Sometimes, it’s nice to go into your storeroom, turn on the light and spend a while opening boxes, looking inside and dreaming about the journey that our imagination suddenly takes us on.
Let’s be honest, how many of you reading this have a collection of kits that you know, you will never get around to completing? You at back! Stop pretending, we know that you are every bit as bad as the rest of us! Of course you have a ‘stash’ and no, you will never get around to completing it…
Last week, coffee in hand, I gave some thought to the overwhelming number of unbuilt kits in my loft. Hell, I even gave some thoughts to those that are in my studio, most of which I know will not be built any time soon. Such is the volume of these unbuilt kits, I’ve started to plan what I am going to do with them and indeed, have now taken steps to reduce their number so that when I’m gone, someone else won’t have to!
This issue was brought into sharp focus last week, though for rather less morbid reasons. Coffee in hand, I was reading through some of the threads on the similarly numerous web pages and social media accounts that I frequent, when paint-jobs and as we will discuss in a later update, entire builds, go south. One thread in particular grabbed my attention. Found on the Book Of Faces, this discussion was started by a chap who had uploaded a photograph under the heading ‘Unbuilt Dioramas’. Odd title, I think you will agree! Anyhoo, digging a little deeper (which now involves placing spectacles on head due to the onset of older age and degrading eyesight) I could see that the image was indeed that of a collection of unbuilt dioramas, all of which were plastic in nature from the likes of Airfix, ESCI and all points in-between. It was a spectacular collection that the author described as being “almost” complete, only a few kits of that nature being absent. I was utterly entranced by the idea of a collection such as this, one that was not only incredibly valuable in terms of money laid out, but one that must have taken an eternity to research and then track down.
It seemed as though everyone else was equally taken by such an impressive collection of modelling memorabilia, well, all except one – initially – who was anything but. One modeller was so exorcised by the idea of pulling together so many unbuilt models, let alone actually doing it, that he took to his keyboard and started to tell the world exactly why he felt that way.
The crux of his argument was that modellers who do this were inherently unfair. Those that buy kits that they have zero intention of actually building, were not only hoarding kits that might otherwise go to modellers who actually wanted to build them, they were by association increasing the resale value of similar kits should they ever hit the market place, thus making it extremely difficult for anyone else to buy them. This ‘modeller’ and honestly, I use that term loosely, then went on to say that the collector should almost be ashamed and as result, sell them all off so that those who wanted to build them, could. It was, as you might imagine, a lot of thoughts to unpack in one very short, rather vitriolic diatribe.
I laughed when I read it and now, thinking about it once more, still see the funny side.
The problem here is not that the questioner for the prosecution was being, let’s face it, envious to the point of obsession over this individual collection, he seemingly had no idea of how the rest of the modelling world thinks, either. But more than that, he obviously didn’t have the faintest idea of what drives anyone to collect anything, be they classic oil tins, cars, drums, rusty bikes, tee shirts, trainers or indeed, old plastic model kits – it matters not one jot what the collection of objects is, just that people, well, collect.
I have always been consistent in my feeling that an unbuilt plastic model kit is utterly worthless until you actually put it together. I have no understanding of inherent value when it comes to anything, to be honest, which is why I don’t really get the idea of jewellery, or expensive clothes; just because someone tells me it is worth a lot, that almost never means that to me it is! Same with kits I guess, but here their value is as a kit, something to build, something to enjoy, an artefact to display – a box on a shelf may as well be empty, such is its lack of value to me in that state once I have bought it. So instinctively, I really don’t get the idea of a stash, one simply there to increase in value, a collectable nest egg that will get me through old age. Those kits in the loft are simply ammunition that I will use – or not – at some point to feed my collection. And yet, and yet…I understand why people collect kits, because I do, too.
I may never get around to completing all of the kits that are in my loft, but I still add to them, if not regularly, then at odd intervals through the year, either as the result of cash passed over, or as gifts that find their way to me from generous friends. I, similarly, will hand over anything that I think will be used by others. I’m not precious about the contents of my ‘stash’ (a word, by the way, that I really dislike…) so the collection tends to get a refresh every now and then.
My current targets of interest are old Verlinden Productions kits and then those created by Monogram, especially their mid-70s/early 80s 1/48 aircraft. Both of these fit within my ‘Legacy Collection’ of ideas, older kits that I try and build using classic tools, materials and techniques. Last year, this manifested itself with the collection of Tamiya vehicles and dioramas that will have all seen by now, but as 2021 morphs into 2022, I hope that the collection will start to include those Monogram models that I love so much. So the collection grows. I’ve recently, thanks to my good friend Mike Reeves, added the Skyhawk, Skyraider and photo-recon Voodoo, all kits that I plan to build over the coming months. I say plan, because with everything else that is going on, those can only ever be loose aspirations, but so far so good! I’ve even bought decals for the A-1 and A-4, so that’s a start!
We all have collections that’s for sure – and not just of kits. Records, CDs, old football programmes? All collections. The reason why we collect kits, is because we are aspirational creatures who see the potential in kits that we have to hand, ready to build when the time comes. More than that though and in the case of the original modeller that sparked this essay and myself who was so taken my his kits, we can at times be extremely nostalgic. In his case, he wanted the ‘diorama’ kits that had so captured his imagination as a child, so had used his time and income to grab all of those he had no-doubt coveted over the years. The result was one of the finest individual collections I have seen.
Though nowhere near that driven, I too like the idea of bringing together kits that I have wanted over the years. I don’t really buy anything newly released, unless it’s for work and I know that I will have to build it. Instead, all of the kits that I try and get hold over are classic, ancient relics that I loved back in the day and now want to possess. Not the greatest kits in terms of accuracy, but those deficiencies are more than made up for by the nostalgic pleasure I get from seeing them in my studio.
The complainant in this spikey case of the ‘Model Kit Hoarder That Grabbed The Goodies’ was not only wrong in his assertions about that chap in particular, he was to be frank, less than understanding of what makes us all tick. We may all view what we do differently; we may have different budgets; we may have different viewpoints on what makes a kit worthwhile, but we all come together in a feeling that sometimes, it’s nice to go into your storeroom, turn on the light and spend a while opening boxes, looking inside and dreaming about the journey that our imagination suddenly takes us on.
See you next time.
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