Sunday, 30 August 2015

To see, or not to see.

August's Sprue Cutters' Union question: do you bother with details that will not be seen in the finished product or do you pour your heart and soul into each nook and cranny of the build?

Back in the early 70s, at the age of thirteen, I joined an IPMS chapter in Lancashire and discovered 'serious' modelling. One of the first things I learned was that real modellers aren't satisfied with a kit supplied seat and pilot, they must add cockpit detail. Long before resin and photo-etch aftermarket parts were available, I laboured away with styrene sheet and stretched sprue, adding sidewalls, joysticks, instrument panels and seat harnesses. Similar effort went into wheel wells and bomb bays. And sure enough, I'd glue the canopy on and add the undercarriage doors, and all that detail would disappear into the shadows. But, my conscience was salved just knowing it was there.

I didn't question this procedure for many years, and I don't consciously remember actually doing so, but at some point I stopped adding extra detail where it couldn't be seen. I didn't have the time, didn't really enjoy it, no-one really cared whether it was there or not besides me, and I preferred to focus on other aspects that I liked such as painting, decalling and weathering. By that time manufacturers were supplying a little more detail in the box anyway. I got lots more models finished and enjoyed it more.

And then, nine years ago, it changed yet again. I was approached by Model Airplane International to write a couple of articles for publication. Because every aspect of the builds was being documented, it was necessary to concentrate on the models' innards and then take giant high-res photos of them. Even though the extra work was invisible on the actual models, it had to be there for all to see in the pages of the magazine.

Today I'm a lot more relaxed about what to include. For instance on a recent build of the Revell 1/48 Stearman I omitted a handful of detail parts that simply served no purpose – they added nothing to the structural integrity of the kit and would have been completely closed up in the fuselage behind the engine. My general rule now is that if something can only be seen on the finished model using a flashlight and dental mirror, it can safely be left out. 

Still, I can't help but be impressed (and somewhat intimidated) by those talented modellers who do cram in every switch, cable and ignition wire, and who do it well – I may not emulate them, but I am inspired by them.

Now you see it
Now you don't
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