Welcome to this weeks Musings.
This week there is only one topic, more a question really but a significant one and a subject which all of us are likely to have an opinion on.
“What is Cool?”
I suppose the first thing to address is why ask the question? Well the July challenge is to do something “cool” which got me thinking what in modelling terms does this mean?
Away from modelling it is easier to identify, the cinema is a good example I think. At some point I’m guessing we’ve all been to the pictures (movies for those in the US) and wished to be the guy (or girl) up there on the screen. I for one would have loved to have been Bond, James Bond. The girls, the cars the don’t give a damn attitude to authority which can only happen knowing you’re the best and that the authorities have to accept you no matter what. Then there’s The Man With No Name played by Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns or Steve McQueen riding the motor bike in The Great Escape. Go back further and you have James Dean and the young Marlon Brando. Another actor not to be forgotten is Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. He was so cool in that film that they even put “cool” in the film title! The list goes on and on and for younger readers there are numerous current hero’s with which to identify with. The point is they are easily recognisable. They look sharp, get the girls and best of all they don’t give a shit!
Music and dance are also relatively easy areas to identify with as well. Think Elvis, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, etc, etc. The list is endless but we can all identify with someone “cool”. When I think dance I think Patrick Swayze and John Travolta. Forget Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and Grease, I’m talking Pulp Fiction. If you’ve never seen it check out the dance scene. Again we can identify cool as people doing what we would love to do but can’t.
Now fashion is a lot tougher. We’ve all known someone, male or female, who could wear a bin bag and carry it off. Key here I think is body shape and good looks. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but as a general rule hero’s aren’t to thin, fat, short or tall. What they are is perfectly proportioned. They are also drop dead gorgeous with good bone structure and perfect teeth and hair. The only slight alternative to this is to be tough and hard. People wont take the piss out of you to your face if you dress badly but stand six-foot six and are built like the proverbial shit house door (although they may do behind your back!)
Another area of “cool” is to be very, very good at what you do, exceptional would be even better. You don’t have to dress well or look good but if you are the best in your field then plenty of people will think you are cool. This is why even geeks and nerds can be cool. Mark Zuckerberg springs to mind.
Money and plenty of it can also go along way to being cool. I’m reminded of the English football (soccer) player, Peter Crouch. He stands about six-foot eight inches tall, thin as a rake and looks like he fell out of the ugly tree and hit most of the branches on the way down. However, as a professional player he earns a fortune and has a model for a wife who when walking arm in arm makes him look good. Asked what he would have been if he hadn’t made it as footballer he reportedly said “a virgin”. Says it all about money.
So, back to modelling. Why is “cool” important?
Quite simply as figure painters, gamers and modellers it’s nice to do something which our peers think is cool. Cool is everywhere, even in our niche hobby. We like “cool” figures, vignettes or dioramas. We do our best to achieve excellence and perfection and feel we have achieved it when someone says “that’s cool”. It makes us feel good to hear those words (or similar) and for that reason “cool” is important. But how do we go about painting or building something cool in the first place? What makes for “cool”?
Well, in no particular order these are my thoughts on what makes for a “cool” model.
- Paint work. It doesn’t have to be the best paint job but I think it’s fair to say we all admire well painted figures or base work. Put another way, we notice it when it’s not that great. Further more we are our own worst critics and don’t usually need someone to tel us!
- The figure itself. The pose can be significant as can be the “attitude” of the figure. Something different and unusual often stands out for me but the more the figure has Hollywood looks, which is to say it has been sculpted well, then so much the better. As the saying goes, “you can’t polish a turd!”
- Detail. I think we all admire detail. Wether it’s in the paint work, the conversion/sculpting or base work we all have an eye for detail.
- Simplicity. Sounds like a contradiction to Detail but sometimes the simpler something is the better it looks. Goes for base work as well as figures.
- Something different and original. Many of us are copiers having been inspired by the work of others to do our own take on something. Nothing wrong with that, even the Beatles had their influences. But coming up with something truly creative and original has the potential to be the coolest thing of all!
So there you have it. Not an original list by any means, nor is it a definitive one. It’s also a question for which there is no right or wrong answer, it is subjective. That said I would really love to know what others think makes for a cool model.
Until next time.