Re: Entry-level models and simple kits

Denny Anspach <danspach@...>

Beyond others' judgment and criticism, for most of us "hobby" is a very personal voluntary journey with a destination either not defined, or if defined, in truth seldom reached. An important part of my journey is the enjoyment of building kits, but not to the exclusion of anything else (including RTR).

I love the old Varney and Red Ball paper sides kits, and I still respect greatly the efforts that Varney and M. Dale Newton and colleagues made during those years to produce models that truly "raised all boats". The sides were pretty accurate (even in retrospect because they were permutations of real time photographs), and with care the careful modeler could at that time produce models that deserve respect.

Although these kits were seemingly simple to construct, to complete them neatly, a lot of time and effort was (and still is) required. Details were crude to be sure, but also with effort and skill, many of those details could commonly be significantly refined by the craftsman on his bench.

Recently, I built a very rare re-kitted Varney URTX reefer (Varney 1937) just for the pleasure and discipline of doing so. I purposely only used skills, tools, details and materials that would have been commonly available to a model craftsman of the time. It was quite a challenge, and the time taken to complete the car neatly and with added details was far greater than I ordinarily need to spend to construct a fine resin kit. I have in past years built other ancient kits, and my experience in this regard has been the same.

How do the two compare? On the level of absolute scale modeling, the fine resin car of course wins hands down. On the basis of an exercise in modeling craftsmanship, the field is much more level, at times even equal or tipped in favor of the old.


Denny S. Anspach, MD
Sacramento, California

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