I have now been building Metal Earth models for over two years, and I’m currently working on my 250th build. I think it’s safe to say that I’m sold on the hobby, if not a little (okay, a lot) obsessed. But why?
How It All Began
The first time I saw a Metal Earth model in a store, I thought, “Wow, that looks cool.” It was a Star Wars display with a few of the classic Star Wars models. Being a sci-fi nerd, I was instantly interested, but I was also intimidated. Not only did it look kinda hard, it seemed a bit expensive, so I passed on it.
A little while later, I saw another display, this time while out for lunch at a Cracker Barrel with my in-laws. I pointed it out to my mother-in-law, sharing how cool I thought it looked. But, once again, I passed on buying it (being at a Cracker Barrel, it was even more expensive!).
Well, it turns out that my mother-in-law was paying attention, because later that year, she happened to see a few models at a flea market, and picked some up, one of which she gave to me as a Father’s Day gift; my very first model was the Transformers Bumblebee model.
My First Steps
It still took me a bit to get up the courage to try building it, but I eventually did. And it did not go well. The Bumblebee model, along with the other Transformer models, is not an easy model. I wouldn’t even categorize it as an intermediate model, but as challenging. So it was no surprise that the tiny “horns” on his head ended up super loose. And I managed to break both shoulders off during the build. But I’m stubborn. And I persevered, gluing the shoulders back on with super glue, and stumbling through the rest of it.
It was frustrating. It was difficult. It was hard. But it was rewarding. And relaxing. And therapeutic. I was hooked. I immediately went on eBay and sought out some more models, and the rest is history (well, personal history, at least).
Why I Kept Going
But what made Metal Earth so special? Well, when I was a kid, I really enjoyed building models. I built a number of plastic Star Wars and Star Trek models. I really got into it, but then had a mishap during a move which broke a lot of them, and I stopped. After college, I ended up finding some of those models in a box, and I realized something: I couldn’t paint models worth a bean. I have big sausage-thick fingers, and I don’t have a steady hand. So I gave up on models.
But with Metal Earth models, there’s no painting step! And yet the models still look great because of the metallic nature of them (they didn’t really have any colored models at the time I started building them). I found the joy of building again.
On top of the nostalgia, I also enjoyed just the act of making something physical. I’m a software developer by trade, so I spend 8 hours a day, behind a desk, and never really produce a tangible thing. And there’s something great about physically holding something that you have made. Something very rewarding.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, a year or so later, I found yet another thing about this hobby that makes it even better: the #MetalEarthFam. I had started following Fascinations on Facebook for news of upcoming models, and they announced a creative photo contest on Instagram, with models as a prize! If never had a use for Instagram before, but I joined up because chance for free models!
What I stumbled into in by doing that is one of the most positive, supportive, and awesome communities on the internet. Fascinations, the company that is behind the Metal Earth brand, has done a great job of fostering and growing an amazing community of enthusiasts that are great at encouraging each other, and very willing to help each other out, rather than resort to the RTFM response that you’ll get most anywhere else on the internet. And that sort of community has also been created on Reddit, in the Metal Earth section, as well. This time around, it was fostered by the users, rather than the company.
In addition to the general nature of these communities, they also provide great inspirations for creativity. The occasional photo contests help by giving a framework for the inspirations, but at the same time, you’ll find a lot of creativity out there, just for the fun of it. My favorite aspect of this side is the mod photos/ideas. From simple decorative mods that add a little something, to the “destructive” mods, where you change up the model itself, to the lighting mods where you at electronics. It’s awesome, inspiring, and just as enjoyable to watch as to participate.
And finally, I want to speak about the company, Fascinations itself. They are actually a small company, full of some awesome people. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with them a few times via Social Media (they are quite active / responsive) and email. They are always kind and polite, and very generous. Did you know they will replace parts of you experience a break while building? That’s on top of running frequent contests where they give out not just one, but several models to the winners (often up to ten of them!).