Back in the days of my youth–roughly between the middle 80s and middle 90s–I would sometimes build model airplanes or spaceships. B2 bombers and Miranda Class starships fell together in sloppy assemblages of glue and shoddily applied decals. It was truly atrocious work, owing largely to the fact that I didn’t have the attention span to build things with greater care.
Fast-forward a couple decades. I watch some YouTube videos, as one does, and come across some of former Mythbuster Adam Savage putting together models for tested.com. It occurs to me that, as a thirty year old man, I might have finally developed the patience and general wherewithal necessary to do a halfway decent job of putting those things together. Moreover, it occurs to me that building models might be really fun.
Well, turns out I was right. Building models, while tremendously nerdy, is an activity ripe with unexpected narrative potential. Even a very simple model can be a canvas for projecting rich object histories. These, of course, are vague and obtusely written histories. No one is going to be able to look at model and tell exactly what the builder intended. But the act of composing them–layering in bits of paint and grime that tell an evolving story of where an object has been and how it has been used–is enormously gratifying.
These examples come from some very simple kits made by Bandai. The YT-1300 (the Falcon) is 1/144 scale. The Y-wing is 1/72 scale. For me, the fun in these is playing around in the Star Wars Universe without feeling particularly beholden to canon. These are familiar-looking ships, but in putting them together, in painting and weathering them, they were never the ones we saw in the movies. Instead, they’re lost bits of history from a massive universe.