Learning to Love Again

The old Scale Modeler Magazine was my lifeline. At the age of 14, I would have considered suicide if I’d had a phone smart enough to suggest it. As it was, with the only phone we had being a rotary dial, wire-in-the-wall product of Western Electric made for Bell Telephone with an IQ of zero–I had to improvise my life choices and so I chose life.

With models.

Scale models. And Scale Modeler was my drug of choice. And they knew how to cheerlead–at least as good as Karen Habermann and that other foxy girl whose name was something like Karen Habermann.

Scale Modeler was an endless tsunami of positivity. Every kit was “finely detailed” and the most cro-magnon example from our friends at Airfix was “well engineered.” Japanese kits were “superbly engineered” and “featured exceptional detailing.”

Yeah baby. When I saw that Otto Kuni (or whatever) cover art in the copy down at Blind George’s Newstand in Grants Pass I’d flip. Just flip.

Recently, I compared the rhetoric from an old Scale Modeler with the language from a newer magazine. The new one contained an article on the Academy Catalina, and the author pointed out that the only good thing you could say about the interior of the Academy kit was that it had one.

“At least” it had one. Unquote.

Today’s model kit magazines are full of nasty, “mean girl” snark. It’s not that I merely became a mean and snarly old man as the years rolled past; the media assisted this transformation by becoming mean and snarly as well. It was a feedback mechanism.

Online forums simply put the final polish on it. Even the relatively mild “Airfix Tribute Forum” harbors “that guy” who always posts “a nice clean model,” when he means “it looks like a toy.” Or maybe “Nice job. Hard to believe it’s 1/72 scale.” Or perhaps “Nice finish, for brush painting.”

You get the idea. Forums are snarky places even when well-moderated and dedicated to being “no snark zones”–it’s still snark city.

But I can’t really blame the unfortunates who are caught up in this cycle of snark, neurotic perfectionism, more snark, more neurotic perfectionism–because they are products of a terrible system that just grew up like a mushroom. The air, it seems, is full of hostility and contempt and testosterone-fueled envy and competitiveness. So much so that I’m finding that I’m having to de-toxify myself.

I can’t build models for the fun of it unless I “un-learn” what I’ve absorbed from the last twenty or thirty years of ever-increasing nastiness. I have to go back to Source–back to my old copies of Scale Modeler and re-learn how to have fun. I have to let go of ALL of the crap I’ve accumulated from years of mis-guided forums and publications and the evil that men do…

I’ll try, so help me I’ll try, to be more aware of this and just let go of the negativity.

Like I said. I’ll try…

5 Replies to “Learning to Love Again”

  1. Yep, I have a few issues of Scale Modeler from the 90’s that I bought at local hobby store last year.
    Nov. 95, has articles about kit bashing the “Twin Engined Tomahawk”, with I will do one day. And the IPMS national, which looked much more like fun than todays versions. Heller and Airfix had full page ads. Nerd that I was, I bashed my Aurora FW-190 into a jet. Removed prop blades, cut off the tail feathers, inserted a tube for jet exhaust, and glued the horizontal stabs in a V configuration. I installed
    a pilot from old SBC-3, painted it silver, and considered it a work of art. It was great fun.

  2. This is why I don’t buy any new modelling magazines, nor any of the “how to” books by professional modellers. They are all made for airbrushers, with deep pockets that follow the accepted guidelines of ‘proper’ modelling.

    It has permeated the hobby. Anyone that gets involved with the modelling ‘mass’ will come across the message. And they will be told that they must get an airbrush if they intend on being at all ‘serious’ with the hobby.

    We had it easier; only the well heeled could afford a simple single action airbrush back in the day, and the compressor to go with it. So brush painting was in the majority. These days brush painting is the domain of the kid, the ‘eccentric’ or the loser. According to the self proclaimed powers that be anyway.

    At the end of the day, just let them beat each other up and get high blood pressure. It would be nice to get some nice, glossy magazines with people that brush paint leading the way, but those days are gone…perhaps with the coming depression? Maybe everyone will have to sell their airbrushes? Who knows.

    1. Brushpainting is also the domain of “the magician.” This is a particularly frustrating label (to me). No matter what I do, if I produce something of some merit and post it, and point out that no spray painting was involved, I can “sense” a kind of weirdness descending. “Sure this guy posts stuff like this all the time– he’s one of them. The specials. The gifted. The magicians. THE TRUE ARTISTS!”

      Now forget about him and get back to airbrushing.

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