When do you throw in the towel? At what point do you say “I’ve done my best, given it everything, but it’s time to move on”. As a model maker it’s something that I haven’t had to ask myself very often, as I usually persevere through an outburst of expletives, moaning, and much stomping about the house, and there’s usually a positive result. “I thought model making was meant to be fun?” my wife, quite reasonably asks, which doesn’t really help.
The reason for all this angst is my struggles with Eduard’s repackaging of Roden’s Gloster Gladiator, a kit with which I was very familiar having previously built two when it first appeared around the year 2000. For me to build two of anything is pretty remarkable, particularly as I did them one after the other, and it was at the time a pretty enjoyable and relatively painless experience even with a lot of photoetch embelishments. It was by viewing this experience through a large pair of rose-tinted spectacles that I agreed to take on Eduard’s kit for a review build, complete with its’ wonderful new decal sheet and a bag full of Eduard extras. What’s more, having previously built two classic silver wing fighters, this time I would challenge myself with a more complex camouflage scheme, camouflage being something that I don’t really do a lot of and to be honest, struggle with.
Roden’s kit from better times
To cut a long story short, the build didn’t go well. At least I thought it was until I decided to put the upper wing on, realising the that the slight, virtually imperceptible droop to the lower wings really did matter, lowering the level of the upper wing to a point half way down the windscreen. I turned a blind eye to this thinking that it wasn’t a problem, as after all, both previous models may have had the same fault but they went together OK, didn’t they?
No. This was a serious problem of my own doing because I was too lazy to check. What’s more, I found out at a very late stage of the build, post decal, pre final varnishing, washes, and putting the final bits together. In a frantic bid to rectify it I split the fuselage underside and inserted a few shims of plastic to form a wedge, so forcing the wings upwards. It did, but not enough. The cracking noises emitted form the interior as I did so was painful, particularly as I’d lavished a good part of my Easter holiday on this kit, fiddling with microscopic particles of metal and with a complicated scheme that had been reworked three times until I got it right, and each time me thinking “this is doing me good, I’m learning all the time”.
It then dawned on me that that I had three options open to me. The first was to make my own longer struts from brass using the distinctive lugs off the kit struts at each end, an extremely fiddly process where the geometry would have to be absolutely spot on. The second would be to build another. The third would be bin it and forget the whole thing. A good friend advised me: “Just put your foot on it. Move on. Life’s too short.”
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Are you kidding? I just can’t do It! This confounded model represents all the time I could have spent doing a thousand other things during my holiday and free time. No amount of reassurance I gave to myself, that in spite of everything I will have learnt a lot from the process offered me no consolation whatsoever. My friend with the advice, a model maker of considerable skill and stature within the modelling community has astounded me with the lack of compassion he often shows towards his less successful efforts, borne out the necessity of the demands of his profession. But me, I make models for fun, and each one is a precious little creation. I just haven’t got the heart, and you never know, one day, in a better frame of mind, I might just have the patience. So the bits have gone into a box in the loft for another time. Maybe.
This idea of returning to a model after a period of frustration was swiftly put to the test the following day when I peered into the box of bits that represents the Blue Max Avro 504K that I started two years ago for Doncaster Air Museum. If you look under the “Latest Builds” section of this site you will see how much progress I’ve made, and I must admit, looking into the box after all this time I was pretty pleased with my efforts so far. I thought therefor that, with the kit 80% complete, I would get at least one model completed after the Gladiator disaster. Two days later I heard that voice again – “Put your foot on it”. With the white metal cabane struts in place I fitted the upper wing, only to find that all the metal struts that I’d previously prepared for the job were 1-2 mm short, and to compound what was turning into another swearfest, the cabane struts were coming away with my attempts to fit the wing. Everything is now back in the loft.
Doncaster Air Museum. I owe you all such a massive apology. I will, I swear, complete the kit that you gave me in good faith to make for you, sooner rather than later.
I’m not sure how different I am to other modellers but my approach to the making of kits is linear. You start one, you finish it, you start another. I’m not one for having lots of different things on at the same time. My free time is precious, modelling a means of relieving the many stresses of a stressful life, and I’ve been making models for most of it. So in a weird way I really mourn the loss of a model mid completion, and maybe a sensible form of closure would be to just get rid of it completely. As I mentioned at the start, this doesn’t happen often to me, but it did get me wondering how others deal with this. I’ve known many creative people, a lot of them artists, who are only as good as their last piece of work and see the no sense in getting too emotionally attached to it. It’s either a financial means to an end or it’s the next stage in an ongoing path of learning. Mine is definitely not the former, so a bit of the latter thinking, for me, would probably do me good.
By the way, for anyone of a footcrushing persuasion, there is a blog for you: https://stompcrush.wordpress.com/2009/page/3/