Celebrating Diversity

Earlier this week I came across a thread on a discussion forum that got me thinking. It’s not a new subject and nor does it generate any real answers, but it is one that is often raised because modellers are incessantly curious about what it is that motivates us.

If somebody asks you what sort of modeller you are, how do you answer that question? It can be answered in so many ways. I could answer by saying that I’m an armour modeller, rather than an aircraft modeller or a ship modeller for example.

Equally, I might say that I only build models out of the box, or that I always add detail to my models. Maybe I only build in one scale, or one subject area. Am I a hairy stick user or do I own an airbrush? Perhaps I’m a serious modeller or just a casual one (what do those sort of phrases mean anyway?).

I could be a solitary modeller who has no need to share their work with others or perhaps I’m a social modeller who belongs to clubs and enjoys the show circuit. Then there’s the contrast between the competition junkie who isn’t satisfied unless they are measuring themselves against their peers and the modeller who only builds for themselves and doesn’t need to get the competitive juices flowing in order to be satisfied with their hobby.

My own favourite is the split between the ‘engineer’ and the ‘artist’. The engineer loves the construction stage and all the challenges it presents, especially when there is extra detailing or a conversion involved (or even a full scratchbuild), but they find the painting and finishing stage more of a chore. The artist by contrast finds all the time spent on construction to be a drag and only really comes alive once they can start applying paints and artistic effects. The most extreme examples of this are the modelling duos where one modeller builds the the kit and the second modeller paints it.

The reality is that most of us don’t sit neatly into any of these definitions. On any given day, I could comfortably sit in most of those ‘types’, depending on what I’m building, how I’m building it and what my mood is. I’m too much of an engineer to truly embrace the joy of painting, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to improve. Every model I make is a chance to improve on something I did with the last model (or the one before that). When it comes to new techniques and ideas, I cast my net widely and cheerfully absorb ideas from across the modelling spectrum. It’s about looking at the technique rather than dismissing it because it doesn’t come from ‘your’ area of interest.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how you define what type of modeller you are or whatever criteria others use to pigeon-hole you with. Our hobby has room for all types of modeller. The essential criteria is that you enjoy your hobby. There will always be those who try to tell you that you must do this, or not do that, that a particular technique or style is essential or that you absolutely have to use aftermarket sets or a kit has no value. If that’s what floats your boat then all credit to you, but if you choose not to then that’s just as valid and don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise.

Vive la Difference – as our friends across the Channel would say.

John Tapsell
IPMS (UK) Publicity Officer