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  • Editorial by Robert R. Longo


    PROTOTYPE MODELER - December 1977

    "What level of prototypical accuracy and what level of super-detailing is best for a Prototype Modeler magazine article?" This is a question that is asked relatively often and one that is sure to generate some heated discussion if asked in a group. The problem is that there is no cut and dried answer though each of us probably thinks he has one.

    Quite a few years ago I recall getting into a letter discussion with several fellows one of which was Dick Hendrickson. Those of you who have been reading PMs for several year recognize this name but for the benefit of those of you who are not familiar with Dick's work let it suffice to say that his articles have probably gotten more people started down the road of modeling freight cars prototypically than any other individual. Dick is considered by many, myself included, to be one of the foremost "prototype" modelers in the country today.

    During this letter discussion, Dick pointed out that a model is really nothing more than a "caricature" of the prototype. According to the dictionary a "caricature" is a "representation" of the real thing and that certainly fits; but it also means that certain of the prototype's features are exaggerated to make the reproduction "appear" more like the prototype than it really is. An example of this is the use of way oversize rivet heads on HO models; were these actually made to scale a lot of the effect would be lost and the exaggeration actually makes the model "look" right even if it isn't. There are numerous examples of this in everything we model. In actuality, then, we have to admit - even thought not too loudly - that our models are really a compromise with the prototype in miniature.

    The next big question is one of just what degree of compromising is acceptable and what goes beyond that limit. The only answer here can be that it is up to each modeler to set his own limits; and an article should be written with this as a basic criteria. Naturally, it is desireable to include all the information practical with an article but to use that which is comfortable in the modeling itself. As an example, Athearn box cars have the brake gear on the underbody molded on opposite to what it is on most prototypes. If you usually model these details you'll want to remove the Athearn moldings and redo the brake gear correctly. On the other hand, most modelers do not find this objectionable and ignore this point. One cannot say that one is right and one is wrong; this is simply a difference of opinion with points on both sides. There are similar points such as the 5/5, 4/5, and 4/4 dreadnaught ends that wind up unchanged on many models even though they are incorrect from a detail standpoint. If these points are not of significance to the modeler then he should ignore this factor; if it is significant then it should be changed. The only important point is that the article point out which is correct and the author note whether he decided to make the change or not.

    Sometimes we tend to get a little excited over some rather small point in detailing and it is important that we keep things in their proper perspective. If you want to model the most infinite detail, then, by all means, do so. If you see a model that someone else decided not to model in complete and exacting detail, then remember his right to model to the degree he enjoys. Remember, since there is no conceiveable way any of us can reduce the prototype "exactly" to scale then everyone of us is compromising our model; only the degree varies. The difference in the degree we include detail is nothing more than a difference in detailing philosiphy and there is no "right" or "wrong" but only a "difference." Recognize the other fellows "right" to not be in total "agreement" with you and don't criticize him for being different than you; it is equally true, though, that you shouldn't "listen" to him if he does criticize your work. Think of it in the terms most of us think of women: "Vive la difference."

    With this issue we're introducing a small section in the back of the magazine for some of our "needs." From time to time we have articles in hand that are missing one thing or another that would be of help in making it more complete. As an example, we have an article in hand on one of the Great Northern's 28000-28499 series box cars built in their St. Cloud Shops back in '28. We're missing a photo of one of these cars and it would really add to the article if we could include such a prototype photo. Can you help us come up with one? If so, you 'll be helping a lot of us if you'd let us use it with the article. See the "needs" listed, for a book coming up on the Q's way cars. Anything you can help with there would also be sincerely appreciated by all. If we all pull together in this kind of thing we'll all benefit.

    Bob Longo

    Article Details

    • Original Author Robert R. Longo
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date December 1977

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