I’m Tom, an early-30s businessman, archer, cricketer, writer, history geek, and cat lover living in the UK.
I started building when I was 4, with my father helping me hold the brushes and glue the pieces. Before long I was building kits myself and had become known at school as the kid who built models. A few of my friends did too, but it was nice to know that mine stood out, if only because I used paint (pro tip!). At that time I was building 1/72 planes, with the occasional 1/700 ship, and some nice old sailing ships too. I must have built the entire 1/72 catalogue of Airfix, Heller, and Italeri of that early 90’s era.
I didn’t exactly stop building, but at 14 I picked up Heller’s 1/100 Soleil Royal, a very ambitious build that fizzled out as I simultaneously ran out of rigging thread, entered exam classes, and tried for Olympic qualification in archery.
I picked up modelling again in the gap between completing my first degree and starting a Masters in Australia: my partner had seen the half-finished ship, bought me appropriate threads, and I completed it a few days before leaving. While in Australia I built the silver Spitfire that’s on my page banner, and I found that scale modelling was available online. These days most of my interaction with a wider modelling community is done through Facebook groups, especially The Scale Modelers’ [sic] Critique Group (SMCG), where I gained the knowledge and desire to improve my builds.
I created Man vs Kit as a place where I can talk about things I’m building, write reviews of kits, and muse about the scale model industry. I like writing, and I hope this is both entertaining and informative. When I was looking for information and advice, too often blogs would be uncritical, or talk about how the writer overcame issues with kits without actually addressing the issues.
I always try to be entirely honest when reviewing kits: not necessarily super-serious, but honest. I will tell you about problems when I encounter them, and I will try to show you what I mean so that you can form your own opinions about a kit. I never set out to bash a kit: if I’m critical of parts of one, it’s because it doesn’t meet the standards that I feel it set out to achieve.
Sometimes, I write essays. These happen when there is something I want to say, and they are written in one sitting, straight through and on to the site, no filter. I never set out to upset people (it just happens), but if you disagree with something I’ve said, let me know. I love talking to you readers.
What are my standards? I write for the amateur, the modeller who sees a kit in a shop and thinks, “I would love to build one of those, I wonder what it’s like”, and I do so unapologetically. I don’t write for the competition modeller or the subject matter expert. If I see something that I would have struggled with, that’s getting mentioned. I will refer to aftermarket corrections or details where I have used them, and I will try to explain why, but I don’t see the existence of the aftermarket as an excuse for cutting corners or something that the modeller should be expected to use. Likewise, I tend to build by following the instructions step by step. So if a kit really benefits from a lot of careful test-fitting and fettling, I’ll run into problems because I won’t have done that. That’s why you’ll sometimes see me talk about issues I’ve had that others don’t run into: if you’re building casually and trust the kit, this is relevant.
I’m not a competition modeller. I have tried that, and it wasn’t for me: my objective with a kit is to get something that looks like the real thing, and that doesn’t necessarily fit with competition criteria. That’s not to say that I would never enter a show or competition if someone asked me nicely, but it’s not a priority for me.
As I mentioned above, I want my models to look real. I build because I’m interested in the subject, but my interest is from the outside, as someone who loves to watch planes flying but has never seen them from the other side of the fence. I know that’s quite different to many people in the hobby, who are or were full time pilots or crew on the vehicles they model. I think that’s why I don’t really care about cockpits and avionics bays. To me, “real” is more about how it might look in use than knowing exactly where every wire goes.
So, have a look round, I hope you find something of interest, and please leave a comment here or on my Facebook page if there is anything you want more detail on or a subject you would be interested in my take on.