The Little World – Finding The Missing Links

Every modeller – whether dollhouse builder, plastic scale worker, or die-cast specialist – has found the dark places. The parts of their chosen scale where the lights do not shine. In short – the bits that no-one has ever made. The model that they know is crucial…but no-one else wants.

This can be a very galling experience. If you are a person who thinks that 1:12th scale Victorian drawing rooms and kitchens are the be-all and end-all of existence, you are fine. There are no end of dollhouse suppliers that can fulfill your needs. If you love the British Spitfire airplane you can rest assured that you never need be out of reach of a model. If you are a person who wants to collect 1:29th scale South African flying saucers, you are on your own.

That’s an extreme example, but you only have to move a very small way off the commercial pathway to be lost – try googling 1:18th scale furniture and see what happens. Yet there are tens of thousands of model collectors into 1:18th scale cars who might want to make a 1:18th scale house to go with them. In most cases they have been told to go and scratch.

Well, at least I scratch better than I did before. I was frightened that I could not reproduce the complex details of the world, and as a child I hesitated to try. But radio controlled modelling in the 1970’s showed me that the concept of stand-off scale was valid. Simplified detail could still validate a project. I use the concept all the time these days and reserve my heroic efforts for things I can do. And every now and then extend the working hands to a new spot…

Currently I am making the facade of an Art-Deco cinema as part of a 1:18th street scene. The thing resonates with me as a memory of similar things seen in my childhood. And it has speed lines, which make everything good. If you don’t believe me try adding them ot a baroque palace like Potsdam or Versailles and see how much better you feel. You need not put them on with bolts or nails – a can of spray glue will do. Or even a can of spray paint. Freddie Rex III Rules OK.




Now For A Proper British Festival…


Thank goodness we’ve gotten through that American Halloween thing. That business of ghosts and witches and children coming to the door dressed up. Not the sort of thing that we Britons would ever do. And now that we are in Australia we are appalled to see the local children following those overseas traditions. Hrmmmmph.

When we were at home in Gormless, or East Battersea, or St. Mary Foot Under The Necke we never had this trick or treating. We went regularly to vespermatins at St. Chinlesse parish church and prayed for our betters. Halloween was a sacred festival and our betters made sure we knew it. We mourn the loss of the class system here in the colonies, though the fact that the suburb is crowded with Asians and South Africans who have more money and arrogance than we can manage at present makes it a little awkward. But at least we do not have to let American ways here.

I said so clearly last week at the Caltex service station and again at the Hungry Jacks restaurant. But no-one listened.

Well at least we can look forward to a decent upstanding righteous festival in a few days time. Guy Fawkes Night. That glorious celebration of the torture, hanging, and dismemberment of opposition to the Church. The English Church, of course. Also the English Monarch, The English Parliament, and the Manchester Board of Trade.

No-one trifles with the Manchester Board Of Trade.

And I am happy to say that we Britons celebrate our festivals with dignity. We pile up combustible rubbish for weeks prior to the event, children beg for money in the streets, and we blow off hands and eyes with Chinese fireworks.

As any decent Christian would. Hrmmmmph.

Saturday Night At the Nightline


Britons and Europeans…and in a few days those will be two separate classifications…have been sadly deprived all their  lives. Oh, I don’t mean the missing out on milk and orange juice and bombing each other flat every twenty years – that is a legitimate part of their culture and heritage and they enjoy a bit of decimation now and then. Does ’em good. No, I mean they have never had drive-in movies.

Oh, they can go on about the Odeon and the Palais and the Cine d’ Whatever, but girls, unless you have sat on the tailgate of a Holden panel van in the hot darkness swatting mosquitos and your boyfriend you have not lived. I know – was one of the boyfriends and I remember the swatting.

Canada, the US, Australia, and I presume South Africa and New Zealand were all sensible and adjourned the motion picture theatre out into the night at an early stage. In canvas seats that cut the circulation off at your knees or stuffed five abreast in the back of an Oldsmobile, we all saw Ben Hur, or High Noon, or The Road Runner and loved it. The snacks from the snack bar were greasy, sugary, salty, and watered-down all at once and we loved them too. Half of our heart disease and diabetes started at the Snack Bar.

Half of our children started in the back row. I hasten to add this is something I heard from someone who heard it from someone else. I never owned a panel van or ute in those days. But Renault 10 seats were surprisingly comfortable…


Here’s two takes on toy drive-ins – the small N scale one at the Model Railway Exhibition used a cell phone screen to stream the actual movies of the day and there was sound as well – bigger sound than the cell phone could make. I suspect a Bluetooth speaker. Please note the delinquent sneaking in over the fence. And the sin bins parked with their tails to the screen at the back.I believe the maker of this diorama has lived a chequered youth…


The 1:18th scale drives is a project in progress. It was an experiment early in the Hot Rod Honeys series and shows the crude effects of plastic mannequins. In time it will be redone in black and white with real people and with a forced perspective – I have more cars in smaller scales to go down the front. The screen shot is from an actual movie made by the Goldfische Studios; ” Tarzan And the Bird Of Paradise “.


And here’s a toast – in watery orangeade – to the motorised cinemas of the past. We still have one in Perth and it is still fun to go and swat.


Not Your Average Ten – Alconi


I am a fan of the Renault R 10. I owned one – it was my first car. 4-wheel independent suspension, 4wheel disc brakes, fabulously comfortable seats, and four doors. Good luggage boot in front, rear engine, and enough Gallic styling quirks to pickle a goose. Its one fault seemed to be an underpowered 1100cc engine. Flat chat was 90 MPH and you had to work up to that for miles. It made for some exciting times circling the city block, I can tell you.


I can also tell you I was delighted to see this yellow R10 at the Whiteman park show. It was entirely new to me, but piercingly familiar…and I had to google like mad at home to see what it actually is.


It’s from South Africa…sorry, that’s South Efrica…and it is the Alconi. It was made as a variant to provide a faster and more sporty Renault for the country. They apparently did it as kits of go-faster manifolds and exhausts , and added other touches. I see a different set of dash instruments, upholstery, and a grab bar on the left pillar. Quite different wheels and tyres as well, though these may be local Australian additions. And the distinctive Alconi badge. Very much an Abarth-style venture, but on a smaller scale.


I noted the improvement in the driving position with the metal-spoke racing wheel, but the same old Renault gear shift lever and insipid shift knob. I changed mine for a big chrome one with a Renault badge set inside it as soon as I could get to a motor accessory catalog – and got surprisingly good with what other people thought of as a very sloppy gear box. I was a precise person in those days .