Friday, September 19, 2014

Otaku On A Schedule: A Plamo Addict's Road to Recovery

Plamo, like any other hobby, consumes both time and money. For most modelers, myself included, the desire to construct, paint and admire our own handiwork is what drives us to spend hard-earned cash and precious time on kits that we just have to have.
(pic is not mine, only borrowed from the internet, credits to the owner)
Click on the read more link for the rest of this post...

Most hobbyists have more money to buy kits than they have time to actually build and finish them, so a backlog of untouched boxes starts piling up. Others have a problem with time management, and get so involved in their projects that they loose sight of what is happening around them. In either case, if we cannot properly manage our finances and time, the hobby eventually takes it's toll on our personal lives. We begin to get overly invested in our hobby - and what was once a creative outlet becomes an unhealthy addiction.

assemble > clean > mod > prep > prime > paint > shade > detail > reassemble > seal...Plamo is VERY time intensive.

I've been married for more than 3 years now, and I would be lying if I said my hobby never caused any problems in my relationship. My wife and I would argue a lot, and there were times when I felt like the victim, thinking that I should be given the time and resources to pursue my hobby simply because I was the bread winner. The fact is, while I started to improve in the hobby, I was spending less and less time with my family.

I get a natural high whenever I finish a kit, but then I remember how many hours it took to build, and I begin to doubt whether it was time well spent. On average, I take about 10 hours to snap together and clean a master grade kit. Paint preparation takes another 3 hours, and painting takes around 20 hours on average. That sums up to about 33 hours per model, and it can easily double if I'm doing modifications. That's 33 hours I could have spent bonding with my wife and son. Just having that thought in my head gave me major doubts about what I was doing, and it got to the point where I was ready to quit.

I imagined myself without a hobby, and I simply couldn't. Looking back at my life, I always had this one thing I was really into. Whether it was gaming consoles, tamiya mini-4wd cars, magic:the gathering, playing in a band, keeping fish or keeping spiders - in every stage of my life, for as long as I can remember, there was something I did that wasn't a necessity.

I think most people (or at least guys) can relate, that we all feel the need to do something completely unnecessary, because filling our day with responsibilities will either drive us insane, or kill us. Can you imagine doing the same thing, day in and day out, because you HAD to? I couldn't do that. There has to be something in there that I don't need to do, but I WANT to do. That is how I can keep my sanity.

I came to the conclusion that quitting wasn't the solution to my problem - my problem being that this hobby takes a shitload of time, at least if you want to do it right.
The solution is that the shitload can be divided up into smaller piles and spread out across a wider time-frame, and it has to be spread out in such a way that it hardly overlaps with one's "standard family hours".

Here are some tips for those of you having the same problem:
  1. Determine your SFH (standard family hours). In my case I get up at 6am and drive my son to his grandma's by 7am. I'm at work from 8am to 5pm, pick up my son and arrive back home at around 7pm. My wife usually gets home from work around 8pm, and we all go to bed by 11pm. Since my son is usually asleep when I come to pick him up, I can squeeze in 1 hour of plamo time before we head back home. 
  2. Work outside of your SFH. Accept it. Your SFH is a responsibility and forcing plamo hours in there will be detrimental to your relationship. In my case, I can choose to wake up earlier to get some work done, or stay up a little late.
  3. Build on weekend nights. Friday night and Saturday night are best, and you can get in a good 3 to 4 hours of plamo after dinner, but make sure you still spend quality time with your family BEFORE you work on your project. Trust me on this one - everything is more harmonious after you've taken your wife out to dinner. 
  4. Do not touch your project on Sundays unless absolutely necessary (deadlines etc.) and without prior notice to your spouse. Remember, it's her day off too.
  5. Make a portable work station. I have a guide on this here. With a good sized box you can fit a kit in there, all your basic tools, paint, even your airbrush, a mini compressor and some power strips.
  6. Know your wife's schedule and work in some extra building hours when possible. Is she going out with some friends? Is she getting her hair/nails done? Offer to drive her there and pick her up, or bring your portable work station and find a table and a power outlet, like at a coffee shop.
  7. Plan your build well and divide up your activities over your free time - free time being hours outside of your SFH. Sure it will take you a couple of months to finish that custom project, but at least you did it with minimal impact to your family.
  8. Lastly, and definitely only as a last resort to meet a deadline, ask your spouse for some time to work on your project. Keep this at a minimum - asking for it on a weekly basis is asking for trouble. 
January 2014: built in 28 days
May 2014: built in 70 days
August 2014: built in 108 days

These are some of the things I've been practicing to good effect. It's taking longer to finish projects, and I won't be winning any husband-of-the-year awards, but at least I have the peace of mind that I am keeping my hobby in check. It takes quite a bit of patience and restraint, but that's nothing new to us married guys. Now if you're having trouble with the money side of things - splurging away on kits faster than you can knock them out, that's another story, and one that probably deserves it's own article.

Compliments to my buddy Simon for his write up on Gunpla Addiction that inspired this post. I tip my V-Fin to you sir!

Till next time, keep building plamo! (but only beyond your SFH!)


  1. A great article old chap with some really nice tips :) I have managed to find quite a nice balance myself, only working on projects on weekends and dedicating Friday afternoons to 'family time' as it's the only time we're all awake and not at work! :)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for your post on Gunpla addiction! Luckily I sorted it all out before there were any serious repercussions. I still get relapses though, especially when painting something I really want to see finished, and I have to keep reminding myself that I have a time limit.

  2. Forth here again sir Pau. Before having this "Plamo Addiction", I'm into Yu-Gi-Oh! for almost 8 years. I had to minimize participating in the events due to the fact that I'm having problems with my finances, and yes, it is very hard to stop. I've been to Gunpla as well for about 2 years now. I did try to do two hobbies at the same time, card games and gunpla. I love both, but you're totally right, it will take a toll on me definitely.

    Guys like us really resort to things such as hobbies to avoid the burden of daily life: from work, to household chores, to relationship commitments, etc. I feel overwhelmed with tasks that I need to do, and having a hobby keeps me relieved.

    Living here in the Philippines sure will restrain you on everything. Up until now, I can't figure out when or how to stop the addiction. It's fun, but it is not when you know that something will be affected spending time and finances for this.

    1. Thanks for sharing Forth! We all have our reasons for getting so deeply involved in our hobbies, and I understand that it can be a form of escape. This blog itself is another outlet for me to drain off any excess creative juices that are stifled at the office. In your case, I would try to taper off slowly - set a budget on your hobby spending and then gradually reduce it until you get to a number you can sustain. In my case, I have this reward system in place where I only get to buy a new kit once I've finished the one I'm working on. This keeps my backlog from growing. I also break down the cost of each project so I can monitor my spending on materials.