I find myself in Hobbycraft (the crafting superstore) quite often these days, mostly because my candle-making, soap-engineering, sew-star jack-of-all-crafting friend likes to keep her stocks nice and full. However, I never seem to leave there with something for myself, despite the fact I always say “I’d like to have a go at one of those little models”. So, last time I went, I bit the bullet and bought one.
I got a 1:144 scale Apache helicopter (for those who don’t know, that basically means a real Apache helicopter is 144 times the size of this model). I thought “start out small, and sees how it goes”, without taking into account at any point how small 1:144 scale actually is. A mistake? Perhaps.
A friend of mine who had some experience with models like this helped me get started. It’s quite simple, really; pick up the part you need, dab a little glue in the necessary holes, attach and leave to dry. With expert precision, he set about showing me how it’s done and making it look easy by assembling the cockpit and the body, then handed it over to me.
I started with the missile launchers (oh yes), which fit under the wing. The first one was easy enough, if not a little fiddly. It was on the end of the left wing, so judging it was no problem at all. The second one however was a very different story – it was the inner launcher on the left wing, which meant fitting my finger between it and the main body was virtually impossible. It wouldn’t have been so bad had I not blocked off the other side as well with the first launcher, so the knowledge that I’d pretty much screwed myself over was all the more infuriating.
The real issue with things like this is that they’re so small and thin that they slip very easily in your fingers. You have to hold them in such a way so they can attach correctly to the wing, which takes the sort of precision required to split an atom. If it slips, you have to try to manoeuvre it skilfully back into position with those same two fingers, which is about as easy as trying to do the exact same thing with a real missile launcher. Furthermore, the absurd amount of glue I accidentally used to attach it made the tiny little holes I needed to aim for impossible to see, so I had to guess where they were. Needless to say, this gave me a headache.
After a good 20 minutes, the job was done. I found the other two on the other wing annoyingly easy compared, so thankfully nothing was broken (other than my pride). I decided to call it a day right there, before it started to look less like an Apache helicopter and more like a mess of glue, tears and utter despair.
All in all, this model-making lark is rather fun. I’d certainly recommend it.