By Brudder Bill
This is content from another of our Dem Brudders articles that appeared in the IPMS/USA Journal a long time ago. It was published WAY before Moebius Models released their rebooted Moonbus kit from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Prior to this, the original Aurora Moonbus kit was a high-priced collectible kit. Keep reading and you'll know why I mention this.
It’s the Late 1970’s-ish and I’ve just started college. I also have a steady girlfriend, and am working over twenty hours a week. In my spare time, I build models. My time has become quite fully utilized, and something has got to go. My girlfriend (whom I later will marry) supports me in my work and school activities but shares no enthusiasm whatsoever for my model building. Neither does my mother who informs me that it’s high time I outgrow such a “childish activity.” The women in my life prevail and the modeling hobby gets the deep-six treatment. Revell and Monogram get the raw end of the deal. You can tell from their earnings the following year.
I briefly ponder what to do with the run-of-the-mill models, and call up one of my friends. This guy is in the same boat as me since we are the same age. He’s started school at the local university too and also has a girlfriend who occupies his limited spare time, but we set aside an afternoon for the disposition of a dozen or so built models of various types and sizes.
Ever since we were very young, my friend Pete had always been a great source for things like matches, fireworks, and gunpowder; items that were either non-existent or closely inventoried in my household. His older brothers are quite enthralled with firearms, and Pete seems to have available for his pleasure a virtually unlimited supply of gunpowder and a dizzying choice of weapon types ranging from homemade muzzle-loaders to some I shouldn’t mention here. His folks have attitudes about such devices that could only be described as somewhat relaxed compared to my own parents. After carefully considering our options, we decide to stick with the classics and so procure some .22 caliber rifles and an unmodified twelve-gauge shotgun. We reload a healthy assortment of shells with diverse combinations of powder and shot to observe their varying effects on the models. Some large bottle rockets had also been obtaining dust in his basement, so we secure those as well, and head for the hills.
I don’t need to go into great detail about how our afternoon Way Back When was actually spent, but you can probably well imagine at this point. At the time, the phrase “rare kit” was not a part of my vocabulary, and today, I regret my choice. Yes, we exercised sound judgment with the firearms. We carefully selected a safe spot in a remote area and practiced range safety and gun handling techniques that facilitated our general continued well being. On the other hand, however, the shaky duct-tape marriage of models and large bottle rockets represented a temporary but serious lapse of common sense, and we were probably fortunate to escape injury in spite of the dynamic results. What I regret most about that day, though, was the assumption I made that model building was an activity that needed to be abandoned. The concept of “hiatus” simply had not occurred to me.
I was a bit vexed since she had been quite insistent years previously that I dispose of those offending spacecraft models that I then possessed. She surprised me by agreeing to pay for new ones, so I went to a hobby shop and bought Monogram’s 1/144 Saturn V moon rocket and 1/72 Space Shuttle orbiter kits for the noble cause of educating children. Amazingly, I was able to locate my old airbrush and compressor in my folks’ basement, and I dusted off the venerable project table and went to work. The models were built with relative haste and the presentation was given. The kids were quite enthralled by the large model of the Space Shuttle. The modular Saturn V model was a powerful visual aid, helping a group of kids born after the last moon landing to better understand the mechanics of how this miracle was performed. It was quite amazing to see their collective attention solidly riveted on this model and its inner workings. What impressed me the most, however, was the fact that I enjoyed building these models just as much as I did when I was a kid myself. I had to have more...
This, and other such subjects that had become available since I had left the hobby, made the lure of plastic modeling just too much to resist. I made a list of about a dozen aircraft subjects that would make a desirable, definitive and reasonable collection. My plans were to complete those, satisfy my modeling nostalgia fix, and perhaps move on to some other activity like photography or model trains. Yeah, right!
My story is certainly not unique. It seems that most adults who profess to be model builders gave up the hobby for a period of time and then returned to it, amazed by the advances and new kits that appeared during their “time off.” I’m sure there are many thousands of people out there that haven’t yet returned to the hobby but might do so if properly reintroduced. Perhaps those of us who consider ourselves addicted modeling enthusiasts can get the word out that the hobby is alive and well. I don’t think we need to use aggressive recruiting techniques or a hard-sell approach. These tactics tend to turn people off, especially in our current age of Internet spam advertising and aggressive telemarketing. Something simple like displaying a built model or vintage kit box art on your desk at work will create a conversation piece that will certainly produce interest by coworkers in your modeling activities. Then, a simple invitation to a club meeting or even a stop at the local hobby shop on your mutual lunch break may spark an interest that can only help our hobby when another prodigal modeler returns to the fold. Many of them will put down serious bucks to replace models they destroyed as kids, sometimes paying hundreds of times the original cost. One crazy act often begets another. At least the sellers don’t mind.
As for my desire to keep modeling…well, I won’t be quitting any time soon. While my dear, sweet wife doesn’t enjoy the activity, she acknowledges that it helps me blow off steam from a demanding mad-scientist career. It also helps me to be more amicable about certain things she does with her time that could otherwise drive me nuts. Also, it seems that there’s always just one more new kit out there that I’ve just gotta have. When will I quit modeling again? The day I quit modeling will be the day they’re screaming for snowplows in Hell. Or they’ll be prying my last kit from my cold, dead fingers as the old firearms cliché goes. But not for a while, I hope.