The size and scope of scale model building

When someone asks me “what are your hobbies, what do you like to do?” I generally tell them the usual ‘grown up’ things like hunting or fishing or I ride my mountainbike or I’m into Indycar racing but seldom do I mention scalemodeling, and I’ve got to know you pretty good, I’m talkin’ years here, before I share my true intrests. When you tell the average person “I build models” their eyes glaze over and they get this quizzical look on their face like they don’t comprehend this puzzleing statement you just blurted out. Immediately their mind envisions some nerd that sits around playing with toy soldiers and putting firecrackers in German airplanes and watching them blow up, ripping the fuselage apart like a plugged up shotgun barrel. You can see it in their demeanor, you have just transitioned into a dork.
Yes.
I’m a closet modeler. Have been most of my life.
The average pennant waving beer stained sports junkie doesn’t even have a clue the far rangeing parameters of our knowledge base. I have learned so much from my participation in this hobby. World history is not least of the subject matter this pastime encompasses. Geographic composition of far away lands, foreign cultures, geopolitical occurances, the sacrifices of warriors and of the victims of war and the families of both. Engineering, both mechanical and structural, electrical as well as telecommunications is a fundamental part of building a tank or airplane. Understanding explosives and blast effect and radius determines the convincing effect of a burned out building or automobile. Pyrotechnics and metalurgy dictate how one would paint those depictions accurately. A comprehensive understanding of soil composition, rock formation and erosion restricts the modeler when building a certain scene. Our vocabulary is enriched exponintially through research and the application of what we’ve learned or discovered. And if you get far enough into a conversation about this hobby with a curious someone you can overwhelm them right off the bat just by the diversity of the materials we’ve had to learn how to work with. Injection molding, slide molds, resin, casting, vaccu-formed, photo-etching, anealing, scribeing, drybrushing, styrene, cyanoacrylate, acryllics, enamels, washes, filters, pre-shadeing, facial tones, earth tones and knowing how to fix all that when we screw it up. And the global extremity of our resources, I have seats for a helicopter coming from the Czech Republic, another item expected from Finland, miniature maps of Southeast Asia coming from Spain and a kit that arrived from mid-west Continental US that somehow got deviated from it’s destination twenty miles away and spent the last three days touring more of southeastern United States than I’ve seen. We’re an intresting lot we are. Buncha nerds.

Cajun

10 Likes

I usually tell them fairly straight away.
Might as well scare some of them away right now instead of wasting time on them.
Similar to the old joke about binary numbers: “There are 10 types of people, those who understand binary and those who don’t”

4 Likes

I used to be shy about telling people when asked but not any more. I loudly and proudly proclaim my passion for our hobby. I’ve even invited some of my non modelling friends to shows. Now getting SWMBO to take an interest is entirely another matter.

1 Like

Well I’m begining to accept who I am, for those that I’m willing to welcome into my world I just grab my smartphone and start showing them pics of my project, they’re much more intrigued when they see what I do, some are even facinated. Hasn’t gotten me any phone numbers though, which, honestly is okay, I don’t think I can do another “relationship” after that last conflict.

An interesting take on the subject.

Interestingly enough, just about all of my “adult friends” are folks I know from modeling, the majority of whom I’ve met in one (or both) of the two local modeling clubs that I belong to. Oddly enough, a number of us share the same same interests in other hobbies and have expanded our relationships outside of modeling into these other areas of mutual interest (like shooting sports, car restorations, militaria collecting, etc.).

I was in the regular army for 26+ years, and over that time I was stationed in many different places. One of the first things I did once I got settled into a new duty station was look up the local model club(s) and join in. As with now, outside of work, almost all of my friends were also other modelers (some of which eventually traced back to work), and, again, we also often expanded our relationships into other hobbies and mutual interests. But we first met and got to know each other through scale modeling.

Associations through scale modeling have also introduced me to a lot of other people who are not modelers. For example, our scale modeling clubs jointly participate in a couple of events at local museums (scale model displays and exhibitions). There are a number of other groups that also participate in these broader event, to include the local / regional military vehicle and classic car collector clubs and a number of “living historian” groups. I’ve met and made friends with a number of these folks though our mutual interests in those hobbies, but my involvement in scale modeling is what put me in the right places at the right times to meet them.

Heck, I’ve even guest lectured at a local college on scale modeling as a communications medium (as part of their journalism school). The thesis is that scale modeling involves internal conversations that the modeler has within him or herself as he or she seeks to internalize the message the subject speaks to the artist as it’s created. Once displayed, publicly or privately, the scale modeler also enters into a conversation with the viewer in the same way that all other art forms create a conversations between the artist and his or her audience. I was invited to speak by one of the professors who I met through our mutual memberships in one of the local scale model clubs.

So, when I first meet someone new, telling them about my interests in scale modeling isn’t usually the first thing that comes up in conversation, but I don’t have any real hesitations about talking about it with new acquaintances. When it does come up, I usually describe myself as a “scale model maker” rather than a “model builder.” I think that better describes my actual involvement in the hobby and helps to mitigate that initial impression that many folks might have about the hobby.

3 Likes

In my case modeling fostered my interest in history and armor modeling only intensified that interest. In a real sense modeling led me very directly to a Phd in history with a concentration in modern military history, that his since the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars.

1 Like

Honestly for me When i started I didn’t really think I would get into this hobby, but once I finished that first kit I thought this was even better than playing video games or going to the shooting range! I get a lot of questions of why my hand is always covered in paint and I will proudly explain to them what I do. Most of my friends either think I’m completely crazy not playing call of duty every second of my day and say modeling is stupid or some friends think its actually pretty cool and I’ve even gotten my friend and his brother into modeling! I also love history, (mostly WW2 but some Vietnam.) So that has helped push me farther down the rabbit hole of modeling. :joy:

1 Like

If you think admitting to building models gets you “dorked”, just try saying you play with trains! I’ve been doing both since I was a kid, so pretty much anyone that knows me also knows my hobbies. But then we do live in a world where it’s more acceptable to post photos of your dinner plate on social media…

Be proud of model-building and all the research that goes with it!

4 Likes

@barkingdigger
Get a social media account and start posting images of finished models placed on nice dinner plates :rofl:

4 Likes

With all the different media we use and different talents we possess, I describe myself in social circles as a “Miniatures Artist” and call my model room my “studio” just to give people the impression right off the bat that I’m not messing around with toy tanks on the rug. Then when I show them photos, tell them how many parts and how many hours are involved, they are usually intrigued and impressed. A few think I’m just nuts, but most are impressed. Besides, I commanded real Bradleys, I’m too cool to be a nerd! :smiling_imp:

2 Likes

Ahh you’re pretty awesome man! You’ve got one heckofa studio and your stash is just, just, well just frickin’ ridiculous. You are a blessed man my friend, three talented daughters that adore their dad and a squred away rack in the “studio”, rock on brother!

Cajun

1 Like

I was a bit of a closet modeler when I first started… 7 years ago? It was a new thing for me and does seem kind of childish at first, but I’ve long since gotten over that. Doesn’t mean I go around telling everyone, but if it comes up, I’ll admit it. I openly display some of my builds on the bookshelves in my house, so it’s there for any visitor to see.

Rarely comes up though. Even when people ask about a subject on the shelf or something about modeling in general, it’s a question or two and then on to something else. Pretty much neutral reactions, or no reaction at all. Kind of a shame, out of all my buddies from college, and the few I keep in touch from high school etc, there’s only one that builds, but its Warhammer 40k, and we live hours apart. No modeling clubs around me that I can find either.

But I agree with OP. There’s a lot more than meets the eye to this hobby. I’ve got Polish language books on Russian subjects that I could only order from the UK…

1 Like

Outstanding! I think you are one of the few that actually get’s where I’m coming from. Only recently have I found an area club but I’m either too busy or too pooped to get to their meetings. I guess my point in the OP that I didn’t convey too well is the disparity between folks impression of the hobby vs. the near fanatcism of it’s participants. I’m totally immersed in the Vietnam era and the EQUIPMENT used by US forces, that’s what it’s all about for me. My wife used to get me war movies thinking I just gotta have war movies but honestly I can critique a “war movie” to shreds . . . except Kelly’s Heros, that one is phenominal! Now a USAR Dept of history archive is good veiwing to me. When I see a Nam vet out in public I trip over myself to find out when their tour was and who they were with (unit wise). When I do get the chance to talk models with someone I get so excited I get tongue tied. And when a new model from the period is released I turn ten years old. I’m enamored by the 11th Armored Cavalry, I mean George Patton Jr was a unit commander for pete’s sake! How cool is that! Ehh, I’m getting wound up. Well, glad we’re together on the forum, we are in league with some distinquished and talented men of all ages!

Cajun

1 Like

Same I love to critique war movies but I’ve put Kelly’s Heroes as my top bar. Also who doesn’t idolize Patten! Honestly I’d love to meet as many people from the forum as I can, will anyone else be going to the IPMS nationals in Las Vegas 2021?

1 Like

Modeling, slot car racing, rocketry, RC vehicles etc are hobbies people do as kids and that impression people have when they find out you do a “kids” hobby… They do not think that people may maintain their hobbies through out their lives. Some hobbies have more status than others. If you start as a child water coloring and end up as a skilled oil painter as an adult that is a status upgrade. The hobbies I mentioned in the first sentence are not generally considered status upgrades by anyone other than others that share the hobby. I am old enough not to care. My students have seen my models and slot cars. The few who have built models chime up right away that they have built a model too and then show me an assembled Lego kit. I hope I give them inspiration that it is OK to keep building models.

That’s true what your saying! Sadly for me being how old I am people think i’m just building toys, when I really will have spent a month or more on a single small project. Although I have that satisfaction of showing the person a pic of one of my completed models and then seeing there face of surprise when they see how much effort I put into it!

1 Like

" . . . then show me an assembled Lego kit."

LOL! ya gotta start somewhere I guess. Actually I kinda enjoy Legos myself heh heh.

2 Likes

Not unlike SSG Toms some years ago I started describing my hobby as “building and painting historical miniatures”. Most people I know don’t have a clue about modeling and usually considered it as ‘adults playing with toys’. I have managed to change quite a few opinions when I show them some of my dioramas. A few lucky ones, if they show interest, are shown the Armorama features section.

Cheers,
C.

2 Likes

I sorta miss the days when I could build and paint a TBF Avenger, fly it from the bedroom to the livingroom, torpedo the sofa, land on the coffee table and watch the Flintstones.

1 Like

Hahaha for me it was build a Sherman, be happy with it for a while, watch Red vs Blue then take it to my backyard and blow it away with my 12 gauge…