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Big Boys and Their Small Toys.

amt-munster-koach-car-model-kitGrowing up in the south eastern outskirts of Perth during the 1970s coincided, for me, with a huge interest in modelling. No, I don’t mean the Karen Pini kind of modelling (Google her but be nice), I mean plastic hobby kit modelling. Ships, space craft, planes, tanks, people, cars, you name it and it was available. My own room was filled with samples from the military, space and cars.

Nowadays the modelling scene, although not underground, is nowhere near as popular as it used to be. You could go to a K-Mart and buy kits, paint, brushes; hobby shops were, metaphorically, on every corner but now they’re a lot further apart. When I say not as popular, I mean that the awareness of it was higher across the population base.
In Sydney and, indeed, around Australia and around the world, the awareness is high but is more focused to be within groups such as the IPMS, the International Plastic Modelling Society, as an example. There’s magazines such as Fine Scale Modeller, from the United States or ModelArt Australia. Within the magazines is a surprising amount of information about the various manufacturers, the products, the tips to improve or help anyone from a novice through to an experienced builder.
UnderstandingScale_Vehicle_ImageLike anything in miniature, car models come in different scales. Those that collect the die-cast versions will immediately be familiar with this. It’s a mathematical ratio setup, one unit of measure Tamiya-Factory-Tokyo-9414-copyon the model equals 12 or 18 or 24 or 43 on the real thing.

Detail can vary from maker to maker and from scale to scale. Some modellers go across the board; I tend to lean more towards the military and sci-fi, others have the automotive field as their area of expertise.

To say there’s a variety of models in the scales available is understating it just a tad. Most modellers tend to look at cars in a 1/24 scale. The detail that can be found in such a size is startling; from intricate door handles to engine parts, the manufacturers. Other scales can be 1/18, 1/12 or, going the other way, as small as 1/32 or 1/43. Naturally, that makes the detail harder to see (and harder to mould!) however skilled modellers use a variety of techniques to make their model car look as realistic as possible. Some modellers even take a kit that would normally be built into a “New” car and make it look like  a junkyard dog.

Airfix2415JaguarManufacturers of kits range from a reasonable quality from the States, with a brand called Lindberg offering basic construction kits, to AMT, Monogram and a name from the past, Aurora. Of more recent times, a brand called Tamiya, from Japan, has come to the fore, offering high quality, highly detailed kits, including parts that are “photo etched”.

These parts are copper or, more commonly, brass and can provide even finer detail than plastic. Some people will instantly recognise the name Airfix. Once recognised as being the most common brand, Airfix is undergoing a renaissance with its new owner, Hornby (train modellers will know THAT name) retooling their moulds to provide better detailing. Airfix offer all in one kits, complete with parts, glue, brushes and paints. Another brand that’s been around for some time is Revell and they, too, offer a huge range.

Not unsurprisingly, if it’s been built in real life, you’re got a pretty good chance of finding a kit. There’s groups that are worldwide and split into local chapters, the IPMS has a New South Wales based chapter with a thriving social media presence. There’s also groups that are a kind of swap meet, allow members to buy, sell or swap kits of all shapes and sizes, such as The Aussie Model Exchange (look ’em up, along with the others).

From the common to the exotic, to the modified to the concept, modelling provides the ideal opportunity to have a large garage of small cars. What’s more, unlike die cast cars, this is a garage you’ve built yourself, from start to finish, allowing you to put your own personal stamp on your new drive. Wrecked General Lee