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ajlafleche

Is this a chance to revitalize the hobby?

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For years, there have been two related  themes in the modeling world: Graying and other interests killing it.

 I can recall reading an article in 1982 saying that the new video game craze was going to be the death knell to scale modeling. At our get togethers, meetings and shows, grand-parents  far outnumber grand-children. 

Many of us got our start in building cars, especially colorful race cars. Corporate greed in the form of licensing fees has all but destroyed that side of car building. There seem to be more re-releases of kits I built 50+ years ago than anything new on the shelves. Add to that, a generation that seems to have not joined the car culture. And many of those who do build cars want every contest to have a gazillion car categories and they avoid events that don't cater to them.

The escalating price of decent aircraft and armor and the complexity of these kits aren't a big draw for newcomers. Good figure kits, too, are quite pricey. I'm am not familiar with ship quality and price, but I'm guessing they are similar to the other groups. Again, here, I see rereleases I built in the early 1960's.

There may be hope for the hobby. Maybe even a chance at rejuvenation. Gundam.

If you've been in a hobby store recently (dumb question here, right?) you seen the brightly colored boxes of frenetic things from Ban Dai. Every store owner in my area sys the same thing. They can't keep them on the shelves and a whole new generation is buying them. These are based on Japanese anime like series and are the big battle bots in the Pacific Rim movies. There are about 1200 kits in the line up ranging from $10 to $260. Most are snap tite and don't require painting. The engineering is outstanding. One sprue may have several colors. All are articulated once built and poseable after assembly. Think GI Joe with more and better joints. I was in my LHS a few weeks ago and a young man was getting a couple hundred dollars of Gundams for his birthday.

This year, we introduced a Gundam class and we promoted it at the fall shows. The first time ever, we had 37 entries in the class, fully 10% of our entries. There were young people in the contest room! And they hadn't been dragged their by their parents! Three of our vendors had good selections of these kits including one who had only Gundam kits. They all did very well. 

So, I'm tossing this out to the local, regional and national powers that be. Open yourselves to this. Promote it as part of your shows. Reach out to a new audience. Maybe, we can get these people to join and help the local and national memberships grow, keep our LHS's solvent and keep the hobby alive longer.

 

Edited by ajlafleche

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Here in Orange County CA, we have been including Gundam in our contest for at least eight years now if not longer. Many of our IPMS OC members have also participated in the local Gundam Guys club which has grown exponentially out here. The Gundam Guys group actively supports our Orangecon and other contests throughout So Cal. These are definitely some enthusiastic and exciting modelers in that group.

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Great suggestion. Local store has rows of Gundam.

 

Dave

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I see this on several levels.

First, if you're trying to address the idea of IPMSUSA having successful contests and active clubs 20yrs from now (when most of we "graying members" have passed on); then yes; Gundams may offer a level of interest to a younger crowd. Offering categories for them may increase revenues for our shows and keep them going longer. I also see some of the technical advances being used to make those Gundams being used in other genres, which will also help maintain interest in new kits with everyone.

Second, if you're trying to address the hobby's future from the manufacturers point of view, Gundams and other "gaming" subjects may indeed be the future for them as opposed to the continuing production of military models and civilian automotive subjects.

Third, and I sorry but I have to be frank, if you're saying this may be a way for "us" to welcome a new group into our hobby; I'm not interested! The hobby of building plastic models, the hobby I grew up with, has been based on mostly military or real world subjects. And though sci-fi has been a part of that, it's has been (and still is) a very small periphery to our hobby and membership. I'm not interested in being in a club where people build and display Gundams. In fact, based on what I've seen, it doesn't even require the work, effort, or knowledge most of the rest of us use and/or have acquired since they're generally pre-painted and snap assemble.

I don't mean to sound cynical, though I'm sure I do. The youth of today is totally different for the most part than ourselves. They've been brought up with devices we didn't have. If WE'D had those devices, we probably wouldn't have built models either. I believe plastic modeling, as WE know it, was a product of our time. The same goes for most of what we build and our clubs. They are the products of OUR time. Why should we expect youth to be interested in that (on the whole)?

I tried to interest my kids in building models with no success, and that was 20yrs ago. I'll also try it with my grandkids, but have no reason to expect them to latch onto it. They have almost NO interest in history, unlike most of us. They've been taught that "competition" is destructive as it forces "losers" to feel bad; so why should we be surprised they generally have little interest in racing subjects? They're tied to their electronic devices and games that supply instant gratification, so why should we expect them toil at something with delayed gratification? Even if all of the reasons for building models are good for them (as opposed to their current interests), why should we expect them to want that? We never built models for those reasons ourselves!

If the hobby dies as I know it, I can accept that. If IPMSUSA was to close up shop, we'd mourn it, but we'd also move on! It may be cynical, but I don't believe I'm the only graying model builder who doesn't care if we attract youths to model building or not, especially if they don't build what we do.

 

GIL :cool:

 

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Well said Gil.  Wood ship modeling as an example, has been around since the Pharaohs ruled, and still lives on today.  Modeling as WE know it, will not die, though it may shrink to a smaller membership.  I'll stick with the hobby I have grown to love and let the chips fall where they may. 

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Video games like World of Tanks, Fighter Ace and other such games have actually gotten gamers to try model building. They want to build a kit of their online tank or plane. Italeri even included codes for exclusive (I think) tanks for World of Tanks. Academy once released Starcraft models and Revell has released Halo kits.

I used to build versions of aircraft kits that I flew when I played Microsoft's Fighter Ace.

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I used to part-time (and still help out) at the local HobbyTown.  And I can assure of this:  For every "traditional" model (military, automotive, etc.), we would sell a dozen Gundams.  And that's a good thing.  Why?  Because they are plastic models, same as those Sherman Tanks, P-51's, and iterations of the USS Arizona or KM Bismarck.  It is getting kids into the hobby of plastic modeling.  The shop has opened up to hosting "Model Building Day" every Saturday, and for every "traditional" modeler, there are three guys building Gundams, MaK, or other Sci-Fi kits. 

Our upcoming show in June has a category for these models, and we've been getting the word out to the community that not only are they welcomed, they're encouraged to bring their models.

I also agree on the WoT and WoS interest--Italeri issued some kits in line with these games, and Dragon used to include coupons for game points in their kits.  While some of the "Senior" members of the modeling community squawked that all they were were "old junk" in new boxes, the younger guys and girls who were playing the games snapped the kits up.  I had to remind a few of them that regardless of what we thought, IPMS and AMPS represents a very small percentage of actual modelers, and what we found to be junk was perfect for beginning modelers.

On another note, I'm dismayed at the comments directed at the youth of today.  As a kid, I built a fair number of non-traditional models.  I built Star Trek, Star Wars, Aurora and Monogram movie monsters, Aurora dinosaurs, and movie sci-fi stuff just as often as I did an airplane, car, tank, or ship.  As I got older, my interests gelled around historic vehicles, but it wasn't the only thing I built back in the day.

The point?  That kid snapping a pre-painted Gundam kit together today may well wind up being tomorrow's Rusty White or Gil Hodges.  We'd do well to welcome them, rather than turn a cold shoulder to them. 

Ralph

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I rarely post on this forum as I'm sure you can see, but I do try to read most of the new messages each morning.  I generally enjoy the content and find it interesting to see what others are working on.  Today I feel I must make a reply to Mr. Hodges' comments regarding who and what IPMS should be about.  I will certainly not dispute all his assertions regarding the activities the youth of today seem to find most interesting.  However, I find his third point regarding non-military builders to be most off target regardless of the age of the modeler.  I am 40 years old, grew up building Revell and Monogram WWII fighters at the kitchen table, joined IPMS over 10 years ago, and now enjoy sci-fi and other genres more than traditional military modeling.  When one looks at the numbers of new tool Gundam, Star Wars, Macross, Ma.k, and Warhammer kits currently coming to market on a near weekly basis it is hard to believe these are a mere minority on the periphery of the whole of the modeling community.  I would venture that world-wide these genres may now be at parity with or even the majority of total model builders.  The desire of some to actively exclude those modelers from "our hobby" would almost certainly doom IPMS to failure in the not too distant future.  It is for this very reason I can barely keep enough members in our local club to maintain our charter.  I believe the goal of the organization should be to promote all aspects of plastic modeling regardless of whether every member finds them interesting. I would also challenge those members with such low opinions of the non-military modeling community to spend some time on youtube or other social media of their choice to see the quality of work being done.  There are many builders whose building, weathering and painting skills would challenge the most seasoned military modeler.  It is also true many sci-fi kits are molded in colored plastic, but I seem to recall several recent releases of military aircraft with the same fault...  I hope this attitude of exclusivity in the old guard of IPMS will gradually fade and the society will survive.  As was pointed out, it very well may not, but the hobby will continue.  Perhaps for those who do not wish to be in an organization where people build and display Gundams it is time to consider whether you want to renew your membership next year.

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Please allow me to clarify my remarks; and those of you who know me will find what I'm saying rings true.

First, I take heart in the reports Ralph and others make that SO many people, especially younger people are actually building models, be it Gundam, war gaming models, or ANY other type of models. I don't even care whether they migrate to more historical or traditional subjects in the future. My own goal in model building has always been FUN. If they're having fun, they're doing it right and there's no reason for them to change or try to adapt to fit in anywhere, including IPMS.

Second, although I have no personal interest in Gundams (or several other genres either), I have personally promoted ALL genres at the club level as well as when I was RC for R-11. In fact, I actively pursued automotive clubs that were not IPMS clubs, most of which today are now members of R-11. I do look at, compliment, and ask questions to the builders about their Gundams (or whatever else it may be) at our meetings simply because I realize that it is THEIR BABY, the same way my model is my baby. I may not buy one, or build one, but I do appreciate that THAT is how that member relates to the hobby and our club.

Third, I'll stand by my general assessment of IPMSUSA chasing "youth" to build its membership for the future. We've thrown enough money down that useless and unproductive pit. That said, there MAY be a slight difference here, in that it would seem (by what you're saying) many of the Gundam/war gamers are actually young ADULTS, as opposed to kids/teens. In other words, they DO fit the profile of a "plastic modeler" with an income that allows for a hobby budget and the time to gather with people of a like mind. I can certainly see no reason that IPMSUSA should not only actively recruit them, but also make them feel valued and welcome.

Fourth, I'll stand by my dismal assessment of today's youth as a whole. I would also, however, point out that those who DO try building models (more than one or two, that is) are generally NOT the "norm" compared to most of their peers. The fact that they may try something besides a video game and can grasp the idea of delayed gratification sets them apart from the rest. What I do not agree with is trying to pursue kids/teens to try to secure some sort of future for IPMS. Even if you include Gundams and war gaming, model building is NOWHERE near the level it was as when the majority of us were their ages. Back then, very simply, models of all kinds where EVERYWHERE. You cannot say that for ANY kind of models these days. And the real nail in the coffin of youth is that the manufacturers themselves make NO active effort to recruit or interest kids in becoming modelers. Instead, model building is driven as a result of "merchandising". Kids build what they see in movies and on TV, rather than from an interest in real world or history, and the model makers (rightly) cater to that.

I told you I was sounding more cynical than I actually was, though it seems you wanted to take my remarks at face value and equate them with dismissing or disliking Gundam builders or other non-traditional genres. People are people. We like what we like. I AM inclusive when it comes to my IPMS membership and club activities. However, that will not keep me from lamenting the fact that kids today have NO appreciation for the history they're missing out on, and that most don't have the attention span to even try. I also disagree with spending money on a target audience with almost zero interest in model building, and even less in IPMS.

I expect IPMSUSA to change over time, and in fact, it already HAS, now that I'm 41yrs into my membership. I've adapted to it all so far, and will continue to do so, though I'll also have less interest in that "new" stuff! :smiley2:

GIL :cool:

 

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I  agree with everything Gil has to say on this subject.  Let me add,

I am a dinosaur, one of those "graying modelers", 55 years of building models and going.  I feel that kids of today build what they build is a generational thing.  When I was growing up mostly every ones father was a WW2 vet (including mine).  In general, planes,  tanks and ships of WW2 are not familiar with todays younger generation.  Hence, todays youth build something more familar to them(Gundam and SiFi).  Also there was not much to  do for a kid growing up in the 60s and early 70s.  You could play outside, play sports or build models.

Edited by ju52junk

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6 hours ago, Ralph Nardone said:

I used to part-time (and still help out) at the local HobbyTown.  And I can assure of this:  For every "traditional" model (military, automotive, etc.), we would sell a dozen Gundams.  And that's a good thing.  Why?  Because they are plastic models, same as those Sherman Tanks, P-51's, and iterations of the USS Arizona or KM Bismarck.  It is getting kids into the hobby of plastic modeling.  The shop has opened up to hosting "Model Building Day" every Saturday, and for every "traditional" modeler, there are three guys building Gundams, MaK, or other Sci-Fi kits. 

Our upcoming show in June has a category for these models, and we've been getting the word out to the community that not only are they welcomed, they're encouraged to bring their models.

I also agree on the WoT and WoS interest--Italeri issued some kits in line with these games, and Dragon used to include coupons for game points in their kits.  While some of the "Senior" members of the modeling community squawked that all they were were "old junk" in new boxes, the younger guys and girls who were playing the games snapped the kits up.  I had to remind a few of them that regardless of what we thought, IPMS and AMPS represents a very small percentage of actual modelers, and what we found to be junk was perfect for beginning modelers.

On another note, I'm dismayed at the comments directed at the youth of today.  As a kid, I built a fair number of non-traditional models.  I built Star Trek, Star Wars, Aurora and Monogram movie monsters, Aurora dinosaurs, and movie sci-fi stuff just as often as I did an airplane, car, tank, or ship.  As I got older, my interests gelled around historic vehicles, but it wasn't the only thing I built back in the day.

The point?  That kid snapping a pre-painted Gundam kit together today may well wind up being tomorrow's Rusty White or Gil Hodges.  We'd do well to welcome them, rather than turn a cold shoulder to them. 

Ralph

I started with the exact same line of kits as you did before I gravitated towards 1/35 scale armor. I still enjoy building the occasional off genre kit.

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Wandering off topic a bit, but I really enjoy jumping to sci-fi to take a break from the technical accuracy of real world military subjects.

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I would like to thank Gil for his reply and clarification on the previous post.  I am certainly glad to know you encourage all modelers to build whatever subjects they enjoy and to have fun while doing so.  I do agree that teens should not be the focus of active recruitment by the organization; a few will become modelers, most will not.  Times are definitely different than they were 20 to 50 years ago, and the digital age has brought a whole host of entertainment options be they good or bad.  However, there are a fair number of us in our mid thirties to early fifties who grew up with Star Wars, Star Trek and numerous other science fiction shows.  Our grandfathers served in WWII and our fathers in Vietnam so we heard a good deal of history from them and could relate to many military subjects through their experience.  As a result, it seems many of us are very fluid in our building interests.  Most of the guys in my club who are under 55 will be as likely to build an X-Wing as a P-51.  There is also a sizable gaming community in our area who build Warhammer and several other gaming subjects.  These kits are often more expensive for what you get in terms of quantity and quality than Tamiya.  However, we've been fairly ineffective in recruiting members from these non-traditional modeling genres.  I've heard more than once that IPMS is "Just a bunch of stodgy airplane builders."  I would hope this attitude would change over time as IPMS shows include more categories for non-military subjects and those categories continue to see increased participation.  We do need to attract these people who are already involved in plastic modeling and have the resources to support their hobby.  It's for this reason I find it discouraging when I see posts on the national organization's forum referring to "our hobby" and disparaging certain genres of models in general.  It could be quite off-putting to someone who happened to see that post without reading the follow up.  It is unlikely such a person would want to join IPMS and would likely perpetuate the idea that IPMS may not be welcoming to all modelers.  I do appreciate Gil's follow up post and the clarification provided therein.  At the end of the day it is all a hobby and should be fun.

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23 hours ago, Rusty White said:

Wandering off topic a bit, but I really enjoy jumping to sci-fi to take a break from the technical accuracy of real world military subjects.

Yes, I am fairly knowledgeable on modern US armor, having spent nearly thirty years of my life on various military vehicles. I often get bogged down trying to replicate details or idiosyncrasies of the actual vehicle I crewed. Building something not my lane helps me get through ruts. I don't care much about accuracy when I am building an X-wing or an F-15 for that matter.

I don't care if someone builds an M1A2 in USMC markings, or if they paint it pink. I don't think someone needs to know the history of the craft they are building. If it interests them enough to build it, they might just become interested enough in learning about it. Or maybe not.

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Al ( and all) I've been screaming this for the longest. But who am I? ;)

Frequenting forums other than this one, You read time after time how these "kids" (I'm also a graying 58)  bring their Gundam or Star wars starship to a local meeting only to be scoffed at.  And what do they do? They go home and never come back.  While Regionals and Nationals have a good mix of other than military kits from the young'uns, IMO the local level is where the problem is. The oldsters that sit there and discuss the 50th Bf-109 on the table to death and scoff at an A-Wing are the problem. Whether one thinks it's stupid or not, they need to give it a fair shake, even if one has to act.

There is a resurgence of some of the young. As Robin mentioned there are physical models that go with the Tank online game. For those that remember the old Dungeons and Dragons or Ral Partha, there is a new miniatures war game based on WW2, where a big part of it that has tanks and planes that must be put together and painted. Then there are the sci-fi and fantasy minis and regular sized kits that is very popular out there.  I'm not even included the "garage kits", which are probably the majority of the figures seen in that category.  Some are even repainted the pre painted models. The next logical step is picking up a kit to be built and painted.  So they are out there.

To rehash - local clubs, take a look at what image you portraying. If a kid comes in with Gundam, a Mech or Ma.K;  even if you're pretending, treat that Ma.K as if it was  a Panther or Sherman...   Ok rant mode over. ;)

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To me, model building is model building. I started with unpainted Lindberg, Monogram, Revell and Aurora kits. Might have started painting black tires and silver machine guns, or white teeth on my saber toothed tiger. In the 1990s, I rebuilt my oldest surviving armor kit, an Aurora MBT70 that I built in the 70s using a builder's kit I bought on eBay in its early days of existence. I paid $5 for the glue bomb kit and $3 for shipping. That kit was unpainted OD green plastic with some gloss black machine gun parts. Decals had mostly flaked off the bare plastic. It had been a source of pride for many years and had lost many pieces parts due to my mother dusting and vacuuming it over the years.

It would certainly have been laughed at as a serious model kit. I have built several Gundam kits. Many of them are very high quality models molded in different color plastic on the same sprue. Almost no painting necessary for some of them. There is also a line of Gundam kits with futuristic looking armor vehicles in 1/35 scale. I built a couple and have the M61A5 Semovente left to build. It is an awesome looking tank and if you do a Google search, you'll see it in various real world paint schemes and markings.

8327532961_3d10d5ee35_b.jpg

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It's part of the Gundam UC Hard Graph line of 1/35 scale military model kits by Bandai. Very high quality models with a futuristic modern look to them. Several of them look like things in use today. APC, Hummer looking Jeep, motorcycle with command figures, hoverbike, etc.

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12 hours ago, RGronovius said:

To me, model building is model building. I started with unpainted Lindberg, Monogram, Revell and Aurora kits. Might have started painting black tires and silver machine guns, or white teeth on my saber toothed tiger. In the 1990s, I rebuilt my oldest surviving armor kit, an Aurora MBT70 that I built in the 70s using a builder's kit I bought on eBay in its early days of existence. I paid $5 for the glue bomb kit and $3 for shipping. That kit was unpainted OD green plastic with some gloss black machine gun parts. Decals had mostly flaked off the bare plastic. It had been a source of pride for many years and had lost many pieces parts due to my mother dusting and vacuuming it over the years.

It would certainly have been laughed at as a serious model kit. I have built several Gundam kits. Many of them are very high quality models molded in different color plastic on the same sprue. Almost no painting necessary for some of them. There is also a line of Gundam kits with futuristic looking armor vehicles in 1/35 scale. I built a couple and have the M61A5 Semovente left to build. It is an awesome looking tank and if you do a Google search, you'll see it in various real world paint schemes and markings.

8327532961_3d10d5ee35_b.jpg

I built this kit(Aurora MBT70) too when I was wee lad.  Didn't the actual design get cancelled by West Germany/USA?  The only tank I still have from those days is the Aurora Swedish S tank.  Not in the best of shape any longer.  I think I built all of the 1/48 scale Aurora tanks.

image.png.41034e7ab0432e7807bf0a22d8d5e769.pngimage.png.8c24c27787ebd24ec521322cb6e80d43.png

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Yes, the MBT70 program was cancelled by the US and Germany, but the Americans continued with a paired down version called the XM803 before it too was cancelled. Dragon has issued a 1/35 scale version of the German version of the MBT70, but they used photos of the two different surviving German museum tanks to make a kit that isn't a truly accurate version of either. I got one and it is a cool kit.

Here is a photo of the XM803 that used to be at Fort Knox along with my nephew who is now a former Marine and Iraqi war vet and currently a firefighter in Virginia Beach.

9Vacation_032.jpg

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The M61A5 has long been on my want list of kits.  It certainly builds into a nice looking model.

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