One of the great things about the scale modeling hobby is how it can put you in touch with long gone days of childhood model building. I was reminded of that recently during the passage of Hurricane Florence through our area.
The power had gone out, and with nothing else to do, I decided I’d work on a few things that didn’t require much light. Setting up a few small folding tables next to the window in my ManCave, I got to work. At some point I sat back in my less than comfortable folding chair, reminded of how age catches up with you. I stared out of the window, watching the trees bowing to the wind, the rain driven in a maddening rush to the ground.
It’s funny how the mind works. Some sight, or smell, maybe even a word, can release a memory from the depths of the brain… a memory tucked away and forgotten. Lost, really. Yet in an instant, it floods to the forefront, crystal clear, as if it had only been the day before. A little slice in time from the past, in full clarity.
It was my 9th birthday, February 1976. I’d gone to school that day as on any other day, feeling just fine. Better than fine, really, as I knew when I got home, there would be a present. Though my real birthday party was going to be the following weekend, mom and dad would have a small celebration that evening for me.
As the day progressed, it became apparent something wasn’t right. My stomach was feeling quite out of sorts. What had seemed to be just a brief gurgling early in the day had turned into quite the raging nausea. Reluctantly, I had to tell my teacher, Mrs. Carter, who I dearly loved and respected, that her star pupil was not feeling well. (OK… “star” may be a bit of a stretch. 😉 But I did love that teacher…) She placed her hand against my forehead, and in that grandmotherly Southern voice said “sweetie, you have a fever. I better get you to the nurse.”
While I felt bad, of course, the word fever was music to my ears. It meant I could not stay at school. My dad would have to come pick me up. Which meant going home early. As it was only mid-way through the morning, I was already thinking of all the great things I could do with such a gift of free time. Fever or not… how bad could it really be?
Within a few minutes, the call had been placed to my mom. Mrs. Bius? Yes, Jon has a fever. Someone will need to come pick him up. OK, I’ll look for Mr. Bius soon. Thank you. I don’t recall the school nurse’s name, but I do remember she smiled a lot, and called me “poor darling”, and placed a bath cloth dampened with cool water against my forehead. I sat back…. half a day off. On my birthday. What could be better?
However, my stomach had other plans.
The gurgling in my belly got worse. it went from “something’s not right” to “hey, you might want to pay attention” to “stand back- full reversal mode is ON” faster than a third-grader chasing an ice cream truck. Before I knew it, the contents of my innards… most likely Cheerios and a Pop-Tart, began a sudden and violent journey back up my esophagus.
Ms. Smiling Nurse suddenly became Ms. Shrieking-Jumping-Get-Out-Of-The-Way nurse. I proceeded to projectile vomit with such force that it flew across the narrow room onto her bulletin board. I can still see the little cardboard cutouts of a cartoon doctor and nurse, and some health saying about washing hands or not eating crayons, clearly in my mind. As if watching in slow motion, my vomit splattered against the good doctor, blasting him off the bulletin board, with significant collateral damage received by the poor nurse, to the point she flipped around once, held in place by only one last, brave thumbtack.
In an instant, it was over. Cheerios and Pop-Tart crawled down the wall. The nurse’s demeanor didn’t seem quite so sweet now. She used the damp cloth to wipe my face, and then called for the janitor, all the while giving me a look that conveyed quite clearly her displeasure with me and my lack of warning about the impending hurl storm.
My optimism about the rest of the day, free from the confines of school, vanished rather quickly.
Were You Going To Discuss The Model At All?
Citadel’s Space Marine Stormhawk is a great little model. Visually, it’s a bit hilarious. Impossibly short and stubby, it would most likely be a model of instability in flight.. if it were real. However, it’s all made up, and just as physics in a Bugs Bunny episode are quite different, I suppose the same holds true for the grim, dark future in which stubby fighters live.
The kit can be built as two different aircraft, one being the Stormhawk interceptor, and the other being an even stubbier, shorter winged version, the Stormtalon gunship. I’d decided before I even purchased the kit that the interceptor version looked a bit cooler to me.
In previous 40K builds, I’d generally built the full model, and then painted it all after assembly. This is the method shown on the Warhammer TV tutorials, and it works well enough I suppose. However, for this build, I decided to fall back on a more aircraft like approach, and build in logical sub-assemblies. This would help later painting go smoother.
Of course, this also means that I need to do quite a bit of test fitting. While this approach makes painting simpler, it can make final assembly after painting a bit more complicated, if you don’t plan adequately ahead of time. So using the axiom “if it doesn’t fit, something must be in the way”, I looked through the instructions, annotating any areas that would need careful test fitting or modification.
Ultimately, I saw I’d simply need to leave off the engines, their weapons pods, and the wingtip and nose guns. I also left off the jet nozzles so these could be properly painted and weathered without the need to mask the fuselage.
As with every other Citadel kit I have built, construction was relatively trouble-free, only a few areas needing focused sanding and fitting. The kit is nicely planned out so that seams lines either fall in logical places where they will be disguised, are rendered as panel lines, or are covered by later parts. With no cockpit visible, my focus could be on the exterior.
This fact also helped due to the conditions I was building in – by the light of my window during a power outage as Hurricane Florence passed through our area. The choice of this kit was perfect for the circumstances, really, as I could proceed with confidence in the fit, and focus on assembly, which did not take too much light.
Actual assembly time was only a few hours. I did a bit of sanding here and there on the few seam lines that needed adjustment. However, in the low light I had available, I knew I’d need to go back later and recheck things.
Once power returned, a quick check showed a few areas that needed some hairline sealing with Mr. Surfacer, smoothed clean with an alcohol soaked cotton bud. A small seam just forward of the horizontal stabilizer, as well as some seams on the engine pods, also needed a small amount of filler and sanding to ensure a nice, smooth finish.
With all of that sorted out, I primed the model. For this one, I used a 50/50 mix of Badger’s Stynylrez Gray and White. I wanted to see if a lighter gray primer color photographed better. Given that my photography skills are a bit… nonexistent… I can’t say that the test yielded any results worth noting. The photos look like a middle-aged man who can only use his camera phone took photos of his plastic toy. I suppose they’ll do, though. 🙂
So About The Memory…?
It was sitting in front of that window through the storm, building the Stormhawk, that stirred up the memory of getting sick at school, oddly enough.
My dad drove me home from school, and upon arrival my mom was ready to make sure I was properly cared for. She had thermometer in one hand (thankfully the kind you hold in your mouth 😉 ), and a bucket in the other. Getting me straight into my pajamas – Batman pajamas, to be specific – she tucked me into the bed, and shoved the thermometer into my mouth. Her brow furrowed as she read it – 102 degrees. Her concern was raised another level when I started throwing up into the strategically placed bucket.
I ended up being quite sick, resulting in a trip to the hospital for evaluation and IV bags of fluid, more thermometer checks (from both ends, this time, to my surprise), and generally being quite miserable. After missing nearly two weeks of school, my classmates even began sending cards wishing me “get well”, “feel better”, and “can I have your pencils if you die?” That kind of concern is what friends are there for, right?
And the whole time I was sick, laying in my bed, I was staring out the window of my bedroom. In front of that window was my modeling desk, with paints and brushes and a half completed model, the maker and type now escaping me. Each day as the light began to come through that window, I hoped I’d feel well enough to be able to work on it. That hope, and my mom’s constant supply of lime Gatorade and ice slushees, served to me lovingly by hand from a spoon, kept me going.
Though that incident had been long filed away in the recesses of my mind, sitting there at that table, in front of that window, as I sat out the hurricane, it all came flooding back for some reason.
I suppose that the point of all of this is not so much about the Stormhawk, as much as I am enjoying it. Rather, it is another reminder of a big reason why I still build models, though I am now in my 50s. It puts me in touch with my childhood, almost as if it were a time machine. For a brief bit of time each day, I am magically transported back to those yonder times when the toughest thing I faced was which friend’s house to visit that day, or what tree to climb, or how long it would be before the flu passed. It was a time when life was mostly fun.
Days I do sorely miss.
And it reinforces the simple rule that governs my modeling…
If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
Pick a simple model, build it, and remember the fun days. It’s good for what ails you, in any storm.