The Zen of Model Building

Lately I have read a number of articles by modelers questioning asking why there should be competitive contest.  Apparently in Europe there are a number of model shows where models for display to the other modelers and the public and not as a competitions for awards.

I do not enter contests, not that there is much opportunity where I live, because there is only one contest nearby each year (the non-Covid years that is).

So, if I do not enter contests, why is it that I build models?

Years ago, I did compete some in club and local contests and a few regional ones in New England where there was more modeling activity.  I actually won a few awards, and was pleased with them, but I found the experience unrewarding.

There were too many modelers who took it all so seriously and were really upset if they were not invited to the winner’s circle.  I could not see it.  Frankly, if I got a complement from another modeler, it always felt good, particularly one whose work I respected.

But to get all wound around the axel over some piece of ribbon or a plated plastic trophy?  That did not appeal to me.

So, why do I build models?  I can give you the typical answer, i.e., I am interested in military history, I am interested in aviation and have always been interested in armored vehicles.  I started when “Leave It To Beaver” was in prime time.  I dumped it for cars and girls.  

The typical answer most modelers give.

When you come right down to it, for me the real answer is the “zen of model building”.

A definition of zen is “a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort.”  

“Perhaps that is the zen of gardening—you become one with the plants, lost in the rhythm of the tasks at hand.— Irene Virag.”  


When I open  a new kit and start examining the parts and reading the instructions as I plan the build, I do achieve a state of calmness that is difficult to achieve otherwise.  I am taken out of all other concerns and concentrate on doing my best to make a replica that will match my expectations and no one else’s.  I am getting “lost in the rhythm of the tasks at hand.”

When I am at my workbench, I am trying to become one with the project at hand, and all I want is a finished model that meets the expectations I had for it when I first opened the box.  I share them with this blog because I hope that my observations will prove helpful to other modelers.  I know their observations have proven most helpful to me, so I hope my efforts here are having the effect of giving back, so to speak.

If entering contests is your thing, that is great.  Enjoy yourself.

The important thing is build models of whatever genre or era.  And no matter what you do with the finished projects, you are contributing to this endlessly interesting hobby.

One thought on “The Zen of Model Building

  1. I sent my son a link to one of your posts. He thought I was the one who had written it.

    If I send him a link to this one, he will think the same thing.

    To me…

    When you come right down to it, for me the real answer is the “zen of model building”.


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