“It’s as though I and modellers like me, belong to the modelling equivalent of the Illuminati, where classified ideas and secret handshakes are as much a part of taking a look at a kit, as you know, sticking together the pieces and painting the results”
When I started building models as an enthusiastic eight year old, my first attempts were nothing short of a disaster. My very first kit, the Airfix 1:72 Scammell Tank Transporter was so encrusted in glue that it was hard to recognise what it was. My second was no better. Another Airfix kit, this time their Harrier GR.1 was fine until I realised that an invisible part from inside the fuselage had been left out, so it was pulled part and reassembled, glue covering it and me, in the process. Looking back, I wonder why I ever thought that this was the hobby for me!
Over the years that followed, I gradually built up my skills and learned as I went along and though larger, more complex kits were tackled (after all, who’s going to turn down something expensive when all you can afford are cheaper alternatives?) they often resulted in less than impressive models. Why? Because my skills were simply not up to the task. So I persevered and learned to deal with more involved builds and I always knew my limits. In fact, I still do. I walked before I could run and knew that falling over and grazing my knees, was simply part of the journey.
I’ve talked about this on here and it’s almost as if I’m repeating myself, but I really get mightily cheesed off with the assumption, no, demand, that some modellers have for kits that everyone can build. These people seem to want beginners kits across the board. If anything is more difficult, more involved, or needs more skill to complete, they cry foul. They accuse the company of over-engineering the kit, those that can deal with them of elitism and then complain about not being patronised by more skilled modellers who then suggest that these kits are maybe out of their reach, their skills perhaps not up to it, or that they need to develop a little more and then have a go.
Well, guess what: they are.
So here’s how I really feel about this: not all models are designed for all modellers to build. Some will require more skill than you may have at your finger tips. That’s not the kit manufacturer’s fault; they have zero responsibility to produce kits that everyone can build. This is not a sports arena where all are players are at the same level, this is a developing hobby where there is an expectation on you to learn new skills, to be able to tackle more involved projects as you develop; in essence: to become a better modelmaker, should you wish to do so.
Recently I posted the video in which I discuss the Kittyhawk fitter… Again. A number of the comments seem to insinuate that the kit should have been more modeller-friendly and thus easier to build for everyone that chooses to do so. Why? This is a complex aircraft and thus demands a complex kit to do it justice. “Yes, but for the price it should be more user-friendly”. What?! Seriously, what the hell has price got to do with it? By that logic, a £4 Airfix kit should be ready assembled and painted to a high degree of accuracy. It is patent nonsense perpetuated by those that want the moon on a stick and a bag to put it in and to whom the idea of different skill levels and the need to learn additional skills, is more of an inconvenience than a fundamental aspect of learning anything, let alone modelmaking.
All I was saying there and all I’m repeating here, is that in order to get the best from that kit, you have to have the skills to do so and thus it’s not the kit that’s necessarily at fault…
I write this thinly-veiled rant, not to bull up the more skilled, but simply to point out that the hobby is naturally a place where there is a need to learn – as all of us have done and continue to do. There is no agenda, there is no glossing over obvious issues and we are not here to be clever or tell lies, but we are here to reveal that there are levels of skill to match kits that graduate from simple to complex and if you are not aware of that, you will fall down and graze those knees once more. Much like playing a musical instrument, you wouldn’t expect to pick one up and be brilliant, unless you are some kind of savant. Instead, you would expect to learn the basics, develop the building blocks and then move on to more complex arrangements. Why is that ever seen as being any different in what we do? Where did that idea come from – is it simply the way of the world? Perhaps the same thought process would mean we would no longer need schools because everyone should be on the same level and there would be no need to learn anything that we don’t already know. You see – I told you it made no sense.
To get the best from some kits, you need to be able to plan ahead, carry out more complex construction tasks and then apply paint to sub-assemblies and the external surfaces that are beyond simple, one-coat finishes and a few decals. That’s the challenge that helps you to develop, but that challenge is not to taken on without other building blocks in place. I’ve said this before, but if you are struggling to align a Spitfire’s wings, then perhaps a biplane is a little beyond your grasp…
So please, give some thought to that next choice. Are your skills up to the challenge? Can you do it justice and if you choose to build it – which is perfectly fine! – and it is beyond you, hand on heart, is it the kit manufacturer’s fault for releasing a complex kit, or is it yours for electing to tackle something that was simply beyond you?
See you next time.