Stall Warning

The dreaded shelf queen.  I’ve written about what to do with models that end up half built on a shelf.  I’m now thinking about what causes the stall.  I have some thoughts about that.  But let’s start with my biggest stall yet:  The HK B-17G.

It started out great – the model was big and it had plenty of detail.  Sure, this meant a ridiculous amount of planning and painting but I was game.

As you can see, the B-17 had a lot of wood in the interior and I had a lot of fun replicating it with oil paints.  However, I started to find some issues…

Starting with the fact the instructions offered no colour call-outs for main areas as well as molded on bits.  I had to do a lot of internet searching to figure these out.  Not a big deal but a definite speed bump.

As well – given how the interior went together, it was difficult to keep track of all of the teeny pieces once they were painted and detailed.  So what?  Right?  I was still keen and I kept going.

At this point I had to seal it up.  Nine times out of ten I can manage a decent join with little work to do after gluing.  This time?  Nope.  Not even close.   As well the top of the main crew area is molded separately as a kind of removable roof.

But I didn’t want a removable roof.

You see, the ‘roof’ left a terrible gap to deal with. In an effort to preserve as much of the rivet and panel line detail as possible, I tried to use melted sprue sauce to close it up.  There was also a ton of shallow and inconsistent rivet detail at the top of the fuselage.  Fixing that issue was difficult and my lack of skill really shows here.  In other words, it was a ton of work and it didn’t end up looking great.

Looking back, despite how silly I think it would look, I really should have kept that roof removable.

But then came more issues:

  • The rivet detail – while it is plentiful it is inconsistent and many rivet lines do not match up.  I decided to don a magnifying visor and go nuts with a needle.  Ugh;
  • The join of the front fuselage to the main fuselage – mismatched panel lines, mismatched rivet lines and the two fuselages do not match up in circumference;
  • 10,000 punch marks on the bomb bay doors;
  • The join aft of the tail was almost as bad as the nose join – and I managed to sand away a considerable amount of detail.  Given the shape of the fuselage back there, re-scribing the panel lines and replacing the rivet lines was an exercise in frustration;

At one point I just decided this was just not any fun.  And despite all the work, it still doesn’t really look good.  So I shelved it.

and here it lies….and it has remained this way for about 3 years

So Why Do Builds Stall

I’m not the first modeler to put one aside for a breather.  In my case, making this model was a slog – it became awful tedious work with no end in sight.  I think there are many reasons why builds stall and in my case I think this build stalled for more than one of the following reasons:

  • The model, for whatever reason (amount of work, constant challenges) is no longer fun to build;
  • The builder loses interest in either the subject or the model itself;
  • The model has a flaw that is difficult to fix;
  • The modeler does not have the skill to deal with a particular issue with the kit;
  • The modeler messed up the kit beyond an easy fix – the later in the build this occurs, the more likely the model will be shelved;
  • Advanced Modelers Syndrome (a topic for another day – the build stalls due to the volume of “extra” work the builder puts into it, or plans to put into it); and/or
  • There is a beautiful bright new shiny model that is calling out to be built.

Stall Avoidance Strategy

Yes – the big question!  I guess the easy strategy would be to build out-of-box models using easy kits of subjects that you love that are produced by top manufacturers.  But that is a bit safe, isn’t it?

Stop buying new model kits when you are working on a project?  No…. that would go against everything we modelers stand for.  It would also cause a rift within the stash growing community.  No, we cannot have that.

Maybe the answer is to know yourself.  Looking back I can easily say that I should not have bought this kit and I definitely learned my lesson about buying big for the sake of big.  Others have written about the same issues I had in later reviews of the kit and maybe being patient would have served me well.

The subject matter is well outside of my main interest as well.  I don’t want to sell the hulk nor do I want to get back to it anytime soon.  Since I do like all things Pacific War, I was thinking one way to rekindle the interest would be to find a B-17F that was used in the Pacific, read up about it and maybe find some markings?  Maybe I should just re-read Masters of the Air.

What do You Think?

Are these the only reasons why builds might stall?  Did I miss any?  What about avoiding future stalls?  I’d love to hear them in the comments.









7 thoughts on “Stall Warning

Add yours

  1. You’re work so far is most impressive!!
    If you prevail, (and I hope you do), think about the fact that you’ve overcome and even bested the deficiencies you’ve identified!! And anyone else that’s tackled that kit will know first hand, what you had to deal with. If your interior looks that good, the exterior will be spectacular. That’s a challenge worth winning!!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m confident that when you do, it’ll be an eye catcher-especially if what you’ve done is a preview of things to come!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There is one positive aspect of shelf queens. More than once I have come across a shelf queen unseen and forgotten for several years only to discover either:
    A) A rekindled interest in the model / subject matter that leads to the kit getting finished
    B) Discovering that whatever fatal flaw / problem / difficulty that caused the project to languish a few years ago, with the passage of time and improvement in my skills, is now well within my abilities to complete.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I tend to believe that most hard stalls like the one you describe is a mental game we play on ourselves. The critical-path spell has been broken, and it’s difficult to get the project inertia rolling again. Strange how bits of plastic can weigh so heavily on our minds when we get jammed up.

    One strategy that has worked for me really well in the past is to pull it off the shelf as I’m coming to the very end of a successful build. Then when I’m done with my current kit, and before I start my next one, I’ll spend a few hours working on my stalled out project, limiting myself to fixing one area that has me jammed up, without committing to the entire thing right then and there. In your case, maybe focus on just the tail joint for an afternoon, and then back on the shelf it goes until next time.

    The little victories compound and I‘ll find myself wanting to work on it again, and it will naturally progress to become my primary project again.

    Great blog! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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