By Tom "The BeeMaster" Stead, #39989 

Kits & Instructions

Once again the Beemaster dropkicks a rather full hive into the crowd as we talk about actually building models!

 

It seems a lot of modelers are becoming collectors of kits or pre-built models or are getting trapped in that “perfection above all else” snare.  You know, that absolutely perfect model suitable for entry into the Nationals or museum display.  The one model you’ve been working on for two years and wish some nice aftermarket supplier would come up with a resin and PhotoEtch add-on for you 1/29th scale Starfire with working missile pods, etc.

 

Gimme a break!  Model builders build models.  There is nothing wrong with working toward that perfect model, but some people have lost that enjoyable spark we had when we started (or rejoined) the modelers fraternity.  You remember, that joy of accomplishment when the plastic is painted, decaled and finished!

And here's something else that effects every builder from novice to master…instructions.  I’m going on the assumption that everyone at least LOOKS at the instruction sheet before starting.

Many years ago, before resin and PhotoEtch, kit instructions consisted of a two-sided sheet with clear drawings or even photos of each step.  I still have the instruction sheet from the original HAWK me-163 kit to prove it!  Today’s instructions are multiple sheets, often crowded with tiny drawings and more arrows than the last cavalryman standing at Little Big Horn.  Sometimes they are in unusual order and factors such as nose weight are left out.  One can assume experienced modelers can handle this but what about the novice?  I’m not advocating a “Dick and Jane” version of instructions, Lord knows we don’t need that sort of insult, but why can’t instructions be clearer than they are?

If you give an inset drawing, make it clear how parts are installed.  For new modelers a short course in folding PhotoEtch in kits that supply it would be nice.  I won’t go into details about the horrid versions of the English language that often appear on these sheets.  How about clear painting and decal instructions?  You know, RLM colors for Luftwaffe kits or FS numbers for U.S. and others?  I understand the situation is even worse for Japanese aircraft.  What the hell is Mitsubishi interior color?  As I said in a previous nest, why can’t manufacturers supply an honest color diagram of a model?  I don’t mean “model can be painted to resemble the pictures on the side of the box” either.  TAMIYA used to supply both a black & white drawing as well as a separate color sheet with full color 4-virews of the complete kit.  HUMA does this with its’ recent releases as well.

While I continually work on approving my models, I’ve tried to avoid getting dragged into the modeler's black hole of absolute perfection.  Just as a suggestion, maybe modelers should start getting back into constructing good and very good, but not necessarily perfect kits.  After all the purpose of a hobby is to relax and have fun.  Let’s get back to that, O.K.?

February 2004