We’ve all stumbled across the term “rivet counters” when perusing the many threads winding their way through the average diecast forum. But the question remains, “what is a rivet counter?” A “rivet counter” is a glorified term for someone best characterized as an overzealous hobbyist who would like to see a finished model look every bit as good as the real thing. It isn’t meant as a demeaning term — just one that best describes someone that scrutinizes every conceivable aspect of a finished model. The problem is that the average diecast manufacturer simply doesn’t have the resources to make their models look every bit as good as the real thing without breaking the bank. Moreover, the average model buyer couldn’t point to a “glove vane” on an F-14 or explain why an engine intake on an F-15 should be canted downwards or horizontally, or for that matter care. Only a handful of devotees know that the wings on a Grumman F8F Bearcat fighter should have its wings swept in a dihedral versus anhedral position, or could accurately describe the condition and what causes it from an aerodynamic standpoint.
So I sometimes stare in amazement as I read the banter that goes back and forth between forum users as they do their best to tear apart a model in the hopes of making it the perfect replica. Coming from the video game industry, and having played my fair shared of computer wargames and combat simulations over the years, it reminds me of how “grognards” — best described as a wargaming rivet counter — are constantly looking for the “holy grail” of wargames or flight sims, routinely taking designers to task for overlooking or simplifying one aspect of the product in order to make it more enjoyable if slightly less accurate in the user’s eyes.
The problem, in a nutshell, is that most diecast manufacturers must draw the line somewhere when it comes to designing their replicas, otherwise they will never bring the project in on budget or to market in a timely manner. I dare say, most are deeply interested in the feedback their products receive and do their utmost to correct deficiencies when and where ever possible. But the fact remains their target audience is typically more of a casual collector that just wants to add a decent replica to their collection that won’t bust “their budget” in the process. Its a fine line both parties must tow from a market driven perspective, bringing in the best possible product on time and within reasonable cost constraints so that everyone is satisfied and the business model can move forward to the next project all over again.