Saturday, November 30, 2013

Inspired to Aspire

     What inspires your builds?  Think about what really gets your creative juices flowing, what is it that keeps you going on a build when it falls into that dreaded stage of tediousness that makes you want to throw it in a box and do something else? For me, it's car photos from the internet and car magazines.  That's right I'm a car porn junkie.  My wife kids me a lot about what is in my computer history, it's all car or model related.  I also subscribe to several car magazines and heaven forbid I walk past the magazine rack at the store without browsing to see if there is a car mag I might be interested in.  I take my old Ford to car shows and cruise-ins all summer where I enjoy looking at cars.  Sometimes that isn't enough to keep a build on track, and that doesn't help with a figure build, because let's face it people are everywhere.  What make us pick up a kit out of the huge pile we have or buy one at the hobby shop, and say, "you are the one!!"
     One thing that also help is trying new things on my builds.  I always like to try out a new skill on every build.  I usually try a paint technique I have never done before, whether it's weathering, or a lace paint job, or true fire, or a fade job, or some other old school paint trick, it helps keep my builds fresh.  When you do this you end up with varying degrees of success so sometimes you have to make several attempts to get it right.  Sometimes you get it right and other guys don't think it's as cool as you do, oh well!  I also try to scratchbuild at least one thing on each build. The last build I did I scratch built a gasser front end out of stainless steel tubing, I've built throttle linkage out of empty soda cans, and made fuel lines out of fishing line.  Another thing I do to get me started and keep me going is to try to do some subtle modification or hide something in the paint to see if anyone notices.  I've had mixed success, some things are just too subtle.  I also build a "series" of cars.  What I mean by that is I'll pick a driver or team and build all of the cars they drove in their careers.  I've done most of Bill Elliott's cars, the Ramchargers cars, and the IMSA Mustangs from the '80s.   It's cool to see you only have one or two more cars to build and then you'll have the complete set, IPMS even has a "Collections" category to show off your hard work.  Another fun thing to do that helps a build along is to build a base to display your car on at a show, something built especially for that car.  One finished project displayed really well leads to another.
     We all have a ton of kits in our stash, some guys have over a thousand or two in their stash, and limited time to build.  I always hear about "life getting in the way" of building either before or after I hear about how much time was wasted on the computer or watching television.  As in all things it's about priorities.  If you are really motivated to build, you will make or find the time.  I realize we all go through slumps, I didn't build anything all summer, I didn't even look at a kit.  One thing that fired me up was "Nerd Night" at the local hobby shop.  Every Friday night we get together at the hobby shop to build for a couple of hours or so, shoot the bull, and share ideas.  Being around other modelers inspires me to want to build, that's why a joined a club.  Model clubs are a great way to be motivated and get new ideas, so go get involved with a local model car club or join the IPMS.  Going to model shows is very inspirational, every time I get back from one I am fired up to build something.  So don't just buy up those kits and store them in the basement, build 'em!  Be inspired!  Until next time.
"Rat Fink" Ron

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Here Comes Da Judge!

I know, my posts have been about contests and nothing else.  So far, you'd think all I do is worry about contests, but that's not really true.  I enjoy competition and I also believe that it is the best place to meet modelers with varied interests and skill levels.  A contest is like "church" for modelers, a place to go where it is all about models, where you get ideas, and "recharge" your enthusiasm for building.  It is also is where you are judged for your "sins".  That gets us to this week's topic, judging.
     If you read the message boards you would think that every contest is judged fairly and with the utmost care.  The guys who judge all have immense knowledge of all things automotive and are expert builders.  They are uncompromising and just.  Or maybe they are the only guys on hand that didn't go have a few beers to fill the void instead of judging.  The latter is usually the truth and it leads to some interesting decisions at contests.  Flashy paint and loads of scratchbuilt gee-gaws hide a multitude of sins, while the basics of good construction are ignored.  I have been both the recipient and victim of this judging flaw and more than once I might add.  I have seen cars with massive orange peel paint jobs win over smooth paint, crooked engines with loads of wiring and plumbing beat cars with less bells and whistles but better basic construction.  I have seen runs and dirt in flashy paint jobs beat a simple well done paint job repeatedly.  A car that has been featured in a magazine is a sure winner most places, and a "famous" name will always do well at a contest.  Model car contests are notoriously poorly judged, the question is, why?
     Let's first look at the real car world for a second.  I have an old '59 Ford I play around with and my buddy has a '78 Mustang II.  They are pretty much the same as far as the drive train, hopped up small block Fords with headers, cam intake, etc.  they are both nice and rust free with decent paint.  If we pull into a show, my old Ford tends to get more attention than his, why?  Because most guys don't like the Mustang II, they say it's ugly and isn't a "real" Mustang.  Whatever.  My old '59 is a neat old car you don't see a lot of and has that 1950's coolness to it.  Then let a '57 Chevy pull in, or a Camaro, or a '69 Mustang.  My car is now invisible.  Let's also look at the rules for correctly hopping up your car.  Oh wait, there are no rules.  It's a free for all, do whatever you like.  You can Pro Street it, Pro Tour it, Resto Mod it, Rat Rod it, Restore it, do a Kustom, a cruiser, or what ever you like.  Whatever you do, someone will think it's pretty cool and someone will think it sucks.  Unlike the Armor, Airplane, & Ship (or A.A.S., pronounce it however you want) crowd, there is no correct way to build a car, hot rod, or what ever.  It's all subjective, if you love Mustangs and hate Camaros, you are going to lean in favor of the Ponies.  If you think any Funny Car built after 1978 is crap, it is harder for you to see a 90's F/C in a good light.  If you're positive you'll poke your eyes out with an Exacto knife if you see one more super-detailed NASCAR, you tend not to pick them as a winner.
     That brings us back to where we started, basic construction techniques.  No matter how much crap is added to the build, no matter how cool the paint, if the basics aren't covered, it should not win.  Orange peel in the paint is unacceptable with today's paint products.  Crooked motors are wrong no matter how much of the car was scratch built.  Seam lines and sink marks should never be seen on a finished build.  All of the photo-etch, wiring, resin, and scratch built stuff is cool, but it has to be well built at the basic level first.  Because cars are so subjective they must be judged on basic skills first, degree of difficulty second, and subject matter last.  Next time we'll talk about inspiration for for builds and get off the contest deal for a while.
"Rat Fink" Ron

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Spirit of Competition

Let's talk contests. This is a subject that can evoke lots of different emotions for modelers.  Some guys love contests and some guys are terrified of them.  Some guys are literally trophy whores while others are truly surprised when they win.  I have some ideas about this I'd like to share with you.
     Let's start with the trophy whore.  Everybody says they are not him and they will go on and on about how they hate this guy. Well, I'm throwing the bullshit flag.  Everybody likes to win! The guy who doesn't want to win stayed home because he truly doesn't care.  If you spent the time and effort to drive to and enter a contest you thought you had some pretty cool stuff to show off and you would like to be recognized for your efforts.  I know I do.  We all have to admit, it's a pretty cool feeling to walk up there and get the hardware while our peers applaud. It's a way cooler (way more cool?) feeling to be the guy that needs help to get all of his trophies to his car.  Face it, we have all driven home after winning something, be it model contests or anything else, with that smile on our faces you couldn't slap off.  So what is the difference between feeling good about having other modelers appreciate your hard work and being a trophy whore?  The grace with which you handle winning. The guy who is truly humble says thanks for the recognition, enjoys the moment, and looks forward to the next time he can compete.  He always walks into a contest knowing he may not win and he is truly glad for the guys who do win.  He accepts the fact that he may not always agree with the judges and has a "we'll get 'em next time attitude" when it happens.  The trophy whore always wants more.  More awards for things that are well done on his car.  He has an issue with "spreading the wealth" and always looks down on his competition.  He secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) wishes those with lesser skills would stay home and not clutter up the contest tables.  When he wins, you will know it, he will make sure of it.  My favorite comment from the trophy whore is, "I have boxes of these at home, I just stick them in my basement,  I don't even display them anymore I have so many."
     Then we have Mr. Sore Loser.  We've all done it at one time or another.  You put your latest superbuild out there on the table next to an OK build and you know you've got this in the bag.  You can already see the award on your shelf.  Lots of guys at the contest come up and tell you how great your car is and want to know everything about it.  How did you build that? What color is that? How did you do that?  The magazines want to photograph it.  You have this in the bag.  They start the awards and you end up empty handed.  What the duck in his underwear driving a Honda is going on?  That loser pile of gluebomb shit got an award and mine didn't? I'M NEVER COMING BACK TO THIS STUPID CONTEST AGAIN!!! You rant and rave, you tell all of your friends how bad this contest sucks, you post on the internet that this bunch of inbred, numbskull, half wit, degenerate, living in their mom's basement, never had a woman, clubfooted, overweight, bald, butt like a woman, wouldn't know a good model if it smacked 'em in the face, wanna be judges couldn't run a contest if their life depended on it.  OK, maybe that's a bit much, but you're upset, you feel cheated.  What separates a sore loser from the guy who is just not happy about losing? The ability to move on.  That's it, the ability to say, even though you may have clear evidence you were cheated, we'll get 'em next time.  It's not childish to have hurt feelings when you don't win, it's childish to let them interfere with sharing another's joy in winning.
     Those are the two biggies I see at contests, the trophy whore and the sore loser.  These guys can ruin a contest in a hurry, especially for themselves.  Which brings me to the real point of this post, why do you go , or not go, to contests?  I go to meet other modelers and see what other guys are doing so I can improve my own builds.  Because in truth, I'm never really happy with my stuff.  I always see room for improvement, I strive for perfection.  Meeting other modelers and seeing their builds helps me in my pursuit. Next time I'll share my thoughts on judging.
"Rat Fink" Ron

Friday, November 15, 2013

More, Better, or More Betterer?

I have about 200 kits in my stash from cars to figures to all kinds of goofy stuff like a model of a guillotine.  I'm betting compared to most guys my stash is a little on the low side, because I know guys that have 1000 kits in their basement.  You're probably already thinking, "this is going to be one of those, we're getting old and won't be able to build them all" type of posts.  You are wrong.  This is a "should I build more kits faster or build fewer kits better and more detailed?" post.
I have a friend, Matt, that builds at lightning speed.  He builds several kits a month, mostly box stock or close to it, with some cool graphics on them.  He goes to shows with a huge plastic container of cars to shows and usually wins a few awards.  His stuff is pretty cool, but lacks details and realism to some degree. I'm not knocking his stuff, it's good, just not great.  I have another friend, Rob, he spent a year building a 1/12th scale Mustang.  This this is awesome! Machined parts, custom panel work, wired, plumbed, custom built exhaust, paint like glass, the works.  This thing wins best of show everywhere, it has been a feature car in Scale Auto Magazine, and has numerous awards for everything under the sun.
The question I pose is this:  Should you build more models or better models?  Would you rather have every kit in your stash built or 5 kits built to the nth degree?  I recently challenged myself with this very question and I decided I would rather build one kit exceptionally well rather than 5 kits just OK.  I have challenged myself to slow down, not say, "it's close enough", and to plan out my builds better.  The other thing I do is...*GASP*... buy fewer kits!  I know you're thinking, "but dude, there are so many cool kits coming out and I don't buy them how will my local hobby shop stay in business?" Well, buy all of those really cool detailing parts and lots of them, buy those cool decals from Slixx, learn to build better, and paint better.  Scratchbuild stuff, add metal parts, create stuff, and learn to paint realistic finishes both on the top and bottom of your kits.  Make them look real!  Take some tips from the "rivet counters" and don't be afraid to stretch your skills.  Develop "Singularity of Focus", something I made up to describe when you concentrate on one thing and do it well.  You can use this to develop one skill to perfection or develop a set of skills.
So, do you want to build more kits, build better, or build more betterer?  Next time we'll talk about contests and judging, this should get pretty messy.
"Rat Fink" Ron


Welcome to Model Fink, a blog about model cars, model figures, and modeling in general. This is not a how-to blog, although there may be some how-to's. It's not a show you what I'm building blog, but there will be some of that, too.  My main focus will be thoughts on modeling, model companies, modelers, and contests.  To give you some background, I built model cars as a kid in the '70's, built a few in the early '80's, quit all together in the late '80's and early '90's, then hopped back in the the late '90's and I have been at it ever since.  I build mostly cars, street machines, road racers, '70's funny cars, A F/X cars, a few hot rods, a few front engine dragsters, but I really love building Show Rods. I build mostly Fords and a few Chryslers, with very few GM products.  I also build figures; garage kits, model soldiers, and goofy figures like the Ed Roth "Finks" from the '60's.  I've been entering contests for about 5 years or so and I have won a few awards.  I heavily involved in the Buckeye Scale Auto Club here in Columbus, Ohio, having been president or vice-president for several years.  I am a key organizer of our contest the Buckeye Classic and I have organized several contests for the local hobby shop, Hobbyland. I am also a member of the IPMS, although I don't go to the local meetings.  Feel free to comment as we go along, hopefully I'll share so insights you will enjoy.
"Rat Fink" Ron