Yes, what the guys said. Spend time with him while you can. My eldest two were never interested in models. My youngest was more into Lego than model building, although he did make some of my Matchbox kits I gave him. We sat at the bench together and just had fun and I spent time helping with his Lego models too.
All grown up now - he will be 21 in January. He works shift work, so our times together have been few the last few years. He came home from work last night to tell me he was moving out and going to be renting with his friends. Glad I spent the time with him while I could.
When I was in high school, I parlayed my budding figure painting skills into a very small and short lived business painting role playing minis for a friend and his friends. I drafted up a contract stipulating the terms and my friend and I signed it. He and his role playing buddies were into “Rifts” so I’d paint their 28 mm metal figures and bake them for paint durability during gaming.
I was never personally into gaming until recently. Twenty five plus years later, I struck up the idea of gaming with that same friend after doing much research into late Cold War military history and feeling nostalgic for the original “Twilight 2000” RPG. After playing a frustrating game “in our heads” and trying to synch with each other, my friend said, “You know, this is why minis are really helpful.” I volunteered myself to start painting 1/72 1980’s Cold War armies and from that developed a profound interest in a “new” scale for me. Personally, I’ve always loved the idea of a model army being put to practical use. I find much more enjoyment using exquisitely detailed minis on a gaming board than I would if someone was bringing Marx or Tim-Mee green and tan army men to use as dull place markers (or even very poorly assembled and painted minis for that matter). Of course, the modeling requires extra care and multiple coats of matte clear coat to make the figures durable for regular handling.
I never really thought I’d get into 1/72 until this new hobby. Once I did, it was a real challenge to adjust long held modeling techniques in larger scales. I find some of it really fun. I recently finished a Jeep that was probably some of the most fun I’ve had putting together and painting a vehicle. I wouldn’t want to use it in a competition, but it’s beautiful for a wargaming table. Some of the 1/72 scale wargaming modeling is painfully tedious, like painting bricks in a battle damaged building.
So let your son choose whatever scale he wants! You know that if he holds to the craft he’ll move over to other scales. Or, maybe he’ll get into gaming and so will his friends and he can make a few extra bucks painting their minis. I know that 1/35 is THE armor scale, but there shouldn’t be an elitist attitude about what constitutes a real model. As others have mentioned, I’d give up a piece of anatomy for my son to find a passion in the hobby.
Honestly, I’m fairly surprised my son has taken an interest at all. With all the things kids have nowadays to occupy their time with, so much we didn’t have when I was his age. I’m thankful for the time we spend modeling. He was really little and he would come and hang out by the work bench, he would play around my legs with his toy tanks. I’ve never pushed him to do any of it, he just wanted to see what dad was up to I guess. Everything has been a mile long and an inch deep. It almost seems like he’s afraid to miss out on anything. He wanted to play sports so we hit that really hard for awhile, it’s been a fun ride but he keeps coming back to the modeling and now he has spent some of his stipend on models so that’s saying something. It’s impossible to predict if he’ll stick with it longterm but I’ve definitely been thankful for the time we’ve shared modeling up to this point.
Modeling isn’t the only interest I have that he’s shown interest in, I also love sketching. I’ve been drawing WW2 combat scenes since I was a little kid. A few years ago my wife gave me a huge canvas print of one of my sketches for my birthday and my son asked if I’d let him hang it in his room instead of in my garage. I was really flattered now he has several of my prints on his walls and he’s drawing his own ww2 scenes now. He’s working hard to improve his skills because he wants to give me a print he is proud of someday. My avatar is a tiny piece of one of my older drawings. It was the first scene I felt comfortable sharing with my older brother (he’s also a modeler and ww2 junkie) and now my father in law and my brother both own collections of my drawings.
I think some of the issues are to do with the generation thing …
When I was growing up, the military was a big part of life. There were bases everywhere, in the 70s I would see military aircraft at a large test/development/refurb site that I lived near. We would go to military open days etc etc, Also a lot of family members had a military connection and thats how I got into modelling. As the years went on, the military for everyone went into a ever spiralling decline (until I joined up ) and it becomes more of a memory. Talking points like WW2, Korea, Vietnam etc become less talked about and again the younger generation dont have sight of it, thus the interest in modelling isnt something that crops up. Now they are more interested in a smart phone and having that welded into their hand or face 22hours per day.
If you can get your kids into it then thats great and if that means starting at a mini scale level, or even something like D & D or Wahammer then its a start and they could then be shown what can be done with real military kits.
On the scale side of things, it would make perfect sense for kids to start on small scale and work up to bigger ones, thats what I did - Airfix and Matchbox 1/72 -76 and then up to 35th scale.
I can see the attraction of the smaller scales for some people, for instance if your making dios alot more, and space is an issue you can get more scenes done in the small scales using more vehicles etc than you could in 1/35th and the same for probably the 1/48 - 1/50ish whatever scale and so on.
so if you like that scale, and your happy with it, theres no reason why you shouldnt just enjoy it. I suppose its also down to market demand and what manufacturers are happy to produce for us in those scales ?
For me, I am happy with 1/35 as it gives me the size and the level of detailing I am able to deal with. even the recent 1/72 Phantom I did was a struggle if I’m honest, some parts were just to fiddly, but they are good for storage size, compared to a 48th or 32nd Aircraft.
At the end of the day, its what people are happy with … but I think the struggle is going to be getting the next generation interested in the subject to start with.
It would be interesting if there was a way of seeing the age demographic of people using these forums to see the whole range from youngest to oldest …and what the current average age is … probably late 40’s to mid 50’s if not a bit higher ??
One recent observation I’ve made is military models are not as relevant to kids anymore. @Johnnych01 is probably correct, the military is not as “popular” as when we were growing up. The LHS restocked as the pandemic was just getting started. They only ordered Gundams and I thought that would be the nail that closed the coffin. I thought “there goes another Mom & Pop LHS”. There wasn’t a single Gundam kit left when I visited it a few months later.
The truth is their bread and butter is RC. Gundam kits are popular enough to stock up the LHS to the brim and not have inventory languishing on the shelves.
Take care and stay safe friends,
This, I think, is a good predictive observation of the future of scale modeling. The nature of scale modeling is changing and evolving in regards to the genre interests of many of the newer modelers.
FWIW, I think that scale modeling is, for most, initially a reflection of their interests in the particular subjects that they like to model rather than an initial “generic” interest in the hobby of modeling. Folks develop a deeper interest in scale modeling in general the more they do it, so many of us “alter hasen” who are “serious” modelers with fairly broad genre interests are more the product of our years of participation and experience rather than guys who started off just wanting to “build something, anything, as long as its a scale model.”
For many of the newer modelers entering the hobby just to build kits of x, y or z subjects, if they stick with it long enough, as their interests in things other than those subjects grow, they’re liable to branch out and build models of those other subjects, too. They may always return to their first love, but they might also find themselves taking on new subjects for the modeling challenges they offer or their simple fascination or aesthetic appreciation of them (or for all of these reasons).
Modelers are not static in their interests. New generations of modelers have different subject interests, and the hobby, itself, evolves to reflect these changes.
This is why I’m so seldom worried about the future of scale modeling or the “next generation of scale modelers.” As long as humans desire to understand and express their own appreciation and vision of the world - the real and the imaginary - there will be a place for them do that in scale modeling.
I love scale modeling and I love video games.
Heck, I’m playing Cyberpunk 2077 right now!
Honestly there both great, I just got Cyberpunk 2077 but havent stated playing it as Im trying to get every achivement from Halo 3… what can I say I love all the Halo games.
( Except for halo 5 which has a trash story…)
I also don’t worry about the hobby. At the rate that things are changing, it’s anybody’s guess what future generations will be doing for a hobby. One thing that I think will endure is the pleasure people seem to get from miniatures. How those miniatures are made might evolve tho.
I worked at a museum once during college as an intern. Some of the items on display had accompanying dioramas next to them to create an understanding about how those items were used. Often times folks seemed more interested in the dioramas than in the actual display.
Shermaniac: I would have handed over a small body part to have had my dad even remotely interested in my scale modeling when I was a kid, or even later for that matter. I wouldn’t obsess over what form it takes, sounds like you son is a rare one, be glad.