Spraybooth Logic
Validation!
 
Oh my gosh, I won an award!!!  How cool is this, I took one of my models to a contest and actually won something with it.  I rock!!
 
This was a very special kit, although when I built it, I didnít think it was.  I thought it was pretty ordinary.  In fact I wasnít even going to bring it to the contest, I was just going to leave it sitting on my shelf at home.
 
How could I have missed its greatness?  How could I deprive the world of seeing and sharing in its splendor, after all it is an award winner!  Wow!!
 
Oh, I forgot to tell you what the kit was.  It was an F4F-4 Wildcat in 1/72nd scale with a True Details cockpit set.  Yup, thatís what it was.  It was also a Gold Medal winner baby!!!
 
You know, I did such a good job that Wildcat that the judges didnít even notice that I had a scratch in the canopy or that the bottoms of the wheels werenít painted or that the seatbelt straps were the wrong color. 
 
You know, if I did another Wildcat, I could correct those things and the kit may be a winner at the regional, or maybe even, dare I say it, Nationals!!!  Yeah, I could be a National award winner with my Wildcat. 
 
Hey, wait a second, I could build an entire series of Wildcats.  A Ė3, -4, and Ė7, an FM-1 and FM-2.  Iíll change my internet address to wildcat@j-aircraft.com.  YES!!!  This is sounding better and better all the time. 
 
When I walk into a room, they will say, ďhere comes Mr. WildcatĒ.  Yup, thatís me.  All I have to do is re-build that one kit and fix the things that I know need to be fixed and Iím off and running.
 
Any of this hit close to home for any of you?  Have you ever rebuilt a model that you have already done, one that you may have even won an award for, just to try to recreate the magic?  Have you been able to not get over a certain kit?  I confess, I have.
 
My fascination didnít come with any award, just a simple compliment about a Zero I built.   The model did actually win something; although at this point I donít remember what it was and frankly I donít much care anymore.  But when I posted a photo of the A6M3 Model 32 Zero (you know the clipped wing Zero) on my website, I got an e-mail from someone who was absolutely struck by it.  So struck in fact that they actually went out and built one just like it.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have VALIDATION!
 
 How cool is that?  Isnít that what this is all about?  Or is it about the validation that we get from contests and meetings?  Is it a distraction from your everyday life?   Is it something to spend our money on?
 
It got me to thinking about why it is that we do what we do?   That is, we are quite a picky bunch who spends hours of time alone in a room, only to burst out of it with a scream when we actually complete a project (yes, some folks actually do that, complete a project that is).  We show our models to anyone that we can stop on the street in the hopes to gain some validation and a good old fashion slap on the back.  However, the normal man on the street is just bummed that you canít spin the propeller or fly it around the room making airplane noises.  No validation to be found there.
 
We drag our models to contests in order to have people tell us how great they are.  We ask folks to be critical in hopes that they actually wonít be and just tell us that we are one of the great modelers of our time or at least that our two months worth of effort doesnít stink.  We are in a word.  Weird.
 
Weird may be a bit strong, but weird may also hit the nail on the head.  Our quest for validation begins small.  We start by bringing out kits into the club and putting them on the display table at our club meeting.  People gather around making odd noises and pointing at various models.  You think this is pretty good and youíre really encouraged by it.  Nobody has said that your model sucks or anything, so it must be at least respectable.  We now enter phase II, bringing the model to the club contest. 
 
The club contest is really pretty low key.  50-100 models are entered in all shapes and sizes.  As you look around the table you notice that your kit doesnít look at all out of place.  In fact, you think it looks pretty darn good sitting there.  The overwhelming feeling of being ďone of the boysĒ hits you and you realize that you have arrived with your first place finish in your category.  Ok, so it was the novice category, but it was still a first place.  
 
With that validation firmly hanging on your wall, you decide to press onward.  Your local contest is just around the corner and you decide to enter your kit.  Once again you go through the ritual of entering your models, filling out all the pieces of paper, diligently writing down each detail and reliving each painful moment of building your model.  You smile as you think about each piece, each extra that you put into the kit.  You relive where you purchased the kit and at the satisfaction of seeing the hole in the shelf of doom where this kit last resided.
 
Finally the paperwork is done and itís time to enter (insert suspense trumpets here) THE CONTEST ROOM!!!
 
Your stomach feels just a bit nervous as you walk through the room. Fear grips you as you approach the table that will be the last resting place for your hopes and dreams of being a contest modeler.  As you get near the table, you see four or five models sitting there.  The one nearest to you catches your eye.  Holy crap, that guy did a 1/700th scale Corsair with a full cockpit and itís perfect!  You quickly look around the table for the spot furthest away from this masterpiece (whoís display stand is a quarter mind you).  You think to yourself, ďI gotta hide this somewhereĒ.  Sure enough, there is some empty room at the end of the table.  There is nothing even remotely close to your model.
 
You open your box and pull out the model.  You carefully set it down on the table.  Your heart thumps, and then thumps harder.  Then you realize that itís not your heart, itís the contest chairman tapping you on the shoulder and asking you to move your model into the correct category.  Phew!  I donít have to deal with that Corsair.  Iím now home free baby!!!
 
The chairman smiles wickedly and points his bony finger towards what is perhaps the most exquisite collection of 72nd scale models you have ever seen on one table.  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!
 
You now meekly place your entry on the table amongst the collection from hell and start to walk away.  You decide to take the one trip around the table for a final look before you go and try to get lost amongst the crowd.  You circle the table several times like a vulture homing in on itís prey, each time picking up your model and moving it to a better spot.  Finally you settle on a spot between a reasonably done Corsair and something that you really donít recognize, but you are convinced that you model is better than.  Phew, at least now you know that you wonít embarrass myself.
 
You leave the room to go and check out the vendorís rooms.  You donít return until judging is ready to begin.  With your credit card mortally wounded and your arms full of a new immigrant class for your shelf of doom, you glance casually at the various entries in various categories and you look over to the last spot your model was.  ITíS GONE!!!  What the Ö..!
 
You are now panicking.   Someone stole my model!  The quick thought of ďat least someone liked it enough to steal itĒ temporarily comforts you, but you are just plain upset now, but not as upset as you will be.  You spot your model.  The judges have decided to split your category and your model, of course has ended up with the models of some of the best modelers in the country.  You know the guys that detail stuff on models that people never even see.  Hell, pilots and mechanics never saw some of the parts that these guys put in. Yup, there you are, a guaranteed non-winner.  Oh well, at least you got some cool stuff in the vendor room.
 
Judging wraps up as you mope around the room.  You feel sorry for yourself that your model never got the chance that it deserved.  How could they do this to you?  How could they?
 
The awards announcements come and go and your worst fears have been realized.  No validation for you!  You dejectedly pick up your model and squirm out of the room before anyone notices what a loser you are.
 
Are you really a loser?  Well yes and no.  On the upside, you finished a model.  You showed it off and lots of people took photos of it.  It may have been the only one of itís kind at the show and it may have even been someoneís favorite.  Heck it may have even been an aircraft that someoneís dad flew or it may have gotten some votes for best in show.
 
On the downside, you were so wrapped up with being nervous about the competition, about where your plane should sit and with how things looked when you lost, you missed a great opportunity to learn. 
 
Had you taken the time to talk with the guys whose models really blew you away, asking them about how they did certain things, why they did some things, about the kits they used, about everything modeling.  Not only would you have learned something, you may also have found another like-minded person to share your passion for the hobby with.
Modeling is a solitary pursuit.  Rarely do you get together with the guys to model.  You get together to eat or to buy stuff, but rarely to actually sit down and break sprue.  Hereís a perfect opportunity to do this.  Now, not everyone is approachable.  In fact there are those at shows that have the social skills of a plant, but you never know until you have tried.
 
So, where does your validation come from?  Awards?  Contests?  Writing magazine articles?    The guys in the club?  A club meeting?  Collecting for your shelf of doom?  If you can figure this out you will get a whole lot more enjoyment out of the hobby. 
 
Now, go build something!
 
-Dave
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