The Little World Week – Part Three – You Want How Much?

My new best friend forever hobby shop has a fine selection of goods and is within a short  drive from my home. It is open pretty much every day and is air-conditioned. The shelves are widely spaced and the products set out logically in divisions. They have credit card facilities and do not impose a surcharge for usage. the staff is kindly, knowledgable, and attentive.

So why do I walk around in there muttering under my breath?

Because it costs $ 69 for an AMT 1/25 scale plastic car kit.

It is a good kit. It has lots os spare parts and you can build the car in many ways. It is accurate and well-moulded and is of a vehicle that one would never have been able to obtain in the 1960’s. And it is $ 69.

$ 69 buys me an extremely good meal in a hotel with drink and dessert.

$ 69 buys me a bottle of good rye whiskey.

$ 69 transports me for two weeks around the town in my little car.

Of course, I also need to be honest and admit that $ 69 buys me all the new clothes I get in a year, and that’ll give you an idea of what my dress sense is. And $ 69 is the price of one of the cooking-quality die-cast cars that I collect – not a sophisticated piece by any means whatsoever. Modest tastes.

It’s old-guy sticker shock brought into the hobby store. It doesn’t take into account profits, inflation, economic trends, or anything. But it is a barrier to entering the world of model kit building – a barrier that I have finally had to leap by commencing scratch building.

Of course, that has its own impediments; skill levels, organisational plans, need for tools, need for ideas, need for courage – everything looks too difficult when you first see it. Even the books on the subject daunt one, as they seem always to have people who accomplish far more than you could ever contemplate…so how could you even start…

But one thing the scratch building does have that is appealing – price. I proved to myself just how little need be spent on weeks of fun by building a Cobbers caravan in 1:18 scale for my new diorama. The wheels are the only thing that had to be purchased – everything else was sitting in the scrap box or on the shelf of the office. Paint included, it represents    the price of pint of beer at the Guildford Arms Hotel…and well under the price at the posh Swan Brewery pub.

Not quite 50¢ value for two weeks hobby time like the Airfix 1:72 scale airplanes, but darned close in modern terms.

Morning In The Valley


The sky is blue

The sun has riz

I wonder where the hot rods is?

They is in the Swan Valley at the Cheese and Olive place – doing a charity show for pre-80’s iron. And they is doing a perty good job, too. Here’s a selection of the more colourful ones…and you need to remember that rust is also a colour…





Events in the valley attract a large turn-out on a Sunday as the place has any number of cheese, chocolate, wine, beer, food and coffee places attached to the farm properties along the Great Northern Highway. A fine day and a car or music event will see the roads packed and sometimes – as today – the amount of trade overwhelms the available parking space. The late comers find that they are just unable to join in. I’ve learned to read the advertisements and arrive an hour before the things open.


Today I was just that little bit late and found myself nabbing one of the last parking spots in between the sleeping grape vines. It’s a great place, the valley, but organisers need to put their heads together to see if they can overcome the logistics jam.

I Have 15 Different Corgi Bread Wagons…


I’m sure you do. And I think the rest of the community should express its gratitude to you for your efforts at keeping us safe from Corgi Bread Wagons. We sleep quietly in our beds knowing that our own collections are safe from the CBW proliferation.

The only awkward thing is…will you promise not to attempt sell those 15 Corgi Bread Wagons to the rest of us collectors for $ 145 apiece? We assure you that we will assist you in not doing this – you have our full support. Rather than pay you $ 145 for these die cast monstrosities…errr, I mean these marvellous little jewels of art…we will gladly flush our pension money down the loo.

But then again we know the temptation of the Collector’s fair and the heady atmosphere of 60-some men with money to spare and a hazy recollection of childhood. It is all too easy to slip into the seller mode and to attempt to recover your investment. Of course, if you forked out $ 10 each on these Zamac disasters when they were new, you can hardly be expected to sell them for anything under $ 11 now. I mean, it is pure business sense, isn’t it, and what else would impel a grown man to purchase a toy bread wagon other than hope of gain. Anything else would be madness…

It’s different for the plastic model builders. They get to fantasise about owning show cars and battleships and bombers and the physical act of building their models is good for them. Plus they get to inhale a lot of glue in confined spaces. Wayhay! The collector is a soberer sort – their orgasmic moments come only when unboxing a new model and some of them never actually unbox them…a fertile field for Freudian enquiry, that. But the plastic people are able to get that rush whenever they open a new box and fit their parts together. In this that have a lot in common with Hugh Hefner and King Charles II. And the less said on that topic the better…

Even the radio control airplane people have a legitimate pleasure. Building the aircraft, launching the aircraft, collecting the parts of the aircraft and going home in the car all subdued and thoughtful. It is a spiritual exercise for many.

Of course, there is also the rather underground pleasure of taking pictures of the models when they are bare. Again Mr. Hefner comes to mind…though in this case no-one pretends to read the die cast publications for the articles. we still do keep the magazines hidden, though, in case anyone finds out our secret lust for tractors or trailer homes.


Or Bread wagons.


Ripping Off The Mask…


…ing tape. And discovering that it has adversely affected the painted surface underneath it. The surface that it was stuck on to protect…GENERAL QUARTERS ALL HANDS ON DECK MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS AOOGAH AOOGAH…

This is  – One Of Those Discoveries – that all model makers and miniaturists make at some stage of the game. Fortunately it is at a point that can be corrected.

The masking tape in question was Tamiya tape and the paint was British Paints quick dry spray enamel. It had been left to dry for a day before the Tamiya tape went on it but a day later the lifting of the tape revealed that it had taken all the gloss off the enamel in the area it touched.

I have remasked in reverse with a very cheap Paint Partner masking tape from Bunnings as it does not have the same sort of adhesive power as the Tamiya, and re-sprayed the affected section. To be safe, after the 30 minute touch dry period for the respray, I am going to peel off the new mask before it has time to dig into the enamel.

As usual, it is not what you do before you get in trouble, it is what you do afterwards, that determines your character. I call it the HIRYU/HANCOCK Principle. Look ’em up and see what I mean.

If you get an anguished blog post in a half hour you’ll know we are still sinking. I’m still not gonna be contemplating the moon, however…


We See But We Do Not Observe…


I hope that was Sherlock Holmes who said that…the original SH and not the latest tele-vision of him. I think he was castigating Watson for not being able to tell the profession of a passer-by in the street. As it is, it serves as the perfect introduction to this blog about miniature building.

I am currently discovering how true Holmes’ statement was as I try my hand at 1:18 scratch building. There have been projects like a Sherwood diner, 14 cu yd roll-off trash bins, and any number of small accessories. Currently a service station and a mobile home are under construction. All these have been jolly eye-openers… as to just how closed my eyes have been in the past.

Today I realised that if my 1:18 mobile home is in Alberta, it will need heating in the winter – a lot of it out on the prairies. I can choose oil for the furnace or propane. As it is a stationary trailer I decided on oil, and have had to research what the older forms of heating oil tank looked like. Hard to do when you find that oil heating has gone out of fashion around here and all the tanks and accessories have been scrapped. Fortunately I turned up a picture of a tank beside a house in Maine and that will do nicely.

Nagged by the thought that I still needed a propane bottle. I researched the appearance and dimensions  from the firms that supply propane in Canada. Fortunately the 200 lb. bottle is the same size as plastic water pipe from our local hardware shop. Balsa ends, plastic bands, and a paper cap make it the perfect way to supply gas to the stove and oven.

Now I gotta research the mobile home stove and oven. And bathtub and toilet. And so on.

The maddening thing is I lived in exactly these circumstances but did not observe the precise shapes of things at the time. I never bothered to take pictures of such mundane objects. I can remember smells, and textures, but until I see someone’s old photo so many good details are a mystery.

It will be interesting indeed to see if there is any reply to an enquiry I sent to the A&W root beer people in Canada regarding some views of their older stands. I can build if I can see it. I hope they have a sense of humour and adventure.


The Discovery Of The New World – And It Is Flat


Columbus? Pffff. Nothing. Lavoisier? A headless horseman. Scott? Fremont? Captain Cook? Who? These people weren’t explorers. None of them ever found what I found!

To be fair none of them had access to Officeworks or Jacksons Drawing Supplies. They were confined to the oceans, polar regions, and vast plains. Limited fields of endeavour. They did their best – be kind to them.

But I have discovered the secret. You can use the pyramids to store potatoes in and you can put your old magazines and yearbooks in the ark of the covenant. I’ve got the real prize.

Foam board.

It’s that flat sheet material with plastic foam enclosed within either sheets of heavy paper or PVC sheet. It comes in various thicknesses – from 3mm to 19mm – and the sheets are about the A3+ or A3 size. The sheets are pretty flat when you get them and they stay flat when stored properly.

You can cut the paper-covered ones with a sharp craft knife or X-Acto knife and the plastic -covered type goes through a jigsaw or table saw beautifully. You can glue sheets together with mitred or flat joints using PVA glue, Tarzan’s Grip, or C-23 balsa cement. The plastic one yields to styrene glue.

You can also get rather expensive cutters made for the architectural trade that will do automatic mitres and blind cuts to allow you to assemble models of buildings with double-sided adhesive tape. The cutters are a luxury as they need sharp blades and heavy straight edges to work. Regular knives with sharp blades work fine.

If you are a model train worker who has a chance to work in a scale larger than HO – say in O, Gauge 1 or G, you can make basic building structures with these materials and decorate them to a very realistic standard. If you are working in 1.24, 1:18. or 1:12 scale for dollhouses, dioramas, or cars, the world is your oyster. The beauty of the material is that plans and drawings can be made right on the sheets and once cut out, there is little surface preparation needed to allow either gluing or painting. Unlike, balsa, there are no sheet surface pores to fill.


If you are making flat 90º joints for buildings you need to decide how to disguise the edge of the model, though 45º mitres will allow walls to fold perfectly. Here the fancy cutter may actually pay for itself. Paint sticks well to the surfaces and stucco effect is particularly easy to do. If the nature of the sturcture that you are reproducing has an exposed edge that is covered by a trim strip there is no reason why you cannot exactly duplicate this on the model with paper strip.

And the bestest bit about it – it is cheap, light, and fast to work with. The model of the 1960 35′ Rollahome that is currently on the workbench came to this stage in one day. The 14 cu. yard roll-off rubbish containers were done in 3 days, paint, weathering, and all. Of course, the BP service station has been several weeks in the making, and will occipy another month before it is doen, but the basic structure of foam core was done in four days.


If you have never investigated this material, I urge you to go exploring.



The Far Patio


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People with patios are fortunate – they have a space to go and sit in the warmer weather that is not inside the house. They can take a folding chair and a bottle of lemonade and a book and just sit there in raggedy shorts and a blue singlet and no-one makes them do anything. Except the insects – they keep the party lively. The sad thing is that people have a short span of appreciation and eventually get sick of seeing the clothesline and shed when they look up from the paperback. That is why Volkswagen vans were invented.

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That and Australian tourists who want to do the UK and Europe but have heard bad things about backpackers hostels – they hire VW camper vans from a ring of firms just outside London and head for Glastonbury and Oktoberfest. Yes, I can see you nodding your heads out there…

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Well, we all have that urge sometime. And the VW vans for some reason have racked up more trips through wet fields in France than Heinz Guderian ever did. Once experienced, they are never forgotten, and the sight of laminex-veneered particle board and tiny stainless steel sinks can induce awful flashbacks in middle aged Australians.

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These examples at the VW Car Club Show are just a tiny selection of a vast army of voitures de camping. You can find all the comforts of home in them, but not in the same van. Oh, I’ll amend that – the big flashy modern silver one does indeed have everything that opens and shuts and the chap showing it was delighted to take people on tours of the living area. It would certainly be as comfortable as living in a Japanese capsule hotel for a couple of months and I’ll bet it in a high wind it handles nearly as well as the hotel.

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The smaller and older ones give away a little in elegant finish ( though I do like the yellow curtains ) but not in functionality. The grey-blue splitty with the full length roof rack probably has a gas blacksmith’s forge and a wine cellar somewhere in the fold-outs. One could camp out in it comfortably until the warrants ran out and if you loaded the rack with all your supplies you could subsist for even longer. With a quiet beach to park by and a source of running water there would be little need to ever return.

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See? All you have to do is get close to VW vans and you start to get a desire to run away to a desert isle. Or if you are a gourmand, a dessert aisle…