Old Ain't So Bad
Sometimes, anyway. I mention this because I'm old, or at least older (well into my 7th decade) than I'd like to be, but I also mention it because of the perspective it offers on so many things. That's Perspective, folks, not to be confused with that other aging-associated title; Wisdom. It's a viewpoint, a way of looking at things, that we're interested in today.
Let's take a look at our hobby for just a quick minute and evaluate where we are in this Year of Our Lord 2023. We've got a bunch of new kits, and different variants of airplanes that we thought we'd never see. We've got decals, paint masks, paint, and aftermarket parts and components of every flavor imaginable. We've got a veritable explosion of large-scale models of seemingly endless variety. We've got kits that are so good right out of the box that the only conceivable reason to purchase aftermarket for them would be for bragging rights. As modelers we are, right now this moment, living in a continuation of a New Golden Age that the electronic nay-sayers have predicted would come to a close several years ago. We well and truly have never had it so good.
Then again, we've never had it so good for a very long time when you think about it. When I began modeling on a "serious" level the heavy hitters were Revell GB, Frog, and Airfix. Kits were simple and poor in the detail department and kit decals were thick and often out of register, not to mention inaccurate. Aftermarket didn't exist on any level---the train guys had that sort of thing but we didn't. Paint was something you mixed yourself from the offerings of Pactra, Testors, and, if you were lucky, Floquil.
I think the changes really began back in 1963 with Revell's 1/72nd scale family of fighters, or maybe in 1966/67 when Monogram began to produce their first models aimed straight at the enthusiast rather than at kids. Who came first honestly doesn't matter, however, because those guys, plus the admission to The Club of several hitherto unknown Japanese manufacturers, changed our game forever. MicroScale jumped into the fray in 1968 and had an immediate, and lasting, impact on the decal market, and the 70s saw the trembling birth of a thing called "aftermarket". Every year was better for us as airplane modelers than the previous one. Every good model or accessory was topped by a better one. It was, and seeming still is, a never-ending phenomenon.
Here we are, then. It's 2023 and our collective cups are running over like never before. Name it and we probably have it or are about to get it and a lot of it is really good, although some of it isn't. That takes us to our closets and the accumulation of kits, decals, aftermarket, paint, and references associated with our hobby and then directly to the burning question: What am I going to do with all this old stuff? Here's a perspective for you.
A lot of that aforementioned stuff is obsolescent or outright obsolete by now, and some of the really old stuff is, perhaps unfortunately, now collectable. Those things might get hoarded, or sold off, or consumed for fun in a nostalgia build, but that leaves us with those sad offerings that are really good but no longer quite good enough, at least in the eye of The Internet Authorities On Everything Polystyrene. In that regard, I'm not sure what you do with your own not-quite-good-enoughs but I build mine. I'll often upgrade them with a small amount of aftermarket, usually in the cockpit or around the landing gear, but I'll build them and put them on the shelf!
Think about this for a minute: Some of the new kits are truly amazing but, when it's all said and done, only make the collections of polystyrene components that preceded them unusable to a select few. Eduard now owns the F4F, and the A6M, and the Spitfire, and on and on, (and deservedly so) but many of the kits that came before them are entirely adequate for 99% of the modelers out there.
Of course, there's also the REALLY old stuff that should have gone to the garbage heap decades ago, but there are some really good polystyrene offerings out there that nobody has yet managed to equal, much less surpass. Think Monogram's three 1/72nd scale 1930s American fighters (P-6E, F4B-4, and F11C-2) if you need an example of just how good Old can be. Or maybe you'd rather talk about jets? OK, let's talk that same manufacturer's Century Series in 1/48th. Of those six distinct airframes (F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, and F-106) only one, the Starfighter, has been produced to modern standards. I'll give you the Deuce if you want to quibble about it but that's only because nobody other than Monogram have kitted it in that scale yet. The attempts to date to supersede the others by contemporary manufacturers have all been poor at best and, right up to this date, we still don't have a modern kit that's an actual improvement for any of them, raised panel lines and all.
Here's the thing of it. The new stuff, the wunderkits if you will, are truly amazing and a very great many of them are worthy of every accolade they receive, but that doesn't mean it's time to deep-six the older models. Some are well worth building in spite of the occasional horse poot written about them on the internet. It's a choice as regards to what does or doesn't actually get built and that choice is yours, without question, but you shouldn't sell the old stuff short.
The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends, Robert Earl Keen
A Semi-Oldie to Prove the Point
Here's a model to prove, or maybe not, the point just made by my mindless ramble directly above: