When you were young

It came up on another thread about mistakes we made when we were kids in the hobby, pre-internet days. On the understanding that most of us were doing this hobby in 70s/80s/90s but went back to it recently for one reason or another, but I guess there are probably a few who never left it. Either way, it was a VERY different hobby back then. Maybe more innocent somehow. But for sure more “creative” :slight_smile:

Of course we have the internet now so mistakes are harder to make but back in the day I’m sure we all had some funny things we got wrong.

For me, I have a couple.

I was one of those kids who over-thought stuff (and I still am now) but I remember aged eight or nine (circa 1987) being utterly flummoxed by the idea that German WW2 soldiers wore “field grey” uniforms but that the little Humbrol tins I used that said “field grey” were an odd shade of green. I had watched a load of war movies and to my mind the green guys were the Americans and Japanese. The Brits were khaki. The Germans had grey tanks and vehicles so in my mind I figured that Humbrol must have got it wrong. So I painted my German soldiers in the same panzer grey as their vehicles. It made perfect sense to me at the time.

The first proper Tamiya 1/35 kit I built was their Flak 37, but I remember the follow-up was their fantastic Horch with towed Flak 20mm kit with the soldiers in the back. Man I loved that kit. I built and painted the living crap out of it hahahaha. It never occurred to me that the soldiers wouldn’t be wearing SS pea dot camo in Afrika Korps liveried vehicles but I was SO DAMNED PROUD of that build.

I remember buying the Tamiya Panther A and being flummoxed again at the colour callouts. Panzers were painted grey, right? I’ve seen Bridge Too Far and Battle Of The Bulge, I know what I am talking about. Panzers = grey. So why was silly Tamiya telling me to paint it in this weird desert yellow scheme? I didn’t have any desert yellow left so I thunk on it for a while and figured the grey or yellow wouldn’t matter that much because it was covered in mud anyway, so may as well do a dark grey base coat and then stipple on green and brown in vague camo patterns as per the Tamiya instructions. Kind of a late war compromise. It looked pretty much as you would expect it to.

I had a pot of Humbrol “skin” tone which was this weird lurid almost dayglo whitish pink. It said flesh on it so that was what I used. I didnt know about washes or highlighting, or even thought at all about what colour human skin was vs what the Humbrol tins said it was. So there were some interesting German troops riding motorbikes and humping MG42s in long panzer grey greatcoats with incandescent skin tones. I saw a picture once of a guy painting the eyes on his models so I tried. Bear in mind i only had one brush, a shiny plastic bristle pound shop one which didn’t hold any paint, just sort of moved it around. Suffice to say it didnt go well. So not well in fact that I decided he must be a casualty so added him to a diorama as a dead body. the posture looked weird so I had a bright idea. If I can melt sprue to make antennas, then I can melt the plastic to change the body shape to bend the figure into a dead body. I managed not to burn the house down or burn myself too badly, but the figure was… well he looked like he was having a tough day.

I remember building the joyous Tamiya M41 and I’d run out of any green paints in all my Humbrol tins. So I decided to build it in the green plastic and then use an old bottle of Testors brown to add brown tiger stripes to make it look like a field applied Vietnam camo. It actually looked really good, I was really chuffed with it.

What about you guys/girls?

Any stories to share?


I’ve made too many faux pas to list, but I think my early attempts at kit bashing involved main faults that literally embarass me to recall now.

Didn’t own sprue cutters, scissors or even a hobby knife (very early days) so individual parts were teased from the sprues as gently as possible, by hand… you can imagine the fit issues.

The only cement available was that horrible thick stuff in small tubes. All (and I mean all) transparencies that I attempted were fogged to death because of this stuff, which went everywhere.

Didn’t know the difference between gloss, matte or satin paints. My first Tamiya kit (of which i was very proud - the Schwimmwagen) was painted in a lurid shade of gloss yellow from a Humbrol tin. After all, the colour callout had the word ‘yellow’ in it, and I only had about 10 different colour paints of which gloss yellow was one - which leads me to my last criminal activity:

I had to fit the colour call outs to the actual selection of paint I had. So, not unlike Chris, my early efforts at Field Grey were in fact, a shade of light grey, probably because similarly, every war film i’d seen had the Germans in light grey uniforms.


I was fascinated by the legends of green panzers in Tunisia. So I painted a 1/76 Pzkw. IV in Humbrol Italian Air Force Green. I was fairly certain this would be accurate.

Was it Hasegawa that that had a 1/76 Tiger? Got the same green. Mr. Byrden would probably faint… :smile:

I mentioned elsewhere my Fujimi Jagdtiger in white with Panzer Grey spots.

My “logic” such as it was, was that there were so many of these in real life back then, that they couldn’t fail to be accurate.

I still have them.


That reads like a mirror image of my exploits when I first started …


Ah the old Airfix/Humbrol glue in the tubes. Glory days hahahahaha

I had a very small selection of Humbrol tins back in the day too, circa eight or ten, same as you. If I didn’t have it I mixed it, and if I couldn’t mix it, well tough. I had some B&Q thinner in a big tub to clean my brushes in and it never once occurred to me to thin the paints to make them go further.

I taught myself everything and some things just pass you by. I got really good at drybrushing with the last dried up crumb remnants in the bottom of those little paint tins, mind. :slight_smile:


Gray late WW2 German AFV’s, I may have built around ~1976?

Pleading the 5th amendment on that.


Ah yes, the little-known short barrelled StuG 75mm they trialled on a Panther chassis circa 1945. Lots of short barrelled 75mm guns kicking around, loads of ammo, no StuGs to put them in so they got the Jagdpather protoypes that they were going to add huge 380mm mortars to, slung in the short gun and sent them out to use as mobile pillboxes in the ruins of Berlin in 1945. It so happened that they’d run out of primer at that point so instead of sending them out to fight in bare metal, one bright spark had the idea of “acquiring” a load of paint from a warehouse in Kiel that was supposed to go to the Kriegsmarine for their new aircraft carrier project. The paint was sprayed on and off they went to Berlin. None of the 17 prototypes survived the urban fighting to be refitted with the bigger mortar. It is thought two of the seventeen had yellow ambush dots on the blue paint, so Takom will deffo release these versions at some point. We await the Mark Felton documentary on these rare beasts with interest.

(ok fantasy but could have happened hahahaha)


That’s really rather good!


I was about twelve or thirteen. I usually couldn’t afford Tamiya kits, so entertained myself with a lot of Monogram and 1/48 Bandai kits. We were poor. Not quite poor enough it seems - I had to lie to the lunch lady and say “free” so I could keep my lunch money to buy a kit every week. Believe me, there was a stigma attached to kids on free lunch, but I didn’t care.
I had a bottle of Pactra Hot Rod Primer. For some reason I loved that color. I was also building a huge 1/48 diorama on a slab of plywood I kept under my bed. Metal cookie tins for oil storage tanks. Two HO scale light towers overlooked the oil facility, (which I still own and will repurpose soon) and just about every German vehicle Bandai made in 1/48. I think there were a few American vehicles as well. I never could get Celleclay (which of course the great Shep Paine recommended) to work right. So the entire piece of plywood eventually ended up covered in Durhams’ Rock Hard Putty. I worked it in sections, starting with a “Y” shaped road junction in the middle of the diorama. Painted gray. Then I would do little areas until it was done.
I was running out of camouflage schemes for my German vehicles. I had a Tiger I that I painted in hot rod primer, and then added sort of a zebra striping with a light olive green. I liked it. I don’t know why I chose to do it that way as nothing in any of the painting guides suggested it. And then a few years ago I saw almost the exact scheme on some sort of German vehicle. It’s better to be lucky than good I guess.

My most memorable faux paus, however, was using a two handled Tamiya jerry can on the back of my Centurion Sho’t. Yes, this was way before we all had internet in our homes. The thing took Best Armor of Show in Austin around 1996. Then went on to win its category in several other states, and helped me win a trip to Japan at Tamiya Con later that year. No one caught it, or cared. But I know it’s there. And after all this time I have elected to leave it as is.


That’s definitely more credible than Mark Felton youtube documentary!

BtW - have to add Japan was interested in buying one of those prototypes but the U-boat carrying the plans was sank in route by an Allied whale :whale2: :grinning:


Love this - your story resonates with me hugely.

I used to use anything I could find to make dioramas. A big chalky triangular bit of plasterboard I found in a skip. Some busted up cork coffee coasters shredded (by me) to make rocks. Twigs from the garden dipped in bathroom sealant for trees. Lollipop sticks, string, even some plastic boxes and stuff for a bunker and so on. We had no money and I had to scavenge what I could. Sometimes when I go upstairs and see the whole top floor of my house devoted to the kind of modelling workshop/studio I wouldn’t have been able to believe 35 years ago, it makes me realise how lucky I am.


I was younger but not very young when I thought the Panther II, E50 and who knows what else in that Tony Greenland book were actually models of real tanks.

Although I was a bit skeptical at some of the delicate camouflage that looked kind of like a lace doily.

That was The Drybrushing Age back then… Lotta frosting going on.


I guess it wasn’t worse than the green glue capsule included in early Heller kits…

The yellowish one was for larger kits



The Heller glue was worse. Those little soft plastic “bulbs” had a rather short shelf life. The “bulbs” in kits that had been in the shops for some months or maybe a year had gone solid. Once opened they couldn’t be closed either → build the whole kit in one frantic rush. Horrible stuff.


If you pressed them too hard when the neck was clogged they were prone to poping…



Those were the days where you enjoyed the build for the build. Now with all of the information available, the creativity is gone. Everyone knows the “rules” and if you break one, everyone will know it and point it out. I brush painted a Hawker Hurricane gloss lemon yellow and grass green because they were camouflaged. I was a kid in the 60’s so in a psychedelic sort of way maybe I was correct. Today I probably would not garner many positive comments.


Ah, I remember all those Monogram German tanks in raw tan plastic, with bright gloss green tiger stripes! They hid so well in the long grass of the back yard…


Ain’t that the truth. Used to live in a tenement on Lauiki Street in Honolulu… Haven’t quite made it as far as my sister (Park Ave, in NYC) but at least I don’t have to pretend to be on free lunch any more.

I’m happy to be in a position to help out other modelers these days. Usually with walk arounds, but of late more and more bits from kits I only needed one or two parts from, all the way to whole kits I know I’ll never build.


Pretty sure I still have bits of the kit but built a Esci A-4 Skyhawk in a tiger stripe scheme. Probably from watching too much Chuck Norris in tiger stripe cammies.

Looks sort like this but not as good.

That is from Aug 87. Unless it happened to be at Oshkosh airshow just prior I wouldn’t have know about it. I think it’s in a Fujimi A-4 cause I wanted to try again. Probably could use a Hasegawa/Revell kit now.


When young, hobbies were often Anime TV cartoons, comic books, radio control vehicles, wargaming, coins or stamps, model railroading, or model kits. Some stuck with LEGOs all through their adulthood, but I didn’t like the multicolored blocks and the lack of realistic LEGO sets at the time. So I stuck with model kits, and being a poor kid with not much allowance, they were usually 1/35 modern DML figure kits that I bought for $5.

I really had a frustrating early hobby childhood. Classmates told me that Revell kits fit well but were less detailed whereas Monogram kits had poor fit but were way more detailed.

I started with Revell and Monogram airplane and car kits and spraypainted and then handpainted on camouflage and details. They looked mediocre. I did play with some of them (and broke them) and hung the planes on my ceiling. At the time, I didn’t know or care about leaded paint, using Testors paints that were available at the drug and toy stores. Yes, it was frustrating building these poor-fitting kits and using putty and brushes that were subpar…this was a time before the internet and being able to order nice tools, paints, and supplies from overseas.

When the internet came, I posted on forums and emailed online hobby friends and they taught me what to buy and where to shop. The kit review became an informational treasure and I subscribed to FineScaleModeler. As my finances grew, so did my passion for the hobby. I made oaths to online hobby friends to not buy toxic and expensive resin kits to protect my health (however resin is basically all that I buy now and I wear a respirator and gloves).

Christmas and summers as a kid were spent drawing, playing video games, Photoshop, and building some kits if I didn’t have Summer School. (Girls came and went but that’s an entirely different story).

I can attest that it took a LONG TIME for kits to be accurate, fit properly, and have excellent quality assurance. It took some time for vendors to have excellent customer service. The bad and poor quality kits and vendors have mostly been weeded out by now, but back then, it was really “Shop at your own risk.”

What started as a frustrating hobby is now one I thoroughly enjoy and I don’t regret not going into wargaming or comic books or Anime cartoons. I buy kits that are excellent quality and winners (although sometimes I buy kits blind), but I can tell you that practically all the resin kits that I do buy have great quality, fit, casting, and come with great customer service. I’ve been very lucky and haven’t really bought duds or lemons.

What once started out as visiting 2-5 modeling forums as a kid is now boiled down to just Armorama. I don’t visit the other forums anymore due to lack of interest and time. I have way more kits than shelf display space, but I value and treasure them because it’s like a hunt for what I want (when I was a kid and couldn’t afford or have).

In a world with a lot of criticism and negativity from others, model kits are something I can have complete control over and no one else cares what I do with them = personal value. Whereas coins and stamps are limited to the thousands, some model kits are so rare that only 25-100 exist in the world forever. I enjoy that rarity, knowing that mine is the only one built, painted, and like it on planet (parallel universes are another story). :grin: