[WWI] Thinking of time gone bye; - First kits

Mark Shannon shingend at ix.netcom.com
Fri Jan 28 18:22:36 EST 2005

The family story is that I was just a toddler - maybe about 18 months old. 
My dad had been on a business trip and came back with guilt presents for
everybody.  Mine was a rubber ball.  My brother's was a Monogram box-scale
DC-3 (this was 1955-56, remember) that my father built and hung from his
bedroom ceiling.  The day after he had finished it, my father came home
from work and found me standing in the doorway of my brother's bedroom,
holding the ball and looking back and forth with an appraising look in my
eye, then dropping the ball and walking away.  (He knew I wasn't thinking
of throwing the ball, because the model was across the room from me and 9
feet up)  He said that he realized then, and our lives have since borne it
out, that he had the presents switched.

The first model I remember building was the old Lindberg JN-4 Jenny, in
bright yellow plastic.  My dad 'helped' me build it, and I must have been
just four, because I had it when we moved to Florida a little after my
birthday.  The next models I remember were civil aeronautics types, Beech
Bonanza, GeeBee racer, Goodyear Blimp, or cars.  However I do know that I
had built some WWI Aurora kits by the time in mid-'60 we moved back to
Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  That's when I really started buying just about
anything I could afford -- sounds like some kind of addict's tale, now.  I
discovered Airfix kits in about '62, when a new shop opened up in the
shopping center about a mile down the road that actually specialized in
toys, games, and models.  Before that it was the toy section at Woolworth's
5 and dime.

I thought it was very interesting, what they said about a constant scale
for a collection -- it made sense!  no more did I buy the box scale stuff,
it was only the 'Constant Scale' kits for me.  Of course, half of them were
the Monogram WWII with working parts or the Aurora WWI with multicolor
plastic and the rest were the Airfix.  I kind of went off Airfix, though,
when I spent several hours researching exactly which subtype their 'M*-1*9'
actually represented and could not make a match -- I think some of their
kits were a sadistic thing to do to a budding accuracy buff.

The Monogram kits started disappearing from my $1.00/wk allowance limited
schedule when Virginia (yes, we had moved again, always an opportunity for
starting the collection over, since the movers were not careful of my
works) introduced sales tax and Monogram upped their price to $1.00 with
their FW-*90 multi version kit.  The extra four cents for the Commonwealth
of Virginia broke my budget.  Revell 1/72nd WWI aircraft were still $0.59,
so I could afford to buy such luxuries as paint ($0.15), brushes ($0.20),
and penny candy, on occasion.

I didn't quit when sports, band, parties, and GIRLS! became a major focus. 
Fortunately, I found a woman who thought it was a nice, quiet hobby that
kept me out of bars and casinos.  Unfortunately, my kids had only a brief,
passing interest in making models, though they like looking at a model show.

I'm still ambi-scalar.  I build OT aircraft in 1/48th, except for the Roden
multi-engine types, and ot in 1/72nd (WWII and Golden Age) or 1/144th (the
few kerosene guzzlers).  I switched from 1/600 to 1/700 scale ships in the

My problem is not that I have to wear magnifiers to build, now-a-days. 
What is bothering me is that it is hard for me to see my finished models.

So here's to the fraternity (with our sororital members) of life-long
modelers, long may they assemble!


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