May 18, 2001KNOCK, KNOCK...WHO's THERE?
Was shooting the breeze with Tony 'Calliban' Aranjo the other night when we got on the subject of this column. I asked if he had any ideas for future subject topics and he replied, "Getting rid of the Cliques!"
Well, I gotta admit here folks that about thirty different thoughts shot through the old gray matter as I tried to figure out what he meant! Finally I played it safe and just asked, "What cliques?"
He said, "You know...the military tank guys vs. the ships guys vs. the plane guys, who all feel superior to the dino guys vs. the figure guys vs. the monster guys vs. the female guys!"
"Everyone stays within their own group and man, we all have so many great tips and tricks that could be shared between each other!"
He went on to tell me that he was taken aback by the reception he got at "...CHILLER after my seminar (which was off the cuff), from not only figure builders but also some minature painters, first time builders, etc. who bombarded me with questions on Sunday when I was walking thru the show! I was more than happy to help. Bottom line; builders should TALK to each other more!!"
He started a club at Hiway Hobby and has all types of modelers showing up now! Not only is he able to share his experiences and short-cuts, but he's picking up new ones with every meeting!!
Now I'm a little skeptical on this subject. Yes, during the lean years when the styrene industries weren't putting out a whole lot of SF or Fantasy kits, and I was unaware of the Garage Kit scene, I was forced to buy and build some Navy Jet Fighters, ships and submarines to feed my kit building hunger (that and the fact that all the overseas Exchange carried was military models!). It was either that or buy up another Strek Enterprise or SWars X-wing Fighter for the 4th time and build those again. And since I'm in the Navy, all of the ships I've bought have been ones I've been stationed on.
I've even tried the IPMS scene...on more than one occasion! Granted all the chapters near my house were also in big military towns, so it wasn't too surprising that the chapters were full of Military Modelers. Norfolk, Virginia, itself has a ton of bases within spitting distance of one another!
There's no doubt in this kid's mind that they aren't a talented bunch of folks...they are! But....well... they're a strange breed!!
Yes, yes! I'm well aware that those of us in this portion of the hobby more than likely fall into the Abby Normal category as well!! But, man...sometimes those folks give me the down-right willies!!! They get really, really, and I mean REALLY irate if a guy painted dirt on the underside of the left front wheel well, cuz you know "...when this here style of Jeep is traveling over a German farmers field at 53mph, that all mud kicked up will land HERE, HERE and HERE and definitely not HERE!! Sheesh, what is wrong with this dude?!" And I don't care how secure you are in your self esteem, you walk in with a Creech and trod past the 25 rows of 8 foot long tables to the front of the meeting room, gingerly place your proudly-painted Creech securely on the 'Kit Table', look for and not find any other figure model on the table, turn around and take in those 407* eyes just looking at ya in 'that way'... and tell me your stomach don't flip once or twice!!
(* yes, 407...Papa John lost one in 'Nam in 67'! Real proud of that he was, and man did he sport a wide variety of eye patches, to boot!!)
Maybe Tony was more successful because there wasn't one major modeling faction already in place when the other people started showing up?! Maybe there was a handful of guys showing up at the first meeting from all walks of Modeling life, so everyone there was new and trying to fit in all at the same time. Vice me trying to walk in to a tightly formed group of guys who've known each other for years with similar Modeling backgrounds and favorites and me with my Monsters, Females and TV characters trying to put the square peg in the round hole?!!
If you can begin from that starting point, then yeah, maybe you can blur the different modeling factions and just get down to sharing painting, masking, weathering tips on pieces of styrene, vinyl or resin! It's not important WHAT you're applying it too, but HOW you're applying it, to achieve the best results! Many people in our hobby tell of modeling clubs, even IPMS chapters, that are full of cross-subject modelers and that each model kit displayed is judged on overall merit. So it isn't impossible. More and more major IPMS shows are starting to receive higher numbers of SF figure/vehicles and some have resulted in their own categories and their own tables!
But I'm still skeptical and some what afraid of knocking down the walls. There's the fear of being overtaken by the masses, somewhat. We SF/Fantasy/TV modelers are a pretty small minority when stacked up against the other genres. How long would it take before the wind changes and you turn around one afternoon only to discover that your club of 15 general modelers is now 65 members, and you're the only SF/ Monster dude left?!
Fred DeRuvo, managing editor of Modeler's Resource likes to scare the shit out of me every four or five months with hints of taking his great mag in this direction. In the recent issue, number 40 (with the Deep Trespass cover), he calls it diversity in his editorial. He states,:
"What I'm stressing here is that this particular magazine will always present a varied approach to modeling; represented in our by-line, "For the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Vehicular and Figure Model Builder".
I think what scares me is that 'I' read the by-line as:
For the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Vehicular, Figure Model Builder". If there's a figure article or a vehicular article in the issue, I want it to be an SF or Fantasy figure or vehicle. On the other hand, Fred's not the managing editor strictly out of love for the hobby. This is a business as well and larger readerships mean more issues mean more money coming in. If his interpretation of his by-line is, you have your Sci-Fi group, your Fantasy group, your Vehicular group (tanks? Jeeps? Ships??) and your figure group (historical minatures? 28mm gamers?) then you've just increased your readership potential. Sure, you might lose the core group of the Aurora/Garage Kit scene, but in a business sense and number crunching equation you'll probably still come out on top. And I can't blame him if that IS what he hopes to achieve. (As I said, I don't know....in the past when I've brought up these fears of my interpretation of what he's saying, he's reassured me that we were actually on the same page! But he still manages to scare the shit out of me, like clockwork, every 4 or 5 months!! I do believe he gets some perverse pleasure out of doing this to me!!!) :)
But "Let's Hear it for Diversity...", as his editorial title states, sends shivers down my spine because I enjoy the few magazines out there today that only address our faction of the modeling genre. And if I'm one of those that also enjoys Military kits, or R/C kits, there's magazines out there that address those as well. Once you start trying to cover all aspects of modeling, you usually end up not covering any area adequately. What I'm afraid of is that if we try to diversify, we'll soon realize we aren't making anyone happy, and slowly over time go in the direction of what does make them happy and before you know it you're not getting your favorite 'Modeler's Resource' magazine, you're now getting a clone of 'Fine Scale Modeling'.
So the danger of being overcome by one or another Modeling faction, be it a club or a magazine environment, is present. Which leads to a splintering action by those that feel left out, looking for something that once again feeds their needs alone.
So I'm left not knowing if we should end the cliques and diversify in order to maximize learning techniques, or saying we're too small to do either without losing our identity to the big boys, thus falling back into separate cliques once again.
...and that just leaves me confused!!
Damn you, Calli!!!!
As a courtesy to Fred, I gave him an early look at this week's column and he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to respond....
"Buc, Buc, Buc - I really appreciate your concern and interest in MR, but you worry too much! :)
Ultimately, MR is a reflection of MY particular tastes in modeling. If you came over to my house, you would not see one military figure or vehicle. You wouldn't notice a model of a Chevy Impala or a Dodge RAM or any other vehicular kit that you might see driving down Any Street, USA.
Let me direct your attention to page 58 of Issue #40 where it says, in part: "Our tastes in modeling run the gamut, as we've said before. If it's a vehicular model of a character-related or specialty type of car, then we will most likely build it..." The type of vehicular kits I'm referring to (and this goes back to our by-line) are things like: Batmobile, Green Hornet's Black Beauty, DeLorean Time Machine, AMT's Prestige Silhouette, Ed Roth vehicles or just about any Tom Daniel type of kit. These are out of the ordinary and totally imaginative and because of that, I am drawn to them like flies to, well, you know...:)
My particular tastes are really eclectic because it's a strange mix of modeling that appeals to me. Figures have always been my number one love and always will be. Specialty type cars and character-related vehicles run a close second to that, then space/sci-fi.
Will I ever showcase a basic jet in the pages of the magazine? Highly doubtful UNLESS there is something that connects to my type of modeling and the jet is simply used as a prop or backdrop for the techniques outlined in the article. However, if it is simply being used to showcase a modeling method, then I would probably use something from the Sci-Fi arena for that. Take Mark Fergel's article this issue. Ultimately, he showed how to do camouflage, create snow and a few other things. Now that could have easily been done on a tank, but it would have bored me to tears and put off many readers as well.
To quote you, "If you can begin from that starting point, then yeah, maybe you can blur the different modeling factions and just get down to sharing painting, masking, weathering tips on pieces of styrene, vinyl or resin! It's not important WHAT you're applying it too, but HOW you're applying it, to achieve the best results!" That's completely true, yet I prefer NOT to utilize that method with the articles that we opt to publish, except in an "every great once in a while" case. Case in point: next issue #41 highlights the Forgotten Prisoner. I decided to "rust up" the chains and shackles on the prisoner. So, I contacted the folks at Rustall; they were kind enough to send me a sample of their wonderful product and I put it to work in the article. I could have easily showcased the rusting process on a car, because after all, I was simply going after how to render rust for that part of the article. I chose to use the product in the context of my particular likes within the spectrum of modeling that appeals to me, in this case, during the building of Forgotten Prisoner because it made perfect sense.
Modeler's Resource is a reflection of my particular tastes in modeling. I have no intention of becoming a clone of FineScale Modeler anymore than they have of becoming a clone of Modeler's Resource. As they are, the two magazines compliment each other beautifully (and it wasn't designed that way, by the way. It just happened). It's simply the way it is.
If you ever see a military figure in the pages of MR, I can guarantee you that it will be some type of futuristic military figure with a full-scale sci-fi diorama base to go with it. Why? Simply because I know nothing about actual military kits and I would be opening myself up to all kinds of critiquing for the shortcomings that would be evident in that article by all of the military modelers out there. PLUS, I'm not interested in historical/military figure kits, except viewing them when they are on display, which is why we've covered SCAHMS for years because of the awesome quality of those creations. I have found that many modelers enjoy looking at those types of kits and they stand in awe sometimes, but have no inclination to build them, themselves.
Will you ever see a tank in the pages of MR? Not unless it is a futuristic, sci-fi tank from the year 3050 with commandos in a battle scene diorama. Will you ever see a Chevy Malibu in an article? Not unless Superman has picked it up over his head and is getting ready to toss it at some arch enemy in a diorama! :)
I'm going to be doing an article on Lindberg's Diamond Duster, why? Because it's a cool, futuristic type of vehicular model and part of the article will focus on lighting it and creating a diorama base for it.
Anyway, don't be confused! :) MR is a magazine that has, what I consider to be, a great cross-section of modeling that appeals to many out there, but when all is said and done, what we cover is not really in the mainstream of modeling and most likely, never will be.
Many, many thanks, Fred for the response (and once again alleviating my concerns)! :) And let me take this perfect opportunity to sing the praises of the Modeler's Resource magazine! If you don't subscribe yet, you owe it to yourself to do so!!
The days til WONDERFEST are counting down quickly! For those going, let us know how much fun you had as we sit here missing it once again!!
Many thanks for all the e-mail responses and the opinions stated within! I really appreciate the feedback!
Til next week...