When Airfix announced they will be releasing a 1/48 scale P-40 in August of 2016, I actually had tears of joy. That may sound a bit daft if you’re not a scale modeler. But if you are- you understand. A really nice 1/48 scale P-40B has been the focus of so many forum discussions that it would not be a stretch to say it is probably one of the most desired kits on any aircraft modelers list.
Yet as soon as I read the announcement, and saw some CAD drawings Airfix posted, I knew what would soon follow.
Now, I get that forums are all about discussion. People talk about accuracy of color, of shape, of detail. And for every one person that argues how important those factors are to them, there are equally as many people who say “get over it- it’s just a model”. And then a few pipe in and try to introduce the voice of reason… radical notions such as “everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”
I happen to be a Barney Builder. I like models. They like me. Let’s get together and build two or three. 🙂 So I’m quite happy with just about anything that resembles the subject in questions, especially if it’s a pleasant build and not too expensive.
And while I don’t get the obsession with accuracy, I DO get that others are very passionate about it. The fact that I don’t get their motivation doesn’t negate the fact that I can use my own understanding of what drives me to derive the fact that others have drives too, even if they are different.
So I’m not questioning folks who are passionate about accuracy.
What I don’t understand is the handful who seem to allow that passion to deny them any apparent joy from participating in the hobby, or even watching other participate.
And the P-40B is a lightning rod for those folks.
To understand it, I suppose a bit of history needs to be reviewed. Many, many years ago, just at the close of the dinosaur era, Monogram released a P-40B. It wasn’t perfect. But it was good enough. No one mistook it for anything other than a P-40B.
So quite a few years go by, and Academy released a P-40B. It wasn’t perfect. But it was good enough. No one mistook it for anything other than a P-40B.
Another few years go by, and Trumpeter released a P-40B. It wasn’t perfect. But it was good enough. No one mistook it for anything other than a P-40B.
Granted, all of them had a few warts. Depending on who you asked, each failed in some area, and one of the three was declared the most accurate. (Which one depended on who you asked.)
Now, I have built all three, and in no case did anyone mistake them for an aardvark, a tuna sandwich, or some other WWII fighter. People would look at them and say “oh, cool, a P-40B. Looks great.”
And then they’d ask what kit it was, and I’d tell them, and they’d proceed to tell me how awful the kit was.
So the P-40B is probably the most anticipated and most nitpicked model in existence.
And now “poor” Airfix has gone and committed the unpardonable sin and actually committed to kit one of the long-nosed Hawks. And the discussions have already started. The comparisons to drawings. The lines drawn to illustrate points.
And the few who seem to be unhappy with anything that any model company releases will charge out, ready to do battle with all who might say “Yeah, but I like it.” And even those who care about accuracy.
Maybe some good information will be presented. Maybe it will be right. Maybe Airfix will read it and say “oh, dear, we do need to adjust that starboard ailertooter by one-quarter of a scale inch.”
But the likelihood is that no matter how good their research is, now matter how carefully they document their work through historical research, no matter how many measurements they take on a real aircraft- something will not be perfect.
A few modelers will take their ball home and just not play. They’ll sit in their room, unhappy at the world, as they watch the other kids play with slightly imperfect toys. And while they may occasionally open their windows to chastise the rest for having fun, eventually they’ll clam up and just stew in their misery that the newest ball wasn’t perfectly round.
Until the next ball comes out. And they’ll charge back out to tell everyone that it’s impossible to have fun unless the ball is perfectly round.
I don’t get it.
We’re (mostly) middle-aged to old-aged men who have (mostly) expanded waistlines, (mostly) diminished hairlines, blood sugar that is (mostly) too high, fitness levels that are (mostly) too low, and generally (mostly) the social disposition of a turnip. And we get up at night to pee.
Oh yes, and to top it off, we play with plastic models.
For those of you who, like me, happily build most anything just for the fun of it, God bless you. For those who are passionate about accuracy, and take the time to adjust what you can, and have a great time doing it, God bless you too.
But for those who seem to only get joy in shouting how wrong it all is- I have a question for you.
Is it the models, or is it you? Because I really do feel sorry for you. I don’t say that flippantly, but with a true sense of compassion for what ever it is making a quest for such perfection so central to your life that even your hobby is not a source of joy.
I don’t know the answer. Only you can answer that. Just consider it something to think over while you’re not building models because all fall short.
And they all fall short. In some way or another.
In the meantime, I’ll be building an Eduard Spitfire, an Airfix Hurricane, a Trumpeter Sea Hornet, and who knows what else.
And I’ll have fun while I’m doing it.
Airfix, I’m looking forward to the P-40B. Please accept my apologies for the few people in the community who want to trample the fun the rest of us will have with the kit. Please don’t let those voices deter you from tackling the tough kits, or the odd kits. You’re doing great work, and the majority of the modeling community really likes what you are doing.
And we’re all eagerly anticipating the next big surprise.
Which I’m sure you will agree should be a Vultee P-66 Vanguard in 48th scale. Just in case you needed ideas.
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