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Oct 11, 2011, 06:33 AM
So I'M meant to be in control?
Colonel Blink's Avatar
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In praise of Armchair Modelling

I have opened my eyes, and by doing so, have removed a level of frustration from my life! I feel liberated, and happier for it and now I wish to let others know, in the hope that it may benefit them. Let me elucidate:

You might be someone that I aspire to be.

Maybe you have got to that enviable stage where the mortgage is fully paid off, or even simply that income is now greater than expenditure. You may even be a Lottery winner. You may also be one of those lucky chaps whose time is unencumbered with the demands of work, family and spouse. You may be lucky enough to have your garden and accommodation sorted well enough such that a quick canter around with the vacuum and duster is all that is needed to have it set for a visit from the vicar or maiden aunt. Or perhaps you have a Utopian spouse who insists that evening times are a time for your relaxation, and that if to relax you need to shut yourself away in the garage, workshop, or converted loft emerging several hours later covered in a fine layer of balsa dust or foam bobbles and a contented smile, then that’s fine by him/her.

This may describe you (in which case read no further), but conversely.....

You are far more likely to be an ordinary chap like me, who gets home after 11 hours out of the house working, and travelling to and therefrom. Before the door is closed, you are greeted by the youngest members of the family presenting you with broken toys to mend, homework requiring your assistance, computer games that have reached some impossible point and as a parent you are expected to instantly be able to get past the problem (are you kidding??), plus requests to taxi them to friends’ houses, Brownies, gymnastics etc. Having finally got front door shut and shoes and coat off, it is then the beloved spouse’s turn to regale you with news of vacuums that don’t suck like they should, cars that ‘made a funny noise’ (but no recollection of what the noise was, nor when it made it), instructions to inform them what they/you should prepare for tea, requests to do something about a dripping tap/squeaky floorboard/sticking door, enquiries about the milk that you knew had almost run out, and finally wanting to know when you are going to decorate small child’s bedroom. In short, the general cacophony of life.

Still, there’s always the weekend to look forward to, innit…….? Not exactly, as those two halcyon days are full of the things you have managed to put off from your exhausted arrivals home throughout the week. Added to this agenda are surprise familial tasks, visits and ‘days out’. Like the proverbial magic porridge pot, whatever you do to get rid of the contents, there is always more remaining. No matter how much you achieve by 6pm Sunday, the outstanding requirement will always be greater than it was at 9am Saturday when you awoke full of hope.

But please don’t think that I am complaining. I understand that it is merely part of being an adult in today’s society, and where I am in the script of my life. If this weren’t such a wonderfully cosmopolitan and international forum, I would say that it’s all part of Growing Up And Being British. In a perverse way, I welcome this normality. I am quite sure that in their own way every generation has had the same sort of pressures as I; just slightly different subject matter. No, I have no major issues with my situation – it’s just that time to pursue those primarily boyish activities such as the construction of miniature transportative conveyances beloved by readers of these forums is a rare commodity indeed. It would take either a hardened attitude, a receptive spouse and respectful family (or probably all three) to shoehorn into the weekly schedule a chunk of time that would make it worth commencing a project with any more than an infinitesimal chance of continuation, let alone completion. Hence to bullishly force some modelling time into my life would cause excessive friction and unhappiness; but not to do so is to live a life of underlying frustration and mild irritation. For instance, I have had some 3S lipos and a ‘hot ‘ motor to nail into my EasyStar for several months now, but never the couple of hours required…..

So what is the alternative for the fiscally and horologically challenged enthusiast? Gentlemen (and lady, there at the back…I do not intend to discriminate), I have discovered the gentle art of ‘Armchair Modelling’!

I would suggest that Armchair Modelling (or for our Transatlantic cousins, ‘Recliner Modeling’) is already practiced by 99.9% of Practical Modellers to a greater or lesser extent. I believe that it is a part of the activities of not only Aeromodellers but those modelling boats, cars, railways, figurines, or even those dedicated people whose desire it is to build a 1/5th scale model of the Taj Mahal from used matchsticks and Blu Tack. It is in fact, a truly cross functional practice that most probably don’t even realise they are doing, as it is already woven into the fabric of their hobby of ‘Practical Modelling’.

‘But Colonel’ I hear you ask ’What are you chuntering on about – what exactly is Armchair Modelling?’

Well, although it is difficult to define parameters, simply put it is the fact finding, the research, the planning and the general getting into and having a rummage around in a project, but stopping short of actually producing anything. It is the making of sketches, the keeping of notes and files, the purchase and poring over of plans, the planning of modifications, and the wrestling with barely understood concepts, technologies and calculations. In extreme cases, accoutrements and accessories may even be bought for a number of projects. The important part is that nothing is ever actually modelled.

‘You silly old duffer, Colonel, what’s the point in that? Modelling means making summat’

Au contraire, Monsieur le Voice de Raison….I would suggest that Armchair Modelling has just as much right to be considered an arm (oh dear, a pun has crept in) of modelling as the many other subsets of modelling that suit others. The point is, it is entirely suited to the time- and cash-strapped modeller surrounded by the whirlwind that is Family Life. In fact it has a number of advantages over Practical Modelling for the above mentioned chap:

a) Time: Time slots can be much smaller for Armchair Modelling than for Practical Modelling. It is possible to apply one’s mind to a problem or a facet or an interest in a project in the space of seconds. For instance, whilst writing this sentence I have suddenly thought of the possibility of powering the KeilKraft Cub (Jetex version) using multiple Rapier motors for a vertical launch. I now need to find the impulse power of a Rapier and equate it to the projected weight of the finished model to find out whether vertical launching is feasible….
b) Location: A large part of Armchair Modelling can be carried out in eclectic locations. I have Armchair Modelled on a train, halfway up a mountain, during lunch, whilst watching TV etc. During a meeting is an especially fruitful time, because you normally have a scribble pad, pen and a table. However, you should be warned that there are certain other times when it is not advisable to Armchair Model for domestic harmony reasons…
c) Opportunity: A combination of the above two mean that it is possible to Armchair Model several times a day – in fact, it is theoretically possible to multitask with your normal daily activities such that effectively you do it all day, possibly building up into a sort of Multiple Organization.
d) Space: For the most part, space is less of a consideration than for Practical Modelling. Although the occasional spreading out of plans for a 10ft Minimoa does require a little elbow room, it is for mere minutes whereas actually building said Minimoa requires far more space for far more time… If one has progressed to Advanced Armchair Modelling (the aforementioned accoutrement collection), for the most part these extras can be stored in margarine or ice cream tubs and secreted in the garage out of domestic sight, thereby avoiding the ‘Why did you buy that rubbish / How much did that cost / What about all the other stuff you never do anything with’ sort of interrogation.
e) Personal development: By making the research and learning a major part of the activities one is keeping oneself mentally fit and adept. I am currently wresting with the new thinking in Electrics as progression has been swift since my last sojourn. Working out the best powertrain combination for an R/C electrified Wakefield (‘Flying Minutes’) is keeping the grey matter agile and thirsty for knowledge.
f) Socialising. Armchair Modelling is giving me admirable excuse to wander around the forums and the wider Net, conversing with knowledgable and generally nice people about construction details, experiences and technicalities of any number of projects. These online conversations invariably lead to a change in direction or even a new project. The good thing is that as no Practical Modelling has been done, nothing is wasted!

Hopefully, you can see my point – Armchair Modelling enables me to pursue and enjoy modelling at a time when Practical Modelling is well nigh impossible.
Hence, Milords, Ladies & Gentlemen, I commend to the House that ‘Armchair Modelling’ is a viable arm of the hobby and request that it not only be recognised without prejudice but actively embraced!!!

I thank you.
Last edited by Colonel Blink; Mar 10, 2014 at 08:30 AM. Reason: Discovered correct English plural of 'forum'
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Oct 11, 2011, 06:12 PM
Registered User
wizard of odd's Avatar

That must be the best blog post EVER!

So is there a Armchair Modeling Club, or why not start IAMA (Intl. Armchair Modeling Assn) and sell IAMA Legal large scale pipe dreams?

Where do I sign up?

Oct 11, 2011, 08:17 PM
Registered User
Colonel, you've hit the nail on the head, and put it most eloquently in the process!

About the time my two children began school, I gave up modelling - for most, if not all, of the reasons you mentioned. My thinking was, devote the next few years to them, they'll be grown and gone all too soon. And it turned out that I was right, they were. OK, my turn, right? NO!!! It's more busy now than then with "grown dependents" and their offspring (4 of those) and a sagging economy that saps every extra dime.

Well, I'm pretty stubborn. So I decided to continue with my plans in spite of time and money encroachments. You know, I thought you were supposed to get smarter with age?

There's a small portable building packed with plans, kits, balsa, tools, parts, motors (and every sort of item that attaches to them), but still, there's little, and mostly no TIME! Armchair Modelling, as you describe it, is what I do. I do it at work, in bed (DON'T try this as it causes insomnia), while driving and sometimes while the wife goes on about the workplace (careful about doing this).

A club would be great! Or should it be a support group? Somebody decide, it doesn't matter. I could be your "Poster Boy".

Thanks for that post, Colonel. It somehow helped my feelings!

Oct 13, 2011, 01:47 AM
Registered User
wizard of odd's Avatar
Two days later and I'm still chuckling! Made my week you did....

Well said sir!

Oct 13, 2011, 01:55 AM
So I'M meant to be in control?
Colonel Blink's Avatar
Thread OP
Why thank you.....

But what I will say is; like most of the great theories and expostulations, the facts were already there - I merely strung some words about them!
Oct 14, 2011, 07:10 AM
Agricultural flyer
mixer421's Avatar
A very worthwhile posting Colin but surely the time taken for such an epistle could have been more productively spent fitting that hot motor and 3c LiPo in your EZ* or perhaps the facilities for such a task are rather limited at work.
Oct 14, 2011, 09:36 PM
Registered User
wizard of odd's Avatar
Originally Posted by mixer421
...or perhaps the facilities for such a task are rather limited at work.

Don't fret, the Bard is frequently misunderstood!


Dec 05, 2011, 07:33 PM
Retired and Lovin' it!
TPfingston's Avatar
Wonderfully said, Colonel. I did it for years. Now I am finally retired and have plenty of time, I've become so used to 'armchair modeling' that it is difficult to actually do 'practical modeling'.


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