These are the Days of our Lives
There are things in life that just plain make you smile. It could be seeing a little kid wrestling with their dog. It could be watching a parent’s pride in their son or daughter that just got the game winning hit at the little league game. It could be a great-grandpa and his little grandchild. There are just scenes in life that will bring a smile to your face.
For me that smile is brought on by my dogs out in the field. A couple days back I was sitting on the four-wheeler watching my 15+ year old Jessie run around and I couldn’t help but having a huge smile on my face watching her enthusiasm and intensity that she still had for what she loves to do.
Now Jessie isn’t in the best of health and during the last two winters there have been times that I wasn’t quite sure she was going to make it, but each time she proved me very wrong. Jessie still has a hard time climbing stairs, she can still do it but it’s a slow and now guarded process. She has a sore back and her back legs aren’t as strong as they used to be, but none of this matters when you let her loose in the field. She is a pup again who only knows one speed, full out! She also only knows one emotion at that point in time, joy.
Watching her and the rest of the dogs (our 1 year old, our 3 year old and our 7.5 year old) got me to thinking about the various phases of life particularly our modeling lives.
Phase 1 is what I like to call the “don’t ask/don’t care” stage. This stage of modeling usually happens when we are in our youth. In most cases we build to build. The more kits you complete the happier you are. Now granted in our youth (some 30 years ago) kits were $2.25 so building four or five kits in a week wasn’t a huge financial burden like it may be today but that’s beside the point.
While going through phase one you know what it takes to be a real modeler as you look at magazines and you plan for one of those great Shep Paine dioramas. Unfortunately your diorama never really seems to turn out quite like the insert in the B-17 or B-24 kit looked. Funny thing is that you really aren’t sure why it didn’t turn out that way but no matter you are off to the next project. Life is good.
Phase 2 - Girls, Girls, Girls. I think we all remember this stage (and for some reading this they still haven’t gotten through this stage). Basically it is the first time that life really catches up with you and interferes with your hobby. Your money is spent on girls and hanging out with the guys. Your time is spent with girls and hanging out with the guys. Your shelf of doom becomes lonely and mostly forgotten until you get a phone call from your Mom when you are at college asking if she can throw away your “junk” (simple Mom math here guys, shelf of doom = junk).
You beg for her mercy and she relents and has your dad put your “junk” out in the garage so you can take it when you are done with school.
Phase 3 – Rebirth. Rebirth happens probably in your late twenties to early thirties. You have probably settled down and have either kids or dogs or at least something that keeps you at home several nights a week. You are kind of bored and looking for something to do and you have some disposable income to get into trouble with.
You remember fondly your modeling days as a kid and the sheer joy of blowing up that B-17 on that one particular 4th of July and that memory sparks your modeling interest once again.
You pick up the phone and call your Mom and ask her about your “junk”. You are excited to find out that it is still out in the garage and your father has moved it around several times in the last 15 years but she’s sure that it’s still there.
You arrive home the following weekend excited about the possibilities of the great kits that you left behind as well as all the cool little tools, paints and of course the big bottle of MEK. As you open the box reality sets in.
The kits really are pretty much junk now. They’ve baked in the garage for 15 years and everything from the decals to the warped plastic and the dried up bottles of paint spell doom for your modeling comeback.
Fortunately you don’t quit easily and you drop in on your favorite hobby store. Sure enough you find the same guys there that were there when you were a kid. They are older, greyer and fatter but still standing by the cash register complaining about modeling related topics much the way you left them 15 years previous (we are creatures of habit after all).
The fellows greet you and help you spend a bit of your hard earned cash on a couple of the latest and greatest kits. They show you the latest in tools, paints and glues and $150 later you are setup with some good basic stuff.
After some time you begin to build your shelf of doom and enter some contests. You are having fun and once again, life is good. One negative statistic is that your “buy to build” or “doom ratio” slips from a 1:1 to a 1:10. You have become a real modeler now!!
Phase 4 - Mid-life crisis (changing interests). It really isn’t mid-life in a years point of view. It could happen when you are 30 or 60 it really doesn’t matter. What a modelers mid-life crisis represents is boredom. When you as a modeler realize that I simply can’t build another P-47 or Me109.
This phase has great “doom” possibilities. You decide on a foray into armor or cars or ships (maybe all three) and you are convinced that this will relight your fire and get your creative juices flowing again.
Funny thing is, it actually does, at least for a while. You have a great time building small scale armor (armour) and you are able to blast through it and do a decent job. After 20 or so of those reality sets in there also and you begin to wander again. Your “doom ratio” is now at 1:20.
Phase 5 - Turning Pro. The next phase is what I call “turning pro”. The turning pro stage happens when you convince yourself that you aren’t going to build as many kits anymore but the ones that you build are going to be awesome!
Nice thought but you are only dealing with other issues in your life (a lack of time or interest or both). You can generally get one or two of these kits built and you simply lose interest. First you lose interest because you are so far away from modeling. Second you lose interest because you now pretty much suck at modeling because you only paint twice a year and you can’t remember all the cool tricks you learned early on until it’s too late. Your “doom ratio” is now at 1:30 as you are still buying things but just not really building much.
Phase 6 - Un-Turning Pro. At a certain point you ask yourself the Dr. Phil question of the week “how’s that working for you?”. You answer yourself with a “not very well” and you decide that maybe if you had 4 or 5 kits that you are working on at one time you would get your fire back. It doesn’t work but it gets you back into the hobby room and at least you feel better about yourself. Good news however is that your “doom ratio” is finally falling. It is back to 1:15.
Phase 7 – Sell it all on Ebay. Invariably we all will reach a point where we are just done with modeling and we’ll put all of our collected junk (shelf of doom) on Ebay and sell it off piece by piece for (in most cases) pennies on the dollar that we paid. You are glad to be rid of that stuff and you realize that your Mom was right in her assessment earlier in your life (remember parents get smarter as we get older, I never understood that one). Once again your “doom ratio” falls to 1:10 but will not get any lower as you have kits that even though you will never model again, you just can’t part with them.
Phase 8 – The comeback. As likely as phase 7 is, phase 8 is guaranteed. You will end up buying much of your “junk” back as you become reinvigorated in the hobby once again. There doesn’t seem to be any real rhyme or reason for this, there doesn’t have to be, we’re modelers! This phase generally lasts the rest of your life. You are in search of that kit that you sold off earlier and you build at a steady pace as your time allows. You settle in once again to “life is good”.
Myself I’m somewhere between phase 5 and 6. I still know that someday I’ll really want to build again in quantity, I’m just not sure when that day will come and I’ve become ok with that. For now my dogs and their activities fill my days and for now I’m even better with that.
So I hope that whatever phase you are at in life that you have something that makes you smile be it modeling, your dogs or your kids (sorry cats just don’t count here folks!). Now shut up and build something (when you get around to it).-Dave