Modeling Axioms

August 5, 2010

I did not write this but it applies to most of us.

The Laws of Modeling 101 (8 years later)


The information herein has been gathered by practical application of trial and error (and lots of it.)

1.) Every modeler’s desk comes with a black hole beneath it, that swallows parts. Only on rare occasions does it see fit to spew one back at you.
a.) Only the highly scratchbuilt parts or ones that have no replacements will fall into this black hole
b.) The probability of dropping a part is inversely proportional to the size of the part.
c.) The closer the match of a part and the floor, the greater the probability of dropping the part.
d.) A dropped part will bounce to the most inaccessible area of the room. (this also allows you to mark the boundaries of your black hole. (Note:A dropped X-acto knife will visit your foot before obeying d.
e.) As soon as you quit looking for the missing part you will probably step on it.
2.) The time it takes to build a kit is in direct proportion to the amount of reference material used and often impedes further builds.
a.) The more unbuilt kits you have on the shelves the fewer kits you actually build.
b.) Unbuilt kits expand to fill available space.
c.) Reference materials expand beyond available space.
d.) The more second source reference materials(published by non-modelers) adds confusion, not clarification.
The solution here is to choose a ‘school of thought’ from informed sources.

3.) No matter what the size of your modeling desk is, 99.9% of all your modeling will be done in the 5 square inches of the center front edge.

4.) Dollar for dollar and pound sterling for pound sterling the absolute best value is a figure of a seated pilot. Simply put ‘it fills the hole’ where some modelers would rather replace aircraft cockpit details (because their too ‘Fiddly’ or wind up in the ‘Black Hole’) with a pilot figure.
5.) No matter what your method of sealing your paint bottles it will go bad two days before your intended project.
6.) The amount you pay for a new paint brush is directly proportionate to the probability that you will inadvertently dip it in your coffee or a blob of super glue or both.
7.) What ever you purchase for your hobby will go on sale a week later.
8.) All manufacturers hold their releases until they are absolutely sure that you just spent six months scratch-building your version.
a.) There is ‘NO’ such thing as a perfect kit.
b.) Half built vacuform kits impress people with your skill.
c.) A completed Vacuform just looks like another model.
9.) There is no substitute for a well oiled Dremel motor tool.
10.) Humbrol paint will always be the best paint in the sorriest container.
11.) X-acto scars on your fingers are a given. Learn to live with them.
12.) Sooner or later you should buy an airbrush. The simpler the better.
13.) Half of the washes you apply will be done on the areas of your paint scheme that are not dry yet. But you’ll do it anyway just to be sure.
14.) Lacquer thinner odors can be smelled by your family members from the basement through a solid core door.
15.) If you find something you like, buy a lifetime supply. Because they’ll quit making it just to spite you.
16.) The kit instructions, may be very interesting, but are 95 % of the time irrelevant.
17.) Tossing a finished, expensive model kit against the furthest wall in your basement at 90mph is the most sincerest form of self-criticism. But doesn’t live up to the acclaimed rush that is supposed to follow.
18.) You will NEVER get all those models built!
19.) The probability of finding an error in a built model increases exponentially after you’ve entered it in a contest.
a.) The more important the contest the greater the error.

And now a pop quiz what is the ‘Theorem of Progression’ ?
The ‘progression develops’ thusly.
1.) As soon as you scratchbuild a model, a manufacturer will release a vacuform kit of it.
2.) As soon as you finish the vacuform kit, an injected molded version (this includes slush plastic, resin or metal) of the prototype will be released.
3.) As soon as you convert the injected molded kit of the prototype to the version you want, your version will be released by another manufacturer who will, include the refined versions of the decals, resin or photo etch that you had suggested to them on their website. But they will not mention you or provide you with gratis examples for your trouble.
4.) You can’t win.(Because manufactures will inevitably simplify their processes.)
5.) You can’t break even. Unless you value your own work.
6.) But, you can publish an article that will give you a chance to review their kit and point out its flaws.

Next Pop quiz what is ‘The Law of Finite Differences’?
Specifically the ‘Law of Finite Differences’ in modeling says that ‘In most people’s minds, the line between being different and being weird is thin and easily crossed. Also note that no one of your family or friends will ever take you seriously until you make money at this. Then its no longer a hobby. Now you have two jobs and no way to relieve the added stress. (The corollary is ‘don’t take yourself too seriously about your hobby. Enjoy it.)

Next Pop Quiz: What is ‘The Thick Thumb Theorem’
The ‘Thick Thumb Theorem’ states that ‘the difficulty in reaching a seam union, (so to sand smooth said seam) is directly proportionate to the mismatch of the parts by both the manufacturer’s desire for simplicity and the resultant attempt of the modeler to do it right.’ Hence the reason we all tend to feel like a Rhino glueing petals on a rose at times.

Next Pop Quiz: What is the unofficial Rules for Parliamentary Procedures and Monthly Club Meetings’ for any Modeling Club?
1.) If it doesn’t matter, it does not matter!!! (The Corollary: However it will take up most of the meeting to discuss. This applies specifically to grudges against other modelers, clubs or contest Committees
a.) All modeling clubs are part of the one community, if you want to bicker with another club about something that happened five years ago, shouldn’t you be doing somewhere else?
b.) All modeling clubs are part of the wider community, take the hobby to the community where you can and it will grow;
2.) All models are made equal. It’s the effort and the enjoyment that counts not the detail;
3.) Whatever you want to say, its okay, we all want to hear it;
a.) The number of prizes you have collected does not make you an expert;
b.) Sharing is important; everyone wants to learn what everyone knows;
c.) Its okay to be wrong; mistakes help you learn;
d.) A smart-aleck criticism can be devastating; if you can’t be constructive, what are you doing here? On the other hand being blunt is not being derogatory.
e.)A model is a model is a model. It is not a replica aircraft.
f.) If I can’t see your details, how can I admire them?
g.) Being the ‘Club President’ five years running does not make you a better modeler. I just means that either the club respects you or they all have lives other than modeling.
h.) Contrary to popular belief, beer does not make for better meetings, only drunken ones;
j.) A motion to adjourn to the nearest coffee shop and or restaurant is always in order. There, disagreement may be dealt with directly in the adjoining parking lot. Quite possibly under the watchful eye of the local constabulary Now for the Final Test of the Laws of Modeling 101. For those of you who joined us late I suggest some cramming with flash cards. The answer must include elements of the entire course. To be specific even elements of the previous contributions from the class may be used in your answer. These will be limited to one sentence only and must be complete thoughts. Here it is: according to the material dealt with in this course. What makes a satisfying scale model?

‘What make a satisfying model is the attitude of the Modeler.’

How long does it take you?

July 11, 2010

Have you ever been asked that before?  Was it your girlfriend/wife or both?  Was it from a friend who liked your models?  OK let’s keep this on the modeling aspect.  It is easier and cleaner that way.  LOL

Do you take into account the research time?  How about the time at the hobby shop?  Do you only count the time on the bench?  When people ask me I typically tell them about a month or two.  I never take into account the other times.  Let’s face it most people don’t appreciate the level of research and dedication that goes into making our three dimensional art. 

I’m lucky that my job allows me to have a couple of weeks without my wife to work on my models.  Ok that doesn’t do well for the marriage, although that doesn’t mean there is trouble there, it just means that I have plenty of time to work on my passion.  Truth be told I hate working nights but as a cop that is when things happen.  Ok so it takes about a month if the model is out of the box.  Really though the only thing that matters to me is that I’ve had fun during the building process and finished product.

Does your life get in the way of your modeling?  Really who cares?  The model will be there when you get to it.  It is always waiting.  After about a month though I want my model to be off the bench.  Not for any other reason than I want to move on.  Sometimes my attention span wanes and sometimes my motivation to start something else drives it.  I have to guard against all of it if I’m ever going to finish a model.  I’ve had some models sit on the bench for quite some time.  That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been times that I’ve shelved a project, the Panda UH-1H in particular comes to mind.  Eventually I’ll get around to finishing it.  I have to know what my model is going to look like when it is done.  You know the markings and everything.  My minds eye has to have a goal of what I hope to accomplish.

A good super detail job will definitely take time.  I’ve frequently start two projects one super detail and one that is fairly simple.  That way when I get tired of the super detail one I can put it aside and still accomplish something.  Try it sometime.  Remember just enjoy it.  Enjoy the process and don’t rush it.  If you can only put in a few minutes just do that.  I personally don’t like to start something unless I can devote some time to it, though this normally means the painting stage.  That is something I never rush.  I enjoy it but I have to psych myself up for it.   This is the biggest thing for me.  You can have a well built model but put on a crappy finish and you won’t be happy.  Put a great paint scheme on a descent build model and you’ll be happier.

Near the end of the build process I tend to get in a hurry to finish the model.  I make a list to slow things down and keep me focused on what has to be done.  Sometimes I should do this early in the build to prevent me from screwing up like putting the canopy on before I put the gunsight or stick in.  Been there, done that. 

Take your time and enjoy the build.  After all you don’t get a chance to go back and do it again.  Do it right the first time.  Remember: Modeling is fun…even if it takes six months to finish. 


How much is too much or when out of the box is out of the question.

June 7, 2010

I am going to start building a couple of AH-1Fs.  That can’t be bad right?  I’m not so sure.  If you are familiar with Werner’s Wings then you know many of my items are for the Cobra including the decals.  The reason behind this is I’ve always loved the Cobra but I also flew it for 10 year including during Desert Storm.  It is my first love.  If the Army still had them I would still be in.  I was a test pilot on it.  I was intimately familiar with all aspects of the helicopter. 

So now that I’ve decided to start the models, what do I do to it?  I may have so much information that I think the hardest part will be when do I stop.  I was thinking of opening the engine and transmission cowlings on one kit.  Maybe that is too much work.  Maybe not.  Spending years working on these machines I have bukku information.  So there isn’t a lot that I don’t have on it.  When do you stop?   Out of the box is out of the question.

I think the only thing to do is to start them and see how it goes.  My problem will be when to stop and wanting everything to be perfect.  We’ll see how it goes.  Wish me luck.



May 14, 2010

For some it is a matter of completing something.  I get a special feeling when a project, whether it be a model or a new product, is finished.  After the last little bit gets added to the model and it is sitting on my work bench I’ll sit back for a moment and remember the fun, as well as, the trials and tribulations I went through to finish it.  I grab a beer and look it over real good, not judging it but looking at it with a realistic eye.  Does it look like what I saw in my mind’s eye?  Did I fall short or did I do it right. 

The model isn’t completely finished really until I grab the wife and pull her into the model room.  Her job is to come into the model room and look it over.  Then shes says “Ewww, ahhhh.”   Even if she doesn’t mean it or she is just making me happy it don’t matter.  I love her for it.  That my friends is when the model is truly finished.  Time to sit back and think about what is next.  Ahhh, another beer doesn’t hurt either.

Why do I like to build 109s?

April 17, 2010

I have more Messerschmitt 109s than most people have kits, why?  I like it that is why.  Is it the colors?  The markings?  The history?  The pilots?  I have no idea why.  I’ve always liked the airplane.  I can’t explain it.  As soon as I learned to airbrush I started to do the mottling, or at least trying to.  I took to it like a duck to water. 

The 109 made me stretch my creative legs.  Why?  Because I wanted to learn how to do it.  It works for me.  I got the mottling down.  I learned to scratchbuild cockpits and other pieces.  I learned to work with resin and photo etch.  This formed my base in model building.  The 109 is a great basis for learning.  I try to learn something new on every kit.  Sometimes it is a technique, sometimes it is a new tool or product.  Some times I had to learn to do figures, bases, and diorama items.  I even had to build some armor so that I could use them with my 109s.

OK so I may be a little obsessive compulsive, some people call it passion, but it is a lot of fun.  I have more than 130 1/48th scale 109s.  Yeah that is more than most people have kits.  I figure with around 35,000 examples being built 130 sounds a little light. 

So where does your passion lay?

Show time!

March 29, 2010

Why do you go to model contests?  Is it to win the trophies?  Is it for the raffle or vendors?  Or something else? 

I can tell you why I go, friendship.  The shows brings all the people that you see online and from around the area together in one place.  I’ll be the first to tell you I am terrible with names.  They should be mandated to get in.  Our hobby by its very nature is a solitary process for the most part.  I’ve met people online that thought because I built mostly German aircraft that I was a short 50-60 year old German guy complete with accent.  Model shows prevent that perception.

I’ve also enjoyed going shows to learn new techniques and to see others work.  I will stake out a model I like and invariably meet the modeler and try to figure out how he/she did something.  If they are like most modelers they are willing to share their discovery or technique.  I have seen some modelers who were so bent on winning that they refused to share something. 

I’ve even seen some modelers who were such trophy hounds that just because they didn’t get a first place at a local show they literally trashed a model.  A local show!   Come on now, is it really worth it even for the Nationals.  I’m not talking about a piece of crap model here.  It was a gorgeous tank that was exceptionally well built and presented.  However, on this particular day it didn’t win.  Big deal, get over it.  It is only a model and only a hobby.  Do you have to win every time?  Do you talk bad about the model that won?  What about the modeler? 

How do the Europeans handle it?  Most countries have a gold, silver or bronze rating that is based off the perfect model.  This is very subjective but each model is graded on its own merits.  Then there is the Best of Show, which from what I’ve seen has absolutely nothing to do with how well a model is built.  It is about presentation and also bigger is better.  Is this right?  Who cares?  Isn’t it about fun and meeting friends?

Speaking of meeting friends, my models have introduced me to people throughout the world.  I use to carry some photos of my models when visiting other countries.  Why?  Was it some narcissistic way to ‘show off”?  No but some times I could not speak a particular language and the pictures spoke for me.  You know a picture is worth a thousand words, the language doesn’t matter.  If I wanted to find a model shop this was an easy way to get that point across.  I have a habit of picking up a kit from every country I’ve visited as my souvenir.  While my wife is busy getting things that mean relatively nothing, I am busy picking up treasures that will remind me of the trip.  One time while I was in Spain I picked up a Fujimi Bf-109G-10/R3/R6.  Or when I was in Hungary and found the local shop, then found a local model magazine with a really cool FM Detail set of the engine for the 109 in it.  I was able to ‘communicate’ with them and indicate what I was interested in.  It must have worked as I was able to walk away with three of them by the time I left the store. 

Some of my best friends have come from the shows.  I’ll often build a subject that by its very markings will inspire a conversation.  I enjoy the talks and the camaraderie that ensues.  That is why I go to shows, friendship.

Why do you go?  As always, remember: Modeling is fun!


March 22, 2010

  No motivation.  No desire to do anything modeling related.  Been there done that.  I tend to work harder and more obsessive than I probably should.  It is a hard row to hoe, so why do I do it?  I wish I could answer why.   

After finishing up a model I normally write a review on it or at the very least photograph it.  This would be posted to the internet or sent off to a magazine to officially end a model.  Then it was time to start another project. I always clean off the work bench when I’m done.  It is a mind clearing exercise.  I fill up the thinner bottles I have in the paint booth.  The airbrushes are cleaned out and lubed up for the next time.  I also scrape off the old paint and the superglue spots from my glass work area.  This all preps me for the next model.  But does it really?  The area and tools are ready but I’m normally not. 

I take a few days, sometimes a few weeks, between models.  I use that time to get my head right.  This allowed me to read some books and articles.  I also use this time to look through the unbuilt kits I had in my stash.  The stash could motivate me to build something.  It was sometimes the motivation to start again. What happens when I don’t get this time?  Burnout and boy have I had it bad for the past couple of months.

 I haven’t had the luxury of this destressing the past couple of months.  I’ve had more required to do projects on my pile so I haven’t had the chance to take a break, look over the stash and get motivated.  The next model always seems to be selected for me.  It takes some getting use to.  I need to get back to the way it should be. 

 Don’t get me wrong I’ve liked all my subjects but it sure would be nice to do them when I’m really motivated to start them not because they are due.  Oh well, almost done and no more ‘required’ builds for me for a while. 

I have to take my own advice and “Remember: Modeling is fun”.

Who do you build for?

January 16, 2010

Do you build a kit because you want to?  What about the markings?  Do you build it in the same markings as everybody else?  Or do you have to build something different because everyone built that one?  I mean really do we need another 109 in the world?  How about a P-51B in Don Gentile’s markings? 

If my display case doesn’t have one in it I will build it requardless.  A kit doesn’t have to be built for anyone other than you.  Because I love the Bf-109 I have built it a lot of times (over 30 times for those counting) and still have 130 unbuilt ones, all in 1/48th scale, in my collection.  Do I care that others say sarcastically, ” Another 109?”  Doesn’t matter to me.  Not in the least.  Remember that at the end of the day it is only you that has to look at the model either on your display case or shelf. 

The key is to have fun while you are building it.  Enjoy it.   I do try to do something different on each kit.  Some will get the whole hog and some will just get a resin cockpit.  It might be the markings or the paint scheme, sometimes it is the armament.  Maybe even a pilot I met or read his book.  I try to learn something on each model.  I am not afraid to play with the 109.  It is ‘comfortable’ build for me.  There are still plenty of 109s to build and plenty of markings that I haven’t played with.

Now will I build two of the same markings?  No, not unless someone is paying me.  LOL  Been there, done that.

So build what you want to, but above all enjoy the build.


Remember: Modeling is fun!

The start of a New Year

December 30, 2009

Many of us will make resolutions, most of them we won’t be able to keep.  So why do we do it?  We do it with the hope that we will be a better man for it.  Same thing goes with modeling, why do we build models or more appropriately why do we buy models?  Oh the joy and the thrill of getting a new kit, opening it up and see the pretty bags of plastic awaiting us.  All that potential in one place.  If you are like me, you sit there fondling the plastic and marveling at the colorful decals.  Oh what I can do with this or that.  I wonder what aftermarket is available?  I start planning the markings in my head.  Are there decals for the markings?   Heck sometimes I start building it in my head. 

This might explain why we continue to buy models even when we have so many there is no possible way for us to build them all.  If I retired now and did nothing but build models from now on there is no way I could possibly finish the ones I have already let alone the ones I will buy.  What can I possibly do with over 130 1/48th scale Bf-109s?  Oh well better to have them and not use them than to want them and not have the chance to build them.

When I do decide to build one, oh the hours I’ll spend shaping the parts into three dimensional historical art. 

Yes I think of my models, and all models for that matter, as three dimensional historical art.  What differs us from Picasso?  Well besides the obvious thing of our stuff not being in the Louvre’.  We use all the same materials as the grand masters.  We use acrylics and water colors that would rival Monet.  Oils in ways that would make Picasso take notice.  We use pastels to replicate stains in ways that would never have even been thought of by the artists of old.  We use enamels and we can sculpt with the best of them.  Is there anything that the grand masters used that we don’t?  Nothing, nada.  So what makes us different?  Are we any less of an artist? 

OK there are plenty of reasons why we are not the NEW grand masters, but we are our own worse enemy when it comes to building and FINISHING a model.  I’ve had a lot of them that I’ve started.  I think the longest I’ve started a model until I finished one was seven years.  No wait I still have a 1978 Corvette model that I started in 1989 that is still waiting on me to polish out the finish.  I think it is dry by now.

So what am getting at here?  Buy, fondle, and build your models.  Don’t build them for anyone but yourself, of course unless it is a commission build.  Enjoy the process.  Revel (no pun intended) in the joy of the small accomplishments.  Don’t let little ‘inaccuracies’ or even ‘fatal flaws’ get in the way of enjoying the fun that is model building. 

Remember: Modeling is fun! 


Merry Christmas

December 22, 2009

I don’t get political too often, however, at this time of the year I do.  MERRY CHRISTMAS. 

OK OK Happy Hanukka, Kwansaa or whatever else you celebrate.

Remember the reason for the season. 

Also don’t forget to remember that there are men and women overseas separated from their family’s at this time of year protecting your freedom to worship as you choose.  Remember them in your prayers or mantras.  God bless them all.  Prayer for peace on earth.

Floyd- Remember modeling is fun!