Hold Me Close – Stab Me Deep

I am somewhat amused to see that Bette Midler and Donald Trump do not like each, though I am not surprised by it. Even if they shared the same political affiliations – which I take it they do not – there would still be ample cause for them to be at each other’s throats – the chief of which is they are both overbearing…and do not appreciate it when they cannot dominate each other. As it is, they both have a very good thing going in their animosity – it assures them of a place in the news sheets and the social tweets. And they both want to be in all the news all the time.

This closeness that they do not admit sharing is also seen in many other arts and crafts – dancing has it, painting has it, sculpture has it…as does any other art you care to name. I can find you collectors of model cars who would stab each other with a 1:43 scale Morris sedan if they could get away with it. Rivalry, angst, bitchiness, treachery, and deceit can be found everywhere.

It can be petty, like the person who falls upon spelling or grammar errors to score points. It can be serious, like the glaring matches that break out at amateur dramatics between sets of parents. It can be useful…though frequently useful only in starting an even bigger fight. And sometimes it can be profitable.  Send me $ 15 in used notes and I’ll tell you how…

I used to be horrified when a friend betrayed me. Then I discovered that after the world had come crashing down around my ears it could be set back upright – and frequently looking a bit better – within days. And the terrible act was somewhat of an inoculation – no-one could ever do exactly the same thing again. Oh there would be new betrayals to conquer, but that particular one was a dead issue. One less person and/or circumstance to worry over.

Is this to be taken as an encouragement to be horrible to others? No, you should still be as kind as you can to everyone. But it does put a lot of the things we see into perspective, and if it helps us to genuinely shrug off a hurt, it is valuable.

 

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The Little World – eCon – omics 101

I have generally stopped cruising eBay for hobby products now that I am retired. I have time to visit our local hobby stores…at least the ones that will let me in the door…and can look forward to an interstate trip now and then to fill in the big spaces. Plus the economics of retirement mean that you need to do more with less. Fortunately in scratch building this can be quite possible.

But I still do venture into the electronic souk occasionally if none of the local sources can supply something. It is the same principle that I apply to photography gear; my old employers first, then another local shop if possible, and the net if necessary. I do not cavil at the tiny purchase of accessories from Chinese suppliers – I’ve purchased machined metal brackets and lens hoods for very small prices and have been pleased with the service and quality. A net purchase of a Chinese electronic trigger system for flashguns was done on the basis that it looked quite unique. So it proved to be, and has been very useful as a lightweight accessory.

But a recent eBay session looking for a model airplane kit has opened my eyes to the nature of some of the dealers. I wanted a small model of an RAF trainer. A chap in England had one, and as it was unbuilt, it would have been perfect. The original bagged Airfix kit was worth 50 cents when it was fresh.

He wants $ 100 for it…And that is in real already-assembled money…

That kind of return places it in the sort of category that used to be reserved for Fabergé eggs or Bugatti motor cars. One can only hope the Police have been alerted in case there is a theft. Bugger the Crown Jewels – rally round the Airfix kits!

I daresay I’ll see more of this if I go to local trading fairs as well, so it is not just the English chap. I used to fancy I could tell the shonkies by the look of them but either my eyesight is getting worse or they are starting to shave more and dress better.

Featured Image: the new Airfix Tiger Moth kit I bought at Hobbytech for $ 14.00. A sensible and acceptable price and no postage to pay.

The Little World – Well Hush My Mouf’

Having recently written a post about contests amongst the model collecting society, you can imagine my feelings this week upon being presented with a trophy for the best rookie entry into the annual display…

I was taken aback, but pleasantly…I now have a large perpetual trophy to display for the year and a smaller one to keep forever. I’ll not get a chance to be a rookie again, but this will keep me on my mettle to present something good next time. Fortunately I have several something goods already made so I am ahead of the game. Still, there are so many more vignettes of life that can be modelled…no time to waste.

One thing that will have to be thought out…the size of baseboards for dioramas is a limiting factor in what can be done. In my preferred scale – 1:18 – there is only so much that can be put onto the surface area of a standardised 1000 mm x 820 mm baseboard, and unfortunately that is the largest size that can be carried in my little Suzuki Swift. A Lotto win might yield a larger Suzuki van, but I am not going to buy one for just this purpose.

I think it is time to go see what the model train enthusiasts do when they make layouts for public display. They must have similar problems and will have evolved strategies to cope. I realise that they work in smaller scales, but they do have larger pictures to draw, as it were.

The Little World – The Unsalable Product Meets The Inscrutable Market…

If you are nervous about politics, ethnicity, or toy airplane kits, now would be the time to switch your computer to the next page. The rest of you can look on while I open a can of retail worms.

Nationalism, nostalgia, and narcissism are an integral part of the Little World. It is most readily seen in the model railway market – where firms who sell to a domestic market make marvelous ranges of models for their friends, relatives, and countrymen, but only pay the slightest attention to a foreign buyer. Märklin was just this in the 50’s to 70’s…they made superb models of German and European trains and dismal models of US prototypes. This was natural, and the only real puzzle was why they bothered to make a US model at all. It might have been to capture the US military market at the PX’s in Germany, for all I know…

In the die-cast car game there are many Chinese makers making models of US, European, and Asian prototypes for sale in those areas. They make Australian prototypes for Australia, and might indeed make other little ventures for other countries – provided there is sufficient money and buying pressure in those areas. This is as it should be, and my only gripe is that they do not make more 1:18th scale cars and trucks of the small domestic type. I am immune to super-cars and racing types…

But where the real interest in nationalism comes is in the die-cast aircraft market. Most of what sells to our local collectors is Western prototype. The predictable Spitfire, Me 109, Hellcat, Zero are all seen and there will always be a sale to someone of an airliner painted in QANTAS or Virgin colours. Why, I struggle to fathom, but I suspect that most of these go to grandparents stuck for a present.

But there is also a surprising amount of what I would have called unsalable stock in the local die-cast airplane market – the cheap productions of Chinese factories of Chinese, North Korean, Soviet, and other air forces. We might all recognise what a MiG 15 looks like, but very few of us want to have 14 of them in different camouflage schemes in our collection. The F-86, perhaps, but even here the offerings are nearly always of US or German markings and really don’t ring a local bell.

I was pondering on this in the new hobby shop, looking at the multiple shelves of Chinese MiG 15 models unsold, when it occurred to me that I might have forgotten something. The two suburbs closest to the shop – Winthrop and Leeming  – have a very high Asian population…specifically a Chinese one. Could it be that these MiGs are aimed at them? Is this the future of collection? Are they collectors of toy airplanes as well as of local rental properties?

Are they nostalgic for the good old days of fighter battles high over the Yalu?

The Little World – The Collector’s Contest

My monthly visit to the model collector’s club in June was very pleasant. I was presented with a trophy – ” equal second place ” for a diorama I had set up, and as it was the first time in decades that I have exhibited anything…including manners…I was quite flattered. But a little taken aback, as well, when I realised that each meeting has a keenly contested competition upon set lines for club members to display their models…to each other.

The items displayed were interesting…in some instances delightful. It was a modest little contest and I suppose eventually little trophies will be earned and awarded. But do I need trophies and contests to enjoy The Little World? Is not the sight of the models and the fun of either finding or building them reward enough? Will LW people fall into the trap of the photographic clubs and give themselves over to competition rather than artistic fun? Will they then take the next steps into certification, judging, accreditation, experts, icons, mentors, superstars, and ambassadors?

I hope not. I don’t think I could stand another set of superstars. Or bitter rivalries. Or brand-fans who fight it out verbally. Please just let it be pluggers, young and old, who like toys and models of things.

The Little World – Meets the Big World

And they do not meet at the hobby shop – they meet at the DIY shop – the Home Depot – the ironmonger’s – the Bunnings. And you have to be ready when they do.

We are accustomed in the Little World to being done. In some cases over, and in some cases like a dinner. We have long realised that our wallets and purses are merely containers for someone else’s money. We have patronised hobby shops, dollhouse shops, gamers shops, and toy stores for decades in the sure and certain knowledge that we couldn’t possibly live without whatever it is that has taken our eye, and that it will also take our drinking – and in many cases our eating – money for a month or more. We swim up to the counter with mouths open and gasping for goodies. We’re like human goldfish. No need to be koi about it…

But it need not be so. We can be modellers, miniaturists, and collectors without becoming the natural fodder of the hobby shop. All we need to do is adjust our viewpoint and our scale.

As you get bigger in scale, the designs, materials, and techniques employed get much closer to real life. And they get, surprisingly , cheaper. Oh, it is more expensive to buy a 1:1 scale Chrysler hemi engine than it is to buy a 1:24th scale model, but the reverse is the case when all you want is corrugated iron. And when it comes to paints, scale equates in a logarithmically reverse order to price. If you painted a Ford Prefect in 1:1 with pots of Tamiya paint it would come out to the price of a Bugatti Veyron.

So. So take advantage of the low prices on paint when you need it for a 1:18th, 1:12th, or 1:6th structure or vehicle. You can get perfectly good coverage for any of these in the hardware store. Bucket or spray can, the paint can be made to look scale-correct with a bit of thinning and in the case of some of the enamel sprays can do a damn sight better job than an airbrush. You can score sample pots of paint and complete a whole project for $ 5.

Likewise fasteners, screws, nuts, bolts, and odd bits of casting made for many other purposes can all be swung into battery with the larger scales and at hardware shop prices. The oak strip wood and moulding racks are your friend and even the humble MDF stacks can be the materials of your dreams…if you dream big.

I have yet to find a good scale reason for regular doorknobs and bags of chicken manure, but I’m still thinking about it. At least in Australia you need not think hungry – Bunnings does a regular sausage sizzle on Saturday that most of us regard as sacred. Sacred with onions.

The Little World – The Perils Of Perth

Perth, Western Australia is a good city to live in. We eat and drink well, sleep safe, and have about as much fun as we deserve. But it can be a frustrating place when it comes to buying certain things.

You can apparently get narcotics here and there and hamburgers everywhere. I have avoided both for years. People who regularly dose up on either of these are a nuisance.

But the real nuisance is the fact that we are at the end of the world as far as retail goods go. This is no new thing – we’ve missed out on stuff for the last 200 years. But now we have the instant reportage of the internet and we find out about it all daily. Unfortunately the local retailers and wholesalers are limited in the amount of stock they can afford to carry and there are vast classes of desirable things that we never get.

How frustrating to have this paraded and reviews, forums, and overseas travellers crowing about our loss.

For those who point out the internet trade as the answer, we can only say that you have to look carefully and sadly at the cost of shipping for whatever you want. You might be able to order some new thing from New York but if the cost of transport makes is double the purchase price, the joy is gone before it arrives. Fools run out of money faster than wise people.

For modellers there is always one golden Western Australian rule: If something is offered for sale and you both want it and can afford it…buy it. There is a very real possibility that it has come as an extra in another shipment and will never be seen again. If you wait a week, you lose it forever.

You will also need to be careful in your online dealings as there are shops who will not sell to you…preferring to deal with people who do not live at such a remove. It is sad, but you cannot force someone to take the time and trouble to post something to you if they are not used to doing it for their own countrymen. Take it as an encouragement to scratch building and the development of skill. It is no different in other remote regions.

Also take advantage of the extensive do-it-yourself shops and suppliers here. If you have  a Little World hobby that is a larger scale, there are no-end of things in a regular hardware shop that can be turned to good account. Do not be afraid to buy from furniture stores or IKEA either – I have been building structures for years from the off-cuts of IKEA wooden slat blinds.

The retro markets and collector’s warehouses that dot the outer suburbs are tempting – their advertising suggests everything you have ever desired. I cruise their stands, but find that their definition of retro and/or treasure is drawn from a different dictionary than mine. I read Webster – they read Captain Kidd.

And the toy stores? Large amounts of several items…