Monday, February 11, 2008

Model cars

This is a picture of where I used to make my car model kits in the basement of the house on Knollwood Street. It's an amazing fraud of a picture for a number of reasons:

1.) it looks clean and orderly
2.) there are several completed car models on display on the shelf
3.) there's no big box of parts visible beside these shelves

(Also, the two trophies I won in competitions are nowhere to be found, but it could be that the picture was taken before that.)

Ever since I was old enough to apply glue to plastic, I was a model car kit guy. Mainly AMT because Revell and Monogram kits had far too many little parts to lose. I rarely read the directions, which is probably gender-related. I filed the little extra nibs of plastic off after I took the part off the 'tree' it came attached to. I usually painted the cars with Testors' PLA, sometimes in groovy metalflake finishes. I tried to learn how to 'wire' engines, using thread to give the look of cables running from the magneto to the headers, but it was a little hit-or-miss. I applied the decals to the doors and trunk lid. I admired my work briefly.

Then I would deconstruct the car.

Tires, wheels, axles, engines would all go in the box beside my work space, atop the family's retired ping-pong table (I honestly do not recall ever playing ping-pong in my house). When Toy Story came out, I could relate to some of Sid's mutant creations as I'd done similar things to my cars. Parts didn't have to match up: with an X-ACTO blade and some glue (and maybe a little elbow grease), I could make Chevy engines fit into Ford compartments. Give me a hand drill and I'll make the tiny shift lever pop through the console of an otherwise undisturbed interior. Mom gave me bits of fabric sometimes, and I'd try to glue upholstery onto the seats and floors, with varying results. Despite the photographic evidence to the contrary, the table was inevitably a big mess of parts and paint and glue.

Nothing ever stayed assembled or reassembled for very long. My big parts box turned into two big parts boxes. God only knows how much money my parents and I spent on kits, which used to be $2.49 each.

I said earlier that I'd won trophies for contests I'd entered. One was for First Place at a competition at Roses' at Thruway Shopping Center. The model car was a blue metalflake VW bus, wired engine, doors removed, kinda awesome in a dune-buggy sort of way.

That car stayed assembled until my mother knocked it off its shelf while dusting. It flew into pieces, and somehow I never had much urge to make another model car again.

I can't blame it all on Mom, though, since the Beatles had begun occupying most of the front half of my brain by then.