Oh my, what is that you said? Forget the… Ugh I can’t even repeat that ugly title. No Dave, say it isn’t so!! You bastard!
Ok, ok, maybe the title is a bit harsh, but the feeling is still there.
What’s that you say? You hate children? Well, you just don’t have any of your own, that’s why you don’t care about them.
No, how about just letting me talk for a second here before drawing conclusions. When I say forget the children, I mean with regards to modeling. One of the large IPMS pushes is for the make-n-take program. In fact they have asked for a voluntary donation from each of the clubs to help support this program after the hobby industry pulled their support. Thus far several clubs have fallen for this and actually donated.
Ok, ok, maybe once again I’m a bit harsh. I guess I’m just somewhat at a loss to figure out who this program benefits? Putting a kid in a room with a bunch of other kids to build a relatively crummy kit (the last ones I saw were Airfix Zeros and Vals, nice choices subject-wise, but still not very good kits). The kids assembled them with the sticky glue that smells like oranges and ended up with some gray looking things that somewhat resembled planes with king kong sized fingerprints on them.
Now all that’s well and good, but what did it prove? Dad could drop the kids off with complete strangers at a model contest so he could go look at the cool stuff in the other room? That little Johnny could build a model? That now little Johnny will be a modeler by virtue of this one kit and that he will carry the memory with him for the rest of his life? Well, maybe, but I seriously doubt it.
Think back to your beginning days of modeling, what got you hooked? For me, with airplanes, it was the pictures of airplanes that my dad brought back from the war. Before that it was the friend of mine whose dad raced stock cars at the local dirt track. I remember one summer building just about every Revell/Monogram car kit that there was. Each car took a total of one day, but was a masterpiece when I finished it. Looking back, what I built was basically pretty bad, even for a kid my age, but I truly enjoyed the heck out of it.
For many of you out there, your first memory of modeling was that it was something that you did with your Dad. Dad sat down and helped build that first kit with you and told you how terrific you were at modeling. It really didn’t matter much if you were actually any good at it, he was simply proud that you tried.
My Dad wasn’t a modeler, but he dutifully brought me to Woolworth’s to pick out the next masterpiece that I would work on. He bought the glue and putty (although I was never really that sure what the putty was for) and he encouraged me as best he could, especially since he had no real talent in this area himself.
So now we fast forward into the late 90’s and early 2000’s and what are we doing? Well, having Dad at home encouraging his kids to model, isn’t enough anymore, after all we all know that dad’s are super-busy guys. So, we have to make it a social function. Kids have to have a program to do this because if they do it alone, they will become anti-social, mean and they may build (insert suspense music here) CARS!!!! Oh no, not that!!! If it’s not an organized activity like little league baseball, mites hockey or 5th & 6th grade football, it’s not something that kids should be involved in. If you can’t have a fundraiser and buy a uniform for it, it’s not a real activity. I think we’ve truly missed something here folks.
So, where should our efforts be made, if not a 6 year old that will build one kit during their childhood? That’s simple, 25-45 year olds.
Most have the time and disposable income to be able to buy the correct tools and decent models to start their hobby in the right way. No ill-fitting Monogram kit whose molds are 30+ years old and no longer are for beginners. No sticky glue only real glue that puts hair on your chest and makes your eyes water and alters your genetic code. At this age, you can generally afford to get the good stuff, that stuff that will keep you interested and keep you going back to your local plastic pusher. Stuff that even with limited skills will make you look like a pretty darn good modeler.
But how do we do this? The answer is even simpler. Advertise in magazines like Air Classics, Flight and whatever the current car, armor and ship journals are. Sell folks on the idea of the hobby and the joy that it brings so many. This is indeed your target market. People with money (can kids afford some of the better kits of today and better yet, can they even buy glue?) and some free time and most of all a passion for their topic, be it aircraft, ships, figures or cars. These are people that may enjoy doing something with their hands instead of staring at a computer or television screen endlessly. These are also people we need to have our hobby survive and grow.
So what about the children then? Will they go plasticless? No, absolutely not. As these new modelers are brought into the fold, they are bound to reproduce. When they do, they can share their shelves of doom with little Johnny and maybe even little Sally. They can have those quality Dad moments with their kids and pass the love of the hobby on (until the kid discovers girls of course and then the kid won’t even be able to spell airplane or Hasegawa anymore) to another generation of future modelers.
So what’s the bottom line? Forget the kids, at least for now. Concentrate on the adults that will have the next generation of modelers in their family. If you are lucky enough to have kids, take some time and sit down with them and build a model. You won’t regret the time that you spend or the look of joy on their face when you blow that model up in the back yard with a firecracker.
Now, go build something and this time, take your kids with you.