Failing quickly

I should have known better, because I can’t paint. But I thought I could assemble and paint a model of the Enterprise-B, an Excelsior-class ship featured in Star Trek: Generations. I have a display in the Lair of various Enterprises (NX, D, reboot) and have room for one more and have always liked the Excelsior class ship. The Enterprise-D I painted myself in the late 1990s (after a misguided attempt at an Aztec paint scheme that I had to start over), but that was mainly painting raised surfaces in certain spots. The other two I bought.

This is what I wanted it to look like.

This is what I wanted it to look like.

This time, I thought I could negate my poor painting skills with model masking tape and the simpler paint job of the Enterprise-B (see above). Alas, the paint leaked under the masking tape, some of the pieces didn’t fit together as advertised, and the whole thing looked like crap after the first and second try on the easiest paint areas.

Captain Harriman with a paintbrush.

Captain Harriman with a paintbrush.

I didn’t even attempt the really hard stuff which includes painting the curving, sloping edge of the saucer with thin, parallel lines of blue, and applying thin, curved decals that require surgical precision.

The masking tape areas actually turned out worse.

The masking tape areas actually turned out worse.

I have paint thinner, and I did correct mistakes, but was making as many mistakes as I was fixing. The ship would never be well-painted, and I don’t want a Enterprise that looks like it was decorated by a grade-schooler on a sugar rush.

I couldna do it, Cap'n!

I couldna do it, Cap’n!

So I quit. The amount of time I would pour into finishing the model to a still-wince-worthy level of quality is too precious to waste. Knowing when to quit, when to accept failure is an important skill. I cut my losses, learned my lesson (never assemble a model again) and reminded myself that if it involves a paintbrush, I need to write a check.

My daughter was unimpressed with this move. She is a good artistic painter, and relished the opportunity to tell me that it takes practice to do something well. Touche. However, when the learning curve is steep for a one-off thing like this model, it’s not a good idea. And not realizing that was my true failure, I replied. She was unimpressed.

I’ll get the toy-lights-up-in-the-box version. It looks a thousand times better than anything I could do.

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