Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It's about TIME!

Hey there plamo nerds! I've been on some sort of tool spree these past couple months. There were a few kit purchases in between too, but I've mainly been focusing on upgrading my arsenal of hobby equipment - and I guess some of you might be wondering if I'm trying to steer the blog in a different direction - away from it's budget oriented origins towards expensive gear territory. On the surface it may seem that way, but I assure you, I'm still being as frugal as ever. The truth is, behind every tool upgrade was a tool or kit sale. I've been selling off my backlog and old stuff to help fund these new acquisitions, and I'll explain why...

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The most valuable resource we spend on this hobby is time, simply because it cannot be recovered. That's something I gradually came to understand over the years. You'll need money too of course, but money can be earned. You can work harder, longer, or get creative doing random income generating stuff to boost your hobby budget. On the other hand you can try to find cheaper alternatives to almost everything, tools, supplies or model kits - at the expense of either quality or time or both.

Take for example the Poorman's Chisels I made out of a thrift store screwdriver set. They're dirt cheap, but they aren't as sharp or as durable as actual hobby chisels, which means they get blunt a lot faster, are not very precise, and you end up spending more time resharpening them to get them to work properly. They work, but it takes time to get them to work and get good results. At the far end of the hobby chisel spectrum is BMC, which costs almost as much as a master grade kit a piece, but is made of tungsten steel, carves plastic like butter (or so I'm told), and are meant to last forever.

The same concept is usually true for most consumer things like shoes and bags - you pay for quality and durability, at least up to a certain point, then it becomes ridiculous, like this article on CoolMaterial about $490 plain white T-shirts.

Over the years I gradually realized that being an otaku on a budget does not mean going for the cheaper alternative every chance you get. It simply means being aware of your limits, and how to make the most of your resources. Those limits are different for everyone, and is affected by everything else you have going on - work, family, friends and so on. Perhaps it's just plamo puberty finally kicking in...but whatever it is, I welcome the change.

When I started out in this hobby my budget was truly very small, but I was able to keep at it by using inexpensive materials, cheap kits and DIY tools. I did not have much money to spend - but I had time - and so I spent that time getting the DIY stuff to work and making cheap kits to look decent. Flash forward 5 years and I am earning a bit more, and have started to accumulate a backlog of kits. On the other hand I also have a lot more responsibilities. In effect my hobby budget increased, but I have less time to dedicate to the hobby.

In my current situation, it only makes sense to upgrade my tools. Since hobby time is limited I want to work with tools that get the job done faster, take less effort in preparation and cleanup, and will not conk out in the middle of a build. Reliable tools are more expensive, but with my improved spending limit augmented with backlog sales, I am able to afford them.

With my old setup I could manage only 2-3 fully painted and customized kits a year. By improving the efficiency of my workbench and equipment, I just might be able to push that number to 5. The way I see it, if I can scribe panel lines more accurately, I'll be spending less time fixing mistakes. If I use an airbrush that is easier to clean, I'll spend more time painting and less time cleaning.

Does this mean I will no longer try to find cheap ways to get things done? Heck no! I enjoy it too much it's becoming a hobby in itself! I get a rush whenever I learn about or come up with a budget alternative to pricey things. Once I've tried them out myself and confirm that they work, it feels like I've somehow beat the system.

An improved philosophy would go something like this: instead of just going for every budget hack you come across, consider if it suits your financial situation. If you can afford to get something more efficient, go for it.  Try to recall how much valuable time you've wasted, blaming your bad luck and getting frustrated because you couldn't get the results you wanted, when the truth was you weren't even using proper tools for the job.

The same goes for kits: If you can spare some cash but are tight on time, buy the kit with higher quality so you spend less time addressing issues like molding defects. If you are short on cash, you can opt for the cheaper kit and spend more time building it.  This will be hard to grasp if you're new to plamo, because there are so many kits out there you want to get your hands on -
but if like me you turn out to enjoy the modeling aspect of the hobby more than collecting, you'll realize that it's the tools you spend the most time with, and you'll want to focus on improving those instead of adding another box to your backlog.

I think the secret to plamo enlightenment is striking a balance between your resources - both time and money - by converting one into the other as needed, and finding the most efficient combination - whether you spend $1000 a month on the hobby or just $20. And of course, you have to have fun in the process, otherwise what's the point?

On that note, why not drop by the shop page? I've got a bunch of great tools up for pre-order!

You can also check out our partner stores in the Market section for unbeatable deals on kits, more tools, and hobby supplies!

Until next time, keep building plamo!

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