A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Plastic Model Kits for the Discriminating Collector

I have rediscovered the joy of plastic model building in the months since my heart operation. I built many of these in my youth, but I stayed away from the usual male adolescent subjects of hot rods, warplanes, or battleships. My interest gravitated towards figure models – humans, real or fictional, but mostly fictional.

Aurora Plastics (1950-1977) filled my needs nicely. I was first introduced to their offerings when my cousin Steve built The Mummy, based on the Universal horror flick from the 1930’s. They had the entire Universal monster line-up from Dracula and Frankenstein to the Wolfman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I was unable to collect all of these when I was a child and they sold for $1.98.

Aurora is long gone, but other manufacturers have taken the old molds and re-released them over the years. However, even these reissues are no longer commonly available. Any one like me has to hunt the old models — originals and reissues — on web sites like And, oh yes, you can bet they no longer sell for $1.98!

One Aurora kit featured John F. Kennedy sitting in front of a fireplace. This got me thinking about some of the other historical figures that could be plastic model subjects for the very discerning collector. We could show, for example, famous US Presidents in their greatest moments, like Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, or not so great moments such as Lincoln purchasing tickets to see “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre.

Or say a great moment like Harry S. Truman standing on a train platform holding up the newspaper with the premature 1948 headline claiming Thomas E. Dewey had defeated Truman. Or a not so great moment of Truman beating the crap out of the Washington newspaper music critic who panned First Daughter Margaret Truman’s singing debut.

I envision a daring action diorama for FDR. My model would show the President and Eleanor Roosevelt engaged in a spirited debate about, oh, I don’t know, all the time she spends away from the White House, his mother, or perhaps his relationship with his mistress. We would see FDR in his wheelchair as Eleanor pushes it perilously close to a staircase. The President would appear to be yelling and poking his cigarette holder in the air, either to make a point or an attempt to burn Eleanor with his cigarette ash. Fala, the Scotty who was FDR’s faithful companion, would be seen nipping at Eleanor’s heels.

We could see a Presidential assassination series for Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and, of course, Kennedy. This series would conclude with a display of Kennedy’s car driving past the infamous grassy knoll. In photos of the tragedy, the knoll is populated by several small groups of parade watchers. Ah, but my diorama would show at least a hundred people holding guns standing on the grassy knoll. Each one of these people would represent one of the countless conspiracy theories that historians have been defending, or fending off since that grim November day in Dallas.

Sometimes it is so hard for me to remain subtle.

Another figure that could be a plastic model is President James Buchanan preparing to go out on the town. Buchanan was our only bachelor Chief Executive, and widely regarded by historians (until very recently) as the worst President in American history. My model would show Buchanan in a long gown, with a bustle and possibly a hoop skirt in keeping with the fashion of the times. If this historical reference is too vague for the modern modeler, then we can update the figure. Subtract the bustle, lose the hoop, shorten the hemline to meet 20th century standards, and voila! We now have legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover preparing to go out on the town! Same difference!

I only bring up the subject of plastic models because part of my cheap vacation this week will be rebuilding my old models. It will pass the time when I get bored with the other house projects that are begging to be completed. What the hell! It’s an activity that will keep me off the streets...for a few hours at least.


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