Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wacky Wednesdays – Innovative thinking and 40k, and …Chaplin?

When you hear the word “innovative”, what do you think of?  describes it as, “tending to innovate, or characterized by innovation.”  Innovate then?  Innovate - to introduce (something new) for or as if for the first time: to innovate a computer operating system.   Archaic . to alter.

So, how then do you become innovative?  An easy answer would be to “think outside the box”.  What is the best way to achieve thinking of this kind?  We all have our “set ways”, and I am no different.  (Look at my writing style.)   Some believe that innovation can not be taught, if you fall into this category, I point you here.

To “think outside the box”, one must know the limits of the subject.  (This comes naturally to most, and we don’t even think about it.)  So, the easiest practice to be innovative?  Come up with as many ideas as you can about your subject, then start to analyze each idea.  In his early career, Charles Chaplin learned filmmaking from Mack Sennate, who taught him to film a bunch of ideas in various locations, and then later piece them together into a storyline.  This worked well for Chaplin, who utilized it in his films as well as his music composing later on.

There are many examples of innovation.  Again, we turn to Charles Chaplin for an example.  When it comes to comedy filmmaking with a dramatic touch, nobody could compare.  It is a lost art.  There is a bit of a oxymoron when utilizing Chaplin as an example of thinking outside the box.  (He put off filming a “talky” as much as he could)  Yet, even when faced with the difficulty of adding sound to his films that involved the Tramp, he overcame by being innovative, and thus created one of the best films of his time.  (City Lights.)  It is still joyous, heartbreaking, and humorous, all at once. 

There is an anecdote referring to Chaplin that is a great example of his innovated thinking pattern.

The playwright Charles MacArthur had been brought to Hollywood to do a screenplay, but was finding it difficult to write visual jokes.

"What's the problem?" asked Chaplin.

"How, for example, could I make a fat lady, walking down
Fifth Avenue
, slip on a banana peel and still get a laugh? It's been done a million times," said MacArthur. "What's the best way to GET the laugh? Do I show first the banana peel, then the fat lady approaching, then she slips? Or do I show the fat lady first, then the banana peel, and THEN she slips?"

"Neither," said Chaplin without a moment's hesitation. "You show the fat lady approaching; then you show the banana peel; then you show the fat lady and the banana peel together; then she steps OVER the banana peel and disappears down a manhole."

So, what does Charlie Chaplin have to do with 40k?  Two things really. 

1.)      Don’t be afraid to try something new.  On the table, with a new opponent, painting technique, etc…  You may find something that nobody thought of before.
2.)      Don’t forget to have fun.  (Since I am on a Chaplin kick here...)

 “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charles Chaplin

Being innovative also requires a couple of ideals that are, in theory, easy to obtain, hard to hold on to.

The first ideal is inspiration.  What inspires you when it comes to your army?  (I enjoy modeling/painting so I am inspired seeing other people’s giant projects.)  Inspiration can be like lightning – rarely strikes, and when it does, it is awesome, then it is gone.  So, once you find your inspiration, ride it out until it is gone, then find it again…

Second is a bit harder depending on your situation – commitment.  If I could function on less than 6 hours of sleep, then I would stay up as late as I could and work on my hobby.   If I did not have to work to support my family, then I would. 1.) Spend time with my family, and 2.) spend time at my hobby desk.

We all have prior or more pressing commitments, job, family, etc…but, as it was once said in Star Trek, “If it is important enough, you make the time.”

Once you are inspired and committed to an idea, then comes the execution.  Don’t worry about being perfect at this point, the gist of it is to come up with a lot of ideas, and pick the best one, or combine your ideas into something even better.  This process is easier to execute if you write all of your ideas down.  Go over each one, and figure out the weakness or strength of the idea. 


Next time you think about your army list, think about under used units that your opponent may not suspect.  Or a new tactic developed under the “That’s so crazy, it just might work” process.  You never know, it may be a while, but through trial and error, that “its so crazy, it just might work” idea can really become a powerful tool in your army.

Same goes for modeling and painting.  Who says I can’t use a WFB Giant kit to make my ‘Uge warboss for 40k?  Or, why not a “stompy” trukk using Defiler’s legs, and the top assembly of a trukk kit.  (This is one I always wanted to try, just lack the funds.) 

Which is a good note to wrap this whole innovative thinking article up with…if you can’t put your innovative idea into practice because of money…then you just need to be a bit more innovative and come up with a cheaper way to pull it off.

So, what inspires you?  What ideas have you had lately that could be considered “innovative”?


  1. I've been looking at doing WWII and earlier kitbashed ork vehicles of late and some vintage style pickup truck cabs as the base for mega/meka-dreads. I'm in the trading/frame work stage and need to get some final measurements of things like buggies, trakks and wagons before I decide on certain kits. I'm probably going to spend another week or so working things out before I take a blade to anything.

    I've also been bit gathering for a Thousand Sons project, and seeing what it would take to do them in true sale as well. Outside of 40K I have started a rail yard table for Malifaux and possibly Infinity.

  2. Sounds like you have your plate full...

  3. I have an afternoon for gaming reserved pretty much one of the few I have use of both hands. It has been a lot easier to do the planning/trading stages of projects since it is easier to type or write while holding the new baby than it is to use a dremel or paint brush.

    The Sons project is an on again off again affair for me.

    Orks have always been a fun blow off steam project for me and I think the early war patterns will work well with their style. The only thing I can't see using are the motorcycles, all the military ones are a bit weedy. I haven't seen any regular bike kits to fit the scale.

    The Truck cab dreads just need the right kit to be found. It might be easier to build a standard dread first and then scale up into a mega/meka. Everything else just depends on finding those sparks of inspiration in other kits or just getting that perfect piece.

    The wagons and dreads just have a scale that is truly unique to Orks so it is hard to find the right kits. The first Trukk is going to be based off of a Tamiya sdkfz 250/1.

  4. Sounds great! Post some links here when you get them done! I for one would love to see them.