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New Directions in Modelling
An investigation of personalities, opinion, and technology in the modelling world as we know it, and as it may become.
is an occasional editorial contributor to the IPMS website. Originally from
St. Thomas, Ontario, he now is a resident of Bancroft. With 15 years experience in graphic
arts and web site design, and ownership of the advertising agency Infinity Imaging , he brings
a contemporary viewpoint to these pages. His experience extends to working with groups,
such as the Algonquin Arts Council, where he was President for five years, plus serving on
many arts committees. He is an experienced writer, being a weekly arts columnist for a local
newspaper for 2 years, and weekly music columnist for another 2 years.
He enjoys military modelling, of which he claims to be both an avid enthusiast and an addict.
Scale Modelling for Kids is More Than Just Fun!
by Kevin Taylor
Many modellers are in their latter half of their life, which seems a little strange, since most of
these same people started the hobby as children. Over the years, the hobby seems to have
moved away from being a pastime for kids and into therapy for older folks.
The industry as a whole seems to be geared toward adults and many of us say things like “it
would be nice to have more children involved”. This makes sense, as where will the next
generation of adult modellers come from if they don't start as kids?
In giving this some thought, and a little research, it seems that modelling has more to offer
children then just a hobby or fun. Yes it is fun, but there are some benefits that we probably
don't think about much, and should consider when trying to encourage youth to join the
hobby. Some of the benefits:
Developing Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing,
grasping small objects, and fastening clothing. They involve strength, fine motor control, and
dexterity. These are skills that are often overlooked in a child's earlier years, which can lead
to issues as they grow.
Building models at an early age can exercise these skills in ways that very few other toys and
When confronted with a challenge such as looking at a set of instructions and building
something from them, many children will approach the task with trepidation and feel they can't
do it. In fact, as modellers we know that it 'can be done', and children won't find that out for
themselves until they try.
Of course they can succeed, especially with a little help from an adult, and this in turn builds
confidence. Children learn that when confronted with a task of this kind, they can indeed
make something that looks like it does on the box. This can be a boost of confidence for
anyone at any age.
Yes, model building and painting is an art form. How many toys and computer games actually
enhance creativity? Not many, aside from colouring and the occasional craft in school.
Creating a piece of art (even if it does come with instructions) is something that many children
don't get to do at home on a regular basis.
This is an area that has been identified as being weak in the schools as arts programs
continually get cut back. Building models can keep a young mind thinking and creating.
In today's society, we want everything now. Instant gratification is the flavour of the century.
That being said, we know as modellers that there is nothing instant about our hobby. Wait for
glue to dry, paint to dry, taking our time to ensure we don't miss any details. Being patient is
almost non-existent for many children, and modelling might just be a way to instill a little
patience in our rushed world.
Almost all children seem to be wizards at computers and video games, but if you ever watch
them, you'll notice that most of them don't read instructions on the screen. They simply try
things until they do or don't work. The instructions are a burden as they take time to read.
This may be fine in a game where you can die a thousand times while learning the ins and
outs, but won't be of much value when building a model.
Ignoring instructions when building a model can be and usually is disastrous. Following
instructions for a model can be very challenging, even to a seasoned builder. It really is
similar to following blueprints (in another language), which can only benefit a child for years to
come in many areas of their lives.
Engineering, Mechanics, Robotics and Physics
As model builders, we don't think of how we are affected by these areas, but we deal with
them on a regular basis. Understanding of how things work, move, propell, and so on, is all
part of what we do as builders.
For a child, these are areas that they won't engage themselves in until their teens. Even then
they may learn of these sciences, but may not be able to apply them to something. Where
will the great engineers of our future come from, and how will they get interested in the first
place? Maybe building models is a place to start.
This is a passion for many modellers, myself included. It seems that it is fine for a child to
build a model of a car, boat or spaceship, but many hobby shops, parents and teachers omit
the historical value of military modelling. This is our history, which includes war. I have
learned more about history through modelling than I ever would have in school.
Children need to look at the past, how we got where we are today, what sacrifices were
made, battles fought, etc. Often military modelling is avoided as people assume it promotes
violence. Most military models are non-violent. Even in my collection, I can see that most of
my models don't include death or killing. As military modellers, we are recreating a moment in
time. Usually very important moments in the history of the world. It is for this reason that I
encourage all modellers to promote the art of historical modelling to kids.
Finally, safety is required when building and painting models. Children learn how to use tools
(many of them sharp), work with solvents and glues, etc. They will also learn the importance
of working in a safe environment with ventilation, masks and gloves.
Some of these safety tips and skills will last throughout their lives in jobs, hobbies, and so on.
I would very much like to encourage adult modellers to introduce a young person you know to
the variety of great things that come from building and painting models. Maybe consider
buying a child their 'first kit' with some supplies. Who knows.... they may get the 'bug' that
we've happily caught years ago.
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