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Magazine Time Again - Glass Half Full or Half Empty

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The end of the month and the publication date for everyone’s ‘favourite’ triad of UK modelling magazines approaches with the opportunity for the usual glass half empty criticism of the present and reminiscing over past and now lost forever golden days of the British Modelling Press.



I was on a quest this week to find a reference to a full-scale aviation project from the 1960s and dug out my moldering heap of Royal Air Force Flying Review and its replacement Flying Review International.     Did not find what I was looking for but got rather sidetracked by some of the information I did find (will my life ever be the same now that I have discovered the SNAC NC211 Cormoran?) including the Model Talk column in RAF Flying Review.     These were generally on a single page and over the issues I have there were a number of writers over the years but the snippets that follow are all from columns written by Philip Burden whose style , enthusiasm and glass brimming over approach for the hobby, which was quite restricted back then compared to today , I found very enjoyable.



Conversions September 1963 Style – Slip Wing Hurricane Conversion using two 1/72 Airfix Hurricanes of the day – 240 words , one postage stamp sized black & white image and for the super fastidious the hinge lines of the elevators should be altered because the elevators of the ‘Slip Wing’ Hurricane were increased in area by some ten per cent.



Quality control was an issue back then as some of us may recall but instead of complaining today about whether each sprue or at least the transparencies are bagged separately this August 1962 review of the Heller 1/50 Breguet Alize (interesting because I have one in the stash containing a couple of pieces of thick sprue in a box of loose parts as was often the style back then) reads – I found that the plastic was reasonably good but what impressed me was the fact that there were no missing parts.



Future releases announced years in advance seem to be a part of the hobby today along with the inevitable hothouse atmosphere of  interminable moaning that follows about mistakes in first draft CAD or box-art , soul-searching about whether or not the toilet door handles will be the correct shape , impassioned pleas on which options to include (or not include).     In the 1960s there seems to have been more an attitude of being grateful for whatever turned up whenever it turned up.


How about this ‘Future Release’ heads-up from October 1962 –     COMING SOON: A new model from Airfix, probably to a 1/72 scale is likely to be manufactured soon.     I understand that the company hope to have this kit on the market before Christmas.


Or a more parochial view from January 1963 –     STOP PRESS: Two new models from Airfix, both of which will be to a 1/72 scale, are expected in the near future.     These models are of English jet aircraft.


Or this latest release from the Far East in June 1963 – FIRST CONSIGNMENT: Good news for all modellers interested in Japanese kits!     I hear that Arthur Mullet Ltd., 16 Meeting House Lane, Brighton now have in stock a large number of 1/96 Japanese kits.



Accuracy and while purists today quibble about millimeters and are appalled by any hint of a moving part it seems that over half a century ago priorities were rather different.       


A review of the Aurora Wildcat in January 1963 concludes with – ….. although it has no special features, the model is reasonably good.


And of the 1/50 ITC Grumman Duck from July 1963 – Although not a top class model it is reasonably authentic and I recommend members of the anti-‘gimmick’ brigade to make a note of it.



Display advice from May 1963 when the kids latest attempts or dad's more professional efforts were often to be seen displayed on the living-room mantle piece or elsewhere – The general consensus of modellers seems to be that models look best when hung from the ceiling with a wall as a background.



After some fifty-five years I do not know if Mr. Burden is still with us or not but if so I wish him well and offer many thanks for the opportunity during a rather dull and wet week to re-read his words and be reminded of a perhaps calmer time when modelling was merely an enjoyable pastime rather than a source of competition and contention.

Edited by Des
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"Coming soon- a new model from Airfix", a statement like that would have a Columnist lynched by armchair warriors these days :) 

I suspect RFI threads on here featuring models hanging from ceilings will not catch on (however yesterday I did find a photo of (a much younger) me mucking about in my bedroom and above my shoulder was an OV-10A Bronco swooping in for an attack). I did note I had forgotten to pre-shade and use the appropriate scale effect fading so best I don't show it here.


Duncan B

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