Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sob Story

Italeri 1/72nd V-22 Osprey

Now I need a 1/200th scale Storey Musgrave

I'm not dead yet! I haven't even been sick. I just took a break from modeling for a couple of months, mostly because I seemed to be spending every waking moment involved with work. "Yeah, yeah," you say. "We all have our problems and we all have to work, so cry me a river..." But I wasn't complaining, really. Too much work is infinitely better than not enough work. But it does tend to leave one (meaning me) without much time to do any modeling.

To make this state of affairs seem even worse, I confess that over the last six months or so, I've become slightly intimidated by some of the new kit releases. A few times over the last few months I went into my friendly local hobby shop hoping to find something new and fun that would give me incentive to blow the dust off my workbench and start working again, but man, everything looked so hard. Armor kits with a THOUSAND pieces? Oh my God. 1/32nd scale airplane kits of surpassing detail and accuracy that would take me six weeks to finish? Oh my God. It all seemed so... well, intense is the word I'm looking for, I think.

I actually had a good cry with the proprietor over this. Remember back in the 1970s and 1980s, when Tamiya kits were the last word in detail, fidelity, and fiddlesomeness in armor kits? Tamiya was the top of the line, the sort of thing attempted by masters, not the kind of thing that rewarded the efforts of duffers and hacks. And now, those old Tamiya kits are actually considered vacations! After tackling a thousand-piece modern armor kit, we go back to those Tamiya kits and say "Wow, less than 120 parts? This is EASY!"

And unfortunately, my pile of unbuilt kits wasn't much help, because I'd pretty much cleaned it out of easy, cheap, borderline-throwaway kits like my much-beloved Airfix WWI fighters. Practically everything in my unbuilt collection was something I wanted to do well, and I was pretty sure my skills had deteriorated over the last few months and the last thing I wanted to do was ruin my Atomic Cannon because I had devolved to being a sixth-rate modeler (as opposed to a third-rate modeler, which I normally am, and am perfectly comfortable with). I have many lovely models in my pile of unbuilt kits, but not many that would serve as introductory fodder.

So as the demands of work let up and I felt the desire to inhale methyl ethyl ketone fumes grew, I went to the hobby shop hoping to find something cheap and easy and fun, like a Hobby Boss P-39, or the "Tijuana Taxi", one of those dreadful-but-fun "theme rods" that I had such fun with as a boy. Alas, I could find neither one. (Really, I was hoping to find two Airfix kits: the HP-42A and the Handley-Page 0/400, but I knew better than to even dream of finding them there.)

But I did find a Hasegawa Shuttle and Hubble combination which I didn't even know existed, and that was enough to push me over the top and get me building again. But build WHAT? The Shuttle and Hubble? No way - I wasn't going to start it, for the same reason I wasn't going to start the Atomic Cannon: I felt I needed to build a few junk kits first, just to regain some basic competency with brush and knife. So that's where the Italeri V-22 Osprey comes in: it was the least interesting, most expendable kit in my collection, and that's what I started with (I haven't finished it yet, and I may not either, but I have to start somewhere, right?).

So now I'm learning how to build models all over again, and have made a few interesting discoveries along the way.

1. Knives that were dull when put them down months ago don't get any sharper in the meantime.

2. Paint that was thick and gooey when you last opened it turns to shoe leather in the meantime.

3. That odd fluffy mass behind a paint jar may not be dust; it may in fact be a spider's reproductive effort and prodding it may release a horde of tiny white spiders the size of grains of sand.

4. MEK can magically evaporate right out of sealed glass jars.

5. Skills that you thought were long dead actually come back pretty quickly. I started the weekend as a sixth-rate modeler, and I feel that I'm already up to a fifth-rate one, and by the time I put the decals on the Osprey, I might actually be fourth-rate again.

And then? Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of the Atomic Cannon, most likely. Unless rumors of the Airfix reissue of the Handley-Page 0/400 are true, in which case all bets are off.