Friday, February 10, 2017

Avoiding "The Shelf of Doom" - adding stowage to the Sherman tank in my new American diorama

I find two moments are real bottlenecks when modelling armour, points in the build where if you 're not careful you can get bogged down with indecision and end up putting the kit onto "The Shelf of Doom" where unfinished builds go to languish for (sometimes) years. 

The first bottleneck moment is adding mud, and the second is adding gear.

Adding mud

Do I really want to gloop mud all over the beautifully made and painted tracks, wheels and suspension?  All that hard work getting covered in a layer of bleurgh!  I hate doing this, even though the end result is always more authentic if you're modelling a realistic, in-the-field vehicle.  But pushing yourself to daub on that first glob of crap is difficult.

Adding stowed gear

A similar moment of indecision. You've modelled and painted the rear deck. If you're being extra keen, there is expensive photoetched brass on those exquisitely-detailled grilles and grab handles. And now you need to obscure it with boxes, rolled tarps, knapsacks and other miscellaneous gear.  Once again, the finished result makes it worth it, but it's a tough moment to add that glue and lock it all in place.

I don't know about other modellers, but I find these two moments really difficult to push on through. In some ways, it's easier to just put the kit aside, even though it is what, 80 or 90% completed, than to commit to this. I do have a "Shelf of Doom" where I put them. And it's dumb-arse to do this.


So this week I've made a little more progress on my American diorama (previous resurrection of these Yankee models here) and added stowed gear to the Sherman M4A1 tank I put aside in 2008 - a process fraught with indecision... I did a dry run first with painted gear, worked out what looked best and most logical (would a tank crew really carry a single wooden chair around Europe with them? Really??? I see this all the time in dioramas, a random chair proudly strapped on the back of a tank. Pffft, nup, not on my dioramas!).  Then I took a deep breath, opened the glue, and committed.

Next up was a tarp made from a folded up tissue, liberally splooshed with a mix of 50% white PVA glue and 50% water. This makes it drape in place a bit more realistically, followed by some sturdy ropes to hold it all in place while the tank bumps through ditches and hedges.

Take that, Shelf of Doom!

Do I have any advice for other modellers about how to avoid the Shelf of Doom? All I can say is think about your project, and come up with a solid story you are trying to tell. Action, funny, poignant, resting, whatever - without that all-important hook, you will always feel a bit indecisive about completing your build.  With a solid story in place, you'll be cool to commit because you want to move on and build the next piece of the story.  In my experience, that story makes all the difference.

Now to salvage the White Scout Car that has sat on The Shelf next to the Sherman since 2008...



Stowage on a 1/35 Sherman scale model tank
Test fitting.

Stowage on a 1/35 Sherman scale model tank
More test fitting. I'm not a fan of that gloss finish on the rolled tent though...

Stowage on a 1/35 Sherman scale model tank
Still need to tie down the jerry cans on the back shelf.

Stowage on a 1/35 Sherman scale model tank
All securely tied down.

Stowage on a 1/35 Sherman scale model tank
Wet tissue. It will look better once it's painted.

Stowage on a 1/35 Sherman scale model tank
Everything glued in place.

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