I think we must have all had them, or maybe it’s a symptom of aging, but there are days when the “passion for precision,” to borrow Academy’s old slogan, is dulled somewhat, by the simple expedient of things not going as expected, predicted or otherwise planned for,
Aftermarket decals that behave so badly you wonder why the manufacturers bother if they couldn’t make a better product? Photoetch that springs away into the carpet never to be seen again. Paint that is absolutely not the colour that the catalogue claimed it would be (well, you have to add a filter to make it the right colour, only nobody mentioned that at the sale stage). Parts which, though well moulded, are never going to line up. And so on.
Our skills are supposed to be what compensates for the shortcomings of the manufacturers, this is an engineering artform, after all, and that’s a tub I’ve thumped often enough. But sometimes it would be nice if the parts really, genuinely fit, the colours were truly accurate without any pushing and pulling, and the decals behaved well. To be fair, I just used some Aeromaster decals and they were a dream, they separated cleanly and readily, responded well to manipulation, even survived secondary wetting and application perfectly, and the carrier film is absolutely clear, with no hint of silvering. If I have a gripe it’s that they didn’t snug into recesses tightly enough to take a panel wash throughout, but that’s the only shortcoming. It doesn’t qualify as AMS anymore, but again, to be fair, maybe my setting solutions are getting old.
So what do we do when we encounter the point that I call being “down to superglue and hope?” Glue that should grab in seconds doesn’t always, and even for a lifetime modeller there is always an aspect of close-enough-is-good-enough. Is this the pleasure we want from the hobby? Or is it a case of being an artist looking at a finished canvas and being let down by reality when compared to one’s inner vision?
We need to be realistic, of course. Some are more talented than others, that’s the way the world works, and even the most brilliantly skilful will always be harsh critics of their own work. It’s good to bear that in mind when perfectionism bites and we see every little flaw (and are inclined to say they are not so little, while others may have a hard time spotting them.) Understanding that it’s the fun of the journey, not the destination, also helps – that flush of pleasure with each completed stage cannot be undone, even if the final product falls short of the styrene nirvana we hoped for, and, if truth be told, still believe in with an unshakeable faith.
In the end, the answer seems to be the next kit. Can we resist it? We might have been temporarily scared off a particular subject, genre or scale, but we know it won’t be for long, because when we look at the stash it’s not as if we’re looking up the north face of the Eiger, it’s as if we’re looking into a candy store, and we can’t wait to open another box. Many of us resist removing the shrinkwrap from kits so as to preserve the heady feeling of that very act, followed by opening the box and seeing those fresh, welcoming parts, and gladly accepting the artistic and technical challenge of bringing those parts slowly, steadily together, into, if not a genuine work of art, then something not far short of it in the eyes of no few of our peers, friends and families. Yes, that’s the answer I was looking for…
So, as soon as this one is in the display case, which shall I finish next? As ever, I’m spoiled for choice!