Sunday, November 24, 2013

When the spirit moves me

What inspires me to build a particular model? That is the topic of this week's Sprue Cutter's Union.
When my grandmother would ask my grandfather when he planned to do something around the house, he would usually say, "When the spirit moves me."

And so it is with scale modeling.

Like most of you, that spark comes from any number of sources. It might be a movie, an article in a magazine, an inspiring build online, a new kit release, or even a video on YouTube. The process is magical in a sense, and I often feel like I'm waiting around for that spirit to move me, to walk me over to the stash and pick out something good. I usually find something interesting, but there are times when I find myself working on a model that doesn't really "call" me on a day-to-day basis, as is the case with the Trumpeter M1117 Guardian I'm working on at the moment.

But beyond this simple discussion of what inspires us is the more important issue of why those choices are important, and that's what I'd like to discuss here.

All too often I hear from modelers who talk about the many half-built models they have in their workshops. One guy on Armorama even posted a photo of his half-complete projects; there must have been 20-25 tanks! Seriously, that would depress me to no end if those were mine. I don't know how you get excited about a new model when there's such a strong pattern of defeat.

I'm amused when guys post to the forums to ask our opinions about what to build next. How should I know? My response is always the same: Build whatever it is that excites you the most!

I offer that advice because I firmly believe that you should build only those models that most excite you. Life is too short to pick something from the stash that offers little reward. Your goal, assuming you're looking for more than just the experience of *building* models, is to finish each and every model you start, because only by doing so will you a.) have something to show for your efforts, and b.) improve your skills.

As with my Guardian, I've been guilty of not following my own advice, but with the New Year 'round the corner, I plan to commit to not wasting my time on any model that doesn't excite me to my core. And that's the point of my response to this week's Sprue Cutter's Union topic...follow your passion, follow your gut, invest your time only on models that you care about.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

So you think you're creative?

So you think you're creative? You had some decals custom made? Proudly mixed your own colors from scratch? Created a what-if by putting A-10 engines onto a Beaufighter?

Yea, that's nice. But check out this figure from Mark Stothard of New South Wales in Australia. This is creativity at its best. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

You can see additional photos and comments about the figure on planetFigure.

Thanks to Mark for permission to share his photograph here on Scale Model Soup.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Reddit, another way to avoid the workbench

There are so many things that keep me away from the workbench. The daily minutia of life (cooking, cleaning, family, shopping), television (Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story, pretty much everything on the Military Channel), and the interwebz. I spend way too much time trolling a half-dozen forums, several web sites, and blogs like this one. I justify much of this time as simply being human, being a part of several online communities. But ultimately, every 10 minutes, 30 minutes, hour not spent at the workbench is another model or two going unbuilt over the course of a year. I haven't done the math to determine just how much time I waste. I'm afraid to do so.

So let me tell you about my latest time killer. Have you heard of reddit? Wikipedia describes it as "a social news and entertainment website where registered users submit content in the form of either a link or a text ("self") post." It's a bulletin board, kind of a global Facebook wall, but without the annoying status updates about your friends' work woes, complaints, and check-in's at Red Lobster.

I was aware of reddit but never spent time exploring it. That changed about two weeks ago when a Facebook link took me there and I browsed around. What I found -- among pictures of cute cats and disturbing images of human suffering -- was a collection of IAMA posts (as in, "I am a..."), and I think you'll be interested in some of them.

The idea is this. Reddit users request people in various lines of work or areas of interest to answer a long series of questions from reddit users. The interviewee, often anonymous, is generally willing to answer most any question in an effort to reduce misunderstandings about his/her background or interests or to simply satisfy our curiosity. The result is a fascinating series of conversations that will suck even more time away from your modeling workbench.

The upside is, there have been a large number of interviewees in the defense, aerospace, and aviation communities that you will be interested in. For example, you can hear from a survivor of and IED attack, a drone pilot, and even a Thunderbird pilot.

Here's a link to the military-related threads, but you should browse all of them as well. I guarantee you'll find something intriguing.