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One Kit Is Never Enough Part 1


One Kit Is Never Enough - Part 1


As this is the first time I have written a column for Graham i thought I would start by reminiscing about how I got started in this hobby and where it has taken me.


I grew up in Connahs Quay, in North Wales, and we had two shops that sold models, all Airfix. That was Woolworths and the local post office. I spent many an hour in the post office annoying the old lady that ran the counter that dealt with the toys and models they sold. They did not have the same amount of kits that Woolworths had, but the post office was not as busy as Woolworths so you could browse the stock without a bunch of screaming kids demanding the latest must have toy, annoying you.


As with many people who started modelling in the ‘70’s most of my early models were Airfix and either aircraft or ships. Tanks/AFV’s did not get much of a look in back then. I do not recall exactly what the first kit was that I built, but I suspect that it was either a Spitfire or a Hurricane.


It did not take long for me to become hooked and I would spend whatever pocket money I had, which was a pitifully small amount compared to today’s pocket money, on any plane or ship that took my fancy. Mostly I just built what I wanted to build and nationality or time frame did not come into it. That was not the same with the ships though, I only ever built WWII ships, and 90% of them were British.





However there were two exceptions to that, the Cutty Sark and the Fearless, both Airfix kits. I think it would be fair to say by the time I finished with building models, I had built every ship kit in the Airfix range from the WWII period. The same could almost be said for their aircraft range, but here it was any time frame and any nationality. Modern jets would sit next to WWII props on my shelves and there was a riot of colour, from the yellow/red/silver finish of pre war US aircraft, to the modern day camouflage of the RAF. A few helicopters also found their way on to my shelf and these added to the riot of colours.


I well remember the day the post office got the new Prinz Eugen kit from Airfix. I arrived there a half hour before they opened and could not wait to hand over my pocket money for this new kit. It took me three weeks to save the 90p that the kit cost and I was nearly fit to bursting with my impatience. Even now I look back at that kit with great affection, even though my attempts to paint it were less than accurate, shall we say. Even then i had no trouble building kits, but painting was another matter entirely.


Matters moved on slowly from there as I was never able to take on a paper round or a milk round, the two principal ways of earning money when you were a teenager. All of my “finance” came from birthdays and Christmas, or the occasional present for good behaviour.

Then my mother and father started to visit Chester every weekend and my addiction took on greater heights, or depths if you prefer. In Chester there were several shops that sold models, as well as two dedicated model shops. One was a normal toy shop on the first floor, selling Action Man and various boards games etc. However, the basement part of the shop was a true treasure trove. It was there that the train sets and Scalextric sets were kept and a hoard of model kits. Tamiya, Esci, Monogram, Esci, Frog and Airfix. I was seriously spoilt for choice.


The other shop only sold models, and it was here that I found out about plastic card and the beginnings of the after-market. This led me to trying my hand at converting models, one of the first being the Airfix Me110. I converted this to the night fighter version. I doubt it would pass muster today, but I felt it did back then. 


I am not sure what caused me to start building AFV’s but it was around this time that I gave up on ships, cut back on Aircraft, and threw myself into the world of AFV’s. It was exclusively WWII AFV’s; there was none of that “modern stuff” for me.


Due to the cost of 1/35th scale kits then, I stuck with 1/72nd and built a lot. Soon my AFV collection rivalled my aircraft collection and then one day for my birthday i received the Tamiya 1/35th scale Brummbar. That was my first 1/35th scale kit and I well remember my very pathetic attempts to recreate the zimmerit coating. I used a scalpel and ruler and carved the zimmerit into the plastic. I do remember that i was very pleased with the result, but thinking back on it now, it must have been truly horrendous, but I was pleased with it.


I built a few more 1/35th kits, mostly Tamiya, but I was now of the age to go to University and girls and motorbikes suddenly came into my life. Modelling went out the window faster than one of my cats after a mouse. After university I moved to Cornwall and surfing became my passion, a day did not go by without me surfing, even if it was only for an hour or so. I surfed on Christmas day, New Year’s Day, whenever I could actually. I was also riding my bike every day, so if I was not surfing, I was riding my bike. Modelling had completely disappeared from my interests. This lasted well into the 1980’s until I had a bad accident on my bike on some black ice.


Merkava IV



As a result of the accident I could not walk for six weeks and so my girlfriend tried to find something that would interest me. On the way home from the local hospital, where she worked, she popped into the local R/C shop, which had a small selection of plastic kits, and bought me the Tamiya M16. At first I was not interested but as the boredom grew so the kit seemed an attractive alternative. But the desire was not there so i never did complete that kit and modelling was again pushed off the radar.


Ten years ago it reappeared and did so with a vengeance. This came about from my love of history; I had studied modern history at University and have always loved reading history books. It was this that sparked a renewed attempt to start modelling again. And start I did. I have not stopped building since then, and cannot see me ever stopping now. I love AFV’s but after building a plethora of Tiger’s, Panther’s etc it began to feel a bit stale. I mean just how many Tiger’s and Panther’s etc can you build before boredom starts to rear its ugly head?


So i visited my local shop, and after a conversation with the owner, Jason, I swopped all of my WWII kits for modern armour. That was definitely the best thing. It renewed my enthusiasm for modelling and has allowed me to take my skills to a new level. I love building modern AFV’s, whether they are tanks, APC’s, utility vehicles you name it. My particular passion is IDF AFV’s. There are so many different tanks, personnel carriers etc that I doubt I will ever grow bored with them. The Nagmachon’s, Zelda’s and Merkava’s are just so interesting and varied that they really do fire my imagination. That is not to say I do not build other nations AFV’s, I do. I think my second favourite are the British AFV’s, in particular the Cents and FV 435 series. Recovery tanks/vehicles are also a passion and I have been fortunate to build the Challenger and Chieftain recovery tanks that Accurate Armour make.


Accurate Armour T-55 Enigma



Recently though, I have been building aircraft, modern jets to be exact. I started off with an RF-4B by Hasagawa, then a Revel F4F and a Hasagawa GR7 Harrier that I am converting to a GR9. I have also just started the Revel two seat Typhoon. I am surprised at the different levels of quality in those four kits. I found the RF-4B and the new Revel two seat Typhoon to be nowhere near as good as the F4F and GR7/9. The Harrier is the best of the bunch so far, even the cockpit was nicely done, although I replaced it with an Aires AM one. The RF-4B is ok, not that happy with the finished result. The F4F however is a lot better and i am quietly pleased with that, except for the fit of the Aires cockpit set. That is just too over sized to fit without a serious amount of sanding to the fuselage. I must admit I did expect better than that from Aires.


Challenger 2



However, aircraft are not my main passion, which is still AFV’s. But the change has been very enjoyable, and I do plan on building more aircraft, there are a couple of IAF jets that are seriously demanding my attention, the Sufa and the Ra’am. So i have a bit of a quandary on what to build next, an AFV or a jet. Only time will tell i guess.

Until next time.


Ethlian Middleton.