Christmas Haul 2020

Well, as we all likely experienced, 2020 wasn’t exactly a great year. For some, it’s been worse that for others, of course, but by and large, from a hobby standpoint, it wasn’t that great for me. The two model shows I intended to go to were, of course, cancelled, and the beating that the worldwide logistics and production sectors took didn’t do much for the availability of newer kits.

Adding manure to this dumpster fire of a year was that, just before Christmas, my Uncle died. (It wasn’t Covid-related, and he passed suddenly and peacefully in his sleep.) He was the one who had gotten me into modelling waaay back 30+ years ago, as he, himself, was an avid car builder. It was unexpected and came as a bad shock at a bad time. However, my Uncle, or “Unk” as we called him for as long as I can remember, was always a well-prepared fellow, and he had already wrapped all his Christmas presents. Thus, we got to enjoy his spirit of giving on the 25th, even though he, himself, was absent.

As it turned out, despite it all, it was a nice Christmas. Even more amazingly, it turned out to be a very model-rich holiday, too! Unk really did understand my taste in kits, as you will see, and when my brother also joined in the kit-giving… well, let’s just say I came away pretty good, and much the richer in the “weird sprue ledger” of life.  So, to relive a happy time from an otherwise sewage spill off a year, let’s check out what the various “Santas” in my life brought for under the tree, shall we?

This is half of my Christmas haul. My Uncle’s main present were the two 90’s FoMoCos at the bottom. The top two came from my brother. Both seem to understand my modelling tastes pretty well, eh?

Unk’s main present to me was a pair of car kits, and a great pair they were! Like a pair of fuzzy slippers where left and right are distinct, but you can only sort of tell from a distance, he gave me the Revell 1992 Cougar and 1992 Thunderbird SC Coupe. Man, you wanna talk about something up my alley? Yeah! Real, everyday cars from the early 90s. This is kind of the last gasp of the “daily drivers” when it comes to model kits. They were still making kits of things you’d see on the streets then, and by 1992 Revell really had their game figured out. These kits look fantastic, and the subjects are cars I very, very much liked at the time. The boxes are typical of that era, with a boring pic of the car on the front, and that’s it. However, the subjects are so weird that even a humdrum front three-quarters shot is interesting. Great choices, Unk!

This side of the boxes gives you some idea of what’s in there. I’m amazed Round 2 got away with using “sissy bar” as an adjective in print, actually. I’d have thought that was too much of a “Trigger” hazard. I love it!

Not to be outdone, my brother (a great source for some of my most esoteric, bizarre and expensively-hard-to-get kits) also gave me a pair of kits! Now, his are of a totally different nature, channeling a lot more ‘70s wife-beater-wearing, stubby-beer-bottle drinking anger than the two ‘90s kits. The first one I opened was the new Round 2(MPC) Schwinn Classic Krate bicycle! You wanna talk about something that personifies its era?? With a glittery banana seat, drag stance, suspension and a real shifter-knob, this thing would have ruled! I only remember seeing a bike like this once, and it was a friend of mine’s brother’s. It was beaten up, and he wouldn’t let us ride it (he was much older than us), but I thought it was cool. I’d mentioned the Krate kit before, and my brother was clearly listening!  With a box full of nearly every part chromed, the Krate looks like a very interesting modelling project, and I’m pumped!

Some more looks at the sides of the boxes. The engines on those Revells are beautiful. The back end of Pinterra… well, that’s art of a different kind, I think. Check the decals for the Krate, too. I love having options!

The other kit was one he’d not seen before, the immortal AMT 1976 PINTERRA!!!! Man, just like Fieros that got turned into baby Ferraris, it seems nobody could leave the poor Pinto well enough alone. With a custom back end and swoopy front end, the Pinterra channels the spirits of Italian styling to turn an econobox into… a custom econobox! I LOVE this thing, but for all the wrong reasons! I know that this has been repopped as the “Pinto Popper” with Coke decals, but this is the real thing! The new one is the reissued 77, and the custom “Pinterra” front end will NOT fit properly. On this one, it fits like a dream (relatively speaking). Sadly, it won’t ever be built as Pinterra, as it’s also the only way I’m likely to get a stock ’76 Pinto! So, I guess I’ll just draft the nose onto my Round 2, 1977 Pinto like the rest of the world. 1976 Pintos are awesome – still a bit more svelte than the later ones, but geekier than the early ones, they tread a stylistic middle ground of utter, almost malignant, mediocrity.

A quick look inside. The Krate is almost all chrome, save a bit of orange plastic. The Pinto and Cougar are white, and the T-bird is dark, dark blue. Those Cougar/T-bird boxes are FULL.

Had these been the only kits I got, it would have been a great Christmas. However, Unk had long been responsible for “playing Santa” and also made up a stocking for my brother, myself and my nephew. In this year’s stocking was a veritable goldmine of weird small sprue! The first one I hit upon was the Monogram 1/32 Snap-Tite Bronco truck! This is sure one you don’t see very often! It has competent detail for a snap kit, although the Molotow will be working overtime to get those bumpers chromed! The next in there was the Hasegawa 1/72 M5 High Speed Tractor. I guess “High Speed” is relative… This weird thing always reminded me of a cross between a fire truck and a steam tractor, and looks more steampunk than real. Still, it’s a nice little kit; as I found from the TX-40, Hasegawa doesn’t give up too much ground on small scale armour!

Now THESE are stocking stuffers! Check out this eclectic mix of cars, tanks and planes! Unk knew his audience, alright!
This is the only box side worth looking at. Those custom decals are wild, and those bumpers need to be really chromed, I think…

Rounding out my seasonal sprue were two small-scale Trumpeter kits. One was the 1/144 F-7EB, or F-7MG as it is also known. This is the cranked-wing version of the Chinese knock-off (er… “licensed copy”?) of the early MiG-21. I LOVE this thing. I love it so much I also bought the 1/32 of it, just because I couldn’t find any other kit of it. Well, this one looks pretty nice, despite having heavy panel lines, and it sure will take up less space than the other kit! The second Trumpy was the 1/144 F-8IIM “Finback”. This is another plane I love. A combination of MiG-21, MiG-23 and Su-15, this troubled heavy interceptor is something I actually already have in kit form in 1/48 and 1/72. Having it in 1/144 makes me thing of going “full Whif” on it. I do have a spare 1/144 Tomcat canopy… do you smell two-seat striker like I do?

Here’s a peek as to what’s in the boxes. The Trumpeters do seem to have deep panel lines, but they’re cool nonetheless!

So, all in all, it was a very good Christmas and I got some neat sprue – most of it from “beyond the grave”. Unk still had a storehouse of kits for future stockings, too, so my mom might just surprise me next Christmas with something unexpected.

It’s a tradition in my household to always put people on the spot by asking “What’s your favourite present?” I’d hate for you guys to miss out on that, so I’ll do the same to you. Tell me which of these kits is your favourite by voting in the poll below!

Let’s all have a better year, this year, and remember to take the time to appreciate those close to you, too. Okay, that’s enough maudlin stuff, go vote already!

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