The Insecure Express to Jerktown

True story: Years ago I was inspired to build a boat. I know, I know… but it was a wild time in my life. You see, I had recently come home from the perfect Hawaiian vacation. So maybe this whole boat thing was a result of my wonderful day doing the Pearl Harbor tour which included the Arizona, the mighty Missouri, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. Or maybe it came from the euphoria of watching my team sweep the World Series while I was lounging in a Maui beach-front bar.

No matter the reason, I was inspired to build the USS Arizona.

Except I’m a plane guy; not a boat boy. I had no idea what I was doing. I just went with the colours that I saw on drawings of that battleship. I’ll tell you this: painting, folding, cutting, and attaching photoetch railings in 1:700 scale is a true test of patience. It also provides a great feeling of accomplishment when completed. Actually, by the time I had placed that last piece of rigging, I was pretty happy with how the kit turned out. I even put it on a base made of silicone “water”. I thought it looked great for this noob boat builder.

Was it a winner? Hell, no. But it was a completed kit and I liked how it turned out. I liked it enough to display it beside all the much better 1:700 ship models at an out-of-town IPMS contest.

As I was doing my laps of the contest tables trying to get decent pictures of every model that caught my eye, I overheard this old guy talking to others while pointing at my model:

“HAHA! That is ALL WRONG! You see that deck? The Arizona was never that colour. It was painted blue! I have no idea what that builder was thinking! HAHA. And those red topped turrets? NOPE. All wrong! And another thing…”

– Ol’ Codger

Meh, you win some, you lose some. Like I said, I am no boat boy. But wherever I was in the contest room I kept hearing him share his opinions with others who stopped to look at the small-scale ship models. That’s odd, I thought. Why was he doing that? Was he campaigning for his own builds? Was he a frustrated historian? Did he serve on the Arizona with distinction as a Plank Painter 2C?

One look at him told me that it was probably best to leave sleeping dogs lie (lest he have some sort of ‘psychotic break’ in the middle of an IPMS contest). And for all I know, the ol’ codger was right and the model was completely off. Whatever it was, this teeny ill-coloured wooden deck on a scale model bothered him and constantly pointing it out to various strangers was his way of dealing with it.

I suppose we are all on the ‘I am correct!’ spectrum to one extent or another. Many of us spend a considerable amount of time chasing references down all sorts of rabbit holes. So, most of us know a thing or two about this or that. We’ve also invested a considerable amount of time sitting at a workbench and experimenting with building, painting, and finishing models to know a thing or two there as well. What I am trying to say is that most have the knowledge and experience to recognize when something close to our hearts is not correct.

However, it is that need to offer such knowledge (when no one asked for it), and how that knowledge is immediately expressed that separates normal, well-adjusted adults from those on board the Insecure Express to Jerktown.

Last Thing

We all know jerks are not an exclusive phenomenon to scale models. Hoo-boy the workplace stories I could tell you featuring jerks who were jerkier than the jerkiest jerks who have ever jerked. I also think context is key in that I don’t think it is jerky to give an honest response when feedback is requested.

Although I have read some blunt responses on the socials that put my beliefs to the test!

And certainly, I am no saint when it comes to jerk tendencies. Years ago at a different model contest, I was doing my rounds and snapping pictures of various contest entries. I then came to the ‘Biplane’ category and saw an entry that I thought should be placed with the juniors. It was rough: the wings were not even close to level, the paint was roughly applied by brush with colours bleeding into each other, and the decals were all silvered. I thought it didn’t stand a chance against any one of the perfectly finished Wingnut planes surrounding it and I wondered why the builder would even bother to enter it. Just then an older guy slowly walked up beside me and reached under the table. His hands were shaking so violently I thought the model he lifted would fall on the floor. He placed that biplane entry right beside his first one.

Yeah, I felt about an inch high for thinking what I did.

Lesson learned: Sometimes people win just by getting to the finish line.

10 thoughts on “The Insecure Express to Jerktown

Add yours

  1. As a Jerk, I genuinely enjoyed this post.

    I try *not* to be a Jerk and from (rare) time to time manage to get close enough to not be a Jerk to get a rough approximation of what Jerkdom isn’t.

    I’ll go to a show from now and again and I’ve amassed a bit of information about aircraft, armor (primarily US), and cars. I wander about being mostly impressed with the displays. Sometimes it’s awe-inspiring, and sometimes the work is…rough. Well, in any context, my work can be adjudged as rough also. ::shrug:: There are rungs on the bottoms of ladders for the primary reason is that’s how anyone can get to more elevated rungs. Inaccuracies, however, are the burr under the saddle I’ve quit wearing (she stopped paying me so…no more saddle). Remember…I’m a Jerk.


    About the most effective manner I’ve found to decrease my Jerkiness is to keep my pie hold sodding SHUT. It’s not my hobby, *my* hobby is over where *my* work is displayed. I figure that this is a hobby that will frequently attempt to make the finished work accurate. The important notion is that this is a hobby, not a museum. Didja nail all those rivets (quantity and placement, of course)? Did you replace the Rochester carburetor of your Super Belchfire GT with the appropriate Webbers? Did you actually make Academy’s so-called M3A1 into and actual M3A1? You did? Outstanding. You didn’t? Outstanding. Someone else’s work is NOT my work. I’m crazy, maladjusted, and now that I’m officially Old, crotchety as crotchety can be. But I can tell the difference what is my business and what is not. Not my business? No opinion.

    I am, however, always impressed by excellent work of any sort. I know that when I go to a show (whether or not I enter something), I go for a couple of main reasons. I *want* to be impressed by good work and that is a delightfully frequent occurrence. The other reason is that in a room full of modelers, I know I’m not the craziest bastid in the room. (THAT is refreshing!)

    So yeah…I’m a Jerk who’s learned to keep his mouth shut. When asked for my opinion, I try to demure. I’m crazy. You really want the opinion of a maniac? I’m also a Rivet Counter. However, I’m a *focused* maniac and Rivet Counter. I focus on my work, I figure others can focus on theirs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This reminds me of a model show put on by my club MANY years ago where I proudly displayed my Airfix 1/24 Focke-Wulf 190A, only for some old guy to come up to me and say “one of those bombed my ship during the war” then walked away 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  3. As this hobby “matures” and we have a number of forums and more ways (i.e., podcasts) of discussing this topic, thank you for sharing your opinion on this. It still amazes me that the emotion demonstrated by so called experts is disproportionate to the activity that most people think is playing with plastic toys. What possesses someone to be so filled with indignation/hate/small mindedness/hysteria/dickheadedness etc is mindboggling.

    How can anyone equate what we do with redefining history instead of celebrating it, or in the case of science fiction and fantasy etc, celebrating creativity. Personally, it is time to become more proactive, just as we campaigned for better understanding of mental health awareness – and we can now see some of the benefits of this in the connection to the hobby through such initiatives as Models for Heroes etc, we must call out this behaviour at model shows and online.

    Yes, there is a place for critique when ASKED for. And if you have expert or extensive knowledge by all means share that knowledge, and that includes both the accuracy and the modelling techniques, but for the love of God if you are not asked, then shut the F#@$ up.

    This signage needs to be in place at all model contests, that welcomed critique is welcomed, and if you can’t control your urge to provide unasked for critique, that means don’t come in. Don’t pay your meagre dollars to come in and expect to have the privilege of belittling others work. Don’t expect to be welcomed with open arms as the correction police or the “well I know for a fact” club.

    And can someone explain to me when exactly is the change over from the encouraging mentality we have, where we feel all warm and gooey when a small child places a heavily bushed painted, and over decaled first effort on the table, and then utter dismay and reprehension when an adult coming into the hobby for the first time, or a person with physical or mental challenges to overcome puts their efforts down on the table? Why and how do we lose compassion for first efforts, or fortieth efforts for that matter?

    I see the future where an agreed standard of modelling is reached, and all contests move to a Masters, gold, silver and bronze system. This way you are competing against yourself and your last effort, against a standard, not which expert modeller was close enough to drive to that contest and plonk down their five year project that wows the judges.

    We can and must strive for compassion. That can come as much from encouragement as it can from effective critique giving – when bloody asked for. That said some people who put their work on social media, I think can readjust their thinking slightly to note that this is essentially an invitation for critique in some people’s eyes. I know I’ve just said when asked for, and I think if you post ask for critique, or just as importantly, ask for no feedback. This is a contentious thought, but if we can normalise the idea that critique is not a scary thing and we encourage people to ask for it, and it is not just offered mercilessly by keyboard warriors and old farts at model shows, then maybe just maybe we can encourage the next generation to be both compassionate and striving for excellence – whatever that means to them.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for reminding us how fortunate we are in being blessed to be able to enjoy our hobby with our full abilities. I’d like to join your anecdote and praise IPMS/Israel member Mr. Shimon Feller. At every IPMS convention Shimon brought his model airplanes and dioramas. All of his displays were Innovative, interesting and historic built to his best abilities with one hand.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That is one thing about this hobby that I really dislike, it is full of rivet counting mega nerd a-holes who have no life outside of the hobby possess little in the way of social skills. Ignore them, they are NOTHING.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: