30 January 2011
Full gallery at End of Article
I was born in Hatchend in Middlesex in 1961 but rather than growing up a Londoner
my family moved to a tiny hamlet in the Weald area of Kent when I was two. Despite not having lived in the south east for many years I still regard myself as a Kent lad.
For as long as I can remember I have had an interest in modelling, initially with plastecine, making figures and animals, mostly misshapen and out of proportion (things don’t change!). I graduated through the Airfix kit school (mostly tanks and aircraft) but initially my favourite pastime was setting up vast armies of 1/72 polythene figures, which my friend and I would then roll powerballs at to knock them down. Despite this initial interest in smaller scale figures wargaming never appealed to me (and despite my son’s best efforts, it still doesn’t - something about not being good at following rules).
I blame my father for my passion for figure modelling. One day in 1971 he brought home this odd little magazine called Military Modelling, from then on I was hooked. Each month I would pester him as he walked through the door as to whether the next issue was out. I moved on to the Airfix collectors series of figures but got bored sticking them together straight from the box and started hacking them about to change poses or uniforms. Other than a visit to the Model Engineer Exhibition and to the BMSS Nationals in Kensington, with my mum, where I wondered at the work of Longhurst, Bickerton, Dr Thomas et al, I worked alone with only MM and the Airfix Magazine for company.
University and general hedonism got in the way of further modelling, however by the mid 80’s I had a family and was back in the fold and a keen member of the Colchester model club. Clubs are great places to find out new skills and techniques and my converting got more and more complex until I gave up with kit parts and built from scratch. By then I had moved back to Kent and for a short period was a member of the Medway Modelling Club. At this point I started to do some commercial sculpting, but this didn’t take off until I moved to the Westcountry in the 90’s.
Initially when I moved west I was a member of Bristol BMSS and was a regular at local shows, but as the commercial work grew I moved away from the club and show side of the hobby. During this period I worked for several companies in a wide range of scales: from 20mm wargames armies to 1/9th busts. I made several very good friends but eventually I tired of sculpting figures that I had no interest in. The final straw was a set of 1/48th 1950’s US pilots in pressure suits. I hated making them and wondered why I was spending my spare time doing something I no longer liked. I refused any new commissions, sold off most of my books, put all my model collection in bin liners and threw them on the local tip.
It was not until 2006 that I decided to pick up modelling putty again. I sculpted a 75mm Viking and 20mm Alexander the Great and for a laugh entered them in Bugle Call a show I hadn’t attended for years. To my surprise I won one class and to my joy some of the old faces were still around and we had a lovely chat about the old times. I also saw an excellent display by a group called The Basement and picked up one of their leaflets.
I’m glad to say that now I’m in love with the hobby again. The Basement and BMSS Bristol members have reignited my passion for model sculpting. I do take on commercial work, but only subjects I am interested in, and I’m fortunate enough that several companies have been happy to work with me on that basis.
So that’s it up to date. In the real world I am a Primary school Headteacher, working in south Bristol. I have two grown up children, two spaniel dogs (who occasionally feature in my modelling), a couple of rusty old British motorcycles who occasionally, begrudgingly propel me off down the local country lanes and a very understanding wife who let’s me go off gallivanting all over the country in pursuit of figure modelling nirvana.