Lighten Up, Francis

Recently, I committed the apparently way over-the-line act of teasing someone who really, really cared quite a bit about the accuracy of a certain upcoming kit. By posting this…


Well, it kicked off a good old internet argument with lots of huffing and puffing and butthurt.

Then, I went and committed an even bigger transgression. I suggested that, when you step back and look at it, this hobby is ridiculous.

My oldest dog, Sam, when he identifies something to bark at, stands up all straight and the fur on his back poofs up. That’s pretty much exactly the reaction I got.

“Harumph! Have you ever made a living from this hobby? Well I have…”

“I’ll have you know, this hobby has brought me forty years of enjoyment, it’s not ridiculous”


Here’s my take. I love this hobby. I derive a great deal of satisfaction from it. It’s a fantastic decompression tool, it lets me work with my hands, geek out about history, gives my mind something to spin on, and in general keeps me sane.

But it’s still ridiculous. Just like most hobbies. We glue pieces of plastic together, then slather them with pigment suspended in some sort of chemical brew you probably shouldn’t drink. When we’re done, we take a bunch of pictures of them to share with other people doing the same thing. Sometimes, we convene in a location and pay money to put our pigment-slathered plastic assemblages on a table with other plastic assemblages, or just to look at other people’s plastic assemblages. Entire companies make money by making different pieces of plastic, or putting together articles about how to put the pieces of plastic together.

It is ridiculous. It is frivolous. It is silly. And there is nothing wrong with admitting that.

If you can’t step back and look at this hobby and have a chuckle about that, odds are you’re probably not the kind of modeler I want to associate with.

Learning to Let Go


I used to get pretty worked up about the way people would dismissively label different “types” within this hobby. Your rivet counters or box-shakers or builders vs. assemblers or paint nazis or whatever.

But over time, I realized two things.

First, all (or at least most) of us are all of these things and none of these things and often skate somewhere in between. I’m no rivet counter, but I will get all bent out of shape when certain details are completely flubbed – like the tread pattern on HK’s B-25 tires or the lack of clear seeker heads for the Hellfires in Kitty Hawk’s AH-1Z Viper. I’m no paint nazi – but I will obsess about my paint mix for a certain color until I get it where I want it. I don’t like scratchbuilding, but I don’t know if I’ve built a single aircraft kit without modifying something.

Second, the people who take these to absolutes or use them to disparage others who aren’t like them generally turn out to be assholes. Or at least on the asshole spectrum. Just because somebody doesn’t place as high an importance on accuracy as you do doesn’t mean they don’t care about it at all. Just because somebody doesn’t want to scratchbuild their way out of a shitty old Revell kit doesn’t make them an assembler. Just because somebody really, really cares about getting RLM 02 right doesn’t mean they give two flicks about getting a perfect match for Dark Sea Blue or CARC Green.

These two realizations led me to a third.

The Problem is People Who Take This Too Seriously


Honestly, this is probably a larger societal problem, but let’s not go there, shall we?

The thing is, when you take something so seriously that you can’t laugh about it, you quickly enter righteousness territory. Because you’re right, damnit, and that other guy is just a dipshit because he won’t realize how right you are.

There are some things that are worth being righteous about. Modeling is not one of them. People aren’t being crucified in Syria because they picked the wrong olive drab or didn’t correct the cowl bulges on their Bf 109G-6.

So the next time you see someone getting all high and might about some aspect of modeling, laugh at them, and encourage them to laugh at themselves as well. Because ultimately, as ridiculous as modeling is, getting all bent out of shape about what someone else thinks about modeling is even moreso.

27 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow. Awesome post.
    I have to agree with everything you have said. And, as I am sure you know, this kind of craziness isn’t just in the world of model making.
    I raced BMX in its hey-day… the early- to mid-80s. About six or so years ago, I got nostalgic about BMX and hit the web. I found that there are lots of collectors of old school BMX stuff. There are a bunch of wackos in that community as well.
    I like my kits pretty accurate, but if they aren’t… who cares. As you say, a bunch of plastic parts. Glue ’em up, paint ’em, post pics for people I have never met to look at, then put it on the shelf to collect dust.
    There are waayyy more important things to get uptight about.

  2. Ken says:

    It’s a hobby – it could be worse… We could be collecting stramps. Wait, I used to collect stamps! I just attempted a wing warp correction on a Zvezda 787, and left my wife’s hairdryer on “high” a little too long. Let’s just say I laughed my ass off at the result before tossing it into the garbage, and will use the remaining fusalage and engine component parts to explore some new assembly and painting techniques, and then have another home brew (yet another hobby).

  3. I’ve done the exact thing, stepped back and laughed, and have lost alleged modeling friends because of it. What’s worse is those who fixate on one single model and build it over and over and over again. Each time claiming the latest is his best ever only to turn around and admit that he missed a rivet, or a straight line should have been curved or the guy wire wasn’t knotted properly in the turnbuckle on his 1/72 Fokker D7. Really? Damn, not (knot?) doing that just ruined the whole thing, gotta start all over again and get it right next time on the same exact Fokker D7 model. OMG. Pretty soon you have an 1/72 scale air wing of Fokker D7’s. Then one day you die, at the estate sale they find the 52 1/72 Fokker D7’s models residing in your hobby room and guess what they’ll think? Nut case akin to the crazy cat lady down the street.
    Not me, no no no, not me. If you don’t like my damn knots in my Fokker D7, bite me.

  4. trmichalak says:

    Well editorialized Doogs and a valid point! Bottom line the hobby is suppose to be FUN. If OOB is your bag or counting rivets your thang…grip and rip! We all do need to laugh a bit more… at ourselves and in general! No matter how much sweat, blood and tears get put into a plastic model, it will never be completely accurate…we can only hope for a plausible resemblance of what we are trying to build and being happy with our results. In the end…the only critics we should have to answer to, is ourselves!

  5. Brent Sauer says:

    Great post! I completely agree with what you have said. The hobby has started to get bogged down with right-fighters and people who pull too much of their selfworth from their model building pedestal.

    The hobby for me is a great place to meet like minded people who enjoy history and the study of military hardware.

  6. william carls says:

    Great ‘Rant’ …. made sit back and laugh and then I realised I’m laughing a little at my self…. I build Russian armor so I go to model shows, get involved, get into building more and judging ( someone has to) and I have a bug-a-boo….one thing I personally hate more than anything else especially when I see it in accomplished modelers do it.. I hate it I hate I hate it !….I won’t tell you what it is, I am just gonna have a little chuckle about it and pray I can chuckle to myself again when I’m judging next…LOL

  7. Tim Wilding says:

    I remember this post from Facebook a week or two ago. I found it silly that they got upset with your photo and got all defensive. I play World of Tanks and see this over serious attitude in this internet game. I just shake my head and have a chuckle.
    Keep up the “keeping it real”

  8. wcarls says:

    Great ‘Rant’ …. made me sit back and laugh and then I realised I’m laughing a little at my self…. I like to build armor so I go to model shows, get involved, get into building more and judging ( someone has to) and I discovered I have a bug-a-boo….one thing I personally hate more than anything else especially when accomplished modelers do it.. I hate it I hate I hate it !….I won’t tell you what it is, I am just gonna have a little chuckle about it and pray I can chuckle to myself again when I’m judging next…LOL

  9. Roland Houtsch says:

    You are not only clever with your hands, man. Respect On the other hand, I fear it’s yet another battle or swim against the current. Think about the energy to change what you can change, the courage to accept what you can’t and the wisdom to distinguish between the two 😉

  10. Mike Lowe says:

    Superb Post, imho there are some quite anal people out there i’ve seen guys who would sand a fuselage smooth then put new rivets on individually…WTF!!!! i think if you take model building too seriously you end up being a sad and lonely person. I’m no expert i am a model builder, i build for fun, sometimes i will research a build and make it look something like, sometimes i go way out there and do something weird and sometimes my work ends in the dustbin soooooo thats life….keep it up because you are spot on…..

  11. Tim baldock says:

    Well said my man, I have said it many times its a hobby, do what you feel is the best for you and anyone who doesn’t like it, well that’s their problem, let them have their say and then laugh at them, carry on getting sticky fingers and spray painted finger nails and just enjoy.😊

  12. Dane Alley says:

    Nice Rant. Remember everyone this is a hobby and it’s supposed to be fun. We’re still building plastic toy models. Yes, they’re scale representations of real life or science fiction objects. If we can all just remember the joy we had as young boys and girls about getting our first kit then we’ll all be alright! Happy Modelling.

  13. Bob says:

    100% behind you! I get the same crap from my wife! A hobby is a hobby. It’s supposed to be fun. If I’m happy with what I build, or that I might get bored and decide to work on another kit for a while, I don’t care what anyone thinks (including the wife). If you you’re so anal that you want to chastise me because that rivet is half a micron too large walk away. You’re not having fun and I don’t want to play in your sandbox!

  14. Just as it should be! If you can’t enjoy the hobby then it’s not a hobby! My goal is to get it as much as possible like the real thing but doing that without losing my mind over it. Yes, I do count rivets on my builds, one, two, three, eh, MANY! I’m no expert builder myself but I’ve learnt something during the 9½ years since I returned to our wonderful hobby. I try to help out beginners as much as possible and take yoy in seeing them get better. But I’m also a history nut that cringes whenever I see a late Panther Ausf A built without zimmerit or painted in Panzer Grey or even worse, when I see a well built diorama where everything is right except the “floating” tanks that defies gravity and ruin the whole illusion of reality. I try to tell the builder as it’s such an easy fix when they’ve get it right in all other places and mostly gets a thankful responce but once I got an angry responce and then I just concluded that it was an asshole predending to be a pro and just walked away from the thread. My builds isn’t perfect enough to warrant me to say I’m a pro but I gladly admit that I’m crazy and enjoy building. It’s just plastic after all and whoever who’s had a fun time wins in the end. But don’t sniff the glue too much…

  15. tony says:

    It’s a hobby,a time to unwind,a bit of down time,I have been told this is good weathering,this is bad weathering,bottom line is there is no good and bad,if it looks good to you that’s all that counts,the majority of people that see my builds are family and friends the majority of whom can’t tell the difference between a king tiger and a Cromwell

  16. Chris says:

    Ha ha excellent reading material ! True stuff.

  17. john says:

    Keep up the excellent work, Mr.Doog. You consistently articulate the youthful joy that well balanced adults derive from building plastic airplanes. My wife scoffs; I call it art, she laughs. My brother says my airplanes are better than those in museums – oh, hell no! I don’t care – the build is MY joy, then I mail them to my brother. Thanks for the smiles and chuckles. (And the tips!)

  18. nebojsalazic says:

    Awesome post – thank you on this! Keep posting.
    I remember that, not so long ago, I was constantly unsatisfied with outcomes of my builds. They were nice, but not as much as I wanted them to be. There was always something missing, some error that was bugging me, some mistake that I was making again and again. I was even close to giving up, because obviously I couldn’t do it. Then, on one occasion, when I finished the second BF 109 I wanted to compare it to the previous build, from some 6 months ago – and I couldn’t find the first one – the model was missing! I put it somewhere, and lost it… or kids got it… Then I realized – I am actually enjoying the _process_ of building, assembling, painting. The outcomes was not really that important to me – heck, I lost the model, and I didn’t care! Once I realized this, I really, really started to enjoy the hobby. The _process_ of doing this with my hands is much more valuable to me than the outcome. I guess this is the main difference between the hobby and the job/business.

  19. guy smith says:

    Brilliantly said Matt……I followed that convo,and watched you and Jim comment,but kept out of it.I gain immense pleasure and learning from your “work”……..well said,and keep it up!

  20. milepost15 says:

    Thanks for this, I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment. I’d also argue that there’s a pretty big difference between giving a modeler a hard time about something they’ve done “wrong” and a manufacturer suggestions to fix errors in a product. I think it’s good for the hobby to point out inadequacies, inaccuracies and defects in models that are hyped as being near perfect replica’s. I’m primarily a model railroader and this might be more of an issue for us, where a single locomotive can cost in the $300 range and our ability to fix problems is compounded by the fact that so many models come assembled and painted. Manufacturers are running a business and presumably making at least a small amount of money, not to mention influencing others as to what products they might release and what level of quality they’ll provide. The trick, like you said, is not getting all bent out of shape if they choose not to listen to input from their customers.

    – Chris

  21. Absolutely agree Doog! Except that people who do models differently from me are, in fact, crazy and wrong. Otherwise, spot on! (WARNING: Part of this message is satire. Not telling you which bit is part of the fun!)


  22. Scott says:

    Spot on! Principles to apply in many contexts.

  23. Stephen Pattison says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with this . If you look at any past time , hobby what have you logically they become odd . Football – twenty two men dressed as school boys kicking an air filled bladder on a field trying to get said bladder between two uprights with a fishing net strung between them . And what’s even stranger , people will pay to watch this !!!!

  24. will2003 says:

    When I was a kid still at home, I’d usually spend my allowance money on some model kit, thinking it was the greatest of pastimes. My dad would shake his head and say, “What a waste of time!”
    Well, I still waste a lot of time (and money) on this stuff when truth is the money could be well used on more practical things, but it affords me a lot of enjoyment and self satisfaction. So, until arthritis disables my motor skills, I’ll keep on gluing and painting and collecting dust. Excuse me while I make room on the shelf for the one I’m currently working on.
    Ridiculous ? …………………………. yeah.

  25. Mark says:

    This was one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time…BRAVO!

  26. Martin Hatala says:

    I just finished watching your you tube review of KH Su-17/22., What happened, you contradicted everything above.

  27. Ernie says:

    Well, not often I agree with you, but here I find myself mostly in agreement.
    Fact is, it IS just a hobby, and a darn fun one, and I use it as a decompression tool. I like building models. Some, like Tamiya kits and Wingnut kits, are easy. Stick ’em together, and let your ability with an airbrush make the model stand out.
    Others need some actual building. Resin, Short Run stuff, Kitty Hawk kits, among others, require a degree of willingness, skill, and patience to create the masterpiece hiding in the box.
    I learn much from your paint tutorials. Much cool stuff there. I’ve learned plenty. Thank you.
    But the X-Rated tutorials and build reviews make me hesitate recommending your site to new hobbyists. (Call me old fashioned)
    And the continual, never ending, simple minded vendetta trashing of Kitty Hawk Models is beyond the pale. I chuckle at the irony of a man who makes his living helping small businesses succeed going way far over the top trying to bring one down in flames.

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