Then, once that answer is out there,,,,,,all the people that don't care about the specific shade can ignore the answer, and all of those that DO care about getting it right have access to the correct colors.

    I don't understand how so many get this mixed up,,,,,,,you CAN use generic Red if a specific Red is posted for you,,,,,,but, you CANNOT use a specific Red if a generic Red is posted to please all the "goodnuffers",,,,,,the specific modelers are not posting that the generic guys HAVE to be specific,,,,but, so many generic modelers want the message boards to have about 10 all-purpose color answers for all possible questions

    The lack of info only affects one group,,,,,,,but, the ones that don't want the "message boards cluttered" want that group to not post to get those answers,,,,,,,they just don't get the fact that having the info if you want it doesn't hurt anyone's model, but being unable to ask for it can affect a person't model

    1. Right. My angle was more about the generic colors than those that might be more complex. I just think that color is incredibly variable with so many factors affecting what each of us "sees" that it's not worth obsessing over tiny nuances. It's all fun though and with noble objectives. Ultimately all of us want to build accurate models.