Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Blame My Parents....

I got into scale modeling because my parents owned a hobby shop just north of Detroit when I was a kid and my Dad would have me build snap-tite kits to keep me occupied and out of his hair. My grandfather was also model train enthusiast so we would operate the stores display trains for hours when I was a toddler. These are some of my earliest memories, that and free almond cookies and egg roles from the nice people that owned the Chinese food place next door. Sadly, my parents sold out of the hobby business when I was six years old. However, I was already addicted and modeling it has been in my blood ever since.
Growing up, modeling kept me out of trouble and was a great distraction to the ‘everyday’ life of growing up on a farm in remote Tennessee. We moved down south to be closer to my Mother’s parents when I was about ten years old. During that time, I remember building airplanes kits that I would buy with my allowance and then displaying them on my shelves or bookcases throughout my room. Looking back, they were pretty rough looking but back when I was ten or eleven they were awesome to look at; the Tomcat was and is till my favorite plane... Curse you ‘Final Countdown’!!!! I seemed to get better with each one and eagerly awaited the next opportunity to go to the mall or Wal-Mart to get another one.
When I started college, like most people, I put away my models because I didn’t have time for that ‘kids’ stuff but I admit to still picking up copies of Finescale Modeler every now and then when I went to the grocery store or newsstand. After I moved out to Colorado, I found that I had time once again to devote to my favorite hobby and so I went to a hobby shop. Boy was that an experience, I went to Don’s Hobbies up in Greeley and let me tell you it was like going on a pilgrimage to Mecca or Rome. Three stories of hobby heaven and it was owned at the time by a really nice guy named Tony, sorry forgot his last name. He helped introduce me to resin detail sets, photo-etch and aftermarkets decals and all kinds of new stuff designed for modelers. This guy knew it all and if you saw something in a magazine, he’d try and get it in for you. He was just that kind of guy, great customer service and a hell of a nice guy to talk to. He would also make you a deal on items that he just got in and I admit, most times I spent at least a hundred dollars in there when I only intended on getting some paint or new brushes.
I was also introduced to several area clubs and these guys were great, I strongly recommend joining a local modeling or gaming club has great benefits for people new to the hobby. These guys were great in that they helped me refine my modeling skills and I really started to produce some really nice models. Hell, I even entered several area contests but soon realized that I had a long way to go before I would win anything.
The guys that won baffled me with the amount of detail in their models and the paint work was flawless; mine were far from being anywhere near as nice. I began to get a little frustrated with my abilities as they were not progressing as quickly as I wanted. That changed when I met a fellow modeler, Suds, at a Denver model contest. He was up from the ‘Springs and was helping with judging when he asked me if I would like to help; appears they need additional judges. I learned a lot from that judging session and had a lot of fun as well. He and his wife invited me down for a BBQ dinner as he was having some ‘students’ over for a painting session. It seems he taught airbrushing to new modelers out of his basement and invited me down for a session. He used a form method of pre-shading and blending that is fairly common now-a-days but back in 1996 hardly anyone had ever thought of it or let alone used it. So I headed down for the weekend and brought my trusty Paasche airbrush and an old model to test on.
What a setup he had, first was a large area of his basement was dedicated to the workshop and then he had a small room that was a lounge/library. He had one of the best reference libraries that I have ever scene, even to this day it was impressive. We began airbrushing after dinner and apparently I was a quick study in that I had the technique down pat within the first few tries and was able to blend the colors to make a seamless transition from shade to highlight. He later told me that I picked up on the technique a lot better than the others and that made me feel pretty damn good. He also challenged me to a friendly competition in that if I beat him at the next show then I will have ‘graduated’ from his class; needless to say I won, hell, I won third place in a class of 75 models the largest of the show. The two guys ahead of me in the category had been modeling for more years than I’d been alive so I felt like I was in the big leagues for quite a while. So according to ‘Suds’ I graduated with honors… :D
I continued to focus solely on scale models until Games Workshop released Warhammer 40k 3rd Editon, back in 1998. When they released the new space marine models, I was asked to paint some up for a local hobby shop so they could display them along side the new books. I assembled and painted these models just as if they were any other kit but along the way I found that I really liked these ‘little guys’. I painted them green because I liked the look that they had over the blue or red ones. When the project was finished, the store owner let me keep the models that I had painted. I eventually started to collect more of these ‘green marines’ and pretty soon I had enough to play with. Turns out that the green marines were called Dark Angels and a friend turned me onto reading some of their back story. Next thing you know, I was playing my first game of Warhammer 40k and getting my butt handed to me by kids half my age, and I was only in my late twenties. I sucked at the game but really enjoyed painting the figures and models that went along with the army. So I kept at it and eventually played in tournaments and began teaching painting classes at the local gaming store.
Now over ten years later, my game has really improved as have my painting skills. I’ve got several armies, two complete but several more in various stages of completion. Apparently, I’m attracted to shinny objects like new miniatures and models…. as a matter of fact, ‘Oohh… Shiney’ is one of my favorite sayings; it’s usually followed by the sound of a cash register or credit card machine J
So I welcome you to my painting blog and please follow along as I build or paint the latest ‘Shiney’ purchase or additions to an ongoing project.

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