When I was a kid, say, from the age of eight until I was in college I found an enoyable pastime in building plastic scale model kits. I built model cars, mostly, a few airplanes, a couple of ships, and a motorcycle or two. After college, starting my career, getting married, having a family, etc., didn’t seem to leave a lot of time for such things – and it doesn’t, really. Case in point: the 1953 Studebaker Starliner Coupe kit I got for Christmas two years ago.
Model building isn’t really something you can do casually. This is not to say you have to be a master of detailing and be slavishly devoted to realism. Still, if you’re going to do invest the time, effort, and (much to my surprise after a twenty-five year hiatus) the cost. For the casual hobbyist model building still isn’t what I’d call expensive but kits, paints, tools, and other accoutrements – like most everything else since the early 1980s – have gone up considerably.
I’ve been working on the Studebaker as kind of a re-entry kit, re-learning some of the techniques I used to use and working with the materials. Like other, similar hobbies there is a therapeutic aspect, having the satisfaction of turning a collection of parts into a neatly constructed and reasonably faithful rendition of the original. I find it particularly satisfying because I have something tangible that shows what I’ve done, unlike much of what I do for a living.
Though the Studebaker is not quite complete I’ve got another kit in the wings, the Tamiya Lotus 25, an open-wheel Grand Prix car from the early 1960s, one of my favorite genres of model:
Before I stopped building models in the early 1980s I had put together several Tamiya models, and was always impress with the quality of the moldings, the detail, and the plastic itself. That, at least, hasn’t changed (though working with the small parts up close is more challenging than it used to be – what’s up with that?!). So I’ll probably still work on a model from time to time, and support my local hobby shop.
But I probably won’t revisit stamp collecting (philately? sounds like something you’d get arrested for!).