The Little World – You Can Buy It In Any Size But The One You Need

Here – pick a card from the blue deck. Any card. Now turn it over. What does it say?


Okay, that’s your scale. Now pick a card from the red deck and turn it over. It says…?

Portuguese torpedo bomber?

Okay, that’s what you need to buy from the hobby shop. Here is a large pile of money and a stopwatch. You have five hours to go to every hobby shop in town to buy a 1/72 Portuguese torpedo bomber – either in kit form or as a die-cast. If you do you get to keep the pile of money and if you fail we take all the tyres off your car and burn them in your back yard. Ready? Go.

This is the best game. The desperate modeller heads out the front door at a dead run and drives to the nearest hobby shop. They have 1/35 scale torpedo bombers. The next one is five miles away and they have 1/48 scale kits. The third store is across town on the freeway and they have a special on Portuguese torpedo bombers this week. All at half price and all at 1/32 scale…

It’s a big town and there are lots of stores and the five hours tick slowly away as the candidate rushes to each one. He is assured of success at the four-hour, 55 minute mark when he reaches the last one in the outer suburb that advertises itself as ” Portuguese Torpedo Bombers R Us ” and has the 1/72 signal beaming onto the clouds above the parking lot. Bursting into the doors he is confronted by the man who says:

” Oh you’re too late. We sent them back to the wholesaler yesterday. There was no call for them…”

I don’t know about you, but I like a nice tyre fire in the back yard on these summer nights. That, and the sobbing of the modeller, seems to be a home comfort.

The Little World – Finishing The Job Properly

I have been making plastic, wood, metal, and paper models for the last 60 years. Many of them were made in my first 17 years of life, and all bar one have disappeared. The survivor tells me how crude some of the products were back then.

But, crude or otherwise, the models of my youth were wonderful things. The center point of my life in some years, as the rest of it was spent in grey, drab boredom.  I think back to them fondly. But there is a touch of concern in the nostalgia; did I do the best job  that could have been done at the time?

The kind answer is…probably yes…given my level of skill and the materials available to me at the time…but my grown-up self wants perfection in its memories, and wants to go back and re-do the things that were badly done or half-finished.

eBay can help me in this, provided I am willing to buy old kits for 100 X  what they cost when they were new. It would have to be a pretty deep psychological wound that needed healing to pay some of the prices on eBay.

Fortunately some of the manufacturers have re-issued old kits…or redone them. And some have never been taken from the inventory. It may be possible to buy the airplane that was never built during 1962 and start in where I left off.

I am going to try. I won’t go to the nostalgic excesses that some do, but I would like to see what I might have done all those years ago. If the result is a mess, I will know that I was wise to chuck the kit back then, too.

The Little World Week – That That That

When you are showing people your little world you should listen carefully for the use of the word ” that “. It lets you know how the venture is going.

a. ” That ” in the singular is fine. ” That is a model of a Spitfire. ” said at a plastic model expo is perfectly fine, unless it is a model of a Thunderbolt. The person using the singular ” that ” may be explaining the display to his child. This is a good thing – young people need to know about Spitfires, Thunderbolts, and plastic models in general. You have engaged the attention of the masses to a certain extent. Let us hope they continue to take an interest. If Pappa explains the difference between Spitfires and Hurricanes and Typhoons to the youngster and the kid asks for all three kits, we are on a winner!

b. ” That…That ” in frosty tones is not so so good. If it is said by an imperious club committee member as they point to your model, you can take it that there is something they don’t like. Not that you are obliged to do anything about it, mind. Just chill and see where the whole thing is going. You can always bite them if they keep on pointing.

c. ” That…That…That…” on the other hand, is a sign that you have succeeded. If it is accompanied by a squeal and a little dance you know you may have become a legend. It means that the viewer has seen your model and it has stirred up some memory or recognition on their deepest level. They cannot even articulate why they like it, but they do. Now is the time to sidle up to them and suggest they buy it for $ 500. If they press their wallet on you, grasp it and run.

Ya never know yer luck in a big model exhibition…

The Little World – No Rhyme Or Reason

_dsc0030I call this post No Rhyme Or Reason because the disparate images from the 2013  Super Model Car Sunday have no real theme connecting them – no common colour, year, make, or style. The closest one could come is the scale, but I’ll bet some are 1:24 and some 1:25. Not a really big difference but one that the trained eye can pick out.

They are, however, evidence that the commonly held view that people are just screen-focussed is just not true. No-one who has exercised these levels of skill or artistry is glued to a mobile phone. They might be glued to the workbench occasionally – depending upon whether they have left spots of cyanoacrylate glue about when putting on the headers – but that is all. Of course, they may have used phones, computers, or tablets to supply images of real cars for inspiration.

I would be willing to bet someone is annoyed by these models. That sounds unfriendly, but consider the fact that in their construction:

dscf4130a. The model builder was using up time that could have been devoted to schoolwork, housework, or paid work. Of course they equally could have been devoting that time to drug taking, larceny, or public vandalism so there was a social gain there.

dscf4128b. The house was probably filled with glue fumes, paint fumes, and thinner fumes. Possibly other fumes, depending upon whether the builder had a taco dinner. Most of this is harmless, with the exception of fibreglass resin fumes, which can go through any barrier and can get into sealed containers of butter or margarine in the fridge. Trust me on this. Plastic butter is vile.

dscf4134c. These models cost money – money that could have been spent on fresh fruit for orphans or improving tracts from the gospel store. Of course that money could equally have gone for lotto tickets, cigarettes, and dum dum ammunition. On the whole I think the model car kits are better.

dscf4146d. The model builder ignored the rest of the family. Depending upon the family, this may or may not have been a bad thing. I have met families that thrived on ignorance and kept  jars of it on shelves in the shed.

dscf4145e. The model builders developed unrealistic expectations about real cars. It is very unlikely that any of these models will be replicated in the garage for the owners in full-size. This they are indulgences of fantasy. Like Dr Who programs and a great many forms of exotic underwear that one sees in catalogues. Especially the underwear catalogues featuring Dr. Who…

dscf4126f. The models will make their builders wholly unsatisfied with the paint jobs on modern motor cars. Anyone who has a pink Chevrolet or a metallic blue T-bucket in their eye is going to look on a dark grey Hyundai with contempt. A brownish-black Mercedes will elicit no respect – even if the number plate is all 888’s everywhere. Winthrop and Leeming take note…

Char 2c


I am repeatedly astounded each year when I attend the plastic model display at our local show grounds, and at many things.

Firstly, at the number of models put out for display – even in a lean year there are more put on the tables than can well be seen. In the case of the larger modelling societies they crowd cheek to jowl…or perhaps that should be wheel to wing …on the tablecloth, and each one does not really get a fair viewing in its own right. The variation in the scales makes for a bit of a jangle as well – you just begin to accept one style of painting or animation when you are changing your view for another.

Secondly, the skill level seems to rise each time I see the models displayed. And as some are carried over from year to year, you can see the improvement in real time. This is a little unfair to the previous entires as they were undoubtedly the state-of-the-art standard when first seen. It is probably a fault of our characters that we rush to praise the new by discarding some of the glory of older items.

Thirdly, the variation and arcane variety of kits is staggering. I built kits in the 1950’s and 1960’s and would never have dreamed of some of the things that are being offered. If we had the vast selection of aircraft, ships, and automobiles then that we see now, I do not think that the weird monster figure offerings from Aurora, AMT, and the others would have ever gotten a second glance. They are charming by-blows now and period vignettes, but basically side-show toys.

Fourthly, the detail level is so daunting as to put off all but the keenest of builders, what laser-cut accessories and additional packs for kits that go ever deeper into detail. I applaud it and admire it, but wonder if sometimes more complexity is attempted than is necessary.

Fifthly, the costs. I looked at some of the price tags and, while I do not accuse the sellers of gouging, I wonder that anyone would pay that much money. Perhaps I am just sticker-shocked. Perhaps I can equate the price with groceries and petrol. I suppose that if one would spend a year on one model the price would be bearable, but I can’t see people wanting to restrict themselves to that extent.

Sixthly – well I am also astounded at the good humour and camaraderie of the builders. It seems to be equal to that of the doll house ladies and certainly far in advance of the die-cast collectors. Perhaps it is because the basic premise of the plastic modeller is personal achievement rather than accumulation and then sales for profit. In any event, like the model train people, I found them much more willing to talk and share.


The tank? French WW II heavy tank. Not terribly successful, but it did engage the attention of the German forces through publicity and propaganda.


The Next One Over On The Model Car Sunday


Every entrant into a contest has to take the chance that they might be an also-ran. In the case of artistic works they might be the canvas that is hung around the corner from the broom closet – in the case of models they might be the ones next door to the Big Production.

The result is that while they might not suffer ignominy, they never really achieve notice, either. Thus the model cars you see in this post. They featured in the last Super Model Car Sunday but may not have gotten the attention they deserved. You just needed to look at them in the proper light…

A. Here are two smaller model cars – Heading and this one – they look like 1/4 mile dirt track sprint cars, but they are not made to the common 1:24 scale – these are closer to 1:32 scale.


The parts of the cars that would be chromed plastic in a 1:24 or 1:25 kit from a major manufacturer are not – they are silver-painted plastic. The tyres look like they are plastic halves glued together. The style is sort of Chunky Monkey. What could they be?

I’m betting Aurora kits from the 60’s. Might be wrong, but if it is not kits, it is parts. I recognise the look – I used to build them myself when better kits were not available. I never really realised how good they actually were. I think if they have included chrome parts and rubber tyres we would have lapped them up.

B. The Kit With Chrome But No Headlights. These kits were generally sold in the second-line stores in Canada – stores out in the bush towns or in places that did not have enough trade to stock AMT, Monogram, or Revell. The sort of kit that might have sat in a five and dime store in Drayton Valley or Wetaskwin for years before it moved. The sort of kit that was made in Hong Kong before that was a good thing.


In this case it is a Studebaker Lark – another gauge of the unimportance of the kit – no-one in the big makers would have thought to provide this sort of pedestrian model…and if they did acquire a cold for it they would have added trees full of junk customising parts and a crass decal sheet in an effort to turn a profit.

Well, fortunately, Western Australia has a lot of country towns with second-grade stores and if you are lucky you can come across this sort of kit. Disregard the chrome headlights – if you are keen you can drill them out and put in clear lenses.Ditto the stop lights. Also disregard the fact that the basic kit is very, very plain. Celebrate it for the fact that is IS a Studebaker and you have found one and no-one else that you know probably ever will. Build away.

C. The Chevy with its top on sideways…Well, not everything can go completely right. You might get the metallic blue paint on safely and you might get the trim painted neatly, but if someone puts your model out on the display table and doesn’t realise that the top is separate from the body…or worse – actually cracks it off themselves – you can end up with the Frank Sinatra Look. Hat skewed to one side.


The moral is to glue the thing on with something that has a little sway and give. I recommend the Canadian Weldbond PVA glue as likely to grip but not obtrude.

D. Help me out here. I suspect it is a Nash, but past that I am flailing. Is it a kit? Is it a toy car from Woolworths? Is it a resin casting? Who thought of the green? Did it have chrome on it once? Is it something that the owner bought at a pop-up junk stall in the centre of the local shopping mall? I’ve gotten some no-name minor-player diecasts there and been very grateful for them. If they are cheap enough you can experiment and butcher them with no qualms.


Okay. No-one get mad if I have singled out your pride and joy. They are ALL unique and valuable models…and you have them and no-one else does. Even if you were overlooked at the SMCS, I noticed you and applaud your efforts. Surprise me more next year, please.

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.