Genre Variance

Our brains are weird. Or at least mine is. Let’s explore a weird quirk where different genres seem to play by different rules.

This morning I had an epiphany. I think it’s been building for some time, but it just broke over me all at once.

The “rules” that I apply when researching, planning, and executing aircraft builds actually stifle me when I switch over to armor.

The fuck does that mean?

Aircraft Rules

When I set out to build an aircraft, I almost always start with a reference photo (or photos). Something catches my eye. The wear and tear, the staining, the nose art, the colors. Which leads me down a rabbit hole of researching the squadron and the area of operations. I end up learning all kinds of “small history” of a specific unit or pilot, some of the quirks, and have a grand old time trying to recreate a little slice of history.

…you get the idea.

Now, you’d think this sort of mental process would translate 1:1 over to armor, right?

I certainly have a ton of “ooooh I want to build that!” off of reference photos. But it rarely comes together when armor’s in play.

Armor Fizzles

Back in 2018, the company I was with moved offices, and we all had to work from home for about three months during the buildout. This gave me an opportunity to build while working – particularly during calls or while doing the “thinking” part of the job. Never ceases to amaze me how well focusing on getting stuff together lets the brain chew through knotty shit in the background.

I had a ton of inspiration. Here are just a few examples.

Of them all…precisely one got built and painted and finished.

The rest all got built…to a point…and no further. To this day they sit, waiting for me to want to pay attention to them.

With COVID and the extended WFH situation throughout most of 2020, I’ve had a similar opportunity to slap together armor kits while I’m working. And I’ve slapped together a lot. Several Shermans. An M3-based M31 recovery vehicle. An M551 Sheridan. A Takom Gepard. Know how many of them I’ve even gotten into paint?

Two. And the Gepard has been sitting for months at this point.

Another Way?

That’s not to say I haven’t finished armor kits. Or even that I haven’t finished any that were inspired by references. Since 2018, I’ve finished two little 1/72 FT-17s, an ERC-90, AML-90, that T-72, and a DANA 152mm self-propelled gun.

But the ones I finished the fastest? With the least fuss and foot-dragging, and most enjoyment?

They were all ones where I said “fuck it”, didn’t bother with building toward references, and just did my own thing.

This also extends to armor-adjacent stuff…

And of all the armor I’ve worked on this year – the one that’s raced ahead of all the others? That will almost certainly be finished? ICM’s Panhard 178. I wasn’t a huge fan of the very subdued scheme options, and I wasn’t a fan of the kit’s main gun at all, so I said fuck it and replaced it with a Bushmaster chaingun. Accuracy totally blown, I decided to just, again, go my own way and have fun with it.

Embracing the Quirk

I don’t know why my love of research and references totally works for aircraft, but not for armor. It just…doesn’t. So I think I’m going to try untethering my armor builds more and more from reality and our fixed timeline. Go more representative. Go more what-if. Go more adventurous.

Hewing to references isn’t doing it. And going in more imaginative directions is certainly preferable to a bunch of unpainted kits piling up.

The Pan-Pan up there may be just the start.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. cellc130 says:

    I hope you will still keep on building some aircrafts! I would be a crime preventing us from so much craftmanship!
    Kind regards, a Belgian fan!

    1. Doogs says:

      Oh, yes. Those aren’t going anywhere.

  2. Jason Browne says:

    I could be wrong, but could it be anything to do with build technique/order, for aircraft versus armour?

    I know for me, aircraft takes time from the get-go, working on the cockpit, with paint/decaling/weathering happening before I’ve even cut the rest of the plastic off the sprue. There’s immediately more ‘planning’ with an aircraft build.

    Whereas for me, when I build armour, it’s basically cut/glue/cut/glue and repeat until you pretty much have say 90% of the kit made, before you even look at paint. It reminds me of modelling when I was a kid, just physically building as quickly as I can. You only get into the detail of the paint (and more importantly with armour – weathering) near the end of the build.

    So, for me, aircraft modelling lends itself to more research and more, for want of a better word, ‘careful’ building, whereas armour modelling leans itself to diving in and getting it done.

    1. Doogs says:

      I think that has something to do with it (and is also why I can work on armor but not aircraft during WFH situations). But I know when I research I get all clogged up on stowage and other things that just stall me out and run off with my motivation.

  3. says:

    “Little Rockette” is just ……stunning.

  4. Torbjörn Hanö says:

    I feel the same about modelling. Every second or third build is a what-the-heck, let’s just have some fun. It’s my hobby, and I do what I want to. Some kits I don’t even bother to finish. If I get seriuosly all-in with every kit I would probably get bored.

  5. Randy Jones says:

    Deep down you’re a plane guy. It’s that simple.

  6. Clyde Lourensz says:

    I totally get that. Research, research, research, details, details, details…..stuff it. Just finish it and have fun in the process!.

  7. John Everett says:

    I wonder if there’s not a “human” element at work.

    With an airplane, even one displayed without a figure, the viewer can immediately see the little seat, the throttle levers. Without effort it’s easy to imagine oneself inside that bubble canopy, looking out. This is less true of armour. Although I think we can all remember seeing captivating and interesting vehicles in which the interior was open and visible, again, a humanizing element. This point is powerfully made with your Blowie Boy robot, anthropomorphized armour if there ever was one.

    As to being motivated to complete wheeled fighting vehicles which go off the edge of the map in terms of accuracy, I think your own insight as to having fun and being creative (again, a very humanistic trait) tends to win out over pure accuracy in replicating a dead and soulless machine.

  8. Derek Holmes says:

    There is an old saying that “Ignorance is bliss”. In this context, I would suggest that too much information can be stifling. The intention of recreating as much of the detail of the original as possible can be so frustrating when it it doesn’t work out.
    I find that a good “mojo restorer” is to chose a simple looking kit of a subject I know little or nothing about, and just build the damn thing. It may not be the most accurate representation around, but who cares? Unless you are building for a commission, you only have yourself to satisfy
    I really look forward to your video builds and hope you will be able to continue them in the future.

  9. John Stambaugh says:

    I think for me at least, aircraft and their pilots are just more interesting. There is so much more to know.

  10. Ignasio Gonzalez says:

    I feel really simpathetic to the whole aircraft approach of yours specially in the way you get into subjects that keep you focused straight to the end of the build. research and quirky things that connect to the subject matter.
    Somehow I have stumbled into a fase of buildng those aircraft that I always swore to never build such as a Hellcat F6F, and now at the 80% trough it, I really have enjoied it like never before, i guess being a subject that feels strange in the bench keeps it interesting… Not wanting to sound like a cliche but gettng out of the confort zone keeps things fresh…
    Keep up the good work Doogs…. and thanks about those Gloss Sea Blue videos!

  11. Peter McGlone says:

    I’ve told you before Dude you need to build a ship but you keep ignoring me . A big one with lots of photo etch to challenge and stick to your fingers You can get stuck into things like rigging, water bases, photo etch cockpits for 1/350 aircraft, very small sailors. the good thing is most of its grey. That may end your malaise.
    Or just get a good happy build like any of the latest Tamiya props

  12. ericbergerud says:

    I think your epiphany has occurred to others before. Mig Jimenez once wrote that it’s impossible to make a small plastic object look like a large metal object – and because that’s impossible the modeler should fire away. That perhaps partially explains how the “Spanish School” (Mig, Adam Wilder, Rinaldi etc) went a journey of more elaborate weathering including a lot of techniques that would not been often seen in WWII vehicles – lots of rust, tons of chipping etc. Now there’s great interest in wrecks or knocked out vehicles. (I’ve read that some uber-modelers in Japan do nothing but wrecks or “extreme” weathering.) That’s using the model as a kind of canvas for an evolving style of painting. Post-Impressionism was fun, now let’s do some cubism. Some really good modelers approach the hobby this way.
    There’s another road though. Call it “war is the enemy of art” and this leads toward trying to emulate what wartime vehicles did look like. I attempt this. And when you do, you don’t look for individual tanks in photos as much as situations. Which leads right into the craft of vignettes or dios. The AFVs themselves will certainly take on a kind of sameness. (A weathered Panther looks a lot more like a Sherman than a P-47 looks like an F-104 both in form and finish.) Dios and vignettes can be very elaborate, but not needlessly so – I’ve had fun with them. When you deal with a base you do look closer at things – it took me a while to figure out that North African desert is really more of a light gray/buff than any paint called “sand.” You also look for new theaters. I’ve got a Takom Grant that I want to put in Burma (many served there late in the war) – or a Dragon Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go light tank that appeared in the South Pacific. Winter weathering is it’s own kick. Emulating wartime vehicles also might lead one to take a crack at trucks – there were about a zillion used and would reward some very serious weathering. I’m a little limited in my approach because of an allergy to figures.
    As I recall you’re not a ship fan. I still try one a year and getting a good water base done is a genuine challenge and adds greatly to the visual impact if it works. Everyone’s eye is different but I’d say it’s tough to beat a well done ship on a water base for visual impact “in person” – although a really good biplane on a simple base is up there. I guess that’s a major consideration. Does a modeler build for the camera – and the internet – or for home display?
    In any case, I’m sure anything you finish will look good. If not, you won’t finish it. Your standards are very high – that must complicate things.

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