Even in tough times, there are lessons we can learn. If there’s something positive to be said about the COVID pandemic, it’s that modellers have long been at the forefront of lockdown-readiness. While others buy only what they need today, we largely embody the “buy for the future” mentality. That’s why we almost all have stashes of kits, paint, glue, tools and decals that are far too large to be assembled in even a couple of lifetimes. (C’mon, admit it… this could be you!)
As for me, someone who loves the older kits, the existence of model shows (and indeed nostalgia shows) is very important. Most stores don’t have a good supply of “the old stuff” (aka the “good stuff”), and had it not been for Broughdale Hobbies getting in 1200 old kits (of which I bought greater than 10%), I may well have despaired. Despite my “chestnut injection”, I was still eager for shows to start back up, and on Sunday, March 27, 2022, I got to go to my first model show in over 3 years!
The HeritageCon 14 show in Hamilton, Ontario has been growing since its first show 16 years ago, and is now a premier show in Ontario. It draws from a wide radius, bringing in people from Ottawa and Buffalo, Detroit and Quebec. That means it also draws vendors from far afield, and that means: LOTS TO BUY!!
In order to short-circuit the ever-increasing price of model kits in general, I made sure to stock up on kits both during my trip to, and while at, the show. As expected, there was a big crowd, and all kinds of amazing goodies were to be had, most of them at very, very reasonable prices. I’ll admit, the prices for what I want are generally low because I want what a lot of people don’t, and I’m willing to pay in frustration for what I won’t pay for in money. I want weird subjects, and I’m not afraid to rescribe, putty and swear a lot to get them!
So, without further ado, let’s see what kind of classic stuff I dug up on my weekend sprue-gathering orgy, shall we?
Big, Colourful and Just Plain Weird:
You know I love MPCs. You know I love big scales cars. You know I love outlandish, angry-70’s customs that are just as ridiculous now as they were then. I also have a love-hate relationship with Corvettes; they’re not my thing, but I have tonnes. Why? Because they were a favourite of both real and scale customizers, so I can relive my early ‘80s car show memories in scale form!
This show gave me the opportunity to do just that, with not just one, but TWO of the 1/20 MPC Vettes! The first, the 1978 Annual, can be built stock or as the simply outrageous “Rainbow Vette”! Of course, Rainbow Vette takes the center stage on the box, it’s shockingly red paint sadly hiding the beautifully flamboyant striping. Less radical, but no less MPC-crazy, is the “Stinger”, a less-customized 1980 Vette (my favourite year!) with tough side pipes, an optional turbo engine and edgy semi-sunset stripes provided by the Immortal Striper himself, Harry Bradley!
To round out my car purchases I picked up the Aoshima… something. I thought it was a Lite-Ace or Hi-Ace. Turns out it’s a Suzuki-Carry. The thing is, it’s set up as a moving festival truck! I all it the “Matsuri Van”, and if you Google that, you will indeed find this most radically insane product of the Japanese imagination! It has everything needed to be its own moving festival; if you’ve ever watched an anime episode with a summer festival in it then condense the entire row of stalls into one van, stack the dude beating the big drum onto the roof, and get ready to roll out! It was so crazy I couldn’t get it; the only thing that I have that comes close to this is the Toyota Sports Van, and this is a level or two above that in sheer off-the-wall-ery! If Bob and Doug Mackenzie had been Japanese instead of Canadian, this would have been their van for sure!!
Getting’ My Props!
While jets may be where I started in modelling, I have come to embrace all things prop, all the way back to the interwar period. However, recently, I’ve been on a bit of a biplane kick (yet to build one, though) and so it was inevitable that some WWI stuff would start to creep in. That’s what happened here!
I’ve got a good mix of well-known and best-left-forgotten, leading off with the very nice Hasegawa P-47D bubbletop. The mighty Jug is a favourite of mine, and this is a nice companion to go with my Academy razorback. Keeping the fame quotient high, but rolling back the clock, I grabbed a couple of WWI’s most notable; the SE.5a and the Airco DH.4. Now, these are simple kits; old and miles from the Wingnut Wings kits we’re used to of late. However, they’re in scale to the rest of my stuff, and they’re simple, just what I want for dipping my toes in the Great War modelling pond.
Of course, I can’t pass up a trainer variant of a plane, and I was lucky enough to find one for which I’d been searching for a while; the two-seat Bf-109G12! This is in a Hobby Craft box, but I’m sure that it’s not a HobbyCraft kit originally. They usually do Canadian subjects, and/or bad rip-offs of early Hasegawa jets, and this is neither of those. It has neat decal options and likely needs work; perfect! The other trainer is a Fairey Battle T.1. This is one of those rare types of trainers with two distinct cockpits; the “double bubble” Battle looks more like two planes flying in overly-close formation than a single aircraft, and the change from the usual long greenhouse to this distinctive shape is welcome in my stash! (Features yellow undersides – another favourite of mine!)
Keeping the “prop drive” (pun intended) going, I got a couple of big boys next. These were two Italian WWII trimotors. The first is the elegantly sedate SM.81 Pipistrello. This was a typical “airliner/bomber” of the ‘30s, and looks wonderful with its three motors and spatted undercarriage. It’s far more refined-looking than the Ju-52, although not as tough or well-known. The other is a plane I wasn’t even sure there was a kit of; the CANT Z.1007 bis “Alcione”. This tough and purposefully sexy trimotor is my favourite Italian aircraft of the war, so getting one was a very happy occasion!
Still in the WWII side of things, I snagged the new Airfix Me-262 two-seater, but not on purpose. As if the fates were on my side, I actually won this as a door prize in the raffle at the show! It can be built as either a night fighter or a trainer, and comes with German, British or Czech markings (making it a CS.92 Turbina). This is a nice looking kit; it’ll be neat to see how it stacks up against the older Revel Germany kit of the same plane! The next surprise was the old KP Avia S.199! I wanted a kit of the “Mule” to go with my other weirdo -109 variants, but I didn’t even notice at the time that this was a “CS.99”, meaning that it was a trainer! Man, a trainer of the Mule??? AWESOME! Rounding out the -109 trio was the ancient, and horrid-looking Pegasus “Buchon”; the Merlin-engined -109 from Spain. Why buy the Pegasus? Why not? Someone’s gotta try to build it! (Looks like pre-chewed food. Awesome!)
I love variants, and I love weirdness, and if there’s a great place to find both it’s in the products of the Chinese aero-industry’s earlier attempts at aircraft modification and design. A perfect example is the Q-5, or A-5, known as the “Fantan” to NATO. This was a modification of the Mig-19/J-6, and it added a solid nose, two lateral intakes and an internal weapons bay (?!) to a stretched Mig-19! The result was actually a very beautiful airplane, and it has seen some export success, with Pakistan using them as well. There’s even a nuclear-armed version, and this first of these kits, the “vanilla” Q-5 from Trumpeter represents them all. More esoteric is the “Yi” version, which was a torpedo bomber for the PLANAF. Yes, a jet fighter-based torpedo bomber. If you’re asking yourself why, so did the Chinese, because this seriously ugly variant had all kinds of trouble and was abandoned. This makes it perfect for some serious What-Iffery! I got both of these new at Dundas Valley Hobbies on my way into Hamilton for the show.
Tanks For The Biplanes:
You’re welcome! (Couldn’t resist…)
While Matchbox Armour has a huge appeal for me, I’ve also found that Fujimi makes some excellent tank and ground-vehicle kits. I was lucky to find a couple years ago, including my Chi-Ha, but they’re not as common as they used to be. This show, though I was able to snag a bunch! My favourite was the Jagdtiger, as I’ve been looking for an affordable one for a while. It’s such a ridiculously over-done vehicle that I have to have one in my collection! Below it, the Elephant (should be “Elefant”) shows the other approach to tank destroyers. While I’m not a fan of this vehicle, it is German, and it’s weirdly famous despite being not hugely effective. Sounds like it passes muster for me!
The other two kits I got were quite unusual; the SdKfz.222 recon car is a very famous German scout car, and is roughly equivalent to the Humber scout car put out by Matchbox. This will make a neat “compare and contrast” for that kit, and it won’t take up much space doing it! Taking up less space is the 1/76 Kubelwagen and BMW R75 motorcycle/sidecar combination. While they are both tiny, I’m hoping I can get the built satisfactorily. I may need glasses/magnifiers for that one.
Every now and then, at a show, I’ll decide I want something, usually something odd, and I’ll walk 10 paces and BAM, there it is! That’s kind of what happened with the old Airfix Bristol Fighter. I like the Bristol; the roundness of the nose is so much sexier than the squareness of the SE.5a and DH.4. I wasn’t even sure there was a small kit of it and then… there it was! The decals look torched, but that’s another day’s problem. Rounding out this bunch was a real oddball… a KP Letov S.328. I had no idea what it was but it had floats and was obscure enough to entice me. Doesn’t look like too bad a kit, either!
I didn’t have any Pyro kits going into the show. Sure, the 1910 Buick I have is apparently an unreleased Pyro, but I had no Pyro boxes. In the past, I haven’t really noticed any Brass Era (BE) cars at the show, but I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really looking. It wasn’t until Alan sent me the Hawk 1909 Hupmobile that I got a chance to see how fun BE Cars could be, but at that point, we were all locked down, and other than the one Vintage Car Score, I’d had no chance to find any others.
Well, that was corrected here, with the excavation from the piles of for-sale sprue of two BE Pyros! The first is a 1911 Stevens-Duryea, a car that I’d never heard of until I started getting into BE motoring. I still have research to do, but I will admit that it looks a lot like that Buick. Then again, most cars of that era kind of looked the same. A good example is the Hupmobile-esque 1914 Mercer Raceabout. Typical of the two-seat roadsters of the day, the Mercer is a great addition to my small scale, sporty BE and ‘teens collection.
Moving a bit forward, the 1932 Lincoln may seem out of place. Still, it’s a fairly early car, and I do love dual cowl phaetons. I’ve always wanted to ride in one, but since Jay Leno hasn’t adopted me, I can’t really expect it to happen. So, the next best thing is to build one myself! Rounding out the car score is the 1910 Stanley Steamer from Renwal. This is tiny, and is in the highly-odd scale of 1/48! Jumpin! Normally, 1/32 is small for cars, and BE cars are small and slight to start. This thing is going to be friggin’ TINY! Still the Stanley Steamer is the first “ancient” car my Uncle told me about, and so it has a special place in my heart.
Like a Hole in the Head:
So, those were my treasures. I didn’t need, and in fact may not even have, room for them. But, that’s part of the fun of modelling. Being able to be at a show with people I’d not seen in years and soaking up the sprue was a great way to shake off the blahs of the last couple of years. For that reason alone, this collection of kits is a bit special; they’re a testament to getting back to normal, and proof positive that when it comes to lockdown-preparedness, no one beats modellers!
It’ll come as no surprise: I have to know which one(s) you guys like the best! Vote in the poll below, and I’ll look into that kit first!