Drive or lack there of…..

 

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I was sitting at the kitchen table over the weekend with the cutting mat in front of me, a selection of glues set at the top, an array of tools off to the right along with the table lamp and an open box of plastic in front of me struggling to remember where I was the last time I opened up this box and glued some of the contents together and it made me wonder about what inspires or drives me to get a project started and see it all the way through to the end. Now I am not going to dazzle you with words of wisdom about how I can pick up a set of hand drawn plans a scalpel calculator and a stack of plasticard and built an award winning model, and please do not get me wrong I am not some celebrated award winning modeller either, I am and dare I say it just an average modeller trying to improve with every project that I complete which to be honest is not very often. As I have mentioned in older blog posts I struggle with finding the time and motivation to start a project and see it through to the end with last year being the exception thanks to my other half Kerry and Keith from my model club the Bulldogs for inspiring me and driving me along to the bitter end and even though it may not have been finished until the night before we left for scale model world last November, it got finished, and I will be honest it is a piece of work I am very proud of and is head and shoulders above anything else I have ever done. Now after feeling the high of completing my first kit in about 7 years you would think that I would be champing at the bit to get back to the bench once more, sadly this was not the case as I felt a bit of a burn out once we returned from Telford and sadly this burn out seems to have hung around for a bit too long. Normally this kind of lack of motivation I am feeling usually ends with a trip to a model show or the purchase of a new kit a book or a magazine full of inspirational models however none of these have worked this time and I am finding myself in a bleak model less wasteland.

When we returned from Telford with a car boot full of kits and bits that we had purchased plus the review kit that I discussed in my first blog post I thought excellent, give it a day or so to catch up on some sleep and I’ll be straight to the bench, knock that review sample out and it will be straight on with some nice builds over the Christmas break but NO… the modelling mojo had gone, hiding perhaps amongst the many boxes of unbuilt and half built kits that live in my workroom. I struggled through the review kit, and although it was not the easiest build it went together quite well and to be honest I was glad to see it off the workbench, I wrote the review and my very first blog post all in that same weekend and voila my very first pieces of work  were unleashed to the public and with it I hoped my need to get back to the bench, sadly not. It has become quite a curious thing, I purchased some new kits, a few books, a new airbrush, wrote some blog posts yet the mojo was still missing, what else do I need to do. I went and sat at the workbench, that did not work, I looked around the internet at various forums and on the various Facebook groups I am part of hoping that seeing some inspirational work would do the trick, and yet again I came up empty. In all of the 20 odd years of modelling had my want and need to model been so low. I spent some time tidying my workroom and especially around the workbench hoping a tidy work area would spur me on and still I was coming up short. Nothing I seemed to do was helping, a couple of the kits I purchased were aircraft hoping that building something different would spur me into action, that did not work either. The thought of sitting down opening a kit box and building a model was actually filling me with dread and I found myself questioning whether or not I wanted to carry on modelling, the lowest point of my time as a modeller. I had gone from building and completing my first model in 7 years, building and writing my first published article and the beginning of my blog to feeling nothing, it was a very strange situation.

As I broke for a week or so’s holiday the Friday before last I  set aside some time to write my latest blog post and hopefully get to the workbench and do some modelling maybe some pressure free modelling would help kick me out of this hole. My blog post titled shelf queens or the pile of shame and embarrassment threw up some curious responses which among them was a comment from Peter of MAN models regarding the Tamiya M8 greyhound that I have in my pile of shame and had made an appearance in my last blog posts picture. Peter is currently building a section of Mulberry Harbour for the aforementioned SIG display at SMW 2017 and said that it would look good for the display, so in a moment of unbridled enthusiasm I said I would finish it for the display. Now promising something and actually delivering are two different things however with quite a few months to go I am hoping that the mojo returns in earnest and it will be retrieved from the pile of shame and be finished in time. Now this is where it got a bit bizarre, having cleaned my house from top to bottom I decided to take myself off to the workroom and do some modelling, having sat down and looked around looking for some inspiration and with nothing going and feeling a touch of despair creeping in I decided to look through the boxes that make up the pile of shame, going from box to box trying to remember what point I was at with each model and as each box was dusted off looked in and put back the feelings of not wanting to model ever again got stronger, that was until I reached the box that holds my part built Tamiya 1/35 Willys Jeep, now this is a kit I started back after SMW 2013 and had remained part built ever since, as I looked through the box contents and slowly put them onto the cutting mat a slight wave of enthusiasm coursed through me and I could feel the 5 month modelling hiatus slowly coming to an end. It may not have happened with a flash of light and angels singing none the less it was at an end, all those months of struggle and doubt came to an abrupt end with a clip of the zuron sidecutters. Now it has been nearly a week since that eureka moment and since then I have finished building the jeep and have moved onto that M8 Greyhound that I have promised to the Mulberry Harbour sig display which in turn has reminded me why that particular kit got put to one side in the first place ….. the turret gun ring ggggrrrrrr…. Now with a bit of luck the modelling mojo has returned and although I am not burning with enthusiasm to get back to the bench I am quite looking forward to trying out the new airbrush and paint the jeep and tick off the first completed model of 2017, hopefully it will be an improvement on my last build and maybe even a slow progress away from being just an average modeller.

The average modeller.

Shelf Queens, or the pile of shame and embarrassment….

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You know that feeling when you drag a kit from the stash, part build it and lose interest because something comes up either another kit or just life and it gets put amongst the pile of ever increasing part builds or ‘shelf queens’, sound familiar? it could be my life story, to be honest I am a bit embarrassed by my pile of shame, that’s what I call it, at the start of every year I tell myself that this is the year, this is it the opportunity to complete all those part built part painted projects that are cluttering up the workroom like cars in a scrap yard, and yes you guessed it as every year passes the pile of shame has got taller and is not any closer to being reduced. I always start with good intentions, I select a box from the pile, put it down on the cutting mat, remove the lid and carefully put the part built whatever it is onto the bench, I study the instructions trying to fathom out where abouts I had got to the last time I had repeated this ritual, I look at the half build on the table, I look at the instructions, I look back at the kit, glance at what is left on each sprue, probably scratch my head a couple of times, change the song on the ipod, once again study the instructions then have a deep breath pop the sprues instructions and half build back into the box then return it to the place in the pile of shame it came from. This is a ritual that is oh so familiar to me and one that I have repeated too many times to remember. If I glance up and down the pile of shame there are kits that I started late last year, one or two from the same period the year before and the year before that probably, there are part builds from group builds on Facebook, half builds from campaigns on Armorama and Aeroscale, unpainted and unfinished kits from builds that I intended to put on my club stand at numerous shows down the years and even a kit that I was building as a 40th birthday present the intended recipient is now 54!!! it is so bad that I start more than I finish, it has become a very bad habit that I am finding increasingly difficult to break. So what is my plan?, well to be honest I do not have one maybe I should but I don’t, it probably needs a simple plan of action, maybe start at the top, finish at the bottom and everything in between without starting something new, but then what about those glorious new kit releases, ah!! a new build, a group build a commission, maybe something completely different to get those modelling juices flowing again and what about that bloody Tiger 1 build for Telford…..

We are now approaching mid April and as luck would have it I have not started any new kits this year which in essence means I have not added to the dreaded pile of shame however on the flip side of that I have done nothing to reduce it either. In an ideal world I would slowly make my way through the pile slowly reducing it to a distant memory putting all those now finished models in the display case to admire and reflect on how many bloody years did it take me.. we all know that the likelihood of that happening is nil, zero, zilch, hopefully I will get the modelling buzz back in the very very near future, (it has kind of deserted me so far this year and has hampered any progress),  and start to make my way through the pile of shame and make a good dent in it. Will that happen? probably not, I have my Telford builds to plan and execute they are not yet in the pile of shame and will hopefully never be regarded as an incomplete part build, then of course there are all the new kits that I promised I would not buy but of course have, then there are the kits just released or about to be that I need to buy and add to the stash to maybe built in a year or three’s time some of which will sadly be discarded and become remnants of a far to optimistic deadline and end up as new members of that ever annoying and seemingly ever increasing embarrassing club that is my pile of shame.

The Average Modeller.

I Love Model Shows!!!

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There I have said it and I admit it, I love model shows, whether it’s one of the biggies or a small local show I love them, the atmosphere the feeling the ambience I love it. last year I attended 8 and it would have been more had funds permitted. The show circuit for me, actually us, (always 2 and sometimes 3) starts in February and until recently started with Trucks ‘n’ Tracks in Folkestone now called On Tracks of course a lovely little show down by the sea and it is a show I highly recommend, the last couple of years we have not attended due to the other halves birthday so it has been kicked off with the very local ‘Sutton’ show, this has moved around a bit both in location and time of year, this year it was in Banstead during some light snow in early February. It is not one of the biggest shows of the year however the Sutton show or putting it correctly the North Surrey Military Modelling Group open day and competition was the first show I ever attended in the late 90’s and I have only missed one show since plus it is normally within walking distance of my house. The reasons that shows are very close to my heart is that you get to see the wonderful work your fellow modellers have been working on plus you get to see friendly faces and have a chat (and spend some hard earned cash of course). Usually the next stopping off point for us is Southern Expo held in Hornchurch Essex, this show normally has the backdrop of early spring weather which is an added bonus, I have to admit it is a lovely show, it is called the ‘Friendly show’ and I can see why, it has a lovely atmosphere and one to attend if you have never done so. If you attend Sunday there is also the bonus of the competition to cast your eye over and marvel at the skills of our fellow modellers. As the weather gets better and we begin to shed those coats the IPMS Milton Keynes show Modelkraft comes bouncing along, this show is one of my favourites and it is a great show. This show for us is a weekend affair and gives us the opportunity to come up, stay and spend time with the other halves parents and attend the show of course. Modelkraft will always hold a special place in my heart as I was born just down the road in Bletchley and it was the first show I took the other half to and although she was singled out by a visiting Darth Vader and his stormtroopers it has not put her off attending the show and we have returned every year since 2013.

Up until a few years ago this would have been our last show until after the air show season, sadly after witnessing the Hawker Hunter crash at Shoreham in 2015 the air show scene is something we given a wide birth to, maybe we will return to it this year, who knows. Last year the Lancing model show came onto our radar, I think it was flagged up on Facebook by Peter of MAN Models and we took a gamble took a nice drive down to the coast, what can be better than a nice small show down by the sea on a sunny day, it had a few traders and clubs and a well attended competition which included works by the highly talented Andrew Argent, a great little show that we will be returning to again this year. This is where we take an interval in the model show circuit  which is just as well I suppose, you attend you spend, I am a great believer that the traders are there to make money so you need to part with that hard earned cash to support them because if we do not they will not return and what would a show be without them?, it is a fine balance of course to find the right ingredients to make a show work, an easily accessible venue, a fair entrance fee, some local parking not necessary free but local, the right amount of club stands and a sprinkling of traders and a well attended competition, throw in a good selection of available refreshments and voila you have the winning formula, of course this is subjective what I like to see at a show is not what everybody likes, it’s chalk and cheese. I am a armour modeller for the most part however I love to walk round seeing the many various elements of the hobby, I may prefer to see a well weathered tank to say a shiny car however we all have that one thing in common our love of the hobby, plus modelling is by nature a hobby of lonely solitude with maybe just the radio or our pet to keep us company so the shows give us a chance to blow away the cobwebs show off what we have being working on and meet up to chat too like minded people.

The second half of the show circuit for us kicks off with the IPMS Farnborough show in deepest surrey, it is another show that is close to my heart I first attended it back in about 2007 with my Step Dad and it is where I first got acquainted with the southern members of my club The Bulldogs Andy, Andy  and Lucky, the show itself has a very friendly atmosphere and no competition which I think adds to the friendliness of the show. I have attended the show as both a visitor and exhibitor in fact this was the show I first displayed my work to the public and was completely painless… After Farnborough the next show up for us was the London MAFVA show, quite a small show in Kensington with a couple of traders to convince us we needed to part with some cash plus it had a well attended competition with some great work on show, it was our first MAFVA show and we will return again this year if the opportunity arises, although this year we are attending the Farnborough show and Euro miniature expo, the replacement for Euro Militaire in the same weekend so the London MAFVA show may be swapped for that instead and plus you need to carefully spread those modelling funds. Hovering slightly over the now defunct Euro Militaire for a moment, I attended Euro back in 2002 and although the level and standard of work that was on show was beyond what I had ever seen before, the atmosphere was not up there with what I had felt at other shows hence one of the reasons why I have not attended since. After the London MAFVA show all eyes are on the biggie, Scale model world in Telford, this is for us the greatest model show on earth, it is the opportunity to have a whole weekend of models and socialising. Last year was a near disaster as the other half and driver of our duo tore a thigh muscle 3 weeks before hand and was on crutches, unable to drive and thoroughly feeling bad about it. I was planning to actually finish something for the club stand after a challenge from talented modeller and fellow club member Keith Forsyth, to be honest it was the challenge I needed and I was right up for it. With driver unable to drive or walk for that matter, our Telford plans for the first time were in jeopardy thankfully it was her left leg and we duly hired an automatic, a lovely Mercedes C class and made the long trip without too many problems. Going to Telford, meeting up with members of your club, some of which you  haven’t seen since the same time last year, having a  laugh, loads and loads of models in a place full of fellow modellers really is the highlight of the modelling year and I always leave on the Sunday afternoon sad in one way yet happy in another and then you start the countdown to next years main event, usually promising yourself that you will not spend so much next year which usually turns out to be an empty promise. A side note to last years SMW that I must mention, my club the Bulldogs decided to hand out an award for the best piece of ‘work’ on the club stand, I have to admit I quite fancied having the accolade of being first recipient of that award however having cast my eye over the standard of work on the stand on the Saturday I had resigned myself to the fact that it was not to be, I also have to mention that the other half did not have a model on the stand yet had made some of her amazing shortbread to share amongst us all. On the Sunday morning after the 2 minutes silence and the annual club photo you can imagine her surprise when club El Presidente and talented modeller Mal Mayfield handed her the trophy, it makes a great photo and so although I did not win it went to a worthy winner, well done Kerry..

The show circuit comes to a close for us at the London plastic model show held for the last few years at the London business and design centre in London, it is a great show in a great venue, it also has a great atmosphere and it finishes off our shows for the year just nicely, the competition is attended well with normally some good work on show to cast your eye over. It is also a chance to stock up on those few paints and the like you forgot to get at Telford a few weeks prior. Modelling for me is multi faceted, you have the manufacturers that work on and baffle us with their choice of kit release, then you have the seller whether that be anonymous sellers from the internet, the local model shop or traders at the shows, then us the model makers, the model builders who take the kits and carefully put them together ready to share them with maybe just ourselves, family friends or our club member and maybe even the modelling public at shows and maybe if we think it is good enough in the competition to be analysed picked over and talked about. Then there are the shows that bring us all together, dragging us sometimes kicking and screaming out from behind our workbenches in workrooms man caves and the like to chew the fat over everything from the latest kit releases, right paint shade, latest magazines books decals painting techniques the list is endless, bringing us together and I think that it is a great thing and that is why I love model shows.