Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review: The Modelmaker's Handbook by Jackson & Day

I haven't reviewed a book on here for a while but as I leafed through The Modelmaker's Handbook looking for something, it occurred to me that most people will probably look at this volume on a second hand shelf and dismiss it.

Firstly, it was published in 1981, so it's going to be out of date isn't it?

Second, the writers are trying to cover all model making hobbies in 351 pages - surely an impossibility.

Wrong on both counts I'm afraid.

Let's start with the date thing. It is true that if you want cutting edge information on DCC wiring for model railways, or the latest details of radio control, then you won't find them in here.

On the other hand, there is plenty of information on wiring analogue railways, which is all you need really unless you insist on selling your soul to the devil for noises and lights and gizmos.

Servos etc. on the RC side haven't changed much. The main difference is the receiver you plug them in to doesn't have Xtals in it any more now you've started with that 2.4mHz stuff.

There's also no mention of laser cutting or 3D printing but then they are specialist subjects that many modellers will have limited practical contact with.

No, inside, you find an excellent reference designed for people with a wide range of interests. Take a look at the contents page:

There is an awful lot between the covers. Normally this would mean that the information is desperately basic, but not this time. I was looking for information on painting figures and there it was. Enough to get me going. If I wanted to modify the little people, details and diagrams are available quite obviously written by military modellers who do a lot of this sort of thing. There's some very nice information on painting horses complete with colour pictures.
In fact, the whole books is well illustrated with photos and diagrams. Someone spent a lot on artists to produce all these - not something you get very often now as photos are a lot cheaper, if not clearer.
Of course, for a proper British railway modeller, this sort of book is an anathema. It's got stuff on other hobbies in it! The horror!
That's fine but if it's the way you think, you are missing out. How do you straighten thin wire out? You look it up in the chapter on detailing and modifying plastic kits because the pictures are in there. Making plants or moulding rocks? This is under military dioramas. Making a horse and wonder how the tack works? Saddlery is pages 151 & 152. Stucco walls - well that one is in the railway building section after brickpaper and plasticard and before wooden walls.
The range is probably best illustrated when I say that the Index runs to 7 pages. You also have a glossary of terms for those new to a particular hobby.
As far as I know, The Modelmaker's Handbook is out of print, but I picked up my copy second hand reasonably cheaply to replace an original never returned by one of my sisters ex-husbands. If you can deal with cross-disciplinary ideas then grab a copy next time you see one.

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