Contest Cars… or How to Envy Other People’s Talent

I was aware that Scale Auto Magazine had been discontinued, so I was surprised to find an edition of their annual show extravaganza, Contest Cars, on sale at a random Barnes and Noble in March 2021. I bought it and it went into my to-be-read pile.

Now, the best way to describe my relationship with Contest Cars is love/hate. I absolutely love looking at the beautiful builds in here, and these mags are among my go-to choices when I want to pull something off my shelves for relaxed browsing.

On the other hand, I hate the fact that people have the skill (and, let’s be honest, the patience) to achieve the kind of quality on display here. My own models are what you’d call acceptable. There are no obvious errors, and the builds are clean enough. They are perfectly nice replicas of the cars they’re supposed to represent, and most visitors to my house who see them think they’re those expensive models you buy built up.

But I know the truth (and modelers who know what to look for will also know the truth). The models I build are perfectly okay, but no more than that. On display here in Contest Cars are the best models from the kind of people who would actually take their production to a model show. That takes serious skills and bravery.

And this annual showcase drives it home. The main difference with normal model magazine issues is that in a normal issue, the stunning models within are generally displayed as examples of build techniques, or with a step-by-step guide to how to duplicate it. Though usually beyond my personal skill and patience levels, at least you feel they’re sharing wisdom.

That’s not the case in Contest Cars. This is mode people showing off their virtuosity.

It’s wonderful, and I hate them for it.

Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose latest novel is a dark historical Fantasy entitled The Swords of Rasna. You can check it out here.

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