Fetishizing the Enemy

Fetishizing

Fellow modelers, we need to have a talk. Because…what the actual fuck?

What’s the deal with this hobby’s fascination with German crap?

A 109 here, a Panther there, I get it. In moderation, German subjects can be a nutritious part of a well-balanced modeling diet. But I frequently see it going beyond interest to fascination and, yes, fetishization of the tools and weapons and personalities of Nazi Germany.

Not even the tiny scales are immune!

Running the Numbers

It’s not just modelers. Manufacturers can’t get enough of Nazi subjects either – presumably because we buy the shit out of them. There’s an old saying in the tech industry that “nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM”. In modeling, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a similar saying about kitting 109s and Tigers.

Recently, Dragon announced 16 new armor releases. Fully 15 of them were German. Now…Dragon’s obsession with German subjects is legitimately troubling, but they’re far from alone.

To see how ridiculously slanted this hobby is toward German stuff, I took a quick look using Scale Hobbyist’s handy filtering system to isolate subjects by period and country. Is their stock exhaustive? No. But it’s rather thorough, so I’m going to go ahead and proclaim it a good representation.

Looking at all World War II aircraft, across all scales, we’ve got just over 1500 kits. 28% of them are German. The United States comes in second, with 25%.

Aircraft All Scales by Country

But…

The United States fielded a far more diverse fleet of aircraft during the war.

Consider fighters. Germany had the Bf 109, Fw 190, and Me 262. I’d fold the Ta 152 in with the Fw 190, and would consider adding late war stuff like the He 162 and Do 335. Still, three main fighter types. The US, meanwhile, had the P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51, F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat and the F4U Corsair. And each of these aircraft had at least two major variants (for example, the P-47D Razorback and Bubbletop, P-47M, and P-47N) and multiple block variants within each “letter” variant. That’s three heavily fielded fighter types to eight, and we’re not even touching bombers, scouts, seaplanes, transports and so on. But there are more German kits.

I think it’s fair to say that the Luftwaffe is over-represented relative to other countries.

In armor, it’s even worse. Of the 1090 World War II 1/35 kits Scale Hobbyist stocks, 56% of them are German (just 14% are Russian, just 12% American…).

Armor By Country

Fucking seriously?

I realize Germany fielded a pretty staggering variety of armored stuff during the War. Among tanks alone we go from the Panzer I to the Tiger and King Tiger, with all kinds of variants of each. Compared to the (relatively) limited variety of the Allies. But still. 56%???

Part of me is tempted to do an audit of forum and blog WIP projects, but 1) that sounds really tedious and 2) the massive over-representation of German subjects probably injects some kind of selection bias.

Heart of Darkness

So…what explains the fascination? The manufacturers have some responsibility, but they’re also picking subjects based on what will sell. Kitty Hawk’s planned 1/32 F-11 Tiger was recently shelved because investors felt it wouldn’t sell. So even with the more esoteric choices…money talks.

And modelers buy and build a ton of German shit.

But why?

I’m sure there’s a small minority of modelers out there who are Holocaust denier types and think the Nazis were just peachy, but I’m going to guess that that’s not the case for most. And if it is, come on, who’s going to own to that in this day and age?

Here are some of the more common reasons justifications rationalizations I’ve seen:

Because history. To me, this is a chickenshit dodge. I certainly don’t think we should flinch away from building any German subjects, but keeping the history alive or celebrating the history or whatever involves ranging all over the field. If you build mostly or exclusively German subjects, well, that’s not an interest in capital-H History. That’s an interest in German history.

Because engineering. I hear this one a lot. Germans just made the best shit. And while I’ll grant they made a lot of interesting innovations and rolled out some gamechangers like the Me 262, this one just isn’t true. For all the engineering brilliance that went into the Tiger, it was a fickle maintenance hog. The Sherman and T-34 may not have been a 1:1 match, but they were easier to produce and easier to keep in the field. The P-51 was a feat of engineering that surpassed any German piston-engined fighter.

Because they look cool. Another common refrain. And one I’ll certainly grant – zee Germans certainly had an eye for design for interesting camoflage schemes. But this is like…really shallow. I’d buy it from a 12-year-old kid, but grown-ass men (let’s face it…most of us are) don’t get into pissing matches over the landing bay bulges on a 109’s wings because they think they look cool. They don’t crawl up your ass about the presence or not of a pistol port on a tank turret because the tank just looks cool. There’s something deeper going on.

Let’s Make a Distinction

I’m not talking about those who build the occasional 109 or Panzer III or whatever. Nothing wrong with a balanced approach to modeling (though I do have a personal rule after my Panzer IV – nothing from SS divisions).

I’m talking about those who only (or overwhelmingly) build German subjects. Who move from Fw 190 to Bf 109 to Bf 110 to Ho 229 to Ju 87, or those who just build Panzers over and over and over.

Or who take completely unrelated kits – gundams and Star Wars walkers and dragons and shit – and put German crosses and swastikas on them. What is that about?

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“Well I build German subjects because…”

Look. I’m not saying anyone’s a Hitler-loving neo-Nazi. Well, not explicitly.

I’m saying that the massive over-representation of German subjects in the hobby creeps me the fuck out. And it makes me worry about those who circle that drain regularly.

One of my big things in modeling lately is…I guess I would call it mindfulness. Paying attention to what the hell you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Why do you pre-shade panel lines? Why do you chip the fuck out of modern armor? To me, modeling is a journey, and the road to improvement starts with asking why, and experimenting when I can’t find a good answer.

I can’t help but wonder if something similar is the case for Nazi-philes. Why are 75% of the kits in your display cabinet wearing swastikas?

Where do you stand?

Well? Where do you stand? Does a too-enthusiastic interest in German stuff creep you out, too? Do you have a good rationalization for why you build panzer after panzer after panzer?

Sound off in the comments or over on Facebook.

*PERSONAL NOTE TIME

This is something that has been nagging at me and my own modeling journey for something like four years now. Ever since I built a Panzer IV Ausf. G that I realized way too far into the process was actually attached to an SS division that committed some nasty atrocities on the Eastern Front. Of course, the entire Eastern Front was one big atrocity, but still. It bothered me. 

Since then, I’ve built several more German subjects, but only two representing things in actual service with the Nazis – a Panzer III and Revell’s Bf 109G-6. The others have depicted subjects either out of service – an Me 262 abandoned at an airfield outside Innsbruck, another a prototype capture by the US at Messerschmitt’s home airfield, and a Bf 109G-10 flown to an American-occupied airbase – or in foreign service – in the case of an Italian Bf 109G-4 and a Swiss Bf 109G-6.

To me, representing German subjects in this light is more palatable as it shows (in the case of “fled” aircraft) a rejection of the regime, (in the case of abandoned aircraft) the fall of the regime, or (in the case of foreign service) sidesteps the regime entirely.

149 thoughts on “Fetishizing the Enemy

  1. I agree with you in the part in which you wrote that the Nazi war machine was over-represented. Most of my builds when I was still building scale models were German planes, I built them for some reasons:
    A) They were colourful.
    B) Late war Luftwaffe: any shade of colour was OK, there aren´t enough colour charts.
    C) I could avoid natural metal finishes, because I brush painted, while most of the U.S aircraft were in natural metal (RAF is another story).
    D) I never added swastikas to my planes, after adding every damn decal I said “fuck it”. Also because most of my models were from Revell Germany.
    E) Most German planes carried markings which represented a pilot in particular, making it a particular subject.

  2. Finally someone who says what i’m thinking constantly, I shy away from German WW2 models mainly because i’m uncomfortable with them. Yes i am inagreement in contect the Me262 was a technicological marvel, the Me109 was a superb fighter, but the over facination with the genre does worry.

    TBH there is the same over facination with Japanese WW2 as well, not helped that Tamiya like their Zero’s shall we say a little too much as well as the battleship Yamato.

    Thats not to say that its wrong to model WW2 in any way, some of the Vehicles and indeed some of the Dio’s i saw at the last IPMS show i went to were really stunning, but there were some that went monumentally over the top, i mean really do i want to see a Dio of Adolf and his generals……..No

    Every theme needs a context……

  3. I find German planes and tanks to be the most interesting aesthetically. I don’t build German vehicles very often but I do enjoy them the most. I don’t really care about the shape of German planes but they have beautiful camo schemes, only rivaled by British planes. Many Allied planes tend to be monocolor (bare metal, green, blue) assuming the ground crew didn’t paint it up themselves. The same goes for tanks, but I like the boxy shape of earlier German armor up to the Tiger I. German tanks tend to have much more detail to them than their allies counterparts, say the T-34 and the Sherman, though British tanks have a lot of detail as well (camo isn’t as interesting though). I think a big part of the interest in German vehicles is that there are not many of them left and they aren’t shown in media as often as things such as the P-51, B-17, and Sherman, so people are interested in something that isn’t the same stuff they’ve been shown all their life. I do worry about displaying German vehicles, thinking that people will think I’m into Nazi stuff, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

  4. Of the 25 models I currently have on the display shelf, three are German representatives.( two FW 190-8 and a Pfalz D.VII from WWI). I chose them because of the colorful schemes they carried,(that’s how I choose all my subjects) and ,up till the time I bought them, I had no German aircraft. Taking the Nazis out of the equation, the Germans win, hands down, on colorful schemes right up to todays “Tiger Meets”
    ( yes I’m still a 12 year-old ………. my wife is ALWAYS asking me “How old are you?”) But I DO see the point of your concern. I remember an incident, probably more than ten years ago, as I was browsing in my LHS listening to one of the owners comment, after a heated discussion with someone who had come in looking for a particular German subject and had resorted to bragging up German machines and belittling everyone else’s (which didn’t sit well with the owner) After the “customer” left in a huff, the owner announced to everyone who could hear, ” I don’t know what’s wrong with people, you’d think the Germans had won the war !” So it’s nothing new, but perhaps more prevalent.

      • That’s not the problem Doog. I think that you kinda entangled yourself in a pretty subjective and emotional topic. While I TOTALLY agree with you, that a certain knowledge of history should inlfuence your modelling (I would never ever put a Totenkopf Division-attacking-russian-village-dio into my living room) or built a Hitler bust, I think anything beyond that point becomes pretty blurry.
        You don’t mind building a 109 even though it was flying for the Hitler regime. You probably don’t mind building the Enola gay. Or a T-34. Like many before said… attrocities were commited by many nations and the planes and tanks alike we build usually are military and serve the purpose of killing.

        So, trying to come to a conclusion here: When somebody builds only Stukas and has 80 of them in his living room, that’s definitely weird. But still, it doesn’t mean that he is a Nazi, is it. Maybe just a REAL Stuka fan or freak. But aren’t we all freaks? That’s why your topic is pretty much pointing fingers where pointing fingers is not really due.

        On the subject of why there is so much german stuff out there: I think the design and camo (bulges of canopies) DO actually very much make a difference. I happen to read into the subjects I build pretty much, but the first approach usually is: WHOA that plane looks awesome.

        So, while I’m taking sides with you and wish for more allied stuff (US pre-war naval aviation
        would be great) I think your last rant is the first one in a LONG time that I read while thinking…
        nahhh….welllllll…..hmmmmm…..come onnn…..

  5. I am not so much worried by modelers who build German war machines as I am by the people who “worship”the Nazis. I left a FB page because some of the members were gaga over Hans Rudel. Rudel was an unrepentant Nazi til the day he died. A few were bragging that they had met him and we’re proud of it. Scary.

  6. Hottest topic yet, Doogs. And yet, it’s some of the most interesting “model related” content I’ve read in several years. Keep at it! There are many more unicorns which need to be punched in the balls.

    I would disagree with you on only a couple of points. Much of the German stuff did “look cool”. Unlike the limited number of airplane types, the Germans fielded a vast assortment of trucks, tractors, trailers, tanks, horses, motorbikes and God knows what else. And almost all of it looks pretty damned neat once it’s painted and sitting on a nice cobblestoned base. So there’s that.

    But as to your “fetish” argument, I feel you may have overlooked one of the most basic aspects of human psychology, we all love monsters. What happened in that decade was monstrous. And it was carried out by a relatively small group of very, very determined people, a demonstration of pure, human aggression without pause for consideration of misery or compassion or pain inflicted upon others. And oddly, each one of us can relate to it. Each of us was born with a deeply programmed lust for blood. It’s part of our primate heritage. Perhaps grown men playing with their fetish toys is a safe outlet for feelings which we try to pretend don’t exist. There is power in committing evil. Power is charismatic.

    We all enjoyed watching the Breaking Bad series. But why should a complex story about a dangerous sociopath be so popular? We could ask the same question about German model subjects. Most of us enjoy playing with fire. Perhaps some of us enjoy it a little too much.

    Your shit’s good. Keep writing it.
    John

    • Inclined to agree mostly and Dogg has a brilliant blog (currently building a 1/48 B17 and spent to much on metal ehched parts) this has stimulated my thoughts in this arena as I have a few unmade German WWII kits, German engineering at the time was (and still is awesome) but as Dogg pointed out to keep them going in the field was a nightmare and probably the main reason the Eastern front was a failure for them it doesn’t bare thought if they made basic and reliable equipment the theatre of war may have dramatically changed

    • Right on. It’s taboo to even imply you have any respect or appreciation for the Nazi regime but they displayed characteristics that we secretly admire. I’m no advocate, I don’t even build WW2 stuff. But, l would bet most of us, on some level, admire the German war machine. The fact is they did make good shit. They had great pilots, tankers, paratroopers…the finger four flight formation they used is still implemented by our aviators today. So, perhaps building Nazi themed models is an outlet for expressing an appreciation for such a taboo subject.

    • This is the best response I’ve seen to the “why” question. We do love monsters. I think that pretty well sums it up. Now, do some go further than others and revere the monsters? Well I’m not touching that one.

    • I’ll definitely agree with Jim – the “we love monsters” is the probably the most cogent “why” I’ve yet encountered.

    • @coldbasementmodels:
      Exactly how I feel! You stole my comment right out of my mouth.
      I think about half of my builds have been German, and I can confess to listening to “Das Panzerlied” several times in a row (in my own defense, I also binge on “It’s A Long Way To Tipperary”).

      But for me, it’s a combination of the cool factor and the evil factor.
      As far as cool goes, who had their uniforms designed by Hugo Boss? (like, “come to the Dark Side, we have designer clothing” 😃) I mean, I feel sorry for these people who are so low that they get hooked on Shermans instead of Tigers (just kidding 😊). For me, almost nothing beats the look of a well finished late war Königstiger in red oxide.
      However, evil does fascinate people, probably just because it’s a part of us that we suppress. It is also just fascinating in and of itself. I mean, people seem to like Stormtroopers more than Rebels and Voldemort more than Harry (I was also going to say the Balrog more than Gandalf, but that just isn’t true). Why is Raiders of the Lost Ark such a cult classic? I don’t understand why, but it really is just seductive.
      So I am highly interested in the NSDAP, but at the same time, I’m interested in the opposite side of the story, in the history of the Nation of Israel and their struggle. So I don’t really know if I am obsessed with Nazis. If I am it isn’t because I’m a Neo-Nazi Holocaust denier.

  7. Oh, Good, my anti Nazi modeling bias is supported by others. I too have built German Army vehicles, and will in future build the ubiquitous 109. That said, I have so many other American and to a lesser extent, British models to do I feel I shall be very busy, far into the future.

  8. Really enjoyed this read and totally agree with what you are saying – on facebook and modeling forums there are many whom I actually only build great war (WWI) Aviation models from Wingnut Wings, the reason why was due to the centenary coming about and my own knowledge of that war was limited to what we are taught in schools in the UK. It’s mostly about the Trenches and very little on the airmen.

    So after doing a lot of reading of books written from both sides of the lines I started on my new love of WWI aviation modeling. However I found myself with a lot more Central Power (German) aircraft, it really did come down to aesthetics of the aircraft. But I felt I owed it to not only myself but to the airmen of my the Entente to learn more about their aircraft and stories.

    I do get the technology fetish though as I’m encountering with the WWI aircraft, the Central Powers had some fascinating leaps in technology even back then Such as the Gotha G.IV and Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI not to forget the Zeppelin’s – which in turn brought about German’s policy of total war and the bombing of civilian targets.

    Now I have a perfect balance in my stash, and I alternate my purchases between the two powers, but even now I wonder ‘Why’ the fascination with killing machines?

  9. I think there is a relatively simple explanation for this.
    German subjects “looked the part”.
    All those PzkPw and SdKfz etc just looked angry. They looked mean, they looked war like and best of all they were highly (to their detriment) engineered.
    Something highly engineered and incredibly well built is just bound to capture and captivate the modeller. “Wh you might ask? It’s actually simple. We strive for perfection in our hobby and we try to make our subjects resemble the real thing.
    Well engineered and well built are the watchwords for our hobby hence we feel a connection to the designers and manufacturers of those vehicles.

    They are also bloody awesome machines haha.

  10. Everyone likes a bad guy.

    Fascination with the defeated. Look how many dudes dress in Stormtrooper armor from Star Wars. Are they Sith sympathizers or nasty imperialists?

      • People build figures of Spanish conquistadors, Soviets, Roman centurions, and Vikings.

        Now of course people aren’t obsessing quite as much over, say, Soviets as over Nazis, but there is a large modeling subculture devoted to them. If Soviet modelling was bigger than German modelling, would there be a problem?

  11. I don’t dabble much in WWII stuff of any sort, but when I do venture that way in the hobby and want to build a subject of Axis origins, I tend towards allied capture markings, Italian co-beligerent or post-war service markings. I could build something with a swastika or Italian facist symology, but it just isn’t worth it to me. I built to relax, not to make a statement.

    Not long ago, I bought a 1/72 Bf-108 kit. I had three different versions of the same company’s kit looking at me from the shelf: Luftwaffe, post war military or post war civilian markings. I opted for the post war military boxing as it side stepped the swastika matter, had some compelling marking options and let me build an aircraft I like with a clear conscience.

    I’d never begrudge a modeler for building one o two Axis subjects now and again, but some just take it unreasonably, and uncomfortably, far.

  12. I am seriously troubled by this article and the “implied” accusations (which I know is here too strang a word but I’m at loss for a better one).
    Personnaly I’m one of the accused “germanic kit lovers” and the reason(s) are myriad.
    I pick a kit because of the estethics first & foremost but also because of the drama possibilities of the settings. I am doing quite a lot of reading on history in general & WW2 as a period of particular interest. And I am very much moved by the drama of patriotic young German warriors fighting against impossible odds, for a cause that they know is lost. This is a very interesting dynamic that per extension portrays to me the futility of war. If I would go for something modern the vietnam setting would create something likewise for me. Valiant American GI’s fighting a tough war while being undermined by the political character in the land that they believe to be defending.
    I fimrly believe that in regardless which “side” you were on in the forties, it is important to try and take a less engaged view right now. And what troubles me is the judgmental tone of the article and some of the comments. Why would you even want to judge another modeler for his choice of subject?

    • Good that you’re thinking about it, though, right? I fully understand the dynamic of the futility of war and fighting for the guy next to you or for your family even if you don’t believe in the cause (or know it’s lost). One of the things that draws me to military history is that, while war is horrific, it also acts as kind of a pressure vessel for human nature. You see acts of astounding nobility and astounding cravenness. You see brilliance and utter incompetence. Loyalty and betrayal. Compassion and barbaric cruelty. I get that – I totally do – it’s those small individual experiences that inspire a lot of my builds. The P-51 pilot who managed to drive off something like six 109s without ammunition. The Wildcat pilots on Wake Island who held off the Japanese for something like two weeks, with only two functioning aircraft.

      My thing is…these kinds of experiences happened on all sides of the conflict. I don’t believe in flinching from the truth of history (for those who are accusing me of just being a yeehaw American fanboy…I fully believe that the firebombing of Tokyo was an act of terrorism and will be the first to agree that no one came out of WWII with clean hands). It’s the exclusive (or nearly so) focus on German subjects that I question. In large part because it’s a thing that visible in the hobby at large and a not small number of modelers. I mean I’m sure there’s someone out there who only builds Italian tanks…but German obsessives aren’t uncommon.

  13. Of all the things you’ve written, this is almost certainly my favorite.

    I’ve often wondered the same thing as I walk down the armor aisle at my LHS. I’m primarily a ship builder, but on the occasions that I’ve crossed over to 1:35, I’m always struck by the proliferation of German kits. It’s actually enough to turn me away – not from the awful historical context, that is, but because I at least prefer building less common subjects.

    But I digress.

    One thing I’ve noticed is folk’s affinity for “what if’s.” Be it a a study by a serious historian or an amateur, the questions of how history could have turned differently seem to haunt many of us. Here in Georgia, this is almost entirely represented by a Lost Cause obsession with the vanquished Confederacy (and an apparent deep yearning for the Union to have been sundered after all), but I certainly hope that the German obsession in the hobby is less an appreciation for the Nazis and more an appreciation for historical contingency.

    That said, there are the odd ones out there who have a room filled with swastikas and totenkopfs and then glare vehemently at your quizzical expression regarding the scene while stating flatly “it’s history. It happened. Deal with it.” This is a defensive cop-out of the highest order, for memorabilia is not history, and models are not history. These things are relics of the past or our representations of a past which we make our own through creation; I think it’s this latter point that people miss. When we build, we are freezing a moment of the past which, for whatever reason, strikes us as significant. It’s an act of creation, not a passive acceptance of the past. Those that fetishize our most horrifying moments aren’t just appreciating the past. They’re appropriating it in a small way, claiming ownership of it and protecting it from the inevitable rampages of time.

    That’s what scares me.

    That’s why I loved this post.

    • “We are our choices” – Jean-Paul Sartre. I think good ol’ Sartre’s quote is probably a bit too strong for this discussion, but it gets at what you’re getting at, right? To some extent…our choices mean something.

      I don’t think our choices of what we build say a lot about us as people – but I also don’t think they say nothing.

  14. The Nazi’s didn’t do anything that many groups didn’t do before them. Just ask a Canaanite. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot, they’re extinct for some reason. Anyway, I like the German stuff. Much more interesting than a T-34 or Sherman. If that’s a fetish, then so be it. I guess you could define anyone’s interest in a particular subject as a fetish. Sort of like New York Yankees fans.

    • James,
      I was reading all the posts before typing mine, till I read yours. Are you kidding me !!!! Let me quote you, “the Nazi’s didn’t do anything that many groups didn’t do before them.” Trying to eliminate every Jewish person as the final solution that killed an est. 6 million people, or Slavic person for an additional nearly 6 million people, was death on a scale that was never seen previously nor since.

      Let me remind you in case you’ve missed it, but plastic models in Germany are not allowed to be sold nor publically displayed with a swastika on it, ( you can purchase AM decals via foreign mail, and display them privately, but they’re not allowed at a German IPMS convention). There is a reason for that, one that supersedes the objectivity to display a model which represents a piece of history. That law is still in effect, and there is no evidence of it being changed anytime soon.

      I’m older then most, if not all of you. I was born right after the war. My parents, and grandparents had a life long hate of the Germans and the Japanese. To some extent my generation does as well. Why? Maybe cause they were forced to leave their homes and country. Some lost family in the gas chambers, as well as family and friends who never made it back from either ETO or WTO. Those life experiences just don’t vanish because the war ended. It takes time, time for those generations to pass on, and the younger generations who had no 1st hand experience of the horrors of that global war.

      I’ve been modeling since the early 60’s, then a 30+ year hiatus before I returned as a serious modeler. To this day I’ve never bought, nor built any military aircraft, or piece armor other then those of the USA and our Allies. And there is a very good chance that I never will.

      Sorry about the rant, but I felt I needed to respond to James statement.

      Joel

      • No problem Joel
        I understand your position completely. I just don’t hate anyone. My mother was a child when the German army occupied Luxembourg. She still remembers the SS going door to door. My father fought in Vietnam. 2 Purple Hearts and a DFC. He did his job. Yet I don’t hate the Vietnamese and neither did he. He actually disliked the hippies more than the VC. I’m not dismissing what the Nazi’s did. They’re just not the only ones. I haven’t checked, but I’d be willing the bet the US Government wiped out a higher percentage of the Indian population than Germany did the Jewish. And Indians killed other Indians. The Israelite’s conquered Canaan. God willed it. The Philistine’s, if there were any left, would hate the Jews. And round and round it goes. So the symbolism you see in German armor is not what I see. I just see a machine. You see it through a filter of hatred and I don’t. But you have your reasons and I respect them. My feeling is that no civilization is innocent. Like the Bible says, he who is without sin cast the first stone. Maybe some day we’ll all come to our senses. Hopefully. Until then, I’m sure we’ll develop new hatreds for each other.

      • James E.,,,, very well said.
        As much as I am apposed to hatred and bigotry,,, I try to keep in mind,,, it is a modeling hobby. Nationality, Race, Ideals, Bigotry, Hatred , , , , All put aside,,, it is a hobby…. Whatever you like to build,, build it well and above all,,,,,,,,,,,,,, PLEASE,,, lets have fun and enjoy!

  15. Nice one Doogs! For many years I wouldn’t build a German WWII subject at all. Refused. Then one day I was talking to my LHS philosopher (who was of Japanese origin) and he said something that kind of struck me. German subjects are often cool. I don’t know what it is about the Pz. IV and Panther but they have an aesthetically pleasing shape, and I was commenting on that versus my disinclination to build them. He said “we won the war, we own them now; go for it.” Interesting way to look at it. So now I have a few German subjects cluttering up the stash. Interestingly though, I still find that unless I’m doing one for a specific “vs.” build (Osprey had me pegged when they started the Duel series), I almost always go for a an Allied or Israeli subject. Even when I do one, I try to shy away from SS vehicles as well.

    Thanks for writing about this stuff Doogs, it’s nice to have intelligent discussions online about tricky subjects relating to modeling.

    Michael

  16. Yes,Yes. Thank you for bringing this out in the open. I now live here in Poland and at the annual show in Warsaws Palace Of Culture I was quite surprised to find such a preponderence of german armor/aircraft.
    If any country should have an aversion to them I would have thought Poland was it.
    I also have an interest in figure and bust painting and certain such forums also show a bias towards German figures..I won’t mention the tedium of Romans,etc
    I know this blog will stir a hornets nest of excusers and apologists but good for you…

  17. If anyone is guilty of “fetishizing”, it’s you and the others who ascribe some larger meaning to the simple act of building a damn plastic model. Building a model isn’t cheerleading, it’s not proselytizing, and it’s not evangelizing. It’s just building a model.

    People choose subjects for whatever reason they choose them – it varies by modeler and assuming that YOU know why certain modelers like to build German subjects is the height of ignorance and arrogance. No one is twisting anyone’s arm, no one is rewriting history, and no one (to my knowledge anyway) is planning to reincarnate the Nazi party one plastic model at a time.

    Get over yourself. Quit trying to assert some presumed moral high ground over other modelers just because YOU think you know better. Don’t like WWII German subjects? Don’t buy them, don’t build them. Quit presuming that you know better for everyone else, thanks.

    • I think you maybe need to look up what fetishizing means.

      As for assuming why certain modelers like to build German subjects – I DON’T. I’ve listed a few of the common refrains I hear, but the overall thrust of the article ASKING WHY. Which is the opposite of assuming.

      I would also ask – if the simple act of building a damn plastic model is so unladen of any kind of meaning to you – why do you care at all?

      Again, I’m interested in why. I agree to an extent with Jean-Paul Sartre’s famous line – “we are our choices”. If you consciously choose to build only German WWII subjects – or near enough as makes no difference – there has to be something behind that. I make no assumptions about what that something is, only that it is.

      • Nonsense. Your original post is just dripping with assumptions and judgements basically accusing anyone fond of German WWII subjects of romanticizing the Nazis. Even asking the question implies your own predisposition that the subject itself is somehow inherently distasteful and a mark of some bad character on the modeler.

        The fact remains that plenty of modelers are fond of German WWII subjects, despite your taste. And I think that’s what galls you – that there are people in the world with tastes you dislike and disagree with. Talk about intolerance and rigidity!

  18. You missed something, Doog. The other reason for the vast majority of German sales is color scheme. Look at the disparity in Armor… You can do an Allie tank in any color you like so long as it’s green. Whereas on the German side, you’ve got the spectrum from Pre-war Grey, to ambush schemes to Paper panzers in Red primer. Diversity and color! I think that explains why the numbers are closer in Aircraft. US aircraft were pretty colorful which is why they are nearly the same % of kits as the German aircraft. But I’d still argue that the German Luftwaffe subjects were more varied than US. And if it weren’t for the baremetal and nose art on aircraft, you’d be mostly stuck with Olive Drab over grey.

    I don’t think that modelers as a group or any splinter thereof fetishize the German war machine. It’s just that it was more varied and colorful than the Allies. And we’ve seen polls that indicate that color scheme is the primary reason for choosing an aircraft model.

    It may seem weird, but then to a lot of folks so does gluing plastic together to make a little airplane.

    • I don’t buy color/scheme as the sole reason. If that were the case I would expect much better representation of French and Italian subjects.

      As for US vs Luftwaffe schemes…I’ll certainly grant that the German base schemes are generally more interesting, but the standard RLM 74/75/76 scheme is as, if not more, common than the USAAF’s olive drab/neutral gray. Yeah, early war and very late war subjects show some variation from it, and you can add in the whitewash and brown elements added to Eastern Front 109Fs. On the USAAF side you’ve got invasion stripes and other operation markings, some very distinctive squadron and group markings (blue noses on the 352nd P-51s, etc) and some fascinating camo schemes at various points in the war – like the 56th fighter group’s use of RAF paint stocks to camo up their P-47s.

      • Not asking you to “buy” anything. Just pointing out that you missed the most obvious reason… particularly with regards to Armor. If you’re trying to be mindful, perhaps you ought to switch over to civilian airliners… because the stuff you’re modeling is meant to kill people in real life. You can rationalize THAT however you like too.

  19. This has long been frustrating to me. In aircraft, all major American and German types have been well represented (well except the early P-40s, but relief may soon be at hand…) and in terms of what I BUY, probably 60%+ is American. But it is frustrating to me how underrepresented British, Japanese and Italian subjects are. Just since I came back to this hobby 20 years ago the situation has improved some; but still there some serious deficiencies (seriously, still no Handly Page Halifax or Mitsubishi G3M in 1/48. Criminal!)

    Armor is even worse. I do work exclusively in 1/48, so I’m mostly at the mercy of one manufacturer; but I can’t believe no Stuart, no Chi-Ha, no M13/40, but there’s like four variations of Panzer IV. I do see that German armor is cool. And contrary to what you said in the post I think there’s more short production runs of minor variations by the Germans; but this seems a weak reason for the staggering disparity (maybe 60% of available armor is 1/48 is German.

    I am pretty sure there is an all too human fascination with lost causes. From swasticas to Confederate battle flags there’s a tendency to romanticize a power that fought well but lost anyway. But there is no doubt Nazism represents the depths of human evil. And no disrespect, but anyone who thinks they can parallel Nazi behavior with American failings is ignorant of history.
    And what I really don’t get, why doesn’t Japanese hardware get the same sort of over-representation? Maybe that’s coming in the 22nd century…

  20. I completely agree with you and I feel the same way. I question why a lot of people build so much German stuff, and why I can walk into any hobby store and find German stuff well through the spectrum, but when it comes to US, I always walk about sad and confused, questioning when the hobby store will get the kit I’m looking for in or why no one sells a kit of the aircraft or vehicle I’m looking for.
    And I also agree with saying that German stuff is part of a well balanced modeling diet, I have built my fair share of German war machines, I’m even in the process of building the airfix 1:24 Stuka. But what I get pissed about is why I can find every fucking variation of the ME 109 E, F and G models, but I can only find a fraction of American ones, and if I do find them, there in 1:72. Where’s my P-63, or a decent P-39, and why is the only 1:32 P-39 I can find, cost into the 100’s!? But Trumpeter keeps making every G model of the 109 for about 50!? And where the hells my B-25 B/C been? Yes, I know Academy has just released one and I’ve seen it an loved it but where’s it been? And where’s my C-45/ Beech 18 in 1:48? I can’t find one anywhere.
    I hope soon some other companies other than Revell will start releasing some more US aircraft kits, or I just plain hope they’ll start making some in general.

  21. When I got back into model building, I started to see a large number of German armor builds in FSM and it seemed to be the only thing. if it wasn’t a Panzer, it was a Tiger. if not a Tiger, then it was WWI German air power and so forth. While I understood the aesthetics, it did make me wonder if there was anything else out there to build. Can we see a Sherman tank from the 761st? How about a P-51 flown by the Tuskegee Airmen? Even with my limited knowledge of all the types of vehicles that participated in the war can we have something different?
    Now I don’t think that if you build German WWII subjects you are a closet Nazi. far from it. yes the subject matter and designs is interesting, but it can come off as being the be and end all of all things.
    So while I agree in most part with the author, it is also his soapbox and he just stated something I was always wondering. So there is my $0.02 to the pot to stir it up. Everyone keep doing what you do, build to have fun, and before you take the butthurt personally, just remember…. this is a hobby. Have fun.

  22. Unbelievable – Incredible display of hubris and arrogance. What’s next the modeller’s manifesto by Doog? As a previous poster suggested you really should get over yourself.

    • Asking “why” on a challenging subject is hubris. Good to know. I’ll add it to my collection alongside condescending, elitist and dickish.

    • Dear Tom, Thank you for your deeply reasoned and brilliant response. You have outdone yourself.

      Personally, I have found other (perhaps a tad less belligerent or polarised) comments very interesting. There is clearly a bias amoungst modellers – I see it in my local club – and I have wondered about it but not started an interesting and (generally) thoughtfull debate. I guess your interjection highlights the general quality of this conversation.

      DOI: have yet to build a German WW I I model, perhaps because I like doing the uncommon. I do Italuan, mainly as a counter-point to Allied stuff.

      Doog, keep up the (apparently provocative) posts.

  23. Well, on some extent I agree with the Author.
    However, here is only one side mentioned. Please do not forget USSR. Personally I can not make e.g. KV-2 with a slogan Za stalina! Same as hailing adolf.

  24. Wow, its a h o b b y! You sound no different than a rivet counter. If it bothers you that much switch to wooden ship kits or sci-fi. Whoopsie, guess the later wont work if the only thing modeled is Star Wars, everybody knows the Empire is really Spielberg’s interpretation for Nazisum. Guess you’re left with only wooden ships.

  25. Hello Doogs, this is my first comment although I’ve been watching your blog for a long time. It’s funny cause I’ve had making some similar consideration not long ago

    Firstly I personally leave politics outside my model selection. Nazis were awful but I’m not looking to make a statement when excercising my hobby, and in a time of war if you start looking for the good guys’s you’ll end up building airliners pretty soon. Excluding German WWII subjects to me is also a bias. I won’t judge anyone to how he selects how to pass his time, nor anyone is obliged to make a balanced repressentation of WWII fighters/tanks

    For me, I choose my subject based on:
    i) Things that look good (shape and color)
    ii) Things that are badass (performance wise)
    iii) Things that played important role at some point in the course of war, in essense things that battled

    I have actually planned how I want my mid-term WWII fighters collection to be and it is like Germany 9, US 9, UK 8, USSR 7 (1 is P-39), Japan 7, Rest 5. I’d say if anything Soviet subjects are underrepresented. As to why people build german stuff.

    1) They fought in most theaters of operation from the start of the war thus more options. If I am to make Fighters over europe I can make German or British stuff that battled over 5 years, US stuff more like 2 years

    2) The above means much greater variety in types, camos and momments where they were important. I can make so many US Hellcats before it starts to get repetitive (2). How many Bf-109? Looking over eduard profipack releases for their respective kits shows the answer.

    3) Each plane has its own gravitas. I could build 1 Wildcat and be happy with it in my collection as far as repesentation goes. I could easily build 3-4 Spitfires or Bf-109 and still leave a lot to be desired. I could represent P-47 or P-51 with 2 of each type and be good (though I’d definately want more cause they hit the nail on the badass part)

    4) The 2 main fighters of Germany were produced in almost 55.000 units. Thats as much as P47, P51, F6F and F4U combined, before taking into consideration that some of them kept production post WWII while german production was reduced during the latter parts. It’s not really overrepresentation to have 40 Bf-109 for each Macchi C.200.

    5) Personal preference. Some people show preferance over certain subjects just cause. There is no reason why US Navy is my facorite jet choice. I just like it

    6) National bias. People from US are natural to show more interest in US planes. Hop into britmodeller and there are much more UK stuff there.

    7) People are often sympathetic to the underdog story, or the losing side, or like the german war machine per se

    8) Some people are actually sympathetic to the regime. There. However I think the percentage is really really small even among those building exclusively German stuff, and If you are trying to account the german tendancy on this you’ll come to false conclusions.

    These are coming from a plane guy. As for the armor, as I’ve been told only 2 belligerents made proper tanks in WWII, so if anything USSR is once again underrepresented (this is totaly joke ofc and not to be taken serious).

    Concluding I’d just like to add that I totaly like your builds and your articles and I’d love to see you hop back more into WWII 1/48 fighters. Keep up

  26. I do agree that the German builds seem to be almost an addiction….
    I absolutely get what you mean Doogs,,,,
    Personally I really could care less what someone else builds,,,, fetishes aside, I just build what I like at any particular time.

  27. Well boys and girls, Inlaws and outlaws, read a fucking book called ‘a higher call’. It was about a German pilot who hated the nazi’s and what they represented! The authors name is Adam Makos, (Atlantic books) and it was noted by the New York Times as best seller! Seriously good read!!! Made me by revell Bf-109 G6 which is a shit kit just like the rest of em! Still waiting for tamiya to build a decent kit of it so I can put it in my personal top ten fighters in 1/32 scale because they fucking appeal to me! Doesn’t mean I’m a nazi though, the Germans just made cool looking shit that’s all, that’s what appeals to me. Very touchy topic, like putting out a fire with a can of petrol. History often didn’t play out the way we would like to imagine, so I’m not worry about it too much, building kits is just a hobby, and it’s my way of forgetting life’s everyday hassels! Have a nice day all…. Oz

  28. I do find it interesting that there are clearly two different camps in these comments: One which responds (at least somewhat) thoughtfully and with some introspection, and one which feels that disagreement is only properly exercised through name calling and general nastiness. I think it’s equally interesting that only one of those groups has so far responded 100% in the pro-Nazi build category.

    Not an accusation – just an observation.

  29. It’s bothered me for a while. I have a few German aircraft displayed in my room, some have Swastikas, and I’ve never been truly comfortable with it. The more I think of it, the more I wish I left them off. Accuracy is at the bottom of modelling preference list so it’s not like they HAD to be there.

  30. Well, I have to disagree a little with this. In my humble opinion, assigning responsibility to the actual machines of war rather than the ideology of man is equal to blaming gun violence on the gun. Yes, Nazis used XYZ aircraft and tanks to do their evil deeds but we should remember that, on their own, machines of war are just inanimate objects. This is why I tend to just build my subjects without crews, etc. However, if someone decides to build a dio of SS troops assaulting a Russian village, I wouldn’t have issues with it as, in my view, I see it as a simple representations of historical fact.

      • Sure, why not? It did happen, didn’t it? What’s the difference between a dio and a book written about theses atrocities? What about a painting of the same genre? There are paintings depicting what transpired in some of the concentration camps. Do they go too far? As long as the dio, book, etc, is portrayed accurately and is historically correct, what’s the problem? You can’t just bury your head in the sand and pretend these horrific things didn’t happen.

      • It’s a matter of degree in my mind. There’s an absolutely haunting but well done diorama of a concentration camp prisoner having to empty out one of the train cars…fine with that. History is nasty. But if somebody built nothing but concentration camp dioramas, for example, I think the motivations would be worthy of questioning.

      • Doog’s… I’m Polish and all that stuff is close to my heart, I used to live not far from Gross Rosen camp … about that concentration camps dioramas…maybe that someone who would build just CC is person who wants to remind people what happened over there so we not forget and repeat same history…he not always have to be a secret Aryan race believer…
        Subject wise everyone is different, personally have a few German birds in my collection same with P-… and RAF, but I have to say Jugs and FW are my favour planes… strong, badass, very well engineered, and for me its about that design and appearance…
        P.S. In theirs defence Germany had/have ( so is the rest of world in many aspects ) good engineers even designer of P-51 and Sabre, Edgar Schmued was a German (not nazi, read his life story), allies designers had different approach (fast production,lots,easy to fix)…if we talk over engineering… as many German projects were… look armour… many overdone and prone to trouble in field…look battle of Kursk as simple example…and that was lucky for us all…lots of German projects were chosen cause particular designer had better relation with people in power…once again lucky for Us, imagine that they had Heinkel He 178 flying few days before WWII started and they didn’t opt for development of it that in favour of propeller driven types…lucky We are…the rest Is history:)

      • Again, if it’s historically accurate then I have NO problem with it. There was once a dio someone did (or tried to do) of 9/11 and people were up and arms about it being just wrong, etc. If it’s what the modeler is interested in then I am no one to tell him/her not to do it. My main point here is to keep your modeling to factual events. I don’t do dios because I don’t much care for depicting the intentions behind people and their evil ways. I rather focus on the machine/tool used. Again, the T-34s, SU-100s and BT-13s didn’t drive themselves to a “village somewhere in Latvia or Lithuania in 1950.” Soviet TROOPS made these machines take part in these events, You’re blaming the gun instead of the PERSON(s) pulling the trigger.

  31. I’ve already left a comment here but I have to agree with some of these later posts. It’s ridiculous to think that someone is a Nazi sympathizer because they build German kits. Obviously people could try to make the “some Nazis weren’t bad!!!” or “Soviet Union was worse!!!” arguments but vehicles aren’t evil, they don’t have political agendas, they’re just tools of awesome power that we like to connect ourselves to by making a model of them. Building a German plane or tank doesn’t make you a Nazi.

  32. I’ve got the same issue with reenactors. What kind of person wants to be a make-believe SS troop? So they can participate in a pogram? Same with Confederate reeenactors. They are honoring a cause that fought to keep human beings in bondage for economic gain. What is noble about that? As to kit selection, I go for challenging but not impossible builds, i.e., Tamiya 1/32 and Tamiya 1/350 ships.

  33. What a thought provoking topic! Yes, I have and do wonder what the fascination with German weapons is, but it goes further than that for me.

    I avoid buying any modern (post WW2) American and particurly Israeli military models because I’m uncomfortable with the foreign policies of both countries. In fact I avoid modern weapons of most countries, but for others it may be for politics or simply because the subjects simply bore me. So my reasoning for what makes the cut and what does not, is often for political reasons. I do have a small number of WWII aircraft (RAF and Luftwaffe) based around the theme of the Battle of Britain, and outside of that theme there are just a few other aircraft I’d like to make (mostly RAF/Commonwealth). I’d like to make a Zero, Hellcat and a P-38 Lightning in 1/32 and maybe the odd Yak, but thats it. I don’t do armour.

    I’ll be clear at this point; while I might not agree with American (and certainly Israeli) foreign policy, I do not hate Americans.

    The thing about many military models whether it be stand alone or depicted in a diorama with a crew, is they’re often iconic, and this is a big draw card for modellers. Iconic models of past dictatorships certainly remind me of why we should not repeat what has happened in the past, and yet even today the power of the gun undermines the concept of the rule of law, and this gives birth to a culture of might, a culture of weapons, violence and intolerance.

    So to return to the original question do we fetishize the enemy? Perhaps, but it also depends on who or what you perceive the enemy to be. I do wonder how much of what we see is a case of market economics at play. I build a lot of Formula 1 models and you’ll often hear the phrase by car modellers “not another Ferrari!” Why? Because Ferrari’s sell, because they’re popular, and for a model company low risk, high return is all too often the only strategy in play. I’d love to see some/more 1/32 or 1/35 plastic kits of allied vehicles to support aircraft dioramas, but the obsession with German armour and continuous re-pops of subjects already done is perhaps a reflection on what sells. Tiger tanks sell. I can’t tell you why. I don’t like them nor want one and yet the number of different releases in 1/35 is staggering.

    Thanks for posting this Topic Doogs. Keep them coming.

    Cheers,
    Tel

  34. It’s sad that German stuff sells so much better than everything else. I’d love to see more Italian stuff and of course more Swedish kits as well. Right now I’m building an German Panther (my first German subject since 2008) and it’s been a frustrating search for the build. How so? I want some relaxed figures for the build but almost everywhere there’s WSS figures. I’ve got a few Heer figures for it now but the search continues. It’s sad to see the product range of Alpine Miniatures, some Russian and American figures, a few English figures and a few German Heer figures but a multitude of German WSS figures. And Alpine is not the only one out there that have predominantly WSS figures. Sad fact for me as I don’t want to build a WSS subject.

    Like it or not but our hobby isn’t any different than other hobbies, there’s lot of fanboys out there and the majority of them like German subjects. I admit that I do like some German subjects, Pz.III, Pz.IV, Panther, Tiger I, Bf109, Me262, Fw190 and Do335. No suprises there at all but I prefer allied stuff. But I’ve got two tendencies and that is that if I can put my build in the North Africa/Italy theathre I do that and if I can make my build Italian or Brittish I do that as well. But I absolutely will not build anything Wittmann/Rudel!

    • Still a ways to wait probably for more Italian subjects, but at least Trumpeter/Hobby Boss is going to drop the first of its J-29 Tunnan kits soon!

  35. Matt,

    I have some issues with this on a few levels. First, these dissertations always come off as condescending and preachy, whether you intend them to be that way or not. They inevitably feel like some attempt to claim some non-existent moral high ground based on your choice of plastic models. And at the end of the day they’re just plastic models. If you choose to politicize them or ascribe some other attribute to them that’s your decision but some of us just build models for fun. So why I do build German subjects, really hard to define truthfully. More to the point though why should I be called out and have to explain my motivation for anything I build? What’s next, calling out 1/72 builders because the average 1/72 kit has less detail than larger scale offerings? What I build really has zero impact on you or anyone else. If you don’t find the subject interesting or feel it’s over done feel free to ignore it, that’s what guys do. Every day we’re faced with minor annoyances that really have no impact on us whatsoever, my coping mechanism is ignoring them, it’s worked pretty well for 51 years. So at the end of the day all you’ve really done is ruffle some feathers on one side and rallied some people to you on the other. Much like the 10,000 other times this topic has been discussed on modeling forums people will continue to build what interests them. If you’re expecting guys like me to have some sort of epiphany and engage in some sort of soul searching that leads us to the dumpster to dispose of our evil Nazi pieces of styrene I’m afraid you’ll very likely come away disappointed.

  36. I’ve been thinking about this post a lot since reading it this morning. I honestly wasn’t aware there was a strong bias towards german modelling subjects, but then l’ve only returned to the hobby in the last 2 years. Then it occurred to me that my fb profile pictures are all of german subjects, WTF is up with that?
    The r/c triplane was my first built-from-plans flying model, and l liked the way it turned out. The Ju87D is the second kit I completed since returning to the hobby and I entered it at the national convention this year in OOB, even though l knew it had an ice cube’s chance in hell of winning anything. Then there’s my latest profile pic that shows a DAK soldier next to a tin of Humbrol. This is special to me, not for the subject matter, but it was my first attempt to do a decent job painting a figure. I was 12 at the time (mid 70s)’ and had been blown away by the color insert included in the Monogram kit done by the late, great Shepard Paine. I have built my share of allied and axis as a youngster, never stopping to consider the political doctrines of the country of origin. I just built what looked cool! Now, however, l may need counciling.

    Seriously though, take a look at the pictures I took at a model show this past weekend. There are only a few german wwii models. I took pictures of what interested me for one reason or another, so perhaps there is hope for me yet.

  37. I think the two reasons that explain this are: 1) a fascination with the bad guys and 2) the aesthetics of the machines. These factors drive the market. The first theme is as old as the hills — if the Persians built models, they probably would have done figures of Spartan hoplites. I would not underestimate the second factor as well. The machines the Germans produced were just better looking and received more interesting paint. This in not true for every single machine — I find the later P-51’s to be very aesthetically pleasing — but on the whole it was. For example, when the US did come up with some interesting looking machines — P-38 and P-61 they tended to be painted in uninteresting ways — although the P-61 in black is cool. I think this reflected the trend of design philosophy in the two countries. After all contrast the US Model T Ford to german cars of the period…. I would not underestimate the aesthetic element. It is not just for 12-year olds! In any event, in war,
    I’d rather be boring and win; then flashy and lose.

  38. When all is said and done at the end of the day, it’s just a hobby. It will be okay people. You have your opinion, I have mine, just enjoy the builds learn about the person who built it and model on…

  39. I absolutely agree! Even on the “History Channel” AKA “American Heroes Channel” there is SO much Nazi this, and Nazi that. There is clearly a fascination with Nazi Germany out there. It needs to be put in it’s proper perspective, yes, however, I believe it has grown into something of an entity with its own heartbeat and can be a bit dangerous.
    Ever since I was a child, wondered why there were so many options to build a bf-109 of each variety, but so very few decent P-51B mustang kits out there? especially in 1/32 scale!

    Crawford Wilson

  40. Maybe it’s a fetish with the ‘bad guy’. Maybe it’s the ‘thug life’ fascination that’s rampant in our society. Gang banger, gun runner, Fuck The World guys will always sell. I never understood the obsession with mafia shit, but the sopranos, the godfather and dozens of others captured millions of viewers. Scarface has become a cult classic…ask anyone you know and they can probably quote at least one line. Sigmund Freud claimed that at its base, human thought was irrational. That was the basis for public marketing on corporations…people needed to be controlled and told what to buy and why. So, to ask why anyone builds Nazi subjects will result in only more questions. But I suggest one simple reason…our true fetish is with the bad guy.

  41. In the spirit of your ending the “attaboy” culture post from a while back, I will offer my critical observations on your latest post. I hope you take it in the spirit it is intended because I do enjoy your work, both on the bench and on the keyboard.

    I think you abandoned the objective high ground on this one. Bottom line up front: your post fell flat for me because 1) You make some assumptions and conclusions that are, from my perspective, invalid and 2) It seemed a little like you were stretching to find a topic that was controversial for controversy sake.

    I don’t build much German stuff. Not because I don’t like it, it’s just that there are other genres that I like better. Like Japanese for instance. I REALLY dig Japanese stuff, both armor and aircraft. I lived over there for years, speak the language, eat the food and even have to keep myself from driving on the left side of the road from time to time. Does that make me a devotee of Imperial Japan and of secretly condoning the Rape of Nanking? I don’t think so. I like the way the stuff looks, admire the technology (good and bad – Japanese armor was horrible!) and it puts my mind to an area of history that really interests me.

    To say that it is juvenile to model something because it looks cool (“I’d buy it from a 12-year-old kid…”) is way off base in my opinion. Of course we model stuff because it looks cool. Would you or I have built that awesome Tamiya Corsair just because it fit together well? Of course not. In the end we want our work to be visually appealing. You can’t tell me that a Studebaker truck (as cool as they are!) is nearly as cool looking as a Panther, which why there are oodles more kits of them.
    I could go on forever but my response would be as long as your original post. My point is that we choose modeling subjects for waaaay personal reasons. When you get to judging our motives, as weird as they may be, like you evaluate skill and technique you are moving into an area that is, as I stated above, way off the objective high ground (like panel lines).

    Which brings me to my second point. I agreed with most of your post but it just kind of left me flat and I couldn’t put my finger on why. In the end I think it was the topic itself more than your treatment of it. Like I said, I agree with you on most of what you wrote. People who model only one genre annoy just on principle, there are too many German subjects being kitted for my taste and I would prefer more kits of the stuff “I” like. But you really didn’t write about modeling as much as you wrote about modelers; their motives, tastes and proclivities. You seemed to go a lot of different ways with your thoughts and never really came to a solid conclusion. I blame that on your choice of topic more than on your writing ability which I know is solid. After seeing your (well deserved) pride in the success of some previous posts and how this one wasn’t up to your normal standards I wondered if maybe you were tackling this subject for controversy sake. Another thing that gave me this impression was that in the final paragraph, where I was hoping to read a conclusion of some sort, all you did was leave it open with an invitation for the responses to start pouring in. If that is what you were going for, starting an open forum discussion, I get it. But it left me kind of flat. I can find that on any one of a number of run of the mill forums out there. Only you can judge if I’m off base or have a point. I merely offer it as constructive criticism. Take it for what it’s worth.

    Please keep your posts coming though! Evaluating other people’s writing is a huge part of my job and its VERY refreshing to see someone who can stitch thoughts together coherently and be entertaining at the same time. Unfortunately it’s a talent too few have which you certainly do. Your builds aren’t too shabby either. You should tackle some Japanese armor!

  42. Ed. Note – While it’s the height of cleverness to recreate post in its entirety, only replacing German and Nazi with “War”, I’m editing it down to spare everyone even more scrolling. If you don’t like it, tough. –Doogs

    Fellow modelers, we need to have a talk. Because…what the actual fuck?

    What’s the deal with this hobby’s fascination with War crap?

    A 109 here, a Panther there, I get it. In moderation, War subjects can be a nutritious part of a well-balanced modeling diet. But I frequently see it going beyond interest to fascination and, yes, fetishization of the tools and weapons and personalities of War.

    Running the Numbers

    It’s not just modelers. Manufacturers can’t get enough of War subjects either – presumably because we buy the shit out of them. There’s an old saying in the tech industry that “nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM”. In modeling, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a similar saying about kitting war machines.

    Blah blah I think you get the idea – Ed.

    I can’t help but wonder if something similar is the case for War-philes. Why are 100% of the kits in your display cabinet war machines?

    Where do you stand?

    Well? Where do you stand? Does a too-enthusiastic interest in War stuff creep you out, too? Do you have a good rationalization for why you build war machine after war machine after war machine?

    • Oh shit, you got me! Can’t answer that one!

      Actually, I can. Because I’ve thought about it. I even had a section on this in my first draft, but removed it because of length.

      Here’s the TL;DR version.

      Humans are rubberneckers. We’re horrified and fascinated by really bad things. It has to be a primitive part of our brains to pay attention to destruction. Watch that grassfire, Grog, because it might turn our way next!

      War has that. And something else. As shitty and messy and terrible as it is, war acts as a pressure vessel on the human experience. Even just reading or listening from a safe remove, dig deep enough and you will encounter stories of such intense courage, or sacrifice, or compassion or cowardice or barbarism that they will stagger you. Jesus – just look at the Night Witches, the few defenders of Wake Island, the crews of Torpedo 8. There’s also the ridiculous – having to drape tarps over the tires of Mosquitos to keep fluid leaks from eating the tires, the fact that when the war ended, the Merchant Marine dumped hundreds – maybe thousands – of Shermans into the Pacific rather than bother bringing them home. War – whether it’s World War II or the First Punic War or the American Revolution or any of a massive number of other conflicts – is absolutely bursting with human experience. Bad and good and everywhere in between.

      As a student of history, that is what draws me to “war machines” in a way that I’m not drawn to cars or airliners or cargo ships.

  43. I agree with the idea that obsessing on a distasteful topic like the SS or concentration camps, etc..is a concern no matter the artistic medium. However I would like to offer a different point of view on the matter.

    Model building is an industry and as such what we’re seeing is a direct reflection of the market’s supply and demand. As a whole German subject matter out weighs the majority of any one individual country (some nice pie charts there). Why? Well, like the majority of people have eluded to here, they build what they like and most of the time that’s based on what they know and associate with. I for example am from Russia and grew up looking at Soviet equipment on TV & book. As such I have much more interest in building on the subject matter than for example an unheard of airplane prototype from WWII Japan. Where am I trying to go with this? Well the unique thing about WWI & II opposed to other conflicts in history is that there was a common enemy among all the nations – Germany.

    So even though even though I might not want to build Italian or Chinese WWII tanks, I might want to include a few tidbits from Germany because there is direct connection to it in my history (not getting hung up on whether its a good or bad connection). Everyone so far has guiltily or not admitted of having at least a few German pieces. I know I have an ME-109 sitting on my shelf next to my BTR & Mi24. So even though we prefer to build our own favorites we also all build German stuff. I think that is what weigh into the market share of the subject matter more heavily than a few people that only build German stuff. We have a proportional amount of people building things that represent them and a disproportionate build German. I think those few models we have add up to something big.

    • I do like your observation about us (modellers of many nations) having one common historic enemy. This certainly explains the prevalence and perhaps even the perceived popularity of German subjects.

  44. I absolutely goddamn refuse to build anything but Liechtensteinian anti-aircraft artillery mounts and Tasmanian sandbags. Is that a fetish? I would explain my personal choices more in depth, but I need to go out and buy another pair of fishnet stockings and a new gag ball.

    A thought provoking article Doogs. My POV is that the “bad guys”/losers are always more interesting. Example: galactic bad ass Darth Vader is far more interesting than whiney farm boy Luke Skywalker. But at the end of the day it’s just model building and do whatever you want. Keep up the good work Doogs.

  45. Slightly off the mark this one…WTF!

    The question should be re-phrased as ‘why do are we obsessed with making replicas of machines designed to kill’?

    Its not difficult to find the underlying aesthetic that drives the design/ form/ functionality for any participant nation of a conflict as iconic as WWII.

    Lets look at aircraft ( although we can do this with AFV’s and small arms or uniforms, aeroplanes are easier because they are pretty).

    The german preoccupation with functionality stems from the Bauhaus arts movement of the late 20’s. From chairs and desk fans to VW beetles and Porsche turrets, the Bauhaus school continues to be a major influence on modern design.
    The brutalist, angular form is evident in every aspect of German design of this era. (notice the lack of the word Nazi or National Socialism, these lot had little to do with influencing design and everything to do with bankrolling Willi, Kurt and Ferdinand’s death machine design factories that operated on an industrial scale).

    Also just to be clear, don’t forget the ‘I don’t build SS vehicles’ apologists, ALL the main industrialists in Nazi Germany employed slave labour from the death camps to produce those awesome Fw190’s, and Bf109’s. google Dora Mittelwerke. So there’s no escape for your troubled conscience there…

    British aircraft by comparison, follow a reserved, almost gentlemanly approach to the functionality of a war machine (See crap tanks such as the Crusader, Valentine and a plethora of useless aircraft such as the BP Defiant, Fairy Battle, etc from the 1930’s) These drew directly from an industry that was largely privately financed by wealthy individuals who had capitalised on WWI contracts ( T.O.M Sopwith, A.V Roe DeHavilland etc). Its not hard to see that these designs were squeezing the last drops out of outdated construction techniques and materials such as monocoque airframes with partial fabric covering.

    What of US design? I hear all you colonials say… well the P-51 and P-47 are prime examples of machines that depended on a huge investment in finance and manufacturing capacity to get off the ground. Money makes the war machine go-round.

    So what of this claimed ‘fetishism’ with Nazi war machinery?
    With a limited understanding of Marxism, we are probably looking at the ‘fetishism of commodity’ here, were something like the Fw190D-9 holds a higher power in our minds over something a little less brutal. Add to this the ‘propagandised’ moral righteousness of something carrying a star and bar or a roundel and we have all the classic symptom of the bad boy syndrome.
    A neat analogy is the ‘built in bastard radar’ that glamorous women seem to have for no-good lowlife partners. Mickey Rourke has made a living from this!
    I could go on with the Hollywood analogies ( Hugo Weaving in Cpt America? I’ve met Hugo and he’s a lovely guy).

    As for those fiendish Jerries…
    Well they did use colour better, were good at bolting bigger guns on to things and weren’t afraid of getting all upside your face with intercontinental jet bombers and rocket powered point defence things that you’d have to be clinically insane to get into (B36 or Ryan Pogo anyone?). So in terms of engineering design and machine aesthetic, the German machine has a subliminal pull because of its shape and form.
    It is also very difficult to find any post war military design that is not influenced or includes a direct use of their technological design ( much like the US Navy used medical data from exposure experiments carried out on concentration camp inmates). So if you like F-86’s you probably like Me262’s. The Illushin Beagle? not a million miles for its Arado forebear.

    It’s not about having Nazi sympathies (by default for making replicas of their stuff) or having some sneaking admiration for their policies ( you have to be a total fuck head to think like this, and unfortunately there’s one born every minute)…

    The bigger question should be why are you obsessed with machines designed to kill?

    Yes you, the one with the new kit of that MQ-1A drone, or the IAF Barak? Contemporary flying machines that are probably killing people as I type.

    Let me ask you a question? In twenty years time will you be making models of a Toyota hi-lux with one of those big f*ck-off russian guns bolted to it and an IS flag hanging off the back?

    No?
    Maybe…
    F*ck yeah, hi-lux rock in any shape or form! ( and something I bet Toyota don’t lose any sleep over either).

    Also… go out and look for the art work of Jake and Dinos Chapman.
    http://sweet-station.com/blog/2009/11/jake-dinos-chapman/
    (warning this is disturbing stuff and just might make you think about your models in a different light)

    • Effing brilliant example of critical thought boy-oh.

      And you gave me fair warning about the Jake and Dinos Chapman work but, damn man. I can’t unsee that crap.

  46. An interesting discussion this – very thought provoking.

    I personally don’t build Luftwaffe aircraft, or Japanese for that matter – or at least not until the past few weeks when I bought a 109 for a ‘Dogfight dio’.

    I’m not sure why this would be – when I was a kid I didn’t either – perhaps it was my childhood of old war movies, commando comics and my great grandfathers war stories – these guys will always be the ‘enemy’ to me in the context of WWII. This is why I’ve always built RAF/FAA aircraft with the odd US one thrown in.

    As an adult with an interest in military history I know it’s not that black and white however – but I still don’t feel comfortable building them. Perhaps I should build a few to add a bit of historical balance to my built shelf.

    Cheers

    Stuart…

    …oh BTW, I don’t by the ‘verity of colour schemes’ argument – RAF fighters were painted in at least 7 standard schemes throughout the war, and that’s before you add Bomber and Coastal Commands into the mix, and the FAA!

  47. I think (in the US especially if I look a Discovery or the History channel) a tendency to overestimate the possibility of Germany to win WWII. Maybe by making the conquered opponent bigger and stronger the own achievement looks better. I think the “we beat these guys” fasination is added to the appeal of German subjects.

  48. I pretty much disagree with almost everything you wrote on this topic. However, on a more positive note I enjoyed your piece in Ammo of MiG’s “1945″ issue of “The Weathering Magazine” (the one with a picture of Hitler on the cover) called “Defending The Reich” which focused on your exquisite Bf 109G-10/U4/R2 “Black 12”. I especially enjoyed the opening line of the article: “In the closing months of the war, air defense over the Reich has become a deadly occupation of air survival for the pilots of the Luftwaffe. From the west, allied bombers pound German cities and industry day and night, while from the east the Russian Air Force enjoys superiority over the battlefields as the Red Army pushes ever closer to Berlin”. Just reading that, and seeing your superb work in that article, makes me want to go out and buy one of these kits.

    Also, related to a previous thought-piece you wrote recently, you mentioned how you need to start judging at shows in the future. I really hope your bias against German “fetishists” does not follow you to the show that I happen to have my German subjects on display. Should we start asking questions like you are asking here about “fetishism” to every potential contestant at future shows? Let’s throw in politics and what one person thinks it right or wrong for the rest of us to deal with. Great idea.

    I think if you had asked the question (which is a very valid question as there are many, many WWII German subjects out there) without the foul language and without dismissing right off the bat (with additional foul language) the reasons why people build German WWII subjects you would get more tempered and rational responses, which would make this a very interesting topic indeed. But hey, it’s your blog, and the InterWebs is a free place (at least for now), and I am free to read what I choose and you are free to write what you choose. I recognize and respect that.

    Now, I’ve got a Jagdtiger I’ve been meaning to get to…need to go get ‘er done!

    • Wow. Excellent points which I had not considered. I freely admit that I have an ingrained bias against German subjects at contests, not because they are ‘bad’, but just because they are so prolific. Somehow I seem to be unconsciously drawn to out of the ordinary subjects when I’m wearing my judges hat. That being said, I think I’ve been successful at putting that bias aside when I look at a kit critically. All builds need to be equal until you find an less than successful filled seam or misaligned landing gear.

  49. I think it’s rather funny that I, as a German, and also the German modelers in the community that I’m in, rarely build any German subjects. We mostly build post WWII US aircraft. Of course almost everybody has a Bf109 in his collection, just like the obligatory Mustang or Spitfire, but other than that German subjects are more of an exception.
    However I wouldn’t call it a fetish or anything when somebody mostly builds Nazi-German aircraft or tanks. I’d say that people mostly build models that they think look cool, and it seems German aircraft do look cool for most people. I think US Navy CAG aircraft look exceptionally good, so I build them all the time.
    However, I do see your point. I’m quite annoyed when I see yet another release table of manufacturers and most of the items are german WWII aircraft.

    • I’ve already asked myself that (and had it in the first draft, and pulled it for length, and answered it elsewhere in comments). The TL;DR version:

      Humans are rubberneckers. We’re horrified and fascinated by really bad things. It has to be a primitive part of our brains to pay attention to destruction. Watch that grassfire, Grog, because it might turn our way next!

      War has that. And something else. As shitty and messy and terrible as it is, war acts as a pressure vessel on the human experience. Even just reading or listening from a safe remove, dig deep enough and you will encounter stories of such intense courage, or sacrifice, or compassion or cowardice or barbarism that they will stagger you. Jesus – just look at the Night Witches, the few defenders of Wake Island, the crews of Torpedo 8. There’s also the ridiculous – having to drape tarps over the tires of Mosquitos to keep fluid leaks from eating the tires, the fact that when the war ended, the Merchant Marine dumped hundreds – maybe thousands – of Shermans into the Pacific rather than bother bringing them home. War – whether it’s World War II or the First Punic War or the American Revolution or any of a massive number of other conflicts – is absolutely bursting with human experience. Bad and good and everywhere in between.

      As a student of history, that is what draws me to “war machines” in a way that I’m not drawn to cars or airliners or cargo ships.

  50. Love your posts, Doogs, and your techniques.

    Pardon if this is a duplicate post–browser trouble.

    1. I’m 54 and I build the subjects I think look cool. Because it’s fun. Why would I do otherwise? Why would a car nut restore a car he doesn’t think LOOKS COOL?

    2. I don’t buy into the whole “you are your choices”, “the personal is the political” Marxist bullshit. The Internet has given those who want to control others’ behavior through social pressure, an infinite machine for doing so. And they use it to often great and tragic affect, on people who don’t deserve it. Screw them.

    3. I like 109s because they look cool. I fully understand their attachment to one of the two most evil regimes in history. I also like the Su-15, because it looks cool. It was used by the OTHER most evil regime in history. They are part of my personal, pointless, insignificant HOBBY, not part of my morality, my politics, or my behavior.

    Do you follow the law? Support your family? Are you polite, humane, compassionate toward others? Refrain from thievery and violence? Then for fucks sake BUILD WHATEVER FUCKING MODEL YOU WANT.

    • I can’t agree more, Patrick.

      Many regimes committed atrocities. Do you like French tanks or planes. Oh, hey, France did try to suppress independence movements in their colonies using most vile methods. So did Britain. So did US. Not as many victims as Nazi regime you say? Let’s ban all Soviet modelling subjects then because their purges count tens of millions of civilian deaths. Let’s go even further and ban both Japanese subjects AND products because of Nanking massacre and other evil deeds.

      How do you like your modelling choices shrinking into.. NOTHING?

  51. First Off – love your blog. Agree with what you said here. I stopped for 3-4 years ago with modeling and starting to get into it again. I did small scale 1/43 race cars for a while and never wanted to build a Ferrari kit, but I ended up with way to many Ferrari kits in my closet – actually way to many kits in general. Sold most of the stuff by now.

    So why did I buy all those Ferrari kits? They were the best kits out there. If a manufacturer expects a better chance for profit he will invest more and make better kits. If a customer expects a better kit for his money he will buy more.

    The odd stuff (not saying an F-11 Tiger is odd) only attracts so many people, so investment will be lower, the kit less perfect and hence less people will buy the kit. IMHO – a vicious cycle.

    And in 1/43rd all runs are in the low numbers to begin with and therefore resin or white metal is the material of choice.

    Continue writing and share your knowledge

  52. Pingback: Respuesta a la columna de Doog’s Models: maquetismo y el ‘enemigo’ | Adrian Leguina Ruzzi

  53. Hi Mr D / all

    Have read this thread with extreme interest as this has been a topic front of my mind while visiting various modelling websites over the past few years.

    For myself, the dividing lines are numbers of builds and – in particular – dioramas of WW2 German / Nazi subjects.

    To clarify:

    Some modellers are literally obsessive with only these particular subjects. To me that sometimes speaks to an interest that crosses the line.

    Where things tip over into the land of ‘really unpleasant’ can be dioramas. Particularly here, I’m thinking ground-based vehicle / armour subjects.

    For several years, since regaining my interest in modelling, I’ve visited various sites where the quality of builds can lead to a better understanding of skills and techniques. Although, admittedly, I only apply those skills to my own particular interest: scifi vehicle modelling.

    One site that I regularly visit is the Constructive Comments forum of Missing-Lynx.com. The skill of some of the work on display here is truly epic and I applaud that skill without reservation. Obviously there are many other such sites that I could mention, this is the one that I visit the most / am most familiar with and it’s the one that stands out for me as a good example/bad example of the kind of thing that I’m about to talk about.

    On an average day, an approx 70%+ of builds featured are WW2 German. Many of these are diorama-based.

    Where some modellers at this site – and others – cross a line of subjective taste can be in the area of diorama subjects. One strand that stands out to me as honestly repellent is the ‘Nazi armour successfully occupying a quaint Russian village, early in Eastern Front campaigns’ variant. Seeing Wehrmacht or – somewhat worse still – SS troops or tankers, laughing or resting in beautifully re-created settings of village life, frankly, turns my stomach. This is obviously subject to the historical reality of the cost of this campaign and others.

    I cannot fault the skill and care with which such models and vignettes are created, but the thought that powered the endeavour appalls me. Oftentimes, such posts of finished work can include written information about the particular unit, their actions to this point, their losses etc. Again, personally, the depth of examination of the subject crosses a line from interest into something unhealthily approaching obsession and comes close to this threads’s question of ‘festishization’.

    The difficulty with the discussion of these subjects within these communities is that observation of the types made here are actively dissuaded within a forum. The normal defence is ‘portraying historic subjects’ or ‘seeking to understand and remember’. After viewing such sites for a number of years, my personal belief is somewhat different…

    Some modellers have – I believe – lost perspective. Their interest in these type of subjects is so great – and supported by so many like-minded others – that they are incapable of doing otherwise in this hobby.

    That’s obviously a hard-edged statement. But, in honesty, to find a thread like this that dares broach the subject, is so rare that I feel it important to chip in a bit.

    Like anything in life, the are degrees of correctness. Freedom of speech is a fundamental. And I feel sadly it is this that is excluded in raising issues of taste over these subjects.

    One final – but associated – irony in this discussion, if the representation of the consequences of violence in modelling military subjects.

    Somehow, there seems to have been an unwritten set of rules created some years hence that realistic depictions of combat are unacceptable. As adults, we all know what the realities of the battlefield may look like – even if many of us have not experienced first-hand – but divorcing action from consequence creates an unreal table for discussion.

    There are probably those modellers with display shelves of WW2 German armour (as it is the nation / period highlighted here), either standalone or in vignettes, of the type described earlier: pastoral or non-combat settings. A vanishingly tiny percentage will ever attempt to truly act as art replicating life and show how those people and vehicles affected – and were effected – by war.

    I don’t believe that discussions of this type are negative or nihilistic. They should serve as a reminder to all to reconsider their approach and values that they attach to a subject.

    Nazi-era military representations have too long gone unchallenged in the modern resurgence of modelling. The expression is that “it’s just a model” creates a norm that needs balance. Unfortunately I don’t imagine for one second that that balance can be achieved, as the ‘fetish’ runs too deep.

    That’s my two pen’nath…

    Next: politics! 😱🔫

  54. I think the reason behind the surplus of German subjects is because of the amount of variations one model produces compared to the research a company has to put to design a new kit. Take the example of Eduard and their FW-190 family, how many sprues in common these kits have? But have you seen the decal selection? I personally can’t just build one. How about Dragon’s Panzer IV? Seems like one comes out every month, but is it enough to have a panzer grey vehicle or how about a desert or 3 color camouflage. Though choices. I personally believe as adults we can see the difference between right or wrong, but we admire designs, regardless of where they come from. One can admire the sleek fast lines of a mustang, clean lines of a Zero, the utilitarian cold look of a Bf-109, the wings of a Spitfire or the simplicity of a Yak-1. No affiliation to any nationality nor party, simply admiration for a well executed design. We all committed atrocities during the war, and while history is always written by the winners we learn forgive the losers and move on. If this wasn’t the case why German car manufacturers are top in the industry? And while swastikas may mean wrong, our job as modelers is to recreate a part of history, try to be as accurate as possible and have fun. Build something that will push you to learn new techniques and be more accurate regardless if its axis or allied. I believe in the modeling world people will comment in your techniques more than your country affiliation.

  55. I am one of the evil and despicable Shallow Ones. There are many subjects that i like JUST for the looks and for the looks alone. If someone thinks that liking particular tank (or plane, or ship) for it’s looks is shallow. Well, i guess that person is well versed in being shallow himself to judge me. And that is HIS/HER problem not mine.

  56. Pingback: Why do I build? |

  57. Oy gevalt, ze evil Nazis. Oy vey, it’s like another shoah!
    There’s nothing wrong with building German armor.
    You, as an American should know what is the fist amendment.

    • So I’m just going to assume you mean the First Amendment and by extension assume you specifically mean the freedom of speech aspect, and not the right of the people to peaceably assemble or petition the government for a redress of grievances.

      The freedom of speech is pretty cool. It gives us Americans the right to say pretty much whatever we want (with a very few exceptions like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater). It also extends to art, as the Supreme Court ruled a long time ago that expression = speech. It even, in an interesting pretzel of logic, extends to campaign finance, as the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that money, too, equals speech. How this doesn’t undermine the foundations of democracy is beyond me, but hey that’s a side topic, right?

      Okay. So by way of the First Amendment, I can say whatever I want on this here blog. It also means people can build a model of anything they want. And it means that both of those things can also be spoken upon by others. The First Amendment grants the freedom of speech – but the thing is it grants it to EVERYONE. So it’s very much not a freedom from the opinions of others or the consequences of what you say (or build or paint or…).

  58. Sort of agree with you for once, having written a piece on this topic on my blog in 2013. One point not to be forgotten – German industrial prowess during the war years owes much to the massive deployment of foreign and slave labour in appalling conditions -between 1942 and 1944 over 650,000 Frenchmen alone went to work in German factories. Despite this however many German servicemen, pilots and tank crews were completely apolitical- some brave souls even removed the Hakenkreuze from their aircraft. Certainly all Germans were not Nazis and many had deep misgivings about the regime. Possibly none of the leading Luftwaffe aces such as Hartmann and Galland were Nazis either – after all men such as these were instrumental in re-launching the Bundesluftwaffe in the 1950s as a bulwark against Soviet Communism. Nor can you deny the place of some German aircraft types in history; 33,000 examples of the Bf 109 constructed makes it an important type whoever deployed it. As a modeller what I try not to do is portray Spitfires and P-51s with swastikas on them (captured examples); that does appear to me to be purely gratuitous.
    http://falkeeinsmodel.blogspot.co.uk/

  59. I think the conclusions you draw from some very basic facts Doogs are misguided at best.
    Let’s look at your stat of 28% German aircraft kits vs 25% from the US.
    There are more American aircraft as opposed to sub models and variants of kits available compared to German.
    How so.
    Let’s look at the 109.
    There are many sub models of the 109 tooled from the C to theK with numerous sub variants in between. C,D,E,F,G,K etc G1,G2,G4,G5,G6,G6AS, ect etc
    One aircraft with at least 20-30 possible kits coming from one base model aircraft.
    Compare that to the Mustang.
    B,C,D Filleted and unfilited.
    Say 4 as a base expanding to maybe 6 or 7 and it’s fully covered.
    The Allies won because of mass production of minimal model variation.
    One of the reasons the Germans lost was to many sub models and far to many variants.
    Given almost every sub variant of 190 has been tooled and 109..and Panther…and Tiger is it any wonder there are more German kits.
    It’s quite simple that the huge variety is not that huge just a multitude of sub variants.
    How many single engine German fighters have been tooled the Bf-109, FW-190,two.
    How many from the US, P39,P40,P47,P51, Buffalo,wildcat,corsair,hellcat, etc.
    How do you figure there is a huge imbalance in favour of Germany?
    With armor and the Russians it’s the same..how many Russian tanks where produced in number.
    You take overall kits and draw a conclusion that kits which offer minor part changes of one sprue equate to an entirely different aircraft model hence there are far more German aircraft produced in plastic.
    It just doesn’t pan out there are far more individual,aircraft types available with stars on the wings than any that have crosses.
    Drawing a conclusion that German subjects are far more popular because there are numerous manufacturers getting maximum tooling value from 109 tooling with one or two extra parts that’s not available to a P-51 manufacturer who after 6 boxes have exhausted all options is a bit much.

  60. I feel the same way about all the Allied stuff I see BUILT. I would say that it’s like building stuff that’s in our own back yard. I worked at a Chevrolet dealer for almost two decades and I chose a 5.0 Mustang LX as my personal ride of choice. I got a lot of crap from the die hard Chevy guys for it too because it was viewed as “the enemy” but I didn’t give a shit. The lines on the Stang looked better than GM’s offerings to me and I kicked some serious ass with that car back then.
    I think what you see as fetishizing the enemy is more likely the interest in something you can’t or don’t see all the time in real life. I can literally get in my vehicle right now and drive appr 15 minutes and put my hands on some WWII USN planes but can’t do that for an Fw190 or a 109 (and I don’t count the Hispano version either. To me that’s just an abortion) which happens to be what I like the most. I guess there’s just a curiosity that’s there for the “other side”. My son likes the Star Wars Imperial war machines over the Republic ones. Whatever the reason is, in the end it’s whatever sells…….leave it or love it.

  61. Fascinating reading. I have to say that I’ve built my share of German stuff and thy’re represented (proportionately) in my stash. But I do like to put them in context. For instance, my Hasegawa 1/32 Bf-109G-6 is going to be in British markings, while my 1/35 Jagdtiger is going to be surrendering to the Americans, and my 1/72 Sd.Kfz. 7/2 I’m currently working on is a derelict in eastern Europe.

    What I find disconcerting (this is an armour and figure thing) is the fixation on the Waffen-SS as the “cool” and “elite” guys. I’ve talked with a number of modellers (and re-enactors – that’s a whole different conversation) who justify their fixation with the Waffen-SS by saying “they were the best,” “they had the most advanced equipment and coolest uniforms,” “they were soldiers just like everybody else” and “they didn’t commit atrocities – that was the other guys” or “well, everybody did bad things in the war.” This kind of moral relativism with regard to the Nazis (as opposed to the Germans, but I know that on one level they were all fighting to preserve a fundamentally evil regime) really bothers me. There were a lot of Germans (Rudel was mentioned, and Michael Wittman was also a dedicated Nazi) who were all for the ideals of the Nazi Party, even if they could claim that they didn’t know about the Holocaust. It wasn’t contained to the Allgemeine-SS and the Gestapo, as much as the apologists might contend.

    So I’ll keep building at least some German stuff, both because some of them look cool (having been inside a King Tiger several years ago, one can’t help but be impressed by that monster – likewise for having seen an Me-262 in flight) and because of their historical significance. But I’m building lots of Allied and postwar (even sci-fi) subjects to balance things out.

    Cheers,

    Scott

  62. I don’t mind building the odd German ship as that’s what I build, ships, but there are some that for personal reasons I won’t touch. Bismarck springs to mind it was just something far to associated with Nazi Germany the same goes for Tirpitz. But I know some people who never build anything but German ships and will practically punch you out if you don’t agree that Bismarck was the end all be all in ships. I find the whole attitude around German planes, armor and ships from that period distasteful and a little frightening

  63. I read the entire article and agree with all of those that have said that this is such a thought provocative and interesting topic. Like so many others I can not fathom why when I flip through a modeling magazine, scroll through a website, or even go to my local LHS (King’s Hobbies, Austin TX!) there are so many German subjects.

    I have 2 uncles and my father that are avid modelers. Out of those 3 only 1 builds German stuff and it’s solely aircraft. For years he amassed a multitude of kits before beginning building (he waited until retirement) so much that it filled his bedroom closet. And 90% of them were ALL German. When I was a kid I asked him why, and he replied with because there are so many variations. I kinda understand that as the paint schemes can be so different. However that is where my understanding stops. People have told me that it’s the little things, a canopy, a gun, whatever the case may be that they build multiple kits that are practically EXACTLY the same aircraft but for maybe 1 or 2 differences that would HAVE to be pointed out to the casual observer. That’s going a little too far in my book.

    Now where my biggest issue with all of this is actually the German Armor subjects. Not because there are so many of them, but because builders are way too obsessive over them. Almost every time I see an military diorama of WWII it’s something German. It’s damn near always something German. The manufacturers pump out German shit after German shit and like Doog, I find it disturbing. The Germans where the fucking enemy! Where they people too? Of course they were, but the were the damn enemy. The amount of detail and level of expertise that goes into these dioramas, while fascinating, is so fucking disturbing because for one to do it, they have had to do extensive research. Which brings me to my next point.

    I do not know about the rest of the modeling world, but I would gather that like me they do an avid amount of research when going into building a subject no matter what it may be. I for one find this where I get the most enjoyment from modeling as I LOVE history, especially military history. I find so much joy in purchasing a new book that has pictures, information, or even stories about the aircraft I like to build. And like I said before, that is probably the case with most other modelers as well. If the book publishing community is any indication of it as there a plethora of German subjects to read about, people like this shit. But like Doog asked, the question is WHY??? Getting such an “accurate” representation of a German Soldier in the middle of Bastogne in 1944 requires extensive research as it could be deemed wrong and subjected to immediate scrutinization within that community. Seeing lavish dioramas of German mechanized infantry assaulting objectives, whether it actually happened or is just an imaginary “what if”, bugs the living shit outta me because again, these fucking assholes where the enemy!

    Enough of my little rant. The last little tidbit’s that I will leave on here is this. 1) Doog I understand all as I have said before, however I think you should have stated something like, the Luftwaffe instead of “Nazis.” Commentors would probably been more open to comment than criticism if so. 2) This is Doog’s blog, so who the fuck are any of you to give him the loads of crap that ya’ll have? 3) I currently serve in the US Army as a Scout. I am a ground pounder. I served twice in Iraq during the harshest of times. I have several times thought about possibly building dioramas of my experiences and vehicles while over in the sandbox. However just to add some relation to what I have previously stated, never in my right mind would I ever build something that belong to my fucking enemy. Fuck those guys. Patton out.

  64. No….I can’t leave it alone. You know I spent a total of 14 years in the Army with 8 years as a crewchief and 6 years in field artillery as a mechanic. As far as the enemy goes I’m just as red-blooded patriotic American as the next guy with no love for the “enemy” either. As far as the “current ” enemy I’m right there with you Zach. I’d just as soon put a bullet in the forehead of the current enemy (pertaining to ISIS and any extremist terror group) as look at ’em and I’d probably sleep a lot better at night with a smile on my face every night knowing I did it. As far as the Germans go……….that war is over and long gone. Personally I can see an interest in the war machine and not the motive behind it. As far as I’m concerned I think the war machines were pretty dang kick ass for its day which is why I build almost exclusively Luftwaffe stuff. I’ve read the book “A Higher Call” and it’s amazing. Just a glimpse into the fact that a lot of these guys knew they were following a madman but were defending their motherland. If an American pilot/ crew and a German fighter pilot can drop the war and decades later become best friends, then we can put it behind us too. I love history and this is part of history too man. German stuff sells because people obviously like it. I’m off the soap box now. Thanks for your service , Joe

  65. Here’s my take. I feel the same way about building German WW2 stuff as I feel about building a Vietnam-era F-4. My thought goes something like, “Oh baby, these evil aggressor nations have the best-looking shit.”

    I enjoy the bad guys in modelling. I like building their materiel. This includes a Syrian Su-22, a Libyan Mig-25, an Israeli Sufa, and even an American Predator drone. All four of those items were fielded by regimes I find morally revolting, unjustifiable, and which I generally “the bad guy,” though that label can depend on who they’re fighting at the time. But I love the MiG-21’s shock cone. I adore every appalling aspect, aesthetic, moral, and historical, of the B-52. Then again, I would also shake the US President’s hand if I met him, even though in my (and many people’s view) he is definitely, inarguably, a cold-blooded murderer. Hell, I’m building a model of his murder weapon!

    Perhaps I’m a sick man for being into all these evil model kits. More likely, though, my politics are not expressed through my scale model building. To me the most striking thing about your post is that while being 100% political in content, it acknowledges neither that fact, nor the manifest reality that your own politics are not universal. Believe it or not, for most people outside of America, a B-2 is every bit as morally abhorrent–if not more so–than a Bf-109 with a swastika on its tail. The 109 is a relic of a defeated menace. The B-2 casts a present, ongoing pall over the globe, and its masters kill civilians around the globe on a daily basis (though not often with the B-2 these days, I don’t think).

    For me, the Bf-109 is more interesting to build–way more variants, and don’t get me started on paint schemes! US skunkworks stuff sure is a bummer for modelers when it comes to painting.

  66. Pingback: Where Are All the Japanese Builds? – Jim's Models

  67. I’m from germany and i only build german ww2 tanks and planes because i’m proud of german engineering. If you belive the history of the victors, then i understand that you are saying the germans and hitler were bad. I know the real history and i know that germany not startet the ww2. Please take some time and research the true history! In the WWW is enough stuff to watch and read, there you will find the truth if you want. PS.: History is written by the victors. 😉

  68. I’m 45 and and enjoy modeling german aircraft just because of the cool cammo schemes they had. Color me shallow, or 12 years old at heart as your article states. Either way, I couldn’t care less. Now, I don’t consider myself as a fetish builder, as only 3 of my 8 builds are german subjects. I do have a slight fetish for a D stang though. I enjoy your blog for the most part Matt, you have some incredible builds under your belt as well. Keep up the excellent work. See you around the SMCG.

    • Nothing wrong with German subjects – IMO – as part of a larger modeling diet. A big part of what motivates people in this hobby is a love of history, and history involves the good, the bad, and the ugly.

      It’s when it’s all German, all the time that my eyebrows lift.

      That – and the huge over-representation in overall subject mix.

  69. I don’t build WWII, but color me guilty about the WWI aircraft. I prefer the German planes in both structural aesthetics and especially in the bizarre schemes they used (including the very neat-looking lozenge camo). When I do build a French or British plane, I look for the crazy ones.

    I don’t build for war aggrandizement. It really is just looks. I like interwar civilian aircraft too. In this sense, the looks-cool-as-superficial point feels weak or even irrelevant to me. A nice landscape painting or portrait or French cathedral doesn’t have to “say” anything, and a Bach 2-part invention or a prelude by Debussy can be beautiful or evocative and not particularly emotion inducing, but far from dumb. Art and aesthetics can be unapologetically about beauty for beauty’s sake.

    If I were a WWII builder, one of the simple things that would attract me to German aircraft is the spirals on the nose cones. There’s no intellectual component; no need even for caring (or indeed knowing) about the history. I also like the fascii symbol on the Italian planes, though I’m no fascist. I have a low historical interest in ships, but my biggest modelling pipe dream is to do a plank-on-frame brigantine. Superficial? Childish? Not sure. I’m also not sure what needs to be deep or adult here though.

    What’s funny is that I agree with the basic premise. I often shake my head at the WWII German fetish so clearly evident in models, paints, books, and magazines.

  70. Why ? Because Germans had better looking stuff, better designed/performing stuff, they were courageous and they were right.

  71. Bars seriously? You honestly think Hitler was right? That 6 million dead Jews was the right thing to do?

    What in the actual fuck does that have to do with the current immigration issues in Europe? Did the EU F up on this situation? Yeah sure did. Does that justify murdering millions who don’t look like you? Uh…no.

    Im as conservative as they come but GTFO of here with that the Nazis were right bullshit. Secure borders is a much different thing than rounding people up and gassing them.

  72. OY VEY muh 6 gorillion! Never forget, goym.
    You do know that there has been numerous genocides but everyone only talks about the shoah. I don’t care, to be frank. My people have been sent to Siberia by the Russians but nobody cares about that because Russians were the victors. Funny how that works huh?

    • Spare me. Yes, there have been plenty of genocides throughout history. Yes, the Soviet Union did some REALLY TERRIBLE THINGS. Plenty of people care, plenty of people cared at the time, BUT the Russians were victors, had a huge army, and before long had atomic weapons. Makes it much harder to bring them to account.

      And none of that excuses the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis.

      And none of it comes anywhere close to answering the question of what it has to do with current issues in Europe.

    • But nobody did it the way Hitler did it, nobody built death factories and killed people without a single political reason. Nobody was as consequent as Hitler with the racial ideology.
      Yes your right, other crimes have been committed but nothing is comparable to the way and efficiency Hitler murdered millions of people, not only jews…

  73. Er……..I think you may find it was us, the British, who invented the concentration camp.
    Uncomfortable thing at times, history.

    • I know the Brits love to take credit for everything, but you can trace the history back further to the US removal of the Indians from the east coast. Or to Andersonville during the Civil War (though that was a POW camp). In the closing years of the 19th century, Spain used concentration camps in Cuba (and that’s probably where the name came from, Reconcentrado).

      And it was absolutely the Germans who elevated concentration camps from simple prisons to outright death camps.

  74. Whoa! I’m sad to see right wing politics invading a modelling blog. It’s a long way from a discussion of the possible over-representation of one class of models in the catalogues to justifying the murder of over six million people. Bars, whoever you are, go and troll some other site, please. You are of course one sick fuck. And Stalin was a sick fuck, just like Hitler.

    And Bars, if ‘your people’ were sent to Siberia I would have thought you could not possibly justify the persecution of one segment of society on the basis of religion or belief in any way. And Bars, stop reading Breitbart. Europe is not descending into chaos just yet.

    And Bars….oh, just fuck off. Please.

      • Hi Tim,

        I’m don’t think I am ‘taking a blanket shot at people who are on the right’. I apologise for the intemperate language but ‘Bars’ comments are concerning. If your views are more than three standard deviations from societal norms – either left or right – then they need to be challenged. I don’t think I managed the challenge well, but remember too well the members of my family who died or suffered fighting Nazism. Anyone who condones mass murder is outside the norms that we base our society on.

        I really don’t think that your ‘average every day conservative’ in the states believes that Hitler was right to murder six million men, women and children. At least I hope not, because this is not compatible with civilised society.

        I’m sorry to see the polarisation of society being translated into the modellers forum: I enjoy Doog’s posts and thought this one has, by and large, produced a stimulating and polite conversation. I continue to maintain that Bars should take his (or her) opinions, which he (or she) has the right to expound and express them in a more appropriate forum.

        And just for the record, I don’t think everyone who models German armour is evil! Nor do I preclude building one myself in the future (and I currently build Italian armour, despite it being the tool of a right wing fascist dictator). But I do not advocate murdering people because they do not have my beliefs!

        Case closed.

  75. Oh I agree. Most of us live in the center left or center right world. Bars is a damn fool if he thinks Hitler was right. Final thought, extremism on any front, left, right, religion, crayons…is a bad thing.

    🙂 Pleasure talking with ya.

  76. I only collect and build ww2 German armor, planes, troops, and field guns. I do so believing that if we the United States would have allied with the National Socialists we could have smashed the Bolsheviks in Russia and in the United States particularly in Hollywood and New York.

    • Wow. The ignorance and stupidity in this statement is mind blowing and at the same time an insult to the memory of the millions who died fighting the Axis powers of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Fascist Japan. You dishonour my father who fought, was injured and decorated multiple times for services rendered bringing an end to a sick ideology (Nazism) that sought the destruction of freedom, democracy and the right to free speech and to life. That you are allowed to spew your hateful views is a testament to the quality of freedom and free speech you so clearly abhor and deny the legitimacy of. But be under no illusion that free speech also allows me to tell you that you are a vile and worthless human being, whose opinions are flatulent and of no intellectual value.

  77. I think the reason behind so many nazi-german kits is simply because there is no one to ask for permission to make those, there are no copyrights on the brands like Messerschmitt, Tiger, etc. And everyone builds them, as a just a 109 to add to their collection, or as a destroyed Tiger in diorama, or just to see how well model company did at that new Focke Wulf kit.
    So as I see it – it’s just a marketing. And I don’t think anyone’s a pro-nazi if they build German WWII themed kits more than others unless they start openly propagandizing nazi ideas.

  78. I doubt your average Modeller with a leaning towards german armor really speaks to their ideology. I would bet most people if asked on the fly, why they have more german stuff than allied subjects, would really have to think about it for a minute to come up with an answer. That’s your first indication that it’s looks and not ideology driving their choice of subject. I might be considered one of those “fan boys” because I watch a crap ton of ww2 documentaries of the European theater and am very interested in what happened with the Germans politics and ideology between ww1 and 1945. I didn’t take this interest until I became an infantryman and participated in war. My deep interest in this segment of history is driven by a never ending attempt to understand how an entire generation of men my age were not afraid by being asked to take an oath to a politician instead of their country. How a whole country could be cool with a leader who had done prison time for trying to overthrow the country and wrote a book fully explaining his anti Semitic views and contempt for the people of entire regions of Europe. How could normal people be convinced and manipulated to the point that they were willing to inform on people who may have been their neighbors for many years, fully knowing they were going to be dragged from their home, have all their possessions stolen and be deported from the country for ” resettlement ” in the east. How and why drive my interest. People with my same middle class upbringing, with good parents who went to school and probably liked fishing and hanging with their friends just like I do could be convinced to take shifts shooting 30,000 men women and children over a 3 day span and head to the next town like nothing happened just to do it all over again the next day. It’s baffling. I’m surely not a fan third Reich but I totally understand the overall interest in the subject and don’t believe it necessarily says anything bad about a modeler though a house full of swastikas and nazi memorabilia is very creepy and strange.

  79. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU
    I come from mostly the Gundam/Gunpla world, but lately I’ve had a severe fascination with half-tracked vehicles and delivery/workhorse trucks. In my search for the perfect test kit, I’ve come to realize (and somewhat disdain) the overwhelming amount of German/Luftwaffe/Nazi-themed stuff in Scale modeling.
    Being that I’m looking for a test kit to get into the world of vehicle modeling/weathering, I’m inclined to just grab that sweet looking German Pak38 50mm on a half-track and just adjust paint schemes; but the Historical sin feels too great for me. I don’t wish to change paint schemes, I just wish for more variety and perhaps a little more transparency into the WHY’s of this Nazi fetishisation.
    (Considering I’m posting this 2 years to your posting, and the current state of America’s political culture… it’s all the more painfully apparent that something is wrong here.)

  80. Firstly, I really dig your website man – Very refreshing and I certainly share a lot of your views on modelling techniques, manufacturers, and culture…

    That said the overwhelming majority of my collection is German WWII so I thought that maybe I should chime in.

    I’ve certainly asked myself the question of why German WWII in the past, as to be frank I didn’t make an overt conscious decision to recreate the Third Reich in miniature when I started building 1/35 scale models 35 years ago. It just seemed to happen that way and I can assure you that I’m no nazi sympathiser.

    The cop out answer would be to say that my collection ended up being primarily WWII German by default due to the various manufacturers’ focus on that particular genre. And by cutting my teeth on the Tamiya 1/35 Military Minatures kits my interest in WWII German armour developed as some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy as all of the ‘cool’ kits fit in this genre. But that doesn’t really explain why most of my collection comprises of German WWII kits so many years later.

    So, what do I attribute this oft suggested as “perverse” interest in German WWII to? I would say the ‘dinosaur’ factor.

    My take is that the intrigue is sparked by the mystique of the extinct regimes and its machinery. Not some sort of unhealthy admiration or longing for the recreation of this mystique in full swing, but an interest in the challenge of piecing together the fragments of a partially destroyed history to recreate the hardware as it probably(?) was at an isolated moment in time.

    For me the mix of research, interpretation, detective work and practical application required to accurately recreate German WWII stuff is the ultimate model making experience. Unfortunately it’s coupled with a very sinister history, so I genuinely do empathise with both sides of the equation.

    Alex

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