CC In Scale: Welcome To My Daydream! – Part 1

Alfa Romeo GTA 1300 Junior. Latest off my bench.


Bowing to popular requests, I’m beginning a series of occasional posts on my models. I’ve been reading and commenting at CC for eight years, so no need for much of a biography. I think you know me.

From the outset, I don’t claim to be an expert. Others know a lot more than me. I don’t claim my models are great; I have seen far better at the occasional show I’ve been to. I’ve also seen worse. I don’t build for competition, just do what takes my fancy. I don’t follow trends, just do my own thing. And I’m rather shy by nature; apart from my Facebook friends, this is the first time I’ve gone public about my hobby.

A series of posts, you say? Yes, because there are way too many to cover in a single post. Don’t ask: even I don’t know how many, but I have been building for nigh-on sixty years. Not so many when the children were young, but I still grabbed an hour here and there. Now that I’m retired, I have plenty of time, and it seems there are more interesting kits than ever.

Land Rover. Challenging but so realistic.


Although born in rural Australia, I grew up in inner-suburban Melbourne. The story begins in 1965, when Mother took me to the toy shop to see what I wanted for a combined birthday/Christmas present (2 weeks apart, y’see). I saw a 1/25 scale AMT Mustang kit and decided that’s what I wanted. Yes, even a kid in Australia had heard of the Mustang and knew it was something special. Mother had her doubts, but gave in to pressure and bought it for me. (Yes, we were poor that year)

The box looked so exciting. There was a choice of ways to build it. There were so many optional parts, to build a stock, custom (what?), Mustang show car (concept car, we’d say now) or faux racing version. I did a kind of mix and match, and mixed and matched it some more over the following years! No photos survive of my first experiment in car modeling, but years later I bought another replacement kit. It’s still hard to decide which version to build!

Mustang kit, bought ten years back. Maybe next year?


I remember going with my father one day to visit a business acquaintance. He had a son about my age, so we went off together. His room was amazing. He had all these model planes hanging from the ceiling – it looked great. He told me all about them, but I wasn’t really listening. I remember him saying they did model cars. I remembered my Mustang. Model cars……

I started building the smaller Airfix cars. They were readily available, and at 66 cents for the bagged kits, more affordable. I slowly worked my way through most of the cheaper ones. Now that I look back, I see globs of glue obscuring detail, wheels that aren’t on straight, crooked paint lines, and weird colour combinations, but I was trying.

Aston Martin DB6. The only early Airfix one I’ll own up to!


I should mention at this point that in the 1960s Australia had stronger ties to Britain. Airfix kits and Humbrol paints were more widely available than American kits and paints. Japanese kits were starting to become available (as we shall see…), but tended to be either rare and expensive (Tamiya, Kogure, Nakamura, Bandai) or toylike and outright strange. I always wanted my cars to look as much like the real thing as possible.

My mother had been a photo retoucher and hand colourer after the war, until colour film became widely used. She’d use pencils and fine brushes to alter fine details on photo negatives. She taught me a lot about brush care and the use of colour – what goes with what. I think with her it was more instinctive than just following theory, as we often seemed to find exceptions that theoretically shouldn’t work but somehow did. I wasn’t aware my use of colour was anything special until I started looking around modeling groups on the internet.

’69 GTO. ‘Blue and green should never be seen without a colour in between’, said Grandma. Chrome is a colour, isn’t it?


Then about 1970 I revisited the larger scale. By then the local toyshop had closed, so I had to travel further afield to get kits. In Melbourne this would have meant catching a tram or bus – but that would give me less to spend when I got there. So I walked. I’d leave home at about 8 am, buy a kit when the shops opened before it got busy, be home soon after 10, and spend most of Saturday building. Homework? What homework?

Ford GT40. I knew it was a famous race car, so I had to get it. This is the 1969 IMC kit, nowadays regarded as near-unbuildable. Fourteen-year-old me would like a word with those armchair experts.


Models opened me up to American culture, and how different it was from my country. I read the local car magazines, so I knew it wasn’t just my part of the country that differed. The few American cars I saw seemed so huge; big Chevys, Pontiacs (really Canadian Cheviacs), Fords, and Dodges (which I later found out were really Plymouths).

Living around the corner from the synagogue I would often see some on Saturday. It was hard to imagine a world where cars this size were the norm. But the early-seventies styling really grabbed me. Especially intermediate Mopars.

’71 Charger. Did this one two years ago. No, they didn’t do purple seat inserts. Lowered with alloys from another car.


Next time: Leaving American models for Japanese kits (for the first time).