August 24, 2001


Last two columns dealt with ethical issues and some slight inner soul-searching. Like I said, thinking too much on such intellectual subject matters can easily lead to massive migraines, so I've decided since we're in this hobby too deeply, judging from our over stuffed kit closets, and over-burdening model shelves, that we should just move on to sunnier thoughts!

Was thinking the other day how to better serve the Garage Kit industry in providing up to the minute information on the happenings and new kit releases going on around this hobby of ours. Granted, the Internet provides many of us with a pretty powerful tool and over the years I've been pretty happy with how this site's grown and the number of folks that hit it on a recurring basis.

But what more can we do to improve this hobby of ours?

Last night I was checking a few search engines, seeing if anyone had published photo's from last weekends WIZARDWORLD Con, when I stumbled across a fairly new comic web site over in Merry Old England way! The place is called BorderLine and is nothing more than a one page site where you can go and download their electronic magazine in Adobe pdf format. Check out the first issue!! Truly a piece of fine work by all involved!!

Not having much else to do that night, I read their 'mission statement' blurb, which stated:

Borderline is a new British magazine about comics, designed for internet delivery as a printable PDF file which can be read using the Adobe Acrobat Reader freeware.

We aim to present a broad mix of approaches to comics, ranging from the American scene through European comics and to less widely covered topics. Borderline is the result of a renaissance in British fan circles during the last two years but with the use of the internet for delivery we hope to offer something with points of interest to readers of comics anywhere in the world.

Editor Phil Hall has assembled a team of contributors with the aim to entertain while offering insight and to celebrate the diversity of the medium.

Borderline is available in both low and high resolution editions - the low resolution is about 2.5mgs and the high comes in at about 4.8mgs. Of course, my connection that night was pretty good, so I downloaded and saved the high resolution, and for the next 45 minutes was blown away with what I saw!!

Not only was this first issue jammed packed with great articles, reviews, interviews and nice graphixs, but you get all of this for free!! Now this is taking full advantage of the capabilities, and possibilities, the Internet is good for!! And yes, I realize this isn't the first website or subject matter to do this, but come on... it's still neat as all hell!!

I'm seriously wondering if we should do something like this? Now I know we have some great magazines already covering this hobby of ours! Hell, I'm on the staff of one myself and there's alot of my friends who each write for one of the other three. But there's alot we can do in this format that doesn't have to step on their toes at all!

What if we decide to stay away from kit buildup reviews, and areas the present magazines cover so well and cover other areas?

Such as;

  • a retrospective look at the birth and past years of this hobby both in past OOP kits and some big names in the hobby back then (maybe a 'where are they now' feature?)

  • showcase new kit arrivals with more detailed photo's and angles than is provided in those short kit reviews

  • spotlight with bio's and photo's the folks involved in all aspects of this hobby.. from sculptors, and producers, to the average Joe's in the model building arena

  • showcase the various hobby stores that cater to our hobby. 'Who are the owners', and feature photo's of their stores

We could even ask the four magazine editors and staff writers to use this forum to publish color versions of their kit build up articles that appeared in previous issues in black & white. Or use it to expound on previous articles where space considerations were a concern! Maybe feature a page per magazine as a 'preview of upcoming issues' for each of the editors? Wouldn't that be a tittivating gimmick to attract new readers?

Just looks like a great format that's ripe for exploitation by the GK hobby! Have no idea on how frequent something like this can be cranked out, but let me know your thoughts on this whole pdf thing!

There's also been some msgs flying around saying the Gremlins web site's been down for a spell. (This was prior to the explosion on Thursday!!) ;) I tried getting in there myself recently without success, and hoping that this site never does go away completely!!

Denis has provided alot of his own equipment and bandwidth in providing this site for all us resin-heads, and the number one thing that makes this site so valuable is the fact that anyone of us can contribute to it. We don't have to send in information or kit photo's to a webmaster, then wait patiently while he finds time in his busy schedule to get them up there for all to see. You just fill out the handy forms and 'poof' there they are!

Many of us learned an awful lot about this hobby and all the kits it had to offer because of this site. Sure, the server Denis uses isn't the most reliable, but then his site isn't costing anyone anything, either!

What bothers me though is that the majority of folks look upon both the Gremlins message list and the Gremlins Web Site as one and the same thing. I'm not entirely convinced yet that's a fair assessment. Either to Denis or to those of us who like the web site. It's been argued that the numerous, lengthy and oft-times idiotic flame wars that have taken place on the message list should have been better moderated and stopped by Denis, but instead were left to fester unrestricted. I submit that Denis might have designed and implemented both the web site and the figure list to be self sustaining, providing a combination of gallery, showcase and message forum for those of us to use freely! We (the select few involved) are the one's that abused the playground in regards to the message forum, resulting in the exodus of many good and talented people! And we (the select few who remain) are left without the fine advice, tips and talent these good people no longer contribute.

Granted, both the site and the list are no where near as great as they were three or four years ago! I concur wholeheartedly!!

But the web site still fills a very important niche in this hobby! That being one central point to get the skinny on the state of the hobby. And I say let's not let this fine site fade away into obscurity!! Kit Producers, Modelers, both can easily bring this site back up to the importance it once proudly held! Again, it's up to us... Let's not lose a good thing!! Utilize it!!!

Lastly, I received an e-mail about protecting us from rip-off artists. He was wondering if there was a forum or site available where everyone could go that would be more permenant than just posting a message on a msg forum, which would disappear in a few weeks or months?

I don't believe there is such a place presently, and I absolutely know that I don't want to start one!!  :)

I suggested if he felt that strongly about the issue, and I think the thought has merit, that he might want to check out the many free web hosting sites and start one himself!

I also suggested that he'd need some clear cut guidelines and rules worked out on how one would go about 'making their case' and getting a name added to the list. It's a touchy subject, and reputations are on the line here! One can't go into this half-cocked just because they got ripped off and in their anger and frustration start this thing up. It would have to take long, careful consideration and a well thought out plan if this suggestion bears fruit. If done right, it could possibly be a very worthwhile tool... especially for new people entering the hobby. If done wrong, the preverbial shit could not only hit the fan, but one could find themselves before da' Judge!!

Personally, it's much too hot a potatoe for me!!

Around the hobby....

Well, the word finally got out that Frank Cahall's 'FATMAN PRODUCTIONS' is closing his doors and selling off his massive kit stock. Don't really know how I feel about this, to tell the truth.

Think Frank's stock of kits and his prices were the best around, and I know I've got a bunch of his stuff in my closet!! In the three years I've gotten to know him, I've developed a liking for the big lug and had the pleasure of meeting him personally at CHILLER THEATRE back in October 2000, and had a load of laughs! To me there was Frank the Friend and Frank the Business Man, and he'll tell ya that I wasn't shy in telling him what I thought sometimes about his business practices!

I think Frank should have stayed out of the mail-order aspect of the hobby and focused on the molding/casting portion of the biz! Maybe use VLS as his ONLY store front and himself at shows and not worry about accepting orders and trying to mail stuff off. He tried! Gawd knows he tried!!

Many of us close to him were pretty impressed with his turn around in 2000 and thought his past problems were far behind him! Alas, life isn't always fair and kind. Reality reared it's ugly head and he started getting overwhelmed once again. Ultimately I think closing is a smart move for everyone involved. The pressure and stress on Frank was getting greater and he certainly wasn't having fun anymore! The folks waiting on product weren't singing praises in the streets either.

I sincerely hope he doesn't leave the hobby altogether and I'd love to see him at future shows and continue to converse with him via emails and ICQ! But whatever you do, Frank, I sincerely wish ya the best, buddy!

Til next week...

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