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From the opposite end of the workbench

…the twisted ramblings of a ship modeler.


The Hazards of Modeling


Although modeling has its inherent dangers, some of which I’ve already babbled about, there’s a whole litany of hazards that are part of this wonderful hobby. While rolling X-acto knives and supergluing one’s hand to one’s unit can be deemed hazardous to your health, we really need to consider some of the hazards your models face on a daily basis.

While most hazards faced by our models are accidental in nature, I’m going to touch upon a horrific story of a modeler who has faced the ultimate in deliberate, malicious, modeling hazards, his wife and mother-in-law.

Most spouses can be reasoned with, after all, you’re locked in the basement, you’re not out drinking with the guys or sticking dollar bills into the G-string of some 19 year old stripper that doesn’t understand English. You’re at home, building a model…she knows where you are and what you’re doing. Since the mere mention of this poor fellow’s name would probably result in his swimming with the fishes, I’ll try to be as vague as possible. Apparently, things were fine early on…our ‘subject’ was a modeler prior to the marriage, so the ‘the Mutant Witch from Hell’ had ample warning. I personally know the ‘subject’ in question, and he’s a really mellow, all-around nice guy.  So, how did he end up with the Mutant Witch from Hell?? I dunno…aw, come on now, that’s kinda harsh, isn’t it? She can’t be that bad. Hang on to your hats here fellas…while our ‘subject’ was at work, the Mutant Witch from Hell decided to call on the Mother Mutant Witch from Hell, who arrived at the scene and assisted her evil spawn daughter in the destruction of no fewer than 15 completed, show quality models… Now, we’re not talking about throwing things away, we’re talking about crunch, smash, break, crack and crush. It’s a good thing that our ‘subject’ is an all-around mellow, good natured guy. If it were my wife…nah, that’s too graphic to print…

Most spouses are very understanding about our hobby. There is a percentage, however, who just don’t understand that it’s not their responsibility to wash, clean, dust, or vacuum our models. ‘Your models were dusty so I washed them in the sink’, and there’s a de-masted ship model with no railings left. Modelers, it is your responsibility to inform your spouses about this travesty. It can be accomplished in two sentences, “ You are not to touch, move, dust, vacuum, clean, or come within close proximity of these models without my express written consent. Failure to comply will result __________________.

You can fill in the blanks depending upon your situation…


a.)   Failure to comply will result in the loss of limb or other permanently attached appendage.

b.)   Failure to comply will result in the loss of credit card privileges for an extended period of time.

c.)   Failure to comply will force me to replace, at fair market value, those models you have damaged.

d.)   Failure to comply will result in my whining, complaining, and mood swings for a length of time to be determined by myself.

e.)   Failure to comply will result in the utter destruction of my inner being, forcing my childish tendencies to emerge to the forefront of my personality. There’s a good chance I’ll start wetting myself again on a regular basis.

f.)    Failure to comply will result in the physical restraint of the offending spouse, who is then to be blindfolded, covered with raspberry jelly, and ravaged until semi-conscious. (careful with this option, it could backfire on you!!)

Most spouses understand and appreciate the amount of work and enjoyment that goes into, and comes out of, a model. Before I digress any further, let me comment on my wife, just for the record, and my own personal safety.. She’s the epitome of an awesome modeling wife. The only way it could be better, is if she were a modeler and built in the nude. But then again, I probably wouldn’t get anything built (see option F above). My wife is awesome, she’ll leave that model alone until there’s 4 inches of dust, then she’ll tell me to clean it off, after all, every time we turn on the ceiling fan it looks like a Texas duststorm (not really). She never complains about the built and half-built models laying about the house…and lately, they’ve been everywhere…which I concede it my fault…anyway…that’s another editorial.

Perhaps the largest threats to our models come from our two most precious residents of the household, our children and our pets. I love them both, until my latest model becomes a chew toy or hi-impact simulation subject.

In my case, I’ve been lucky (knock on wood). My daughter learned at a young age that Daddy’s models were not toys, they were MODELS. She’s 4 now, and has, on more than one occasion, corrected someone regarding this little matter. In fact, she’s building simple models now herself, so she’s going to make some modeler an awesome wife someday. The dog, he’s great too, because he’s never chewed on a model.

Most of the horror stories I've heard from my fellow modelers revolve around cats. Cats are evil anti-modeling animals. They’re about as neurotic as any animal can get, and that, coupled with an extremely independent nature, puts them on par with the most feared dictators. Cats are also quite intelligent, which simply means they enjoy trashing your models, and it’s pre-meditated… Everything you own is a toy to them…including that newly rigged ship model.

From a cat’s perspective, your ship model is grey like a mouse, has rigging which kinda looks like the whiskers on a mouse, and it’s just sitting there…so WHAM!! A swipe of the paw and fun begins…within minutes, 3 months of work is reduced to bits, and the entire mess is usually relegated to at least a 3-4 foot fall from a shelf or desk once the damage has been done and interest lost.

Although I’m not 100% certain I think this is where the term ‘catapult’ came from…

Catapult : cat-a-pult (noun) a medieval device used for launching objects. Its history can traced back to ancient times when cats were ‘pulted’ as punishment for destroying his master’s ship models.

If this in the case, I’d hate to learn where the term ‘ballista’ came from !! Ouch!

Dogs are typically not as pre-meditated when they destroy a model…in most cases, it’s the ‘Happy Tail of Death’ that knocks a model off a table or desk, or it’s the ‘Daddy has a model, let’s get under his feet’ trick that takes you and your model on a gravity induced trip down the stairs…

Cats and dogs together…well, although they typically hate each other, they will conspire to destroy models for their own mutual benefit. This is usually how the scenario plays out:

Cat: Hey Dog, he’s finished a new model

Dog: Uh-huh

Cat: How about you chase me and crash into the shelf it’s sitting on?

Dog: Uh-huh

Cat: Ok, I’ll start running

Dog: Uh-huh

Within seconds, the dog is chasing the cat, and of course, everyone knows that a cat can out maneuver, out accelerate, and out turn a dog…and of course, the cat will make sure the dog has a good head of steam before steering towards the model shelf…at the last minute, the cat turns, and the dogs runs smack into the shelf, spilling the contents on the floor. The cat will then find a high place to sit, in order to watch the dog get pummeled with a newspaper.

I’ve run out of things to write…I think talking about the hazards of modeling with lizards, birds, or hamsters in the home is just a little too far to the left…

Go build a model…


Jeff Herne