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Discussion > Inspiration and originality

The subject of originality and scratch building has been a hot topic over on the MRR forums. There are things I want to explore but I didn't want to take over that thread so I am starting one here.
People got fired up because a very accomplished craftsman made a copy of an FSM diorama and then offered it for sale on Ebay.
My stand, to be clear, is that it is completely acceptable to do this. One, he is being open that it's a copy of the design (Butchers way).
Two, he's not offering a kit that will compete with FSM. It's a one of artwork and Three, was it a wholly original design in the first place or was it inspired by something else? I suspect it was.
As a kit designer, my opinion on this would likely distress many people. Inspiration and duplication are a strange thing. I can be and am inspired by other modelers work. As you might imagine I am constantly searching and assessing all of the modeling I see, to try to guess what might become popular with modelers and what might be a popular successful kit. I have some guidelines. I prefer small and odd to big and plain (though BIG and odd works occasionally). I hope you didn't think I was trying to hide the fact that some designs were inspired by other peoples models. Ethically if it's a model by another designer, it's off limits. Never, never, never would I copy a commercially available product. It would be easy to copy a successful kit and undercut it. Oh the temptation to take a $200 kit and offer it for $20 (we all have a dark side).
BUT, what if a kit is out of production, never to be seen again? Could that be revived? Should it be?
Our resurrection of the G&D engine house and water tower, (NMRA sanctioned) is an example (also done by FSM and others). That's kind of an easy one. What about using an unidentified sketch of a scene that was likely intended to be built? Or was it just a sketch?
I have been inspired by other contemporary modelers. Most notably Troels Kirk. The proportions, colors, eccentricity, are very much my own esthetic. The fact that he models in paper kind of puts the cap on it. "Kirks books" is an homage to a building on his layout. It's not an exact duplicate but it is pretty close. (it took hundreds of hours of my/our labor to make a reality) AND I have wrestled with making it available.
Ultimately it came down to this. It's an inspiration, it's an homage, it was a hell of a lot of work on my/our part. He ain't selling it.
Let me also say the WE have been copied several times by a competitor. It doesn't feel good even though there is an undercurrent of vindication for believing in a design.
This should be a hot one. Let me know your thoughts.
July 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterThom
Thom, Read your comments and agree with you. As you said everyone is inspired and motivated by what they see other modelers have done. I am an avid scratch builder and have been for many years but always see something new which strikes the right cord for modeling or copying. This is a share hobby and we all benefit from each other. If I get steamed about copying or the like I just lose focus. I was in a slow period when I first saw what could be done with paper models and that put me back on track. I don't like all but what I do like will find a spot on my layout somehow.
One other comment, Your new footprint pages raised the level and value of your web pages by about 100%.
Thanks for all the effort,

Wes Moreland
July 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwes moreland

I like your thoughts.

Sure, if a kit is out of production...go for it.

Wes and I model in much the same way. I mean to say scratch build and card stock. I have built many of your kits several times. Most of which I give to others. Mostly I provide buildings and such for dissabled folks (mostly Vets). To date I have passed on over 50 builds of your designs to others.

I can not tell you how greatful I am to you for the G&D. I work on this build when I am boored with others. Please don't be to upset when I start to send you photos of the build. You see, I am using a fair amount of lumber from North East and Kapler. So what I am doing is using your design and doing a little scratch. I would not have been able to do this without your help.

Please keep turning out the great work that you and your brother do.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
Wes, just wanted you and everyone else to know that I'm still working on the footprints. We'll get them all eventually.

John, I think you have known us long enough to know that we want nothing more than to inspire our customers to build something. Many, many have said that they have put together our kits, ONLY so that they can work out the details of a scratch build. Some times, especially in our N kits, you almost HAVE to substitute materials.

We will always support you and the rest of our friends in however they use our kits.
Dave Miecznikowski
July 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave
Some one recently asked about the status of the "Lighthouse model" Well, It's ready for a test build. any takers?
Also I still owe several custom named buildings to folks who won the build contest we had (a wile ago. I haven't forgotten) In that vain I have the Pub that needs a name. Any winners want to claim it?
The Burger stand pix that was sent have resulted in a very nice model. You'll be seeing it soon.
My laptop is still in the shop. as soon as i can get consistently back on line, I'll be showing lots of new stuff. The "Zelmer warehouse" (one of our winners is ready too. Lin will be getting that soon.

August 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterThom
Hi Thom and Dave,
Totally agree with your comments about kits based on out of production craftsman kits. Every time I look at the Troels Kirk website and see those beautifully proportioned, weathered, and, most importantly, harborside paper buidings, I'm very tempted to guess at dimensions, grab my Clever Models Texture Disk and trusty AutoCad program and go at it! I'll soon be sending pictures of the grain elevator to you. This was a free download from Bill Jones of Canada; I've since searched the internet to find the kit again, mainly because he was going to add more buildings to download, but have not been able to find the site. The alternate download site leads to nowhere. I did build his download, and then used it as a template to build another grain elevator using Clever Model textures. I believe this is totally ethical for several reasons - it was offered as a free download in the first place, and search as I might, seems to have vanished into cyberspace. I also took the liberty of recording the measurements and drawing the building out in AutoCad. I could probably draw out the outside braced storage building and metal cylindrical grain storage silo from research I did on grain elevators. These buildings and a truck unload driveway were to be future free downloads offerings from Bill, but as yet, have not materialized. If you like the structure, I have the drawings, we can barter. Keep up the good work and congratulations on August sales!!
- Mase
September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMase Maronn
I agree Mase. Look forward to those pix.I started a grain elevator but it hasn't gone far as of yet.
September 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterThom