Friday, November 7, 2014

Model Kits: A dying hobby..

Facing the generation gap..

I went to a hobby shop located on a basement in Bandar Utama.
It was my lucky day because I met an old-timer who was manning the store.
There, I asked if there are classes for model kit building.
"We hold workshops once a month on weekends, everyone can attend," he said.
Then, I went along, having a conversation with the man.
He told me that in Kuala Lumpur, there are only two hobby kit stores.
One was the Tamiya outlet in Bandar Utama where he is based, the other, a legacy store in Sungai Besi.
Kids nowadays, said the old-timer, are not keen in building hobby kits.
"It's different from our generation, we have move lively hobbies back in the days," he said.

An old-timer at work on his kit

Hobby kit modelling clubs such as this one is becoming scarce
Honing patience..

My late father used to buy hobby kits for me.
Back in the days, I remember building a set of Tamiya British Soldiers (1:35 scale) that he bought for RM3.80.
In the 70s, these kits were quite affordable. At the time, the Japanese Yen was even lower than the Malaysian Ringgit.
As time progresses with inflation, the same kit costs 10 times as much.
My first "serious" kit was an Airfix warplane. 
After school, I spent my time at home building it with a tube of Airfix glue.
That was it. I haven't the skills to paint it.
Later, when I was in Secondary school, the first kit that I built and painted was a Tamiya German Panzar Kampfwagen Ausf F/G.
It was hand-painted and I added camouflage to it. To me, it was a small achievement. Having built something out of box and seeing it take form as a tank.

The British Soldier set

One of the first tanks I built and painted
The reality

Kids aren't interested anymore in hobby kits.
Today, we have the Sony Playstation and X-Box generation.
And at school, kids have tremendous pressure to perform. Right after classes, they head straight for extra classes to prepare for exam.
This was not the case when I was a teenager.
Despite having to fetch my granny from our family shop in Jalan Raja Bot and head home on a taxi to Jalan Genting Kelang, I found time to keep myself occupied.
Even when I became employed, I still have the penchant to purchase a hobby kit.
The last piece I bought, was a Tamiya Early Production Tiger I tank.

I bought a 1:35 scale kit similar to this six years ago
To get the details correct, building a hobby kit can be time consuming.
Straight out of the box, you will be staring at pieces of plastic.
If you put in some effort to paint the parts before assembling it, the components will slowly take shape and form into a miniature military vehicle.
Some people even showcase their skills by taking part in modelling competition. 
They will display a diorama and judged according to their skillset.
Nowadays, such events are unheard of.
It's no surprise that in the years to come, hobby stores will cease to exist...

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