The Little World – Knowing When To Stop

Knowing when to stop is a concept that all Little Worlders should firmly grasp. It is most useful for the designers as well as the builders.

a. I built two kits of the same vehicle recently – One by Hobby Master, and one by Airfix – both long-established firms. Both designed in England and manufactured in China. Both made with good-quality materials – in the case of the Hobby Master this included plastic castings, a zamac casting, and rubber tyres. The Airfix kit was all plastic. Price for the HM was higher, but not excessive.

Well, they both made up to good models, and I was pleased, but the Airfix kit had been made with more pieces of plastic on the sprues and consequently there were a lot more joins to be made. Some of them were joins that required the parts to be 90º accurate – difficult to do in 3 planes.

I’m a reasonably careful worker, but even so I got more things out of line with the Airfix than with the HM – and the extra-fine detail does not show enough in 1:76 scale to merit those inaccuracies. I’ve noted this problem with my next Airfix kit as well, and will look to other makes for my needs in the future.

The designers should have stopped dividing the master model into parts earlier – sacrificed some of the tiny parts for integral moulding. The end result would have been more certainty for the modellers – particularly if they were juniors.

b. I noted that there is yet another re-issue of a die-cast car model by a well-known firm in yet another fanciful livery. I think they have put it out in about 10 varieties…only 2 of which have any basis whatsoever in reality. By all means put out something that returns money to the company, but try not to flood the shelves with examples that have no further value. Stop at 2 authentic models and one fantasy.

c. Other die-cast makers and resin casters are putting out what may be accurate models of especial vehicles by the score – luxury vehicles, racing cars, one-off show cars. Lovely work, but far in excess of the more mundane cars and trucks we see on our roads or remember from the past. Some makes are ignored completely – others have perhaps one example of a line that actually went for decades. The collector is hard pressed to make a representative collection – it is all dessert and no potatoes. Time to stop and to start making more average sedans.

d. Some collectors pursue balanced collections. Some concentrate on one make. Some concentrate on one model from one maker, and break their hearts and our ears with their search for the fabled lost variant that was only available on Wednesday March 18th, 1959 on a radius of 2.7 miles from a newsagent in Pinner.

I am willing to believe that they care about this, but they should stop before they try to make the rest of us care.

e. That final touch of paint on the model often is the final touch plus one. And that extra spritz or brush then spoils the whole paint job by running or skinning. Oh, if only we had stopped earlier…

f. The extra model on the shelf is just a little more weight. And then another. And eventually the shelf – like the camel’s back – has just one straw or model too many. You can see where  this is going.

g. Some model lines – some model collections – are finite things. There were only so many of something that were ever made and only so many models are possible. What do you do if you come to the end of that line and there are no more things to collect? A sad stop.

So it is all a matter of timing – and balance. Success may be reached but should not be over-reached. Every meal has a satiety point  – up until then it is all delight…but after it, everything is nauseating. We must learn our saturation points and stop in a timely fashion before we reach them.

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The Little World – Won’t Someone Think Of The Adults?

I suppose it is a little silly to be going into a toy shop looking for adult entertainment – unless you are an adult that likes playing with toys. That’s a hard thing to be, and an even harder thing to admit to – it’s no wonder that the trade doesn’t think it needs to cater to us.

I say us, because I like to play with toys, and I am considered to be an adult. Shows how just how successful I have been at fooling the rest of society for the last 69 years…

I went into a Toyworld store in Fremantle a couple of weeks ago to see if I could add anything to my toy car collection or find any accessories that would help with scale model photography. I had plenty of time, my own transport, and a credit card  – I could have taken away any number of boxes of fun from that shop. Sadly, I left empty-handed…there was just nothing that answered the need in the place.

Had I been buying for children, I could have had a ball. Several balls. As many balls as you can have ball-games for. If I was playing in the sand pit out the back of the house i could have had dirt diggers and dump trucks  in any size and colour. I could have had farm tractors and ploughs. But I couldn’t get any decent scale models that I would put on a shelf and display.

People may say that this should be the province of the hobby shop – and to a certain degree it is – but toy stores are the training grounds for hobbyists and it seems like it would be a good thing to give the buyers some bridge between radio control helicopters and friction toy racers.

Either that, or I get ten cubic yards of sand delivered and go outside and start to make sand roads…

The Little World – You Can Buy It In Any Size But The One You Need

Here – pick a card from the blue deck. Any card. Now turn it over. What does it say?

1/72?

Okay, that’s your scale. Now pick a card from the red deck and turn it over. It says…?

Portuguese torpedo bomber?

Okay, that’s what you need to buy from the hobby shop. Here is a large pile of money and a stopwatch. You have five hours to go to every hobby shop in town to buy a 1/72 Portuguese torpedo bomber – either in kit form or as a die-cast. If you do you get to keep the pile of money and if you fail we take all the tyres off your car and burn them in your back yard. Ready? Go.

This is the best game. The desperate modeller heads out the front door at a dead run and drives to the nearest hobby shop. They have 1/35 scale torpedo bombers. The next one is five miles away and they have 1/48 scale kits. The third store is across town on the freeway and they have a special on Portuguese torpedo bombers this week. All at half price and all at 1/32 scale…

It’s a big town and there are lots of stores and the five hours tick slowly away as the candidate rushes to each one. He is assured of success at the four-hour, 55 minute mark when he reaches the last one in the outer suburb that advertises itself as ” Portuguese Torpedo Bombers R Us ” and has the 1/72 signal beaming onto the clouds above the parking lot. Bursting into the doors he is confronted by the man who says:

” Oh you’re too late. We sent them back to the wholesaler yesterday. There was no call for them…”

I don’t know about you, but I like a nice tyre fire in the back yard on these summer nights. That, and the sobbing of the modeller, seems to be a home comfort.

The Bookstore – A Tale Of Temptation

People have remarkably different attitudes to space and time.

I can spend a happy hour in a dentist’s chair as I spent many happy years sitting beside one. The comfort arises from my understanding of the processes and rituals involved. My dentist may not be having such a good time, as he realises that I know, you know, and that I know that he knows that I know…

I can also spend quality time in a hobby shop, art gallery, or hotel lounge. And be very happy in a bookstore or library.

Bookstores have books for sale that you don’t have to give back. Some of them are swanky places, quirky places, antiquey places, and they have prices that reflect this. Others have less style and more substance, and I can afford to shop there. The secondhand places are the most fun, but you need to adjust your mind to what you are actually seeing. And you need to realise beforehand that there may not be any gems to be found in the overburden of remainders and Mills and Boone novels. Be aware of the sucker shelf as well, and avoid it.

My favourite places are the targeted shops – booksellers that feature a specific area and do not move out into the complete range of literature. Oh, they might be literary places and sell as much Jane Austen and literary criticism as you could cram into a string bag, but in general I go for ones that are not this. I find the transport, military, art, and history shops much more to my taste, though I can always be arrested by a bookcase full of low-priced paperback classics. I admire publishers who are prepared to give me the Dickens for $4.95.

Is there a drawback to this all? Yes. A bookstore holiday in Melbourne and Sydney once a year is a very good thing, and provided that the stores can send the goods by road you can purchase heavy items. I try for a metre-width of new literature on the shelf with each holiday, and have never failed. But you can be hijacked and diverted by finding a book  that cannot be deferred – that must be read as soon as possible, and this is at the expense of time spent doing other holiday things.

Mind you, it does give you a good excuse to prop yourself up in the corner in Young and Jackson’s with a couple of pints or to retire after dinner to the lounge of the hotel where you are staying with a pot of coffee and the new book. If the purpose of a holiday is to bid care farewell, this is as good a way to do it as sitting on a sandy beach.

 

Potzanpans

No, that was not the site of a battle in the Third Dutch War. It is the site of what promises to be a battle in the spare room as we prepare for the demolition of our kitchen. All the things that we have been using to mangle our food have been brought out and are being judged.

The new kitchen will feature a hot plate that works by some sort of magnetic magic, but will not agree to perform this magic if the cookware is not iron or steel. The aluminium pots and pans that have been the mainstay for years are going to have to go. I regret losing the soup pot, but a new steel one has been purchased – all the rest are scored, dented, and manky, and can go . I will put them in the Beaverbrook scrap drive and they can be melted down to produce a Spitfire.

Oddly enough, the equally vile baking trays and pans will stay, as they are destined for the oven, and it is conventionally heated. It is probably pathological to be attached to a baking tin, but I have one in which meatloaf has never failed, and I am loathe to trust another for this delicate and scientific task. The fact that this baking dish looks like the unwashed crankcase cover of a 1934 Dodge is neither here nor there. The meatloaf redeems any untoward appearance. For all I know, it may actually be a crankcase cover from a Dodge. I inherited it from my folks and they were thrifty.

I shall be ruthless with the plastic . We have the usual household’s collection of marvellous food storage container systems that are guaranteed to hold in the caterpillars and worms. There are also microwave-safe plastic dishes that are probably made of a mixture of compressed dioxin and Lewisite. I shall take this opportunity to throw them in the same skip that will receive the cabinets and sink. Presumably some adventurer at the skip-bin company will recover them and sell them at a profit. I am fine with this, as long as it is far away from me. If I had a closed kettle that could be heated by gas and made to vent out over the down-wind neighbours, I would toss all of them in and try to melt them down  for hockey pucks or dildos.  ” He Shoots! He Scores! “…and that wasn’t on Hockey Night In Canada, either…

I have also decided to emulate all the people who have given me decorative and commemorative cups, saucers, plates, bowls, and earwax pots over the years and do the same – give them away to the skip bin people. It is not a lack of sentiment – it is a lack of room to store it all and the recent realisation that we are slaves to boxes of this dreck.

Brave words, eh? I’ll bet some of the language I am going to hear from the wife and daughter is gonna be pretty robust, too.

The Little World – The Pile O’ Boxes

I used to laugh with scorn when told of the behaviour of other model builders – particularly those benighted souls who wanted to build plastic kits. It was not the fact that they were not scratch-building, and it was not the use of plastic – I can quite see the good sense of both approaches. It was the fact that they stockpiled kits.

I’d been told of people with rooms full of shelves full of kit boxes full of unbuilt kits. I considered they were full of it. After all, how could a red-blooded modeller not rip the packet open and start gluing and painting as soon as they got in the front door? Which of us did not want to cut Christmas dinner short and make a dash for the building board? Were these creatures of flesh and blood or mere zombies?

Well, time has a way of listening to our scornful laughter and then replaying it to us. I now have a small shelf of unbuilt kits to be ashamed of.

I have fallen into the trap of every other modeller – I have decided that I really need something long before I really need it. And now I am committed to getting the paint pots that are missing from the 45,000 ones that already sit on the shelf. And more brushes. And a different knife/airbrush/bandsaw/entire modelling shed/house and land. Anyone who said plastic modelling was a road to tranquility and content needs to have an Xacto needle file in the backside…

Well, at least I have this stash inside in an air-conditioned room. We are set for hot Christmas weather and I can retreat here and cut and glue while I wait for the cooler weather to come. The evenings should be perfect for spray painting.

 

Combatting Evil, One Tin Of Caviar At A Time

Here at the headquarters of The Australian League Of Virtuousness we have a motto:

” One Born Every Minute, And Five Born To Administer Them ”

It is engraved on the doorpost of the entrance*, and again on the lintel across the entrance. It is embossed on every chair in the visitor’s lounge, every place at the director’s 20 metre mahogany dining table, and every stall in the Executive Washroom. Nothing will wash it away, though, God knows, we’ve tried. Especially after Champagne Night.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not decrying the basic sentiment – it is just that it limits the number of divisions into which the contributions might be made. What do we do if we engage more staff members. The motto specifies five, but there is room in the stretch limo for more…and Bubbles, Brandi, and Trixie promise to be tireless workers in the cause.

I think that we need to take a broader view…and I have a black book full of broads’ names to hand. There is no sense restricting our activities to just the poor or downtrodden. The rich and arrogant are also in need of virtuousness and can afford to purchase a better quality product – or at least a lot more of it. We have contacted Kargotich transport for a quote on their high-capacity dumper trailer to haul more virtuousness as there is bound to be a saving in bulk. As yet the council has not replied to our enquiry about whether it is legal to dump it on the verge.

Goodness and mercy have often been said to follow the virtuous and this may very well be so. To that end we are suggesting that members of The League take sensible precautions and change their mode of transport and route frequently to elude pursuit. It is no good getting complacent about this sort of thing – if you are always kind and helpful you are one day going to be caught out at it and then where are you. Canonized, most likely. And some of those canons have a fierce recoil.

*   At an angle of 45º.