In all honestly I’m past the need to only build the shiny and new, the simplicity of many of these kits seeming like paint by numbers exercises, rather than engaging modelling projects.
Good morning everyone – I wish you all the best!
Well, hasn’t it been a long time since we last spoke?! Checking back on this page it would appear that I haven’t really dealt with it since last October which is far less than acceptable! Though it is unlikely to satisfy those that may have missed my ramblings (come on, there must be at least one that has!) I can only say that life, work and the pressures of everyday living, rather dampened my enthusiasm as 2022 drew to a close and 2023 became less of a future plan and more an every day reality.
So, here I am, back from my extended hiatus to say hello and hopefully begin to bring you material on this page that once again you can enjoy! At least, that’s the plan…
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Over the last four months or so I’ve certainly not been idle, plenty of models being built, photographed and published as part of my day job. If you have followed my online presence elsewhere you will know that those projects have been a mixture off the old and new, Monogram’s ancient Century Series holding hands with younger siblings from the likes of Tamiya, Airfix and this week, Kinetic, their much-wanted F-16A being a point of focus as January moved into February with alarming speed.
Keeping this mix as part of my day-to-day schedule has been good for me I think. In all honestly I’m past the need to only build the shiny and new, the simplicity of many of these kits seeming like a paint by numbers exercise rather than engaging modelling projects. I appreciate that that is going to place me with the target of those who see the arrogance in those words, a modeller somehow seeing himself above the trifling pleasure of a simple build, but that’s not it at all. As an experienced modeller, I need the challenge. I don’t see myself as one who only enjoys the painting of a miniature, seeing that only as part of a bigger picture. Construction is also important, as is problem solving and the thrill of working out how to complete a part of a model when it seem to be almost impossible to bring together in a fashion that’s acceptable to my eye.
There’s also the idea that older kits are still worthy of my attention. I’m fortunate that I have made a career out of building new kits, 27 years of my modelling career being taken up at the coalface of reviews, assessments and builds of the recently released. The demands of publications, either run by me, or as seen with my employment by Doolittle as their in-house modelmaker, has ensured that decisions are made for me, rather than by me. That’s great in itself (after all, who doesn’t want to be in receipt of superb new kits) but it has meant that those products that excited me as a younger modeller were rather sidelined. And that excitement never left me. So when I was able to pick up older kits once more, open the box and feel that frisson of excitement that I felt decades ago, they became too much to resist. And I have a lot of those older kits (in fact, they are almost the only things I buy these days) so if I don’t build them, what purpose do they serve? If not now, when?
But perhaps the most important factor in my decision to build these old kits, is that now I have the skills to get the best from them. Take Monogram’s 1/48 F-106 as an example. As a teenager, I tried and failed to build that kit, its notoriously difficult breakdown and fit, being simply too difficult for my younger self to deal with. I knew that it could be done as I’d seen a stunning example of one at the IPMS Nationals in Stoneleigh, but it was beyond me at the time – and no amount of arrogant belief in my skills as a 14 year old, was ever going to change that. Fast forward 20 years and I managed to get hold of another kit, a boxing that I then placed in the loft and ignored until last year when my desire and my skills felt ready once more to tackle this famously difficult kit. And you know what? It’s still difficult! This time though I worked through its issues and ended up with a model that is now a pleasing addition to my display case. And I enjoyed the challenge. I loved the filling, sanding and lining up of parts that seemed to be designed not to go together to frustrate the modeller, rather than being a simple drop-fit to make their life easier. It was the most fulfilling build of 2022, simple as that.
Over the next few months I will complete my ‘Century Series’ with the final model, the gorgeous F-102. I then plan to deal with the ‘Teen Series’ from Monogram’s 1/48 range: F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-18 Hornet. All offer challenges and all will be demanding to build, but here’s the thing: they will all capture the look of the original aircraft to a tee. That’s what really draws me to Monogram’s range, the accuracy of these Golden Period kits. You might be pushed in terms of construction and the need to finesse each one, but you’ll be hard-pushed to find models that are more accurate, as indeed the F-106 has proven, its lines being still the most accurate 40 years after its release!
See you next time everyone.
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