This post is the missing pair of the “Should you hoard?” post…
It’s about the well-known syndrome all hobbists suffer from regardless of their chosen hobby: the gear acquisition syndrome.
Simply put we are very much prone to buy newer and newer additions to our respective hobbies, even if we do not actually use them. This is more of a problem when you sink in thousands of dollars in new lenses you will use once or twice, than for model builders – our trinkets cost way less. But this also means we can buy them more often. An exciting, new product to stimulate rust? Sign me up even though I have not learned to use the previous new, exciting product yet! New line of acrylic paints? In with the new, even though I have similar colors still in their bottle! They will make all the difference, after all! Special filters to simulate aging? Bring it on! …And the list goes on. I think companies bank on this tendency when they roll out the newest and bestest(est) products which promise to help you achieve professional, award winning results with minimal effort on our part. More often than not I have been very disappointed in these products. In some cases I could not use them -no user’s guide is usually provided-, so the results were not as spectacular as I was led to believe, and often my old-school methods worked better. (Once learning to use them I usually found that the results were no better or worse than the techniques I used before.) Sometimes the product was simply not good – acrylic filters that jumped into small droplets even on the flattest surfaces, for example, or acrylic fillers that shrink and do not actually fill cavities. (Acrylic weathering products, in general, are somewhat difficult to use, due to the high surface tension of water. They do not spread as easily as the solvent-based products; the price you pay for being friendlier to your brain cells.) They might just cost more than the repurposed non-modelling product you have been using before – I’m thinking about odorless mineral spirit, for example, or, and I say this with great tepidation, acrylic pencils which you can buy in art stores; but artists’ oil paints are also on this list, among a million other items you used to go to artists’ stores before.
The truth is this: only practice will produce great results. Putting something out of the bottle onto the model will not achieve the expected effect, even though this is what you see on the label. (Many times what you see is the result of using multiple products -a very prominent issue with the different “mud” products*- ; an advertising technique I find somewhat dubious in morality.)
I am not saying you should not buy the special filter set for tonal modulation or a specific rust set with all sorts of colors (in fact, I do have a set of rust colored paints I really like); what I am trying to say is that do not buy everything that strikes your fancy (I also have a set of rust filters I do regret spending money on). Buyer’s remorse will be the result more often than not, and having stuff lying around you have forgotten to try. (I was really surprised the other day to find that I do have a couple of dust-products I did not have a recollection of buying.) Always think if you need something, always read reviews, watch youtube videos before buying. These products can make your life simpler and help you achieve great results, after all.
*I was really excited when the first mud-in-the-bottle products arrived, especially seeing the labels with photos of muddy tracks and wheels (realistic dust and mud is still a holy grail for me), only to get a product that was a somewhat thick, greyish-brownish slush. When you apply it, it looks uniform and unrealistic. Then you learn you also need the resin beads, the special grass imitation, and three other tones of mud, plus the same tones in “splashed mud” configuration to produce the results you see on the photo -a significant investment, and not at all what was promised by the photo on the product. Using plaster, pigments, sand or even real soil will yield the same results; the only thing the ready-made product makes it easier for you -and this is a big thing I do admit- is that you don’t have to fret about the colors and tones.