James May did a programme on TV a few weeks ago about the joys of model making. Now, that just happens to be one of my hobbies, so although I was at a Blest rehearsal when it was shown, I made sure to catch it on BBC iPlayer (incidentally, the first time I've ever used it--worked well and wasn't difficult to operate at all). One of the things he said struck me; he claimed that the reason they're having to make GCSEs easier is because people are not making models any more. Now, having done GCSEs quite recently myself, I don't quite agree that they've got easier. However, it did get me thinking. What's the point in making models? What do you learn from it? And do you even learn from it or is it just fun? Well, I can identify about twenty odd aircraft quite easily because I've made models of them. When I read stuff about Spitfires, I can look up and there's one hanging right over my bed, along with a Lancaster and a Mosquito and a couple of other WWII types. But the ones I really love are the WWI ones. I've built six, and have another three to build. And I'm really pleased to say that Airfix has finally decided to release some WWI aircraft in their range. Previously, I've had to get Revell ones, and the instructions just aren't as good. They take longer because you have to sit there at the start and make a note of which letter represents which paint (not helped by the fact that most of my paints are Humbrol, and they have different numbers to the Revell ones). And I had some real difficulties with the instructions when I was building my Chinook, because some of the instructions were wrong. Anyway, I'm really pleased that Airfix has finally decided to release some. I did manage to find a few Airfix ones before--from the car boot, and they'd been released ages ago and discontinued.
Anyway, what skills do you gain from building Airfix models? Take it from one who's built over thirty (mostly aircraft, but a truck and gun, and a tank too), you definitely learn patience. And besides the obvious fine motor skills painting and poking little parts into place, you do learn how to follow instructions and think ahead--you quite often have to paint things like the area around the cockpit cover before you can put the pieces on, which can mean flicking to the end. Plus you learn about what you build, because there's always a bit of information with it. For example: the Seafire which I just built informed me that although it was superb in the air, the narrow track landing carriage made it very difficult to land on a ship.
Or am I just totally justifying a hobby I love for the simple reason that it's enjoyable and rewarding to look at a model and think 'that used to be x number of bits of plastic, and now it's a...'? Hmm, maybe :D. I'd really recommend you give it a go though (the starter kits are great, they come with all the paints and the glue that you'll need, and if you get a more basic one, you shouldn't find it too hard).