Here we see our typical flat broke teenager doing what he should be at that age – learning to glue two pieces of plastic together.
Money is an interesting subject. It’s interesting from the standpoint of how the amount we possess at different points in our life shapes our behavior and development. Too much of it at a young age, in my view, eliminates the striving and struggle that is a necessary element of artistic and personal development. Too little of it later in life inserts the struggles at an age where it really shouldn’t be.
It is fascinating isn’t it, the link between lack of financial resources and artistic development? It never really occurred to me until recently but it’s amazing how many writers, musicians, painters, and movie makers come from such average financial means. Equally fascinating is the fact that when their talents eventually lead to financial stability, their creative production doesn’t tail off.
Model building is no different. Starting your modeling activities at a point in time when financial resources are meager is an enormous advantage. Whether you are a teenager, college student, US military, or young person early in your career, having limited funds will ultimately be a huge blessing. With very little capacity to purchase finished models or expensive kits, you have no choice but to build most things from scratch, weather you own rolling stock, and perhaps build your own track. As you watch those who are more financially secure walk out of the hobby store with bags of gleaming merchandise you will likely be leaving with a few X-acto blades, a bottle of paint, and some glue. When your models break, you will not have the money to replace them and will, therefore be forced to learn how to repair them.
Although it doesn’t feel like it at the time, such circumstances are a gift. Initially, years will pass where your homegrown efforts look far short of what you see in the magazines. The walls of your structures won’t be square, the windows will be crooked, and the globs of glue unsightly. Time marches on though. At some point that fifteen or twenty year old modeler producing models that look like soap carvings, morphs into the master modeler. Having never had the luxury of buying a built up kit the youngster, now an adult, is capable of scratch building any structure he needs. His choices are not limited to what is available from the commercial manufacturers. Projects go together quickly and smoothly with seamless joints, perfect corners, and subtle and masterful weathering, He is no longer stopped in his tracks when something breaks. The repair skills learned out of necessity a decade before, can be brought to bare.
Regardless of your age, if you find yourself in the hobby with limited funds, enjoy the ride. Savor each project for what it is, a step in the never ending learning process. Regardless of the final appearance of a finished model, appreciate and accept it for what it was – your best effort given your skill set at the time it was built.
A different set of challenges face the large number of modelers that enter the hobby at a point in life where they are more financially secure. Such individuals have the advantage of paying to have others do the aspects of the hobby they don’t enjoy. If this is your situation you have to be vigilant and be aware of how often the credit card is being popped out. Are you purchasing a backlog of kits and cars grossly in excess of the amount of time it will take to build them? If so, set a personal rule that you won’t buy another kit until your backlog of un-built ones are assembled, given away, or thrown away. Don’t cheat yourself out of enjoyable activities and try to avoid knee jerk spending impulses if, upon further thought, you would gain satisfaction out of building it yourself. If you would not get satisfaction out of building it then there should be no guilt in purchasing the finished product.
There is a one thing the financially secure hobbyist can purchase that, if handled properly, will assist in increasing their skills. They can purchase time. By paying somebody else to clean your house, cut your grass, and repair your car you can free up time better spent on modeling. You can also speed up your learning curve by investing in attendance at modeling conferences, books, and ‘how to’ DVD’s. Of course, purchasing the books and going to the conferences is not particularly productive if you don’t do so with the mindset of applying what you’ve just learned.
For the fifty or sixty year old, financially secure, modeler the hobby does offer the chance to move back to the simpler times of your youth. Allow yourself to take on building that kit without concern for whether it looks like something built by a teenager. It probably will. Enjoy being that teenager again.