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?
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.
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.
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.