Monday, 14 February 2011

Model Making Books

I was recently asked if I could recommend any modelling books for someone new to the hobby. I am not sure I can. I have had a long and varied model making history, from my Father who built balsawood gliders and was a master of the fantastic hobby of building boats in bottles, to my Grandfather who built a huge model railway layout in his spare bedroom and onto my Uncle who was building fantastic 1/72nd scale jets back in the early 70's. Later as a member of the Worcester branch of the British Model Soldier Society (BMSS) I met John and Ron, who showed me that there are some quite fantastic modellers out there and that this is a hobby - so have fun.

I progressed through Airfix, Matchbox and Revel models as a young boy, the sort that you built in a couple of hours and apply the transfers (decals) the same day, even if the glue was still wet! Through to wargaming and onto painting miniature figures. On the way I have dabbled with narrow gauge railways, fantasy wargaming, WW1 aircraft and figure sculpting, but still come back to my core hobby, building models.

Regular readers will know how diverse my interests are and how 'butterfly like' I am in my subject matter. Still, I repeat - I am a modeller first, a figure painter second and a gamer third. This has not changed for some considerable time.

Back to the core question; Can I recommend one book for a beginner? I have to say No. Not one, 10, 20 or even 30 just maybe, but where to start! I have included this illustration of some PSL or Patrick Stephens Ltd books which I would suggest are a good starting point for many different modelling genres, particularly The Airfix Magazine Annuals of which I have every one. This company and its publications is greatly missed.

In addition I found the Harry Woodman book, Scale Model Aircraft to be a real eye-opener. Offering loads of scratch building skills and hint to modellers of any scale, or subject matter. In addition my time modelling narrow gauge railway engines, wagons and terrain helped me with my own scratch building skills and I would expect to one day return to this hobby. Also the Ian Weekly books and magazine articles gave me the confidence to model terrain and buildings.

As I write this post and am becoming a little 'rose-tinted glasses' in my memories and yearning for those long-gone days when you would pick up an Airfix Magazine and see how some enterprising modeller had turned a Sopwith Pup, some plastic card and balsa into a Batplane! Oh, those were the days! (I'm again using too many exclamation marks - always a bad sign).

Has the Web, ruined the attempts of these early modellers, by giving huge amounts of information (not always correct) and the ability to buy off e-bay almost any model, resin conversion kit, paint colour or replacement transfer?

I was recently talking to a friend about some of the home-repairs that my Grandfather would attempt. Resin casting replacement parts for his lawnmower or replacing worn out loops for electric motors and even electric fires. Today any of these items would have been scraped, deemed not worth repairing or even attempting to repair in this 'throw away culture' we now seem to find ourselves inhabiting.

I know there are many modellers who regularly scratch built huge and intricate models from what others would think of as scrap, so how do we pass of this knowledge and skill to new modellers? Is there a book I can recommend or must I say - Sorry it will came with age and experience.

How would you answer the question; Can I recommend one book for a beginner? I would love to hear your advice.


In the very near future I will attempt to compile a list of my top ten books, maybe not beginners books, just my top ten - my 'Desert Island Disc' modelling books, you may want to do the same.


WQRobb said...

Sumatran Rat Monkey said...

On the subject of whether the 'net has ruined things for budding modelers or not, I think it really depends on the attitude and approach of the individual modeler, honestly.

I know there're plenty out there who, as you said, simply go to eBay and buy ready-made models, but there're quite a few of us out here, too, who use the internet in much the same way I suspect you used the old Airfix annuals- as a source of inspiration and ideas.

I can think of a number of sites, Sean Patten's Necromundicon at http:/ and Major General Tremorden Rederring's Colonial Wargaming Page at chief among them, that have inspired, directly or indirectly, a number of conversions and partial scratchbuilds on my part, and which I continue to find myself coming back to regularly, reading and rereading, drawing new inspiration from, and so on.