Modelling ethics

OK a curly subject. So please keep it ‘sane’.

I’m a history nut. Due to illness I watch too much TV. Especially the likes of the History Chanel.
I get a bit disturbed each time I see what the ‘enemy’ did at times and wonder if we should be in fact even modelling this stuff. Are we perpetuating the memories? Does an element of guilt play any part in modelling? Should we only model the good guys? And who decides who the ‘good guys’ are?

I’m not trying to glorify war or even dismiss it. But I do get a bit of a guilt feeling each time I want to model something that was so ‘bad’.

Just as an aside. For years I traveled to Germany to the toy fair. Held in Nuremberg of all places. A friend toured me around the back blocks and showed me stuff not on the tourist route. An older client in Germany was a Hilter youth. He admitted he still can’t see any ‘evil’!!! :shushing_face: :grimacing:So I guess the above comments will all depend on your perspective in life.

What’s the attraction with AFV?



I model the technology.
My grandfather cut steel plates to build hulls for submarines.
My mother and her parents took cover in air raid shelters.
My mothers uncle was blown three houses down the street by Soviet bombs
dropped a few days after the armistice when the German Flak opened fire.
He had spent so much time in that d*mn air raid shelter so he dang well wasn’t going
down there now that the war was over. A Soviet bomb sent him on a very short trip
to kingdom come. I still have his burned and partially shredded wallet …
My father was out in the Swedish forests with a 40 mm Bofors, hoping for a German plane
to shoot down. They almost got a chance once but the plane turned away before it got
within range …

Road traffic killed more than 38 thousand people in the US in 2020.
People still build car models. The US lost a little less than 420 thousand in WW II.
Eleven years worth of road traffic … just saying.

People kill, the machines and weapons are just tools.
Take away ALL of the tools of war and we would kill each other with rocks and
what a dilemma that would be for geologists. Can’t have a rock sample collection
under those circumstances …
Tobacco use killed an estimated 500,000 Americans in 2020 …
now we’re talking. Go Marlboro Man, go …
A whole WW II in one single year …

I’ll never ever under no circumstances model a concentration camp,
a chimney or any dead or dying person. That’s where I draw my line.

Didn’t sleep last night, had to finish a work document …


Robin all valid points. However there is a difference between madness and self harm. Smoking is self harm. Driving can be defined as self harm. But the other stuff is just madness.

I guess if I take my original question it could also be applied to museums!!

But I do wonder if AFV is an appropriate hobby. Maybe the cancel culture folks will have it banned and then the question will be answered for me!!



If we begin to peel away layer after layer of the cancel culture onion we’ll end up with nothing when everything has been peeled away.
Considering the damage we have done and continue to do to the environment and to all the other of Gods creatures then maybe we should quietly and with minimal fuss cancel ourselves …
Feeling cheerful today…

Airplanes are worse than AFV’s, at least in my opinion
Maybe switch to modelling vintage sailing ships, the ships that participated in the triangle trade Europe → West Africa → the Americas → back to Europe.

Some cancellers want to drag Swedish iron works and forges into it since we manufactured the shackles used on the voyage from West Africa to the Americas.

It is we humans who carry the evil and the violence within us, some manage to keep it contained and others let the demons out.
Humans: the ape that invented Gods and used them as a reason to kill other humans …


I do this as a hobby, if you want to turn it into a class, leave me out. Wayne


You are replicating history. It’s no different than a military collector owning items from Germany, Japan or wherever else depending on your area of interest.
You only glorify those regimes by how you choose to create a diorama’s theme or display those military relics.

Years ago a WW2 Vet (family friend) and Jewish offered me a deal.
I would make him a German tiger 1/35th scale complete with whitewash camo and air recognition flag (swastika red white black flag).
In exchange I got his collection of Recognition magazines, vintage WW2.


I attended a wake for a friend’s grandmother. The family is German. The older members were born in Germany. The friend (in his late 30’s at the time and a USN Vet) was making some speech about his grandmother and her past. He said something about WW2. Here’s were it gets weird. He says “No matter which side your feelings are on the war…” Okay that got my attention.
BTW earlier that evening he introduced me as a friend and said my first and last name. Then he continued. “He’s Jewish but he’s one of the good ones.” Yep. Add to that we attended the same church and he was present when I was baptized. I had converted many years before but it seems that wasn’t good enough for him.
So, yeah… some people just don’t see it.

I only posted this because OP mentioned someone not seeing the evil.
MODs can delete if too far off topic.


This is obviously a complex and personal subject.

I’m also always a little on the fence about modelling “good” vs “bad”. My family were all on the “good” side the last time things really kicked off, but the history of the British empire is rife with periods of indisputable bad.

I chose to model what I do based on interest. When I was a kid it was all American Warbirds because that’s what I thought was cool.

When I got back into things during the apocalypse I decided to focus on Canadian Armour because a) I need to limit my hoarding tendencies and b) as a Canadian once upon a soldier, this is what interests me today.

I tend to avoid axis models not out of any sense of revulsion or white knighting, but because I hate that this is what sells and we are constantly bombarded by 87 new variants of Panthers while there are literally hundreds of cool and unique subjects out there that get minimal to no attention.

I’m with Robin though. While there is a probably a valid argument when used in proper context (eg a museum) the recreation/glorification of war crimes is a hard line for me outside of a direct educational setting. I don’t build dioramas anyway, but even if I did, I don’t think I’d include even active combat.

At the end of the day though. Wayne and Barnslayer are right. These models are nothing but lumps of plastic until they’re put into context. Building a Tiger at home is no different than marvelling over 131 at Bovington. Building a US Marine unloading with an M2 flamethrower into a cave however might be something you want to keep to your self.


For me the subject of modeling these vehicles and events is purely historical and in some cases of valid teaching tool.
I did a very large diorama for a holocaust museum depicting the selection process at Gate 3. I vowed to never build anything like that again. The emotional toll during research was too great.
As for good guys versus bad guys it’s your call as to who’s good and who’s bad.
Personally enjoy the technology that we all build in scale.
Ultimately this is how we pay tribute to soldiers , airmen and sailors who served no matter what flag they served under.


I guess we need to keep everything in a ‘generational’ perspective. My mother HATES the Japanese for what they did to Australians. And others. Us ‘younger’ folk in all probability see things in a different way. So do our grand kids. (Our oldest grand daughter hates the British because they colonized Australia. Invaded is her words. Yet when I mention the Vikings or Romans ‘invading’ the British Isle she goes quiet).
It’s all ‘perspective’. I love the challenge of turning all those little bits into something. A car is smooth, clean, shiny and ‘simple’. An AFV is all the opposite. I guess for me it’s not so much the subject but to mechanical challenge of building a replica of something. Anything. Including the affects of mother nature.



Well Bruce, in a probably vain attempt to stick to the original question(s) I’d say modelmakers (of military subjects) are part of a dwindling group memorialising – not glorifying – the endless sacrifices our parents’ and grandparents’ generations made throughout the 20th century, and more recent sacrifices by the present living generations in conflicts right up to now. Without it some of us wouldn’t be here, and many others probably living in far more miserable circumstances.

I believe we’re also one of the few groups who still try to maintain historical & technical accuracy regardless who the good & bad guys were – unlike, say, the vast majority of war movies ever made where people pretending to be real operate in ridiculously unrealistic storylines & stage sets/CGI. And it’s called “entertainment”…well of course it can be sometimes, like pantomimes I guess. Looking around our mainly military forums I don’t see much sign of historical revisionism or nationalistic politics.

I think there is a place in dioramas for wounded & corpses particularly in combat depictions, otherwise they risk looking like games of Cowboys & Indians…oops I bet I’m not allowed to say that anymore.

For most of us the prime motivations are surely building stuff to the best of our abilities, and the satisfaction (hopefully) of overcoming challenges along the way. And of course sharing and learning with like-minded guys around the world, and having something solid & “real” to show for all the effort :tumbler_glass:


It’s simplistic, but this works for me. I model technology, not ideology.


Every time I see something that upsets me on the History channel I hear my self saying “if only the younger generation learnt these subject”. But they don’t. The younger generation are so protected from ‘history/reality’ that I fear that most history will eventually be lost. Or at the least rewritten.
We can see events/countries around the world repeating what happened in the 1920-30’s. Will the younger generation take note of history or will they be deer in the headlights?

Maybe a wee bit of my modeling will make someone think for more than a nano second about what did happen and easily can happen again. If it does then I’ve achieved something.



You can’t paint everyone with the same brush. I know multiple young people on this site me included who build a lot and are students of history. I wouldn’t say no one in the younger generation cares.

That being said as others have I stated I model the history and technology. I think some german vehicles are fascinating but I don’t agree with how they were used


I just model what I consider cool looking machines.


What is this?

What is this?

Actually they are the same thing, tools for competitive games.

One had baptism in several vicious hair splitting competitions that took place on the national level and prevailed to win recognition and trophies🏆 .

The other is a tennis racket :slight_smile:

Long ago model AFV’s stopped being American or German or British or Russian or whatever for me. I’ve read extensively on WW2 etc but at some point it’s model building is model building not history & morality class, at least to me.

They are Team DML, Team Tamiya, Italeri or Team whatever and they fight each other to be on my display shelf etc.

As for model ethics, personally I don’t model graphic violence, gore, wounds or atrocities. Simply not something I’m interested in viewing or modeling.


I’ve had exactly the same feeling and experience of late. As a long-term military modeller, I’ve turned at times to doing some 1/24th cars in personal colour schemes for a change; colour being the main motivator. BUT my conscience has been so pricked by eye-opening articles and programmes about the war horrors recently, on all sides, it’s not easy to reconcile what we do or focus on sometimes. The more you find out, the more appalling it is. I value the vehicles mostly, and have done more medical / ambulances to balance out. I must be more careful not to concentrate on these ‘heavy’ programmes perhaps… one must preserve one’s sanity…

Andrew T

Interesting subject. Fascinating replies. Many thoughts follow. Ignorant recent generations and the cancerous Cancel Culture insanity. Robin brought up some interesting examples, i.e., some people want to bust on Sweden because Swedish shackles were used to bind Africans on slave ships. So I am a supporter of slavery because I built a S-Tanks and a Draken? Swedish Bofors were used by the Allies. Bofors were also used by the Nazis. Can I not build an Allied subject armed with Bofors without being denounced?

Guessing I can’t build recent 1/35 railroad subjects because trains hauled so many people to the concentration camps? During the German submarine war off America’s east coast, U.S. railroads hauled millions of barrels oil, so railroads are partly responsible for fossil fuel pollution and/or enabling the evil oil industry? Trains carried nisei to interment camps. Wow - railroads are evil and I hereto swear on a gandydancer’s grave that I will not only discard every railroad model, but I will burn it, too! (Oops, burning plastic puts poison into the atmosphere. I’ll just throw them away - oops, that puts zillions of micro particles into the environment.) Can I build models of airplanes because airplanes strafed/bombed/nuked thousands of civilians? Can I build a Boeing 777 without giving a nod and wink at bombing Dresden, which was bombed by Boeing B-17s?

Can I build a model of a Finnish subject? I mean, in 1939-40, the Allies were supporting Finland, and Germany was not because Finland was standing fast against Hitler’s BFF Stalin. Then came Barbarossa and suddenly Finland was at war against the Allies.

Churchill was drawing up plans to attack Stalin’s oil fields and Stalin was drawing up plans to attack British interests in the Middle East up to 21 June 1941. On 22 June 1941, Stalin and Churchill were brothers in arms.

Can I build a French subject? After all, France’s SS Charlemagne Divison fought to the death defending the Nazi capitol Berlin from the Soviets. Were they fighting for racial bias or against communism? France’s Manouchian group - how do we model the Resistance? And what do we think of them in regards to no French Communist resistance against the Nazis before Barbarossa, when Hitler and Stalin were friendly?

Can I build models of British infantry, or es ist verboten because a Tommy captured in Greece in 1940 and repatriated to England in 1943 stated the SS were “good blokes?” ( Waffen SS: The Asphalt Soldiers, Keegan, John, 1970)

Recently, on a Japanese aircraft social media group, someone posted a model of Saburō Sakai’s Zero. Someone else then vented that the modeler should not glorify ‘a murderer.’ Probably 1/3 of my models are WW2 Japanese subjects. My dad grew up with and joined USN with his friend David Flynn, both ending up on CA-30 USS Houston. Houston was sunk by the Japanese; of the 1/3 of the crew that survived, dad was the only one to avoid capture and make it to Australia. David spent the next 3.5 years a POW and suffered terribly. Dad did not talk about the war and I don’t remember him speaking pro or con about he Japanese. Dad never told me I couldn’t/shouldn’t build Japanese subjects. By 1980 all of the family cars were Japanese. (My uncle, a Pacific War destroyer sailor, never forgave the Japanese and even demanded it should be illegal ‘to buy Japanese.’ Former POW David told me in 2013 that he loved his post-war 10 years in Japan with IBM. When I asked him how he felt having been a POW, he told me, “The Japanese are great. They were just a bunch of kids forced to do what they did.”

So what? factor(s).
I can build models of Nazi Germany tanks and planes and ships and figures without believing in/supporting Nazis. My models do not support or glorify concentration or extermination camps.
I can build models of Japanese subject without believing in/supporting the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity and the deaths of tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians at the hands of the Japanese, anymore than building a T-34 or MiG supports/glorifies USSR atrocities.

I build the subjects I do because they interest me. They interest me for a multitude of reasons - or none at all. None of the reasons need be a promotion or rejection of XXX or YYY philosophies and theories. Sometimes it is just that the subject looks cool or its place in history. And history is like an onion - it can add flavor, it has many layers, and sometimes peeling those back bring tears to one’s eyes.


About Japan:
Enola Gay …
How many lives did she save? Nobody will ever know.
Judging by Ivo Jima or Okinawa it could have been millions

Trying to pick bad from good in history is extremely difficult.
The US saved the world from dictators and then went on to support other dictators.
Good or bad?

Sweden likes to pretend that we are the good guys. During WW II we did what we could to survive.
Churchill wanted to help Finland by sending an expeditionary force across nothern Norway and nothern Sweden. Straight through the area where we have major iron ore mines.
We sold iron ore to Germany since our ore had a better composition than theirs. We traded ore for coal since we were cut off from other sources. Were we good or bad? Did Churchill plan to destroy our mines? Use ‘Help Finland’ as a diversion?
We shipped ball bearings to Britain so that they could build aircraft and use them to bomb Swedish ships en route to Germany with Swedish iron ore.
If Churchill had blown those mines there wouldn’t have been any ball bearings going to Britain …

Swedish sailors and ships were bombed by the British when shipping iron ore to Germany, a ship loaded with ore goes down in no time flat. Swedish sailors and ships were sunk by German submarines when risking their lives on the North Atlantic convoys to supply the British.

That tennis racket can be used to beat someone to death. I doubt that I could kill anyone by bashing them over the head with a 1/35 scale plastic Pz I …


You really got caught up with the “cancel culture” and “alignment dilemma”.

Life is never black and white. Nothing is perfect. Dont reason like a child with the “You did something bad, so you are forever bad” or vice versa. Remove history for the sake of removing is the worst thing to do. Understanding is not to follow the wrong doing, but to avoid the wrong doing (as you can’t know if the wrong doing is wrong if you have no idea in the 1st place). We have to remember the past to not repeat it in the future. The “cancel culture” and alike are, in my opinion, as bad as those burned books in the pass.

If you believe in the ideology while making the model, then you are glorifying it (and you don’t even need to do the model for to show that). If you do it for a hobby, then you are just represent an event from the pass.

My victory day in Vietnam was not to brag about how many American we killed, but to remember how many people we lost.
My Remembrance day in Canada was not to celebrate the victory of the 1st WW (I see many people have this mistake), but to remember how many Canadian lives spent on it.

Also, the History Channel gives you info, but you have to connect yourself. It have some specific bias to drive you around, it has true facts, but sometimes carefully edited true facts.

You have to understand yourself, define your values before considering other elements.
For me, personally, those stand up to defend their country, their home and their brethren are “good guy”.
Those who conquer, corrupt and asset aggression are “bad guy”.
And those are misguided into doing the “bad guy” thing are also victims.