Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's time to be thankful

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States, so I thought I’d take a moment to share what I’m thankful our hobby. We spend a lot of time griping and complaining throughout the year, so I think reflecting on the good things we have is time well spent.

I've always liked the Soviet T-64, so I’m thankful for the many variants of the tank that Trumpeter has released over the last couple of years. It's a reminder of how far we've come since the primitive Skif kit. I could say the same about their T-62 and T-80 series. Looking more broadly across the hobby, we should all be thankful for the deluge of kits that have hit the shelves over the last few years. A friend recently pointed out that pretty much any tank he wants to build is available in kit form. These are the best of times. The biggest risk to the hobby now? Running out of subject matter!

I’m grateful for contests. As much as I like looking at your models online, nothing beats the experience of seeing hundreds of models in the flesh. No matter you skill level, you should be entering contests and sharing your work with me.

I'm grateful for rivet counters. Yes, you read that right! Despite the lack of pay and the heat they take from armchair modelers, their contributions are important to the hobby. Rivet counters tell me things about kits that I would never discover on my own, and there's great value in that.

I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made in the hobby. My best friends are guys I met in IPMS clubs or contests. Unfortunately, most of them don’t live near me, so it’s a treat to meet up with them at contests or during family vacations.

Lastly, and most important, I’m thankful for simply being in this hobby. Building models gives me great satisfaction, and I’m not happy unless I spend time at the bench. It always strikes me odd when I meet people who don’t have hobbies. How do they spend their time? What do they spend time thinking about? I feel bad for them.

Count your blessings.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Plan or plan to fail

This month’s topic from the Sprue Cutter’s Union is:

“Do you plan and prepare for every step of your build’s process, or do you wing it as you go?”

My answer is a simple one...plan!

As I’ve gotten older, now in my late-forties, I increasingly find it important that I plan my builds with more diligence than I did in my younger years. I blame this on a poor memory or simply the aging process. Whatever it is, when I “fail to plan,” a phrase Jon used in his introduction to this month’s SCU topic, I usually forget something important.

For example, I forgot to add the control columns in an F-15B I built a couple of years ago. I forgot to remove the masks from the under-fuselage observation windows on my F4F Wildcat build earlier this year. I assembled a Rafale fighter without first considering how I would fill and smooth various seams after subsequent parts were attached. And I installed headlight guards upside down on an M117 Guardian.

I almost always begin a new project by studying photographs of the actual aircraft or vehicle (as well as particularly well built models), reading conversations about the model across the interwebz, and studying the unbuilt model. I’m looking for areas that I can improve and areas that might prove to be troublesome. I look at the aftermarket and photoetch parts that I will use and make notes about how they’ll be added to the kit. I mark up the kit instructions using a red pen, noting changes or additions I intend to make and refer to them throughout the course of the build. I also make notes to myself as I build the model, reminding myself to add this or that piece, to scribe a new panel line after fuselage assembly, etc.

This planning process is now very important to me. Planning reduces the chance that I’ll forgot something important and be left with a model that doesn’t get built or wastes my time. And the gods know that time is the one thing we never have enough of.

Remember the The Five P’s that I learned in the military…Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Contact them directly!

I don’t understand people. The internet puts the world at your fingertips -- literally -- yet we fail to use the resources that are just a click away.

This guy has two phones an an email account. Why is he posting questions on Hyperscale?

I often see modelers post to the forums asking for information about a particular vendor or web site. Here are some I’ve seen over the last few months.
  • Why doesn’t Lucky Model have Trumpeter or Hobby Boss kits in stock?
  • Will Brookhurst Hobbies charge me postage at cost for a single sheet of decals?
  • Has anyone heard from HLJ about their Mosquito pre-order?
  • Any news on if/when we will see the next issue of MMiR?
  • Squadron shows three prices on their website: List Price, Our Price, Lowest Price. Are they offering it at the Lowest Price?

These are all valid questions, but they should be directed to the respective companies not the modeling community. With very few exceptions, every company with a web presence has contact information, usually an email and sometimes a phone number, for just these kinds of questions.

I understand it’s easy to quickly post a question on your favorite forum, but I strongly suggest we start communicating with companies directly before reaching out to the modeling community, which, by the way, is full of misinformation. If a business fails to respond (and shame on them if they do), then a more public inquiry is warranted.