Okay, so this is, hopefully, going to be one of my briefer posts. But it’s something that I’ve talked about before, sprinkled in among all my various posts. But for some reason, I feel like dedicating a full post to it this week. I should also point out that I also thought about naming this post It’s Not a Competition or It’s Better Than You Think. But I think the title I chose is more to the point.
It’s something I see over and over again. Both in myself and in other builders. We are most critical of our own builds. We apologize for their quality, as if they weren’t worth sharing. We are too hard on ourselves. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to improve our skills. That’s part of the fun (and challenge) of this hobby. But here’s the truth… you’ll always have room to do better. After building 375 models, I’m still making mistakes, plural, in almost every build. I’m still finding that I have to give up on getting some form right every once in a while, lest I make things worse or break something.
But I’ve also come to realize that the builds I complete generally turn out a lot better than I think they do. Case in point: I recently completed the Adam West Batmobile… and I thought it looked awful. I shared it, and I apologized for the quality. I made excuses, or played it down. And then… I had another builder, someone I respect a lot, comment that it was the best build of the model he’d seen. I was taken aback! And embarrassed. And… ashamed. Because I try to encourage others to not be so hard on themselves.
Why? Because this is supposed to be a fun hobby, right? I know we all want to strive for perfection, but that’s unrealistic. Sometimes we need to remember that we already know where all the flaws are. We know what to look for if we want to be disappointed, because we are keenly aware of how and where we made those mistakes. And so they stand out. And they look bigger. And we miss the bigger picture.
But when we see what other builders make, we don’t focus in on those things. We look at the build as a whole, and we appreciate the effort that went into it. And, if you are anything like me, you sometimes look closely at the parts that you had trouble with, and can appreciate the struggle someone may have had, or be impressed that they pulled it off. But we all have different strengths and weaknesses in our skill sets.
I may actually over-proselytize about this issue, especially with new builders. I hate it when I see a new builder join one of the builder communities and post their build along with some sort of comment about how they know it’s not as good as everyone else’s builds are. But it doesn’t matter! This isn’t a competition. It’s one of the things I love about the communities around Metal Earth models. We don’t compete. We don’t judge. We build each other up and help each other out.
Don’t compare your build to others. Just build it as best you can, and that’s what it should be. We’ve all been beginners at some point. We’ve all struggled with the cylinders, the cones, and the domes. I don’t think I know a single builder who hasn’t folded a part backwards, and then experienced the stress of refolding it and hoping it won’t break. When I see the builds that others complete, I don’t look for flaws. I look for the passion that went into the build. And I can appreciate it when it’s clear that the builder struggled just as much as I appreciate a build that looks damn near perfect.
I’ve had comments that my builds are always so clean. So “crisp” and “good.” But I know the truth. I know that they have flaws, and I could point them out. I know the mistakes I made, and the effort I went to hide them, or cover for them. I’m not some super-builder or anything like that. I’m just a builder that’s stubborn about getting the curves just right. So I sit there and roll, and press, and roll again, and tweak, and obsess over it. Because I want it to look the best I can make it. Not because I’m competing with others… but because I’m competing with myself. And sometimes I take it too far. And I end up making it so much worse by trying to rework something to make it better.
So… don’t be like me. Stop being so hard on yourself. Enjoy the build. Embrace the mistakes – they are proof that these are hand crafted with love and passion, not mass manufactured by machines with no hearts. And know that, no matter what, if you are happy with the results, then that is what matters.
As for my example photo at the beginning of this post, here’s a couple of other photos. First is the photo without the “zero in on the mistakes” circles. Second is a crop of the photo of this same exact build, from the When Things Go Wrong? post. Yeah, the first photo is after repairing what happened in the second. And so there’s a story, behind every “flaw,” and there’s nothing wrong with your build having a little backstory.
P.S. To everyone in the Metal Earth communities (on Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, etc.), thank you for keeping this a positive community. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. You guys rock. These models are awesome, but they wouldn’t be as amazing without the community that has grown around them.
this. when I built my first model, I was really worried about accidentally folding something incorrect after hearing the horror stories of people rage quitting after getting halfway or further and then breaking a critical piece.
it got me thinking that some of the pieces should be updated (eg. fixed) when a good portion of our community has identified a problem area. things like those tiny pieces that are expected to be perfectly rolled into a 3/32″ diameter tube and then support two larger pieces using very tiny connections. CA glue has definitely been a savor in those instances.
Luckily, when I built my first model, I hadn’t been exposed to any of the horror stories. Of course, I broke two arms off due to over-bending, and probably would have rage-quit, except I’m too stubborn. I taped the arm’s back into alignment and CA glued them back on. I’ve developed a much less embarrassing way to do that now, but… yeah, I’ve still not rage quit anything. I do have one model that I never finished, but it was because I built it so wrong that if I fixed it, the result would possibly be more glue than metal.
I have sent some feedback to Fascinations from time to time on instructions that are confusing or seem erroneous. And, on a few occasions, suggestions on how some parts could be done better. Always with respect to the designers, though… I could never design one of these things from the ground up. But, in some cases, they are limited in what they can do because of licensing agreements. The license holders have to sign off on any changes, due to them owning the intellectual property. But we can always share what to watch out for, and help each other out to be prepared for those stickier bits!
P.S. Have you tried UV-cured resin/glue? It’s awesome for fixing broken folds or loose connections. And if you get some where you don’t want it, you can just wipe it off and try again!
I learned along time ago when wood working was my interest that pointing out mistakes is only hard on yourself. A mistake is only know by you. Those none builders think you did a lovely job. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The Lunar Module and Gatlin Gun have been my toughest builds yet and they both came out beautiful.
Oh man… those little tri-cone thruster parts… I didn’t even try to make those conical when I built the standalone Lunar Module. I looked at that, and just laughed. I did try to make them more conical on the CSM with LM build. But… yeah, that’s definitely one where you are just going to have to accept imperfections or let it defeat you. I haven’t built the Gatlin Gun yet, but it looks intricate.
Hi codewookie after reading this I had to write to said thank you..what for I hear you ask .. well I did as you said made a model ( bumblebee ) metal earth and thought it was bad lots of gaps and mistakes but I posted it and hoped for the best ! And low and behold you pop up and gave me your opinion which blow my mind ! Anyway am very grateful to you for them encouraging words and videos and this site ! Am now on my 4th build and loving very moment good and bad ..
I mean what I say and said! We ALL feel like we leave bad gaps and mistakes, but they really aren’t as bad as we think. I can’t recall if I mentioned that I started with Bumblebee as well, but I thought that I did horribly with it, and I carried that feeling with me long enough that I decided to build the golden Bumblebee model for my 200th build as a redemption build. But, ironically, when I set them up side by side… I realized that my original build didn’t look much different than my 200th build. It was just all in my head. Here’s my instagram post from that: https://www.instagram.com/p/BnYw8X9FPEM/
Thank you for this: “I’m still making mistakes, plural, in almost every build.”
I don’t like seeing too many sticky threads in a forum, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a “Tell us what you screwed up today” perpetual topic.
Man. There is a meme factory in that idea right there. A thread of photos with captions of “that feeling when you…” for building mistakes! Now I really want to see it happen!
As a once upon a time crane operator I’ve seen photos of cranes in training that didn’t look much different than that. I am a machinist so building these things is a challenge to me because of the tolerances I’m used to working with. I am much more forgiving now than when I started.
I just completed the Hollywood Tower of Terror Hotel. It was aptly named. Actually turned out OK but I about ran out of 5 second fix.
Eeek. I would not want to see a crane that looked like that in real life. Or, at least what happened to cause that. Scary stuff.
As for 5 second fix… I’ve gone through 2 full pens and have a 4-pack more ready to go. I make a LOT of mistakes, and I use the stuff to secure tabs that seem too loose, or like they will easily get loose. And I still break parts now and then. Glue is not the four-letter word that some in the community make it out to be. It’s a life saver. lol.