Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's all about the finish

This week's Sprue Cutters Union topic: What makes an outstanding model?

A timely topic for me, as just this past weekend I was talking with a friend on the phone, whining about how long it's taking me to build my Trumpeter M1117 Guardian. I'm enjoying the project, mostly, but there's so much damn photoetch thanks to the ET Models set I have that it's taking me a very...long...time. And if I haven't mentioned this yet on Scale Model Soup, I'm a very...slow...modeler by nature.

So I said to my friend, "You know, Zebulon," (that's not really his name, I just want to use it), "I wonder if I could get as much satisfaction out of my armor if I didn't use any photoetch on them. I could probably build two or three models for every one that I superdetail."

1/35 AMD Laffly 80AM from the 2013 IPMS National Convention.
Here's the thing. When it comes to building aircraft, I really enjoy the detailing process, so I don't think I could forgo photoetch or scratchbuilt detail. It starts with the detailing and ends with a realistic finish. I feel a connection to the aircraft I choose to model, and I want them to be "complete." Not so with armor. I like the look of certain tanks and APCs, but aside from seeing them in museums, I don't have any first-hand experience with them. So when it comes to armor as a modeling subject, the part of the process I enjoy most is painting and weathering.

I share this experience because it reflects my priority in building models, whether aircraft or armor, the finish. My friend and I agreed that a model that is perfectly constructed but poorly finished isn't as successful as one that might have some construction flaws but has a fantastic finish.

1/48 F-51D from the 2013 IPMS National Convention.
When I reflect back on the many contests I've attended and the thousands of models I've seen, the models that linger in my poor memory are those that looked good. When I ask myself which models I'd like to own and have in my display case, invariably they're the models that "pop," not those that are perfectly constructed.

As I look at the many armor kits in my stash (ignoring for a moment the many more aircraft kits), if I have any hope of building even half of them I may need to ignore the fiddly aftermarket and go out-of-the-box. If I don't ol' Zebulon may inherit what I can't complete when I pass on to the big workshop in the sky.

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