Normally, there’s nothing I enjoy more during the year then getting out and going to hobby shops that aren’t in my city. I love being out and about, on the prowl to hobby shops within about a 2-3 hour radius from home. Since I live in London, Ontario, that means I can cover from Toronto to mid-Michigan, depending which way I go. If you read back on the Scores and Collections page, you’ll see a few of my Michigan scores up for review.
Add to these trips my yearly journey to the excellent IPMS Hamilton show in the winter and that London was supposed to have its biannual show in the fall, and that’s a lot of opportunity to get my hands on what I love best! No, not the shiniest newest kits, but the older, weirder stuff! However, like so many other things, the onslaught of COVID-19 has brought that to a screeching halt. Not only were all the shows in my area cancelled this year (of course), but I can’t get across the border to Michigan and Toronto is basically plague-central, so I’m not going anywhere near there!
That means, sadly, that other than Alan’s January Care Package, I’ve been pretty much without an injection of awesome, musty oldness. It’s not like I don’t have a lot to build, but nothing compares, for me, to getting to just bask in old, obscure kits of weird things, even if I don’t buy them. I just feel at peace. Sadly, Ashbrook’s in Michigan has now closed, so I’ll never be able to go there and do that again, either. Let’s have a moment of silence for its passing, it was a great place… Rest in Peace.
Thankfully, though, while the world may be coming apart, my good buddy Alan stands as a bulwark against the encroaching darkness. Once again, out of nowhere, he emailed me that he was going to send me another box of stuff he thought I’d like. Clearly, he knows me well, as you will see! I was very grateful, to say the least, and I once again got that “little kid” feeling of awaiting toys in the mail. That never, ever, ever gets old!
Now, Alan told me he had posted a 4lb box. That’s big, but it didn’t tell me HOW big. I mean, you can calculate the average density of a model kit based on styrene’s specific gravity and the like, but that’s a lot of work. I like to be surprised. And man… was I ever!!!
Alan’s shipment can only be described as a true “Grand Slam”. Not only because of how awesome its contents were, but also because its sheer size reminds me of the 22,000lb bomb from WWII. While that prodigious weapon barely fit under a Lancaster, this box of classic styrene completely filled the biggest parcel box in my community mail box stand. I mean, I could barely reach around it to get it out!!
However, I got it out, and was astounded at: a.) how heavy a 4lb box of kits feels, and b.) how it managed to get through the mail system intact! I got the thing inside and right away I couldn’t wait to see what was in there. With great excitement I slit the tape, remembering that Alan had said he didn’t bother with fancy packaging. He wasn’t kidding. There was no bubble wrap in there. No crinkled up paper balls met my eyes either. It was wall-to-wall kits. It was literally a home-delivery of my favourite kind of hobby shop – one with old, weird, awesome stuff!
So, come along with me now and let’s see what kind of craziness was lurking in there!
Going through the box was like an archaeological or paleontological dig. There were layers of kits, veritable “styrene strata” that, while jumbled in age, nonetheless laid out an impressive “fossil record” of the evolution of the model kit. You think this sounds a bit grandiose? Well, when we’re done, you’ll see just what I mean.
The first thing I saw on opening the box already had me drooling. A Matchbox! Now, it’s a Revell Germany boxing, but I know a Matchbox when I see it, and the He-70/170 is certainly that! I love the radial engined version, but I also was thinking of either the Condor Legion one or a what-if. I think it would look killer on floats, and now, thanks to Alan, I can indulge that idea! The Howard “Ike” racer is not a plane I’d heard of, but being a Testors I figured (correctly) that it was a Hawk kit inside. Race planes are cool, and I’m looking forward to this one. Also on top was an unidentified Swordfish. It’s clearly of Russian origin, as it’s wibbledy heavy-stock paper box, with a matte finish, attests. It’s also covered in Cyrillic letters on the box ends. A quick look inside reveals what I believe is the old FROG kit, which is actually very nice looking for its age. So, the top layer already managed to tick the “Matchbox” and “FROG” boxes, with a Hawk for good measure.
As if to prove that this was only the beginning, removing the Swordfish revealed a supremely classic kit: the Hawk 1909 Hupmobile Model 20 Runabout! This was originally released by Kaysun in the early-to-mid 1950s, so this Hawk rendition from 1964 is positively modern! This is my first “Brass Era” car, but man, it won’t be the last. I think I’ve found a new niche to love. The skinny tires, lavish fenders and “horseless carriage” vibe are irresistible, and it makes such a neat counterpoint to the soul-less losers I often focus on. This was adventure and pioneering; it was motoring with a good dash of “Damn the torpedoes”! It’s the exact antithesis of the emissions-choked nanny-stated econoboxes that make up the offerings from the Automotive Dark Ages. These were primitive times, but the Brass Era is nothing to sneeze at!
Moving down a layer, I encountered even more greatness. A bagged Hasegawa He-51 biplane fighter, a weird oddball of a plane for sure, was next. The best part – it came with floats, just like the Swordfish! I do like me a floaty-plane, that’s for sure. You can also see the back of a card with an O-1 on it. Yep, that’s an Airfix O-1 in the bubble pack, and right under it was an O-2! If that wasn’t enough ‘Nam-era prop power for you, below that was a Heller (Yes!!!) Trojan! I have wanted a Heller Trojan for ages, but haven’t ever run across it. Even better; it has extra weapons in the box! Gun packs and bombs and rockets – oh my!
The elevator ride through history continued with the arrival of the MPC “Pearl Harbor Attack!” diorama set. It’s so classic it even screams its name at you! With a Val, a bunch of infantry guys and a vac-formed base to put them on (including a moulded-in P40 wreck), this kit is perhaps the epitome of when kits were supposed to be fun, not super-accurate. I love it. Seriously… it’s amazing. Sure, we all know that it’s really the old Airfix Val (Airfix was where MPC got their planes), and that the guys aren’t really in scale, but as a kid, I wouldn’t have cared. This thing is an artifact from when kits made history fun and accessible, and even if things weren’t “just so” they were “good enough” for people to embrace and get into the hobby. For that alone, the kit is a goldmine of awesomeness.
Another piece of styrene history would be easy to overlook here. Just down the side of the box was a very small, orange box. I pulled it out to find that it was an old-looking Lindberg kit of a “Thompson Trophy Racer”. Looking on the back, and online, I was able to find out that this is a kit of the Howard DGA-3 “Pete”. This thing was the Hawk/Testors Ike’s older brother! But old it is, and simple. It has only a handful of pieces, and the font on the box speaks to a far-gone age. Well, according to Scalemates, this kit was first issued by “O-Lin” in 1948, and this one was issued by Lindberg in 1959. This kit is sealed. Yes, that’s right, I now have a sealed kit from the 1950s. That’s long before my uncle, who taught me how to model, ever even thought of modelling. It’s from a time when TV dinners were new and exciting and cars had fins bigger than this plane (in real life) would have had! It’s a time capsule, a relic and something very, very cool.
Also seeing the light was a tiny bag with an ancient (1968) Monogram F11C-2 Goshawk, and most of a Curtis Hawk in there as well. You know, there was a time when I was scared of biplanes. I still haven’t built one, but I intend to use the Hawk herein as a “rigging trainer” to learn how to do it right, and then it’ll be “full speed ahead” on my growing biplane stash. As it turns out, Biplanes are really cool – I just need to figure out how to do them right! And, as if to prove my point, the next layer had an Aurora Douglas M-2 Mailplane! This is a plane I’d never even heard of, and it’s only my second Aurora, too. It’s as old as I am, and in 1/48 should be a good rigging exercise on its own!
Beside it, though, was a piece of oh-so-epic ‘70s Show Roddery – the Corvette Street Machine!! Man, if you though the Monzas I had had some wild flares, check out this thing! IMSA to the max, with sunset stripes, a new front clip and the weirdest spoiler ever. If wider is better, as Pontiac used to claim, then it seems this guy took it to heart! There are spare engine bits, BBS wheels and a ’68 Big Block hood in there to, so I’ve got options all over the place. I first saw this kit at a toy show just before COVID struck, but it was a glue bomb, and wasn’t worth what the guy wanted. This one is perfect, and will look awesome all done up. It’s classic Monogram Vette, with a dubiously empty engine bay (see the Corvette America) and all the other moulded-in goodness you can imagine. I just wish I had two of it and the America, so I could do an IMSA America. Imagine THAT!
On the car front, stuck down the side was a blue box of clearly Japanese origin. This kit is the LS 1/32 1955 Toyopet Crown! This is interesting for a few reasons: 1.) I have this kit, but I bought it without noticing it was missing wheels and tires (D’oh!). So dumb. This kit corrects this! 2.) This kit is the original version, from LS. These were all re-released by Arii as part of their 1/32 Owner’s Club series, where my Three Wheelers come from! It’s cool to have an original. 3.) This kit, unlike my later reissue, is motorized! However, it’s unique to my collection in having a… pull back action motor! How cool is that? I might just build it up with the motor in it for fun!
Below the mailplane was the 21st Century (What??) rendition of the Junkers F.13. This hearty “flying toolshed” was used in the rough-and-tumble interwar years in Canada’s north, as well as an early airliner. It’s a nice kit with excellent detail, very reminiscent of the G.38. It should be a lot of fun. The Finns used one in 1942, and that smells like a cammoe’d corrugated bird. If you’ve seen my Trimotor, you know I love me a crinkly cammo bird! Rounding out the crate were three small kits. The one, a FROG, was the Hurricane IIC. This was the fighter/bomber and night intruder version of Sydney Camm’s immortal fighter, and is a nice compliment to my similar Matchbox kit, which I can now do as a Sea Hurricane!
The two Airfixes were the last in the box. One was an Hs-123; the dive bomber/strafer that survived the start of the war to go on to a second life on the Eastern Front, where it performed brilliantly. I love -123s because they’re a bit like the A-10 of their day. Simple, tough and maneuverable, they got in super low giving support to the troops right at the point of contact. Sure, they were outmoded, but that didn’t seem to stop them! The other was an Ar-196, the Kriegsmarine’s flying scout. This floatplane (Yay, more floats!) was one of the best of its kind, and this Airfix actually looks pretty darned good.
So, there you have it. If you aren’t blown away by how cool getting that in the mail was, then I fear that there’s just no hope for you. To get a feel for it all, I arranged the kits outside of their shipping box. When you lay it all out, you can really see how varied and interesting the subjects and kits in this load are.
Who’s On First?
It goes without saying that, when faced with a load like this, I have literally NO IDEA where to start. So, I’ll need to turn, once again, to you folks out there in Internet Land for help.
Please take a look back at these awesome models, and cast your vote below to see which one of these I take a look at first. In fact, cast two votes, just because there’s so many to choose from! Note that I did not put in the Lindberg or the two Airfixes. There’s no way in heck I’m opening a kit that’s over 60 years old and still sealed, even for the Lagoon’s sake, and the Airfixes will be too hard to contain once opened. The rest, though, are fair game!