The year was 1965…and I was 16 going on 17. Then I saw this collector’s issue of Scale Modeler and I bought on the spur of the moment!
Scanned image from my collection of Scale Modeler
In 1965 I had already built most of Monogram 1/48 scale airplane kits.
This is what I found on a forum yesterday morning…
I could have written it (well some parts of it).
Scale Modeler Magazine (SMM) published bimonthly by Challenge Incorporated North Highwood, California debuting in December 1965 was from the mid-1960s till mid-1970s the foremost source for news & information regarding new scale model kit releases & reviews. Arriving on scene near the crest of the post-WWII scale model hobby boom it was among the first publications aimed directly at hobbyists like myself desperate for information regarding new kit releases well as reviews about them.
In their September-October 1966 edition SMM included a printed insert to survey readers regarding modeling subjects they’d like to see produced, the first reader survey of its kind conducted by any contemporary hobby interest publication (I’d likely submitted the Reggiane Re.2000 for consideration), in their February-March 1967 they’d published the results and is reprinted below in its entirety with historical updates since its publication:
The Readers Speak – Results Of Our Modeler’s Survey
The letters continue to pour in but out of the chaos that five thousand plus survey returns can produce, Scale Modeler has been able to draw several significant and far reaching conclusions.
First and foremost, is the informed caliber of today’s modeler [sic, ed.] As we have pointed out before, he is neither twelve years old nor is he gullible. On the contrary, his knowledge of what he is modeling is usually extensive.
He is discriminating in his purchases and, if the kit warrants it, he is willing to spend quite a bit more to get something extra. Quality impresses him and he is quick to spot the hackneyed and the inferior. For this reason, the manufacturing of scale model kits has become a very competitive as well as hazardous business. Guess wrong or underestimate the modeler’s selectivity and a firm, even a big one, can go out of business fast.
Although our survey is only some six weeks along as this is written and we still are receiving letters at the rate of five hundred per week, a consensus has been building and it has taken the following form.
Fully half of those who replied to our questionnaire opted to write letters, going far beyond our brief listing. We appreciated this and we read them all. Preliminary among the comments after the perennial one that the survey was a good idea, was the thought expressed in many ways, that his was the first time the modeler had been asked about what he though and wanted and that it was hoped the manufactures would take heed.
We would like to reassure our readers that several companies, all of which well known, have already expressed interest in what they though and want to see the results of our survey as soon as it is completed. Two have already begun tooling up their plants for the production of models which, heretofore, they never realized were so wanted by the modeling public.
In addition to getting their thoughts of their chests, many readers also took the time to both praise and criticize some of the features in Scale Modeler [S/M, ed.]. A few issues back, we told you that S/M was to be your magazine, and you lost no time making your opinions known. We must add however, that the majority of your points were well taken and although you got us right in the ego, we will try to adopt as many of your ideas as possible.
Getting back to your kit selections . . . we found the following comments particularly noteworthy. In fact they were voiced so often that we feel there is a definite trend to the thing of our readers.
1. Most modelers are tired of the same old standbys. Unless the kits are superdetailed [sic, ed.], much larger, or depict a different model previously unavailable, they would rather say bye bye to Mustangs and Zeros et. al.
2. Every modeler who wrote to us generally admitted that he [single gender OK for the day here, ed.] would be willing to pay a little more to get a little more. All would rather have one or two well done plane, car, ship or armor kits than a hose of inaccurate, poorly researched models.
3. Almost everyone evinced a keen interest in the neglected between-the-wars plastics which encompass the period 1920 to 1940 [arguably from 1919 as seen from today IMHO not counting the Spanish Civil War, ed.], and include military, civilian and racing planes.
4. Our readers also wanted to see a section devoted to readers’ submissions, a feature we begun with our sixth issue [September 1966, ed.] and intend to sustain.
Before going into the selections chosen by you, one more market reaction was noted, possibly the most important one.
Every reader took the survey seriously. Many wrote us that they had tried repeatedly in the past to promote several kits that they wanted especially to see. Some have even gone so far as organize clubs [emphasis, ed.] for the purpose. Unfortunately, their requests have been ignored or turned down with a polite reply. That is until now.
We at Scale Modeler take great pleasure in announcing that many of your requests will soon be in the works. The model industry is waking up. Competition from overseas has been a major spur [emphasis added; incredibly true after the Cold War ended in 1992 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991, ed.] , but the resounding response from readers like yourselves has made the big difference.
For too many years scale modeling was thought to be in the same category with “hobby toys”, particularly by the manufacturers themselves. It is only now that many manufacturers have learned that scale modelers are serious people. With the emphasis away from pleasing the kids and focused instead on building an authentic replica, we can expect to see great strides made in accuracy, quality and the range of models available. If Scale Modeler has done anything to further this trend, it would be gratifying indeed.
And now the results of the survey in order of preference: [emphasis, ed.]
Kingfisher by Monogram in ¼ inch will be reviewed in next issue of S/M [June 1967, ed.]
First Place . . . tie between Vought Sikorsky Kingfisher and Douglas TBD Devestator.
The former will be out within a few months in 1/32 scale, the model, an OS2U-3 type was made from a three-view drawing appearing in our sister publication Air Classics. Meanwhile, preliminary work is underway on a model of the later.
Second Place . . . Martin B-10.
A fine aircraft ignored by manufacturers, no plans are in the works for its production, bet we have made contact with a forward looking firm which is giving the matter strong consideration. [i.e. Williams Brothers injected kit in 1/72 scale, ed.]
Third Place . . . Savoia Marchetti 79.
We knew this one was in production [i.e. Airfix 1/72 & Artiplast 1/50 injected kits, ed.] when we ran our survey and therefore omitted it. However, we got so many requests for it, we thought we would include it to prove that not all manufacturers are stuck on the same kits.
Fourth Place . . . Seversky P-35, another of the forgotten classics of the thirties, which many wanted super-detailed in 1/4” scale. [Williams Brothers 1/32 injected kit out first, wouldn’t be super-detailed but read on the Internet number of modelers have “improved” upon it over the decades, ed.]
Fifth Place . . . Curtis C-46 Commando, virtually submerged by the Goony bird’s publicity, this World War II workhorse was the biggest non-combat vote getter. [Williams Brothers again would be first getting their 1/72 injected kit out, ed.]
Sixth Place . . . Waco 10 . . . all respondents wanted a big, super-detailed model of this bird with moveable controls ala Monograms F3F and Gulfhawk. [Am assuming that’s been done over the ensuing 50 years, no? ed.]
Seventh Place . . . Bell Airacuda, also in quarter inch scale, although collectors of many models complained that 1/72 was the only to keep models from taking over the entire house. [Williams Brothers yet again got their 1/72 injected kit out first. So very little did the Author appreciate much less know that even as ink was drying monster-sized 1/72 kits never mind larger scale would soon be on the market ala the Monogram B-52D development work for which was well advanced then, ed.]
Eight Place . . . Tie among Mitsubishi Ki 21 Type 97 “Sally,” Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” and Kawanishi H3K1 flying boat “Emily.” The first two will eventually be brought out by L/S, the Japanese firm which did the Peggy that appeared in the issue Number 6 [i.e. the L/S 1/75 scale classic, ed.]. Since L/S and Nichimo are perhaps the two finest companies in Japan, these should be winners. [All were on the market before 1970 in 1/72 scale if memory serves right, ed.]
Ninth Place . . . Heinkel He 177 Grief . . . aircraft will be out next year by Faller, a German Maker, but may be hard to come by. [Find it criminally unbelievable Scale Modeler editors didn’t profess knowledge about Airfix coming out with their kit that very year – 1967. Did Airfix choose to keep this release Maximum Top Secret? Did Scale Modeler not want to act on rumors that it was about to be released, something else maybe? Primal screams of anger from this modeler still reverberating 50 years later! ed.]
Tenth Place. . . Curtis Shrike . . . again the call was for a super detailed model and readers called for extra parts to make model variations with, thus giving them a wider range of types, and were willing to pay more for same. [Have seen models of this bird over the years; super detailed ones with variations can’t say, those who know chime in, ed.]
Eleventh Place . . . Tie among Boeing F4B, P-12, P-26 all in quarter inch scale. It was felt the models now on the market of these ships were just too inadequate. Again super-detailing and size was the big feature, with lots of accessory parts for variation and prime attention paid to exacting detail. It was also found that in conjunction with these inter-war ship types Monogram’s treatment of the Grumman F3F should be extended to these classics also. [Was all this done over the ensuing 50 years, would love to know, ed.]
Twelfth Place . . . Lavochkin LA-5, included with these votes was the comment that most Russian WWII aircraft have been ignored by the manufacturers. [Airfix had the Yak 9D in 1963, Ilyushin Il-2 in 1964, Petlyakov Pe-2 in 1968, FROG the Tupolev SB-2 in 1969, Lavoshkin La-7 planned in 1971 but not released till 1975 which I think was around when Italeri came out with their La-5FN kit. I just don’t remember seeing any La-5 kits other than Italeri’s during the 1970s. ed.]
ARMOR [Professing blind ignorance for fear of being bashed to pulp won’t comment on this genera. ed.]
First Place . . . General Stuart M3A1 light tank used by British in western desert and christened “Honey”.
Second Place . . . General Grant with 75 mm gun also mainstay in western desert, early phase.
Third Place . . . German half track armored personnel carrier . . . sd.Kfz 250/1.
Fourth Place . . . American M-10 Tank destroyer with 76 mm gun.
Fifth Place . . . British Mk.I “Mother,” variation which first appeared on the Somme in 1916.
Sixth Place . . . Renault FT tank WW I. [This one I’ll comment on; why pray tell wasn’t there an injected kit on the market of this famous armor subject back then? ed.]
Seventh Place . . . Christie T3 Tank, pioneer of the early thirties and forerunner of Russian designs.
Eight Place . . . Russian T/34 76 [sic. ed.]. Only model of this type tank is T/34 [sic. ed.] 85 mm gun model by Revell which is no longer in production.
Many requests for Japanese tanks were received but these are now available from Japan in any store that stocks Japanese kits [Highlands Hobbies in North Highlands, California next to McClellan A.F.B. where I’d frequented in the late 1960s did stock them for sure, ed.]
First Place . . . RMS Titanic . . . the famous liner won by ratio of nearly three to one over its nearest competitor. Rumor has it that the Cunard White Star Liner would take dim view of a model being produced, as it would revive unpleasant memories. This seems a bit much when you consider the movies and best selling books written about this historic steamship. At any rate, two firms are definitely interested in this project, as a group of modelers who form the Titanic Enthusiasts of America (that’s the name) have collected all the photos etc. needed to do a comprehensive job. Model would be made in the three ft. overall class. [Yep, model kits were out not too long afterwards, ed.]
Second Place . . . German WW I sub (U-9) Kapitainleutnant Otto Weddigen commanding. Early sub sank three British battlecruisers in first weeks of WWI. Readers asked for clear plastic hull-half to reveal detailed interior. One firm has already undertaken the project. [Will have to do Internet research meantime y’all welcome to enlighten me, ed.]
Third Place . . . Carrier Enterprise Big “E” a scratch built model of which appeared in previous issue of Modeler [November 1966 ed.]. Kit will appear early next year. [Who’s I ask? ed.]
Of the thousands of questionnaires received all but a handful checked Hitler’s Mercedes Touring Car [emphasis, ed.], which was the biggest single vote getter in any category. Of all the models available the car manufacturers offer the widest range. Therefore, many classics ignored in other fields are already available in the car category. However, in addition to the Mercedes, numerous requests were made for Craig Breedlove’s “Spirit of America”. [emphasis, ed.]
In closing, we wish to tank all those who took the time to write to us. Time and space do not allow us to reduce all your requests and it must be noted that particular aircraft such as the McDonnell Moonbat [emphasis, ed.] and Japan’s Rita [emphasis i.e. Nakajima G8N, ed.], a four engine bomber will probably never appear except as scratch built projects [Both have been marketed since; how disgustingly presumptuous, do wanna hear disbelieving cat calls from our forum Japanese modelers right now! ed.].
However, many fine models which are out were requested by readers who in all probably, did not know that they were available. We are speaking of the Douglas A-20 Havoc, the Me. 410 [emphasis, ed.] (reviewed in last issue) [November 1966, ed.] and now the Arado 196. [emphasis; How so very true then in 1967. Decades before the Public Internet y’all only had print publications & word of mouth to go by, ed.] Others will be coming out shortly and if your local hobby store does not carry them, write to any of the specialist outfits which advertise in S/M; chances are they’ll have what you want.
The comments made on this forum thread are interesting if interested…
This is the issue where the survey results were found.
Scanned image from my collection of Scale Modeler
The first two pages.
Getting back to the survey, I don’t remember if I had answered it or not, but I remember buying Monogram’s Vought Kingfisher and Douglas Devastator. Both were eventually built and given away.
This is why I bought them again later in the late 1980s and they are part of my stash.
In the 1980s Internet was still in its infancy then and WordPress did not exist.
While the term “blog” was not coined until the late 1990s, the history of blogging starts with several digital precursors to it. Before “blogging” became popular, digital communities took many forms, including Usenet, commercial online services such as GEnie, BiX and the early CompuServe, e-mail lists and Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). In the 1990s, Internet forum software, such as WebEx, created running conversations with “threads”. Threads are topical connections between messages on a metaphorical “corkboard”. Some have likened blogging to the Mass-Observation project of the mid-20th century.
Getting back to my addiction of collecting Scale Modeler Magazine I started reflecting on how many aviation magazines I have collected during the years and where all this will go when I am gone…
However I still have more addictions that I have added since reuniting with my forgotten hobby in December 2013. One is writing about it, but foremost it’s reading about other modelers’ addictions on WordPress…