This weekend, my wife was perusing one of the kits from her stash (that's right, we're a two-stash household), a Revell 1/542 USS Forrestal aircraft carrier. It was a 1971 boxing of the kit, but what caught me eye took me back to when I was a kid. There, on the side of the box, was an ad for the Revell Master Modelers Club.
For the princely sum of One American Dollar (a fortune for kids in 1971!), you would receive a tool kit complete with tweezers, clamps, cement applicator, and body putty spatula; a wallet size Membership Card; an Engraved Membership Certificate; and a subscription to the Revell magazine Together. The premise was to get kids interested into the hobby for the long run, since you started out as a basic Modeler and, as you built more models, worked your way up to Grand Master Modeler. The lure of a 32-page Color Catalog and advance information on their new releases didn't hurt.
I was a little young for the Revell club, but I was a "member" of another club that in its later years was closely tied to Revell models. The club in question was the Young Model Builders Club, later known as the Model Builders Club of America. They would advertise in various magazines, and in the early years would feature kits from the domestic model manufacturers like Aurora, Lindberg, Monogram, and Revell. These clubs operated differently from the Master Modelers Club--you would pay a fee (usually in the neighborhood of 50 to 75 cents, later it went up to a dollar) and you'd receive a model kit. You would also receive a one-time "Free Gift" in the form of a tool set, this time consisting of a file, pair of scissors, paints (Pactra paints, too!), paint brush, and a tube of cement (usually the Pactra non-toxic stuff that didn't work). The model kit would arrive with a small leaflet that gave a brief background on the subject and perhaps a few hints and tips.
Every month, another model kit would arrive--with an invoice. As a kid, you don't sweat the details, but the way the club worked was that you'd get a model every month. You were obligated to buy the next four kits, then you could quit at any time. Now, for you Children of the '70's and '80's, does this sound familiar? If I said that the mailing address in the later years was Fruitridge Avenue in Terre Haute, Indiana, would that ring any bells? How about the name Columbia House? Ahhh, you remember now, don't you....I can't say for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if both were managed by the same group.
I was a "member" on at least two occasions, and I still have one of the files running arund here. The kits I built include the Revell USS Missouri, replete with flat bottom and in that ever-popular scale of 1/535. I built at least two of them, as well as two of the Columbia/Eagle Apollo Spacecraft kits, one of the Deal's Wheels or Tom Daniels VW Van kits, an early rendition of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, and at least one armor kit.
These clubs got young people interested in the hobby. Between them, the Airfix Modelers Club and the International Plastic Modelers Society, they've worked for years to entice new members into the hobby. While the Revell and Airfix clubs are memories, the IPMS lives on....
Thanks for reading. Be good to one another, and, as alway, I bid you peace.