How much do you build? Rambling Random Thoughts For This Week.

A question to my readers (I think there are upwards of five of you now!)

How often do you model?

Sometimes real-life gets in the way of our hobbies, but I wonder how much leisure time folks spend on building? My wife and I don’t have children, and we rent an apartment, so we don’t have to worry about taking care of little ones or of doing yard-work, or doing fixer-upper type things around the house. I have a dissertation that eats up a good bit of time, but we still have a lot of leisure time. Sometimes we spend it by going out with friends, watching movies, playing video-games, or spending time at the gym, or what have you. I also spend time making music, and practicing with my band, but both of us probably spend 75% of our free-time with our hobbies. For her that means knitting, for me its my plastic tanks and airplanes.

This came to me after looking at people’s 2010 modeling yearbooks on several modeling forums. The number of kits completed per year ranged from 0 to around 100, but for the most part ranged between 12 and 20 models. I built 24 kits last year, but had I not rushed on a few, I most likely would have fallen squarely into the 12-20 range.

If the other people who fall into that category build at about the rate that I do, then it probably averages out to 2-3 hours per evening for perhaps 9 months out of a year (not necessarily contiguously). That is a very unscientific and untested assumption. Instead, its based on my output from last year. I spent a lot of time at the workbench from January to March, then built nothing until July when things picked up again, and kept running at full tilt until right before Christmas.

I wonder how that compares to other builders. I wonder if the guys who produce one or two kits per year, typically build very deliberately and slowly, or if they just don’t have much time to build. I imagine both scenarios exist. I’d also be very interested to hear from those who are able to produce well over fifty kits per year. How much of your leisure time do you spend building?

Also would love to hear if your building episodes are punctuated by long breaks, or if you tend to keep a steady pace, barring real life interruptions.

Please share your thoughts. and vote in the poll below.
Remember, this is just to incite conversation, so no harsh judgments of each others habits.


Runaway modeling

No, not runway modeling, runaway modeling.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a fairly comfortable life, with a good job, a good wife, a healthy social life, and many interests and activities outside of gluing plastic. But I do have a propensity to blow huge chunks of time at the work bench (and yes, I realize this is very much a First World “problem”). I don’t have any children, so on some nights, when there is nothing else going on, I have, at least in theory, all afternoon and evening after I come home from work, to play with my models. Sounds fun, huh? It is for a bit.

The last few evenings I have been painting my Airfix BF-110. The kit is typical modern Airfix; generally accurate in shape, but a bit spartan in terms of detail, and with those heavy handed awful panel lines. But that isn’t the point. A few nights ago I painted the aircraft in a RLM 02/71 splinter camo as the instructions suggested. After I was finished I began poking around the web to see how winter whitewash camouflage was applied to these planes and realized Airfix might have gotten the colors wrong. I immediately went into OCD mode and began repainting. Its at times like these that I tend to get sloppy, and often mess up kits.


The original scheme was airbrushed, and masked over the course of three or four one to two hour sessions. No big deal, right? Well, once I started to repaint I got the overwhelming urge to fix the mistake NOW! I don’t understand why I get that way, but I do. I began to brush paint a new camouflage over the old pattern. Things began to go wrong. I began getting brush marks, I began to get uneven coverage. I broke off one of the wheel well doors. And I was getting tired. All in all, I had spent about 4 hours trying to fix a mistake and making it worse. I went to bed still obsessing about how I was going to fix the mess.

The next day I went to work, and the moment I got home I went back to fussing with the kit. I began to airbrush over some of my mistakes, and produced an acceptable, if somewhat sloppy, reproduction of German early-mid war camouflage. This took some three hours, most of which I could have devoted to doing something with my wife, taking the dog for a walk, going for a jog, playing guitar…hell, anything! Why, because not for a moment during those three hours did I feel like modeling! Crazy, huh?

To top it off, I caught wind of the fact that perhaps my first camouflage wasn’t wrong anyway.

second incarnation

Nevertheless, at this point I was determined to make the model not look like a complete mess, so I continued to paint. I began misting on thin coats of white paint, irregularly to simulate the winter whitewash. It was starting to look ok, so after about an hour of this, I put the model away for the evening.

No longer freaking out; the next night I came home from work, went to the gym, had some family time, and finally sat down with the kit around 6:30 PM. I fully intended to spend no more than an hour or two at the bench. I “distressed” the winter whitewash, applied a coat of floor polish (which made things looks a bit wonky again – but no stress this time as I was expecting that), and walked away. I came back at it a few hours later, once the polish was dry, and applied some decals.

now with whitewash

I should have left it there. But I decided I didn’t like that the fuselage band yellow wasn’t matching the yellow on the decals. So I started trying to fix it! Well needless to say, there went the rest of the evening again. In the end I managed to get a more or less acceptable result, but not before almost ruining parts of the finish, and fraying more nerves.

What a waste of time! I burned away, I don’t know how many valuable hours the last few nights. I have a decent looking BF-110, which will probably look pretty good once its actually finished, but A) I’m tired of the model, and really have no inclination to keep working on it now, and B) No matter how decent it ends up looking, there will be minor scars from all of my “fixing” of things.

If I had not let myself obsess over mistakes which could have been addressed slowly, over the course of a few short, productive, and FUN modeling sessions, I probably would have had the model fixed by now anyway, and would still be viewing my time with the BF-110 as a treat, a pleasant distraction. Which is what modeling should be.

I tell myself I’ll never do it again. I will manage my time more efficiently and not waste time modeling, when modeling stops being fun. There are people out there who would kill to have the luxury of leisure time, and by letting myself turn my leisure time into frustration I am doing myself a disservice, and insulting them.