Collecting Vintage Plastic Model Airplane Kits
With the vast majority of us spending our time constructing and/or flying model aircraft, it’s likely that we also have spent some quality time constructing plastic models. Beyond assembling, painting, and displaying them, collecting plastic models is also a hobby enjoyed by many.
Author Craig Kodera, who is also a pilot and artist, has done a fantastic job of covering all aspects that a collector needs to know over the timeframe of the 1950s and ’60s. The first chapter entitled “Know Your Model Kit Companies” provides a handy list of kit companies that are broken into three tiers with a little more detail regarding each one. One example would be Comet, which is listed at the top of Tier 2 and states, “beautiful engineering, small presence.”
Another interesting aspect is the focus of chapter 2 “Why We Collect.” While the author presents a few theories, the one I found most interesting was that the hunter-gatherer instinct may play a part. The author also theorizes that the modern day collector may be after the thrill of pursuit and if so, the reward of the object is secondary and the item may be given up shortly thereafter.
Box art dominates the next chapter as kitmakers were learning more about packaging and marketing their models. Painted images of aircraft adorned the majority of kit boxes and many wrestled with whether the quality of the art, or the contents inside the package, were of the most importance. Advances in printing would improve not only the images, but the sturdiness of the box such as the printed box wrapper.
The chapter that just might resonate most with the majority of readers is chapter 4 “A Visit to the Hobby Shop.” Craig shares his own experience, as well as those of others when they answer “What My Hobby Shop Meant to Me.”
One of the stories involves Colonel Bob’s Hobby Shop in Los Angeles which was owned and operated by Col. Robert “Bob” Johnson, a decorated P-47D fighter pilot credited with 18 aerial victories during World War II. It is exciting to imagine purchasing a model aircraft from an actual ace and maybe an interesting story or two to go along with it!
All the stories resonate with the helpful and friendly service that was provided at the local hobby shop and the eagerness to plunk down hard-earned money to purchase a model to be proudly displayed, either in or out of the box.
The book continues its voyage down memory lane—touching on gift sets, the space age, rare models, models produced outside of the US, and pricing.
Spanning 128 pages and featuring more than 300 detailed, high-quality, full-color photos of vintage aircraft model kits and their components, Collecting Vintage Plastic Model Airplane Kits succeeds in providing readers who experienced the ’50s and ’60s a treasure-trove of memories. Those who missed the “Golden Age” of plastic models should find it to be an illustrated history lesson.
Beyond reading it, simply flipping through the book and further examining the models that catch your eye has been an enjoyable distraction.
Specialty Press: 39966 Grand Avenue, North Branch MN 55056; Tel.: (800) 895-4585; website: www.specialtypress.com
When it comes to choosing an adhesive for our foam models, we are presented with a number of choices. Typically, the most important concern is that the product doesn’t attack the foam and melt or deform it. Bond strength, and if the glue dries clear and stays clear, are also important considerations.
Foam-Tac from Beacon Adhesives, which has been around since 1926, meets all the above mentioned requirements. We have successfully used the glue on four different foam aircraft that have been previously reviewed in MA. They include the FMS P-51B, Freewing A-10, RocHobby F2G Super Corsair, and Dream-Flight Libelle.
The instructions for using Foam-Tac are simple and come directly from the company’s website.
“All surfaces must be clean, dry, and free of dust and grease. Remove white cap & save for storage. Screw on applicator tip & snip. Apply a thin layer of glue to each side of materials to be joined. Wait a few seconds and then firmly press parts together and immediately separate for 4-5 seconds more. Rejoin parts, firmly pressing surfaces together for a permanent bond. Allow to dry for 15-20 minutes. Full cure within 2-14 hours. Always replace the flat white cap after each use to keep glue from thickening!”
Because Foam-Tac works like a contact adhesive, no foaming of the glue joint happens while it cures. When parts to be glued together are momentarily joined and then separated, it’s best to keep them close together because the glue will become stringy. If any glue does get on the outside of the joint, it can typically be wiped away.
One of the benefits of Foam-Tac is that it remains flexible, and can even be used to hinge ailerons, elevator, and rudder of foam models. Also over time, glue joints have not shown signs of yellowing.
When the models mentioned were assembled, glue joint were given 15 to 20 minutes to dry prior to handling or working with the model, and the completed aircraft was allowed to cure overnight before being flown.
Vapors from the glue do not seem to be as irritating as some other adhesive options; however, prolonged exposure to vapors in not recommended. Any adhesive is best used in a ventilated area.
Foam-Tac works on Depron, EPP, and EPO foams and can also be used to glue carbon fiber or balsa to foam.
According to Beacon Adhesives, Foam-Tac is made in America. The product is safe for short-term contact with the skin, but is flammable and shouldn’t be used around an open flame or ignition source.
Foam-Tac can be purchased directly from Beacon Adhesives, or can be found at several online retailers and possibly at your local hobby shop. A list of retailers can be found on the company’s website.
Beacon Adhesives Inc.: 125 MacQuesten Parkway South, Mount Vernon NY 10550; Tel.: (914) 699-3400; website: www.foam-tac.com