The Little World – The Warm Orgasm Of Cleaning Up

Think what you will about the pride of accomplishment and possession that grips a modeller during their time in the workshop  – I say there is no thrill to equal that of cleaning the place up after completing a project. And in some cases it does not even have to be after successfully finishing something…sometimes just the act of getting free of the whole wretched mess is reward enough.

I don’t know what kind of modeller you are, or in what direction your work has taken you. Nor what sort of workshop and tools you have. I don’t even know whether you are a neat and tidy person in yourself or a wallowing hog. Wherever you fit in the spectrum from surgical cleanliness to cow pies on the counter, you will have gotten to the same point at sometime in your career – you’ve finished the last thing possible on your model and put it carefully up on the shelf for posterity.

Now look around. Does it look like a minimalist living room or does it look like Stalingrad? Can you see the floor? Can you see the walls? Is the paint on the ceiling? is the paint on the cat? Is the cat on the ceiling? Whatever – it is time to recover the place and get ready for the next idea.

Find the tools. You will not find them all the first time you look. You may not find some of them no matter how hard you look. Accept an attrition rate of drill bits and tiny hand tools during the best projects. If you have lost the bandsaw or the air compressor, however, check that the workshop locks are still present.

Then start to pick up the off-cuts from whatever you were using. Are any of them still useful? Save them in special boxes that you can throw out in a year when you realise you were wrong. Or save them for 35-40 years and discover that you were right.

Are there any half-used tins of paint? If so, tip them all unto a bucket and paint the back porch with the result. It will either be flat grey or a salmon colour, depending upon whether you are a good moral person or a pervert. The neighbours will know by looking at the porch.

Collect all the parts that you find on the floor that skittered out of your hand or the bench vise as you were making them. Regard these as the working models of the parts that you then had to remake when you were unable to find the first ones on the floor. Throw them in the bin and curse them.

Clean the bench top. Possibly with a broom, possibly with a cloth. Possibly with fire. Just get it back to a semblance of flatness as you will be building your next project on there and it is no good trying to get things in plumb if you are sitting on old glue blobs.

Sharpen the pencils and cap the marker pens. Try the old ones out to see if they are dry enough yet to throw out. Hammer the ruler flat again.

Clean the paintbrushes by rinsing them in the appropriate thinner, working the bristles carefully. Rinse them, shape them so that they have a straight edge, and then throw them into the bin. They sell better brushes than you have just ditched in packets of five for three dollars.

Gather all the sprues, boxes, unused decal sheets, instructions, and spare parts from the kit that you have just finished – note that fully 3/4 of what you paid for at the hobby shop is still in the box and is now totally useless. Go to the hobby shop tomorrow and ask for 3/4 of your money back. Tomorrow will be a special day for you…

And finally, vacuum the floor and benches. No matter how clean you got it before, this final step will suck up the final detail part that you could not find on the sprue ( you’ll see it clearly just before it shoots up the vacuum nozzle ) and make for hours of fun as you sift through the dust bag to find it. We can supply a book of words to say while you look, but don’t let the kiddies read it.


The Little World Week – Part One – The Costs Of Modelling

As a child I haunted hobby shops and dime stores in Canada and the US all the time – indeed, as many US drug stores expanded their stocks in the 1950’s, they were also a fertile hunting ground for the boy modelling enthusiast.

The primary targets were plastic model kits of various sorts, though eventually interests were expanded to include balsa-wood flying models and model railroads. There were always more models and accessories available than I could afford, and choosing what to get was a combination of agony and ecstasy, but always a balance of finance and value for money.

The Canadian shops were higher-priced, and the thing that caused most anguish was the fact that the American prices were printed in code on the ends of the boxes – and they were 1/3 to 1/2 less than the Canadian prices. Of course, on a trip below the border, you could go slightly mad with Christmas or birthday money and then build kits for months. But you couldn’t get the Airfix kits that you could get in Canada.

Now that I am grown up, and have even more time to haunt hobby shops, I am afflicted with the adult’s curse – I remember what the prices used to be. I also have that selective memory that thinks model kits were much better then…

Fortunately, I am also honest enough to admit that they really weren’t, and that modern production far outstrips the products of the 50’s…and that we can get far more and far better stuff…if we are willing to pay for it. But I still quail at some of the price tags.

Never mind – in Part Two I’ll go into the actual numbers.

The Hobbyist’s Christmas

dscf3434Of all the Christmas celebrations there are, the hobbyist’s version must be one of the best. This is because of several factors:

a. They know what they want.

Even if what they want is ” everything ” or is some excruciatingly expensive or obscure item…it is still something. The hobbyist mind has an object toward which to work all the time. Holidays are a time of opportunity.

b. They know where to get it.

Even if it is half way round the planet in some warehouse in New Jersey, you can be sure that the hobbyist has sussed it out long before the holiday. magazines, internet sites, and the underground grapevine of other enthusiasts will pinpoint anything.

c. It is never socks, a tie, or a brown sweater with snowflakes on it.

No-one buying a present for a hobbyist will have to suffer the silent contempt of the sales assistant as they wrap up the World’s Worst Present. The shop might be exasperated at the fact that the specialised object is being purchased by a Philistine who has no idea what it is, but if said buyer comes in with a carefully written note from the hobbyist they can at least know that it will end up in good hands.

d. The hobbyist only wants one.

They do not need multiple presents. Just the thing that they asked for. They really are grateful for it, even if it is old or rusty or small or tacky. They know what it is wanted for and how it will be used. Trust them.

e. They are content for the entire day.

Look, lets face it, you can basically give a hobbyist their present, a mince-pie, and a bottle of beer and they will be happy to go off into the basement for 12 hours. You can save on turkey and Christmas crackers and have the day to yourself to watch old Bond movies. Sometimes they’ll surface Boxing Day and sometimes it won’t be until New Years. If you crave a bit of quiet at Christmas, that is how you get it.

f. They don’t mind a bit if the price of the thing they give you is way more than the price of the thing you give them. It isn’t an issue if something is priceless for the hobby.

g. You can hand a hobbyist the world in an envelope.

I mean a gift certificate to their favourite hobby shop. It will never be put at the back of a drawer and forgotten. In fact, it will be spent within the first trading day after Christmas. You’re lucky if the thing doesn’t heat up and ignite on the bedside table in anticipation…