|What is the Purpose of This Site?||by Doug Chaltry|
|8 March 2004||email: doug(at)ontheway.us|
|Fair warning: there may
be some pretty boring babbling below, so you may want to
make sure you've just ingested large quantities of
caffiene before proceeding (or alcohol, I guess - which
might make it more sensible when reading).
I am often questioned about why I don't include this, that, or the other thing on this site. Sometimes I ask myself these same questions. This hobby of ours is extremely diverse, and as much as I would like to include information on every aspect of small scale vehicle modeling, I simply cannot. I wish I could, and I sincerely hope that some day this site can be a repository for any and all information related to modeling. But until then, I need to limit the content of the site to something that can be easily managed.
So here I'll list some random thoughts as they enter into my necrotic cranium. I am not going to spend hours trying to craft a literary masterpiece; just putting a few thoughts down onto paper, so to speak. I'll start by describing what are my own personal priorities for this website. It's entirely possible (and probable) that each viewer gets something different from visiting the site, but the following psychobabble is my own vision:
1) My highest priority is the in-box kit Previews.
When I started tank modeling many years ago (in 1/35th scale), I discovered the AMPS website, and their really cool kit lists that had very brief reviews of each model, written by modelers who have supposedly done their research. For a newbie like me, this material was pure gold. If I wanted to buy a model of the T-34 for example, I could look up all the T-34s on the lists, and pick and choose the best one, thereby saving me time and money (and sweat and hair). But as useful as these lists were, there was something very important missing: photographs.
As my own site started to grow over the years and develop beyond simply a collection of my own model reviews, I decided that I wanted a similar tool for 1/72nd tanks as AMPS had provided to our larger brethen with the poor eyesight, but with the added bonus of scans of the kit parts. The main reason for this is because I am not an expert, and I have never proclaimed to be. Sure, I do my research, but I don't have the 30 years of experience in and around tanks and models of tanks that would make me an authority. So in order to hedge my bets, with every preview I wrote, I also posted scans of the kit so that individual modelers could make their own assessments of the model, if they thought I was on crack (which would've made life a whole lot easier if I had been).
The goal of this website is to have an in-box Preview of every 1/72nd AFV model ever made.
I personally own approximately 60% of all the plastic kits listed on the manufacturers page. I was well on my way to getting them all when my wife slapped me upside the head and reigned me in (and rightfully so). It's amazing how quickly a hobby can turn into an obsession without even realizing it. We had a sort of "modeler's intervention" which brought me back to reality, and now I must rely on site donations for my model fix. As far as resin is concerned, I don't know, I own maybe 15%? So as you can see, I cannot post Previews of everything. I try to post a couple of new Previews every couple of weeks, and lately they've mostly been of new releases sent in as donations. Whenever I have some free time, I blow the dust off of an old kit on the shelf, and quickly scan it and write a few notes, but I doubt that I'll ever be able to catch up. So if any of you reading this feel like sending in something other than a Gallery entry, please feel free to help me out; especially with the resin kits. Refer to the Guidelines for Contributors for more specific information on how to do this.
2) My second priority are the Construction Reviews.
My early construction reviews were usually a photograph or two of the completed model, and perhaps a couple of paragraphs of text. Not real helpful. After receiving some feedback of what makes a useful review, I started expanding them considerably, especially with in-progress photos whenever possible. Anyone with rudimentary math skills can see that my construction reviews are far outnumbered by the in-box Previews. This is simply because over the years, the time that I normally spent building models is now spent parked in front of the computer working on this website. So once again, I would urge viewers to help out with some contributed construction reviews. And please feel free to review models that have already been reviewed. It's entirely possible that some people won't agree with my assessments of the models, so if you feel that you can write a more objective or accurate review, please do. I'd be delighted to post it (but if you call me names, it will be posted in very small print at the bottom of the page).
The Articles page is the smallest page on the site, and yet I think it has a fairly high priority. Why is it so small? Because very few people send in contributed articles, and I also write very few of them myself. Viola: small page. The reason is simple: it takes a LOT of time to write one. If you can write an article in less than 15 minutes, then it's not really an article; it's an editorial piece (sort of like this one). Again: HELP WANTED.
4) Reader's Gallery
Although I consider this area to be lower down on the list of IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE, it is also the fastest growing part of the site. All it takes is to send me a photo of your models, and BOOM, you're in the Gallery. No fuss, no muss. Everybody enjoys seeing their own work published, and even more importantly, everyone likes to see what others are building for inspiration (or sometimes incredulity). So although I want to see the previous topics better represented in the site contributions, I don't want to dissuade contributions to the Gallery either. Keep them coming!
5) Want List
I started this list several years ago primarily out of curiosity. It has since turned into a valuable tool of which many manufacturers take advantage. As you know, I've altered how the voting is accomplished, and will hold new surveys each year. Please be sure to vote when it is time.
Everybody has links. Sure, they're important, but there are better sites out there that have far more links than I do. By the way, for those who have not yet clued into the fact, links to specific manufacturer's websites can be found on the appropriate Kit List page for that manufacturer (if I know of one). If you find one that I missed, please let me know.
Since this site was already fairly large before I started accepting contributions, I was never in the habit of signing my name to my articles. Consequently, you can assume that all reviews and articles that are not attributed to someone else were written by me. If anyone has sent in a contribution and I inadvertently left your name off of it, please let me know so I can correct it. I promise it was unintentional.
What this site does not focus on:
OK, here is where I need to trim the fat. There are certain things that are important to many people, but once again, due to lack of time, money, and knowledge, I don't include them at this site, or they are included only peripherally.
Decals started out this way. There are a large number of companies out there making transfers of various sorts for models, some are waterslide decals, some are rub-on transfers. And some are really poor. There are a number of companies who people are very quick to mention on discussion boards when asked, but when I have tried some of their products, they are awful. But over the years, many companies have begun releasing very high quality markings sets, so I have gradually been adding new companies to the lists as soon as I am able. If anybody knows of a manufacturer not yet listed, please let me know (as well as a place where I can find their product list). Of course, for items this small, there is no practical distinction between the scales, so that's not an issue. (Yes, TL-Decals are coming soon).
Figures: Yes, I have figures, but not a whole lot, relatively speaking (Milicast and AB are coming soon). As mentioned elsewhere, this site is very vehicle-oriented. There are a number of other sites out there that specialize in figures, and they do it very well. I originally steered clear of figures for this reason, but due to popular demand I have slowly been adding more figure content over the years. But how do I choose which companies to list? Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with scale. I will list both 1/76th and 1/72nd figures. It has more to do with the difference between wargaming figures, and those suited towards static display. I obviously mean no disrespect to those who wargame, or those who make figures for wargaming, but we all can agree that there is a different standard between the two types of figures. Wargaming figures tend to be much more "stocky" than display figures, often times with exaggerated features, poor physical proportions, and overscale weapons and equipment. I tend to not include this type of figure on this site. Again, there are many sites out there dedicated to wargaming, and they can do a much better job at covering these figures than I can. But it gets problematical when the differences between wargaming figures and display figures are blurred. Just where do I draw the line? I have no clue, so don't even ask.
Diorama Accessories. OK, now here was a no-brainer, until recently. Yes, these are very important parts of modeling for many people, but talk about a totally broad and diffuse category of items! I long ago made the decision that I will not include these, simply because I have no knowledge of them, and I have very little personal experience with dioramas. But then . . . I got a site donation from a manufacturer of a wrecked building. What to do?! Well obviously, I wanted to post a review of the item, which I did, so I now have a very small category for diorama accessories. I am only going to use it to post reviews of donated items (if you are a manufacturer of diorama bases, yes, I would be happy to review them). Please to not write to me asking why I don't have complete lists of these things, because I just told you.
1/76th scale: I am NOT going to open that can of worms again. Please refer to my previous articles about that topic.
One final note: please don't take what I write on this site too seriously. Contrary to appearances I really don't take modeling or this website as seriously as one might think. Part of the problem is that I need to try to please as many people as possible, of course without compromising my own personal and professional standards. So even though I seem to fixate on certain things, such as exact scale and accuracy, I'm really not as hard-core as it appears. If I point out in a review that a certain model doesn't have enough bolts on its wheels, or is 2mm too short, that certainly doesn't mean that I won't build that model. But some people WANT that information for their own interest, and I try to provide it wherever and whenever I can, which certainly isn't always. About the only thing that I am really anal retentive about, is the use of references when making scale or accuracy judgements. Nothing annoys me more than when someone passes along misinformation about a particular kit, simply because he never checked the facts himself.
Also, as many of my friends will know, I sometimes have a fairly dry sense of humor, and as we all know, the written word is a very poor conductor of sarcasm. Without being able to hear the inflection in my voice, or see my facial expressions or body language, it may be difficult to discern when I am trying to be witty, and when I'm dead serious. And I often times get so very tired of using the smiley face emoticon :) to indicate satire. So if I say something about Jim Matthiessen being a myopic toad, one should just assume that I am joking (unless of course, you know Jim personally).