Mind Games

I am a mess.

It’s tempting to say that it’s just something that happens this time of year. Or to blame it on the heat (even though that’s abating now).

But, I know better.

The thing that’s fucking up my bench time, that has me turning in circles, second guessing myself, and generally not making headway?

It’s me.

This post is an attempt to get to the bottom of it.

What the fuck is going on?

So far, in 2018, I’ve finished two whole builds. Takom’s AML-90, which I’m marginally proud of, and Eduard’s tiny little 1/144 MiG-15UTI, which I’m not. I mean, it was a nice quick diversion, and it let me test out Tamiya’s new Lacquer Painto line in the form of LP-11 Silver, but it’s chock full of lazy mistakes, and I don’t feel like the scale or the scheme really left me much of anywhere to go in finishing it out.

This, on top of last year, when I only finished three builds…

Now. If we go back through 2018 and 2017 and the number of builds I’ve STARTED…the problem starts to emerge.

  • 1/32 Trumpeter F-117 – Abandoned after the seventh or eighth go at filling the sink troughs in the wings and the realization that holding the beast of a kit while attacking those troughs was messing up my wrist.
  • 1/48 Academy F-4C – Abandoned after just getting sick of it.
  • 1/32 Trumpeter MiG-23MLD Flogger – Jacked up landing gear stance, due to too-tall nosegear and poor attempt by Trumpeter to compensate by leveling the stance, but leaving the Flogger looking like it was on it its tiptoes. Abandoned and limestoned.
  • 1/48 Trumpeter MiG-21UM – Abandoned after frustrations with overall quality of the kit, particularly the cockpit and canopy
  • 1/48 Kinetic Mirage IIIDE – Abandoned after discovering wing aileron and tip were catastrophically short-shot.
  • 1/144 Bandai A-Wings – Abandoned after they just look too toylike to keep going forward with.
  • 1/35 Trumpeter MIM-104 Patriot – WIP. This one got fully built and painted, and the trailer got into decals, and the AFV boxing proved to have terrible decals. With no aftermarket options, I picked up the Trumpeter boxing of the current-gen PAC-3 launcher, and it’s built, just waiting for paint, but I haven’t gotten back to it.
  • 1/35 Meng T-72B3 – WIP. Top is painted. Bottom is painted. I burned a lot of energy having a go at multiple bases for this one, and haven’t been happy with any of them. Now that I’ve reached a “fuck it” point and am going baseless, weathering is proceeding.
  • 1/35 Trumpeter M270 MLRS – WIP. Main assembly completed. Still need to do the tracks, paint the cab interior, and close everything up to start painting. I actually really love this kit – just haven’t gotten back to it yet. Too much ground stuff at once, I think.
  • 1/35 Trumpeter URAL-4320 – WIP. It’s mostly built, partially primed, but I’m not really sure what I want to do with it, so it sits.
  • 1/48 Kitty Hawk Su-35 – Left behind after the #Flankoff build stage.
  • 1/48 Great Wall Hobby Su-35 – Set aside after thick-ass decals derailed a build that had been in-progress for months. It’s not gone, but…let’s be honest. It pretty much is.
  • 1/35 Tiger Model ERC-90 F1 Lynx – WIP. I recently wrapped up the build review, and now it’s in weathering…after passing through three paint schemes. Another case of second-guessing (or third-guessing I suppose).
  • 1/72 Flyhawk FT-17 (x2) – WIP. These lovely little things are painted and decaled and just waiting on the bases to get a bit further along so I can make sure I’m unified in my weathering.

All in all, that’s…quite a trail of bodies, and quite a stack of WIPs to wade through.

Now, unless things go totally off the rails, I anticipate finishing the ERC-90, T-72, and the two FT-17s in the near future. So that’ll put me at six completed builds so far this year, far outpacing the last several years.

But…three of them will be tiny little things.

What’s really going on here?

So far as I can tell, there are multiple factors at play that have been tripping me up. With each, I’m trying to identify solutions to get me around them.

A Fuck Imbalance – For any given build, I have a certain number of fucks to give. Kind of like the health meter in a video game. And some kits demand that more fucks be given. Could I have pushed through the Academy F-4C? Certainly. Ran out of fucks. Could I have ripped apart the landing gear on the MiG-23 or scratchbuilt my own? If I had the fucks to give. I didn’t have that many fucks to give about the Kinetic Mirage III…but if the kit hadn’t been short-shot, that probably would have been sufficient to get me through. As it turned out…not the case.

Solution: Fix the fuck imbalance. Find subjects that I give more of a fuck about, find kits that demand fewer fucks, or both.

Unsatisfied Base – One thing I’ve been tinkering with a lot since last year has been bases. I’ve managed exactly one effective base in the past, and think I pulled off a pretty solid one early this year with the AML-90. But…I keep trying and I keep feeling like I’m groping in the dark. It’s an area where I really want to improve, but I don’t yet feel like I have a sense of which levers to pull to get to what I want.

Solution: Experiment and learn with smaller, less ambitious bases using smaller-scale subjects. The FT-17s and their bases are a start.

Decal Sabotage – Decals have never really been a thing to fuck my builds in the past, but then it happened twice this year. Once with the Patriot and the shoddy AFV Club decals (plus AK Real Colors not reacting well to decal solvents), and the second time with the thick GWH Su-35 decals. It sucks getting so deep into a build and having something bring the whole thing down.

Solution: Test decals early. Do not just keep going if decals seem problematic. Do not trust/hope in a clear coat to fix the problem. Secure aftermarket decals as appropriate. Or, find more builds that don’t require any decals (though those are rare).

Not Having a Vision – This one is a bit squishy, since there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between having a vision for a build and completions. I knew exactly what I wanted for the MiG-23 and the MiG-21 and the F-4C and they all fell to the wayside. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with the AML-90, and it got done. But my current ERC-90 project is kind of emblematic of the whole lack of vision sending me in circles. It’s now in its third scheme option.

Solution: Have what I want to pull off mapped out better ahead of time.

Too Much Going On – This year has been a bit weird in that I was working from home for the first several weeks of the year, and had the opportunity to fart around with kits while on various calls or while trying to think something through. It was amazingly beneficial and something I wish I could do at the office as well, but alas. Anyway, that led to the build of several kits that then created a backlog on the painting side. A backlog that still exists. And while I’ve kinda-sorta done a good job of not starting a bunch of massive projects, since the Su-35 collapsed, I’ve started up four new kits. Granted, three of them have been small, intended as diversions and quick wins, but still.

Solution: Be more focused on one or two kits at a time. Work through the backlog. Load balance between big projects like 1/32 aircraft, and small, light affairs like 1/72 armor or Star Wars kits (which I’ve got some plans for).

What I think it really comes down to

Now, all of the issues listed above are very real issues. But are they causes, or just symptoms? Or excuses?

Talking with my fellow SMCG admins Will and Jim, I realized something.

Every single one of my favorite builds has started with a strong vision.

The Corsair, Me 262, Spitfire, French P-47, Tamiya F-14, Trumpeter Bf 109G-10…all of them got their start with one photo that set my imagination running. Not just for that type of aircraft…but for that one specific vision of that aircraft.

I don’t think there’s quite the same connection with armor…but with aircraft it certainly seems to be a thing.

With that in mind, I think my next build will be a return to that mold of powerful inspiration. And I might have just the subject.

Stay tuned. First I have to push a few kits over the line.


18 Comments Add yours

  1. Scott says:

    That’s three more kits then I’ve finished this year. My FW-190 F8 has been sitting on the bench for about a year.

  2. Bob says:

    I’ve got the fuck issue too, and I’m retired. Probably because I’ve taken on more wife duties, and mother-in-law is in a nursing home, and I’m running my mother’s house 50 miles away whole a worthless 58 year old brother is living with her for only $62 a month. I think I need to say fuck it all, and schedule a certain amount of me at the work bench time! Extra time is allowed to read your posts. Damn Program! Keeps wanting to replace fuck with duck.

  3. Brian Musson says:

    I think , like so many other modellers ,that everyone should collectively reign in their O.C.D. and reconcile the fact that, at the end of the day , it’s a miniature version of the real thing……it’s a model.So many people pit themselves against themselves in the pursuit of excellence that it appears to ultimately lead to despondence at best , defeat at worst – trying to overcome the multiplicity of “errors” built into kits by the manufacturers.It’s time for all and sundry to give themselves a break and remember why the fuck they build models in the first place………..
    I for one , think your work and that of others that castigate themselves or the manufacturers ad nauseum – is brilliant.End of.

  4. Ted Briscoe says:

    I’m an avid golfer and my game is down to single digits, that’s pretty good for a 68 year old guy with arthritis in his hip and legs and degenerative spine disease. When my spine/back pain gets to the point where I can’t play golf, swim or even walk without using the walls in the house for guidance ( tough on the wall paint!) I build something on my workbench until I just can’t sit any longer. I consider building a kit a hobby and yes I like to do the best job that I can and show my work off……………..but it’s still just hobby! Maybe you’re too hard on yourself and get burnt out or frustrated too fast seeking perfection from yourself and others. Will P., what do you think?

    1. willpattison says:

      whattup, super ted! i think we’re all just a little nutty. golf….motorcycles…models…some of us just want to hit that low score because we’re wired like that.

  5. Nilo Otero says:

    You can’t fake true desire. Please stick to only doing subjects that you have some emotional connection to so that we can see your best, most engaged work. You know, the stuff we all admire. The Start to Finished Curve crosses the Patience Collapse Curve in such a way as to indicate that your passion is strong, but that force can only work for good instead of evil is to buy into your build as a subject and more than a model and we will all be happier.

    Thanks for hours of sincere, informed and informative, how-tos and why(not)tos, too!

    Black basing rules. Thanks for so clearly caring on all of our behalf.

    You really can’t control that much of this universe so throw a sop to your inner control freak and build the projects you want to do for love or curiosity.

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head with the last part about strong vision.
    As one builds, theoretically, one gets better with practice. So, build more models, get better each time. In my case, not so.
    I built a a Sherman with rocket launcher a few years back. I had a specific photo to work from. I tried to duplicate the vehicle in the photo and was (mostly) successful. Since then, I have built quite a few kits… maybe ten+… I don’t want to count. But, they have been completed with various levels of success, and the reason is, in hindsight, that with the exception of one, I have basically just built them and used a color scheme from the kit supplied instructions.
    I knew exactly what I wanted to do on the Sherman with rocket launcher, and I set out to do it. The result was to my liking and is still my favorite build to date.

  7. Juan Canessa says:

    I read some commets you did and I though that how much money did you put away and time spent.
    I live in Chile and some kit you bought are very expesive and have many part to assamble so when I buy them I look some review first so I khow what to spect
    Other kit I buy it from eBay I do the same procedure. Finally modelling it for fun and many time a good maner to change the rutine of the day
    Have fun, have modelling

  8. Albert S OConnor says:

    Reading Doogs’ posts (imaginings or he be trippin’ ?) is like listening to Pablo Picasso complain about his paintings being sold for millions of dollars. Give me a break. Why not just post an image from “Titanic” where he says “I’m king of the world” and replace it with “I’m king of the modeling world” and be done with it as you slap yourself on the back with an scratch-built “A attaboy!”

    1. jimsmodels2 says:

      Someone jelly because their work gets zero attention even though they are defined by their hobby.

    2. Doogs says:

      Weird. There’s no Google Translate option from Dipshit to English…

    3. willpattison says:

      i’m confused. did he just call you “picasso”?

  9. Chuck Byram says:

    Hi Matt, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. For me anyway, our hobby has always had and still has a big psycho/emotional component. My AMS and OTC traits, as evidenced by having been a practicing Dentist for over forty years, are as strong as anybody’s. I have managed to stop straightening pictures on the walls of other people’s homes but that’s about it. 🙂 I am very streaky about building. I’m either not paying much attention to the hobby at all or am obsessed night and day. I currently have one WIP and two shelf queens. One of the queens, a Hasegawa 1/48 F-8, has been worked over so much that at this point it’s basically a painting mule. The other royalty is the beautiful Tamaiya 1/32 P-51. I have a strong vision for that one. An old friend who was killed in an air show accident in a Stearman a few years back also owned a Mustang and I want to replicate it. It’s on hiatus because my airbrushing and bare metal skills aren’t up to what I want to get accomplished I know because I tried using them. The WIP is the Tamiya 1/32 F4J and I’m using the (thick) CAM decals for the Blue Angels. Insert long story but a friend is a highly skilled car modeler and has been helping me out with painting. I figure that getting a smooth finish on the F4 will get me closer to what I want for the 51. Meanwhile the skill building keeps me fired up in the short run.
    Keep on keeping’ on!

  10. Howard Kilburn says:

    Boy can I connect with that Matt…. I, ve been doing quite a lot of modelling but rarely can I finish anything….. until a fellow modeller built a 48 scale Tamiya F4U1A Corsair that inspired the hell out me… I had a F4U1D in the stash so got going wiv it and it, s nearly finished. I, ve now started doing all the boring bits, gear, flaps ordnance first so they are painted weathered etc before commencing the main build and that has helped too.
    Regards Howard

  11. Brad Wolfe says:

    I can understand running out of motivation or not having any. When I go to the hobby store, I see many kits that I wouldn’t give the time of day to or some that I have tried but haven’t cared about when completed. I’m a retired Air Force KC-135 & KC-10 boom operator…I generally build airplanes that I have a strong connection to because I’ve flown along side them or a special experience with them, so my stash is kind of low, but I stick with them to the end because I can still see them on the end of the boom or sitting on the flight line. It’s a good connection to the past.

  12. Howard Kilburn says:

    Well, if it makes u feel better Matt , im mightily impressed by yr builds….and black basing is the single most important thing in paint finishing I,ve ever come across….as a former pilot I see how aircraft weather and black basing is so much more realistic. H ( callsign )…..civilian , but trained by an ex RAF QFI

  13. Virginia St. John says:


    Enjoy all your stuff, and I’m often inspired by what I read and the photo/video images are motivating.

    Your last post, “Mind Games” made a comment on AK’s Real Aircraft Colors concerning decal adhesion and clear coat prep caught my attention.

    What’s your opinion/recommendation on AK’s RAC line of paints? I’m inclined to use Gunze, MRP, and some Tamiya, but I recently started looking at Real Colors with interest.

    My present builld, (Tamiya F4U-1) raised questions of the cockpit color. So I did some experimentation with Mr. Color’s 110 Character Blue(1), and 340 Field Green(2). More realistic,

    Then I tried AK Real Colors RC264 Bronze Green. Really dark.

    Mr. Paint’s MRP-132 Looks good, But I still keeep looking back at the AK version. In fact, I’m considering the whole line of Real Aircraft Colors but I want the opinion of others who might be familiar with this paint.

    The AK and Gunze are comparatively similar, Gunze 400 SL thinner works well with the AK RACs, and heck, even the bottles look the same. The decal thing isn’t an issue for me yet…Yet.

    You’re opinion is much appreciated and I look forward to more enlightenment from the Austin Texas influence. I grew up in Waco.

    Bill St. John

    Panama City, FL.

    PS; Any idea where I can get the Barracuda Decals for “Dangerous Dan”s Eight Ball”? Roy never replies to my request’s though he’s sold me a bunch of resin.

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