Musings about model building

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My fiancee is still cannot really come to terms with my hobby. It’s not that she thinks it’s childish, or she objects me spending money on it; it’s just she does not understand the why.

Why do I spend time building replicas of things that were created to kill people? (To be honest, I have no idea of this myself. War, and machines of war, and history do fascinate me but I’m not an idiot; I do know how horrible war really is. Well, I don’t actually know -fortunately- but I’m not stupid. People serving and dying in a T-34 or a Tiger would be quite appalled by our fascination with these machines I think.) She faithfully comes with me to all tank and RAF museums I can find, but she really does loath these machines, and I think her attitude is the healthier one. I suspect the fact that you can buy faithfully recreated dead terrorists in 1/35 means that at least some people’s attitude is a bit more jingoistic than mine.

The second question is much more interesting. She thinks I’m wasting my creativity on building things that do not actually serve a purpose, instead of creating something new. (She is an awesome human being.) She would understand if I drew or paint tanks (well, or made jewellery, do carpentry, photography, whatever), but building them up from ready-made parts is a different thing. I take her point in this, too, and I have no answer. There is a certain degree of creativity in this hobby, but it’s limited. (Perhaps this is why I have some aversion to ready-made weathering products.)

I enjoy what I do, I use it as an excuse to write which I like (I’m publishing reviews, after all), but I do recognise the fact that once the models are done, they don’t exactly serve any purpose, and I’m ready to move on to the next one. She did make me think. I will take up other creative things to do (I’ve started a blog focusing on macro photography), but the fact remains: I love this hobby, it makes me help to relax, it does threaten to swallow up my life if I’m not careful, but I have no answers to her.

If you have any thoughts on the matter, on why you do this hobby, on why you are interested in weapons of war, let me know. I’d be very much interested reading them; perhaps it would help me find my own answers as well.

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8 thoughts on “Musings about model building”

  1. It’s not about a killing machine and I can see how some could see the glorification in the morbid side of war. I really don’t think that we are glorifying it in any way. We’re guys. We love machines. In the grand scheme of it all, is building a car any different from a tank or a plane? Not really. Cars aren’t seen as weapons. As far as the hobby side of it, how many pictures does the average photographer take that never get looked at? I have thousands on a hard drive that will remain there. I know a hard drive takes up way less space than a model but I’m just speaking in a relative sense here. We build because we can. It’s fun. It’s rewarding to make a box of plastic into something that you love to look at. It’s history. The research teaches you about what you are building. There is more to a build than just parts. It’s a great hobby to be involved with. My wife still doesn’t fully understand the why but she sees the joy it brings me and that’s the acceptance she needs. Build on!

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    1. Thank you for taking time to answer my post; I really do appreciate it. I hope I did not come across as simplistic- I did not mean to suggest that we, as model builders, are some war-mongering people who love bloodshed and death… and yes, it does teach a lot about machines. How tracks work, how torsion bars work, how a particular vehicle was built up (this is why I love interiors); the design philosophy, the way they were intended to be used as opposed to the way they actually ended up being used; these are all interesting things. I finally understand how the T-34 was steered, for example, after building the MiniArt SU-122- it has enough details to get a feel to the mechanism that stopped the tracks on one side on the transmission… I also have a feel how cramped and horrible it must have been for the crew. So yeah; all interesting stuff. And as for warmachines- I just made a hasty impulse buy (yeah, let’s bid on it ebay, it’ll go above 30 quids) of an 1:12 Airfix Bentley racecar… I’m regretting it a lot, but I’m also very happy, because I always wanted this model. (Let’s forget about the fact that I have about 5 1/35 tanks with full resin interiors waiting to be built, along with a couple of OKB resin kits in 1/72. And this is only my stash in the UK. Not to mention I’m awaiting further MiniArt kits to be reviewed. I’m a hoarder.)

      But I think I understand my fiancee’s point. (I’m also thinking about opening a small webshop to import 1/72 resin models from Central Europe; that might also give a feeling of “doing something useful”.)

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      1. Not a problem at all. I don’t think you came across in a negative manner at all. There have been a few instances in the past where people will comment about glorifying war On my posts and I do understand their thoughts. I just don’t think they understand mine. I build because it’s a blast. It’s everything that you have mentioned and it takes us back to our childhoods. I’m a kid at heart and I hope that never changes. Everyone has a hobby in some way. Ours happens to be of “killing machines”. In that same instance though, they also save lives. I wouldn’t want to go to war without them and I think everyone would agree to that. To have a multi-ton tank or a fully loaded aircraft covering my bacon sounds a lot better. It’s certainly a touchy subject no matter what stance you have.

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  2. Have you thought about playing games with them? 1/35 is a tad big, but there are a ton of rule sets for 1/72. I have played wargames with my models for25 years now, and being able to use them for something after they are built is a huge motivator for me. As far as the glorification of war is concerned, this is something I have pondered for some time. I think the fascination comes from trying to understand the gritty details of human conflict in an effort to prevent war rather than glorify it.

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    1. Hey, thank you for the post! 🙂 I did know about wargaming use of scale models but I don’t have detailed knowledge of these games. Do you think I could find some groups in London to see how it works?

      With the glorification part – I was trying to make the point that some people think this is the point of the hobby. It’s a nagging doubt though, since I do like how some of these machines look like. (Otherwise why build them?) If I want to be perfectly honest, I’d be happy building civilian heavy equipment as well – there are a lot of cool looking road building vehicles I’d love to see in scale model form.

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      1. Hey there, dorky war gaming is an awesome hobby! You pretty much live in the epicenter of miniature wargaming, a Google search should turn up a number of game stores that are close by. The staff should be able to hook you up with a game set that suits your interests and introduce you to people that play. Happy gaming and may the dice gods be forever in your side!

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  3. I gotta try it one day. Will do as you suggest. I do paint WH40k figures, but only individual ones -so far the characters and the looks are selling the hobby for me. My ex-landlord kept promising me to show me how to play WH40k, but then he just sold his collection. At least he sold me the mega paint set he had, but he did not offer me to buy figures, unfortunately.

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