Sunday, December 21, 2014
I know some guys who are great builders, that always seem to build the first place cars and Best of Show winning models. These guys always tell you they build for themselves and some of them truly do, but not all of them. I have seen several of these guys get a little upset and have "issues" with a show if they don't get a first place and/or a best of show. They don't want to return to a show if they think they have been slighted or the show was unfair. They appear completely oblivious to the fact that a lot of other guys entered their models and walked out empty handed. Not that I'm one of the everybody gets a trophy crowd, but sometimes it ain't your day. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why one car wins and another one loses and I have concluded there is no pattern; it's whatever the judges like. A well built model that is in the style of whatever is popular will beat out an exceptionally built car that's a little different. Right now, gassers are hot in the 1:1 world and in the model car world, if you want to win, build a gasser. That is not to say that is the only thing that wins, hyper-detailed Pro Mods are still winners, but you get the jist of what I'm saying. Each category has it's own "hot" style of build. Guys who like to win will shift what they build to what is hot and they will abandon a build if it starts to go a little south.
The part that annoys me about these guys is that the whole time they are building these contest winners they tell you how they only build for themselves. Really? Because if a car doesn't start winning within a couple of shows, it disappears from the show circuit, never to be seen again. I have actually know guys to sell them as built ups if they aren't winners, all the while telling me how they just build for themselves.
So all of this leads to the point of this post, why do the guys who rarely or never win enter contests? Why do I enter contests? I hung out with the guys who are concerned with winning and developed some of their attitude right up until I hit a dry spell with some cars that I thought were really well built, much better built and with more scratch building than stuff I had previously won with. This led me to really examine why I enjoy contests and I concluded it was more about seeing other guys cars and talking "shop" with other modelers. I really think I take my stuff to share with other guys and let them see what I have built. I went to the Toledo NNL this past year with a new understanding of that show. I have been several times in the past and I had fun, but I never really understood the draw. I went to see the really cool over the top builds that show up but I could never get why so many of these builds only show up at NNLs. I also never understood why my buddies who like to win don't seem interested in going up there even though it's close to home. Then I got it. It's not about your build, it's about seeing what others are building and sharing what you've built. Because I've always liked seeing other guys models, I've always liked the NNLs, my buddies were seeing other guys stuff as rivals for the win, they don't want to just go to check out models. So this little epiphany has changed how I look at contests and why I'm entering, I'm entering to share not to win. My weird builds are mine and fun to look at, if they win something cool, but I'm here to hang out and talk models.
"Rat Fink" Ron
Saturday, December 13, 2014
I am amazed by the amount of crap I have because you never realize how much stuff you have acquired until you pack it up and move it. There is a lot of stuff you need to build models besides the 10 or 12 big boxes of model kits you have to move and then figure out where to put once you move. On the plus side, I now have a much larger space for my work area and model kit storage area.
That brings up another problem, work area layout. What is the best way to layout a work area? I decided to put my 6 ft bench in the corner by the window and my spray booth close to that. My kit storage will be along the opposite wall on shelves so that I can see the kits I'm going to rob for parts from my bench. I also built a 15 ft bench along the wall beside the 6 footer as a work area for other things like resin casting and machining because I recently bought a lathe to machine parts. I have a large open space in the middle for anything I might add later. I think I covered everything and kept plenty of room for growth as my skills improve, in the meantime, I'll be busy building benches and adding wiring for plugs and lights, I hope I end up with the "perfect" shop. Until next time.
"Rat Fink" Ron
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
So how does all of this happen? Hard work by lots of people. Our club really comes together to make this happen and everyone chips in to help. From set up to tear down, we had lots of guys show up, carry tables, sweep floors, arrange stuff, and make sure all went well. We had lots of help from some of the wives that took money, counted votes, and sold 50/50 tickets, you know, all the stuff that takes a brain!
It strikes me as very strange that I heard no complaints. Let's face it, people like to complain, if there is some minor thing to complain about, folks will do it. Nobody did. Now I'm not complaining about no one complaining, but it's a little odd. I'm just glad everyone had a good time.
Here's what I would like to see; more vendors and more contestants! If you have a cottage business involving model cars in any way, you need to be at this show. The tables are cheap on purpose, so you can make money on your stuff, and the admission to the show is cheap on purpose, so that guys will spend money on models not entry fees. If you build model cars at any skill level, you need to attend. Entry fees are cheap so you can enter as many models as you like, don't sweat whether or not they are "contest" quality, it's about having fun with the hobby you enjoy. If you are an expert builder, it gives you a chance to help others improve their builds and they can enjoy the hobby more. If you are a novice modeler, it gives you a chance to see what others are doing and ask them how they did it. If you live within 3 hours or so of Columbus, Ohio, you need to attend this show! Our club wants to return to the idea that a show is about hanging out talking models and showing off your skills.
Having said the above, am I unhappy with our turnout? Nope, we had a really good turn out. I just have such a good time that I would like more people to share the experience. So if you live in Australia, Alabama, Albania, or Alaska, go to your local show, hang out, talk models, and you might get the chance to share something that you did to help another modeler enjoy the hobby more.
"Rat Fink" Ron
Saturday, March 8, 2014
After we moved close to Columbus, I found out that most of the hobby shops had closed. It's the same old song about hobbies dying off with our generation and "them kids only wanna stare at their video games" that we've all heard or said a million times. There is one hobby shop that is close to my house and I regularly go there, as a matter of fact, it's my Friday night hangout. Several guys go there and hang out on Fridays and build models, we've gotten to know the owner quite well, and we basically get the run of the place. After our weekly build sessions, we all go to a local restaurant and have a couple of beers and shoot the bull a little. I spend reasonable money there, usually buying a kit a month and lots of detail parts, I would be considered a "good" customer.
The point of all of this is, this hobby shop is closing at the end of the month. Gone. I will now have to drive halfway across town for my Friday night modeling fix. Luckily, the same guy owns the other store, so that relationship will continue. In talking with the owner about this, his biggest reason for closing is poor sales and his greatest competition is the internet and Hobby Lobby. He cannot match the prices. Now I understand capitalism and all that, but let's examine what you really get when you buy from the local hobby shop. Yes, kits cost way more than you can get them for with your 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby or you can order them for on the internet and I can blah, blah, blah about how the local guy has to keep the lights on, but you don't care, you just want your 10,000th kit for the cheapest price you can get it for. Next time you're in Hobby Lobby ask the clerk about that nifty new photo etch kit you saw in a magazine or who's making that really cool resin conversion for the kit you just bought. Go ahead, I'll wait. That RC car you had to have so you bought it online because it was cheaper, feel free to email them about how to dial it in for optimum fun. Again, I'll wait. You need some quick service on it, feel free to swing by and have them help you out. I'll wait. You want to scratchbuild that gizmo on your dohicky? Make a quick trip to the online hobby shop with your kit and compare sizes and thicknesses of Evergreen styrene to get exactly what you want. I'll wait, I'm not real busy. How about the thrill of having a 1/4 oz bottle of Testor's overnighted at a cost of $10 so you can finish up that model for a big contest? Ask the swap meet guy to take a return on a kit because you already have that one and you don't need another, of course, you'll have to wait until you find him again months later. Again, I'll wait for you, take your time.
I agree, the cost of stuff at a hobby shop is higher than online, higher than Hobby Lobby, and higher than the swap meet guy. But you can't hang out with other modelers at any of these places (OK, you can at the swap meet because it's usually at a model show). You don't get advice or tips there, and they don't recommend cool way to do stuff and then show you how to do it. Don't give me the bullshit about how online forums are the same as hanging out, they are not. Having been in both situations because I lived so far from a hobby shop I relied on the internet for all of my modeling interaction and then moved close enough to hang out at a shop, it ain't the same. My modeling has improved greatly through personal interaction compared to online interaction. To those guys who do not have the live interaction option, I feel for you. As car modelers, we are a bunch of cheap bastards. We want a superdetailed 100% accurate kit for $5. We wouldn't spend $2 on a detail kit if it made the model run like a real car. "Oh my God! $30 for a kit! That's ridiculous!! I remember when these were $2 when I was a kid." Get over it, gas was 19 cents a gallon and candy bars were a dime, too. Hobby shop owners are not getting rich off of you, they are in it because they love it. The guys trying to get rich left 30 years ago, this is a dying pastime, as it dies the cost will go up.
Next time you pontificate about the tragedy of the local hobby shop closing, ask yourself how much money you spent there in the last week. Then think about how much money you spent at the last show, at Hobby Lobby at 40% off, and how much you spent online. Then think about how you are going to get those basic supplies you need once the local hobby shop is gone. Now who killed the local hobby shop?
"Rat Fink" Ron
Saturday, February 22, 2014
What I'm saying here is be a mentor and find a mentor. For those who don't know a mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. This does not mean to glom on to the best builder you know, it means find a guy that is a little better, or a little more experienced than you and ask for advice. Then take that advice. That is the hard part, taking the advice, that is why your mentor must be trusted. The other cool thing about a mentor ship is that it usually starts out as a friendship because a mentor has to be someone you trust. You may also have to change mentors as your skill develops, of course that doesn't mean that you lose friends, it means you get to make more friends. The cool thing about having a mentor is that you can be a mentor at the same time you are being mentored. As you are developing your skills you can share the skills you already have and you can share how you learned it. As with anything else, there are good mentors and bad, if a guy isn't helping you out, be friends but don't expect to gain from the friendship.
I have had several mentors throughout my building "career" and some didn't even know they were mentors, as these things are usually very informal. I used to live in a small city and I didn't really know any modelers, so I built to what I thought was to a high standard, then I went to a contest and not just any contest, the Toledo NNL. I thought my stuff was going to knock those guys eyes out. About 15 minutes after I set my cars down and I looked around a little bit, I wanted to grab my crappy builds and run. A couple of guys came up and talked to me and I looked at their cars and they looked at mine. They were polite and the best part was, they kept talking to me like I knew what I was doing even after they saw my crappy shit . I didn't go to another contest for a long time. I later moved to a small town, built in my basement and collected kits until I finally found a club about 50 miles away and I got involved with them. At the same time, I got involved in several groups online and got some good advice there. Some guys from the club invited me to a few contests and because of the advice from them and others I actually won something. I became good friends with one of the guys who had entered lots of contests and usually did pretty well but was not a "Best of Show" winner. He gave me advise and help with the ins and outs of contests and I learned a ton. Then I got as good as him at contests. Another guy from the club started giving me advise on my builds and how to do things, he is a consistent "Best of Show" winner. I learned more and my skills are improving. Then a local IPMS guy who has won national awards several times and is a really good military modeler started to give me help and advice. I'm positive my skills will improve. By the way, these mentor ships all started out as friendships, trust is huge. These guys also kind of "sought me out" as a builder who wants to improve and is willing to learn. At the same time as these guys are helping me, I have tried to help others improve by sharing the skills I have mastered and giving advice and encouragement to guys that want to improve.
We all have a vision in our heads of what we want our models to look like. Some of us come closer to that vision than others. If you have the skill set to help a guy achieve his goal, help a brother out. If you want to improve you building, seek out those who build better than you and learn from them. Make friends with builders of all stripes and be a part of the community, and as Robocop would say, "Thank you for your support."
"Rat Fink" Ron
Sunday, February 16, 2014
This year, I had to judge the cars. They didn't really have enough car guys to judge the automotive stuff so another club member and I hopped in to help out, since both of us had cars in the master categories, we judged the adult classes. Other club members had cars in the adult class so I had to judge cars that I had seen being built and in some cases, had offered advice on how to fix flaws. This is the exact reason I don't like to judge cars, I'm pretty sure I'm way too hard on the cars I have seen and know from the guys in our club. The guys in the IPMS always want a car guy to judge the automotive area but it is really hard since I usually know the car guys and their cars, it's hard to be objective. I try to encourage the military guys to judge cars and the car guys to judge military not only to minimize bias, but to let modeling skills be judged on a level plane. A good model shows up in the skill of the builder, not in the subject. I prefer to judge and be judged on my modeling skill, rather than what kit I chose to build, I think most modelers are the same way.
So make sue when you go to a contest that you hop in and help with the judging, you may learn something and you may find out that the other side ain't so bad.
"Rat Fink" Ron
Sunday, February 2, 2014
The old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again" applies to modeling as well as life. How well you deal with failure is the measure of your success. I recently have been working on my 1957 Ford for an upcoming contest and I scratchbuilt the fuel injection set up for the 312 motor in the kit. It came time to think about the injector stacks on it so I bought some short injector stacks from Detail Master. For those that are unfamiliar with the old Ford Y-Blocks, the intake ports are stacked vertically in pairs, not in the usual horizontal arrangement we are used to seeing. The injectors have to be short and very close together to fit in the tight space. When the Detail Master parts arrived they were too big for the little Y-Block, so I had some tall injector stacks that were smaller in diameter so I cut them down to 1/8" to fit, still too tall. I whacked off another 1/16" and they were still too big in diameter to fit correctly. I tried flattening the sides to mover them closer together and they were still a little too wide to fit. I then had to create some 1/16" tall injector stacks out of aluminum tube to get them to fit. This little exercise in failure took about four hours; and a lot of swearing.
Later, I needed to build a front spoiler, or "air plow" for this Bonneville Beast, so I got out a piece of aluminum, cut what I needed and then made a futile attempt at gluing it to front bumper of the old Ford. It never happened, it just wouldn't fit right and in the process I managed to rub all of the Alclad off the bumper, and scratched the black under coat to the point that I needed to redo it. I then decided to glue the "air plow" to the bumper support and that worked better. Total time for that little fiasco: about three hours. I also sanded through the clear coat twice, which caused a repaint each time. Lots of "fails" on one car.
I'm not writing this to impress you with my building ability or to whine about the trials and tribulations of model car building, I'm writing this to explore the idea of what makes a person successful. Success with model building, as well as success in any endeavor, are directly related to a person's ability to handle failure. I've been following a thread on the Model Cars Magazine Forum about a build of the Army Vega Funny car in 1/16th scale. The craftsmanship on this car is amazing, so I commented on how nice it is and how I hope to improve my skills to this level. I got a reply back from the builder that said,"Thank you sir. I appreciate the kind words. My advice about adding more detail is to not be afraid and go for it, and do it little steps at a time. I can't tell you how many things on this build that I redid 2 or 3 times." We tend to forget that when we see the final product. We don't know how many "fails" were involved to get it right. Any great accomplishment has a history of failures to its name. So next time you think you need to throw that model against the wall (which I have done) remember, you may be one redo away from success.
"Rat Fink" Ron