Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Model kits & Nostalgia

Back in the day I used to put together a lot of plastic model kits.  I'm not exactly from the same era as the kid on the cover of that Life magazine, though I can identify with him.  I'm a child of the 50's, and back then other than playing outside with friends, riding bikes, swimming, reading comics or books, watching a bit of TV, and whatnot, there wasn't a whole lot of entertainment out there for kids.  There is still something about modelling that appeals to me, and I have a few kits around the house that I have bought throughout the years, that I've been meaning to sit down and put together.  But I digress.

There's a magazine called Amazing Figure Modeler that I like thumbing through from time to time, and ever so often I'll pick up a copy.  Some of the models and kits in it are indeed pretty amazing.  Back when I was putting those kits together though the industry was in its infancy.  Mostly the kits were cars, planes, and later on, some figures, like the Universal monster kits, the Big Daddy Roth Revel Monogram kits, and there was a knock off of those as well on Testors, called Weird-Ohs.  The hot rod culture was in full bloom.  There was a kid in our neighborhood, who lived adjacent to our house, whom I became good friends with, and he used to be a kit builder.  His name was Scott Reid, I still remember him after all these years, but once he moved to Jacksonville, Texas, and then we moved, I lost contact with him.  At any rate, he used to make models, and got me into the hobby as well.  They had a little garage behind their house where he'd put together his models.  There's something about that era, however deplete we were of high tech, that's still remains pretty nostalgic to me.  

I ran into two videos about a Japanese model maker that I thought were pretty interesting so I thought I'd share:  Here's Part One.

And here's Part Two.

Here's a couple of new model kits planned from the film Pacific Rim: Gypsy Danger.  I don't know if these are true model kits or action figures.  They look more like the later to me, but are still pretty cool.  

My head has been in the clouds lately thinking about science fiction.  I wish they would make more of it.  There's so many books that would make a good SF movie or at least a TV series, if they produced it well.  That's always the sketchy "if."  But, yeah, there's nothing better than seeing a cool SF movie.  I ran across this article on some future plans for some SF movies, but they are still a ways off.  Some of them, like The Martian, and The Expanse have already come out.   The six-hour mini series, Childhood's End also played on the Syfy channel, and to tell you the truth, I didn't think it was that good. Here's one critics take on it, but for me, I think aside from it  being a bit lackluster production-wise, I think one of the main drawbacks is that after so many years later after the book's initial release we've seen so many alien invasion films that it's not particularly new or awesome anymore unless done extremely well,  even though Childhood's End is a classic of that genre.  Here's a BBC production on that same novel if interested in hearing it.

Stephen King's book adaptation, 11-22-63 is also currently playing on the paid Hulu Network.  So some of these SF adaptions look to be pretty cool at least on paper, while others, we'll just have to a wait and see.  Wool by Hugh Crowley always sounded like it was perfect for a SF series.  I'm currently reading Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon.  It would make a pretty good TV series or movie.  It's similar to The Stand by Stephen King--it's an apocalyptic story.

Speaking of SF stories, I ran across these "free to read"  older SF stories feature in the publication called If.   If was an American science fiction magazine launched in March 1952 by Quinn Publications, owned by James L. Quinn. The magazine was moderately successful, though it was never regarded as one of the first rank of science fiction magazines. If achieved its greatest success under editor Frederik Pohl, winning the Hugo Award for best professional magazine three years running from 1966 to 1968. If was merged into Galaxy Science Fiction after the December 1974 issue, its 175th issue overall.

 IF, originally titled If Worlds of Science Fiction and later Worlds of If, was a monthly magazine that began publishing in 1952. It was published continuously for 22 years. During its run it published some of the most acclaimed SF of the 20th Century, including “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Larry Niven’s “Neutron Star,” James Blish’s A Case of Conscience, Roger Zelazny’s Creatures of Light and Darkness, Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold, Jack Williamson and Fredrick Pohl’s The Reefs of Space, and much, much more.

Also over at Archive.org, I ran across James Burke's Connections.   Connections was a BBC produced series, which was an examination of the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological achievements of today.  It was a ten-part TV series that was broadcast over PBS many years ago.  It was conceived in the tradition of the highly popular series, Civilization and The Ascent of Man (both worth watching too).  Connections traced the steps that led to eight inventions that ushered in the technological age.  The computer, the airplane, the atomic bomb, plastics, the guided rocket, and television are innovations that permanently altered civilization and man's relationship to nature.

Burke himself was a graduate of Oxford University, and was the BBC's chief reporter on the Apollo missions to the moon.  In 1972 he began his own weekly television series, "The Burke Special."  Connections took over two years to make, and research and filming has taken the author to twenty-three countries.  If you haven't seen it, it's worth a watch.



At 8:14 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I used to enjoy building model ships and airplanes and Universal monsters, too. I kind of miss it now that I think about it.

I have a friend who gave up being a lawyer to pursue serious model building. He said, “I can be a mediocre attorney or a museum-class model-maker.” He chose the latter. It helped that his wife made enough money for the both of them.

Connections was a fun series. Culture need not be painful

At 12:45 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

I'd like to see the attorney's collection. I had a similar friend that quit his practice and went into playing music. He put out several CDs and had toured quit a bit. He too married a wealthy lady I'm guess. He's impressed me with his music, though I don't think he's made enough money to live on it. If you haven't checked out model kits recently the price tag may shock you a bit. :) Though they do have some cool kits. I saw one the other day I'd like to have, it's the Jules Verne Nautilus kit.

I agree. Connections had two other sequels, though I've not seen them. If presented in the right way learning can be fun and educational.


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