Friday, August 9, 2013

A Note to Manufacturers - Stop Boring Me!

I don't like being bored. Really, who does? Oh yeah, lets go sit in a corner and stare at the wall for a while! Fun! Said nobody. Ever. I'm not much for conversation either. I'm a doer. I like action.

After all, I prefer this hobby because it gives me something to do, thus preventing the dreaded boredom of which I speak. Also, it doesn't require any talking, though I have thrown a few choice words or two at an uncooperative Panzer Grenadier now and then. I suppose you could say it requires literacy skills since I write blog posts and comments on my Facebook page but that is fairly simple and really only necessitates one or two intelligible trains of thought per day. Never the less, the conversation consists of topics I enjoy, namely modeling, and other cool subjects like planes, tanks and other cool things that shoot missiles and break stuff. To me, the hobby IS very much exciting because it represents all of those things. The only thing better than talking about it, is building it in scale.

Now then, I'm taking some what of a cue from Steve over at Scale Model Soup thought provoking, possibly controversial opinion pieces. I doubt if I'll step on too many toes with this one but you can never be too sure. Not that I would be sorry if I did, because after all, this is my opinion for you to disagree with...

I really like to build dioramas. I also like to look at dioramas other modelers build. I prefer to build and view dioramas containing a compelling story line. Give me some drama to sink my teeth into! So, it really grinds my gears when model manufacturers miss an opportunity to capitalize on my desire for action. What brings this on? Every morning, one of the first things I do is catch up with the hobby world by taking a look at my page's Facebook feed. This morning there was a press release from Dragon showing a new kit of SAS vehicle crews in North Africa...

Hurry up and take the photo so I can go blow something up!

The kit was clearly inspired by the photograph seen at the left, which depicts the British SAS troops conversing with their commander, Colonel Stirling. I have no problem with the kit itself, nor the fact that they based it on an actual photo which is actually pretty cool.
The trouble I have is that I'm so bloody tired of manufacturers producing these kits with their figures in "at rest" poses.

In my humble opinion, the SAS is worthy of so much more than a typical diorama of a bunch of bearded dudes sitting around with their thumbs up their rear ends. They have these cool vehicles, loaded to the brim with machine guns, ammo, fuel and water and they are men who I'm sure have beard growing contests in their down time. Why, for the love of this hobby, do they always have to appear like they are off on some Sunday drive? They are not shooting anything, or blowing stuff up.

I mean, its called a 4x4 SAS Raider...doesn't look like they are raiding anything except the local drive-thru...

I'll have a Big Mac, small fries, and large diet Coke...

Now, don't get me wrong, there are people out there who can create a really nice diorama with figures like these. The vehicles can be perfectly weathered, and the troops can have the perfect skin tone, and I would say, wow, I'm impressed! which I genuinely would be, however, where is the story?
I, in no way, blame the modeler for such scenes. No, the modeler plays the hand they are dealt. If you're intending on building a diorama of some SAS troops in North Africa, you are only capable of doing so much.

The hobby needs more intensity, and that can be better accomplished by the manufacturers producing kits with ready made action poses. Take for instance, Master Box Ltd. They have a wide range of figure kits that seemingly come to life with incredible poses. I have their Eastern Front "Hand to Hand Combat" kit that I'm dying to start! But even they are not immune to passing up an opportunity to make the SAS look incredibly dull...
I mean, if I based my knowledge of the SAS on what I saw from this hobby, I'd say they were a bunch of unkempt older gentlemen, who had an odd sense of style, and pointed in general directions as if to say maybe the fighting is over there, eh chaps?
Never the less, even Master Box's loathed "at rest" scenes have more going on in them than most of their competitors. That's all I ask for. Give me something. I understand that war is not all shoot 'em up, Hollywood action style - I'm in the military, its quite a lot of sitting around actually - but that doesn't mean every "at rest" scene has to include five figures, two of which are obviously talking to each other, while another one stares at a map as a second guy peers over his shoulder (because no one can look at a map by themselves) and the last guys takes in the whole scene while leaning up against nothing in particular, with one hand in his pocket, and the other one holding a cigarette. Don't forget, each of them has to have a ridiculously large smile on their faces as if war is the best thing that ever happened to them.

I wouldn't even take it as far to say I prefer figures that are shooting. No, far from it. I prefer, drama, urgency. None of which require actual violence. Perhaps the threat of violence, but that can even be unseen. Imagine if you took the SAS LRDG in North Africa shown above, and added some urgency to it. Perhaps the Germans are hot on their trail. This could be depicted in better poses. All hands better be digging! Not pointing at some destination that we are only meant to assume is the objective.
That is the point I'm trying to make.

I guess it just seems, so often, that the figures are the after thought in the minds of manufacturers while the vehicles are the main focus. They make the figures to merely compliment the vehicles instead of really working together to make a better diorama. Master Box is impressing me with their ability to achieve story line using dynamic poses and it is something I hope they continue into the future. I can only hope other lines will catch on and follow suit.

I wonder what your thoughts on this matter are? What are your preferences? Be sure to comment below.
Thanks for reading!

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