In May of 2015 I reentered the hobby after an absence of nearly 20 years. Things have changed significantly.
Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s I built dozens of old Revell and Monogram kits. I thought that Testor’s kits were a luxory-a comparative Mercedez to the Fords that I could buy at my local Wal Mart. My pinnacle achievement was winning first place in the junior category of the New Orleans chapter of IPMS in about 1992. Beyond that build, Monogram’s “High-Tech” P-47D, long since destroyed with no proof it ever existed, I had little patience or desire to do anything other than throw some plastic together, then slather it in paint so it might loosely resemble some machine I was temporarily interested in. I built on the weekend, at my dad’s workbench, in the sweltering garage. More often than not, I ended up abandoning a project in frustration and moving on to something else. It was rare that I truly finished the kit and was proud enough of it to display it. About the time I started high school, I lost interest. Then came college. Then love, marriage, starting a business, more college, a child. Before I knew it, a couple decades had passed without a thought to a hobby that had taken up so much of my youth.
I can’t exactly remember why, but around Christmas of 2014 I decided I wanted to build a model again. My parents gifted me some cash and I spent some of it on Tamiya’s 1/48 Corsair, some tools, brushes, glue, and the list of paints that were called for in the instructions. I was amazed at the quality of that Tamiya kit. I was floored when I found all of the how-to videos, reference materials, and hobby shops that are available online. I went a little over the top. I bought Eduard’s photo etch, resin parts, masks, and spent about two months working on it between studying for finals and working. For graduation from law school, my parents bought me an Iwata Ninja air compressor and an HP-CS airbrush. The Corsair fell together, and I began the journey of learning to airbrush. I soaked up every youTube video I could find. I completed the Corsair just in time for father’s day, and gifted it to my father. He seemed pleased. He also made the mistake of saying that he wanted me to build him a little air force.
My next build was Academy’s P-38. It was a far more challenging than the Corsair but turned out reasonably well given the reputation that precedes the kit. It was my first time scribing panel lines I had sanded away, and preshading. I was still barely getting the hang of the airbrush and weathering seemed totally unecessary. At this point, I was hooked…again.
Almost a year and a half since I opened the box on Tamiya’s Birdcage Corsair, only a handful of days have gone by without a model on my workbench. I’m certain my wife has regretted whatever it was that triggered my re-entrance into the hobby. Similarly, I’m certain that my father regrets asking me to build him a little air force. As my time disappears into hours on the bench, or online researching some detail of an aircraft, my parent’s house fills up with aviation in miniature.
Needless to say, I sincerely enjoy my rediscovered childhood. The years have taught me the patience I never had. With a little more cash on hand than I had in the 1980s, and with access to a universe of techniques and message boards, I can see the quality of each of my builds improve. I’ve even won a few awards at some local and regional shows. Positive reinforcement doesn’t help an addiction.