The Parrot is not a Rivet Counter.

Way back in my university days I played sports with a guy who considered himself very smart.  His was a mind chock full of trivia and he could recall all of it at any time. When asked an obscure fact about some pop culture item, he could reply instantly.  Sports?  He knew that stuff cold.  Entertainment, Pop-History, Basic Science?  There was no one better.

Back then, ‘bar trivia’ was still a thing and he would gravitate to bars that had those NTN machines:


And he would always win. 

Ultimately he did not do very well in school dropped out of several programs. I think it was because the skill of memorizing facts does not translate well to analyzing them, explaining what they mean, or building upon them to create something new.  You know, things that schools and employers eventually look for.

In other words: memorizing trivial facts only gets you so far.

In the scale model world we seemingly have a battle between what I like to call the “Just Build ‘Em” community and what is called the “Rivet Counters” community.  This battle is older than social media, the internet and hobby magazines.  At some point we’ve all seen  this back-and-forth.

In fact, I bet when the first mold maker pulled the first slightly warm sprue from the first ever mold and yelled “Success! We have the first new mold Mustang!” Along came some know-it-all to tell him that Mustangs were never that color of emerald green and that the tail fillet is two and a half scale inches too tall.

Old Men Fighting
The little red lines all over the pictures came much later….

Whenever there is a new model being shown to the world, you can pretty much count on two things that will occur:

  1. The “Just Build ‘Ems” will praise, pre-order & look forward to the new model; and
  2. The “Rivet Counters” will kill the enthusiasm & point out every possible flaw.
With the help of some red lines!

The narrative that the “Just Build ‘Ems” are somehow “lesser modelers” and the “Rivet Counters” will only lead to the ruin the hobby. Then soon after will come the predicable name calling and hurt feelings.

But what if I told you this kind of “rivet counter” is not actually a “rivet counter” at all?  What if I told you this guy is nothing more than a ‘parrot’?  Yes – I made up a new term.  Bare with me: My theory is that an actual rivet counter is an expert in the subject matter and advances the hobby while the Parrot is nothing more than a Trivia Night Champ:

maxresdefault (1)

It usually is not hard to figure out if a modeller is an actual Rivet Counter or a Parrot: The Rivet Counter generally keeps to himself while the Parrot will tell you all about his expertise.  But sometimes it is not that easy so….

Lets do a comparison!

The Rivet Counter

The Parrot

Basis of Knowledge

Professional Experience

Lifelong study of actual subject matter

Collection of original photographs and other pieces


“In Action” books

Aircraft or armor “Top Ten” shows on YouTube

The “Common Knowledge”

Critical opinions from actual Rivet Counters

Consideration of New Information

New research actively sought and incorporated


That mind is closed until a respected modeler says otherwise or a new “Top Ten” list is published

How Knowledge is Shared

Opinion sought by other researchers, authors, model manufacturers

Writing articles & building models

In extreme cases original research and new writing to advance the subject

Opinion freely given – to everyone, whether requested or not

Opinion offered repeatedly

Usually with the loud voice of unearned authority or written angrily


Method of Conveying Knowledge

Rarely volunteers opinion but will answer accurately if asked

Considered and reasoned communication

Backed by actual references

Generally in a helpful tone

Lots of computer aided emphasis (CAPS, bolding, underlining)

MSPaint used to draw red lines on model images

The Parrot is Definitely Not an Expert

Parroting facts means the Parrot cannot be a Rivet Counter.  The Parrot is not a “Good Enough” either because bashing models is far easier than building them.  To be honest, I am not really sure what the Parrot is except maybe the scale model equivalent of a “Debbie Downer”.


The Parrot also likes to recite reviews, especially those that are critical.  And I believe this is the source of the confusion between whether someone who is criticizing a model is a Rivet Counter or a Parrot who is channeling a Rivet Counter.

So I think that Parrots can be safely humored or ignored.

Am I right?

This was all tongue in cheek and is by no means an attack on anyone – People enjoy this hobby in different ways and I strongly believe that.  Whether you build ’em, stash ’em, talk about how crappy they are or take 4 years to finish them as accurately as possible: it is all good in my book.

I could be wrong on this and I invite anyone to comment below: I think, in general, that real rivet counters actually benefit the hobby and get us better models, decals, references and tools. I am sure that real rivet counters lend a hand in the development of better and more detailed models.

5 thoughts on “The Parrot is not a Rivet Counter.

Add yours

  1. It’s an interesting point of view, however I would argue that rivet counter should remain the derogatory term, as it carries the implication of partial “research” of a single element without the context of the whole. (I hope that sentence makes sense) I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment though. I had a situation recently on a what-if project where an “authority” corrected my use of designation to the correct one for the period I was building to. Others called him out as a rivet counter but I found his comments and the additional context he added extremely helpful. Especially when Google searching the corrected designation led me to exactly the source information I was after

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Model Buddy Ian says the same thing – the term “Rivet Counter” is one that is derogatory no matter what. I still think there is a distinction between someone who spouts off minutiae or opinion and one who is an actual expert. Either way, its excellent that your rivet counter turned you to the right direction and you got what you were looking for – I love it when that happens.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Man I’m so glad I mostly build whiffs and rarely suffer this kind of stuff. Tell me it’s “wrong”? Heck, it ain’t even “real”!

    Have fun and build what you want the way you want and leave the de-motivators in the dust.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love the hobby. I go by an adage if it looks like a duck, it’s a duck. If a person (modeler, non modeler, my wife) looks at my build and says that’s really nice, and then goes on to say it’s a nice (place subject here) I am thriiled! If it’s not fun, why do it? That’s my 2 cents. Your article is insightful and thought provoking. I totally enjoyed it!


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