Recently, in a weekly science fiction modeling digest (distributed by a guy named Steve "CultTVMan" Iverson) another guy named David Merriman wrote a rather abrasive article on model building. In it, he shares his "helpful" words of wisdom of what it takes to win a gold trophy at a particular Model Show called Wonderfest.


He differentiated between what he termed a "common kit-assembler" and a "model builder." A Model Builder, according to Dave, is someone (like himself) who builds a model from scratch using different types of mediums. A "kit-assembler," on the other hand is someone who just assembles the pieces to a model kit.


David's editorial (naturally) ruffled quite a few feathers and elicited numerous negative responses, (including one from myself). After the dust cleared, though, I couldn't help but think that Dave missed something in his article. What Dave missed was the fact that any hobby, whether it is model building or something else should be fun. This is in fact why we do it. If it's not fun, why do we go through the work and toil that is found in our hobby?


Another point that he missed is the fact that Building Models is both a solitary and communal hobby. Because of the latter, our words and actions can either have an advantageous or adverse effect on the hobby. What we say and do can either help or hinder the hobby and those in it.


This continued my musings on why I build models. I went back and dusted off an article that I wrote on this topic several years ago. It is found below. If you are interested in sharing your reasons as to why you build models, feel free to send your thoughts in to me (by email). I will be glad to post your replies here.



"Why do you build models?" In posing this question, I'm looking beyond the apparent: "I build models because I have fun building them,” or “I build because I like to" replies. Uhhh.., yeah, this is kind of obvious.


I am really asking more than one question here. In addition to "why do you build models," I am also asking what are some of the things that keep you building? Taking this question a step further, what really gets your modeling juices flowing? What causes you to pretty much do nothing for extended periods of time except eat, sleep, work - (sometimes skipping the work part) - and put tons and tons of time into your model masterpieces until they are finally finished?


On the flip side, what sort of pit-falls cause your modeling activities to come to a grinding halt, (sometimes with your modeling flame not being rekindled for weeks or months at a time)?


I am sure there are many different responses to my previously posed questions. However, I'm also betting that there are a number of common denominators to them as well.


For myself, I build models because I like having my own miniature representations of a subject that I like. Having seen it either in person or in the movies or on TV, "I just gotta have my own copy of it!"


Someone previously mentioned to me that there is something almost magical about having a 3-D object of a subject that you like, which allows to you hold, study, (and play with it? :~) )


Directly tied to the miniature model representation reason is the fact that I also like putting my individual stamp onto whatever it is that I am working on.


I like the model building process itself, the assembling and the painting. Also, I like seeing my model building skills improve with practice. (This has had the added bonus of improving my skills in the home repair area) .


Slightly off center here is the fact that I like entering my models in competitions and seeing how they fare against other entries. I like picking up helpful hints on how to build better models and like sharing my own helpful hints with others.


Over the past four or five years I've gotten an INCREDIBLE RUSH out of sharing my model building projects with others through articles written and pictures taken.


I really like the many very nice and friendly fellow modelers I've come in contact with over the past 15 years, who also share my enthusiasm and passion for this very enjoyable hobby.


Lastly here, this hobby has been a most wonderful thing to share with my two sons. It is especially satisfying seeing the same fire that I have for model building burn in their eyes as well.


Tackling the  "what keeps me modeling” question, I'd have to say that with me having sooo many unbuilt model kits - (over 1,300, with the total steadily rising with the acquisitions of new kits) - I really can't afford to be inactive for very long.


What usually kicks in the modeling afterburners is one of two things. Either it’s at the beginning of a project, when my energy level and drive seem almost infinite. Or, it’s towards the tail end of a modeling project, when I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. (Now, if I can just manage to keep the energy level constant and high throughout the entire project, then I’ll be onto something).


Some things that either dampen a modeling project's progress for me or cause my current model to stop being built are generally attributed to a sense of frustration. This frustration comes from a variety of sources. It may be caused by missing repeated external or self-imposed deadlines. (The solution to this may be to build for myself and not for some event or deadline).


It may come from attempting to stretch the envelope too far, trying too many new and different modeling techniques at one time, or trying techniques which are too difficult to pull off at that particular time. The solution to this is to make sure the steps taken to improve my modeling skills are small, obtainable ones, instead of huge, unreachable ones, (which more than likely will end in failure).


A modeling frustration may also come from a particular nasty modeling disaster that I experience. I seem to have had more than my share of these. What comes to mind here is that if you fall off a horse, you can either shoot it in the head, or get back on and try to ride it again.


The frustration may also be caused by spending too much time trying to complete a model, so much so that the interest in it just fades away. With this, there appears to be a special time frame that one month holds .


In past discussions with a number of modeling buds, I've heard the comment repeatedly on how, if one does not finish a model in one month, it probably will not get finished at all.


Another modeling chum spoke of the importance of a Modeling Vacation. This particular guy is a detailed model builder, who likes to put as many bells and whistles into his current modeling projects as possible. With this, it generally takes him quite a few months (and sometimes years) to complete his current masterpiece.


He termed a "Modeling Vacation" to be the building of a kit pretty much straight out of the box, with the intentions of completing it as quickly as possible to get that "feel-good" modeling gratification. He commented on how a M.V. is most successful for him when completed within a one month to six-week period.


I have noticed that the longer it takes me to finish building a model, the more likely it is that I won’t complete it, (without stopping construction on it and having to FORCE myself to revisit it sometime in the future).


In addition, the longer I stay away from an “under construction” kit, the less likely it is that I will ever finish it. (Are these a couple of additional modeling law candidates?)


In closing, I’ll pose these questions over again. What keeps you building models? What types of things cause you to want to do nothing but build models? What can cause your modeling activity to come to a halt? And, in general, Why do you build models?


(Why I Build Models - Replies - Part One)

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