87thScale.info does not
The year 2004 in retrospect
It seems the trend in sending Christmas cards from many of the folks I receive cards from, is to compile the years events in a letter, print it out with some clip art holiday border and send it to as many people as they want to impress with the grade average of their oldest and misgivings about the deeds of their youngest (with the excuse of what an individual they are). I suppose that the last year of our hobby could be summed up in a letter like one of these with superlatives written about the wonderful quality of a company product and the excuses made for the others that haven’t quite come up to expectations (but their heart is in the right place). This approach to summing up the year would not be too interesting coming from me. There’s far too little knowledge bouncing around between my ears to be accurate or complete. I believe that it would end up resembling an index of manufactured products anyway and I will save those kind of entries for the data base.
Suffice it to say that I believe the year 2004 has been good to us in general. Much talk has been made of the demise of our scale (and hobbies in general) and I would hate to think this is true. I can only vouch for my personal experiences and from this creaky chair, the hobby looks fresh and lively. We have seen several folks venture out and offer vehicles that have never been seen before and the quality has been so much more than expected. We welcome them and encourage more from them. The new pieces from “the big boys” have not been a disappointment either (except for a few, to a few) and the quality on the commercial front seems to be exceptional to a degree not seen before either. Yes, there is always that particular piece that did not make it into the realm of the injection molded this year, but there is always some ray of hope. We have also seen makers of models in other scales venture into 1/87 and their additions are top notch and welcome.
This venue, the internet, has added some spectacular sites this year that have occupied all too much of my time perusing. But viewing the work of talented people intrigues me to no end. I grew up near a group of folks that practiced a religion (which will remain nameless here) that believed that the practice of worship includes the glorification of their God, not particularly through deeds but in the creation of beauty with ones creativity and skills. Every time I see an abundance of talent exhibited in the handiwork of an artisan, I feel sure that he has taken another step closer to his Nirvana and that his place in heaven is being more solidly established. Now I don’t want this to sound like the Zen of 1/87 but consider what it takes to accomplish some of what we see shown in the photographs of models created by some individuals. I picture devotion, patience, intelligence and a love for what is being created. It seems like every month, a new site becomes available for us to admire. Needless to say, at 87thscale.info we hear from the most informed people involved in the scale as well as some of the most creative. The message board has been an invaluable tool for me and this year being it’s first full year of operation make it a milestone in itself. And in the immortal words of Martha Stewart: “That’s a good thing” (although I doubt if she’s said that in the last few months) Congratulations and thanks to all of those responsible for a terrific year.
To this point, the year would have been a success in our scale and to the site but the benefits of this year I have not fully revealed yet. For me, the ability to make contact with others as deeply interested in the scale has bounded this year. And really, this has been as important as the models themselves. That I can converse, trade and observe around the globe is truly most extraordinary. I have added unique and otherwise unattainable pieces to my colIection and attribute this ability most gratefully to the message board. What makes these contacts equal to the models, if not more so, is that many of the acquaintances have become friends. What more could one ask to happen in a years time, than to have made valuable additions to ones collection of models and friends ? OK, well maybe that obscure 50’s two door coupe in resin with photo etched details...
And the scale ? Need you ask ?
Well I've let my mind wander off on it's own again and as a consequence I have to write these thoughts down in order to keep them from banging around infinitely between my ears. Most of it has to do with what we model.
I recently was paid a wonderful compliment saying that my modeling goes beyond the vehicles and tells a story. I can't help but think that this is my motivation, the telling of a story. Not particularly for why I model but, what I model. Every day I'm sure there isn't one of us that doesn't get into a vehicle to go somewhere, whether it is our personal car, a bus, delivery van or a semi rig. The vehicles we drive and ride in have become an integral and important part of our daily lives. Many of us identify strongly with our vehicles. With something playing such an influential part in our every day activities, it only stands to reason that we are all filled with stories relating to it. Because we model these subjects, our own personal experiences with them are often reflected in the models.
I was raised in a rural area that had an agricultural economy that was mostly dairy based, the crops grown were soy and corn for feeding the cows with a little tobacco thrown in to pay the taxes. And since my Fathers family was also in construction, I grew up seeing a lot of tractors and midsize trucks in varying forms of usage, from hauling grain to concrete and lumber delivery. These uses, I believe, have been reflected in a few of my models. Had I been raised in the city, I more likely would have a penchant for busses, trolleys and cars. The other factor that being farm raised has given me is the economical use of vehicles, and I'm not talking about gas mileage here. Let me explain, when the old Ford dump went on the fritz (crapped the bed, died, would function no more) a newer IH was found and it and the dump body from the Ford went into the barn, the torches came out and when they emerged from the barn they looked like they had been grown together. We got the most out of that dump bed. Similar operations were made to other trucks, tractors and various farm equipment. Hey, kit bashing in it's purest form, right ? Perhaps some influence there eh ?
There is another aspect to our past
vehicle experience and the influence they have had on us and that is one of
timing. You know, the era in which you grew up definitely has a bearing on what
you like to model. I have two schools of thought about this. The first being the
most obvious and is true in my own case, that being that I have a nostalgic love
for the old vehicles. I have owned a few vintage cars and trucks and although
they may be inferior to today's efficient and more powerful cars, when I look
back on them, they play on my emotions like the smell of mom's apple pie in the
oven. Conversely, the other thought that comes to mind I compare to the use of
an outhouse as opposed to indoor plumbing. Some of these old vehicles were hard
to start, handled poorly, rode hard and in general were uncomfortable,
inefficient means of transportation. If you spent enough time in them, you can
appreciate what today's vehicles have become (like the benefits of being warm
while taking a 10-100). The new technologies appeal to you more than the old and
you are attracted to modeling the newest of the new. This is the result of the
influence that these vehicles have on you.
I had a chance to exchange thoughts recently with a fellow that had made the military his career. Retired now, he models (not in our scale unfortunately) and of course, he loves his armor. If it has olive drab green on it, he wants to build it. Gee, do you think his past has anything to do with that ? I'll bet that many of the cranes and heavy equipment we see in our scale are being modeled by those that once piloted them around on construction sites and dockyards. And how many of you have been behind the wheel of a semi before? I trucked only for a little time but it created an interest in big rigs that I have never lost.
If none of these examples of how past experiences influence what you build, consider this: the desire to see a little bit of everything that burns petroleum products in your collection or on your layout. Not everything I do has a place in my past, I never owned a Ferrari or flew a helicopter. I just want to model it all and will take a chance at anything. This has more to do with the hobby itself, you model and it doesn't matter what. After all, this isn't a definitive version of why one models what one models and I don't try to psychoanalyze the reasons behind why you built that ice cream truck or chicken hauler either. It's just another rant from a guy that loves to model and has thought of a few more things to say. And the scale ? Need you ask ?