It seems a bit silly to be discussing the virtues of Social Media & scale models in a WordPress blog post. Has Social Media hit scale modeling? Of course it has. Has this been a good thing? Of course it has – even if there are some downsides.
I believe one of the biggest changes in this hobby has been the access to information via the internet. Speaking for myself, I really doubt I would have returned to this hobby in my 30s unless I had access to all of the information that was so frustratingly beyond my reach when I was a youngster.
Like most, I left models behind sometime before highschool. And I left the hobby with a chip on my shoulder: No matter what I did, I could never get my models to look like the models in the shop or on the box. I had no idea how to do it despite having badger 350 airbrush that I was forced to use in a dark garage with my little square testors bottles…
A Revival made possible by online forums
I never completely lost interest though. While I was not buying or making them any longer, I still kept my old builds and every now and then I would page through an old Finescale mag.
Sometime in the mid 2000s after all the school was done and actual work was well in hand, I came across the ARC site. Those were some heady days! Not only could I see the “average” modeler’s work, there were also articles with complete explanations for highlighting panel lines! Dealing with gaps! Airbrushing with acrylics! Complete with step by step pictures! The best part? It was all FREE! I still have a few of these articles saved for all time .
Then I discovered the forums where I could see someone build a model from start to finish, and have the ability to ask questions AND GET ANSWERS! Whoa. This pretty much removed any reason to not get back into scale models.
I soon discovered other sites: Hyperscale, Modeling Madness, Roll Models…. all brimming with information and pictures showing exactly what I needed to see. So I decided to go back in. I wanted to start fresh with a Corsair because it was (and still is) my favourite. I read those online reviews and clicked through the forum builds and I ultimately decided to get the Tamiya F4U-1A – mainly because of the tri-colour finish:
Not only did I dive right back in – I decided to go ahead and share my build and I posted my progress in the ARC forums. Please forgive the crappy pics – I was using a “cutting edge” Kodak digital camera with 2.0 megapixels!!
Anyhow – I posted my build and “met” a great bunch of builders who responded with encouragement, warnings about kit issues, answers to my questions and suggestions for improvement. And these guys were light years ahead of me in terms of skill. Needless to say, I was hooked. After that I posted all of my builds and got better with each one.
And the rest is history. Except that isn’t exactly true.
A Scale Model Forum Decline?
Maybe it’s just me but in the past few years I have noticed a decline of the online forum. This has not been limited to ARC – this is across the board. A great many of the builders that I “met” seemed to have moved on. There may be a few reasons for this:
The great Photobucket meltdown of 2017
I’m sure everyone has a recollection of this one. But let me recap: A site built for free image hosting and promoted itself as such. It then decides to punish 99% of its users for paying nothing for image hosting and sharing. Anyway, the key advantage of the old modeling forums is that things like builds, tips and conversations were always there and easy to search. Except when 99% of these posts featured images stored on Photobucket. Overnight these wonderful resources (at least the pictures) vanished.
Modelers moving on
There is a lot more choice out there for modelers than general modeling forums. Some might have found more specialized groups that fit their interests. Others might have just migrated to other platforms like facebook, youtube, etc.
And Speaking of Facebook…
I have long been a reluctant user of Facebook for various reasons but there is no denying the ease of setting up a special interest group and posting. There is also the very obvious fact that the platform is free and is incredibly easy to get up and running.
The Rise of other Social Media platforms
That Facebook again
I was “forced” to get a Facebook account because my local model builder club set up a group and did all of its announcements on Facebook. I quickly discovered dozens of other groups that directly catered to my interests. As well, people use email less as it is far easier to reach out with a Facebook posting or message.
That said, some of these groups are not very active and unless you specifically save a post, it can be very difficult to find something again. There is also (at times) some political commentary and/or virtue signalling that detracts from the experience. However, it is nothing the old “ignore” button can’t handle.
And Youtube… wow…. what a game changer. I really appreciate seeing step by step pictures of builds or techniques – but what is better than video showing exactly “how to” with a close up demonstration? As well, there are now dozens of channels doing all sorts of builds and reviews. If you want to know about a new product or maybe one that was out a few years ago – chances are you will find something. Of course, not all channels are the same. A few that I have subscribed to are:
Simply put it is the easiest way to post your work instantly to the entire planet. Since I signed up a year ago, I have seen astounding work that has challenged and inspired me. It is also very easy to save images for later inspiration or sharing with model buddies.
A very new thing for me. I started downloading podcasts to accompany me on long drives such as the 12+ hour drive to the WrightCon show this spring. I have to say, 12 hours of scale model related podcasts sure make the drive easier and entertaining. If you have not had a listen, I recommend you give these a try:
These are just a few observations from an enthusiastic model maker but an amateur user of social media. Much like the hobby itself, the online resources available to us are constantly changing and offering us new things.
These are just a handful of the things that I regularly go to. If you have others (blogs, podcasts, youtube channels and yeah… good online forums) that you like, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you. I’ll leave you with the following build video. There is just something mesmerizing about the music…..