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?
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.