I remember the birth of my interest in modeling like it was yesterday. My father took me to the local hobby shop to pick out a model as a reward for doing so well in school. Though I don't remember my age precisely, I'd venture to guess that I was around eight or nine at the time. Until that date, I had been scarcely exposed to the hobby, having only seen the finished results of my father's hard work on a shelf here and there. But it was this trip to the shop to purchase an A-10 Thunderbolt II that would spawn a passion that has been in me ever since.
However, that A-10 was not my first build. As a matter of fact, I doubt I so much as helped my father cut or glue anything. You see, in these early years of my modeling career all I ever wanted to do was play with the finished airplane, at of course my father's expense. I'd poke my head in his office, check his progress and await the moment the paint had dried and the decals had set. Then it would be mine to fly around the expanse of the living room.
I grew older and the need for living room air strikes subsided and with it the modeling. Work and life in general had conspired to stop both myself and my father from continuing the hobby. For a good five years at least. Until one day, as I was walking through a local Michael's Arts and Crafts store here in New Jersey, a box wrapped in plastic caught my eye. I don't even remember what I had originally been in that store for, but I remember what I left with...
There are probably not many aircraft modelers that have not built the ubiquitous Revell Spitfire Mk II. It would be this kit that I would cut my teeth on this hobby. Seeing the model on the shelf had sparked some memory of those days past with my father and I decided it was time to grow up and do some modeling of my own.
Much like every one else, my initial work left much to be desired. Gaps were left unfilled, seams left unsanded, and the decals had more silver than a pawn shop. But I loved it! It was brush painted with those tiny obnoxious bottles of Testor's enamels. The landing gear was left up and I proudly hung this accomplishment from my bedroom ceiling. The modeling bug had bitten me hard, and this model was soon followed up by an Fw-190, P-40, and UH-1 Huey Hog. All of which are Revell kits, and they all took their rightful place dangling by fishing line from the ceiling.
I still have this model in my possession. It has gone through a transformation, both intentional and unintentional. As my skill progressed I no longer looked at it as my latest, greatest achievement. Instead, it became a test bed for new techiniques. Downgraded from First to guinea pig. I used it to refine my post shading skills, and even dry brushing. At one point, I intended to model it as a crashed Soviet Lend-Lease Spitfire but that plan was never seen through. Here is how she sits...
A sad state of affairs as you can see. The trademarks of an early modeler are still visible in the seam along the engine cowl, and the terrible paint around the canopy. Note even the reconfigured ailerons, an early attempt at adding some realism.
The blame for its sorry structural condition is owed, for the most part, to my three year old son. Not only was this little plane, once the trophy of my collection, turned into an experimental canvas but also degraded to a child's play thing. Some rough landings at the hands of a toddler pilot have hewn the horizontal stabilizers and one propeller blade right off. Not to mention the missing canopy.
But I'm not complaining.
It has given my boy the same joy that I once felt when my father finally passed those models down to me. The price of hard work and much time converted into the happiness of your child.
There you have it. My first model, which was so significant to me back then, may very well encourage my son to pursue the same hobby years down the road. A father can only hope, any way.
Part of being in the Union means you must include links to fellow contributors' posts within your own response. If you liked this post, then perhaps you'll enjoy what some other modelers have to say about this topic!
Doogs' Models - Though not necessarily his first model, Matt takes a walk down memory lane
Yet Another Plastic Modeller - Jeroen gives us a look at his stealthy first model
Kermit's Bench - Rich's first model was red hot!
The DogChuffers Scale Model Workshop - Craig's first model may resurface in an upcoming project
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