Monday, March 10, 2014

This model is crap!

This is my story about how I learned to love rivet counters. It's a path of anger, annoyance, irritation, acceptance, appreciation, and affection.

Our hobby is just like any other hobby and special interest. We attract all kinds of people. There are casual participants. There are enthusiasts. There are zealots. And everything in between. I know this isn't a surprise to hear, but it's important to acknowledge it as we walk our sprue-strewn path toward scale modeling enlightenment and unconditional love of elitists and rivet counters.

Last year there was a thread on ARC where modelers discussed the merits of IPMS membership, and one of the criticisms often leveled at the organization is the elitism that some modelers have encountered. I've seen it myself, but my sense of humor pulls me through those moments even when I want to punch an elitist in the throat.

For example, I was at a contest many years ago mulling around the contest room with a friend and soon found myself chatting within a circle of modelers he knew. One of them was a well-known and respected expert whom I'd never met. At one point he pulled me over to the table behind us, pointed to a model, and proceeded to tell me what was wrong with it. Mind you, I'd never met this guy before and there was nothing in the group's conversation that should've triggered him to take me away from it. I was taken aback. I was speechless. I would have been less surprised had he shown me a tattoo of a tricycle on his inner thigh. What if it had been my model? What if it had been the first model that a 14 year-old boy had ever built? This guy, as knowledgeable as he was, had absolutely no tact. He could've been the poster boy for the elitism that many people complain about.

More recently, in the last few months in fact, I've noticed a number of contentious threads across many forums where casual modelers and rivet counters are debating the accuracy and subsequent value of new kits. You have the rivet counters pointing out every major and minor error, and you have casual modelers expressing their annoyance and proclaiming, "It looks like a Periland-Hawthwait Gumbat Mk. IV." Here are a few:

The DML M103, on Armorama.
The Trumpeter T-38, on ARC.
The Great Wall Hobby (re-tooled) F-15B/D on ARC.

In my experience most modelers are good guys who enjoy building models for relaxation or to indulge their interest in Cold War jets, German armor, World War Two destroyers, 28mm trolls, or whatever. But elitists exist everywhere no matter how you indulge your weird interests. Do you like wine? You'll find oenophiles who won't buy anything but French wine. Are you a chocolate connoisseur? My best friend will laugh at you if you talk about Godiva ("candy," as he calls it) in his presence. Are you a car guy? Don't drive an automatic as I do, because sports car elitists will laugh at you on track day.

So what do we do with these people? Nothing. You can't change people, so to preserve your sanity you must find a way to accept their contributions to the hobby.

I've learned to love elitists, and you should, too. Let's face it; the "experts" in the scale modeling hobby are not paid historians. They're not professional engineers. They are usually self-taught historians and enthusiasts who are simply eager to share what they've learned. They spend a good amount of time studying new kits, comparing them to photographs or scale drawings, and generally offering educated analyses of the discrepancies they've found. I think that's pretty generous on their part, and I'm glad they're willing to do it.

Your challenge is to read their reviews and take what you need from them. The wings on the Cyber Hobby Sea Venom are too long? You have to consider whether you can live with that inaccuracy if you want a Sea Venom in your collection. The wheels on the Academy Merkava aren't aligned properly? You have to consider if that's a deal-breaker for you. If the errors don't bother you it shouldn't be too difficult to simply click the Back button on your browser and find something else to read. We don't have to chastise rivet counters for offering a (fair) critique of a model. Sure, some are self-important blowhards like the guy I encountered, but so what? Don't let them ruin your enjoyment of the hobby. Or a glass of wine from a Missouri winery.

Embrace the suck!

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