Date: Mon Aug  3, 1998

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Part 3

Part 3 ** General Questions About Modeling ** ** This section covers some of the frequently asked questions about the ** general workings of the hobby/business of scale modeling. The questions ** and answers here don't cover techniques - they are background information ** for newcomers to the hobby. [Q] What is IPMS? Should I join? [A] (Don Schmitz 6/97) IPMS is the International Plastic Modelers Society. In most countries, it is the only large scale organization devoted to the modeling hobby. For various reasons IPMS has a strange sort of organization [at least in the US - I don't know about the rest of the world]. There are local IPMS chapters - essentially local clubs that have registered with the national IPMS organization - and a "national" IPMS organization. You can join either or both the local and national organizations. The benefits of joining the US national organization are a nicely done, 6 times-a-year magazine (the "IPMS Journal"), and the right to compete in the IPMS National Contest. The "Nationals" is probably the biggest modeling contest in the US, and is held yearly in a rotating location (local chapters around the country bid on holding the Nationals much like countries bid on the Olympics). Aside from direct personal returns, the National organization does provide other benefits, such as providing feedback to model manufacturers and organizing programs to attract young modelers. The benefits of a local club registering with IPMS are a good deal on insurance (which many commercial sites will require for meetings or events) and event coordination to avoid multiple clubs from holding contests on the same day in the same area. I should mention that there is a perception that IPMS has a bias towards military modeling, and planes in particular. While the percentage of military modelers in IPMS may suggest this is so, and this may have been true in the past, there is no (IMO) organizational bias in this direction. Any sort of local club can become an IPMS chapter, and there are several IPMS chapters that specialize in non-military subjects. The IPMS Nationals has a roughly equal number of contest classes for all types of models. Of course a local chapter may be more specialized in a particular subject, but most are open minded enough to make all modelers welcome regardless of their interests. Should you join? Thats a bit of a personal decision. The "Journal" is nicely done, including an increasing level of color photography, and (IMO) tends to have more detailed and honest reviews than the commercial magazines (admittedly the Journal's spelling and grammar tends to be a little rough). Most modelers only attend the National contest when it is nearby, so that usually isn't a big deciding factor. Many modelers feel it is worthwhile supporting a national-scale organization that promotes their hobby. To join, send $19.00 and your name and address to: IPMS/USA P.O. Box 6138 Warner Robin, GA 31095-6138 More IPMS information can be found on the web at: See section 9 of this FAQ for IPMS contact information in other countries. [Q] What does "scale" mean? What does the 1:24 on the model box mean? [A] (Don Schmitz 1/97) "Scale" refers to the ratio of the linear size of the model to the size of the real object being modeled. A model marked 1:24 indicates that all lengths on the model are (or should be) 1/24 the length of the "real" object. For a concrete example, consider a real automobile which is 15 feet long (bumper-to-bumper), 6 feet wide and 4 feet high. A 1/24 scale model of this car would measure: length: 15/24 feet = 0.625 feet = 7.5 inches width: 6/24 feet = 0.25 feet = 3.0 inches height: 4/24 feet = 0.167 feet = 2.0 inches If you want to build a scene with several models (known as a diorama), all of the models should be the same scale so that they look right when viewed together. As the "number" in the scale gets smaller, the model gets bigger. If the same car mentioned above was modeled in 1:12 scale, it would measure: length: 15/12 feet = 1.25 feet = 15.0 inches width: 6/12 feet = 0.05 feet = 6.0 inches height: 4/12 feet = 0.333 feet = 4.0 inches or twice the size of the 1:24 scale model. An interesting effect occurs due to the relationship of length, area and volume. Two models with scales differing by 2x will have areas differing by 4x and volumes by 8x. This means that even though a 1:12 scale model car is only twice as long as a 1:24 scale model car, it will take 4 times as much paint and shelf space as the 1:24 scale model, and will appear about 8 times as massive as the 1:24 scale model. [Q] Why are there so many different scales? Where did they all come from? [A] (Don Schmitz 8/95) Lots of different scales are used for models because the real objects being modeled come in a lot of sizes, while model boxes and display shelves are all more or less the same size. A scale is chosen so that the model is a reasonable size regardless of how big the real object was. A number of standard scales have evolved that manufacturers tend to use for consistency. Many modelers like to specialize in a particular scale so that the models in their collections look right when displayed together. Most modeling scales trace their way back to scales used for architectural drawings and models. The most commonly used scales tend to be ratios that make it easy to use standard rulers to do conversions. For example, 1/12 scale is 1 inch = 1 foot, a scale that works great for drawing a house floor plan on a desk sized sheet of paper. 1/16 scale is even "nicer", since the 1/16th inch tick marks on a standard (English) ruler scale out to 1 scale-inch. These two scales (and their integer submultiples) form the basis of most modeling scales: 1/12 (big scale autos) 1/24 (most autos, *really* big scale planes) 1/48 (big scale planes) 1/72 (common scale for planes) 1/96 (not very common, typically spacecraft) 1/144 (also not very common, spacecraft, airliners) 1/16 (big but not huge autos) 1/32 (another really big scale for planes) 1/64 (S gauge railroad, Matchbox/Hot Wheels sized diecast cars) Then there are "odd balls" that turn out to be "marriages of convenience" between odd units or sizes: 1/25th is used by many US model manufacturers as an alternative to 1/24 for autos. Some cynics feel this is a scheme to save a few cents on the plastic in each kit, but I think the original motivation was to make 1 mm = 1 inch, so that you could use a standard metric ruler as a "scale" ruler (for the numerically retentive, that means the scale is really 1/25.4). An alternative explanation for 1/25th scale is a scale inch is 0.04 real inches - which is easy to measure using an engineer's decimal-inch ruler with 0.02 inch tick-marks. 1/43rd, a very common European scale for auto models, is derived from model railroad practice. 19th century "live steamers" - folks who build working model steam locomotives and rolling stock - settled on a nice round 5 inches as the standard gauge (distance between rails) for their models. The gauge of real railroad tracks is 4'8", so this scaled out to 1/11.2. As technology allowed model trains to be built smaller, smaller scales were adopted by the tried and true practice of using integer sub-multiples. The original 1/11.2 was named "gauge 2", "gauge 1" was 1/22.4 - still used for big scale (LGB) model railroads, and "gauge 0" was 1/44.8 (over time "gauge 0" turned into "O gauge"). However someone with too much time on their hands noticed that 1/44.8 was awfully close to the ratio of 7 mm = 1 ft. Why they thought this was a useful ratio is beyond me - it doesn't allow for any easy measuring conversion that I can think - but it works out to a scale of 1/43.5. Eventually models trains got to be even smaller, and HO - for "half O" was born, at a scale of 3.5mm = 1 ft, or 1/87.1. 1/35th, a common scale for military vehicles and armour, has its origins in figure modeling (lead soldiers). Long before injection molded models existed, soldier figures were commonly made to a nice round 50mm (2 inches) tall - which works out to 1/35th assuming a typical 5' 10" human. Finally, many kits, especially older kits of "odd" subjects are "box scale", meaning whatever scale allowed them to fill up a standard size model box. The early AMT Star Trek models tend to fall into this category. [Q] But what about ship scales? Where did they all come from? [A] (David R. Wells) 1/500 scale was apparently used for idenitification models in World War II. Several plastic model companies followed this trend, including Frog, Renwal, and Nichimo. Many Revells come close to this scale. (1/480, 1/535, 1/542, 1/509, etc) Sadly, there are few (if any) new models being made in this scale. Nichimo kits are difficult to find, Frog is out of business, (although the molds survive in Russia) and Renwal was bought out by Revell (which only rarely re-issues the old Renwal kits). Monogram used to be notorious for their box scale. All their hulls were 16" (406mm) long, regardless of the size of the actual ship. In some cases though, it worked out. Monogram's lovely Albany class CGs are almost exactly 1/500 scale. Their Leahy class CG is almost exactly 1/400. 1/600 is obviously 1" = 50'. In fact, Airfix's boxes used to be marked exactly that way. Manufacturers of 1/600 ships included Aurora, Airfix and for battleships only, ARII. 1/720 is obviously 1" = 60'. Italeri and Revell are the primary manufacturers of ships in this scale. 1/350 is one tenth of 1/35, so I can only assume that it is because in scale, an average 5'10" man is 5mm tall. For injection molded kits, Tamiya and DML (Dragon) are the leading manufacturers. This scale is also increasingly popular for resin kits, like those from Gulfstream or Mike Bishop's "Blue Water Navy." Even Revell is getting into the act now, with its 1/350 scale Emden. 1/700 is half of 1/350. About 25 years ago, several Japanese companies (including Aoshima, Fujimi, Hasegawa, and Tamiya) agreed to make waterline models of the entire WWII Japanese Navy in 1/700 scale. This scale is now a standard, and DML (Dragon) Skywave, and to a lesser extent, ARII use this scale. 1/400 is used almost exclusively by Heller. They are French. They had to be different. Heller manufactures and excellent and extensive line of French warships, including all the last generation French battleships and battlecruisers. Tauro's Italian cruisers are also 1/400, and occasionally box scale kits work out to be 1/400. Arii makes aircraft carriers in 1/800 scale. Nobody knows why. There are also 1/1200 and 1/2400 scale standards for gaming miniatures. [Q] But what about model railroad scales - what do all those letters mean? [A] (Don Schmitz 1/97) As hinted to previously, model railroad scales evolved from standardizing the gauge (between the rail distance) of the model track at some convenient dimension. Gauge tends to be more important than scale to a model railroader, since it affects whether or not two models can be operated together on the same trackage. The gauge of standard railroad track is 4 feet 8.5 inches (another long story), which makes for rather odd numerical scales if you use a reasonable round number for the gauge of the model track. So rather than refer to odd scales such as 1:43.5, model railroaders initially assigned numbers to each scale/gauge, eg. "gauge 1" was 1:11.2 scale, "gauge 2" was 1:22.4 scale and "gauge 0" was 1:44.8 scale. Eventually, "gauge 0" turned into "gauge O" and the scale changed to 1:43.5 to better match the width of commercially available track. As manufacturing technology made it possible to build ever smaller working models (1:11.2 makes for a *big* and *heavy* model locomotive when the full sized loco is 60+ feet long!) new letters were used to designate these scales. Sometimes these were "odd ball" scales derived much like "gauge O", sometimes they were round number scales with odd-ball track gauges. Here is a probably incomplete listing of letter designators and scales: G - 1:22.5 (original "gauge 2" re-popularized by the LGB company) O - 1:43.5 (traditional) P48 - 1:48 (attempt to rationalize "O" to a round scale with oddball track gauge) S - 1:64 (popularized by American Flyer brand trains) HO - 1:87.2 (HO is "half O") OO - 1:76 ?? (OO was a British derived alternative to HO) N - 1:160 Z - 1:220 The current convention is that these letters actually designate the scale, and a suffix is added to describe models that represent non-standard gauge railroad cars. So, you might see a model rail car or locomotive described as HOn3, which means a model built to 1:87 scale, but meant to run on track that is a scale 3 feet wide (real railroads that were tight on space, such as those supporting mining and logging operations, used equipment built for closer spaced track). Finally, many model railroaders tend to be a little lax about scales, so its common for models marked with a particular railroad scale to be a little "off" if you were to actually check with a micrometer. [Q] But what about figures, what do all those XXmm measures mean? [A] (Don Schmitz 1/97) Figures use yet another convention to specify scale - they are classified by the height in millimeters that a "typical" man would stand. Discrepancies in the actual scale creep in due to the definition of "typical" - if you assume a "typical" man is 6 feet tall, a 50mm figure corresponds to 1:36 scale, if you assume "typical" is morel ike 5 feet 8 inches, the scale is more like 1:34. All of the figures in a particular series intended to be to the same scale will not be the same height - a "50mm" school girl standing 5 feet 2 inches tall will be (assuming 1:36 scale) an actual 43.7mm, while a 7 foot tall basketball player in the same series would be an actual 59mm tall. [Q] How do I buy/sell models on r.m.s, or via magazine classifieds? [A] (Don Schmitz 5/96) It is common for private parties to buy and sell models by mail. All of the modeling magazines have classified sections for this purpose, and "for-sale" and "want-to-buy" posts are common here on r.m.s. You would think someone would have invented a safe way for both buyer and seller to make the exchange, but there is no such magic involved: either the buyer (usually) or the seller takes a risk and sends the money or the kit in hopes that the other party does likewise. In the extreme majority of cases, both parties are honest and the deal goes smoothly. It is possible for a dishonest person to swindle the other party, but since the dollar amounts are usually small, it is rare to find a person willing to risk their reputation in this way (the real crooks are all off swindling folks out of big ticket items such as computers and antique auto parts). Still, in any such deal you should consider the possiblity that the other person will disappear with your kit or money. Here are some tips to help minimize the risks: - Don't deal with folks who are unwilling to give you their full name and phone number. Having these gives you some ability to track them down. - Make sure you agree to exact terms - price, who pays for shipping, carrier, condition of goods, return policy, etc, before anyone sends anything. Decide who has to deal with the delay of collecting the insurance from the carrier if the item is lost or damaged. - If you're the buyer sending the money first (the usual arrangenemt), mail the payment in the form of a postal money order (the receiver can cash it immediately at his bank or post office - no waiting for an out-of-town check to clear). - If the dollar amount is large, send the payment insured (in case it is lost) and registered mail (the better to prove the person you sent it to received it). - If you're a seller and someone sends you a personal check as payment, wait for the check to clear before shipping the goods (let the buyer know up front that you will do this, and encourage them to pay via money order). - Sellers should insure the package, and be willing to return the buyer's money if the package is lost in shipment. - Use common sense: if a deal seems too good to be true it very often is. If the other party seems evasive or shady, keep your money in your pocket or your kit on the shelf. Don't be afraid to ask the net if they've dealt with a particular person before. When dealing with a completely unknown party, try to make a small purchase - that you can afford to write-off to experience should the deal go sour - before sending off a large sum of money. Note: Sending things COD is not really a solution. Most carriers (all?) do not let the recipient open a package before paying for it - you could well end up paying for a box full of air. Sellers may also be hesitant to ship COD, as there are horror stories of carriers accepting obviously faked cashiers checks as payment. Still, COD may filter out the casual scam artist who doesn't want to go to *any* effort to swindle you out of a few bucks. If you do get burned, here are some tips for dealing with the Post Office [info from Mike O'Connor ( (assuming you used the Post Office to pay for the item): - Contact your local Postal Inspector - phone number is listed in the "US Govt. section" of the blue pages in the phone book. The P.I. will send you a complaint form - you fill it out and return it with a copy of the of the cancelled check or money order you used to pay with. Mike has had two successes in having the P. I. obtain refunds. - To obtain your cancelled postal money order (or find out it was never cashed), you have to wait 2 months after it was purchased, go to your post office, pay a fee, fill out a form and wait... The main post office that handles this is supposed to be very slow. If you're nice to the folks at your local post office, they may be able to give you a name and phone number of someone that can expedite this for you. [This suggests paying by check is better than money order, although that will usually add to the delay in the typical case where the seller is honest, since the seller may well want to hold your items until the check clears.] [Q] Why doesn't someone make a kit of <my favorite subject> ? [A] (Don Schmitz 8/95) It often seems perverse that 3 or 4 different model companies will all release a kit of the *exact same subject*, while so many modelers are longing for a kit of some other equally significant subject. For example: AMT, Revell and Tamiya have all released 4th generation Ford Mustang kits, while no kit exists for the 2nd generation Ford Probe. Every manufacturer known to man has at *least* one P-51 and 109 variant, but try to find a modern high quality kit of a Piper Cub or airliner. The reason, of course, is money. At least in the US, serious modelers account for a significant but small fraction of all model kits sold - the vast majority of kits are bought by or for 8 to 15 year old boys. The model companies know who pays their bills, and does its best to produce the sort of models that appeal to its market - which the model makers interpret as high performance cars, fighter planes, spacecraft, and figures and vehicles with movie/TV tie ins. There has been some indication that the model manufacturers are begining to recognize the adult hobbyist, for example: re-releases of old, out of production (but in demand) kits, higher quality in new kits (although often at premium prices), and a slightly wider variety of subject matter. The indication is that the model companies are willing to do new kits in demand by the serious modeler, as long as they can still manage to hype the kits to the younger buyers, for example, by adding hot-rod parts and flashy decals to a vintage car kit. You can encourage this trend by letter writing - letting the manufacturers know what kits are in demand - and by actually buying the offerings aimed at the serious modeler that the manufacturers have taken a chance on. [Q] Why are Japanese model kits "better" than US made kits? [A] (Don Schmitz 8/95) This is the sort of loaded, subjective question that makes for great debate on the 'net but seldom resolves anything. As ammunition for the next time around, consider the following: - "Serious modeling" is much more popular in Japan than in the US. This probably goes back to the roots of modeling - in Japan, modeling was previously a pastime for the rich, while in the US it evolved from childrens toys. In any case, Japanese manufacturers are able to sell more higher end (pricier) kits in their home market, and so can justify better manufacturing processes, such as high tech multi-part molds that can produce more complex and better quality (fewer sinkmarks and seams) parts. - What do you mean by "better"? accuracy? molding quality? parts fit? Do you rank on an absolute scale, or by quality/dollar? While most will agree that Japanese kits do have better molding quality, discussion in r.m.s indicates that they aren't significantly better on the other fronts. The Japanese kits are typically quite a bit more expensive as well, often 2-3x their US competitors, often giving an edge to US made kits on value. - The tendency of manufacturers to re-use previously existing molds makes it difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison. Truly new kits from US makers have closed the quality gap, however a lot of the US kits now in production are based on molds that are 10 to 20 years old - clearly they aren't and never will be as good as a more modern kit from any maker. [Q] What are "aftermarket" or "cottage industry" suppliers? [A] (Don Schmitz 8/95) A number of small companies (often run out of someone's home or garage) have sprung up to cater to the "serious modeler". Some specialize in the tools and supplies needed to build high quality models, others produce limited run custom parts, or even complete kits, to augment the line of subjects available from mainstream model companies. These companies occasionally take some heat here on the net for what are perceived as excessively high prices. Many modelers are especially disturbed by companies that simply repackage common bulk materials in smaller sized lots and add a hefty markup. A common example: some companies sell small quantities of fine gauge electrical wiring to simulate auto spark plug wiring, while the same materials are readily available at much lower cost/foot at Radio Shack or surplus stores. Of course, to take advantage of the better value, you may well have to pay several times what the smaller lot would cost from the speciality supplier, and end up with a multi-lifetime supply of the material! Whether you consider aftermarket materials a reasonable value depends on how much you value the convenience they provide. A specific question to r.m.s will often result in the info you need to decide if you're better off tracking down the materials or doing the speciality work yourself, or taking advantange of the convenience of the aftermarket. [Q] What is a "resin kit" ? Why are they so expensive? [A] (Don Schmitz 8/95) Resin kits are an example of the sort of goods produced in the "aftermarket" - they are a type of model kit produced using a molding technology that is well suited for low volume production. The parts produced in this way may be small detail items, a few parts intended to produce a different variant using a standard plastic kit as a base (this is known as a "trans-kit"), or a complete kit. Often a resin kit is the only way to obtain a model of an obscure subject. Resin kits are produced by first creating a "master", or original part and then duplicating it using rubber molds and two part casting resin. The "master" is generally created by a skilled modeler or sculptor, who either highly modifies an existing part, or creates a part or figure completely from "scratch". Producing a master involves assembling basic materials, such as plastic and metal sheet, strip and structural shapes into an approximation of the desired part, then machining, carving, filing and sanding to the desired shape. Both the mold material and the casting medium are very non-viscous before they harden, so they transfer detail and even surface texture extremely well - this means the master surfaces must be extremely smooth. Molds are made by embedding the original in catalyzed rubber. Since the molds are flexible it is possible to produce complex undercut parts that couldn't be molded with the conventional metal molds used for styrene kits. The resin parts that are produced are slightly more brittle than conventional styrene model parts, and require super glue or epoxy for assembly - standard tube glue will not hold the parts together. Resin parts are expensive; for example, a resin car body will run from $20-50, an original figure might be $200 or more. The reason is that the process is slow and labor intensive, the materials are expensive, and volume is low. Preparing a master requires a great deal of skill and time, making a mold requires skill and some amount of trial and error to achieve good results. The casting resin sets quickly once mixed so the caster must work in small batches, and the molds are fragile and wear out quickly. The low volume means a small number of sales to spread fixed costs such as advertizing over, and also means that the manufacturer must pay higher, small-lot prices for packaging and shipping. All of these contribute to the cost - as always you pay for the convenience of having someone else do part of the work for you. While were on the subject, I should also mention that resin kits vary greatly in quality, just as the small companies that produce them vary greatly in reliability and quality of service. Given the expense, you really want to know what you are getting - asking about resin kits on r.m.s is a great way to get info about a resin kit or kit maker before plunking down lots of money. Finally, it is important to mention "resin piracy". It is very easy to use resin casting technology to produce copies of another's kit, either a mass market styrene kit or another resin caster's offering. While this is arguably a good thing when a caster recreates a long out of production kit, it is almost certainly illegal (I'm not a lawyer, so I won't speculate on what laws - copyright, patent, etc - are being broken) and is essentially stealing from the original kit maker. Since the knock-off artist doesn't actually have to do any work to produce the master, they often offer the same kit at much lower prices than the original. If the questionable ethics of buying knock-offs doesn't deter you, it is also often the case that the knock-offs are of poor quality. [Q] Where can I buy models cheaply? [A] (Don Schmitz 8/95) First off, if you haven't already, please check out your local hobby shop(s). There are folks out there that claim to live near well stocked shops with knowledgeable, friendly staff, *and* that still offer a reasaonble discount from list price. If you happen to live near such a shop, or even within 50 miles of it, do yourself a favor and support it by spending your hobby dollars there. While it is nice to save a few bucks on a kit by buying mailorder, its even nicer to be able to pop out for some sheet plastic or a bottle of paint when you need it - and not wait at least a week - and often much longer - for the stuff to arrive in your mailbox. When you factor in shipping charges, you often don't save a whole lot by buying mailorder unless you are buying a very expensive kit, or placing a large order. That said, there are many of us with non-existant local hobby shops, or seemingly even more prevalent, local shops with obnoxious staff, a smaller selection of models than your average K-Mart, and prices over list! Along with mailorder suppliers, some of which are listed in section 9 of this FAQ, large toy stores and discount department stores often have a large selection of kits - mostly US made but also a growing number of foreign kits too - at good if not great prices. Model swap meets - often held in conjunction with a model contest - are another place to find good prices, especially for rare/old kits. You'll often find advertizements for local swap meets at hobby stores, or check the "coming events" listings of modeling magazines. [Q] Where can I find a model of <my favorite car> ? [A] (Don Schmitz 8/95) Often the first (re)introduction adults have to modeling is building a model of their own real (or dream) car. It is a common misconception that a model exists of *every* real car ever produced. Back in the '60s this was close to true, however the decline in modeling among kids, the invasion of foreign cars and the explosion of domestic auto maker's product lines into 100s of "niche" vehicles now make it impossible for the model makers to keep up. It was also common for model manufacturers to update molds from model year to year - for example modifying the '67 Mustang molds to produce a '68 - so even though a kit was once available, it may no longer be possible for the model maker to reissue a particular subject. Still, there are a *lot* of car models available if you know where to look. Again, a hobby shop is a good starting point. Even if they don't have the model, they are likely to have a catalog of available kits and may be able to special order it for you. Failing that, they will almost certainly have a copy of "Scale Auto Enthusiast" (SAE) magazine available, which is the next step. SAE includes advertizements for companies that specialize in old kits (eg. Hobby Heaven), as well as for aftermarket companies that may produce the car you desire in a resin kit. Failing that, SAE has a widely read classified section where you can run a "want to buy" advert, and a "coming events" section where you can find out about swap meets in your area. A word of warning: old car kits can be quite expensive, $50-100 is not uncommon. However like all collectibles, prices can vary a lot - you can often save yourself a few dollars by doing some research to know what is a reasonable price, and by shopping around for good deals. [Q] Who are kit collectors/dealers? [A] (Don Schmitz 9/95) Many modelers find it hard to believe that that there are people out there that buy rare model kits just to "have", rather than build. In fact, this group is willing to pay extra for a kit still sealed in the "original" plastic wrap (given the ready availability of shrink-wrap machines, I often wonder how many of such kits are actually filled with empty sprues!). This may seem strange, but no more so than folks who collect used postage stamps, or money that you can no longer spend! In any case, collecting unbuilt, rare kits is a hobby unto itself. Often times, modelers find themselves at odds with collectors, since collectors tend to push up the price of interesting kits. This is due to the fact that actually *building* an old kit reduces its value to near zero, while holding onto it results in appreciation as it becomes more and more rare. Often a modeler will run a "want to buy" ad in a model magazine and mention "looking for kit such-and-such to build". This is in the hopes that another kindred modeler will sell them the kit at a reasonable price, instead of whatever the speculators have pushed the price up to. Many modelers unintentionally become kit collectors. This is amazingly easy to do: modelers know that kits go out of print and become scarce, so they buy every kit they think they might ever want to buid someday, even though they already have a backlog of other kits. It is quite easy to accumulate more kits than you can hope to build in a lifetime - most modelers that have been in the hobby for very long have 100s of unbuilt kits, and it is not uncommon to have a few thousand kits stashed in a garage or storage room [these people must have quite understanding spouses!] Once you've accumulated a thousand or so kits, either intentionally or otherwise, it is quite common to become a "dealer" - a sort of mobile hobby store that goes on the road to swap meets buying and selling old kits. These are great people to know, as they often have, or know where to find a particular rare kit you're looking for. Many of them even sell currently in production kits at good prices; since they're going to a swap meet every weekend anyhow, they may as well sell a few dozen new kits at a hefty discount - remember they have practically no overhead - and the new kit sells pull people in to see their higher priced older kits. [Q] Why aren't the swastika/beer company/tobacco company
decals in my new plane/tank/racing car kit?
[A] (Don Schmitz 8/95) Many modelers are upset to find that model companies have apparently rewritten history/reality and do not include the proper markings on the decal sheets in a kit. The problem with the swastika is that modern day Germany has laws forbidding the use of the swastika except for very limited use. Other European countries may have similar laws. In any case, model companies that want to sell in Europe must produce kits without swastikas. Rather than produce different versions of the same kit, the manufacturer typically produces just one kit without the symbol. While annoying, this is not a big deal - there are aftermarket suppliers that produce entire decal sheets of various sizes of swastika. The beer and tobacco markings are more annoying. In this case, the model makers and/or the companies involved caved in to various "Politically Correct" US lobby groups that want to prevent children from being influenced to drink and smoke by the markings on their toys. This is especially annoying because, unlike the swastikas, these markings are more complex and require licensing by their owners, so correct aftermarket decals tend to be few and far between. It seems even more perverse that even high end kits, such as Tamiya's $100+ F1 cars, are affected, when clearly these are *not* intended as children's toys. Sigh... Update (1/30/98): The huge popularity of NASCAR racing has made it possible to get tobacco and alcohol decals for many NASCAR racers via the aftermarket. BSR Replicas and Finishes has a nice on-line catalog of such decals, check out: //
rec.models.scale FAQ, part 4

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