Saturday, February 27, 2016

Acknowledging Your Limitations

It’s a theme I’ve visited before, maybe too often, but I guess the dawn of 2016 is something of an epiphany for me. The last thing I want this blog to become is an “old modeller’s whining space,” and I’m the first to admit that there’s been an element of that in a fair few posts, so this one is all about acknowledging where your limitations fall and agreeing to play by those rules.

In the past I would probably have stressed a lot about not being able to install the tow cables on the Brummbar I mentioned back in January. This time I’m not stressing – I know that the way it is engineered it is beyond my skills, and there is no mileage in fighting that fact. Similarly, Dragon’s edition of the Trimaster Me 262 B1a/U1, quite apart from the fight-you-all-the-way fit of the model, is an exercise in how fiddly Dragon could make the etched accessories. It’s great that there are tiny levers in the cockpit, and even grab handles inside the canopy, but when your eyesight will barely even resolve those parts with magnification, you need to agree that working with them is an unfair expectation of yourself, and try not to place so much value on it.

That said, I have to wonder if Japanese engineers are entirely serious when they design these things. Are they making kits for the virtuoso hobbyist who can tie knots with tweezers and control objects smaller than the capillary action horizon of superglue? If they are, then they must just be having a laugh at the other 99%. That’s why I love Tamiya, their bedrock policy of make it buildable for the average-skills customer. Tamiya outsells Dragon in my stash by ten or twenty to one, and it’s really no mystery as to why.

So when faced with the Me 262 canopy, having put the job off as long as I could, I examined the fit of the instrument panel that goes inside the canopy arch and found it had no location devices. It’s meant to be glued in directly, then? To a transparency? Requiring you to guide that tiny, irregularly shaped part to a solid, precisely aligned contact with the clear part, and hold it there until the glue had set? No sweat, sarge, my 53-year old tremblers can cope with that no bother… Not. So the instrument panel part and the etched grab handles do not feature on this model, just like the reinforced armour glass part inside the windscreen, and for the same reason – how to you attach it without amateurishly marring the oh-so-delicate clear parts irreparably in the process?

Enough is enough, this thing has a date with the airbrush – right after I finagle the fit of the windshield which is made obtuse by the offset location of the gunsight on this type, and further so by the compromised fit of the fuselage halves in the first place. Okay, okay, I said no more whining!

But you get my point. Eventually we build models big enough to actually see their finest details, and we gravitate to the brands that best compliment our dexterity. There is no denying that there are brilliant craftspersons out there who do the most delicate and wonderful work, and I envy then, I truly do, but if I’m going to continue to derive the same pleasure from the hobby I always have, I must know where to draw the line, and drop those microscopic detail parts back in the box. 1:32 and 1:24 are starting to look real attractive…