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Tom Cleaver
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What was your first model?

October 3, 2020 · in Uncategorized · · 48 Comments

There's an interesting thread over at The Other Place in answer to the question, what was the first model you built?

I'll start.

My dad built my first models for me: a Strombecker solid wood and , both painted silver. The first plastic model I remember him doing for me - "you can play with this one" - was the very early Hawk Models P-84 .

The first model I got to build was a Strombecker P-86 - not done to my father's standard, but I liked it. I'm pretty sure I must have been six, since it was the summer after we moved to the house I spent the rest of my childhood in.

First plastic model was a F-80 - I've seen that now re-released for nostalgia.

First biplane, done fairly soon after, was the Hawk Models Nieuport 17 (re-released many times by Testors). I was too young and inexperienced to know biplanes were hard, so I just did it.

I think my success in modeling was due to the fact that my scientist father impressed on me early that "reading the manual" was a good idea before starting any project.

With time out in the 60s for the Navy and "later events", that's been my story and I'm stickin' to it.

48 responses

  1. Easy answer, it was this black beauty

    assembled and brush painted with some enamel paint at the kitchen table, I must have been around 8-10 years old. When Airfix released the new 1/48 Defiant I couldn’t help building it with same markings You could say the first impression lingers on...

  2. Mine was the 1/700 Japanese Cruiser Maya. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures and it disappeared.

  3. Hi Tom. Great topic . Memories is all we have ultimately.
    come to mind...not sure which came first.
    A Hawk models Hawker Typhoon
    An Airfix Mig 15
    And a monogram T-33
    Build and painting Standards have changed and I am working on achieving that !

  4. 1/64th Monogram P-40N. Was 10 or 11 years old.

  5. It was a wildcat; not sure of the make. I made it with my Father in the early 60's.

  6. I think the first model I ever built might have been Revell's Perri -The Squirrel (based on a 1956 Disney nature series). My Uncle Paul worked in sales at Revell mid 1950's when it was located in Venice CA. I remember touring the factory a few times and seeing hoppers full of colored styrene pellets. My uncle gave me so many models back then I didn't know what to do with them all. I would build aircraft carriers and set them on fire in the neighbor's pool which got me grounded for a week.

    Later he got a gig with AMT and gave me George Barris' Ala-Kart in 1961 and that got me started building car kits during my teenage years with my trusty battery operated transistor radio along side. Apparently was the first model car ever produced.

  7. I saw that thread too. Mine were an Airfix Val and Revell Brewster Buffalo that my dad brought home, 1969. He got me lots of bagged Airfix kits and some Heller models over the next few years. Somewhere around 1971, we did a Monogram Kingfisher together and I was introduced to 1:48.

    • Airfix kits, the gateway to "serious" modeling. I will never forget walking downstairs at Anderson's Toys in Denver's Cherry Creeek shopping center - must have been 1959, and there at the foot of the stairs was a whole rack of bagged Airfix kits with the boxed kits on the nearby shelves. All the airplanes I had read about! All in the same scale! Heaven!

      And to this day I love Airfix kits - they "grew up" and so did I.

  8. Bachman Animals of the World Tiger

    Brian Riedel

  9. My first attempted build was a 1/72 Airfix Spitfire, probably in about 1965 or so.

  10. Profile Photo
    said on October 3, 2020

    My first is an old Spitfire from Airfix posted in the general modelling section titled survivors my oldest built model.

  11. A Hawk Gee Bee 7/11 or the Hawk T-6 Texan.

  12. The Aurora 1:133 B-36 in 1962/3 when I was 6, bought at the Pope AFB BX for being good at the shot clinic. I think I built it 3 or 4 times that afternoon, pulling it apart before the glue dried, glue fingerprints all over. No paint, that was years in the future, maybe did the decals. 58 years later I’m still fixing glue fingerprints, but at least I usually don’t get them on the clear parts

  13. I think my first one was an Aurora F-90 given to me by some relative as a Christmas gift some time last century, when I was about four or five. The high point of my young modeling life was when my grandmother let me pick out a 1/72 Airfix Wellington that had movable control surfaces, rotating turrets and a sort of actual cockpit! That came from the toy department in the basement of Woolworth's downtown. For many years, my local hobby shop was a place called Toys By Roy in the only shopping mall in town at that time. I remember being in there once to get some glue at a time when it was mandated you had to be 18 or over or have an adult with you to buy such things. I was younger than that, and the gent behind me proceeded to advise the shop owner, who knew me, of that fact. Said customer was then advised to mind his own business, that the owner knew me and that a lot of the glue I bought was on display in some of the models I built for the shop! I went onto the Revell 1/32 scale fighters (P-51, P-40, P-47 etc), the still lovely 1/72 Monogram tween war biplanes, a bunch of Guillows stick and tissue models, then onto control line flying models and finally to the dark side of the hobby, radio control...

  14. Fun topic...Think the first kit I built was this one...

    Remember that it had stickers instead of decals, and that the propeller broke off the tiny shaft after about ten seconds of "flight time", but it looked a Mustang.

  15. The first scale plastic model I recall having gandered at was a Monogram Porsche 911 "slantnose" kit that my dad was building with my older brother. I would continually sneak into my brother's closet and pull out the half finished chassis and such and just fiddle with the pieces, and look at the instructions, over and over. I was about 7-8 at the time. At the same time, I would admire the 1/72 snaptite SR-71 that my brother had on a stand on his dresser. My dad took note, and for my next birthday, my uncle gave me both a Monogram P-40B, and a Monogram F-14A. I hamfistedly built them both, using the big box store bought Testors paint cups and some good ole toxic, stringy tube glue. Neither have really survived the years, and both of them succumbed to destructive events. The P-40 I still have, though it was a testbed for doing a "shot-up half-burned" look. The F-14 was ceremoniously used for live fire demonstration, likely about the same time the Tomcats were pulled from service. I believe I still have the Porsche as well, all boxed away and likely broken to bits.

    Thanks for calling these memories to mind.

    3 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  16. LOL The "other" place. As I posted there my first was Lindberg's Corvette. I think it had less than 10 pieces hollow underneath plastic axels. I dunno, that was about 55 years ago.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  17. An Aurora ME 109 with the weird metallic red plastic.

  18. Like many others I'm pretty certain mine was an Airfix 1/72 Spitfire, bought for me by my father while on a shopping trip to Woolworths in Lowestoft, who were big stockists of Airfix kits at the time. It was just up the road from the original Hannants hobby shop which usually had a Hornby Dublo train layout working in the window. You could pop a penny in a slot the and the train would do a few circuits. Great memories.

  19. Ooh... I can't remember the brand cause I was around 8. About 1980 or so. But it was a small Lancaster, probably 1/144 scale.

    Best part was the memory. I woke up in the middle of the night and watched the Dambusters with my Dad and it started my obsession with WW2 aircraft.

    Dad was in occupied Holland in 1943 and remembers the port side Lancaster in the first set of 3, flying over his house. He remembers it climbing to get over the house which shattered some windows.

    His dad and he owned a radio which they hid and found out the next day that the dams were attacked. A happy day for them.

  20. It was Christmas 1963 and it was the Airfix coal wagon in OO scale along with the brake wagon. I left the coal wagon itself unpainted and brush painted the "coal" Humbrol coal black. There was tube glue everywhere and I remember Dad being surprised that I had the first wagon built before he had a chance to assist.They didn't track too well behind the carriages of my train set even with added ballast of rusty nuts and washers. Eventually the plastic bogies collapsed under the weight of the ballast. Fifty seven years later I am still at it. Never did build any more rolling stock though. Dad was a pilot in WW11 and that generated my interest in all things with wings.

  21. Mine was the Airfix He-111, glued together when I was something like 6, at least I can recall stumbling on the pieces in my toy box when I was around 8 and having a great time gluing it back together. Been building off and on regularly since I was 7, so heading toward a half century of modeling.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  22. My first model was an 1/72 F-5 in a sealed bag, done in black styrene. It was a bithday present from my Dad, in 1975, when I was 9 years old, followed by a same done Wellington soon after.
    I believe they were both Airfix and it was a love affair ever since.

  23. This was my first model!
    I was 14 years old. Memories..

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  24. To be honest, I don't remember which was my first model.
    I must have been around 10 years old.
    At that time I build in 1/72 scale and only did brush paiting using Humbol enamel.
    Non of the models survived unfortunately.
    Picking up modelling again last year, I decided to go for 1/48 scaling and airbrush.

  25. Matchbox Gnat and Airfix Clear Pack Mig-15. I didn't know squat. My dad and I used epoxy and white glue to hold them together. Fell apart very quickly.

  26. My first plastc-model in 1:72 was the Airfix Beagle-Basset. I'd like to build it once again, but I couldn't find it yet. Before that I had built a few Faller kits in 1:100 - amoung them a tiny Piper (alpine rescue on skis), a Ju 52, a Fieseler Storch and a Sikorsky S58 of the german Heer.

  27. First ever kit - it would be late 1960's so first of the first that Dad and I built were -
    RSL 1/48 Spitfire ix followed quickly by a RSL 1/48 Me 109E .
    Other memorable firsts would be the Airfix 1/72 Hurricane and Willi Gabriel's Fokker d.vii - Renwal 1/72 - with Aero-Skin !

  28. Jeez. How can I be 17 and not remember? I think it was that one Revell USS Arizona, though. Didnt even paint it, and still have parts of it.

  29. This is a great topic and does bring back memories. I was in the fourth grade and told my parents I wanted to build a model, after completing my Pinewood Derby car for Cub Scouts. Since we were about to move to my dad's new station at Offutt AFB, in Nebraska they told me when we got there I could. Months later as we finally got into our house, and Christmas arrived sure enough "Santa" brought me models. Now in the 5th grade, I dove in. I can't remember which was first, but vaguely in no particular order a 1955 Chevy car kit, probably AMT, a Lindberg Douglas X-3 Stiletto, and a Revell 1/72 B-24.

    Over the following three or four years I ended up with lots of planes hanging from my ceiling in my room. I didn't have any shelf space so it was the best solution. I had bombers in formation and fighters dog fighting, and oddballs flying alone.

  30. My first kit, 1955 or 56. This is from ebay. I'd like to have it for nostalgia's sake but can't see spending $465...

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  31. Her name was Laura and we were 8 years old...we kissed behind the auditorium curtains in school. Oops wrong kind of model. I thought she was gorgeous though... and she was.

    Mine was a 1/32 scale Revell P-40E "Flying Tigers" also from the same time. This is a picture of the box art I found online of the identical kit.

    My Dad had never built any plastic models. He had always built balsa wood airplanes and when I asked him to get some glue to assemble it, he came home with some Ambroid "Orange" glue for wooden models. I didn't know any better and I assembled the kit using the wood glue. If you held the parts together long enough, it would "skin over", and dry holding the parts secured...

    Until you bumped it like when you made a rough landing with it. Then a wing or something else would always fall off ! I didn't paint it, I slammed the decals on... not all of them of course as I destroyed some learning that too.

    • An actual LOL to that!

      • Tom, @tcinla

        Here's my first balsa wood airplane. The 16 1/2 wingspan Spitfire. I accidentally set it on fire trying to take the curve out of the fuselage that I had inadvertently built into it. The instructions said you could steam the structure and gently twist it to straighten it out... Who needs water ? I was 9 years old at the time and figured the heat from the kitchen stove was enough. I got it too close to the flame and up it went... This was quickly followed up by Dad asking if I was burning something ... 🙂 I managed to blow the flames out and actually fixed the model later. It had only burned through several of the stringers on the rear fuselage. This took care of the twist... and I learned a big lesson on how not to burn your house down. Later in life I became a fire fighter... 🙂

        My first biplane was this Aurora Fokker D-VII. It was molded in green plastic. By this time I had actual glue for plastic models... the good old toxic stuff in a tube.

        Next I built the Nieuport 17 with the strut mounted rockets... the same Aurora kit you mentioned. Had these Aurora kits as well: Albatros D-III, and the Fokker Triplane Dr-1 and Sopwith Camel too. Later on I got the DH-10 and the Gotha Bomber...I rounded out my Great War collection with a Lindbergh SE5A and a K&B Collector’s Series Pfalz D-III. The last one came with a plastic base you could sit the finished plane on. Sadly they are all gone now.

  32. 1/72 ME163 Komet back in 1972. A good starter kit.

  33. Mine was the Revell B-46. My Dad was in the Army and stationed in Germany in the mid-1950s. I got the model in the base exchange for less than a dollar. I used my Mom's red fingernail polish to paint the front of the nacelles. I "flew" that model around our apartment for a long time.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  34. Ahh memories...

    The same start for me too.

    My dad built my first models for me in 1975 or 76.

    These were 1/72 Matchbox P-47, Grumman Hellcat, P-51D and Airfix P-40 Kittyhawk Mk.1.

    Later I started to built my own kits in 1/72 .They were not good.

    Years later, I rebuilt some of the first models my father made for me

    You can find them here:

    I still love the boxarts of these old kits.

    4 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  35. Tamiya's 1/100 A-6 - followed by the F-104 and A-4 from the same series. Painted with unindentified paints sold by the LHS in little glass jars closed with corks. I was about 7 or 8. Good times!

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  36. My first kit was a very small scale (something around 1/1000 I'm guessing) "Cutty Sark" clipper that I built for a modeling badge for Cubs (junior boy scouts). That would have been back when I was about 7 (1973). I guess my father, who did national service with the RAN and has an interest in ships, picked it for me.

    Not long after, Dad bought me a 1/72 scale Spitfire Mk 1 - I'm guessing it was the Airfix kit.

    It was missing part of the under carriage so I built it gear up and hung it from the ceiling.

    By 1983, when I took a forced hiatus to concentrate on my final year of high school (year 12 in Oz), I had over 100 WWII aircraft hanging from my bedroom ceiling in roughly placed geographic locations (how do you map a globe on a rectangular ceiling?).

    At uni I discovered 1/48 Trimaster and Hasegawa kits and have built that scale since.

  37. This is a great thread, Tom. My first kit, when I was 7, was Aurora's 1/48 (or thereabouts) P-40N. My dad and I sat on the floor to build it, no paint, just glue. We pondered the decals, and not having seen such before, cut out the stars with scissors and glued them in place. Next came Lindberg's F-86 with which we tackled the waterslide barrier. That kicked off weekend purchases of Lindberg, Aurora and Airfix kits from the drugstore and hardware store in our neighboring small town (we farmed part-time then, and still do) at the time.

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