Re­views & Pre­views

Col­lect­ing Vin­tage Plas­tic Model Air­plane Kits

Air & Space Smithsonian - - Front Page - by Craig Kodera. Spe­cialty Press, 2015. 127 pp., $24.95.

It isn’t slickly pro­duced, but you wouldn’t want it to be. The au­thor, Craig Kodera, an avi­a­tion artist and for­mer U.S. Air Force pi­lot, is a col­lec­tor of plas­tic model air­planes, and with this book, he in­vites fel­low col­lec­tors to pe­ruse dozens of clas­sic kits from the 1950s through the early 1960s. As ex­pected, there are kits by Aurora, Rev­ell, Mono­gram, and Lind­berg, but lesser-known com­pa­nies are rep­re­sented too.

“This book stems from a re­quest from t the head buyer at Barnes & No­ble Books, and since I h have built mod­els for nearly 50 years and have many k kits in my col­lec­tion, I was cho­sen as the au­thor.” De­scribeDe the early plas­tic-model in­dus­try.ind Tho Those early post-world War II kits were a bre breath of fresh air in the hobby in­dus­try. No more sand­ing, shap­ing, and fil­ing a bloc block of balsa wood to cre­ate an ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the air­craft, ship, or car in ques­tion. There was no more guess­work for the hob­by­ist. The ease of assem­bly al­lowed chil­dren and adults to en­joy a hands-on pas­time. Do you have a fa­vorite plas­tic model air­plane that you’ve built? For me, the air­liner is ev­ery­thing. The ear­li­est mem­o­ries I have are of the Rev­ell Amer­i­can Air­lines DC-7. We can fol­low this with the Mono­gram TWA Su­per G Con­stel­la­tion, the Frog air­liner kits, and my fa­vorite late pieces: the Rev­ell Fairchild F-27 and DC-9. I’ve built them all many times over.

What is the rarest model in your col­lec­tion?

Hands down, the Rev­ell Martin Sea­mas­ter [a can­celled 1950s Navy fly­ing boat] in blue.

Any idea how much you might have spent on your col­lec­tion over the years?

I am for­tu­nate to have had the re­sources over the decades to buy, sell, buy, sell, and fi­nally ar­rive at my cur­rent col­lec­tion. With about 700 kits, cer­tainly a low, low six-fig­ure amount could be ac­counted on a tally sheet. All the avi­a­tion artists I know were do­ing two things as chil­dren: build­ing mod­els and draw­ing air­planes. The joy of the model kit was that we couldd start to un­der­stand the three-di­men­sional as­pects of air­plane shapes so as to know how to ren­der them in a two-di­men­sional art im­age. By the way, we all still build mod­els to this day, some­times as pho­to­graphic sup­port for a paint­ing— or just be­cause we love to build.

How did your ex­pe­ri­ence ass an early model builder af­fect your ca­reer in avi­a­tion art?

WHY THE AU­THOR DE­CIDED TO WRITEW IT

A CHAT WITH CRAIG KODERA

AN AWARD-WIN­NING AU­THOR OF MANY BOOKS AND

AR­TI­CLES ON MIL­I­TARY AVI­A­TION, PETER B. MERSKY HAS

BUILT MOST OF THE MOD­ELS FEA­TURED IN THE BOOK.

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