Dem Brudders Encounter The Model Haters
Here's more content that appeared in the IPMS/USA Journal circa 2006. The IPMS (International Plastic Modellers' Society) started in the U.K. in 1963 and has been going strong worldwide ever since. There is probably a chapter near you.
When “Dem Brudders” were just youngsters, we had major problems with an anti-modeling mom. An interesting tension existed in our household. The more our mother hated models, the more Dick and I loved building them. Our mom was not the type of person that you would expect could dislike something as simple as a plastic model, but she did. In fact, she detested them!
Our basement was a quiet, out-of-the-way place perfect for model building, but she had a thing against spending too much time down there. A comment we heard often was “Shouldn’t you go outside in the sunshine and play with a ball? Can’t you call up some of your friends and organize a game? Why don’t you go out and ride your bike around the block?” This debate always seemed to commence when we were in the middle of some activity where concentration was crucial like gluing a canopy or positioning a decal.
Now it should be pointed out that both Dick and I spent plenty of time playing sports etc. outside with our friends, but our mother was more tolerant of us burning out our brains watching after-school TV reruns than building models. She went to great lengths to dissuade us from modeling, but we persisted. My brother and I are eight years apart, not a small gap for two boys. Never mind that building models brought us closer together even though we had little else in common. He was in high school when I attended elementary, so we didn’t exactly run in the same social circles. The fact that we were spending time together modeling made no difference to our mother. Perhaps sibling bonding was a foreign concept to her since she was an only child. There are many worse things that we could have easily been into. Sometimes I wonder if she would have been any more upset had Dick and I been smoking pot together in his room instead of building models.
One year, Dick built a fully rigged Airfix Mayflower ship model. He justified the gratuitous time spent on it as “homework.” Actually, he did in fact plan on using the model for a big report on early American history in his junior high school class. When he took the model to school, it was stolen. You would expect a mother to be quite upset at the theft of such an item, but according to Dick, our mom just shrugged it off. In today’s “enlightened” world, some mothers would probably call the school board, their attorney, the news media, and a specialized grief counselor in response to such a crime being perpetuated upon their dear child. In today’s world, our mother probably would have just shrugged in the same fashion that she did so long ago. She disliked our models just that much! I normally wouldn’t characterize Dick as a slow learner, but a year later, he built Revell’s 1/196 scale Constitution ship kit for another report. It was the same deal, with the model carefully painted and rigged. Again, it was stolen. Our mom shrugged it off just like before, maybe adding some when-will-you-ever-learn comment which only added insult to the injury. I don’t think Dick took models to school for any reason after that. Dem Brudders still wonder what became of pilfered Old Ironsides. To our mom, it was one less model in the house.
I remember well the day that our mom had finally had enough of modeling. She put her foot down and told Dick he could no longer build models in the house. It was a long time ago, but I can still remember vividly the image of Dick—sitting at a card table building his Revell Queen Mary ocean liner kit in the middle of the back yard. She later relented when she saw that he persisted, and he was allowed to work back in his own room. A few years later when I was building several models with friends, though, she again made that same mandate to cease and desist all household modeling activity. I moved my work area to the dusty garage and spent one whole summer building models there. The scent of freshly applied Testors paint lingering with stale lawn mower exhaust and lawn clipping odors still lingers in my mind.
Models would break inexplicably on cleaning day. When we left home during the higher education years, several models mysteriously vanished. I didn’t save many models during that period, but one in particular still bothers me. AMT’s first version of the Star Trek movie Enterprise is a highly desirable collectible since AMT retooled the kit, meticulously adding inaccurate panel scribing and an awful, pebbly finish. For some reason, the secondary hull and warp engines from my first-issue smooth-surface model disappeared, probably donated to charity or the local landfill by our mother. I still have the primary saucer hull. If anyone out there picked up a secondary hull with warp engines a few decades ago at a thrift shop, I’d love to buy it back! Likewise, a 1/32 scale Hasegawa/Minicraft F-5 kit in its box fell missing without explanation. I know Dick is short a few items as well, most notably a complete Renwal Visible Head kit that would have greatly benefited him during his studies for his dentistry career.
It is no small irony that our mother is largely responsible for getting me started up modeling after a break of several years. Providing a pair of fairly large space models for a demonstration in one of her school class projects got me back into it, but that’s another story. Dick and I began attending our local model club together many years ago. Our mother didn’t seem to care that we were fostering family relationships spending time together, seeming instead to be somewhat irritated that we were both still participating in an “immature” activity.
Others in the family seemed to share our Mom’s disregard for modeling. One of our sisters learned how to really irritate Dick. She resided in a bedroom right above his, and she discovered that a strategically placed, heavy thump on the floor would dislodge some of the model planes hanging from Dick’s acoustical tile ceiling and they would come crashing down in pieces. I vividly recall hearing language certainly not fit to print here as Dick discovered the results of her hijinks. If her technique could somehow be scaled up to full size, it would make a powerful anti-aircraft defensive weapon. It sure was effective in 1/72 scale.
Dick and I made preparations for months to attend our first local contest in the late 1980’s. A beloved uncle passed away with timing perfectly in accordance with Murphy’s Law, and his funeral was hastily placed smack-dab over the contest. We didn’t even dare contemplate beseeching those in charge to change the date of the funeral or try to bow out gracefully to attend the contest instead. It may be hard to believe for a fully addicted modeler, but there are some things that just plain transcend model contests.
It wasn’t until we returned from our first trip to the IPMS Nationals a few years later that our mom finally acknowledged that our hobby may have some redeeming worth. Dick, his son Tom, and I, brought home a sheaf of awards giving us some recognition in a national competition, and my mother said she was proud of us, and thought that it was great that we could enjoy an activity together. It was a surprise to Dick and me to hear her speak of plastic modeling with anything but contempt. She passed away not long after. We still laugh about her aversion to our models, but we feel a lot better knowing that she had softened her disdain for our hobby prior to her death.
As expected, our spouses have had their own observations, some negative, about our modeling activities. Let’s just say that we’ll never receive a hero’s welcome after a triumphant return from a successful showing at any model contest. There’s probably enough to say about that in another post of Dem Brudders.
If you have someone in your household that dislikes your hobby, how can you deal with it? Well, we have no easy answers, but it might help to ask yourself if there may be a perception, realistic or otherwise, that you are spending too much time with the hobby. While preparing for a big contest a few years ago, I devised a good strategy to take the edge off our occasional household anti-modeling tension. By waking up a couple hours earlier than my wife, I was able to make great progress on my contest models. I had fresh energy, the house and the telephone were perfectly quiet, and the enjoyable activity invigorated me for the rest of the day. My wife didn’t care what I was doing while she was still asleep. The plan worked great until she saw how much I was benefiting and so she decided to get up early too.
If your spouse engages in some activity you detest, perhaps the both of you can find some common ground that will provide amnesty for a reasonable dedication to modeling. For example, let’s suppose your spouse spends what you may consider an inordinate amount of time on the phone with family members talking about their various comings and goings. Perhaps you could come to an agreement that your spouse could be more amicable about your modeling if you are more supportive when she gets so involved in extended family happenings. You could also tactfully remind her that your models never demand immediate attention by randomly interrupting your current activity with a ringing bell several times during a given evening. This is a perfectly theoretical scenario I’m mentioning, of course!
Well, that’s enough random mumblings. Keep those models coming, but don’t forget to be sensitive to the other loved ones in your life. Maybe Santa will bring you a model or two this year instead of another pair of sunglasses.