A few months ago I picked up a postcard advertising JerseyFest, a fair dedicated to the art of creative model kits and statues like Predators, vampires and robots. I thought “Great, a weekend event in the area geared towards me besides New York Comic Con.” But then an unexpected change in my work schedule moved my days off to Monday and Tuesday. So I considered that plan scrapped as well as the rest of the foreseeable future. Then just a few weeks later, circumstances changed again and I was back to a Saturday-Sunday weekend again.
My weekends can be fun again!


My kind o’ town!

It wasn’t really a large affair like a Star Trek convention but there was a terrific flow of activity between the seminars and vendor rooms, proving the hobby to be alive and well. I just haven’t been around it for a while.

I tend to gravitate to vendor rooms first because seeing people hover around merchandise proves irresistible to my eyes! I remember the ‘garage-kit’ scene exploded into popularity in the ’90s, giving rise to products like classic and contemporary movie monsters and comic book characters that just weren’t available in mass market injection plastic kits. You would find these specialty kits sold in hobby shops, not at the usual K-Mart. The medium of choice for smaller companies (and individuals) to produce their kits were vinyl and resin. As I circled around the sales floor, I noticed the market was dominated mostly by products cast in resin, not so much vinyl. Even though I was familiar with the materials by reputation, I’ve only built plastic kits thus far so this was still virgin territory for me.

airbrush demo

Airbrush demo at JerseyFest 2013

If my work schedule hadn’t been altered previously, I would’ve tried attending a workshop about painting a female model kit. That would entail purchasing all the materials (including an airbrush with compressor) at a reduced cost. But the following schedule reversal came after the registration deadline had already passed. However the instructing artist held a small seminar the day after, demonstrating how to build up skin tones with an airbrush, and I could see I missed out on practicing a great hobby technique, not to mention getting a sexy rendition of Anne Hathaway.

RC Catwoman

Finished model from the JerseyFest painting workshop

Anne Hathaway by Mark Selinger

Anne Hathaway by Mark Selinger inspired the model kit

At the end of the seminar I made mental notes unrelated to this fine day:

  • I should buy a spare camera battery for my old Canon Digital Elph in case the first one dies from a long day of shooting, preferably before NYCC comes around next month.
  • The camera on the Samsung Galaxy Player S absolutely sucks even as a back-up. The photos are never in focus on a bright day, let alone a moderately lit room. (But then again I never considered the camera as a buying point in the first place.) On the plus side, my photos could be backed up online immediately, but what’s the point if they look terrible? Yes, a spare battery for my main camera is a good idea.

After some cheap food at the concession stand, I went back to the vendor room to buy… something. It’s not like I really needed to buy a kit because currently I don’t have much time outside of work, let alone at-the-ready resources to complete a model satisfactorily. But after circling a few times around the tables examining resin kits up close, either new or completed, I felt compelled now to get one just to deepen my hobby experience.

When I was little, plastic kits were the only game in town, and I got used to their by-the-numbers locator pins and perfect straight seams. It caused me to be unfairly biased against the handmade nature of resin and vinyl models because of all the possible flaws inherent in the creation process like air bubbles. I say ‘possible’ because each casting is unique. Depending on how the material flows when it cures, a bubble would never be in the same spot twice. But there are materials and processes to overcome those errors; it’s up to me as the modeler to forge the path to a beautiful final product.

I had my heart set on the shuttlecraft from Star Trek TNG’s first season (described as a bar of soap!), but that wasn’t available, so I chose my second favorite design: the Chaffee, a shuttlecraft from starship Defiant seen in only one episode of Deep Space Nine. I was already imagining what colors to use and how to paint the deep recessed areas of the model.

Shuttlecraft Chaffee by Millennia Models International

Can you spot the bubble I have to mend?

Next to me, a boy probably ten years old held a small resin kit of the starship Defiant in one hand, and cash in the other ready to pay the seller. The smile on the boy’s face showed he was happy he made his choice, and he was excited to tackle the kit.

I now know that same feeling.