New area club a model of creativity

New Area Club, a Model of Creativity
By TIM PALLESEN
Special to The Palm Beach Post

    Remember the fun you had as a kid putting together plastic model cars and airplanes? The newest club to meet at the Wellington Branch Library beckons young and old to discover or rediscover how much fun this hobby can be. “We just want people to remember the way it was. Most of us did this as kids,” Scott Adams said. “Then life gets in the way – the wife actually wants you to work and earn a paycheck.” Adams organized the new club with Bruce Drummond and Rafael Hernandez after the three met at the International Plastic Modelers Society’s nearest chapter in Broward County. “There’s nothing in the West Palm Beach area, so we decided to put together a model club here,” Drummond said.
    Anyone walking into the Wellington library on the third Sunday afternoon of each month can’t miss the excitement outside the conference room at the main entrance. A two-foot-high Frankenstein model catches your eye. Hernandez dressed it in Hawaiian clothes and painted Waikiki Beach on its back. A model police car’s radar guns are flashing. “Kids go by and say ‘Wow.’ They go crazy and come in to see what’s going on,” Hernandez said. Club members are waiting inside to help the curious get started with a wonderful hobby. Beginners are given a starter kit with a simple model that snaps together. They are invited back to the next month’s meeting to show their first creation to others.
    “We will guide you in whatever kind of model you might want to build,” Drummond said. Model cars and airplanes are still popular. But model building has evolved into much more since the club’s three organizers were children. “Technology has come a long way. It’s amazing what they’re doing now with plastics,” Hernandez said. “Nowadays it’s totally different.” Now the choices for a model builder range from military armor to Star Wars characters. Tanks, airplanes and rockets have extensive detail. So do soldiers from the Napoleonic War, the Civil War and the two world wars. Not to mention fantasy dragons, comic book heroes and elves from Lord of the Rings. “You can do an exact replica from history or make something just out there like an Astro van with tank tracks,” Adams said. Beginners are paired with experts in the type of model building that they are interested in. “We hook them up with a mentor who will be rooting for them,” Drummond said. “Some of us do armor and tanks. Another will do aircraft,” Adams said. Modelers learn the skills to build, paint and finish their models at the monthly meetings that began at the library in July. They learned how to put together model villages at their first meeting. At their second, the lesson was how to make miniature trees out of balsa wood for dioramas. At their October meeting, newcomers were amazed to see how hair spray can give historic replicas a weathered look.
    “It’s pretty wild what you can do. You’d be amazed at how much stuff there is,” Hernandez said. “We take a little from each other to learn the skills.” The club got off to a good start by winning 11 awards at an August convention of modelers at Disney World. Hernandez won a third place award for a tank in the diorama category. Hernandez built models from ages 16 to 28 but then took a 30-year hiatus from modeling when he got married. “Most of us started as kids. You get distracted when you get married,” he said. The key to win at competitions, he said, is spend up to half your time in research before you actually build your model.
    Adams has worked for two years on a project to build an authentic model of a particular Vietnam-era patrol boat for the retired naval officer who was its captain. To accurately replicate the boat, Adams researched its design at the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institute. He studied old photographs and interviewed the boat’s crew. Plastic model builders bristle over how others view their finished creations. “Some people call them toys,” Hernandez said. “But we call this three-dimensional art.” Hernandez said. Club members know of young people who have built their modeling hobby into careers. “They move on to become engineers and airplane mechanics,” Hernandez said. “This is where they first get interested.” But all ages are welcome at the monthly club meetings. “It’s something you can do with your hands and appreciate it when you’re done,” Adams said. “Young or old. It doesn’t matter.”








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