Childlike and enthusiastic, I’ll still run headlong over the finish line, my eagerness to reveal a finished model taking precedent over my need for perfection, perfection that I would like to attain but know deep down, I never will.
Anyone who builds models will tell you that mistakes or to put it less politely, cock-ups, are an ever-present danger on the way to a kit’s completion. Big or small, they can crop up at the most inopportune moment, there to wrestle defeat from the jaws of modelling victory. They can also reveal themselves after the model has been completed. Invisible to you, they can remain hidden until picked up by someone with a keener eye than yours, souls that are able to spot egregious howlers, when you were blinded to such trifling considerations.
Yesterday, I posted details of my completed Hunter T.7, details of which you can find here. Having worked tirelessly on this less-than-simple model for what seemed like months (it wasn’t, but what’s a little polemic between friends?) I was keen to drag it kicking and screaming over the finish line. Much of this was the result of my need to clear it from my bench to make space for other projects, but equally, it was simply so that I could show off a new model (we all like to do that, right?) To my adoring public. What do you mean you don’t adore me…what the hell..?!
So there it was, finished, photographed and revealed in all of its High Speed Silver glory. And then it happened…
At 6.30 last night, 90 minutes before my model club meeting was due to take place and the model revealed, I had an email from Alan Firbank. Alan and I have been close friends for 30 years now and in that time he has been a willing revealer of mistakes, not for the sport of it (that’s left to others…) but to get me out of holes which he has done on many occasions. So, when he sent me an email under the heading ‘Arse About Face…’ I knew that I had cocked-up in some style…
So what dear reader had I done to deserve this rather pointed correspondence? Simply, I had placed the fin flashes on the tail of my Hunter upside down. Not only had I done this on one side (bad enough) I had repeated the trick over on the opposite side as well. Despite building hundreds of RAF aircraft in miniature over the years and knowing that red leads the flash, I had placed both of them upside down. Twice. And not noticed. Twice.
What an idiot.
So, at 6.35 last night, I was back at my bench to remove the misplaced decals and then spent a frantic 15 minutes trying to find spares that I knew I had, but couldn’t easily find. By 7, the decals were back in place, setting solutions working their magic before a quick overspray with flat varnish, ready for the model to be packed. Looking at it on display, I couldn’t see the error and now it would appear could anyone else, which was something of a blessing…
I’d like to say that this is the first time that I’ve done this: it is not. My 1/32 Revell Tornado that was on display at Cosford for 20 years until the powers-that-be decided that models were not highbrow enough for their needs, has a fin flash on it that’s back to front. In the loft I have an F-22 that has a star & bar marking on the lower fuselage that’s upside down – both models being published with those errors clearly in place. It happens. Unfortunately for me, it happens in public and when it does, I have to repair the mistake, rephotograph the model and then try and pretend it never happened, or wait for the inevitable call from Alan who will, far too late for my needs, reveal the mistake to me.
Much like a written article that has been published with typos still in place despite my best efforts to weed out mistooks, I was happy to see the overall picture without a forensic examination of its finer features.
Here’s the thing: I genuinely believe that it’s good to admit to mistakes like this. In this world of the polished, the celebrity and the most vocal, it’s important to see that not everything that you are offered is perfect, irrespective of what you may believe. I can tell you with some certainty that the vast majority of modellers that you follow and perhaps admire, cock-up every bit as much as I do – and I do it on every model that I build. There is not one build that I’ve completed over the last 30 years that doesn’t have a mistake on it or has fallen foul of an issue that has arisen during its construction and painting, that was solely my responsibility. Not one. It’s good to talk, right? Get it out in the open? Right? Maybe not…
Checking through my socials this morning it seems like I was not the only one to not notice this egregious error: no-one else has either and if they have, they are keeping it to themselves and not telling me! As I write this I can’t help but wonder why the mistake was not seen by me and then by the wider modelling community. It’s easy to see Alan as one wholly focussed on the minutiae of the models finer features, but I don’t think it’s that at all. I believe that modellers see what they want to see and more often than not, look at models in the round. I wanted to see a completed Hunter T.7 on my bench and that’s what I did. Much like a written article that has been published with typos still in place despite my best efforts to weed out mistooks, I was happy to see the overall picture without a forensic examination of its finer features. It wasn’t that I didn’t see the mistake(s), it’s that after so long with it front of me, I couldn’t. I’d become detail blind. And that’s how I think all modellers see miniatures when they are in front of them, completed artefacts to look at, admire and perhaps be inspired by warts and all. In a world of faked perfection, perhaps that’s exactly as it should be. Why should anyone be focused on minute detail when the whole model is there to look at. And now before anyone jumps on me to tell me that micro is just as important as macro to many modellers: I know! This is about an overall impression of the completed piece, not a modeller’s route to getting it there! Sheesh…
I guarantee that this will not be the last time I make a mistake of this kind on a model. I can tell myself until blue in the face that I need to concentrate and be more focussed on these small details, but I won’t. Childlike and enthusiastic, I’ll still run headlong over the finish line, my eagerness to reveal a finished model taking precedent over my need for perfection, perfection that I would like to attain but know deep down, I never will.
See you next time.
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