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Scale model building kits

5 Aug

airplane models custom

About a week after we got back from the twin excitements of Scale ModelWorld at Telford and Artisan’s final performance ever at the Penistone Paramount, one of my wall-mounted cupboards was suddenly no longer mounted on the wall; the three screws that held its batten to the wall withdrew their support without warning, and the structure dropped about two feet. This could have been only a small disaster but the cupboard’s secondary function, as well as storage, was to display completed models on its top and to hold a selection of part-finished ‘works in progress’ on its lowered front flap. Having recovered it from a somewhat alarming angle of tilt and placed it at least for the time being on the level, I started to asses the damage.

Can he fix it?

Somewhere around 22 models, complete and under suspended construction, were damaged to a greater or lesser extent, varying between missing wheels and missing wings. It is at this stage that I should have summoned up the old Fred Astaire routine about picking myself up, dusting myself of and starting all over again; but I have this long-standing and doubtless irrational inat ity to bring myself, unless it a minor fracture on the way a display, to repair the broken. I’ve tried unsuccessful! to rationalise this, and although disposing of the wreckage opens up a little more desperately needed di: play space, this isn’t really my instinctive reaction. I ha\ to confess that I’m not at m best dealing with things thai don’t work properly, though I suspect I’m better with cats than people.

My aversions aren’t confined to this one aspect of modelling. I get the same turn-off when I spot a Hinomaru these days, for example, even if in the 1960s I would happily work on a Hayabusa or Hayate; and some types leave me blank, such as the F-5 and even the F-104 (though whe I confided this to the group mentioned below some kind soul produced, like a rabbit from a hat, an old SAM in which I’d reviewed a Hasegawa Japanese Starfighter). Really I think that these reactions are irrational, and can be reasonably described as a kind of phobia.

No he can’t

When an idea like this lurches to the surface, I like to bounce it off others to con vince myself I’m not self-deluding; in the days when I had a PA to do these things for me I worked on the principle ‘How do I know wha1I think until I’ve seen it in draft spacing?’ The word processor and the e-mail have cut out that particular step, but my need for reassurance remains. So armed with this thought, I took it firstly to a distinguished contributor to SAM, and then to an evening round-table with the same IPMS branch whose views on reviews I canvassed a year before; and like just belonging to such a branch, it persuaded me that I was not alone.

The SAM man confided that he had three problem areas, the first being modelling any Panavia Tornado, because of its horizontal fuselage join, the ease with which its tailerons snap off, and the way in which its main undercarriage splays without any apparent provocation (I have a feeling that I lamented many years ago in an early review of a Tornado kit that the undercarriage design, while no doubt ingenious, gave no thought to the problems presented to the modeller). His other two expressed phobias, or at least worries, are masking canopy frames and trying something new in case it spoils a whole kit. The first I can relate to easily – it goes with the ‘life is too short to stuff a mushroom’ attitude – but I am something of an addict of the new (read, ‘sucker’) if I think it can make mv modelling life easier.

rc modeling

But the Solent Sky museum in the с summer, was on show again at Telford in the autumn. I out by this evening, there was obvious deep feeling behind it. One of our number had seen benches put in front of display tables at one show in an effort to keep the grockles at a safe distance, with the reasoning no doubt that merely putting up ‘Please don’t touch’ notices, even when backed by increasingly gruesome threats, wasn’t enough to deter fingers and even hands. While it may have barked the odd knee, what it also did was enable those too young to read, or perhaps just to appreciate such threats, to climb up all by themselves if unobserved to get a better look, and per haps to steady themselves with a hand close to the edge of the table. As for domestic accidents, apart from the depredations of cats – and our most recent acquisition, a Burmese/blue cross has kipper feet and a fearless sense of adventure which leads him not only on to my workbench but also on to the keyboard of my laptop to make his own distinctive contribution – the tale that I liked was that of the ‘self-propelled guided curtains’, which made an unerring strike on a shelf of models as they slid off their rail. Events like this could help to justify buying a second kit of that much-desired model just in case, and one of the company, reflecting what seemed to be quite a common theme of worrying about getting a newly-produced kit, or perhaps modelling procedure, right, came up with the mantra ‘Try new – buy two’. Perhaps some of our model manufacturers might like to adopt it as a slogan, though I suspect that in many cases they’d be pushing at an open door.

Please don’t touch

One idea that at first seems to be a safety measure at displays turned out to have a downside – and like all the comments that were brought

Badger in a box

Finally one of the senior and experienced modellers from this particular group had a tale that was particularly close to my heart. Years ago, as he was becoming more proficient and attending displays of others’ models, he was gradually convinced that the way ahead, and the best way to improve his models, was to start airbrushing. So he took advice on what was available and raided his piggy bank, and came home with this much-praised piece of intended to display and to preserve its pristine beauty. He looked at it, and doubtless considered the best way to introduce it into his modelling, but never actually took it out of the box; he couldn’t bring himself to use it and stayed with brushes. I confessed to something very similar; I went through the same decision-making process and bought a Badger for my 40th birthday treat, and though I did spray a couple of AFVs – that’ll tell you how long ago it was – and, patchily, a Hasegawa Neptune, I couldn’t get on with it on aircraft. And, as regular readers will know, I profess to find hand-brushing therapeutic, though I may feel differently when I’ve finished the Belfast.

SAM readers will, I’m sure, have their own reactions to some aspect of the hobby that causes them instinctively to withdraw the hem of their garment, and perhaps this will reassure them that others can produce equally irrational reactions to parts of the hobby. Our seminar did lead to distinguishing between fears and phobias. We came to the collective conclusion that while fears were backed by some form of rational reasoning, phobias had no such justification – but I leave you to decide which in this column, and in your experience, is which. And there is one case in which I appreciate ‘Broken Things’; I recommend to you its recording by Chris and Kellie While, but then you – and Wesley the Chapel Cat – already know that I’m a hopeless romantic, don’t you?

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