The Dilemma behind Paywalls (Both Hobby and Academic)

I was on my fifteen-minute break at work the other day when someone submitted a topic. I try my best to answer reader submissions despite controversies.

@JonlynL would the StudioG masterclass make for a good blog? Specifically, I’m fascinated with why people have this stance that they define what is and isn’t acceptable with “THEIR” hobby. And if someone goes outside that they are now a problem? Any thoughts?

A lovely twitter reader

In all honestly, I was unaware of the whole ordeal at the time. So, when I got home I slumped down in front of my laptop and went to work pouring over social media and the cracks of the hobby.

What had caused a stir in the gunpla community had been StudioG offering a seven-day virtual masterclass for hobby basics at the price of a hundred dollars to 430$. The basics include things such as scribing, airbrushing, using styrene plating, and so on. All wrapped together in a bow that says “StudioG’s Masterclass is designed to help you customize your model kits like how a pro should“. along with a promise that this will all be achieved in seven days. I went to look for further details but only to find most of the information to be scrubbed from the internet quickly, but the impact had been seen.

I reached out to the community and found mixed results when it came to opinions.

Some opted in favor of it, stating that it is a business. That with the selling point of 430 you walk away with tools and sets of paint. If people want to spend the money on it, then so be it. Others vocalized that, while in favor of the business aspect, dislike the monetization of knowledge. It was even taking a step further when some spoke up that it wouldn’t be a terrible idea except that they felt there were rare interacts with the community other than pushing products.

There was neutral ground where indifference was held. Monetization of specific skills that aren’t free knowledge seemed to be okay.

Then there were those who disliked the concept. Concerns over making money rather than the best interest of the community. That the foundation of the community is the peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge without the use of money. Discouragement over the idea that knowledge should be paid for, and that knowledge should be free. A gatekeeping of information from those who cannot afford it.

Many believe that it feels like a swindle. Especially considered there was talk of a price drop after a while. 100$ to 30$ in the future.

Some just shrugged it off as a typical influencer and wished for it not to become the norm.

To quote one community member:

I have realized that studio g’s decision really is not “bad” or remarkably exploitative. But it does feel like someone setting up a hot dog truck at a food pantry. Time and place, dude. Time and Place.

There is also an argument going on about how this compared to something like patreon where people can pay monthly. Well, there is a difference between making people pay for something to, say a masterclass, rather than inviting people (through patreon) to contribute if they want. Most patreon accounts tend not to block a lot of the information they share. Some post easily accesses but the information will still be made public at some point.

Not to mention the notable cost difference. Some offer just one dollar a month tier that people can sign up to if they want. Granted most things behind a paywall on patreon are NSFW 18+.

Another rising option I am seeing in the scale modeling community is Ko-Fi. Strictly donation based. No monthly sign ups unless you want too. Most of the content is up available and donations are made by what people can afford.

Paywalls here and there…

I am not terribly surprised by the attempt of hobby paywalls nor is a new thing for me.

Some of you know that I have a degree in criminology, the study of crime and criminal behavior. Both the natural sciences and social sciences (along with many other career fields) are plagued by paywalls for information. Which is terribly frustrating for people entering the field.

A good chunk of the criminology journals is out of cost for anyone entering the field. The cost of publishing these journals is out of hand. There had been a relevant paper that I had an extreme interest in only for the small cost of 42$. What university student afford ONE just one journal at that price? Especially when some go for more. I’ve seen them go as high as 75$.


Of course, there is a long-complicated spiel about how difficult it is for the publishers to publish these journals, minus the fact that most universities have to pay millions in subscriptions (I want to know how much of that goes into my tuition rates) and the labor that goes into it by the authors. The irony is that the universities often employ those writing the journals.

(Looking at you Elsevier.)

How are we going to thrive in science if we cannot afford to learn innovative, up-to-date, research? Especially when most of the scientific research conducted is done by the support of federal tax dollars. This extends into biology, criminal justice, and even medicinal journals. This bars people who cannot participate on a fiscal level.

The same can be said for journal paywalls (as a way to increase revenue both online and print). Even blog seem to have paywalls.

(don’t worry, this will be free for everyone).

Information should be open access to benefit the masses.

Open access is the concept that information should be available to all.

Free information for all

Free information benefits all. That’s all.

Free information is priceless for the community, especially beginners.

Theres also an abundance of online sources that people can go to for hobby information that doesn’t involve spending money. Hell, there’s even build nights if those are accessible.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. Most people in the hobby are willing to provide help for free or can point you in the direction of someone who can.

One example of it that I’ve seen this weekend is by a dude named Keven. He published a book called the Model Maker that can be bought for free using the code “cash money” to get it for free (use all lower cases).

I can recommend a plethora of builders who have personally taken their time out to help me (Shout out to Pabz for putting up with my hobby shenanigans, along with Brian, Z, Kyle, and maybe Julio).

One goal I have in mind for December is setting up a resource page for beginners, or anyone in that matter, to be able to scroll through and find videos about what they are looking for. Scribing, decals, funky painting techniques, you name it. (Thanks to @the.salty.robot for the idea and dealing with my rambles about it.)

What do you think? Drop a comment below and tell me what you think, I’d love to hear it.

Have a great Monday everyone!


9 thoughts on “The Dilemma behind Paywalls (Both Hobby and Academic)

  1. Personally it absolutely infuriates me when information is locked behind a paywall. The internet at its core design was to allow the free flow of information and by extension to express yourself.

    While It has to be said i wouldnt mind nearly as much if the “knowledge” was cheap like 5-20$ but even then i would have trouble with it. And like you said, its not like i cant ask the many people i know in this hobby for that.

    Ntm Its like how people always are worried about fake news and how it spreads, then you look at the fact the not so trustworthy sources are free. Meanwhile all the reputible sources expect you to pay a subscription for their services. Thankfully there are ways around this but still its messed up to me. Guess the free press was never really free.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can agree that there is basic knowledge everyone should have access too. My concern here is weather or not he has the RIGHT to sell his knowledge. IF an actor was holding a workshop and you liked the actor, would you pay for the class? Should that be free? You can look on YouTube for acting ideas, but you value that actor. Is that worth it to you? In this case, it isn’t basic knowledge he is selling, that is already free and accessible, he is a brand and he is selling himself to people. He as a individual has value, and some people would like the idea of that while others would not. Or another thought that maybe we can all relate too, has anyone ever told you that you should stop buying model kits, grow up, or move on from the hobby? Just one? The hobby brings value and joy to you, so you spend the money on the kits while other people think your mad for spending 40-80$ or so on plastic. It has value to you. If studioG has value to you, you have the right to make a choice to support it or not, but I do think he absolutely has the right to offer to charge for what makes him unique, and I don’t think anyone had the right to bully him or devalue him. He has a right to sell his experience just like any other artist.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I get your point. And i myself said i probably wouldnt act as harshly if the price wasnt flat out absurd. It just personally goes against my philosophy on how i see things. Personally i also find it also kinda becomes a moot point to argue this because of the sheer amount of tutorials you can watch, for free, on yt.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. That’s a fair opinion and one that’s common in the split. I really hope people don’t think this is an attack against StudioG. Just an interesting topic that a viewer submitted

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no I think this is a fair opinion that you wrote. We’re are all just expressing opinions. My comments about attack were directed in the comment section on the post that was later removed on his post. People just being straight up cruel. But this is a really well done post, thank you for writing it!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. (i think i misread some of this text) but also i cannot stop someone from shelling out a lot of money over something probably not worth that much. (I mean we are all addicted to this plastic crack here)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for weighing in on this. I personally think it’s fine for a person to charge for their Gunpla building expertise! His class includes a lot of materials, so he’s really only charging $100-$200 for his actual skills, which I presume he spent years working on. There’s plenty of free Gunpla-building info out there (cough cough my own website cough) but I bet taking a master class like this is way more hands-on and will help you accelerate your building journey if that’s what you want. He’s not gatekeeping ALL Gunpla knowledge like some people seem to imply. Thanks again for starting this discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think that hearing the breakdown (7 weeks of weekly 4 hour in person classes = 28 hours in person, $430 ÷ 28 = ~$15/hour for in person lessons with included tools and paints and facilities) it was an incredibly reasonable price.

    I also don’t really agree with the idea that Studio G should be offering this for free, because a) he already has free tutorials up on his website and YouTube channel, and b) at this point one isn’t just paying for the information, they’re also paying for his time and immediate feedback.

    I think that the argument that people should be teaching classes for free is incredibly harmful to the community and to the arts in general, because the whole fantasy of the “artist who does and teaches art for the love of art” completely ignores that people still have to eat, and if someone is putting time and effort in for others’ benefit, they should be able to get something out of it.

    The alternative, it seems to me, is one does these things for free while simultaneously working a different job, meaning they have less time and energy to do what they love and develop their skills further, which could lead to stagnation in the hobby. Artists deserve to be paid.

    I think of someone giving a sculpture workshop, or someone teaching plumbing. It would be deeply disrespectful to expect someone to donate their time to you when their livelihood is important.

    And, once again, online tutorials with no feedback or consistent progression are not the same as an in-person workshop.

    Honestly, I think that the backlash by others reflects considerably more poorly on the hobby and community than one guy offering paid workshops after having put out over a dozen free tutorials online.


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