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What got you started in the hobby and who/what were your major influences?

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  • Member since
    August 2020
  • From: Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
What got you started in the hobby and who/what were your major influences?
Posted by Dodgy on Monday, August 31, 2020 8:52 PM

For me it began when I was about 6 and saw a couple of model planes a friend had and I was hooked. I began building Airfix poly bag stuff, (tanks and aircraft), with my pocket money, and later on Monogram 48th scale. Then came Tamiya and their wonderful 35th scale figures and armour. As I got older I delved more into figures with Historex Napoleonics and expanded out from there.

My main influences were Steve Zaloga, Shep Paine, Bill Horan and F. Verlinden and a wonderful little book called 'How to go Plastic Modelling'. Some years ago I found an old Aurora catalogue and I still go through it and dream, if only I coud have got my hands on some of their figure kits.

True Blue

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Narvon, Pa.
Posted by fox on Monday, August 31, 2020 9:51 PM

Hi Dodgy! I got my start at 6 years old also (1946) when my 2 uncles started bringing me and my brother kits to build. My parents told them to stop because they thought it was a waste of time and money. They didn't stop until we were old enough to afford kits and supplies on our own. They both were in WWII and scratch built models from all types of materials and encouraged us to keep building. My brother quit building after high school when he went in the service but I've kept building in addition to all the other hobbies I've had. 

My main influences were my uncles and the books of Shep Paine. One of my uncles became a jeweler and did some of the most beautiful work I have ever seen. The other got into carving statues out of marble, wood and all types of materials. I have newspaper articles about him and his work. Some of his work is in a museum in New Jersey. He's the one who gave me the Shep Paine books. I have met many great builders at the various shows I've attended and learned soo much from them. The members of this forum constantly amaze me with their talents and influence me to keep improving.

Jim Captain

Stay Safe.

 Main WIP: 

   On the Bench:  Revell 1/96 USS Kearsarge - 70% 

I keep hitting "escape", but I'm still here.

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, August 31, 2020 10:29 PM

Some of the same. I was pretty good at it so my friends would get me to build the models that they got as presents.

My mom was very pacifist, so she would get me all kinds on non-military stuff. That did broaden my skills a lot.

Modeling is an excuse to buy books


  • Member since
    August 2020
  • From: Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by Dodgy on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 2:45 AM

Thank goodness for your uncles persistence. I so admire those who can sculpt, unfortunatley I'm not one of them.

True Blue

  • Member since
    August 2020
  • From: Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by Dodgy on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 2:51 AM

Hey G. my youngest grandaughter is 9 and a 1/12 and she is interested in building models, so I'm looking at dinosaurs, sci-fi and non military figures. Having said that she'll probably grab a panzer 4.

True Blue

  • Member since
    July 2018
  • From: The Deep Woods
Posted by Tickmagnet on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 5:02 AM

Sat down with my Dad in 3rd grade and watched him put a p-47 together and after that I was the one building them. I kept at it till my mid twenties and other things became more important. The wife is an accountant and tax season leaves me with lot's of time on my hands since I stopped cutting wood to heat with, so two years ago I jumped back into the hobby. 



  • Member since
    November 2018
Posted by oldermodelguy on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 6:10 AM

I was maybe 7 when at my grandmothers house two antique model cars on a shelf caught my eye. I knew these were not toys, looking close the detail just grabbed me. To this day I have no idea who built them. And I've like those oldies to this day to build. But on Christmas that year an uncle gave me a helicopter model. I had no one to help me, my dad deemed himself useless at things like that for whatever reason. So around Easter another uncle was visiting and he helped me out fitting the cockpit in, which is what held me up.From there I completed the glue bomb, my very first. And I went nuts building models, especially after I got my paper route and had my own money. That all started about 1958. Cars, planes, ships, boats, trains, structures. You name it and I touched on it. But in the 60's cars became the thing for a long season. I won second place in my class with a 49 Ford build in a local contest at age 12. By 15 I was building chopped down modified and class A circle track cars from stock kits, widening wheels, working springs, slot car tires for the slicks etc. Later in life came RC aircraft. My stepson and I did railroad stuff in the mid later 70's, he's now a conductor and engineer for CSX railroad @ 47yo lol. My son and I did rockets. So right now I'm on 1/16 scale cars again for a season of that, starting a Model A roadster here soon ( it finally came in).. I think ships might be next, been a while for that subject but if not well who knows what...

Just never quit !!!

  • Member since
    April 2009
  • From: Longmont, Colorado
Posted by Cadet Chuck on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 7:06 AM

I got the bug in the early 1950's from our next door neighbor.  He and my dad became good friends, and he frequently took me to his workshop to see what he was building, which was a big, beautiful sailing ship at the moment.  He also showed me some Strombecker solid wood models of WWII bombers that he had built and put on wall stands in his basement rec room.  That did it.  I started building solid wood airplanes immediately, and went on to ship models next.

Computer, did we bring batteries?.....Computer?

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Surface_Line on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 7:42 AM

In the early 1960's, plastic model kits were sold in many types of store.  The small grocery store on our corner had some, and my interest was multiplied by the trading cards showing Aurora kit box art that were included in ice cream bar wrappers.  And I lived just a few blocks from the library, so the WWII history section was my standard haunt.

Flash forward to 1970, and I came across a small hobby shop that specialized in "imported and domestic kits."  I became close friends with Mike Edwards of the American Eagles hobby shop, and he showed me techniques and connected me with the Seattle chapter of iPMS, where I have learned more stuff and enjoyed the fellowship with modelers in every town the Navy stationed me.  Mike passed away twenty years ago now, but he left a lasting positive impression on me.  Thanks, Mike!
Rick Heinbaugh

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 7:44 AM

Ay Mate:

      When I started Modeling. Well, Let's see. The Dinosaurs had died out and someone Brought a reed boat up the river. Nah.That wasn't it! Oh, I remember now.I went to Summer Camp ( those programs designed to get the kids away from the parents for a while, Whew!)

 It rained most of the time and that was a bummer. One of the counselors asked if anyone want to build an airplane. .They were the Monogram E-Z Bilts. I got bit after I saw my Aeronca fly ! Blue wings and white fuselage and even landing gear!

     Those were the kits where the fuselage was four pieces mainly, plus the wings and Rubber band and Big plastic Propellor with a Plastic cowl in a vivid red! Well, over the next year I built five more and also learned, never paint your Balsa model with Artists oils.

    It took that thing forever to dry! Plastic came a Christmas later when I got a plastic model car. Just like our real one. A 56 Mercury Montclair Phaeton four dr. ht. Courtesy of REVELL and Santa. The rest is history.

      I won't even add the value up as I would have to have The president's pocket change to pay for them all! I have a nice stash to work on now. I would say my main influence was that new fangled thing called a 17 inch console T.V.! In glorious Black and White even!

 They had programs about guys flying Planes and one with lotsa Ships and one with nothing but Submarines and their crews. Plus the History Books and Library. Our teachers wanted us to research out favorite subjects.Mine were the Navy, Merchant Marine and the U.S.M.C. That ruined me. That's all I could think about in my spare time. Chesty Puller and "Blood and Guts" Patton, Nimitz, Burke and others were my heroes. Oh! let's not forget General " Hap" Arnold and Many More Like General Curtis Le May. 


  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 8:02 AM

My mother and father.  Mom was a professional artist and illustrator and would build models as props for whatever she was working on.  Her and dad would set up bench and would build models of horses, figures, cars, and when she started getting military commissions, tanks and planes.  Well, it took no time to include my brother in me in the production where they showed us how to take our time to assemble a model, how to glue, and ways to paint. 

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 8:56 AM

I was a small child during the war (started kindergarden in 1943).  Fighter pilots were the knights of the war.  Things were always in the news about their exploits.  My dad joined the CAP and learned to fly.  So aviation was a big influence then- the whole country was air minded.  Relatives used to give me kits for presents at Christmas.  These were stick and tissue models.  I was not able to complete one until I was seven, when I was able to read the instructions well enough.  My main interest then was in flying models but I did build the occasional "solid model."  Non-flying scale models then were made from solid blocks and sheets of wood.  I remember my first plastic model, a P-80 that dad bought and we built together.  I never stopped modeling.  I built my first car model when I was still in grade school, and my first sailing ship model in ninth grade.  I never stopped building models, even during college, Air Force service, or while raising a family.  So I figure I have been model building for 75 years.  When I moved to Minnesota the weather was not that great for flying models, so I dropped that part of the hobby except a flying kit every few years.  I now model exclusively non-operating models.

During the war, does anyone remember the Kix cereal premium paper models?  These were paper cuts you obtained from a couple of boxtops and a dime.  You used a penny as nose weight.  There was a P-40 and a Zero.  I built both.  They both flew reasonably well.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    February 2011
  • From: AZ,USA
Posted by GreySnake on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 10:58 AM
My father always built models and when I was five years old I’d always keep him company while he worked on a model on the weekends. I was also really interested in FSM magazines and the various reference books he had sometimes to his aggravation if I’d rip a page. Around six years old I started getting my own snap tight models and a few 1/35 figure sets here and there. I’d also end up watching the history channel with my father during the evening.


Model building didn’t really catch on for me till I was ten years old and picked up a Tamiya 1/35 Schwimmwagen. That hooked me and model building became my main hobby for around sixteen years or so till I stopped for a few years and then returned last year. 


  • Member since
    July 2016
  • From: Malvern, PA
Posted by WillysMB on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 12:07 PM

When I was 6, one of friends and his dad were into flying models and I started there. Built most of the Guillows and Comet kits growing in proficiency slowly to large free flight and gliders. Then one fateful day at my friends house we went to his local HS for some supplies and I picked up the 1/72 Revell Fokker Eindecker. I was hooked and built many of the Revell and early Monogram kits then discovered Airfix, Heller, and Scale Modeler (a precursor to FSM). Dad (a WWII fighter pilot) and mom were always very supportive, but a friend of my Dads was probably who galvanized me the most - Bill Anders, the Apollo 8 CM pilot would come for dinner every couple months and his first stop was always my bedroom to see what I had finished. You can imagine the impact that had on a high school student.

Things slowed down considerably during college, but picked up again during grad school. After we moved from Boston to the Philly area I joined the local modeling club, DVSM, and was a member for many years. Work, kids, and other hobbies swamped out modeling, but I kept picking up modeling mags at the bookstore. When I retired and the kids moved on additional time appeared and the bug bit again. My first task was to repair the fleet which was very satisfying. I always had this plan to build all the airfield equipment in 1/76 scale at some point, so I'm starting there since my workspace is minuscule.

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 12:37 PM

Not going to talk about modeling as a young kid.I built stuff to play with it, the,monsters, military stuff, I wasn't so interested in building as in playing with them.

So I will refer to the restart in my mid 20's. What got me started again is my love for military history.Making models brings the history alive,off the pages of a book on to my display shelf.It also brings a sense of accomplishment its something that I can do fairly well and my family and friends appreciate it the same as if I painted,carved,sculpted,sewed or the like.

No influences that I know of.

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 12:40 PM

My parents bought me a model kit, Aurora's "The Wurst" a hotrod hotdog truck that was based off of an old 1930s fire truck. I would guess this was Christmas of 1968 or 69.

It took some pestering to get my dad to build it for me. Afterwards, I know my mom had bought me a set of old style cars that were by Pyro that came in a set together. They were all molded in brown. Those were the first models I built on my own.

Later, I started picking out my own models if I had money. I know my early modeling years I built the Aurora prehistoric scenes dinosaurs. The Saber-toothed Tiger and Allosaurus were my first two, followed by a caveman throwing a boulder. I bought the Saber-tooth with money I got as a gift and the Allosaurus was a birthday gift from a friend.

Aurora monsters and super heroes like the Phantom of the Opera and Spider-man were some other kits I built around the same time.

My biggest influence was the sci-fi TV shows of the day like Land of the Giants, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Star Trek along with the Adam West Batman TV show. I bought and built kits from these TV shows.

My friend's big brother had an extensive collection of Renwal 1/32 scale armor kits. They were beautifully built, painted, shiny, on display on a high shelf. He showed me a few of them that had working features.

I never could figure out why he didn't play in the sandbox with those tanks with us. They were so large and awesome that he would win every battle. That was what got me into building armor kits.

I bought an built most of the American armor kits by Aurora and Lindberg. I remember being confused when the MBT70 had both American and German (the "bad guys") decals. I still have that MBT70 kit, but I rebuilt it with parts from a second hand kit I bought for $5 in the early days of eBay (1996 or 97).

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 1:02 PM

When I was 5, my dad gave me my first model kit, a Model T.  I remember it as a Lindberg kit, but I may be wrong.

That was followed by Pyro "Prehistoric Monsters" kits, because I was crazy about dinosaurs when I was a kid (still am, 50 years later).  I assembled those kits with Duco Household Cement.  I can still remember the smell of both that plastic, and that glue.

As I got older and could handle more intricate work (ie, slathering Testors on with a disposable plastic brush), my parents started giving me Revell ship kits in all scales, and Monogram armor, and Aurora monster kits.

I had an uncle, too, who took me to a nearby Kiddie City, when I visited my grandmother.  He would let me pick out a kit to build.  I usually picked a Monogram airplane.

I read a lot-still do-and so, building models went hand-in-hand with the subjects I built, all WW II planes, armor, and ships.  I also built some sci-fi subjects, like the original AMT Enterprise from Star Trek, and the first-generation of Star Wars kits.

By the time I was 11 or 12, I would ride my bike to my local hobby shop (Penn Valley Hobbies, Lansdale PA) on Saturdays, to buy a kit or supplies with my allowance, and later, my paper route money.

I had bench in the basement, an 8'x4' sheet of plywood that started life as a Tyco train layout, then it got a 1/72 airstrip in the middle, and by the time I was in high school, it was mostly a Waterloo wargame with Airfix' figures.

All that time, it was my parents and family who encouraged me, and friends who also built models.  I had no idea of mail order, or of any clubs, IPMS or otherwise.

I gave up the hobby when I went off to college (1982).  But while I was a student living in Germany, I found a set of homecast toy soldiers at a flea market over there.  That led me to start collecting toy soldiers a year or 2 after I graduated.  And I took up casting, too. 

In '90, after reading about it in a book, I visited the MFCA show in Valley Forge, and joined the club.  Around '98 or '99, we started holding our meetings jointly with the local IPMS club, the Delaware Valley Scale Modelers, which I also joined.  And I started building scale models again.  Today, I belong to those clubs, and also to a local club we started 3 years ago here in the Lehigh Valley.

So in this second incarnation of the hobby for me, it's definitely the fellowship of other hobbyists that supplements my own interest.

So that's my journey.  Now, I have a stash that I'll never finish, and a gray army that I do expect I will.

Best regards,


The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.



  • Member since
    March 2013
Posted by patrick206 on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 1:48 PM

I was a farm kid, in North Dakota. Once I saw a crop duster spraying in our neighbor's field, an Aeronca Champ, and hot footed it to watch the guy doing the job. The guy doing the flagging saw me and waved for me to come to him. He told me all about the reason for spraying, and a little bit about the airplane.

The flagger had a "batch truck" in the field, which supplied the Champ with spray loads. When the pilot landed and shut down to reload, he let me sit in his seat. The little airplane seemed as exotic as the Concorde to me, really impressive.

I was eight, and that got me started with building models. That would have been in '49, not much in the way of plastic kits then, so I built balsa free flight models from Cleveland Model kits and plans. That opened a whole new world for me, I began pilot training during university years and went on to my career as a commercial pilot, retiring at age 60 in 2001.


  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Orlando, Florida
Posted by ikar01 on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 2:39 PM

I started when I was about 5.  My Father would pick up one of the old Strombecker wooden kits of a bomber or a solid wing Aurora WWII fighter now and then.  My brothers got me into the early Revell and Monogram aircraft as well as Pyro ships, mostly because they were cheap and it kept me out of their way.

Eventually iit became a way to fill in time because I didn't really have much in the way of friends during school.

  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 5:24 PM

In my earlier years, my dad would sit me on his lap and show me WW II airplane books.  I don't recall if he ever read me a bedtime story, but I knew what a P-40 and Zero looked like before kindergarten.  He tried to make some kits for me, but he was obviously not a model builder.

In grade school, by best friend got me really started when he showed me his 1/72 Revell B-17 "Memphis Belle".  It had it all - moving turrets, flaps and retractable landing gear!  Baa Baa Black Sheep also aired on TV around that time, which I think reinforced our enthusiasm for WW II fighter planes.

Heading into middle school, Star Wars and Tamiya were huge factors in expanding my modeling interests into sci-fi and armor.  Those Shep Paine diorama sheets in Monogram kits were just amazing and we coveted them.  I became aware of guys like Steven Zaloga, Cookie Sewell, Francois Verlinden, Alan Clark and Tony Greenland.  Looking at all the great stuff they did made me want to get in on the action.  This was the turning point in my modeling, when I realized putty and an airbrush were going to be required.

Since then, the momentum has carried me all the way to this day.  I don't know why, but I just love building stuff.

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    January 2013
Posted by seastallion53 on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 5:58 PM

My dad got me 2 WWI 1/72 models on my 5th bday in 1964.I don't remember the maker but i blame him for getting me hooked all these many yearsBig Smile

  • Member since
    November 2003
  • From: Naples, FL
Posted by tempestjohnny on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 5:59 PM

I'm not sure what really pushed me to build. My father built wooden sailing ships when he was younger. When I was 7 dad sat down with me and built the MPC Pacer Wagon. No paint just glue. I was hooked. Was spending every penny I had on kits until I was about 14-15. Then girls, cars, and life got in way. Started building again in my late 20's and haven't stopped. It seems as I've got older I'm building more and more.

This was my parents kitchen table. I was about 14


  • Member since
    January 2015
Posted by PFJN on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 8:07 PM


Its funny.  Thinking back now I can remeber alot of the models that I built as a kid, but I have no recollection of my first kit.  I'm pretty sure that my older brother likely helped me with the first couple kits that I built and suspect that the first one may likely have been one of those old Lindberg/Lifelike 1/32 scale kits that they used to sell at the 5 & Dime store near us.



1st Group BuildSP

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 10:52 AM


    You just sparked a memory. Things were tight for us and My B'Day came about and food for the family was paramount. Hadn't gone to Social Services. I refused to! Wifey and the Kids, GOD Bless them. Got me a present anyway.

    A 1949 Ford Tudor in the series pictured. I remember seeing an Australian car called a " Ute" ( Basically an Australian Ranchero.) So that's what I built it to be. Best Model car I ever Built. Years later, In my Big Office in Town I had that little car on my desk in a Homemade case.

   Folks would ask about it and I told them, "That's a reminder on how tough things can be sometimes and to never forget it."


  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 11:36 AM

It was 1960. I heard Johnny Horton's song "Sink the Bismarck". Then, I saw the old 1/1200 Pyro "Bismarck" model kit on the shelves in my local Drug Store and bought it for $0.50 and built it when I got home.  I returned the following week and found all the ships in that line ranging from $0.39 and was hooked.  Ultimately, I saved up for the Revell and Aurora ships.

Then, I saw "Combat" with Vic Morrow and Rick Jason and wanted purchase an Airfix Panther.  I soon discovered the Aurora 1/48 tanks and bought them all.  Later TV shows like 12 O'Clock High, The Rat Patrol, McHale's Navy, Hogan's Heroes, and many movies cemented my interest.

My Mom helped.  Soon after I started building, she bought me a Hawk kit of the Super Sabre which she helped me build.  It was great!  Then my Dad came home from sea (He was Navy.) and got me a 1/48 Halftrack.  So, my parents were instrumental in helping me develop as a model builder. God Bless them!

I have a long family history of military service.  Learning about each ancester helped seal the deal for me.  They are my inspiration!


  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Surface_Line on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 4:04 PM

That Pyro set of 1/1200 Sink the Bismark series, with the movie, was a huge factor for me, too.

A few years ago, Lindberg re-popped a few of them and I got the KGV/ Dorsetshire combo for nostalgia.   
I started with the cruiser, and after a bunch of hours of work, it got bumped to the backburner.  What a piece of junk!  Parts weren't shaped properly and fit was out of the question.  I wonder if we wrestled with these problems in 1963 and just didn't care, or if the molds were no good anymore.

Having been excited by that Pryo series, and learning that they were originally molded by Eagle in the UK, I have accumulated a bunch of Eagle/ Eaglewall kits, but haven't wanted to build one of the old collectors' items.  Now I suspect they may be pretty miserable kits anyway.

  • Member since
    August 2020
  • From: Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by Dodgy on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 6:31 PM

Yeah Tanker, I can sympathise with that. My old man died when I was 13 and we went from being financially ok to poor almost overnight. My mum was amazing, she made me wooden shelves out of dowell and pine for the models I already had. No new models for a long time after.

True Blue

  • Member since
    August 2020
  • From: Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by Dodgy on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 6:55 PM

 Wow Bill. You certainly walked me down memory lane with some of those old tv shows. Funnily enough I have a Johnny Horton album with sink the Bismark on it and just talking about that made me remember all those old black and white movies about war at sea.

True Blue

  • Member since
    August 2020
  • From: Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by Dodgy on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 7:03 PM

Funny that you should mention the old Eagle kits Rick. In my nautical 'bits box' I have the remains of the Altmark from that series and was waxing nostalgic over them, thinking I'd like to build them again. I managed to pick one up a couple of months ago, but can't make up my mind wether to build it or not.

True Blue

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Denver
Posted by tankboy51 on Friday, September 4, 2020 5:44 PM

Like most other builders here, my parents, especially  my father were big influencers on my hobby..  Shep Paine was huge in the early '70's.  I have slammed together  lots of Aifix, Monogram, Revel, ESCI , AMT and many others, kits.  Then in 1969 I started air brushing  Tamiya and Monogram kits.  I joined IPMS and moved to Denver in 1976.  I started going to contests then and I learned a lot from fellow club members and did judging and entering as well.  IPMS club membership has done lot for me.  The internet has had zero influence on me.  I guess I am to old for it.  I also have no military service.  I spent my life outside with Surveying, later Paleontology, don't tell Sheldon.  ( Hey, we found some first Jurassic dinosaurs in 1879 here in Colorado.  Well,  some the first were found in New Jersey,  long story.)  Long story, much shortensd.


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