Priorities and Shit


The last year at the bench has been a real struggle for me. And if I’m being honest, it was a continuing, and worsening, of trends that have been creeping up on me for a while. But they really landed hard in 2017.

There was the constant rearguard action against flagging motivation. Against my own perfectionist streak getting in the way. Annoyances I would have usually looked past festered and poisoned my goodwill toward more than a few kits.

Throughout the entire year, I only managed to finish three builds. Two were dinky little Bandai Star Wars kits, and the third, Tamiya’s F-14, was largely done in 2016. Aside from that, many works in progress fell by the wayside…

And I was always chasing the cure for this malaise. If I could just find the right kit, or the right subject, or…

You know what? None of that shit worked. My old standby – just getting the fucker into the painting stages – didn’t work.  I was at wit’s end. Hours at the bench with jack all to show for it except for frustration and fatigue.


There’s a term in classical Greek literature – anagnorisis – that marks the point where a character recognizes something essential, usually about their nature, and passes from ignorance to knowledge. A “scales from the eyes” moment.

That’s what I had right around the new year.

Modeling, and all the struggles I’d been having, weren’t the problem. They were a symptom. 

So what was the problem then? In a word, me.

For the last year (at least), I’ve been coasting, for lack of a better word. Going along and getting along, but in a pretty disconnected way. From my family, from work, from life in general. It was, I guess, easier to just disengage than to face down various and sundry concerns, anxieties and challenges. And it’s been horrible for me. In terms of my physical, mental and emotional well-being. And, as a spinoff of all of that, in terms of my modeling, too.


For 2018, my goal is both simple and incredibly difficult. Work on myself. Re-engage with my family, with work, with life in general. Get back to the point where modeling is a hobby and a way of decompressing and processing the day, not the weird addiction that occupies a good deal of my waking thoughts.

It’s been that way before…and when I look back on it…my favorite builds all coincide with moments where I was most engaged in life. I want to get back to that.

But…that’s going to mean a few changes around here and on the Facebook page.

I’m intending to pull away, for the most part, from the stream of WIP updates and the social media dopamine hits involved with them. I’ll still be posting tips and kit news and the occasional rant, and of course performing admin duties over at the Scale Modelers’ Critique Group, but I’m planning on doing something different with how I share builds. Something that gets back to the original mission of this blog; giving back as I can and helping those who are maybe just coming back into the hobby, or looking to change things up.

I’m not sure yet what that will look like…so stay tuned.



27 Comments Add yours

  1. Ben says:

    Looking forward to it Matt! Take care of yourself.

  2. Tim says:

    Feel for you. Pretty much been getting in my own way as well.
    Motto for this year “Progress, rather than perfection”,
    and a whole let less facebook, other than essential updates.
    as Chairman of the local Scale Model Club I stay connected to sites like yours as they are huge inspiration.
    Good luck with your “Regrounding”, but Please dont starve us.

  3. Nick Kulczak says:

    Man, I feel every word you wrote. I seem to have the exact same problem. Do you feel like “real life” is crowding out bench time, to the point where downtime isn’t free anymore ? I’ve had this problem for a while, and despite having a psych background, I don’t fully understand it.

    1. Doogs says:

      It’s definitely not an issue of real life crowding it out, at least not for me. Don’t want to venture much into the non-modeling side of it, but it’s almost like, with being so disconnected, benchtime became a purpose unto itself instead of a fun way to decompress and do some shit with my hands.

      1. Tim says:

        Getting it. So the benchtime is part of the disconnection process. Possibly making the situation worse because of guilt and shit because you not supposed to be enjoying it if you don’t have your other shit together. So you end up not enjoying the benchtime either and even maybe subconsciously fucking that up on purpose so you don’t have a reason to enjoy that either.

  4. Christopher says:

    I can relate to this a lot. I must have 40 to 50 projects right now that are in various stages of completion. I have to force myself to get from the 90% finished stage to totally finished. i do not attend many shows but I love to see others work in person and online , I get a lot of joy from the hobby and have stopped beating myself up for not finishing , I do not know why but I love the initial assembly of a kit more then any other aspect. I have read a theory that people who build anything or fix cars etc get joy from being able to manipulate and change an aspect of their environment. Perhaps you will never finish a kit build again …………….and why would that be a source of angst if you do a project to the point where the enjoyment runs out and then move on ? , not saying that is what anybody should or should not do , Just a question for all of us to consider .

  5. Jeremy Elliott says:

    I have to say, I’m in the same situation as most everyone else that has posted. I have had several projects I’ve started, with tons of motivation and just as you get to a certain point, all of that motivation seems to just evaporate out the window. I had that with the Academy F-4 for the SMCG build, things started fine, addressing the issues with the kit as they came up and then just when I reached the home stretch, poof, no more mojo. Now it sits at 90% complete…why? So close to being done, but no desire to finish it. I thought maybe it was just me, but with seeing everyone else stating that they have the same issue, I wonder if it has something to do with other factors. Here’s to hoping that 2018 is better for all!

  6. Vance says:

    I get it, spent a great deal of 2017 in a modeling funk myself. Lots of plans, stuff in progress, but a lot of stuff that “didn’t go right” or places I “needed more info” got my projects bogged down. I’ve laid out a plan to get myself into situations where I can just stop thinking, build whatever is in the box, build it well, and NOT get bogged down. I also have a brand-spanking new Harder-Steenbeck a/b that I won in the spring… that has yet to see paint thru its innards. Embarrassing. I need to get back to it.

    1. Tim says:

      Exactly Vance. Hence my new motto. Progress is better than perfection. We sometimes get in our head too much.

      1. Vance says:

        Wonder what would happen to me at this point if I sat down & tried to finish a little 1/72 kit over the course of a weekend, like I used to do?

      2. Doogs says:

        Hmm. I tried that a while back with a 1/48 prop and it just didn’t work at all. I find I can do tiny (like 1/144), but just going back doesn’t seem to be a thing for me.

  7. Jean-Vincent Roy says:

    I, too, like other commenters, feel this way.

    It feels strange because I didn’t do much in 2017, I mean, very little, one build and a couple of gaming figures, yet the interest, in general, is still totally there. Feels like I totally want to take some bench time, yet at some point, the intent dwindles into oblivion while other slabs of my life take precedence. It’s hard to describe, let alone explain. I would tend to agree with the idea that engaging with life, all around, usually leads to being engaged in modeling. Sports, too, is a great way in getting things back on track, at least for me. I got back to harder training, and my energy level spiked, which made me got back to the bench recently.

    Anyway, good luck with that, seems we’re in similar boats here. And whatever the form your new you takes, I’ll be happy to read along.

    1. Dave says:

      Jean-Vincent, I totally relate to your assessment that engaging with life, all around, usually leads to being engaged in modeling. I love looking at others’ work online and going to shows, and that makes me want to be at the bench more, but activities and commitments in my life have their space and since bench time is a decompression mechanism, a hobby, it gets prioritized as such. For me, then, I find that when I do get to visit my bench- whether it’s 15 minutes or a couple hours- I feel a sense of fulfillment.

      I’d also love to finish more projects, but this being a hobby I hate imposing deadlines on myself. If I finish one build a year it’s news; two at this point is unheard of. But such is how I prioritize this pastime and how I remain engaged with it.

  8. Pete Smith says:

    Ummmm, huh… This is EXACTLY what I’ve been dealing with this year. The saturation of negativity through social media, home, work etc., has manifested itself in a state of depression that I thought I could simply cure with some ‘me time’ at the bench to ‘recharge’ and do something for myself that made me happy. Well, I’d end up with little to show for my time, and what I did I was never really happy with. I have 3-4 new WIP kits this year and nothing really new to show for my time, and as a result, I inevitably would end up even more unhappy that not only have I not cured what ails me, I would be disappointed with my inability to let go, and frustratingly letting the my feelings from one part of my life infiltrate another.

    I spent hours purging my Instagram and Facebook accounts recently, ‘unfriending’ 200 people that were connections that weren’t doing anything wrong, and might even be people I still considered friends, but lent to the overwhelming saturation of social media and my lack of attention to the social aspect of life in front of me.

    Here we are talking about pulling back on social media, through social media, but I hope your approach works for you. It has given me food for thought and an appreciation that others are feeling what I am feeling at some level.

    Good luck with things, and if it’s any consolation, if you feel your perfection level is disappointing because you are not living up to your own expectations of those you think will scrutinize every aspect of your work, remember there are people like me that are still building and painting at a far inferior level, and learn so much from your successes, and even your failures. Something not turning out how you had hoped isn’t so bad. It’s just part of life. It’s something I am trying hard to learn myself.


    1. Doogs says:

      I don’t know if I’d call it pulling back, per se. But certainly reassessing how I approach social media. The steady drip, drip, drip I think just reinforces lack of progress.

  9. Gus says:

    Good luck Matt and looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

  10. William B Carls says:

    Loved the article Matt,I somehow feel very much better after reading it. going through some shit also. that’s it man . 😉

  11. Dave says:

    Best of luck.

  12. micky1g says:

    Good stuff Matt! And though there’s some irony in posting this on a number of levels, I’m looking forward to “seeing” how this works out for you, knowing full well it may not manifest itself in anything obvious to those of us who follow along here and on Facebook.

    I’m also in a very similar boat. I haven’t completed anything model related this year but have started a few. I found I was being so pedantic and perfectionist in my attitude that it just wasn’t fun.

    That said, I got back into another old hobby of mine (woodworking and speaker building) and found that for the most part, it satisfied that need to get away from the norm, create, and see some project progress. And I actually completed some things! Felt good, even though that same old perfectionism and criticism of my own process occasionally crept back in throughout the projects.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this and best of luck!


  13. That was kinda inspirational. Just what I needed to help me sort out my own thoughts. Thanks!

  14. Aimlow says:

    I wonder what the age spectrum of all who’ve posted here is? Am I wrong to think 40 to 50-ish?
    I’ve only recently started modeling again after years of admiring other people’s work. I’ve been frustrated by my own ineptitude, though I see improvement from one kit to the next. I try to dedicate myself to finishing sub -assemblies. My finally finished Breguet Atlantic took forever, and is all I have to show for almost a year.

  15. says:

    Good to talk about this Doogs and Guys. Good to reset and look at what’s going on. Im just as hopeless with completing stuff, Box art and the potential build are my worst enemy’s. I don’t do facetube but can see how it can be a pain in the ass.

    Now Doogs,… discussed this before but you have chosen to ignore my Obe Wan Konibie advice. (I think that’s how you spell it)

    Build a Ship.. Get a big one . none of this 1/700 stuff go straight to 1/200


  16. Scooter says:

    Damn Doogs; Sure a lot of ” Davy-Downers” out here.😒 I myself have had an stellar year, One Whole Project ,😲 almost finished, Its a “huge” 1/32 scale die cast VW beetle I had to reconfigure the interior to suit this projects “lofty” goals (choke, choke🙄 ) repainted the interior, the wheels, the exterior and now (its only been 5 months) am endeavoring to make my first decals (revision 12 is just about to be sent to my printer- wish me luck). So far everything is just “so special”😜; I’m so happy I could spit.😋 Well off to take my meds and see what awaits. 😵
    p.s. Good Wishes, seriously, on you journey to finding a better way and life.👍👍👍

  17. Jorge says:

    Between my 20’ and 30’, 35, I was trying to build (with every single model I started) the perfect model, so I build 10 models more/less, in 15 years, certainly I bough some few more than that…. and none of them are even close to be half perfect. For some good 6-8 years I didn’t touch a plastic, then life change again and here I’m, qlooking for the way to build more models with out the stress of making them perfect…, well, I’m a couple of weeks away for finish 3 models (they are all in the last stages), they will not win any awards in a show, for sure, but I do feel a big relief of being able to finish (once they are done, I will achieve 5 finished models in 2 years!!) more models per year than ever before.
    I was trying to convince myself that I was a “kit collector”, well, no, I really want to see my models finished in my shelf rather that in boxes in the closet…, I guess every one of us see the hobby in a different way..

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