Of Finished Builds, False Starts, and Shelf Queens​

Not long ago, while migrating a client website, I was idly scrolling through Wheels & Wings pre-owned kits as a means to to pass the time. It wasn’t long before an Academy Grumman Avenger popped up. “Ooh, there’s one of my test mules”, I thought. On the next page was the first kit I ever built, a Monogram A-4E. Down that same page was a 1/24 Mustang GTP race car, pieces of which are still in my space parts box 36 years later. By the 4th kit, the Grumman Gulfhawk sitting in my cabinet, the rabbit hole had opened beneath me and I was Alice tumbling towards the question, “Could I possibly remember as many, if not all the kits, I have ever started?”

The answer lies in the 170+ photos below, which I estimate to be around 97% accurate — no doubt there are a few which haven’t yet bubbled back up into my consciousness, a few more where I remember the subject/kit, but not the manufacturer so the box art is a placeholder, and a several others for which I simply haven’t found the box art yet.

To qualify how kits landed in the menagerie below, each is one that I *remember* opening and bringing tools to. In other words, I haven’t opened any boxes in my stash (yet) to confirm others I may have started and forgotten. At the very least, this usually involved some degree of dry-fitting parts, while others proceeded through more complex assemblies, scratch building and modifications, primer or paintwork, or in those rare cases, actually finished. Many are now long gone — who knows when or where as I actually don’t remember throwing many away — however, I’d wager at least half are still kicking around my collection. I suppose the next step will be to annotate each photo with a status.

Where it all began. Chatauqa, New York. 1981.

At a kids’ camp I was attending, older boys had model-making as a daily activity. I caught a glimpse, and I wanted in. My mom bought this kit for me that night, and while it was a disaster, I was hooked.

A few interesting tidbits about this deep dive into my scale modelling past… First, how readily I remembered box art. When looking through Scalemates, honing in on the box art of my specific model was a snap, and in most cases, as soon as it popped up, it was recognized immediately.

Second, how little time the process took. 6 hours so far, tops. Once I started thinking on it, memories began flooding in of buying kits, building kits, friends I built them with when I was younger, the benches, tables, and floors I built them on… It came to a point where remembering one prompted three or four more. I had to write them out as I couldn’t search Scalemates fast enough.

Finally, the number. I’d never really considered what the final tally might be once I committed to this course, but I would have missed the mark by half, I figure. Funny how that goes.

I’m really looking forward to digging deeper into the images I’ve collected. Each by the memory of a small slice of my life, and it will be fascinating to relive them one-by-one, adding detail and context as I go. I encourage you to stop back here periodically and follow along.