Stepping back in time

Many years ago, in a time before the internet, political correctness, social media and video games, when the only things an 8 year old kid needed to worry about was what mum would say when you swipe pegs from the clothes line to attach cardboard to the bike to strike across the spokes and your left shoe is worn out from jamming it between the back wheel and frame to stop in a hurry. A time when your imagination meant building stuff with your hands, getting cuts and bruises and hitting your thumb with the hammer. In this time of playing outside till the lights came on, building forts and climbing trees, this young boy like so many had a collection of dinky cars.

A few years later, this boy has been taught to make plastic model boats and planes. His ceiling was adorned with B52’s, Spitfires, and Catalina’s flying above his bed. Any flat surface had war ships of every size and style. Then one day, he received an AMT Vantom Ford Econoline Custom Van kit. This was the start of something new. The planes came crashing to the floor, the ships sank beneath the carpet, the boy had discovered what’s in the box does not mean you have to follow rules and instructions and came with options for the build. Soon more car kits arrived, engines were swapped, then came the big rims and tyres. Suspensions cut down and roofs lowered. The boy soon found himself buying kits to pillage parts from to make new models.

As time went on, the boy finished school and got a job and realised the brush paint jobs weren’t cutting it anymore, he spent 3 weeks wages on an air brush to give his models a new finish. Now this airbrush could be used from a spare tyre from a car to supply the air. Hmmm, Dad won’t notice, so out it came from dad’s boot, and the spraying began. All was fine till one day dad got a flat tyre and went to put on the spare, the flat spare. OOOOPS!!!!!

A year or two later, the boy buys his first real car, flushed with cash from his first year apprentice wage, The models give way to the real car. The desire to make changes ever increased. The disease spreads and half a lifetime later, the boy is a man, and even though no longer playing with cars, the disease is still there, hidden in the deepest depths.

There’s an old saying, You can take the boy out of the car, but you can’t take the car out of the boy.

Today, this man headed off to the Perth Model Car Sunday. A pilgrimage he has not done in over a decade. After years of seeing the model car group at the annual Hot Rod Show, the time had come to see where how scene had changed over those years.


Walking into the room, the man is taken back to a time when Friday night was model night and the cutting and filing plastic to make things fit. Today, things haven’t changed, boys of all ages display their creations. From small to large. Each piece an insight into that persons mind.


While cheaper and smaller than a real car, the thinking and attention to detail is just as impressive. 100’s of hours are spent making the finite details perfect. Much of the time while looking through a magnifying glass at parts held in place with tweezers and medical forceps.

For this man, having worked in the model car industry for over 18 odd years, the introduction of scale diecast replicas has taken the the hobby from plastic to metal, making the customising a lot more intensive with the introduction of mini metal grinders and cutters like the Dremmel. With manufactures making a myriad of components in a variety of models in all different scales that could be swapped to make something new and impressive.


Walking up and down the isles, the variety and quality was impressive. More and more metal models adorned the tables. then getting to the end of the first isle, my mind was blown away as I ogled over a display of a barn find 1930’s Mercedes, complete with torn rag top and seats, rusted panels. The detail on this model was overwhelming. The model looked so realistic, I had a hard time deciding whether it was plastic or actual metal that had been naturally rusted. (It was plastic). It was truly amazing until I moved to the next table where a Rolls Royce Phantom II sat.


It looked just like something you would find in the bush behind a farm yard barn. Model makers have taken customisation to a new level. It’s ironic that for so many years, this man in his boyhood years spent so many hours building cars I envisioned in my mind, is blown away by a model that has been scavenged by time and weather by someone in their home to finish with a model that is truly outstanding. Unfortunately the photos really don’t give it justice but I’ll try (I wish I had taken the big camera now).

After having my mind blown by the rust display, the dioramas where next on the agenda. I always had fun creating workshops for the models. It’s one thing to build a model, but adding it to a diorama brings it all to life.


Again, I was blown away. The attention to detail in the buildings was outstanding and the themes and flow of the stories were perfect.

The rest of the show contained stalls, 1/4 scale speedway cars and a large RC track with trucks of all sizes including road trains and construction equipment. Although not my taste, was interesting to watch the control of the trucks and equipment.


After a couple of hours, I had been taken back to a time I had all but forgotten. A time when I dabble in a hobby that allowed me to express myself with the cars and dioramas I made. It was good to see that people still have the passion to spend hours creating something in ways the manufacturer didn’t envision. Has the show stirred something inside, maybe a little, but not to start up the hobby again, but it was good to travel back to a simpler time of less expectations and give me hope for my future project.

And for the record, modeling is not just a kids hobby. :)

Below are some images of the models that stood out for me. There were many many more. Hope you enjoy.