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Why aren't all model kits awesome?


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#101 Harry P.

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 05:55 AM

This F-B Chrysler Imperial kit should give you a good idea of how "awesome" kits were in the 1950s.  ^_^

 

Nice box, contents well protected. There shouldn't be any breakage or warpage with this one!  :) :

 

chryslerImperial1.jpg

 

 

Oh yeah, nice illustrated instruction sheet. I'm gonna love building this kit!  :)  :) :

 

chryslerimperial2.jpg

 

 

Open it up a bit further and-  :wacko:  :o

 

chryslerimperial4.jpg

 

 

-_-

 

The body looks a little "blocky" to me...  :lol:



#102 Harry P.

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:01 AM

Funny you bring that particular kit up, as the rivet coun....   er... um... the "mechanical fastener enumerators" over on the Large Scale Planes forum (and other aircraft forums, but LSP especially) pretty much tore that kit to shreds over inaccuracies when it was released.

 

I know, I read the reviews.

 

But the point is this: Most military kits are so detailed and accurate that they have to literally count rivets in order to find a "mistake." They find the tiniest little things (like the specific shape of the front of the wheel spats... :rolleyes: ) and argue over the accuracy of the tiniest detail or insignificant issue... because that's all there is that's "wrong."

 

With model cars (many of them), the mistakes are much more obvious. Bodies having the wrong proportions, incorrect components, missing components (you've seen the "magic floating alternator" and invisible radiator hoses many times), etc.

 

In other words, it's a matter of degree. Military kits are generally done to a much higher standard than model car kits. Not true in every single case, but I'm talking in general.



#103 Chuck Kourouklis

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:05 AM

Oh yeah.  Trumpeter's set themselves up for a lot of grief, particularly in many of their earlier releases.  And they've generally responded to the goad, shifting focus from over-engineering and overwrought surface detail to greater overall accuracy.  Their Ford Falcon kits reflected a similar evolution on the over-engineering front; too bad they didn't follow through with the accuracy component.

 

I know we've given the whole "mechanical fastener enumerator" (very nice  :) ) thing a good thrashing here, me most particularly - but that's not as if to say those guys don't exist. All I'm saying is that it's silly to equate that mentality with those pointing out genuinely obvious mistakes.  

 

The little graphic in my signature comes from the HK Models 1/32 B-25, and if the model actually has 450,000 rivets, that's still something requires a serious level of OCD to be bothered by.  Whereas the wrong type of front axle, missing engine breathers and absent external door hinges kinda clock a modeler paying any kind of attention over the head.



#104 Harry P.

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:07 AM

And to specifically answer the original question of why all model car kits aren't awesome... because they don't have to be!

 

Model car builders are willing to accept mediocre kits in exchange for low price. In fact, to many car modelers, price is more important than accuracy. If you don't believe that, read through some of the comments in the "what's the most you've ever paid" thread. "I never spend more than $20 on a kit" seems to be a very common attitude among many car modelers.

 

And the manufacturers know that! And they know that they can cut corners, and we'll accept it. Why bother with tooling up highly accurate, highly detailed kits when a reissued kit that was designed and engineered a half century ago still sells?

 

And all the people who are quick to chime in with the old "But we're modelers... we can fix those mistakes" or "Just be glad we have a kit of XXXXX at all!" are actually making things worse. They are the people that are making sure the mediocre kits keep on coming! The more the model car manufacturers hear that, the less likely they are to get their act together and ramp up accuracy and quality. Why bother, when their customers are all too happy to accept mediocre kits?

 

There is no technical reason why a car model can't be accurate and highly detailed. None. The reason that there are so many inaccurate kits is because we are willing to accept them!

 

When it comes to car model accuracy and "awesomeness," we are our own worst enemy.



#105 Chuck Kourouklis

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:09 AM

Werd.



#106 Brett Barrow

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:26 AM

Model car builders are willing to accept mediocre kits in exchange for low price. In fact, to many car modelers, price is more important than accuracy.

 

Shoot, in a survey conducted by Clambake, er, I mean Kalmbach a few years ago price was the #1 factor for car modelers in why they bought a particular kit, more important than scale, accuracy, or even subject matter!!!!



#107 Ace-Garageguy

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:38 AM

 

.................. a properly proportioned kit still leaves plenty of a canvas for bodywork, be it conversion to a different style or trim level, or especially to a custom.  Elective craftsmanship is a very different proposition from corrective craftsmanship - to most, the former is far more stimulating and less annoying than the latter.

Amen.



#108 Ace-Garageguy

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:42 AM

I don't think they should all be awesome. Think about this for a moment- If all kits were awesome and perfect scale reproductions, where would your skill set be? There would be minimal room for improvement beyond cleanup, painting and assembly. Then, once those three skills are mastered you'll find that the kits become boring. Traditionally as a species, the more we improve things the worse our state of minds become. we got computers...which of course spawned computer shorthand...IIRC. Then cell phones gained the ability to text...this spawned the ever more popular texting shorthand. Now ask yourself, how well are our children doing in school these days with oh, say, reading and WRITING.

Not very well are they? No, because text speak LOL is too easy and longhand cursive is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The smarter our phones get the dumber we get. If all kits were perfect, none of us would know anything about bodywork, chassis stretching or the mechanics of engine swapping. Well, some of us might, but my point is if it was easy, it would no longer be fun. ;) 

I agree entirely with this too, and I'm always amused by modelers who complain that they actually have to do some actual work to complete a model. Different strokes, I guess.



#109 Harry P.

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:00 AM

 

Shoot, in a survey conducted by Clambake, er, I mean Kalmbach a few years ago price was the #1 factor for car modelers in why they bought a particular kit, more important than scale, accuracy, or even subject matter!!!!

 

There's your explanation right there why so many car kits are lousy. Because the customer doesn't care! And if the customer is willing to buy lousy kits, the manufacturers are all too happy to cut corners, save money, and supply them!

 

The phrase "But we're modelers... we can fix those mistakes" is the way of thinking that the car kit manufacturers are banking on. Literally.



#110 Greg Myers

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:03 AM

And to specifically answer the original question of why all model car kits aren't awesome... because they don't have to be!

 

Model car builders are willing to accept mediocre kits in exchange for low price. In fact, to many car modelers, price is more important than accuracy. If you don't believe that, read through some of the comments in the "what's the most you've ever paid" thread. "I never spend more than $20 on a kit" seems to be a very common attitude among many car modelers.

 

And the manufacturers know that! And they know that they can cut corners, and we'll accept it. Why bother with tooling up highly accurate, highly detailed kits when a reissued kit that was designed and engineered a half century ago still sells?

 

And all the people who are quick to chime in with the old "But we're modelers... we can fix those mistakes" or "Just be glad we have a kit of XXXXX at all!" are actually making things worse. They are the people that are making sure the mediocre kits keep on coming! The more the model car manufacturers hear that, the less likely they are to get their act together and ramp up accuracy and quality. Why bother, when their customers are all too happy to accept mediocre kits?

 

There is no technical reason why a car model can't be accurate and highly detailed. None. The reason that there are so many inaccurate kits is because we are willing to accept them!

 

When it comes to car model accuracy and "awesomeness," we are our own worst enemy.

 

If you (in response to anyone looking at this thread) haven't read this, then you need to.



#111 Tom Geiger

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:09 AM

 

And the manufacturers know that! And they know that they can cut corners, and we'll accept it. Why bother with tooling up highly accurate, highly detailed kits when a reissued kit that was designed and engineered a half century ago still sells?

 

 

Harry, I don't believe the manufacturers set out to make mediocre kits at all. Take a look at the newer kits done by Revell and Moebius. They are just wonderful.  This is the current state of the art.  And for now AMT Round Two is making the best of the existing tooling. They've done some really creative things with these old kits, including terrific tires.  Once they get to the point of having the bankroll to do all new kits, watch out!  All three companies are run by modelers instead of bean counters like in the past.  And as far as new kits,  I think we appreciate a nicely done curbside.  The Revell Wheels of Fire series is very nicely done. The mid 70s Monte Carlo is also nice and for those who want full detail, it can be mated up with the 1970 Monte Carlo kit for full chassis and engine detail. The PT Cruiser kits (wagon and convertible) are good too. I also like the late Lindberg kits like the Dodge Caravan, Chrysler convertible etc.  No complaints on any of these products.  We are well past the Palmer / Premiere days!

 

The old tool kits from the 1960s still sell because of the nostalgia factor.  We are rebuying our youth, and building models that we didn't build well back then, or couldn't get together at all.  I just love all the old Tom Daniel subjects I had as a kid. It just takes me back.  Some of the old classics are also done well enough that we are happy with them today. Take for example the Double Dragster kit,  the AMT '53 Ford Pickup and many of the kits of that era.  I could just build that pickup over and over.


Edited by Tom Geiger, 08 March 2013 - 07:13 AM.


#112 Brett Barrow

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:28 AM

I think there's definitly a place for promo-style or curbside kits in the future of American car modeling.  I think that's how models of new cars should be done.  They could get them out faster and sell for a lower price than a full detail kit. Strike while the 1:1 is still hot and beat the restyle that's sure to come in a couple years.   AMT's Showroom series or whatever they call them - the Challenger, Camaro and Corvette unassembled Chinese promos - do alright and they had a good year head start on the Revell full-detail kits.  Concentrate on the body proportions and don't worry about the engine and suspension, not very many modelers seem to be using late-model full-detail kits to create scale "resto-mod" builds like we see in the 1:1 world.  Now when it comes to classic hot rods and muscle cars, yes, go the full mile and do the engine and chassis full detail. Get back to the 60's mentality of simple kits of current cars and detailed kits of classics.   



#113 Tom Geiger

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:48 AM

Brett- Per your comments from earlier in this thread... what percentage of models would you say is sold to the 'organized hobby' vs the occasional modelers? I do agree with your point, a lot of modelers just don't get that.  We are the lunatic fringe, that 1% not all different from those crazy Star Trek groupies.  

 

I'm glad you do see younger people getting into the hobby. I spoke with one astute hobby shop guy locally who says that he gets in tuner guys in their late teens / twenties who think nothing of plunking down $50 for a Honda kit, then spend another $50 on accessories and supplies.  His point is that the younger guys aren't as stingy as we old guys in the hobby!

 

I do see the model companies gearing up as the baby boomers retire. No doubt they see this huge mass (the largest generation!) who will have money and leisure time for the next 20+ years. That's why we're seeing subjects near and dear to us like the new Revell '57 Ford, '32 Fords and '50 Olds kits. And Moebius is chasing us as well with their 50s cars.  I hope we're proving them right by voting with our wallets!



#114 Harry P.

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:52 AM

Harry, I don't believe the manufacturers set out to make mediocre kits at all.

 

No, they don't say "hey, let's make a so-so model of a XXXX."

 

But the fact is, they know that "good enough" really is good enough for most of their customers... and so the level of refinement and accuracy and detail is generally lower than the typical military kit, whose buyers do demand accuracy and intricate detail. And are willing to pay for it!

 

Sure, you can cite any number of specific "good" car kits over the years, but overall, the level of refinement in model cars as a whole isn't at the same standard as that for military/armor models, basically because it doesn't have to be... because the customer doesn't demand it.

 

I'm not saying that the car kit manufacturers intentionally make so-so kits because they're some sort of evil cabal of Snidely Whiplash types who are looking to screw their customers. I'm saying they make so-so kits because they don't have to do any better... their customers are willing to settle for less. And they know it. It's not their fault. It's our fault!

 

And to your point about so-so models that sell out of some sense of nostalgia... I get that. If you readily buy a bad kit because it let's you relive your youth or whatever, that's fine. Your money, your choice. But what I'm saying is that the manufacturers don't care why a particular kit sells so long as it sells. Period. Your personal reasons for buying a kit are irrelevant. The bottom line is, old re-releases continue to sell, for whatever reason... and as long as we keep buying them, we'll keep getting them. If a manufacturer can keep reissuing an old kit in a new box, they will do it forever. As long as it sells, and makes them $$$, they'll keep on reissuing and reissuing and reissuing...



#115 Ace-Garageguy

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:56 AM

 

No, they don't say "hey, let's make a so-so model of a XXXX."

 

But the fact is, they know that "good enough" really is good enough for most of their customers... and so the level of refinement and accuracy and detail is generally lower than the typical military kit, whose buyers do demand accuracy and intricate detail. And are willing to pay for it!

 

Sure, you can cite any number of specific "good" car kits over the years, but overall, the level of refinement in model cars as a whole isn't at the same standard as that for military/armor models, basically because it doesn't have to be... because the customer doesn't demand it.

 

I'm not saying that the car kit manufacturers intentionally make so-so kits because they're some sort of evil cabal of Snidely Whiplash types who are looking to screw their customers. I'm saying they make so-so kits because they don't have to do any better... their customers are willing to settle for less. And they know it. It's not their fault. It's our fault!

 

And to your point about so-so models that sell out of some sense of nostalgia... I get that. If you readily buy a bad kit because it let's you relive your youth or whatever, that's fine. Your money, your choice. But what I'm saying is that the manufacturers don't care why a particular kit sells so long as it sells. Period. Your personal reasons for buying a kit are irrelevant. The bottom line is, old re-releases continue to sell, for whatever reason... and as long as we keep buying them, we'll keep getting them. If a manufacturer can keep reissuing an old kit in a new box, they will do it forever. As long as it sells, and makes them $$$, they'll keep on reissuing and reissuing and reissuing...

 

 

Anybody have any insight into WHY (like, as in the psychology of military-modelers as opposed to car modelers) "good-enough" for the two genres is so different ?



#116 Harry P.

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:09 AM

Anybody have any insight into WHY (like, as in the psychology of military-modelers as opposed to car modelers) "good-enough" for the two genres is so different ?

 

This is only my theory... can't prove it, but seems to make sense:

 

1. The percentage of military modelers who are adults is higher than the percentage of car modelers who are adults. Adults have more disposable income than kids do. Highly detailed kits cost more to make, more to sell. Military modelers are more willing to pay the price for better kits. Car modelers, in general, look more at price as the deciding factor when buying a kit than they do accuracy or detail.

 

2. The whole point of military modeling is to create as accurate a replica of the original as possible. There are no "donk" tanks or "street rod" Jeeps or chopped tops or custom paint jobs or tuck 'n' roll interiors in military modeling. Therefore, the raw material (the kit) is expected to be highly accurate and detailed.

 

3. In car modeling, there is more of a "creative" mindset... think about how many modelers brag about how they "never follow instructions" or "never build a model out of the box." A large part of model car building is customizing... kitbashing... wild paint schemes, giant wheels, etc. There is less of an expectation for absolute accuracy as far as the kits go. Relatively few car modelers are "factory stock" type builders, the way almost all military modelers are.



#117 Ace-Garageguy

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:20 AM

Makes perfect sense. Is the implication though, that as the older well-heeled military modelers die off, there won't be a new crop coming in to replace them?  Do you think the military modeler's desire to make historically-correct and accurate models is a function of age in general (and an interest in history) or just the tail end of the baby-boomers who remember post-WW2 America more vividly?

 

I honestly didn't care much about building period-correct hot-rod models until I got close the the old-fossli age. And I've been more interested in history in general lately.

 

I'm just looking for some common threads...though I may be grasping for an over-generalization.


Edited by Ace-Garageguy, 08 March 2013 - 08:26 AM.


#118 Chuck Kourouklis

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:42 AM

I can only give you a single perspective on that on Bill: I was born some two and a half decades after the peak of WWII and I find the aircraft kits of the era fascinating.  I'll probably snatch up whatever new examples  they mold as long as I'm able.

 

But this is coming from somebody who loves plastic model kits for their own sake nearly as much as he loves cars.  Perhaps another factor to add to Harry's list is that car modelers tend to be car guys first, and the hobby's simply a branch of that primary interest.

 

Military and aircraft guys usually can't keep an Abrams or a Phantom in the garage, though, so of necessity they're a bit more about the model in itself.



#119 Harry P.

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:52 AM

Makes perfect sense. Is the implication though, that as the older well-heeled military modelers die off, there won't be a new crop coming in to replace them?  Do you think the military modeler's desire to make historically-correct and accurate models is a function of age in general (and an interest in history)...

 

Hard to say how much interest there is in military modeling among younger people. There will always be war, there will always be new military vehicles... so the actual subject matter will always be with us, but I think that younger people would rather play a military video game than build a military model kit. My guess would be that the number of up-and-coming military modelers isn't enough to replace the older builders as they die off... so a long, slow decline in military modeling would seem to be what will happen.

 

I think that young or old, a person who is into military modeling would have to have some level of interest in history. But I don't think an interest in history per se is the driving force behind military modeling. I think the challenge of creating an exact, accurate replica of an existing subject is the "draw"... it takes a certain personality to enjoy modeling in that way vs. the way many car modelers approach it (more as an outlet for their "creativity" than the goal of an accurate replica). The mindset of military modelers is basically different than that of car modelers. Again, not in all cases. Obviously there are people who build cars and military stuff. But in general, they are two different hobbies at a very basic level.



#120 johnbuzzed

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:55 AM

 

 

 

 

 

2. The whole point of military modeling is to create as accurate a replica of the original as possible. There are no "donk" tanks or "street rod" Jeeps or chopped tops or custom paint jobs or tuck 'n' roll interiors in military modeling. Therefore, the raw material (the kit) is expected to be highly accurate and detailed.

 

 

But wouldn't it be kinda cool to see an Abrams tank in NASCAR livery, or a B-58 in Reno air race markings?  I remember an article in Car Modeler waaaayy back in which a 1/32 Monogram Jeep kit was converted into an articulated vehicle; two halves with a common driveshaft.  One of the pictures showed the finished model, in civilian colors with two occupants, towing  the kit-supplied 37MM anti-tank gun.  The caption read something like: "Two true sportsman out for the hunt".  Maybe not politically correct but somewhat amusing.

 

Along those lines (and inspired to some degree by my reading of "alternative history"), I have built in my head an F-14 in early WWII US Navy colors and a P-47 in current air superiority colors- just because I can and I think it would be cool.  But I do build military subjects and do try to keep them as accurate as possible without suffering a brain hemmorhage or whatever else might happen from too much research.

 

Also, I would venture to opine that those who build 1/43 scale automotive subjects lean toward the historically accurate, much like most military modelers.