Slow Down, Speed Racer



Want to step up your modeling game?

Here’s an idea – slow the fuck down.

What’s brought this about?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a spate of builds that have gone by in the blink of an eye. One of them began with the proud purchase of a rather marginal kit this past weekend, followed by pics of the completed build maybe a day or so ago. So…six days max from cracking the box to completion.

Now, it’s only the most extreme example I’ve seen lately, but it’s far from the only one. There have been kits – large kits, too, not just some five piece 1/72 thing – taken to completion in the span of 10 days, two weeks, that kind of timeframe. They come out the other side littered with shortcomings. Visible gaps in the leading edges of the wings. Shiny tires. Silvered decals. Sloppily brush-painted canopy frames. Weathering that looks like they were dunked in a bucket of dirty water.

“Some people like to build like that”

Well, I don’t. And not everyone does. And even some who do might – gasp – be interested in upping their game.

Crazy, right?

One of the things I found I had when I came back to this hobby that I lacked as a kid was patience. The willingness to take time to get something right. Or at least to get it further along the path to right.

When you race through a build like that, you miss things. You cut corners. You fall back on basic techniques.

And it shows.

The Benefits of Slow

When you go slow, you can focus more on intent.

Just what are you going for? What are you trying to do?

What’s the best way to pull it off?

And is there a better way than that way?

Going fast leads to technique lock. I’m convinced it’s why we see so many aircraft pre-shaded so they look like quilts. Or why every build from certain prolific builders looks more or less the same, even across wildly disparate subjects. Churn them out, and you’re, well, churning them out. It becomes an assembly line.

And for what? Outside of the occasional masochistic group build or article deadline, ours is not a timed hobby.

When you slow down, the build stops being just…boxes to check off. It becomes a journey. An exploration, even.

I’m going through this very thing right now with my 1/32 Dauntless build. I could whip out a tricolor camo scheme in the span of a night or two. But I’m going slow, taking my time, questioning my approaches and, where necessary, doing little side experiments to better understand how certain aspects work so I can incorporate them (or not) later on.

And I’m wholeheartedly convinced it’s making me a better modeler. Because even though I’m elitist, condescending and occasionally dickish, I don’t pretend that I have it all figured out – there’s always more to learn, with every build. If only you slow down enough to learn and apply it.


14 Comments Add yours

  1. Richard says:

    I can second this, going from my own experience. Just into the hobby it wouldnt be a crazy thing for me to churn out 15 or 20 builds a year. This slowed down considerably lately . Married life, emigration and two jobs are big reasons but also a need to get it the way i want. Not just finishing a decent kit.

    I would like to add that going at a slower pace allows you to plan out things better. You can totally perv out on a certain bit during a session and during your day the mind can wonder off on how to attack a certain part of the build.

  2. Mark says:

    I find the most disappointing part of a build is when it’s finished. Not because of the result, but because it’s over. So, going slow, taking it easy, makes perfect sense in terms of quality of the outcome, learning experiences along the way, and getting the greatest number of hours of enjoyment out of it.

  3. Kevin Kirby says:

    I agree. Like you, I built the 1/32 scale Tamiya Corsair. I spent nearly a year on the build. Why? Mainly from the enjoyment of the build and the results you achive by taking the time to create, what for us, is a work of art.

  4. V Watts says:

    Well said. Agree 100%. I build extemely slow, to the point of finishing 1-2 kits a year. One reason is that I have other hobbies and am often too plain lazy or not in the mood but mostly because I am trying to do every step to the best of my ability. I hate sloppy work and love the satisfaction of seeing the results improve over time.

  5. max says:

    Absolutely. Funny how one often deems some truths to be “self evident” (dude, take your time with it and it will be better than if you rush it) but sometimes you really have to write or think that out loud again. I am or was a person who didn’t have a big interest in the wheel hubs and landing gear part of a build, but if you really take your time, concentrate on it, maybe even do the landing gear FIRST, before the cockpit and suddenly you might find yourself with a great output and some good satisfaction. Good post!

  6. Doug Hastings says:

    Well said (or typed). As a kid in this hobby, I would crank out some crappy Revell or Aurora kit in a couple of days, and it showed – fingerprints, gobs of glue, etc. Now, I can spend 2 or 3 weeks on a cockpit. I still don’t get everything right, but it’s a HELLUVALOT better and more accurate.

    Keep up the GREAT and inspirational modeling and rants!

    Semper Gumby!

  7. Robert Burke says:

    Man,are you ever right on that slow down” thing”. I find that I have to tell myself that ” thing” all the time, especially nearing the end of the build or the painting! Thanks for the article,Doog!

  8. joseph metchnikoff says:

    I agree about taking one’s time.
    Between my son and I we currently have 7 kits in progress right now.
    Sometimes I feel like working on that 1/48 Monogram B-25 which is a royal pain
    or the Cyber Hobby 1/32 and 1/48 Bf-110 which is a lot of fun but tons of detail. My son and I have really become VERY familiar with that aircraft because of the detail and multiple parts!!!

  9. sgtpoulton says:

    My average build time of an “out of the box” 1/48 aircraft is about 1 month. 1 month, with at least 3 hours per day and maybe bit more on days off. Still, my models are way far from something I will be proud for. With aftermarket, weathering and etc. I’m pretty sure it will exceed 2 months or so to build one.
    Anyways I’m always jelly when I see someone with enough spare time to complete well looking kits in a week.
    Building and making every part look perfect is a part of modeling entertainment for me.

  10. Scooter says:

    Well heck,I thought I was the only one to build slow. Like V Watts (above) said there’s lots of other life stuff going on, to rush through a model (though its mostly me being lazy, or confused as to how to get my self out of “this” mess I made)
    –well back to the current prob-er- build

  11. Tom Wilson (Uncarina) says:

    I would agree…to a point. Going slow allows more attention to finesse, improvement, technique, and detail. However, the Muse must be respected. Too slow and it may leave you, resulting in another abandoned build.

    Cheers, Tom

  12. James Ebert says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Interesting to me (being sixty-one) is that time is relative to different age groups. What seems like a week to me is a day to an eighteen-year-old. I teach high school students so I have a fair understanding of their mind-set when it comes to time. I don’t know if that contributes to the urgency with which many young people build– but it helps me understand why they might. I have a Revell Ju88 that I have been pecking away at since March. Having more than one build going at one time also helps me slow down and smell the MEK, lacquer thinner, stale beer, etc. Seeing different kits move through the assembly line at different speeds reduces my need for urgent completion of anything. (Come to think of it, my toilet still leaks– started when Humphrey ran for President)

  13. joseph metchnikoff says:

    Doog’s you are spot on.
    My 12 year old has been building models for about 4 years now. He seems to be in a BIG hurry to crank out as many models as possible. I have a garage attic full of kits I picked up at hobby shows in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Kits I picked up from vendors for a few bucks here and there. So I started my son on the East European kits first to break him in. When he started improving I turned him loose on the better kits in my stash. No kidding when I say he has assembled 87+ kits!!!!!! so far. He doesn’t care to paint them yet but over this Labor Day weekend 2016, we plan to start using the air brush.
    I didn’t want him using enamels for obvious reasons and have bought a collection of Vallejo and Tamiya acrylic paints since they have exponentially improved since “my day”..
    But yes taking ones time allows you to learn and reflect on the subject matter and turn loose your imagination about how you wish to display the finished model.

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