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From the opposite end of the workbench

…the twisted ramblings of a ship modeler.


Scary Mutants


I just returned from Festival Day here in the little lake community in which I live. I spent the $30 for two wristbands to go on the rides with my 4 year old daughter (all 5 rides, twice), spent the obligatory $6 on ‘pop the balloon and win a $1 prize, bought the funnel cake, sodas, and related paraphernalia.

It was an enjoyable day…kids everywhere, soccer moms trying to reign in their little miscreant offspring, volunteer firefighters trying to raise money, and the mutants…Events like this bring out the scourge of our society, it’s inevitable. I witnessed an obviously pregnant mom, with 3 kids in tow, smoking a cigarette and drinking beer from a Pepsi container. I saw more tattoo artwork in 4 hours than I see all year, and 95% of it appears to have been done while under the influence of alcohol.

So where is this all going?? Mutants aren’t just modelers, they’re everywhere, but every once in awhile we run into the ‘scary mutants’ of modeling. Let me explain…

The modeling community is, for the most part, very tolerant. But, on occasion, our ranks are infiltrated by scary mutants. I don’t mean physically scary, I mean these are the types of pathetic life forms that make Star Wars and Star Trek conventions look normal.

Let’s look at one mutant in particular, we’ll call him ‘Herb’ for the sake of preserving what little shred of dignity this man has left.

Now Herb tries very hard to fit in…he does try to make conversation, but it’s usually with himself. At a recent show, ‘Herb’ is standing in front of my vendors table, talking to the model kits… “ I have you, and I have you, but I don’t have you, and if I buy you, I have to build you.”  On occasion, Herb will happen upon some figure vendor selling all sorts of ‘forbidden’ cast resin figures, and will literally spend an hour looking at the boxart…eventually, even the figure painters avoid Herb, as the lewd comments start to emanate about various parts of the human (thankfully for us, female) anatomy.

I’ve started to believe that Herb hears voices in his head. These voices tell him to say incredibly stupid things, probably because they’re trapped inside of an idiot to begin with. Freud would have a field day with this guy.

Once in a great while, the voices take over…”So I was thinking about buying this model kit, but the reviews on the web said there were problems with the fit. So I was contemplating it when the kit box spoke to me and said Buy me or I will have your soul burning in HELL!!!  …and then I noticed the corners of the box were bleeding, and my wallet was burning, so I figured ‘What the hey’ and paid $110.43 for it.

The worst part about Herb, is that you cannot escape his wrath… eventually, you will be cornered and forced to listen to his monolog. Typically, you can escape Herb by passing gas, telling him you have a contagious disease, or that you find him attractive (no, I’ve never resorted to that one).  Inevitably, and I see the pain in his face when he says it, the President of our club asks if anyone has anything to report to the group. Of course, Herb stands up, and the abuse begins from the audience.

Remember the movie ‘Mars Attacks’, the spoof on science fiction movies? Remember the Mars aliens talking? ‘Ack ack ack Ack ack aack ack acck’ This is Herb. In fact, if you make an honest attempt to avoid actually listening to what he’s saying, you hear ‘Ack ack ack Ack ack aack ack acck’ So now, when I hear Herb start to talk, I try to make every effort to translate for him, especially since he told me that the mother ship hears everything, but doesn’t understand English, only ‘Ack ack ack Ack ack aack ack acck’.

A few months ago, Herb started a war…he wanted to know why hand-brushed models never won at contests. So we told him of a new invention called the ‘airbrush’, and for several weeks, Herb fought with the tenacity of a bulldog trying to get airbrushes outlawed. Airbrushes put hand-brushing modelers at a severe disadvantage, especially him.

After several lengthy emails sent to EVERYONE in the club, Herb finally figured that if he stopped visiting the adult bookstore for a month or so, he could actually BUY an airbrush, and become the feared caped crusader of compressed air.

This led to another series of ‘Ack ack ack Ack ack aack ack acck’ emails requesting the best type of airbrush to own. Unfortunately, the folks he asked were hard-core airbrushing maniacs, using exotic brands of brushes like Iwata, Thayer and Chandler, and Madea. “Well Herb, I started out with a Badger 150…and now I have an Iwata Micron CM-SB, which is an awesome brush, but probably more than you’ll ever need. “

Ack ack aCk AcK AACK Ack ack aCk AcK AACK Ack ack aCk AcK AACK” Herb MUST have the best brush that money can buy yea yea yea Micron CM-SB, must have Micron CM-SB…so I quote him… the best price I get is $399…it retails for $549. Herb is now quite upset, and again the ENTIRE CLUB gets emails complaining about the cost of airbrushes and some babble about having to save enough money to buy one, sacrificing the 12 volume DVD box sets of ‘Schoolgirl Juggies’ and ‘Big Uns’ just so he can win that stupid little trophy.

Herb has decided to buy an Testor’s Model Master airbrush, because he just can’t miss out on the ‘Big Uns’ DVD box set.

Fortunately for us, the voices in Herb’s head prevent him from actually hearing us, which is a good thing, because chances are Ack ack aCk AcK AACK Ack ack aCk AcK AACK is probably some form of alien insult…

So, the next time you start talking to yourself like Pvt. Leonard Lawrence (Gomer Pyle, Full Metal Jacket), remember something…it’s actually ok to talk to yourself, it’s when you start talking to inanimate objects, like your models, or airbrushes, that you really should go talk to the nice man with the leather couch, you know, the one with the white coat?

For the rest of you, go build something, or head on over to Herb’s house. He’s got the mothership parked in the backyard and ‘Schoolgirl Juggies’ on the big screen TV.


Jeff Herne

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