Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Somewhere in Time

Who else has seen the movie “Somewhere in Time”?

Living in Michigan, and a semi-regular visitor to Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island (yes, they are spelled differently), you’re bound to see it at sometime or another. The basic premise is a modern (OK, early ‘80s) Christopher Reeves falls head over heels for a photo of Jane Seymour – taken in 1912. So he dresses in period costume, stays in a period hotel (the Grand Hotel on the Island) and eschews anything modern and through self-hypnoses travels back to 1912, where he pursues the lovely Seymour, yada yada, mushy stuff, yada yada. Gimmicky, yes, but an entertaining movie nonetheless.

Then his whole charade comes crashing down when he pulls a 1979 penny out of his pocket. Oops.

So what does that have to do with gaming or model building?

Well, aren’t we all just modeling something somewhere in time?

Earlier today I was reading some reference material on WW2 aircraft in the Pacific. And I already knew this, I suppose, but the author made the point that to try to replicate paint schemes and marking with 100 percent accuracy is virtually impossible. Ground crews were much more concerned with making sure the aircraft were flyable and had adequate fuel and ammunition than by making sure they conformed with the latest paint and markings regulations. Throw in the effects of brutal sun and relentless humidity and salt, and these planes could look all kinds of diverse pretty quick.

None of that is earth shattering, I know, and I pretty much knew all that anyway. I just got thinking about it after reading another piece on Indy cars and how different they could appear not just from race to race, but day to day in the month of May. Want an “accurate” model? Pick a day.

And let’s not even get started on what hats the Iron Brigade wore at a certain battle, or the differences in coat cuts from Bunker Hill to Saratoga to Yorktown. Or are red coats good enough. But then that opens up the debate of cocked hats or slouch hats?

I guess it all comes down to whether we are satisfied to be “period representative” or as accurate as we can be for somewhere in time. Do we go for a representative sample, say “early war P-40s,” or do we go for “the 24th Michigan as it appeared on July 2, 1863?

For gaming, I’d say try to be as “representative” as possible. For modeling, I’d say try to settle on a specific time.

What do you think?

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