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Gary Brantley
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From the beginning…

July 10, 2021 · in Aviation · · 24 · 2.1K

I want to show the first models I built after returning to the hobby in 1988. I was 35 years old and hadn't built a model plane since I was around 10. I wanted to compare the new aircraft of that era and thought building scale versions would be the easiest way to do that. Our local Winn's department store only had the Monogram in that scale so I started with that one. I accumulated some modeling supplies and bought my Paasche Model H airbrush (and have painted every model since with that old workhorse!). When finished, the A-10 looked much better than the "glue bombs" I had assembled in my youth but when saw my first copy of FinescaleModeler magazine a few months later, I realized just how far I had to go to make a decent model from a plastic kit.

After the , I built the Revell F-4E, in the "Famous Fighters" packaging with ol' Chuck Yeager himself smiling on the boxtop. It's ironic that when I painted that F-4, I was able to achieve the most distinct and clean separation between colors that I've ever done; all the factors must've been just right and the modeling gods were smiling on me that day because I've not been able to duplicate that that easily since! Then came the Monogram F-16A, and soon others followed. But as time went on, and I felt my ability had improved, those first models were never photographed as I didn't think they measured up. Now, I see that was the wrong attitude; I believe now that they are good "archival" documents that show my evolution as a model builder. And also perhaps, show how far our hobby has come since then.

I took the A-10 out to the Cameron Municipal Airport several years ago, and the F-16 accompanied the Tigercat out there last week. It benefits from a little improvement in my photography skills thanks to the advice of my closest friend who is a professional photographer, among his many other talents! Unfortunately, I clumsily snapped off the pitot on the F-16 before I got it out of the truck. It was too hot out there to futz around with it much but I got it glued back together and back on but it's now pretty droopy. 😉 The F-4E has still never been to the airport but I did take a few pics of it on our kitchen table some years ago. So, with no further ado (about time, right? 😉 ), here are a few photos of those "early" birds.

Reader reactions:
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23 additional images. Click to enlarge.

24 responses

  1. Nice models Gary! The background really adds to overall scene. Well done sir.

  2. You preserved those beauties very well, Gary.
    Wish I would have photographed my first builds as well.
    They definitely were not as great as yours.

  3. They all look good ...

  4. @johnb Thanks John! Yeah, they've survived alright over the past 33 years. I would like to have a modern kit of an F-16 of some type to replace that old Monogram model. I do have another F-4 Phantom somewhere in the stash. I bet your models looked fine John. 🙂

    Thanks for commenting too! 🙂

    • @ garybrantley, Just noticed on your A10, the decal on the right side of the fuselage, isn't that placed upside down? Not to criticize, the build looks really awesome.

      • Lol. Yes, it is. Good catch dude. ;). I'm lucky that all of them aren't either upside down or placed crooked...hey, now that I mention that, several of them are! Newbie mistakes from 1988! 🙂

        Thanks again John!

        • Despite your "newbie" mistakes, your warthog is a terrific looking re-entry back into modeling. All that weaponry you added must have been as much work as building the plane itself, but it sure paid off. That and taking your models to your local tarmac to shoot those great photos.

          And as you said, it's a continual learning process I don't know about you, but some of my early models have ended up in the trash and I've replaced them with newer versions as my skills have improved (or at least I'd like to think so).

          I still have a subscription to Fine Scale Modeler. If nothing else, just to keep the magazine from going the way of our now defunct local hobby shop.

          • Thanks Eric @eb801! Regarding the load-out, when first finished, I had every pylon loaded with ordnance! There's that newbie again. 😉 I don't know if the A-10 could've even taken off laden like that. Later, as I learned more, I removed some of it down to a more reasonable level. 🙂

            I'm happy that you like the photos too. I believe the airport setting enhances my efforts a lot. 🙂

  5. Going from the A-10 to the F-16, one clearly sees progress. That's all any of us can ask for.

    • Thanks for the kind comment @tcinla. I think most of the progress seen in those first three builds is due to old FinescaleModeler magazine. I've had issues with their FSM forum and the administrators there , but back in the late '80s, early 1990s, I did learn a lot from their magazine. 🙂

  6. You paid a great tribute to those beautiful older builds of yours, Gary!
    All are very well made, depicting your getting better model after model.
    It's really a great idea to take some of your models to the airport for photographing them. Really great idea!
    Thanks for sharing the pics (and the memories).

    • Thanks @fiveten! Spiros, I so appreciate your comments. I can see the slow, but steady progress I was making back then. We all know it's a steady "learning process" and I hope I'm still on that path!

      The two builds that followed these three have still not had their turn before the camera's lens. They're the Monogram AV-8B Harrier and their P-51D model Mustang. I guess it's only fair that they should get some photos at the airport too. Maybe between the natural light and the airport scenery, they'll show a little progress as well. 😉

      You're quite welcome and yes, they are good memories; and thanks for leaving your great comments Spiros! 🙂

  7. Hey Gary, well done, it's really awesome to see progress in our work, as some of your first kits those are very well done, looking forward to seeing some of your newer builds, the airfield photography looks awesome as well - adds to the realism.

  8. Some great old build - well done!

  9. Thank you Greg! They are "oldies" and kinda goodies too I guess. ;). I sure appreciate your comments @gkittinger. 🙂

  10. Good to see you post again Mr. Brantley.
    I have enjoyed your builds for many years. Seeing them makes me want to grab my Paasche H and just sling paint and be happy.

    • @paladin Thanks so much for those comments Marvin! Man, I have to tell you that this quote literally made me laugh out loud! What a cool comment Marvin! Fire that bad boy up dude! 🙂

      "Seeing them makes me want to grab my Paasche H and just sling paint and be happy."

      🙂 🙂 🙂

  11. Your A-10 came out great for your first build after a long break. Especially your first build as an adult! Your skills progression is obvious on each build. As usual great background shots. I love the album cover used as the base with your F-16.

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