Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Type of Hobbies – Scale Modeling

We were five brothers (we lost our elder brother February this year), each with distinct taste and hobbies. One of us had a flare for making models and replicas of various objects with cardboard. He would make life size models of guns and we would wear army uniforms of a deceased uncle and fight each other by making piquets in our rooms. This is how he started something that was later to become his profession and earning his bread and butter.
As time passed, his abilities became more polished and refined. He then started making small models of homes with card boards and would decorate these with furniture and other household. He would do it so precisely that when seen under a magnifying glass, one could see details of nuts and bolts. He was inching forward to something which at that time very few people could do. Although he studied product designing from the prestigious National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore, his orientation remained towards making models. After his graduation from NCA, he took up scale modeling, his hobby since childhood, as his profession. I remember he made a room sized scale model of a woolen factory which had dozens of spindles and machines looking exactly the same as original. He continues to do so till date. A cousin of mine, Ibrar Bhatti, also a graduate from NCA has also made his hobby of scale modeling into a thriving business and his models are a treat to watch. Seeing the photographs of his models, one can hardly guess these to be models.
The introduction was to introduce to you another type of hobbies – the scale modeling. Scale modeling is in fact exact replicas in a smaller scale of huge structures, buildings, machines and other structures to test the architectural details and introduce the would-be project to customers so that one gets to know what is about to come up on ground.




Similar to scale modeling is another field known as model engineering. The model engineering refers to making exact replicas of machines and their moving parts in metal to show as how the machine is going to work. The model engineered replicas can also be used for training and research purposes as well. We often see the car engine models which show each function of the car engine in motion. This is what model engineering is all about. Model engineering started as a branch of study in 19th century, but it had more to do with hobbying rather than learning something from a school or a technical school.  
Scale modeling gained fame after the WW-II when industrialization got a boom. Hobbyists found a way of earning by demonstrating their skills in making scale models of everything that could be manufactured or constructed. Most of the models are now made of plastic and alloys which make it easier to give the required angle and rounded edges.
With the advent of computer graphics like Auto CAD, the trend to rely more on computer generated models is gaining popularity rather than the scale models. However, major infrastructures and building owners still prefer to have a life size scaled down model of their structure placed at the entrance of the show room to attract customers. These models are augmented by full screen projection systems to allow a 3-D viewing. The computer based graphic software provides accuracy up to 1000th of an inch, which provides much finer details.
While computer graphics have overtaken manual scale and model engineering and modeling, there are still enthusiasts who like to make scaled down structures with their own hands, giving them the same satisfaction as an architect feels when a structure actually comes on ground. It is the hobby that matters most, not the advancement in technologies and techniques.
Photos Scale Models Courtesy: Ibrar Bhatti

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