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Louis Gardner
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1/48 Otaki Ki-44 Shoki “Tojo” built 39 years ago today …..Monday, February 6th, 1978

February 6, 2017 · in Aviation · · 28 Comments

Here's a few pictures of a kit I built as a kid. This model has somehow survived over all of these years...

Here's the background on the build:

Some dates in time, (for some unknown reason), just seem to stick with you. This is one for me.

Many years ago, I had a dog named "Laddie". He was a mixed breed dog, crossed between a German Shepherd and a Collie. He had the body shape of a Shepherd and the color markings of a Collie... He was probably my best friend.

Way back then, the TV show "Lassie" was still a popular re-run. So my Dad had the chance to get me a puppy... my very first. I wanted to name him Lassie, but Dad said "That's a girl dog name, and he's a boy. How about calling him Lad instead ?".

And so it was. He was an outside dog for the most part.

I had to walk past his dog house each morning on my way to the bus stop, which I rode to school. 39 years ago this morning, he didn't look so good. I knew something was wrong. So I went back inside our home and told my Dad about it.

You see where this is headed...

Two days prior to this, my Dad and I went to our local hobby store, where I found this kit. Several dollars lighter in my wallet, I returned home, a very happy boy. I just had to have it.

Anyhow that afternoon as I was walking back home from the bus stop, I noticed my dad was in the yard with a shovel in his hands.

My first dog Lad had died around 9:15 AM or so, and my Dad had been deciding on what would be the best thing to do. So I grabbed another shovel and helped my Dad do what we had to do.

I think it broke both of our hearts...

So in order to help relieve the pain of my loss, I decided right then and there to build this model, once the task at hand was completed. It was some sort of an escape I guess. Several hours later the model was done. Nothing fancy. I don't even think anything was painted on the plane except for the pilot.

I did hand paint my dog's name and the date inside the rear of the fuselage. The next day I brush painted it silver and applied the kit decals.

For many years it was hanging from the ceiling of my old bedroom.

Finally about 15 years ago or so, I decided to give the plane a "make over". So I visited my parents, and took the plane home with me.

Once the model was home, I gave it a good cleaning. By now most of the original kit decals had long since disappeared. Then I applied bare metal foil to it, right over the top of the old brushed on silver paint. The remaining details were all hand painted, including the green "squiggly" camouflage.

Anyhow, here it is... Not too much to look at, but priceless to me.

Time does help to heal old wounds. But you never really forget. I still miss him, and several others that followed him. They really are man's best friend.

As usual, comments are welcomed.


16 additional images. Click to enlarge.

28 responses

  1. The part I'm amazed at is the fact it was still in your bedroom after all these years. The 'makeover' turned out quite nicely as well. I'd venture to say this will hold a place in your display case (or from the ceiling) for another 39 years. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    • I was shocked that it was still there in my old bedroom too. In fact many of my old builds were still hanging from the ceiling there. Some of them are now in boxes in my attic...

      I'm happy with the results of the make over. It's currently residing in one of my big display cases, mixed in with my other WW2 1/48 Japanese builds.

      Thanks for the kind words Craig...

  2. We sure love our animals. They give us a lot, and we look out for them.
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Otaki(later Arii) kits were basic, but still hold their own. They look good. Great canvasses for different decals and color schemes, plus inexpensive.
    This one is from the Akeno fighter school. The instructors sortied as part of the homeland defense as the war came to Japan.

    • Yes I have had several really great dogs since Lad. Each one of them have been like our children to us. We love and care for them and in turn they give us unconditional love in return.

      I agree the old Otaki kits were a fun build. About 15 years ago I build the Arii Ki-43 Oscar. It was an old Otaki kit too if memory serves me. It was a fun build.

      I put the Akeno decal on the rudder since I had them in an old decal set and thought it would be appropriate.

      Thanks for the reply.

  3. Some people like to call modeling, therapy...away to deal with the stresses and strains of life. Looks like modeling therapy is good for helping getting over those speed bumps of life when a good friend passes too.
    I've built that kit and still have mine. Otaki kits where way a head of dimple trend long before Trumpeter started doing them. There reasonably priced and accurate given there time frame.

    • It's always (for most of the time when things go well) been a way for me to relax. Model building is therapeutic, at least for me.

      The old Otaki kits were a few steps ahead of the 8 ball with this one. A simple easy build, and looks good once done.

      Thanks for posting...

  4. I built a few of those old Otaki kits, I've noticed whenever someone mentions them, somebody acknowledges their experiences with them. I would conclude most of us model guys had some, or still do.
    Nice write up Louis, and a nice little Ki44.

    • Thanks buddy. I'm glad you enjoyed it. The old Otaki and later Arii kits are sort of like those old Monogram kits... We all had them at one time or another, and they look pretty good once completed.

  5. You big softie, I as well have a soft spot for the dogs and cats that have been part of my life too. Funny being a senior in high school in 78, wasn't thinking much about models, well the plastic kind at least, more like cars and girls. I always liked the Otaki kits myself. Easy to build, and engraved panels lines. The decals worked well too if I remember right. About this time I also discovered Micro Scale decals. So good memories, here is to Laddie, playing in the grand big yard in heaven. Thanks for sharing.

    • I hear you buddy... Pillsbury dough boy softie ! When it comes to dogs anyhow... I wasn't anywhere near being a senior 39 years ago. Then when I started thinking about cars and the OTHER kind of models, well, the plastic ones took a back seat, where they remained for many years... Yeah I have built a few more Arii / Otaki kits since this one. They were a simple build that looked pretty good once done. Plus they offered the more "obscure" Japanese types that no one else kitted until years later.

      Laddie is up there having a blast I'm sure. Playing fetch, chasing things, doing all of the "fun" dog things.

      Thanks for commenting on this post my friend... It means a lot to me.

  6. We lost our Spottie back in November - she was a placid, obedient & faithful old whippet cross who made it to 18.5 years of age before time finally took its toll on her and we had to let her go. We miss her terribly but also have the other one to contend with!

    Jack is around 7 years old, loud, fiesty, into everything and would tackle a bear if it was looking at his dinner!

    They keep you sane while sometimes trying their best to drive you insane...

    We also seem to have a inherited a ...what's the collective term for a group of pigeons? I'll call it a 'ROOF' for now as they cover it when I put out scraps for them in the mornings! And the herd is growing by the day it seems.

    Pets help in so many ways. They give back so much and it's all so unconditional! It always helps when we remember the lives they had with us and the love they gave us back.

    Great kit by the way - Cheers mate.

    • Sorry for your loss. When it happens, it's like a small piece of your heart is ripped out. One thing that helps is knowing that your best friend is no longer suffering.
      Another thing that always seemed to happen (for me anyway) is somehow just before this part of an animals life occurred, another pet would mysteriously and unexpectedly show up. That new pet would help to fill the void left when you lost the other one. It's strange how life plays out sometimes...

      Right before I lost Laddie, (by about two or three months before) an older stray German Shepherd male showed up at our door steps. He got along fine with Laddie. He lived with us for several years. He must have been dropped off by someone. Then as suddenly as he showed up, he disappeared. We thought he wandered off to die. Animals can tell when it's time.

      20 or so years later I found his remains out in the woods near our old house. He was still wearing his collar and name tag, that's how I know for certain it was him. Just before he left us, another puppy showed up. This time it was a black Labrador retriever.

      I taught him to ride with me on my dirt bike. and he was good at it... every time I would get the motorcycle out, he would come running all happy and excited...

      They give us unconditional love indeed. I miss them all.

      You correct with your statements. They love us back.

      Thanks my friend.

  7. Hello Louis,
    Thanks for sharing your story. The model did well after all these years. It outlived the real ones. Modelling is therapy, but can also be very unhealthy to blood pressure and the hart beat.
    Regards, Dirk/The Netherlands.

    • Hello Dirk.
      The model is holding up better than I am ... Ha Ha 🙂

      It is a great therapy indeed. I try not to let it affect my blood pressure... When I think it does, I simply walk away... Thanks for posting here.

      Take care my friend.


  8. Great story. Modeling is therapy, and to Dirk's point, if you refrain from perfectionism and focus on enjoyment, your heart will thank you!

    • Life is stressful enough and too short without having to compound it by staying too serious all of the time. I like to be easy going, and not let things bother me too easily.
      So I take my modeling with the same attitude. I try my best, and try to make them as accurate as possible. But sometimes later I find out that something is wrong, I try not to let it bother me too bad if it's not an easy fix.

      I agree, keep it fun ! (it's a lot more fun that way)...

      Thanks buddy.

  9. Louis, with such a history behind, does a matter how your model look like, for me it is the best in show.

  10. Nice story sir. great looking survivor, The next dog I get I'd rather that it outlive me.

    • Thanks Bob.
      The plane is still holding it's own considering the circumstances behind it.

      Right now I have an older German Shepherd and the misses has a little poodle. Both are great dogs.

      I don't know if we will have another pet for the same reasons you mentioned. You just never know. Each day is a gift. I would hate to have a pet outlive me, since I don't know how the animal would be cared for. I'm not being selfish, but I have seen this happen many times before with my old job.

      Take care buddy.


  12. Louis this build has stood the test of time very well and with some care it was back on your display.
    Your haertbreaking story is the main reason why we will ( most probably )never have dogs, if the dog dies i can bury my better half right beside 🙁

    • I think that part of the reason why we will probably not get anymore pets, is that it rips your heart out when you lose one... But honestly, the good definitely outweighs the bad. My memories with all of my dogs over the past years have been very good, for the most part.
      I'm really happy with how the Ki-44 turned out. If I only had some "before" restoration photos... You would see what I'm talking about.
      Thanks for the kind words my friend.

  13. Great story, Louis, and I'm with you on our love for pets, especially dogs. As for therapy, modelling with some good music on in the background usually does it for me.

    • I agree with you about dogs. I like all animals, but my strongest bonds have all been with dogs. I like to play music on the radio when I build models, or when I work on / restore cars out in the shop. It's a great combination. Doing what you love to do, while listening to some good tunes...

  14. Nice do-over and story Louis. Dawg lays by me on the couch and won't let the wife near me. He is every small breed combined with half the brains

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