Topics tend to come back around in the modeling community. And for the past month or so, it seems like the crosshairs have landed on airbrushes.
Please allow me to contain my boundless enthusiasm.
See…discussions about airbrushes…or any other tool or material (or hell…any kit) will inevitably result in someone wandering in and dropping this gem:
“It’s not the quality of the tool, but the modeler at his bench”
First of all
Fuck. Could these words possibly be rearranged to sound any more pretentious? It sounds like some pablum that a fedora-wearing, Ayn Rand-worshiping college freshman would write.
Quality of the tool, indeed.
As with other modeling catchphrases that make my right eyelid twitch – “it’s just a hobby”, et al – “the modeler at the bench” is an un-argument.
That is to say, it contributes exactly nothing to the discussion.
Here’s why it adds nothing.
YES, a modeler’s talents and experience and so on matter a great deal. Of course they do, and nobody is suggesting otherwise.
You can’t go throw down on a 1/32 Tamiya Corsair, an Iwata Custom Micron and *poof*, suddenly become an amazing modeler.
BUT, this idiotic saying contends that the quality of tools, materials and kits doesn’t play any kind of a role. Which is just staggeringly incorrect.
Here’s the deal. Lots of things matter. And lots of things come together to make a model.
- A Modeler’s Skill – I would define skill in this instance as the product of 1) raw talent and 2) experience/knowledge.
- Kit Quality (or “Medium” Quality) – The quality of the kit in question. Yes, there are kits that are objectively better than others.
- Materials Quality – The paint and glue and pigments and whatever else gets thrown at a build. Yes, there are objectively better materials. Gunze or Tamiya or Mr. Paint are objectively better – in terms of modeling – than craft acrylics. They have better spray properties, they don’t lift if you look at them funny, and so on.
- Tool Quality – Again, there are objectively better tools, be they sprue cutters or airbrushes or paint brushes.
Are these all equal? Not really. If I were to break them out on a 100 point scale, I’d say:
- Skills = 55%
- Kit = 10%
- Materials = 20%
- Tools = 15%
Now, these numbers are mostly there to keep the math easy, so no need to get all bent out of shape. We’re just illustrating a point here, after all.
A truly expert modeler coming in with all 55 Skills Points will have a distinct leg up on a modeler with 15 or 20 SP. If a 15 SP modeler had top-of-the-line everything to throw at a project, their upper bound would still be a total of 60 points.
What tools, materials, kits etc do is extend the upper bound.
There’s another thing that quality tools, materials and kits do. They make it easier to access and hone skills.
A good pair of sprue cutters gives you cleaner cuts, leaves you spending less time cleaning up parts, and can often mean less chance of breaking delicate parts.
A good airbrush – that feels good in your hand – can let you focus more on applying paint than on getting things dialed in.
Good cement – a solvent welder like Tamiya Extra Thin or MEK – lets you be more precise in your construction, and not as reliant on clamps and rubber bands and other goofy contraptions to hold a part just so.
The modeler matters. Skills matter. But so does the quality of what you’re working with.