The mid-season television replacements include a new
show, Survivor – The Shelf of Doom. Huh?
That’s right, your modeling nightmare is coming to the small screen
in your home this April!
Ok, so maybe it won’t be a big hit, but neither was
“Hello Larry” or “The Anna Nicole Smith Show”, but it’s possible!
Here’s kind of how I see this new reality TV show playing out.
The show opens with a modeler (you for instance)
standing in front of your shelf of doom.
Each kit standing at attention looking at good as their box art
allows them too. You scratch
your chin as you think about the relative merits of the “contenders”.
There’s that Hobbycraft Mig-17. Hmmm, let’s take a look inside the box. Ewwww, kit decals! No,
simply not good enough to be the one chosen to remain on the island.
Oh, a Tamiya Corsair, now this one has some possibilities.
But then too there’s the Hasegawa Hellcat, yes, you’ve built that
one at least twice before and it brought you much validation!
Quickly scanning the rest of your 48th scale kits the tiki
torch quickly finds an Accurate Miniatures B-25.
No, that kit is too rare to actually build, it must be put back.
A quick glance to the left at your 72nd
scale kits reveals, well, umm, nothing that you really want to build; after
all, it’s really not your scale. But
wait; there is that Tamiya Spitfire that you won an award with just last
year. Hmmm, once again,
possibilities are starting to arise. Oh,
but there is that KP Spitfire on floats.
You’ve always wanted to do one of those.
Yes, yes, yes!!! We
have a winner as the rest of the kits on the shelf of doom have been voted
off the island.
You drag the KP Spitfire kit back to your workbench
much like a lion dragging its kill back to its den.
Memories of the hunt for this kit rush over you as prepare to cut
through the seven pieces of tape that the local hobby shop has put on the
box to ensure that you won’t be able to actually see the contents of the
box. Before you open it,
you note the price tag on the outside.
$15. Not bad for that
kit that you have always wanted.
Not bad for the next kit to bring you validation.
Isn’t life grand!
Wait, wait! You
just remembered that SAMI had a review of this kit.
You wonder if you can find it? You
set the box down and go to a stack of magazines and start digging.
An archeologist isn’t as thorough as you are going through your
stack. Articles about other
topics distract you slightly as you page through five years of back issues.
Much like a 4-month-old hunting dog pup chasing a butterfly through
the field, you find yourself reading articles about an Oscar, about a KC-97
and some Yugoslavian plane that you’ve never heard of.
After nearly two hours and about a dozen magazines, you realize that
you actually hadn’t checked the magazines for the article you were looking
for and you must go back through them.
This time you find a color profile of a F-104 in NASA markings that
kind of strikes your fancy. Darn
it, you must stay on task, after all, validation awaits you!
The slippery article finally reveals itself.
You quickly glance through it and read the review.
The review sparkles with superlatives about the model.
“Outstanding”, “Fun” and “Interesting” are all used.
and fun times are in your crosshairs.
You finish the article and see the notes about a couple
books that were used to research the history section of the article.
Hey, this is great; you have all three books that are mentioned in
the article! You decide that
you have come this far, you might as well follow through with the research
and do this thing right.
Off to the National Archive of Aircraft History, better
known as your bookshelf. Over
the years you have collected bits and pieces of information about all topics
aviation, “just in case” there was a need for it.
Now your plan has fulfilled itself and all of your wife’s words
that where mumbled under her breath about your mini-Library of Congress
seems somewhat less justified. You
are able to smile broadly as you think about this small and singular
victory. After all, you had all
three references that were mentioned in this article.
You are the man!
Unfortunately, the bookshelf experience is much like
the magazine experience. You
become lost in the archive section (which really is your entire set of
bookshelves) as you flip through Profiles.
You suddenly realize that you don’t quite understand why you have
three copies of the Profile (series) on the Oscar, or two copies on a
Firefly, or worse yet, seven copies of the one on the B-17.
But all that is unimportant right now.
After all you are here researching, ummm, hmmm, let’s see, it was
something British I think. No
it was Russian. No, that
doesn’t ring a bell. Oh yeah,
it was the Spitfire on floats.
Your search begins again and you are able to locate the
books referenced in the magazine. You
look in the index of the first book and turn to the page where you can begin
reading and researching this most spectacular project.
You flip to the pages listed on the index page and find one sentence
on the Spitfire Floatplane conversion.
It basically says that two Spitfires were converted to a Floatplane
version of the aircraft. We already knew that. This
was worth a reference in the magazine? Ok, next reference. This
one has to be better. It is,
but only slightly. There is a
single very small, very grainy photo of the aircraft, a frontal view. Yippee, I can tell almost nothing from this.
You are counting on your final reference to give you
some clue as to something about this aircraft.
Well, it probably does say something extremely profound;
unfortunately whatever it says it does so in Polish!
You have now come to the realization that you will just
have to depend on the kit to give you whatever information you can get.
After all, they had to research it, didn’t they?
But first, you will make a quick stop by the computer and order up
some detail parts. After all, you can always find details for a Spitfire and all
the cockpits are alike, right?
After 45 minutes online, you have filled your shopping
cart with a cockpit set, a photoetch set, a new propeller, another book on
the Spitfire and a new vac canopy. You
type in your credit card number and hit send.
Your new parts will arrive in a bit over a week and you will be set
to go. By now it’s after 10
o’clock and you’re getting sleepy.
A week goes by without you setting foot in your model
room. The big day arrives and
you get your box of goodies from your favorite Internet retailer.
The anticipation is huge as you cut open the box.
You expect light to come from the box (as if this was the Ark of the
Covenant) as you break the seal and reveal the newest additions to your
family of Doom. You fondle the
parts and pieces briefly and then rush down to your hobby room.
It’s at this point that you realize that you
haven’t even opened the box with the model in it.
You grab your exacto knife and carefully slice through the tape.
You shake the contents out of the box (it is after all one of those
stupid boxes that opens on the end and that you can’t store stuff in while
you are working on the kit). Out falls… several lumps of plastic.
Note that I didn’t say, “out falls a magnificent
masterpiece of modern tooling”, or even “out falls a Spitfire” I said
“out falls several lumps of plastic.
Ok, so a lump might not be an exactly accurate, I guess it did
somewhat resemble a Spitfire and at least the floats looked like Floats.
“fun” or “interesting” are definitely not words that come to mind to
describe what is sitting on the table in front of you.
Somehow disappointment doesn’t quite cover what you
feel. You feel a bit stupid for
spending the extra money on all the “extras”, you feel irritated that
you didn’t open the box in the first place.
You feel upset that this won’t be the next great project on your
The thing is, it could be your next great project, but
you won’t let it. Instant
validation has overwhelmed you. You
don’t want to build anything that may be “hard” to build.
You want your validation NOW and you want it served up on a photoetch
Have we all become a bit too soft? Have we got the equivalent of modelers ADD (attention deficit
disorder)? Or are you just
Well, it’s probably a bit of each. We don’t push our skills because Tamiya and Hasegawa have
given us shake and bake kits. Limited
run stuff is left to the heathens that don’t enter contests or simply
don’t know any better.
The reality of the situation is this however, if you
don’t occasionally push your skills, you never actually get any better at
modeling. You don’t learn,
you don’t experience the same joy of accomplishment and bottom line you
avoid anything challenging.
So, the next time you are about to “warp six (throw
at a very high speed into a wall or similar solid structure)” a kit, take
some time and try to fix it. It
may end up being one of those kits best experienced at three or more feet
away (a three footer), but you will have learned something from it.
Take on that challenging kit that you didn’t want to start.
Figure out “how-to” instead of making excuses as to “why you
shouldn’t bother”. You and your hobby will be better off in the long
Now, go build something and leave me alone.
I have a Spitfire to attend to.