Becoming a Modeler
by Dennis Lamm


For someone who is just beginning this hobby I certainly do not fit the usual criteria.  Most plastic model enthusiasts begin at some tender young age of eight or ten years of age.  In the ensuing years will fill their rooms with all sorts and sizes of models as they vent their passion for the hobby.  Even more important is the fact that they will become more skillful in the art of modeling.  This fact can certainly be seen when we consider those persons who have become the outstanding modelers in this hobby.

Most modelers begin their careers as kids.  They may or may not take time off during their teen years and then seem to begin to return to the hobby while in college or some time shortly after college.  I even know a few persons that fit into this category.  Then there is that rare individual such as myself.  I began my adventure in the plastic model world at the ripe old age of fifty-nine years and one month.  It was at this time that I attended my first meeting of the Eastern Carolina Plastic Modelers Club in New Bern, North Carolina, on the third Saturday of September in 2001.  I did not even own a model at that point and was not so sure that I even wanted to own a kit.

There were about a dozen and a half people at this meeting and their response to me ranged from cordial to super-friendly.  There were a number of persons who tried to help me to feel that I was wanted there.  Obviously, the business part of the meeting had little meaning to me.  It reminded me of what it is like when someone goes to church for the first time and hears a language or words that they have never experienced before.  I was a little lost but was intrigued enough to want to understand.  I sat quietly while the business session was conducted but I have to confess that I was glad when it was over and the “show and tell” time began.  While the business session of the club meeting is still not my most favorite part of our own meetings, they have become more enjoyable to me as I have begun to participate in them.

What really excited me was the “show and tell” portion of the meeting.  It was both fascinating and enjoyable to watch as the different individuals took there turns and described their models in detail.  Here again, I did not understand all the terms that were used to give an explanation of how their kit moved from the box to the finished model.  I did not have the slightest idea of what “sprue” was (or if it were eatable) or why anyone would prefer Hasegawa to Tamiya (talk English!).  When they talked about scales (I am a singer) I felt a little better until they said, 1/72, 1/48, 1/35, etc.  I had absolutely no idea how to equate that into a plastic model and to bring a picture into mind of what that meant in size.  I did not realize it at the moment but I was being drawn into the fascinating world of plastic modeling.

My first impressions of this world was that I would never live long enough to develop the skills that would enable me to build first class models.  I thought to myself, “these guys are good, they might not want a beginner like me!”  In some ways it is very difficult for an individual just beginning in this hobby to go amongst the “aces.”  How will I ever learn to hide seam lines?  Are there any books that will help me?  Are any of these guys willing to share their secrets in model building?  I had a host of questions that was going through my mind and wondered how I was going to get any answers.  Not too many of the questions were answered that day but as time has gone by and as I have begun to build relationships with various members of my club, the answers have come.  Some have come directly from the members, some have come by being pointed in the right direction and others have come as I begin to read and study about the hobby.

The meeting drew to a close with an auction for a kit.  I did not win but it was suggested that I go by the local hobby shop and get one to start building on right away while the excitement was still there.  I took their advice and purchased my first kit (of many) and thus began my adventure into modeling.