Sunday 22 March 2015

Sprue Cutters' Union 32: Has the Aftermarket Taken All the Hard Work Out of Modelling?

There are a few strange arguments in our hobby, aren't there? Rivet-counters love to point out that your antennas are 0.5mm too short for the military force you've chosen to depict, that that *that* model of jerry can wasn't used until 20 years later. While I understand that accuracy is key - if you're making a museum piece or working on a period movie - but really for the rest of us the most important part of the hobby is expression, creativity and fun.

I'm not an active forum member at the minute, and wasn't even aware that there's any question about the use of aftermarket parts. Jon's posed this to us:

"Has the Aftermarket Taken All the Hard Work Out of Modeling?"

If you're only happy building an Airfix kit from the box without adding anything, are you only an assembler, and not a 'true' scale modeller?

If you choose to add resin parts, or photoetched extras to your out-of-the-box plastic kit, are you just an assembler and not a 'true' scale modeller?

How about this: if you use any prefabricated parts at all, you're JUST an assembler. The only truly 'true' scale modellers are those who scratchbuild from the ground up.


We all work at various levels of ability - from the beginner who lacks experience and won't consider anything other than an out-of-the-box build to the ultimate scratchbuilders, who frankly, blow my mind. I think most of us here live somewhere in the myriad in-between levels.

My particular (hopefully ever-increasing) level of ability mixes out-of-the-box models, aftermarket bits, and scratchbuilding techniques to achieve the wondrous works of art you see on this blog. </self deprecating sarcasm>.

Disappointing result

Many of my WIPs get stuck for ages because of aftermarket parts or diorama scratchbuilds - you may remember the Alien I finished last year that I originally started a decade before. I didn't have the inspiration or technique needed to realise the end product. What changed? Apart from a desire to finish something for a change, Games Workshop released their technical paint range. This made corrosion and patinas easy to achieve, without having to mix my own grit-washes.

Love this mess!

I have another project on the go - a Tamiya 1/48th Citro├źn Light 16 Traction Avant staff car - which I'm painting to look like my wedding car. I bought a load of resin and photoetch parts to upgrade it.

And I wish I hadn't.

The parts are brilliantly detailed, don't get me wrong, but when I started cutting and grinding plastic away from the original model, I didn't realise quite how accurate I needed to be. Cutting, bending and annealing the PE is an entirely different kettle of fish. Just getting the grille to fit without having to putty-fill the gaps is a talent that I don't have, and a learned skill that will come with time. It's not a scratchbuild, but I am having to employ scratch techniques to fix 'mere assembly' issues that have arisen. I'm not even attempting to fit an open door on this model - cutting the moulded shell to fit a better-looking resin lump scares the hell out of me.

What a mess!

My current "I WILL finish soon" project has no aftermarket parts. It's an out-of-the-box mk1 Ford Escort, which I've destroyed. On purpose, of course.

Recent test fit

I've melted bits, rusted bits, snapped other bits, and fitted it to a DIY resin base, with a baked tree branch (100˚C for an hour to dry out), chilli flakes and mushrooms made from putty. The car insides haven't been started yet, but will include plenty of scratchbuilt detail - beer cans, newspaper, broken glass etc

Again, I'm not cutting the door out - I haven't moved up to that level yet. Not in my mind at least.

I chose to go this route because the model itself needed so much work to build 'straight up', I may as well spend the time doing something silly with it (beware the Airfix beginner's kits if you want an easy build).

So back to the original question:

"Has the Aftermarket Taken All the Hard Work Out of Modeling?"


And using an airbrush isn't cheating, either. Stupid internet.

No comments:

Post a Comment