Sunday, 6 November 2011

Researchers vs modelers

Nick Millman has a great blog. Occasionally he shares his thoughts and grievances and I like it because that’s what blogs are for. Without the sharp moderators’ scissors or the all dismissive “move away if you don’t agree” or the even worse “you are banned” that certain forums practice only to wonder in amazement a year later what happened to the guy they kicked away. Nick put up a nice piece on Friday and I hope he doesn’t mind if I share my thoughts here.
  In my eyes there are three kinds of modelers.
  First - There are those who see modeling as a pastime and simply a way to have fun. To them models are toys you assemble, occasionally paint and that’s all. Today a plane, tomorrow a tank…whatever.
  Second - There are those who like to take it up a notch. They focus on one subject, airplanes for example, and build whatever they fancy as long as it’s interesting. Most of the time their models are out-of-the-box with special attention to the paint job. The more interesting or unusual the better. Not really interested to learn more about their subject and they love quick answers and solutions. Historical accuracy is desirable but not absolutely necessary. Very often they have a certain theme they really like and occasionally move away from it for variety.
  Third - And finally there are those who scratch-built to exhaustion and really like to investigate their modeling subject. These are the guys who like airplanes and aviation history, not just modeling.
  There are of course many other factors to take into consideration such as personality, mood, age, nationality and more. One important thing that should not be forgotten is the anonymity of forums where most often nothing is known about the poster beyond the certain modeling question.

  I love to research the history of Japanese aviation and build models whenever I have the time. Many years ago I used to closely follow discussions on forums and contribute as much as possible. This led me nowhere. At some point I felt I was wasting my time searching for answers to questions from people who didn’t really care. Most of them modelers of the first and second kind. I don’t have anything against any kind of modeler. Everybody’s doing their thing and want to enjoy themselves. I don’t think it’s complicated. Getting in touch and communicating with other people is complicated.
 
  Let me be more clear. There are Japanese plane researchers who frequent forums and try to answer whatever question about Japanese planes. Sometimes, but certainly not always, it’s a matter of making a name, becoming popular and finding satisfaction in the thank-yous. Good for them. There are other researchers like Nick Millman who are serious and really care about what they do. I would like to quote Mathew 7:6 as a message to Nick:
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast
ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them
under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

Explaining Japanese colours to a modeler of the first kind is totally futile, me thinks. And answers like “paint your model any way you like” or “follow the instructions” are perfectly fine.
  Modelers of the second kind are more interesting but can be equally frustrating to a researcher. A very common question is “I got this Japanese kit and I’m looking for an interesting and unusual paint scheme. Can you help?”. It’s obvious that this guy is only partially interested in Japanese planes so any attempt to “teach” him something is just a waste of your and his time. Just pass him some interesting artwork, give him the latest “commonly accepted” colour number and paint and he is perfectly happy. Isn’t this the purpose of the posting and the discussion? The modeler to be happy?
  Things can get complicated when he asks “is this historically accurate?” and the answer could simply be “who cares as long you have fun with the model and you are satisfied”. I believe that it’s up to the researcher to move away from the discussion and do other things that are more interesting than spend hours or even days doing research and trying to explain things to someone who is not really interested in all this in the first place. My advice to the modeler is simple, Google the plane to see what paint schemes are out there, before you buy the X model.
  I must admit though that there is the occasional modeler of the second kind who is really good and shows potential to become a Japanese plane fan. The modelers I really like to talk to are those of the third kind. Because they care and I feel they share the same passion I have.
  If Japanese plane researchers were following the wishes of modelers and what they are interested in then the subjects would be extremely limited as they had been until recently. Zero-sen, Kate, Val, Pearl Harbor, Midway and the occasional Kamikaze. I believe the more researchers move away from modelers, of course not completely abandoning them, the more free they become to present their work and the history of Japanese aviation. And in the end the modelrs too understand this and appreciate it.
George Eleftheriou

2 comments:

Harold K said...

Very thoughtful, George, and I agree with your main points.
While I like your three categories, I feel there is a spectrum, rather than a number of sharply defined buckets.
I am somewhere between your two and three. I am no scratch builder nor am I a rivet counter or perfectionist. I model because of a lifelong interest in aviation history, centered on World War Two.
I care little for cockpit or wheel well detail; I care about a realistic overall look through paint and markings which are authentic without being obsessive.
I build for my own pleasure rather than for contests or anything else. Dedicated enthusiasts like you and Nic are very helpful and make for enjoyable reading and (occasional) interaction. Certain others, who use certain well-known forums, are less so; you describe them well.
Harold

Arawasi said...

Thanks a lot for your thoughts and kind words, Harold. Definitely not meant to be "buckets" as you correctly point out. Just rough categories and of course anyone can place themselves wherever they feel like.