Peter on the Joy of Piloting Plastic Planes

Ever since I can remember, I have been interested in military history. An adjunct of this interest is that I build plastic models. For a while, I built models of ships, military vehicles and aircraft. After a while, I decided to “neck down” to aircraft alone, in the interests of economy not only financial a), but timewise and storage space wise. As Thoreau wrote “Simplify, simplify, simplify”. I still build model aircraft, although I have been so down lately that I haven’t touched one in quite a while b).

Now, where I am going with this is that I (generally) c) buy these materials at a hobby shop. There’s something about walking into a hobby shop. The shelves are stocked with unbuilt kits, as well as completed ones, there are books, magazines, paints, brushes, decal sheets and so much else to help you create your very own miniature masterpiece. I often feel that I should be tied to the mast like Ulysses when I venture into these “treacherous waters”.

But if the only things that catch your eye are the selection, the consumer goods and the P.O.S. machines, you are missing my entire point. The most attractive and endearing piece of the hobby shop is the people. With few exceptions, human beings are gregarious. While I always try to be kind and gentle and pleasant and witty in my daily life, I don’t always want to conform to some society-imposed idea of whom I should be or how I show act. That’s not going to happen very often with me.

However, I do love to be among my own kind, and I can find my own kind at the hobby shop d). Before, when I worked, I could only visit in the evening or on the weekend e). However, since I have retired, my time is my own now, except for when I am at my doctor’s getting yelled at 😉 !

The staff are always knowledgeable, and invariably friendly. (I once heard of a grumpy hobby shop owner, but never witnessed him myself.) Even high school kids who work there 6 hours a week to make cigarette money are pleasant.

And did I mention the clientele? Generally they know what they are talking about, and it is always very restorative to be able to talk about the newest kit release or discuss the accuracy issues with the 1/48th scale Humbly Pug Ballyhoo. from Tamigawa.

As I always say, the chances of running into someone on the TTC who can discuss VF-31s new “CAG bird” markings with any authority are pretty limited, but you have a good chance of having it come to fruition at the local hobby shop.

The same thing could happen at a music store, or an auto parts store or a craft store. You would have the opportunity to “run with your own kind”, to sit back and chew the fat, building relationships.

My point is that when you order from the “big river” site, all you really do is make a rich reptile even richer. Online ordering is hollowing out a very important part of society, and we will be the worse for it in the end.

Listen to Billy Joel’s song “No Man’s Land”. A truly prescient piece of music, worthy of a column of its own. He predicted the atrophy of North America’s manufacturing powerbase, as “just in time” logistics and the onset of the “information age” spelled the end of the manufacturing capacity that made North America a powerhouse. We will never build one B-24 every 55 minutes again. We will clip coupons and “have a nice McDay” and push annoying “driver update” popup ads on your laptop.

Do you have a store you like? Whether it’s a model shop or a record store or a book store, slide by later this week. Hang out. Tell the owner how important his store is and how much you enjoy visiting him. Because you WILL miss it when its gone.

Let’s finish off this week with some “Crown Lands”. I first saw this band a couple of years ago. I was going to see another band, but, following my own dictum, I showed up at the beginning of the show. This duo frankly blew me away. Amazing musicians. typical of the talent that flies under the radar normally. Except for these guys. Here’s “Mantra”, a really well done video, shot on a shoestring budget but you really couldn’t tell! Enjoy, and relish the fact that this is one group from the GTA. There are many more in waiting, believe me.

See you soon.

  1. a) Very few military paint colours are applicable to all three subjects. Likewise, different refence books would need to be purchased, as well as “add-on” parts for conversion purposes.
  2. b) While I am very sad right now, I am not going to do anything stupid. The models will wait. Thanks again, all of you, for your concern.
  3. c)Often members of plastic modelling clubs will bring kits to sell at meetings.
  1. d) For a different passion of mine, indie music, my kind can be found at Cherry Cola’s, or The Bovine or The Hideout etc, etc.
  2. e) However, once when I worked at our Gerrard Square office, I was able to pull a double play one lunch hour. I went to a hobby shop, bought a couple of kits and then went to the LCBO and picked up some beer. I was away from my desk for 35 minutes 😉 !

2 Responses to “Peter on the Joy of Piloting Plastic Planes”

  1. I really liked your column. I kid you not, I worked in a hobby store for over a year, starting when I was 14 years old. It had the model planes you describe and I wish I could say my job was to guide hobbyists in their building practices, but no. My job, when not scanning the aisles suspiciously for thieves, was to unravel a baseball-sized ball of fine gold-plate chain for the jewelry-making clientele. I nearly died of boredom. The upside is my experience with the necklace chain taught me patience – it almost became zen-like, and here I am, aged 61, still benefiting from that oh-so-boring life lesson.

    I hope you feel better.

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