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A burnout's return to the fold, needs your help

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HiI am an experienced modeling journalist and aviation writer (please bear with me, this is not a contest) and a little over a year ago I hit the burnout wall. The idea of modeling and writing about a/c suddenly became nauseating to me, something I never dreamed of happening. So I quit.

A few weeks ago, as fast as it happened, it passed. So I went back to my workbench.

To my horror, my most basic skills, honed since childhood, were gone. I think most of you can empathise here. It's the stuff of bad dreams.

Making it worse, I can't do magazine or web build features now. That camera doesn't lie.

I need advice, fellows. I did go out and buy a simple kit on which to hone my chops (Tamiya's 1/48 Beaufighter, a good kit to do OOB). Trouble is, I'm chronically afflicted with AMS. You can guess the rest.

I need advice on retaining my skills. A good part of my livelihood depends on it, especially now. Please help.

Tom Bell

BTW: The walls of my flat are stacked to the ceiling with review kits, decals. and assorted AM goodies. Some good suggestions would be worth some of this stuff to me.

PPS: Forgot the dumbest part: Before I got the Beaufighter, I went down to my Manhattan hobby shop and dropped $250 on a 1/32 Tamiya Mosquito Mk. VI. According to FineScale it has 1000 parts. Well, at least it's fun to paw through the box.









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  • Uncle Toby changed the title to A burnout's return to the fold, needs your help.

Welcome aboard, Tom!




I'm in a similar situation, in that the daily demands of life have robbed me of any meaningful time at the workbench over the last few years, to the point that I now feel lost when trying to attend to a build, and feel like I was a better modeller 10 years ago. I've tried doing simple builds, subjects out of my comfort zone, etc, but nothing seems to work.


In reality, I know what the answer is: I just need to carve out more dedicated time for the hobby, as doing it in a piecemeal, lo-fi fashion just doesn't work for me. And while that's something I just can't do right now, my advice to you would be: don't deny your inner AMS demons; instead, work with them to form a compromise solution that allows them to be exorcised, while at the same time not driving you into the ground again.


I wish you luck!



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Tom, I would not want to give bad advice here, so I apologize if I misinterpret your perspective. I think that the pressure to perform for your livelihood has smothered your enjoyment, and while the pressure continues the enjoyment won’t return. If you have no alternative for connecting this hobby with income I’d suggest killing the Buddha and building the earliest kit you can remember building that is still available. Revisit the joy and see how this build compares to your original. Hope this helps!


Cheers,  Tom

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I really like the, "revisit the joy" advice.


Consider customizing an eggplane. Here are some benifits to such a goofy suggestion...


- It's a small project, so not intimidating.


- Perfect for blowing out the cobwebs on your skills.


- I know you have left over parts and raw materials on hand that you can adapt to modify/detail the little kit. 


- Rivit counting isn't even possible! Only add or subtract what feels good to do at the time, no rules.


- The best part, it's ridiculously entertaining, fun and creative. 

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  • LSP_K2 changed the title to A burnout's return to the fold, needs your help

Hi Tom,


Welcome to LSP :post1:


I am certain that this is something that many of us here can empathise with. I am somewhat with LSP Kev on this one. I have spent a large proportion of my modelling life (over 40 years) making full model kit master patterns for various model companies, which is a double-edged sword to me; whilst my scratch building skills are finely honed, it is at the detriment of my model finishing skills, so my experience now lacks in this department.


I am making a master pattern at present, and it has taken me over two and a half years so far - and is still not yet finished! (it is 1/144 scale, but extremely detailed). I have got to the point where I will probably not make any more after this. Several factors have brought me to this point. The first is the length of time it takes to simply scratch build everything by hand. The second is my own self-imposed quality and accuracy standards (something which you will be very familiar with) - I spend a very large proportion of my time conducting research on the subject in order to reproduce an accurate recreation in the necessary fidelity for the model scale. All of this is both mentally and morally sapping at times, so affects my motivation to continue (something else many understand)...this pandemic does not help in this respect (also, with 3D printing, my skills are quickly becoming redundant).


I am looking forward to making models just for me again once more in the future (although I have a model to complete for a friend first before I do; I may even shock everyone here and complete my first 1/32 kit after 17 years membership on this forum! :) ). AMS is a very real issue, and it relates to accrued experience and standards - and the mental struggle to maintain those for varying reasons. Therefore, I think that Kev is right in as far as not trying to repress them (by trying to go back to the basics, as it were), but rather channel them in a way that you may once more enjoy the experience. For me, as much as I would like, the chances of ever trying to build something OOB will probably evaporate pretty quickly, as I simply could not resist the temptation to correct or modify something (the 'getting it right' instinct invariably overcomes the 'it'll do, I can live with that' instincts). 


Rather than the subject matter (which frankly, can be anything), perhaps channelling all of that knowledge and experience into a new challenge (but more importantly, something that you love and have a passion for) would be a worthwhile investment? Obviously, any task has to be metered to prevent the condition from worsening (as Kev alluded to earlier), but rather your skills are now focused in a specific area of interest - you need the some form of inspiration and passion to get you through it. Sorry for the lengthy diatribe, but I really hope that you find your enthusiasm once more to do the things you love.


Best regards



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On 5/3/2021 at 4:23 AM, LSP_Mike said:

Review what you can that is just a product review. Pretty straightforward, and possibly a way to get back in stride. I've pulled 6 kits out of the stash and not got on to any; I may just paint a bust or something just to get back to my bench.


I found building a bike kit worked for me. They're usually clean, so you don't get lost in finishing/shading techniques, and you can often avoid excessive 'research' or endless AM


They build up nicely too



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Buy a nice Tamiya kit and just build it, write a review and just dive in.  I found that you can talk yourself out of your skills, eg;  I play cricket, I'm a batsman. I don't play a winter sport so from April to September I don't have any sport going. Now that first game, it's easy to say to yourself, hey it's game 1, I haven't played in 6 months I'm going to be rusty, when in fact, you have not forgotten how to play. The day I stopped telling myself that and just said to myself "you haven't forgotten how to bat just go out there and do it" I smashed 96 in round 1. 


Just like the skills you have in model making and writing, you haven't forgotten what to do, just get into it and let muscle memory take over.

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Hey Tom, :hi:.  First , move out of New York !! , $250 for a Tamiya Mossie is highway robbery  :o

I've found that what you're looking for can't be summoned up from the dead. I have to realize that

whatever it 'was' that inspired my interest in building models is still there. I just have to 'see' something

that does that and it's much easier after that. As has been said here, you need some time without

distraction, although starting something in small bites 'can' be helpful. Hang around here and watch

some of the WIPs might help too.  Start one of your own here where there's no pressure.

We can try to help but it's up to you.  :thumbsup:

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Tom, firstly welcome to LSP!

Secondly is that everyone has said pretty much everything I could say and it is nice to know that you're not alone.  I hit the wall at high speed about 10years ago when we had the big earthquakes, I couldnt seem to concentrate on any one model or project before I totally lost my mojo.


Hanging around here really helped me get inspired, check out some of the guys work around here, go to the Ready for Inspection section and spend a few hours looking at what others have done. I built a Tamiya 48th Mosquito for a museum and although I struggled through it I loved messing about with techniques I had only seen here on LSP

Here it is




I have a huge Shelf of Doom, and one day I plan on finishing every one of them.


I stared at this model for ages realizing I had actually finished something! This past year I found my joy in the hobby again properly.  I had nice childhood memories of building a Matchbox Brit Phantom in the 70's and watching a doco on decommissioning the (Audacious class?)Ark Royal with my dad (who never did anything at all with me).  Always remembered they fired the ships piano off the catapult right at the end. Anyway, I knew nothing much about Brit Phantoms and decided to rekindle that old memory I had of my dad.


This forced me right out of my comfort zone (usually NZ related aviation in 32nd) and my good mate Mike @seiran01 sold me his Wild Hare conversion and Tamiya F-4J.  Thinking this would be fairly straightforward I found myself in over my head quickly, but so many people here rallied in behind me and I am actually enjoying a build after 10-15 years, my confidence has come back and I am learning something very new. 


So what do my ramblings ammount to....umm:hmmm:  

For me, I painfully forced a build out of myself, but was soooo happy to see something actually finished.  The reward I got was priceless.  Usually I get so bogged down in details I lose the joy and start something else.  So with that confidence I challenged myself with something I always dreamed of doing but didnt think was possible.


I've been down all these paths of starting simple little kits etc, but I still didnt finish one.  It almost sounds wrong to say I forced myself to build something, but it was the only thing that worked for me personally.  I realised I could do it, I messed about with ideas without being too serious...but importantly I finally finished something!


In some ways I quite like a challenge, perfect example on my 24th Mosquito, I am detailing the death out of it, but the little sub assemblies are enough to satisfy my 'Mosquito buzz' and then I lose interest.  Again, I quite like doing bits and then coming back to them again one day.  24th Mossie gunbay



My advice from my own personal experience is to discipline a simple build out of yourself and the sense of achievement will make you realize you can still 'do it' 


Sorry for the painful long winded explanation.  My experience is much like @Derek B but my way back was like this...for what it is worth




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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I don't know why I wasn't notified of any of these replies, so I'm really glad I checked the thread.

I can't express my gratitude to you all adequately. After I posted the original, I almost immediately deleted it, thinking it whiny for a guy to whom this hobby has been very generous. I felt ungrateful.

When I was a young newspaer reporter, instead of being grateful that I was among the few journalism graduates who actually got to work in the business, I wished I was at the NY Times. Never mind I was at a big city daily and with a fat expense account and with exciting travel all the time. Never mind my job as aviation writer put me in the back seat of, say, an F-15D or a Blie Angels F/A-18 or a WW II warbird (well, okay, I did appreciate the exotic flying).  And I would sit at my desk reading the latest slick Brit model magazine and envying the guys who got to work there. Oh, how naive I was.

I won't go into the why, but I chose to leave mainstream journalism, vowing never to go back (okay, it was because it was ruining my creative writing, my fiction and plays, and because I had reached my limit being constantly around violent death.)

Fast forward to the new century. I wound up in modeling joirnalism simply by asking. Yep. That's all it takes, journalism experience not required and probably not even helpful.

Most of what I did was reviews of US products for the Brits. I mean, every kind of kit and AM product, as well as paint and tools (like pricey airbrushes) just rained down on me.

Now, stick with me. This has a point and sort of a moral.

I also did builds for kit reviews and features. At first. But even in the best of times I am a slow modeler. Building on a deadline is nothing but drudgery to me. I recall how I'd so looked forward to Tamiya's first 1/32 F-16 Block 50. It duly arrived and was all I had hoped. Except I wanted to savor this build. I'd been acquiring AM parts for it for months. But my editor wanted it done NOW. I don't need to yell you the build held no joy, and I never even went back to see the resulting magazine spread. The kit is still sitting, dismantled, in its box. I should go look at it, now that 15 years has passed.

Now, here's how I coulda, shoulda known that combining my personal passions with business will always disappoint.

When I was a baby journalist, in college and 19 years old, I went to one of those enormous state universities with a correspondingly enormous daily newspaper. I lucked into a job on the music desk. Like just about all us Boomers, our music is everything to us. And at my college paper, I was sitting dead in the middle of the prime demographic for record companies and concert promoters. New records and tockets and back stage passes rained down on us daily. This is what I learned from that: nothing interesting ever happens backstage, only about one in 20 new record releases is worth listening to, and most of your musician idols are either complete swine or just messed up people. My best memory of those days was the night in the hotel bar after a Fleetwood Mac concert, drunk on bourbon and stoned on 'Ludes, I threw up on Stevie Nicks' fine velvet boots. Kenny Loggins, a man whose music I still cannot stand, hid me from the bouncers and turned out to be the nicest, most genuine person I ever met in that business.

Where does modeling meet this? Well, after I posted the above, I thought about it some more. It hit me as an epiphany that what you get for free, what comes to you without effort, loses its value to you. These free models were like the free records. They were my favorite things, but acquired in such a way as to be commodities, not objects of desire that lead to pleasure.

One example: When I had to shell out 15 scarce dollars for a fine AM decal sheet, I never got tired of pulling it out, looking at it, planning my build with it. But when that same decal company sent me a package containing one of every one of the sheets they produced, I just tossed it aside.

I'd better knock off all this verbiage here. I have taken the first step toward taking back the joy of my hobby. That step was leaving full-time modeling journalism and most product reviewing. It took me two years to learn that music was being ruined for me by my proximity to it. I should have been wise enough now that I'm in my 60s to know that model writing was killing my lifelong hobby.

If any of you want to try working for the magazines once on a while, I don't want to discourage you. My situation is kinda unique because of my profession. If you want to see your work on slick pages, just know that it pays almost nothing, especially the Brits. Doing a kit review now and then is good for free kits. FineScale pays well and on time, though they have a regular stable of reviewers. They like interesting build features and things like conversions. Just PM me and I'll set you up. The British magazine  editors are desperate for good work by literate modelers.

 Lastly, you guys are...hell, you're great. Every bit of your advice to me above is a keeper. One reply reminded me of the time just before the modeling journalism. I was unemployed and just about starving. I only bought kits on sale amd was not picky about subject. Here in Brooklyn, for example, I found a hobby shop that was closing and had sold everything in the store but a pile of Tamiya 1/12 motorcycle kits and a bunch of Estes rocket stuff, all this for pennies. I snatched up all of it.

I would build until I couldn't continue without a certain color of paint. When I got the money for the bottle of paint, I'd continue building. When I found an aircraft kit on sale, I'd buy it, subject be damned. And they were all built OOB. The Squadron catalogue became my wish book. And I loved every minute of it. I want that back.

As I said above, I still have tons of kits and all manner of AM accessories. Hell, I have a box containing no fewer than 300 Eduard masking sets in all scales. At least once a week I go to throw it out, but just can't.

You all have helped me so much more than you know. And I need to always remind myself that I never need be modeling in a vacuum, that a community of great guys is at my fingertips.

If you want to help me more, semd me your wish lists, or whatever you might need for your current build. If I've got it, it's yours. The more of this stuff I can give to good homes, the better off I'll be.

And if you read this far, you are a saint. Or insane.



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1 hour ago, Uncle Toby said:

I don't know why I wasn't notified of any of these replies, so I'm really glad I checked the thread.


A little while back, we had to turn off most of the email notifications, as the forums were sending out so many that they were being flagged as spam by our own hosting provider. Over time, we may experiment with turning some of them back on again, but this would certainly explain why you didn't receive any notifications.



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