Ancient kits can be fun as well, especially when they are of subjects with no modern replacement…
“We all like the modern kits that are released almost daily, but sometimes it is good to grab something from an older vintage and see where the journey takes us”
Anyone that has been remotely paying attention will know that I love Harriers. I build them whenever I can and if that means that I have to use an old kit to do so, I will most certainly grab it with both hands and see where the project takes me. Last year that was brought into sharp focus as I spent the best part of six months converting the Airfix 1:24 Harrier GR.1 into a T.2 and this year it looks likely that I will not only be looking at another 1:24 conversion, but maybe, just maybe, the reworking of the ancient and now highly sought-after, Revell 1:32 kit will consume some of my spare time.
I can’t help myself, but it’s not just the Harrier that takes me back to older kits: it can almost be any kit of any subject from any manufacturer and I’m not alone. Last year, whilst attending my local modelling club, a chap brought in some ancient and I do mean ancient Revell ‘box scale’ kits. Amongst them I think there was an F-100 and perhaps a Voodoo, both odd scales and decorated with raised markers to show you where the rather spartan decals needed to be applied. To put it mildly these kits had had their day, but members of the club swarmed round them like bees round a honey jar, all giddy with excitement at the sight of kits that many had not seen since their youth, and some had only ever seen in books.
Conversation about these kits naturally turned to younger days when the hobby was a weekend pastime, a kitchen-table-based pursuit that wiled away a few hours inbetween homework, chasing girls and playing football on the muddy, park pitches. That enthusiasm to build a simple kit as a child was reignited by the sight of these older boxes of dusty plastic parts, the simplicity of their construction reminding us all of where we all began before kits became the über complex offerings of today. It was wonderful to be part of such shared nostalgia.
Fast forward a few months and I find myself in the position of planning to build a kit that is over 45 years old, a kit that is ragged in places, not particularly detailed and in need of some real TLC, if the resulting model is to look anywhere near at home amongst my collection of models built from far younger tools. My determination to build Revell’s Harrier is driven by a number of factors: a need to add this aircraft to my collection, a desire to see if indeed I can work it to an acceptable standard, a drive to actually build a kit that I attempted to finish as a boy and never did and an insatiable appetite to indulge in some shameless nostalgia of my own. But mainly, it’s because it’s another Harrier…
But, I can hear you cry, why do this when there are so many other kits being released that are far nicer than this one and will give you far less trouble? Well, simply because I can. These days, kits have become so well-made and so easy to build that the majority of people with even the most basic skill-set, could assemble a kit to a reasonable standard without too much trouble. Where the real skill lies is in the painting of the results and learning how to plan ahead, deal with the finishing of sub-assemblies, external paintwork and decals (all of which I think I have in my locker) but in terms of actual construction, there isn’t much out there that’s truly difficult. So in the main, there isn’t really too much that’s challenging on a day-to-day level, so in order to keep my skills up and moving on, I try when I can to attempt something that I know will push me. It may be scratchbuilding, conversions, dioramas or figures, all things that I know will involve a steep learning curve and take me out of my comfort zone and create something that is unique to me.
So, the Harrier is being planned, along with a few other things that fall into this category of nostalgic projects: the Matchbox Privateer and 1:32 Puma, Hasegawa’s 1:72 Orion and Shin Meiwa PS-1 and thanks to a club member last night, a 1:72 ESCI F-16A Fighting Falcon that I bought for a fiver. How many of these will be built is anyone’s guess, but at least they are in my mind for future consideration.
We all like the modern kits that are released almost daily, but sometimes it is good to grab something from an older vintage and see where the journey takes us. They are a challenge and perhaps not for everyone, but when the kit in question is the only one available to build a certain subject, why wait? Life’s too short to hang around on the off chance of a future release, so why not have a go? You never know, you just might find that you like the ride and then the world will really open up to you in ways that you never thought possible and that model that you never thought you’d own, is suddenly and proudly, sitting in your display case instead of on a long-forgotten, model shop shelf.
No, where did I put that Harrier..?