Build and Let Build

When I first got back into modeling after a 15-year absence, I took to the internet to find out what I had missed. Among the first pages that I found were two blogs, respectively named Doogs’ Models and The Combat Workshop. These pages were – and still are – excellent sources of inspiration, information, and if you’re fortunate enough to connect with their owners, camaraderie.

Some of you might just be getting back into modeling, or maybe have just found this page through other means, or maybe you’ve been following for a while. Either way, you’ve probably seen tips and endorsements on this page as well. If you’re like I was at first, you took these as infallible holy writ, as wisdom from those expert modelers that should be ignored only at your peril.

I’m here to tell you that this is wrong.

No modeler – be they you, or your friends, or me – has all of the answers. We each have things that we like and dislike, and we each have our own tricks that work for us. None of these proclivities, though, have been codified into Modeling Law, and none of them are more valid than another. Take a recent example over on The Combat Workshop’s Facebook page.

On January 5, Jon (the owner/content creator of that page) posted a short video clearly demonstrating his opinion of Vallejo’s Plastic Putty:

This struck a chord with me, as I have been for some time now a tremendous fan of this product. It’s incredibly easy to apply accurately, dries quickly, and is water-soluble, so I never need to worry about damaging my kit plastic with acetone (the thinner I use with Squadron putty).

Some examples of this putty at work on my current projects.
Jon and I exchanged a few friendly posts, and I learned that he doesn’t care for its texture and his opinion that it doesn’t work well for larger gaps. I disagree with these opinions, but these comments are just as valid as my own supporting the product. Fortunately, we’re both adults and didn’t try to convince each other of our respective right or wrongness. We just shrugged and moved on.

Then today I suddenly recalled that in his video, Jon discarded one of Vallejo’s firm plastic tubes, the type that their paint comes in.

Hold the phone. That’s not what I use.

One of the things that makes this putty great in my opinion is how incredibly easy it is to apply with precision because of this very tube. Unbeknownst to me, Jon’s putty came to him in a much, much stupider format that probably would have frustrated me as well. And suddenly, I see his point much more clearly. It makes me wonder if, had his putty come in the same format as mine, he would have seen my point more clearly as well.

Why write this post? My points are these: first, that no modeler should read an endorsement online and take it at face value. If they see something they think they would like to try, they should absolutely do so. I’m going to buy a set of chisels today from one such recommendation and I know that, while they may work well for the person who recommended them to me, I may find them to be a dismal investment. Only time and experience will tell.

Second, it’s that none of us are wrong, and none of us are right. Unlike opinions in the real world, where a stance based on fact entirely outweighs one based on anecdote or emotion, our likes and dislikes in the hobby are all weighted equally. They are our own, and you are completely valid for liking and disliking products or techniques that do or do not work for you.

So go forth and model, friends! And don’t be ashamed to say that you like X or dislike Y. Just be sure to let other have their own preferences as well.


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