Had some visitors last week. In the casual conversations one asked if I was still building models. Yes, I said, would you like to see a photo of one (we were not at home)? Sure. I got out the iPhone and found one of my favorite shots of the Wingnut Wings FE.2b I had done a few years ago. Big two-crew biplane, designed around 1914, a pusher because the synchronized machine gun had not been developed into a reliable mechanism. Big tail booms. Lots of rigging. I passed the phone over, ready to go into an explanation of the plane, its history and significance to WWI aviation.

“Hmm… did you make this from a kit?”

I started to answer, then, “Did you make all the parts or is it just plastic? I have a friend back home who builds models. Makes all his parts. They are quite lovely.”

My phone was handed back to me and the conversation turned to the weather, and how the new minister at one of the local churches was working out. I powered down my receiver and went into I could care less mode.

I get similar reactions here whenever the subject of plastic scale models comes up, which is about as often as I see a mountain lion crossing the yard. I think people who aren’t modelers, especially those who have never built a model before, see “plastic model”, think “toy” and envision a bunch of plastic parts that are quickly stuck together with tube glue and, shazam, a complete model is born. Boring, and, really, juvenile.

I’m up with the juvenile part. After all, I do get somewhat transported to my younger days when I first discovered scale modeling, which is a good thing. If the joy was not still there in some aspect, I doubt that I would still be doing this. I know that some modelers have gone deep into the rabbit hole of super detail and super accuracy which is, in itself, not a bad thing either. It gets a little odious when a few of them turn into the accuracy Nazis, but they often turn out quite astounding models. They are just people you wouldn’t want to have a beer with and talk about setting your unwanted models on fire or blowing them up with firecrackers in the back yard.

Who can forget the smell of burning tube glue and styrene?

You’ve seen the look. The guy has pried some weekend time out of his honey-do Saturday to visit a local model show. The wife or girlfriend is along to make sure he doesn’t stay too long or spend any serious money before they go off to Walmart, Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond where the real shopping awaits. He’s closely inspecting the lineup of F-15s, checking out the panel lines, decals, weathering and preshading effects, thinking of how he might improve his own techniques whilst his partner is standing slightly behind him, obviously bored, wondering how she is going to steer him clear of the vendor tables.

Kind of like that.

I have had the opportunity to show my models to a number of people here, none of whom are or have been modelers. I don’t dwell. I don’t explain unless asked. I listen to the polite comments, tinged with a certain amount of pity that an old man would spend his time fiddling around with plastic toys.

That’s all right. My family is getting me a new Tamiya 1:48 F-14 for my birthday, which is coming up in about a week, and I plan to spend a great deal of time with it, some of it as a 74 year old man, and some of it as a 12 year old juvenile.

Makes me smile.

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