Hobbies and Scope Creep

A little perspective on ScaleHobbies are fun. Hobbies also tend to be expensive. It seems that no matter what hobby you decide to pursue there will be a whole industry that has sprung up around it offering you lots of opportunities to empty your wallet. I’ve had many hobbies over the years and they seem to follow a general pattern. Intense interest in the beginning accompanied by lots of research and “investments”. Several years of enjoyment participating in the activities but ultimately followed by a slowly dwindling attention.

I find the scope creep to be a particularly amusing aspect of hobbies. Some years back, perhaps ten or so, I was wandering around in a hobby shop looking for a kite for the kids when I noticed some very impressive dioramas in a glass case. It had probably been at least ten years or more since I had built a model, something I enjoyed a lot during my childhood, and I was very impressed by the detail and imagination of the dioramas that were on display. Right then and there I got the inspiration to build a model again. As I looked over the available selection of scale model kits I recall being shocked at the prices. When you don’t pay any attention to something for ten years you get a real taste of inflation.

I thought I would be “responsible” and just buy a small item. Skip the $40 Panzer tank model and get something a little more basic. I finally decided on a World War 2 German BMW motorcycle for $8. Naturally, one has to buy new paints too but I was justly proud of myself for not getting carried away. Thus began a project that developed serious scope creep. It really was inspired by those blasted dioramas that I saw in the glass case. A diorama, in case you are not familiar with the term, is a construction effort to display the model in what would be its natural surroundings. As one might imagine, this can get pretty complex when you are dealing with World War 2 subjects. Airplanes had always been my favorite subjects and thus the motorcycle was a significant departure for me.

muddy_tires.jpgScale modeling is really an art wherein one strives to construct the model with the most realism possible. For instance, when you glue two pieces of a fuel tank together it will have a visible seam which, obviously, would not be present on the real deal. Getting rid of those seams is a skill one develops, and while a freshly painted motorcycle would be accurate for a short time after it left the factory, the rigors of war quickly change the appearance. Hence, weathering the paint job so it looks more realistic is always a good technique.

I started working on it and during the construction process began to envision a scene somewhere in France where the motorcycle was stopped by the side of the road asking someone for directions. This was more or less the picture depicted on the box but the idea of having the motorcycle and one other soldier figure standing beside the motorcycle sitting on a shelf just didn’t quite measure up after seeing those dioramas. I mean after all, where did the other soldier come from? Was he just out for an afternoon stroll or what?

Handmade MapA more likely scenario is that the motorcycle stopped at some other unit that was stationed by the road and that the soldier had stopped what he was doing to walk over to the road and give them directions.That seemed like something I could work with and scope creep set in at full speed. Suddenly, the vision changed to an artillery unit beside the road getting setup for duty and of course you need more figures in the scene “doing things” and the natural environment to go along with it. Grass, trees, a rock wall…well…you get the picture. My very own diorama.

Now, some things you can buy at the hobby shop. If you stop at the model railroading section where people invest lots of money building these rather large “towns” to run their model trains you can purchase stuff like buildings, trees, walls, and more. The scale doesn’t always match up though so you have to be careful with that. Not so much of problem with trees and grass though. I ended up buying a tree as my efforts to make one out of natural materials didn’t turn out so well. But most everything else that I used to build the diorama I found in the backyard, the basement, and even in the rain gutters.

Kristina was a big help once I got started on the diorama. She helped me paint faces on the figures, and helped me find materials to create the landscape. The rock wall was constructed out of packing peanuts that were modified into “stones”. The grass was extracted from the head of a cattail. Small crates were constructed from balsa wood. The gravel in the road was asphalt shingle residue found in the rain gutter.

Many hours were invested but alas, it never quite got finished. I would like to dedicate some time this winter to getting it finished up. Then I can take it to a local hobby shop and have it displayed in a glass case and infect someone else with the bug!

The Diorama - Partially Finished