I was listening to a couple of high school kids talking during the week last week. I overheard one say “back in the day we used too ... “. My first thought was “what day was that, Thursday?”. I guess I just find it hard to believe that a sixteen year old had a day that they remembered, let alone talked fondly of that day as if it was 20 years ago.
This did however get me to thinking a bit. I hear some of these same conversations at club meetings. Now the context may be slightly different and it starts out with “I remember when ... ” or “back in the old days“ (which is the old people version of back in the day) or “remember when we ... ”.
Memories are really cool things, at least in most cases. Sometimes we look back just a bit too longingly and start to obsess about our favorite hobby shop or display. We drift back to a simpler time and try to recapture those moments. However, the problem is that things don't always work that way.
I remembered as a kid the best kit that I ever built was the old 48 th scale Monogram Corsair. I have fond memories of this kit have a “GREAT” glossy sea blue over sky blue color scheme and the US Insignias with the red bars on the side. It was beautiful hanging from the light in my room. (Yes I also do realize that this color scheme was also probably wrong!)
Well, 20 years later, when I got back into the hobby recapturing this fine moment was foremost on my mind. I went to the regional convention here in town and found a bunch of the kits that I built as a kid. I paid a bit too much for a couple of them, but I now had them and I was going to make contest winners out of them once again (like they would have been the first time!). My score for the day 2-Monogram B-24's, a Monogram B-17, a Monogram Corsair and a Monogram P-38, what a great day!
At this point in my modeling comeback, I had only built maybe 10 or so kits. Most of them turned out decent, mainly because they were some nicer Hasegawa or Tamiya kits. One of them was Hasegawa's F4U-4, which while a bit older is really a pretty nice kit.
Well, needless to say that I was pretty excited when I got home and cracked open those boxes. That excitement quickly waned as my terrific childhood memories began to swirl down the drain with my realization that these kits really weren't all that good. These kits were going to require a fair amount of work just to be decent. What the heck?
The final death blow to my younger years came when I found a bunch of my old Monogram 1/48 th scale figures from the old B-17 kit. I remember doing a “GREAT” job on these as well as a kid, even to the point where my Dad complemented me on them. As I pulled the crew out of the bag they were found in, I pretty much realized that I really sucked as a figure painter, even back then.
So what happened to my memories? Were they really distorted by time? Were those kits really that good back then or was I really just a dumb kid that didn't know any better?
I think we all tend to look backwards fondly for reasons that are all our own. For some it was a pleasant time, for others it was the guys they hung out with or a true highlight of their life and for others the memories tie more closely to being “family” moments with one's Mom or Dad.
Is it worth trying to recapture and relive “back in the day”? Probably not. Times have changed and each of us has changed with them. We've come to expect better kits, better decals and better bits. Most of us have a good time building a nice model, but struggle through building those old lousy models like that old Monogram F4U.
As to all those old kits that you have sitting on your shelf of doom that you hope to re-capture your youth with, sell them, give them to a kid and allow him to have some memories to look back on or blow them up with a firecracker. Spend your time with some higher quality kits that give you a shot at finishing a nice model and making some new memories.
Now, shut up and build and quit daydreaming about the thrilling days