“It’s only plastic”; a succinct quip that came from Ted Taylor, as we discussed modellers in general at a club we were both attending at the time and their reactions and responses to kit building. What he meant was, those folks who might, for a variety of reasons, regard themselves either as ‘serious modellers’, who strive for excellence or those recognised and applauded as ‘gifted’. Ted also had another segment of our community in mind – those who routinely fret over perceived inaccuracies, engineering issues and questions of fit.
Today, I’d add another category – anyone who expresses discouragement or finds demotivating, ‘modelling excellence’ when they see it. So, what does all this add up to? What is the casualty here, if any? I believe it’s ‘happiness’. If I return to Ted’s observation, the advice he intended to convey to everyone was ‘relax and enjoy it, whatever your ability, whatever your interest – it’s only plastic’. I support that. It doesn’t prevent anyone from still doing their best but instead emphasises what should be the bedrock of the hobby – fun, enjoyment and an absence of taking yourself and the plastic too seriously.
And what of those who jokingly or seriously express discouragement on sight of something they otherwise regard as special? I guess the problem boils down to a lack of awareness of the actual root of happiness – ‘acceptance’. I regard myself as a ‘mid-table obscurity’ modeller (to coin a footballing turn of phrase – that’s ‘soccer’ to our American friends). I’ll likely never be a blue riband, gold medal winning modeller but neither am I a beginner either. I sit in the ‘obscure’ middle somewhere and ‘accept’ that that’s likely to remain the case and in that, I’m totally happy. If I see something from another modeller that lights up my admiration and interest, I cheerfully accept that it’s beyond my current capabilities and at the same time feel profoundly inspired – inspired to be witness to what’s demonstrably possible with the right techniques and tools and that in turn spurs me on to push harder, while never forgetting ‘it’s only plastic’.
There can’t be too many modellers who’ve never heard the term the ‘shelf of doom’; that place where abandoned projects go to die. If ever there was an expression of a failure to understand ‘acceptance’ as the root of happiness, the shelf of doom is it. Does it matter if what you envisaged is different to how the kit has panned out? Do you only do ‘perfection’? Did ‘Advanced Modeller Syndrome’ burn you out? All indicate an absence of happiness in your hobby, a lack of acceptance of ability and a damaging presence of over ambition. Dial it down, wind it back. Have a beer, relax and chill. It’s only plastic. Pull that kit back off the shelf and finish it. Accept the result. Learn what you need to from it, then take another off the shelf and apply that learning. Keep building, keep enjoying, keep accepting, keep happy.
It’s only plastic.
Until next time.