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.