Saturday, 31 October 2015

Sprue Cutters Union October Topic

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists, and welcome to the October post for the Sprue Cutters Union topic, which perhaps should be entitled 'Working to close deadlines and only getting the post finished at the last moment', but in actual fact is about which aspects of miniature modelling projects are the most important to us...

This months hobby topic put to the Union is:


We all get lazy at times but let’s face it, there are areas of this hobby that modellers cannot get skimpy. Whether it’s a part of the assembly process, a finishing technique, or a particular tool, what do you think are the essential aspects you cannot afford to cut corners on during a build? What are your imperatives?




Though, as I know you are probably aware by now, I am a miniature wargamer as well as modeller, I do like the occasional post that I can answer from a purely modelling perspective, and this may be one of those topics. Maybe. Perhaps. Not sure if I can take that big a step away from wargaming to be honest. 

Corners, and the cutting of them. Let's start there. I imagine the same applies to scale modellers as it does to miniature wargamers, but when we get into this hobby, whatever age we are when we pop our first shrink wrap on a box of metal or plastic (or resin - for those that way inclined), we all have to start somewhere, and that place is invariably 'at the beginning'. The beginning can be a daunting place, because on one hand we have an internet full of amazing finished builds and armies, and what look like complex and very technical skills and processes being demonstrated, and on the other we have us, and our complete lack of the experience necessary to make much sense out of what we are seeing at anything more than a rudimentary level, at least at first. 

Imagine then (and I am sure many of you don't have to imagine, because you were there) what starting out in this hobby was like before the internet and before access to all those tutorial videos and blog articles. Unless you had Yoda, or Mr Miagi to coach you to greatness, you would have had to do the same as most of us, and work a lot of things out as you went along. You clip, you unintentionally break things, you glue (sometimes your fingers - and I know some of you still manage this feat of chemical engineering. You know who you are), you paint, you play with your toy soldiers - transported to war in a shoe box. We learn.

Fast forward twenty odd years, (I am not old, I am not old) and I have learned a great many things. I have learned to paint to an acceptable standard (in my opinion), I am able to assemble complex kits, using pins and magnets and modelling putty, and I am able to use a variety of basing techniques. And the most important thing I have learned that allows me to achieve a fair standard of finished product? The thing I think is worth spending that extra time on, despite the piece of my soul that is consumed every time I do it? Preparation...

When we are young and inexperienced, without even knowing we are doing it, we cut corners on modelling projects. We cut components off sprues, we glue them together. When we look at those same models years later when we have achieved a greater level of proficiency, we think 'crikey, I wish I had scraped off all those mould lines'. 'Why are there all these gaps?' 'Why does he hold that gun at such a strange angle?'

As we gain more experience and get better at what we do, we cut fewer corners. In a way, I think that is what it is to be a decent modeller, and the best modellers cut no corners at all. It is only in the last couple of years or so I have come to understand the value of taking the time to make sure that every piece I clip from a sprue is neatly filed and cleaned where it needs to be, and has all the mould lines scraped away. 

Not only does this make a big visual and psychological difference when it comes to painting the assembled model, because we have nice smooth surfaces to paint which are free of unwanted protrusions, but because we file all the joint faces there are no unsightly gaps either. We have a better quality of model to work on, which in turn may make us want to make an even better job of the paintwork than we may otherwise have done if we felt like the model didn't warrant that extra attention. It will also avoid the oft read comments from well meaning fellow hobbyists when we post photos of our work on the internet for feedback - 'Great paint job mate, but it would look much better without the mould lines'.

The result, despite the extra effort required in the preparation, is a better standard of finished product. It may add a week to a project when I am working on a unit of twenty models, because I spend the first four or five days filing and scraping every piece before I even think about reaching for the glue, but in the end I think it is worth it. I want to achieve the best standard I can, and that starts with good preparation.


As always, thanks for reading...