Sunday, July 31, 2011

Trials of a Model Builder Part I

Long ago, in grade school, I was introduced to the concept of building model kits.  I remember watching my dad build a scale model of the space shuttle when I was about 5 or 6, using an airbrush to detail the work.  It was a glorious rendering of the shuttle, something that I would never expect to be able to duplicate in my lifetime.  The smell of the paint thinner, the must of the carcinogenic clue, the odor of the white model putty- it all culminated in a strong concoction that made the basement a borderline health hazard.

Fast forward to the late 90's, and my cub-scout troop is instructed to have each member bring a model kit of their choice to the next meeting.  My dad let me pick out a kit, and I selected a convertible sports car, possibly a Porsche, but lost in my collective memory.  I brought it to the scout house, opened up the box, studied the directions, surveyed the parts that were arranged before me and awaited instruction.  My dad told me to break apart the pieces (all of them, since it was a small enough kit not to get parts mixed up), and begin removing the traces of where they had been affixed to the plastic frame.

I snapped them off, sometimes aided by an x-acto knife, but always followed up with a good several minutes of sanding to strike any trace of the frame from the piece.  I would periodically look up to see my good friend accross the table snapping pieces off of the molding racks, only to quickly push them together with glue. He didn't seem too concerned that a nub adorned the section he had just assembled, and I was baffled at this observation.

I walked out of the scout house with a box filled with freshly sanded and prepared pieces, and one or two simple parts that could be glued, awaiting the first coats of spray paint.  My friend across the table, like so many other scouts there that night, walked away with a fully completed model kit, with no paint on it whatsoever.  No paint, no detailing save for a few stickers, nothing but what came in the box (and an excess of model glue) used to cobble together the model kits in tow.

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