Why I build models

(Replies - Part One)




I received the following replies to my "Why do you build models?" question a number of years ago when I originally posed it among some fellow model club members:


Top ten reasons...

10.  The other choices are doing house chores or wandering the Internet.

9.    How else could getting you high on fumes also give you some tangible result to keep?

 8.  I wouldn't otherwise get enough cuts on my fingers.

 7.  I just NEED more stuff to fill my living room shelves.

 6.  The prescription on my glasses isn't that bad, yet.

 5.  It lets me escape life.

4.    Seeing the funny looks when people find out there are 560 decals on a 1/144th scale project.

 3.  I like people thinking I am nuts.

 2.  I like looking at the final results of my labors.

 1.  The pure joy of creation!


Good enough?




Rafi K. wrote:

Hi Tony,

I know why I build. I love it! It is one of the best and very enjoyable things to do. The great thing about it is that it is not a job. You can start and stop at any time you feel like.

Best Regards,



David V. replied:

Recently, Tony I haven't been!!!!!! I build for the history and the research!!! Not necessarily for the final product. I love doing the research, to be able to know something that is a little different. I also love to airbrush the colors. In a nutshell, this is why I build models.





Bill N., being ever so short, sweet and to the point with his responses, listed the following reasons for buildiing models:

1. The Challenge

2. Squirrel Complex (Packing nuts, uh, models away for the winter, I guess? - Ed.)

3. To relieve frustrations





Jeff H. sent the following reasons:


I guess since I admitted that I build models, then now I'll have to come up with some reason why. A good companion question (and probably equally interesting) would be "how did you get to your current state of model building?" 


I build pretty good models (sometimes they're even very good, and of course sometimes they stink). But, for me I don't build models for the sake of building models. This is probably why I have such a low completion rate. I consider myself to first be a historian and second a model builder. I usually start working on a model because of something I'm researching or happen to be reading about. I usually change projects because of some interesting fact I turn up while researching the current project. I use my modeling as a tool to help immerse myself in the history. I like to be able to see the equipment and the colors in front of me. I also like the attention one of my models gets when I actually finish one but that is definitely a secondary issue.


Now to answer my second question of how I got here. I started building models when I was 6 because my dad bought me a Monogram Helldiver for my sixth birthday. I don't know why I liked it but I found out I liked airplanes and like building all the cool airplane models that were available. I would save up my allowance - (I didn't really save-I got $1 per week and would spend it as soon as I got it) - and buy 2 new models each week.


You could get 1/72 scale WW2 fighters for $.49 each. So, I would get one 'good guy' and one 'bad guy' so that I could have dogfights after I built them. I liked reading the histories that came on the instruction sheets and would then go to the library to get books about WW2 to try to learn more about these planes. After a while I found that I found the subject very interesting and slowly I found myself building what I researched more than researching what I build.


That's the condensed version of why I build and how I got there.





Frank W. sent me the following reasons:

“Why do I build?” you ask me.  The simple answer is because it keeps me off the streets at night.  The real answer is more complicated.  Modeling and reading are my main hobbies. They both tend to help me relax and let go.  For the most part, I build what I read.  If I see an interesting incident described in a book, I’ll try to make a diorama of it.  My main interests are US history from 1939 to 1975, the space race, Irish history, Coast Guard and maritime history and sci-fi/fantasy.


I enjoy these categories for different reasons, and I build different models for different reasons. I build sci-fi and fantasy for the pure fun of it.  Right out of the box.  Minimal seam work – just enough to not look messy. No extra detail.  Just plain fun.


I build Coast Guard ships and aircraft because I’ve been there and done that. I served on 6 different classes of cutters, qualified in 4 different types of small boats, flew in 4 different airframes.  I am building what I remember.  I modify the models to make sure they are in the correct configuration.  I add as many details as I can.  Not too many people know Coast Guard history.  I am trying to spread the word.


I build Irish aircraft and armor because I am part Irish and because it is different – no one else is buildinganything Irish!  I modify these to make them correct.


I build spaceships because I have always been interested in the space program.  I majored in oceanography at the Academy and my dream was always to be the first Coast Guard astronaut and to scuba dive on some ocean on some other planet.  Most of these are out of the box.  I am interested in them but not fanatical about them.


Now the corny part.  I build WWII, Korean and Vietnam armor, aircraft and ships because I am trying in my own small way to keep the memory of what our troops accomplished in those conflicts alive in today’s kids.  I have displayed my collection at various veterans’ gatherings and I always get men saying they flew that airplane or drove that tank.  They are always surprised that someone so “young” has taken the time to do the research and get the correct variant of tank in the correct battle.  And besides, I really like building the models.


I do NOT build for judges or for competitions.  I decided several years ago that it is not relaxing to build “high quality” models to please some one else.  I build what I like to the level of competency I am comfortable with.  I build for myself.  I bring models to the club to fill a table with things for people to look at.  I know I will probably never win another contest and I do not care.  I enjoy what I do.

- Frank



I was able to elicit the following reason from Chuck Davenport, (IPMS’ VP)


I build models because it is vicarious adventure in 3-D.




Jamie M. responded with the following reasons for building:



To answer your question, "Why do you build models?":


1.    The main reason is I love cars and have a desire to have one of just about everything on the road.  This is impossible in full scale, but with models, I can have just about everything, as long as I can find time to put it together. My love of cars is one of styling and aesthetics, more so than mechanics and performance. This leads me more towards modeling than becoming a mechanic.  After I have built a model car, I feel as though I have enjoyed every line, curve and detail on it, just as though it were thereal thing.  Of course at a fraction of the price.


2.    I take pride in my own skill and work when the model is complete. I love to stand back when one is finished and think, "Wow!  I actually did that with my own two hands."  Modeling is one of the few things I do in life that gives me a sense of accomplishment. Also, it feels great to work up the courage to try something new in a model and succeed with it.

- Jamie




Finally, from a gent named Steve Iverson, the following reply was received:


Why do I build models? Good question!  Tough question! I am not sure there is an easy answer. Much of it goes back to never letting go of childhood. There is a strong nostalgia, and so many fond memories that go with many of these kits, especially the Aurora Monsters!


But that’s not all... that wouldn't explain why I build spaceships and SF. Much of that comes from my interests in Science Fiction and models. As a kid, I was greatly amazed with man in space and going to the moon. I guess these thrills translated into SF fandom, Star Trek, and Star Wars.


That still doesn’t explain why I build the kits. Maybe there is just a little bit of Scotty in me. Tinkering, building Starships. Some of it is an effort to be creative or artistic. I am not blessed with artistic talent, but I can put together a ship.   Some of it is a desire to create something that lives, or at least looks like it could come to life or fly away through space. One could almost call it a Frankenstein complex. Some of it is

ego.... everyone likes to show off something they are proud of and have their friends tell them what great work they do.


But most recently, I have discovered one facet, one aspect of modeling that I never expected or anticipated.  I am

sharing the hobby with my little boy.


Hope that lifts some of the mystery.







(Max Therrien replied)

Hiya, Tony

Reading your latest article, I couldn't help but to respond with my own thoughts.


As a first note, Mr. Merriman should take note that I'll consider him a model builder (by his definition) when he creates and assembles the primal molecules for the stock he uses. So there :~} !


As for your question...it's a loaded one...in a good way. There are so many answers, so many small reasons that come together to give us the drive to build.


First and foremost, for myself, I guess it's my artistic side trying to come out. Some people paint or sculpt or grow beautiful plants or whatever.... I build models. I love to be able to create something...something somewhat unique, with my own added touches.


Yes I use kits out of a box, but I never feel it detracts from the creation process. So many details must be verified, parts adjusted, paint applied with care, that the final result is never the same from one individual to another.


The subject I choose is not a random choice either. Sci-Fi...the imagination, dreams of space and adventures, recaptured from our youth.


When building a ship, I can't help but recall scenes from the movie or show...but more importantly, I recall scenes from my childhood (or young adulthood). Pleasant feelings of a careless time without responsibilities, bills to pay etc...


Model building is the ultimate escape for me. I slowly create something, while relaxing. The feeling I get when a model comes together and looks like it should is a very good one. We can all brag: "I did this".


In a world where we must rush from one thing to another, deadlines, bills etc... It's nice to be able to sit back and relax. I sometimes sit down and just sand one part, or glue it to another. I'll then look at them and think of the next move. There is NO rush, no deadline. It can take months to finish a model or just a weekend, I never know and neither do I care...I just enjoy it.


Model building also gets the creative juices flowing. I keep thinking of what I could build next or what I could do that's different. Sharing it with other like-minded people is definitely a plus. Notes can be compared, techniques exchanged. But the approval of others also plays a part in it. It's nice to know there are others out there who will enjoy our creations and approve.


I could go on and on, but that about sums it up.


The end.


Why I Build Models (Replies - Part Two)

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