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This scifi layout was the best in show, though I can’t convey it in a single picture. These chained dinosaur beasts were on the top, but there was a whole ‘subterranean cavern’ deal going on below, with a rocket and a plasma ball and aliens and futuristic trains.

We fell to talking to the man who lovingly recollected how he had smashed together model trains with model jets and toys and assorted household items and grunge-painted over the result. It worked really well.

That’s how I built models as a kid. I’d start off well enough, but I could never stick to the plan. Somehow, I couldn’t bear to end up with something ordinary. It seemed so boring. I’d start gluing bits where they didn’t belong and putting decals where they shouldn’t ought to be. I had a particular fondness for gluing on bits of leftover sprue to look kind of like clusters of tail pipes.

Only, my efforts didn’t work so well. They ended up looking like big messy piles of crazy.

You don’t even want to know what my paint-by-numbers looked like.


Comment from gromulin
Time: May 4, 2017, 1:46 am

I have many a fond memory of building airplane models with firecrackers chained together in the wings. We go up on the roof and recreate WW2 battle scenes. Well, for a second or two, if it worked.

If it didn’t – BB gun targets! I think I spent most of my allowance each week on a new Revell kit. A rainy Saturday, a 15″ B/W TV, and a TV tray with a model kit. Pure bliss.

The smell of the glue helped too, I’m sure.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: May 4, 2017, 2:33 am

I wanted to build model airplanes when I was a kid, but I was such a little tomboy I feared I’d lose my girl creds completely. But I kept a scrapbook of pictures of airplanes I found in newspapers and magazines, so that satisfied me.

Speaking of things that fly—here is a birthday tidbit for you. From Quantum Poet xYz (aka Joanna Tilsley).


Comment from durnedyankee
Time: May 4, 2017, 10:10 am

@Gromulin – the acoustic tile ceiling in the bedroom hosted the Battle of Britian with a Spit, a Hurricane and 3 BF 109s.

Glue, paint, and by snowflake standards unsafe childhood conditions. You’re right, bliss!

Ah, the hours building and painting. The inevitable later wanton destruction with small explosives, projectile weapons, magnifying glasses and gasoline.
Probably be rich if I’d saved my money instead of helping keep Revell, Monogram, AirFix, Lindberg and Tamaya in business as soon as the cash hit my hand.

Anyone enjoy Calvin and Hobbes? Remember the panels where he built the F4-Phantom? Or Tyrannosaurus rexes piloting F14s?

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: May 4, 2017, 1:53 pm

Didnt Godzilla have a penchant for picking up train cars filled with people with his tiny little arms and wave them about? So, these models do seem realistic to me.

Comment from Fritzworth
Time: May 4, 2017, 2:37 pm

I built quite a few models as a kid — mostly monsters and stuff like that — but, in an eerie foreshadowing of my struggles with Shop class in 8th grade, I was usually too impatient to do it right. The instruction would say, “Glue these two pieces together and let the glue dry for a few hours.” I would glue them together, put a rubber band around them a few times to hold them together, then immediately move to the next step.

I also wasn’t the world’s greatest artist with a model paint brush.

Needless to say, my finished models tended to a bit…sloppy.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: May 4, 2017, 3:17 pm

I got to be quite good with the paintbrush, though I never did move on to the next step, the airbrush — which is really, really valuable in doing subtle paint effects like camouflage on tanks and planes, and in detailing stuff like dirt and soot and the like.

My smaller models of sailing ships, like the Golden Hind and the HMS Bounty, came out great. (In fact the little figures Revell provided on the latter of Capt. Bligh and Mr. Christian actually looked a bit like Charles Laughton and Clark Gable.) What finally stopped me was the giant Revell kit of the Cutty Sark, the big clipper ship. The rigging was just too much for me, I guess. It occurred to me later that I could have modeled it at the building stage, when the masts and some of the spars were going up, and skip most of the rigging and the sails. Would have made a fantastic diorama.

The detail and assembly-into-a-whole skills came in handy later, though, for computer work and programming!

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: May 4, 2017, 3:45 pm

Hold up your hand if you ever built something with a Heath Kit. I often joke that I want Heath Kit Instructions for doing something that’s complicated or difficult, because Heath instructions were the best-written and easiest to understand instructions in the world.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 4, 2017, 3:50 pm

Oh, me! I built a radio and an evesdropping device and…oh, I forget all what.

One day when I was in my twenties, it dawned on me: I COULD BUY ALL THE HEATHKITS I WANTED. I went out to Radio Shack that very day and bought one of those giant ‘101 electronics projects’ board things.

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: May 4, 2017, 4:22 pm

Heathkit… well, waddayanoe?

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: May 4, 2017, 4:51 pm

Heathkit – Motion detector.
Before Newton had even established the laws of motion!
“In an inertial reference frame, an object that goes up, must come down”

When I discovered I could buy all of something I wanted, it turned out to be ginger ale.

and HOLY CRAP, awesome link! I can be ClockYankee!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 4, 2017, 6:05 pm

I used to subscribe to a magazine called Nuts and Volts – big ol’ newsprint broadsheet. It was all kinds of goofy do it yourself electronics projects. Mostly way over my head, but it was great fun.

The one that sticks in my head was the Ghostbusters-style electromagnetic field shift detector.

Why, lookee here.

Comment from bikeboy
Time: May 4, 2017, 7:16 pm

I love the science fiction diorama with chained dinosaurs AND rockets!! (My world seems so boring by comparison.)

Put me on the list of people who would start off strong, on plastic scale models… but generally finish weak. (Too much glue, or not enough glue, or bustin’ a little-but-critical plastic part.) Primarily airplanes and cars, but I remember building a “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and a scale-model guillotine, complete with victim and victim-head rolling loose in the basket. (For once, my crude painting – blood-red on the blade – looked pretty decent!)

HEATHKIT – a buddy who played lead guitar in a garage band built himself a Heathkit amp – similar configuration to a Fender Twin Reverb, 2 12″ speakers. He must’ve followed the instructions, because it sounded pretty decent.

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