Lady and Gentlemen (I say "lady", because I am ever hopeful that there is at least one female modeler viewing this site), it is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from On The Way. I am sure that most of you could see this coming, based on my very slow update schedule recently, and the diminishing quality of my kit reviews. I had partnered with Simon under the assumption that over the course of a year or two, I would slowly turn over to him most of the management responsibilities for the website, while I ultimately remained onboard in only a peripheral role. But for some reason, my enthusiasm and passion for continuing on as webmaster has plummeted unexpectedly this past month, and I am forced to accelerate the "transfer of power" to Simon so that smooth operation of the site will not be interrupted. I think that perhaps the email fiasco that I experienced last week may have played a role in it, so I think that this is the perfect time now to retire.
This website has been a very big part of my life for the past six years. I started On The Way back in 1999 because I was not happy with the quantity and quality of the 1/72nd scale model reviews then being published on the internet and within the newsgroups that were active at that time. My main philosophy was that modelers want to see the models being reviewed, and that the photos of the kit parts were probably more important to them than the text that accompanied the scans. So that became the foundation for my kit reviews: comprehensive scans of the unbuilt kits. The site experienced some growing pains over the years as I tried to standardize how I wrote my own reviews, which unfortunately I never was able to successfully accomplish.
As the hobby grew throughout these past six years, so too did On The Way. My intention of cataloguing and reviewing ALL models and accessories in this scale may have been a plausible goal back in 2001, when there were half as many manufacturers and goods as there are today, but the huge explosion in the number of products in this scale since then has made that an unrealistic goal. Particularly for one person, though I refused to admit it until recently. Although I threw myself entirely into the endeavor, which resulted in a huge expansion of the site, I may as well have been trying to push a boulder uphill.
In the summer of 2003, I realized that this hobby of mine was consuming almost all of my free time, so I decided that in order to pay more attention to other aspects of my personal life, I would seriously scale back my involvement in modeling, and I took the site off-line. I had never realized how popular the site had become, and this prompted a large expression of dismay from the modeling community, which was entirely unexpected on my part, so I quickly put the site back. I took a step back and decided that with a great reduction in the amount of time I spent on the website, I would be better able to balance my hobby with my personal life. Combined with an increase in the support I started to receive from a handful of model manufacturers, the site underwent a sort of renaissance, and my enthusiasm for modeling and maintaining the website returned in force.
However, as this hobby continues to grow, the amount of time that it takes to keep up with all the new manufacturers, and to keep their kit lists up to date, is expanding exponentially. Most of you probably don't realize, but I have regular contact with very few manufacturers, probably less than half a dozen. When it came to listing all the new releases that hit the market every week, I had to go out onto the web, and find those releases myself. A couple of site visitors helped out by sending in announcements that they came across on the web, but even with their help, keeping the kit lists up to date was almost a full-time task by itself.
Even though I was able to increase once again the amount of time I spent on the site these past six months, I was still unable to keep up. I kept trying harder and harder to make my site updates more efficient, and to streamline the site, but I found myself burning out. Adding Simon as a partner was the obvious solution; however, I now realize that I took that step far too late. I am, well and truly, fried.
My fear now is that if I continue on in my present state of mind, not only will I lose all interest in the site, but also my interest in modeling entirely, and that I am not willing to do. Over the years I have accumulated a very large model collection, mostly through my own purchases, but also thanks to review kits donated to me from manufacturers, retail shops, and several satisfied site viewers. But what's the point of having a huge model collection if I cannot actually build any of them?
Over the next several weeks, Simon and I will be working to shift the site to his demesne, and hopefully the transition will be transparent to site visitors. There is still some question about how to resolve the issue of the domain name, because .us domains can be owned only by US citizens, so the site may be moving to a .uk domain. We'll have more information on that as it develops.
I will close this letter with an expression of sincere gratitude to everyone who has had a hand in the development of On The Way up to this point. Although the site started as a singular effort on my part for the first several years of its life, over the past few years in particular, the site was only able to maintain its momentum through the steady contributions of kit reviews and Gallery entries from the site viewers, and I certainly hope that you all continue, and even increase, your support for the site under Simon's stewardship. I also want to thank the several manufacturers and retail shops who have supported this site by providing many review kits over the years. Again, I ask that you also continue on with your support of the site in the future.
I want to pay special gratitude to those site viewers who sent to me many free review items over the years that they paid for out of their own pockets. It was for those of you who sent to me unsolicited models and accessories that I have struggled this past year to keep up my previous level of service, and I am truly sorry that it is no longer possible.
And one last apology I need to make is for all of the loose ends that I left hanging over the years, especially after I lost most of my email last week. For a while there, I was completely overwhelmed with email from site viewers, and I know that there were some messages that were lost in the shuffle, as well as many discussions that were left hanging. Over the years I have made many good friends from around the world, but I was unable to keep up regular correspondence with many of you. For those of you who feel like picking up where we left off, I'll probably have much more time to devote to email in the coming months.
My plans now are to clean off my model table, buy some fresh paint and glue, and get to work building models once again, and to see if I still have what it takes to build a prize winner. I plan on being a regular contributor to On The Way (and other websites) over the coming years, writing construction reviews and research articles as the fancy strikes me. I look forward to the leisure of writing articles and reviews because I want to, as opposed to writing them because I have to.
Although it will be very strange to no longer work on this website, I feel that it's time for me to move on to other endeavors that I have wanted to pursue for a long while. I really want to delve into the art of figure painting, for example. I have probably a dozen or so white metal and resin figures in various scales and historical periods, and I am enthusiastic about getting started on a certain Samurai figure in particular. It is also long past time that I start some serious writing. I have two novels that I have been slowly working on for many years, and I would like to devote much more time to them as well.
It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know all of you these past few years, and I certainly hope that I can keep in touch with you all in the future. Now that I have more free time, I hope to start traveling a lot more, and it will be fantastic to be able to have many people around the world whom I can visit and finally meet in person. So I'll leave you now with all my best wishes for peace and prosperity throughout the world.