Editorial: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Modeling




Monday, January 21, 2002


(A bit of introspection)

What are the things that you like about the Model Building Hobby? Now, I'm not talking about the actual task of assembling model kits. I'm talking about the hobby itself. What are the things you dislike about it?


I've been consciously and unconsciously dwelling on this topic for the past couple of months. Actually, now that I think about it, it's probably more like the past couple of years.


What really got me into this introspective groove were several negative occurrences that I have seen in the "on-line" modeling community.


(Here cometh' the self-professed Modeling GOD!)

The first centers around a guy named David Merriman, who is a loathsome, self-professed Modeling GOD to the Modeling Community. Most of you reading this are probably familiar with the guy, and have been subjected to his inane, offensive ramblings about other modelers' shortcomings. Ironically, these tend to be mixed in with otherwise informative "How-to" articles.


In addition, David has been known to take personal offense to those who have (and share) opinions that differ from his own. I've both heard about this and have experienced it first hand twice last year.


Heck, Dave has even been the catalyst behind one of the Modeling Bulletin Boards adding a security feature to one of their forums, designed to prevent "anonymous" viewers from posting verbal attacks on others.


(Restrictions, restrictions, and more restrictions)

Enough of Dave. Another occurrence, (or maybe that should be "set of occurrences") that started this personal mussing of mine were a couple of things that took place on the Hobby Talk Bulletin Board last year. I'm not going to go into the gory details, but in a nutshell several of the B.B's over there went through a process in which the types of postings that were allowed became more and more restrictive. (This process appears to continue today).


(Want to know a quick way to torpedo a modeling club?)

How about Modeling Clubs? Any of you have experience of or knowledge about them? I do. I use to be the President of a local IPMS Chapter, that's located just outside the city of Philadelphia. - (If you do a bit of homework, you can probably figure out which one I'm talking about).


All told, I ended up doing quite a bit for that club. I served as the club's Treasurer for two years. I also did a stint as the club's president and IPMS Club Contact for another two-year period. In addition, I was the editor of their newsletter for 3 years.


While I was president, I actually succeeded - (with a lot of help from others) - in increasing the number of club members. I also got us active (and seen) in a number of outside events. Finally, I succeeded in adding that "Fun Factor" to the club.


Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. After my term as the President was over, another took my place. Due to his "It's my way or the highway" attitude, (along with an unhealthy dose of apathy that existed in the club), shortly after he took office half of the members left in a huff, due to an increase in the dues that was forced upon them, along with a number of other miscellaneous factors.


Now, several years later, few are showing up for the club's meetings and it appears that they are on their way into oblivion.


Want to know what happened to that group that splintered away? Well, they decided to form their own group, getting back to the basics for meeting in the first place. (You can check them out here ).


(Gundams - and other non-model "toys"?)

Another short story here: just a week or so ago when visiting a different modeling site I stumbled upon (and read) an editorial that's regularly posted there. One thing that caught my eye was a piece on "Why Gundams are not models." If I remember correctly, the fact that Bandai doesn’t list them as models per'se, along with the fact that they are snap-tite and have parts molded in color - (to help give the many kids who build them a more immediate gratification) - were some "bad points" that were mentioned as to why they really aren't models.


Uhhh, did I miss something there? (Nawww, I didn't. But I think the author did). What about the very fine detail and good fit? Both are better than those found in the offerings from most of the American Modeling Companies. This point was mysteriously overlooked.


What about the fact that your High and Master Grade Gundams average around 150 parts, (which is waaaay more than your average model offering from the American Modeling Companies)? None of these facts were considered.


This opinion is very interesting, especially when added to several others that I've heard from other model builders. One was a vendor who attended this past October's Chiller Theatre Show. When I was talking to him, he commented that he really didn’t feel that those WWF figures (kits?) that were produced (by AMT/Ertl, I think) were models. The reason that was given was that they are pre-paints, (even though they are also a collection of unassembled parts).


Then, there was another conversation I had with a fellow model builder last year. This particular person commented on how he didn't feel those small, 1:32 scale 4-Wheel Drive (unassembled) Tamiya car kits are really models. The reason that he gave was that glue is not used in assembling them - (they are built with screws and by snapping parts together). In addition, the fact that they are functional after they are built was another reason given. (By inserting two AA batteries and turning on the switch, the cars go "Bye-bye").


(Zoids as well?)

What about those new toy "Zoids" that have been reintroduced to yet another generation of kids? Are they models? Well, they do come in multiple parts (that are attached to sprues). The parts are assembled by being snapped together.


Also, they come molded in different colors. There is even a peal-off decal sheet that is included, a scale listed on the box, and the description "Action Figure Model Kit" is written on the instruction booklet. After you build them, you can insert a couple of batteries, turn the creatures on and they proceed to "walk."


My eldest son Anthony purchased one several days ago. His "Liger Zero" has 128 parts that he had to assemble. Anthony - (directly after he arrived home) -proceeded to spend 3 or 4 hours working on it, non-stop. He even got up early the next morning and finished assembling the remaining leg sub-assemblies.


When I asked him "Why are you in such a rush to finish it?" he replied: "Because I want to bring it with me to enter in the contest."  (There was a model show and contest that we were attending later on that day).


This was ironic and the timing was bizarre, due to that editorial on Gundams that I had just read.  I said: "I'm not sure you'll be able to enter it in, since it may not be considered to be a model kit." (Know what Anthony's reply was?) "Why wouldn't it be considered a model? It has parts - (a lot of them) - that I had to put together." Out of the mouth of babes…


(A new Sheriff in the FSM Town?)

Ok, I have a final story for you. Do you know the one about the (temporary) head editor of one of the largest, oldest and widely recognized modeling magazines? Well, when he took over the reins of the magazine a short time ago something strange started happening. All of a sudden the coverage of sci-fi and fantasy vehicular and figure models - (that had never been all that great to begin with) - shriveled up to practically nothing.


The masses - (some of them, at least) began crying "foul." Numerous debates raged on some of the Internet Modeling Bulletin Boards about this. The consensus appeared to be "No problem. We still have three pretty good modeling magazines that are tailored to our genre of the modeling realm".


Well, two days ago when I borrowed the latest issue of this magazine from a friend I noticed that the previous head-honcho was no longer doing the editorials found on the front page. No, there was a Brand-Spanking New Sheriff in town! His name is Dick McNally - (Shoot, I gave it away) - and he is listed as the "Managing Editor." (Hmmmmm??? Wonder what that means?)


Now, I very well may be reading waaay too much into this situation. However then again, maybe now we will FINALLY start getting some halfway decent coverage of sci-fi and fantasy models there.


(…and, the point of all of this is what again?)

Where are all of these sub-plots leading? (I'm glad you asked).


Other than some good ole' fashion soul-cleansing venting, there really is a point to this article. The first is that one of the good things about our hobby is the social aspect to it. Friendships are often created and acquaintances established when those who have similar tastes in something come together and associate with each other on a regular basis. The Model Building Hobby is no different.


The next point is that it would be a fair assessment to say that we all have a passion for building models, (no matter what type they are). Although the intensity of this passion may vary, you nonetheless have to have at least a little bit of passion for building a model, to explain why you would spend hours of your time pouring yourself into some small object that most out there would probably view as being only a toy.


With the passion and social aspects to the Modeling Hobby, there (naturally) will be some who may not (and do not) play well with others.


You're going to find the opinionated, headstrong types as well - you know, those who are always right and just have to enlighten the rest of us to this fact.


There are also many in our hobby who are arrogant and have ego problems. It really is a shame that some of us have the need to place our model building techniques and/or types of models that we like and build on a higher plateau than all others, (lowering the importance of the other types in the process).


All of these types of people exist in varying degrees in our hobby, and must either be dealt with by "dismissing" them, or just ignored.


All of these traits and characteristics ultimately end up muddying the modeling waters, causing many to forget an important point: That building models - (or assembling dissimilar parts into a cohesive whole) - really is just a hobby. Yep, that's all it is, a hobby.


And the point of a hobby is what again? TO HAVE FUN!!!!


If you are not having fun, then something is wrong, and maybe you need to find another hobby.


Conversely, if you are causing others to not have fun, then something is again wrong, and again, maybe you need to find another hobby.


To quote Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?" (The hobby really is big enough for all of us).





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