Sprue Cutters Union #8: My World in Scale

My wife would say I am obsessed with scale modeling. After you've read my response to this week's Sprue Cutters Union topic I will let you be the judge of that. Never the less, I prefer to consider myself a student of the hobby, rather than a victim of some sort of mental disorder. Though both are likely true, considering that in order to become truly good at any interest a certain level of obsession must be had. No? Without some dedication and perseverance you're just settling for mediocrity.
I see myself as constantly striving to be better at building plastic models. Sounds silly when I really think about it, but then again, I don't often think about it...I leave that for my wife. Though she thinks the process of my progression is driven by obsession, I argue that it is driven by a simple desire to do the best I can. Even if it is just a silly pass time.

This week's Union topic requires that I describe how my understanding of our small scale world has influenced my view of the real world.

You must feel the Hobby around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.
Master Yoda

Well, he said something like that any way.
The point is the same though. I've been playing in this land of miniature so long that I do look at my surroundings differently. There is so much around me that has a valid application for the hobby and I spend a lot of time looking for it. Every day household items like old CD's, used electronics, copper wire, expired gift cards, soda straws, toilet paper tubes, or cans of potato chips can be valuable resources to take your project to the next level. Take these for example:

Follow the link for more on the Pringles can tower

(source unknown)

It is all a matter of keeping an open mind and knowing what will work best for particular situations. Of course, even natural material has its place in the hobby. The wife has often caught me rummaging through the garden, pulling weeds to harvest their roots, or collecting dirt and tree bark, all of which are useful in recreating a natural look in a diorama. She may look at me funny, but I always come away rather excited by the treasures I have found.

Realism is the goal for every modeler. The extent a modeler goes to achieve a certain look is up to them, but in the end we are each striving to accomplish the same thing: a life like model.
Beyond collecting material to help achieve this look, we also collect references. I've come to pay a lot of attention to the mundane details we see every day. Where a regular person may see a beat up old truck that they would have traded in years ago, I see chipped paint, rusty fenders, and torn upholstery. A simple patch of earth may yield an understanding of how rocks lay in the dirt, or how tree roots break the surface.

I work with military aircraft on a some what regular basis. Considering my affinity for modeling military subjects, it is unavoidable that I think about some aspect of modeling when I'm on the flight line. I take note of little things like the concrete an aircraft sits on. Its position in reference to its surroundings. All of this may come into play in a future diorama, so it all gets filed away somewhere within the geeky confines of my brain. I take note of the weathering, the variation in colors, the stencils, the weapons, as much as I can remember in hopes that I can conjure up a similar look when I build that next aircraft kit. 
Then I do, eventually, work on the aircraft, don't worry...

Often times, a tangible reference can't be found for me to look at, so I'll turn to online sources. The iPad frequently accompanies me to the workbench as it allows quick access to the internet and all it beholds. On any given project I may have as many as four or five tabs open, displaying images of interiors or paints schemes that will ensure I get the detail just right.

But recreating that detail isn't the easiest thing to do. Perhaps the most significant understanding I have now is that none of this matters if I don't know how to apply it. The hobby is as much relaxing as it can be stressful. It presents many problems that need to be solved through the course of one project. Not understanding the 1:1 world in regards to how it can be applied in scale will not produce the results I'm looking for. Solving the problem is part of the fun but it can only be solved through trial and error using the tools, references and materials picked up along the way. If that technique worked this time, good, I'll file it away. If it didn't quite yield the result I wanted, good, I'll adjust it for the next time. 

I am by far not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. My scenes are not always a mirror image of realism, and the detail is not always sharp and cohesive. But I'm trying. The pursuit of realism is what drives me, and there should be no bounds to this pursuit. To the lay person this may indeed appear to be obsession. But to me, its progress. If I'm obsessed with improving, so be it.

Thanks for reading!


Part of being in the Union means you must include links to fellow contributors' posts within your own response. If you liked this post, then perhaps you'll enjoy what some other modelers have to say about this topic!

Scale Model Workbench
Migrant's Wanderings
The Eternal Wargamer

Want to join the Sprue Cutters Union? Its simple. If you model and have a blog that is all you need to start. Just write a post in response to the weekly topic, copy the link in the comments section for that week's assignment and you're in! Check out more detail about joining the Sprue Cutters Union.


  1. Here is mine:

  2. Here is mine... I hope I am not too late.



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