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The Full Moon or How I Learned to Love Modeling

I knew I was a modeler from early on… when I had spent hundreds of my parents’ dollars on models that sat in my closet growing what was (I hoped to be) layers of dust that helped increase the value of these forgotten boxes for when someone was going to invent eBay just a decade or so in the future and I would sell them all for hundreds, if not thousands, of times what I originally paid for them (remember before eBay when things would actually grow value? Yeah… I don’t remember back that far either… ahem). Except models don’t age like wine (I don’t drink wine, is old wine even any good? Sounds nasty!) and neither do modelers, unfortunately :/

More models in the closet (but this time I am using them!).
More models in the closet (but this time I am using them!).

Every time I’d visit home (Dallas, Tx if you need to know) I’d rummage through my old closet looking for things that either fit whatever weight I was at at the time (is a modeler’s weight fluctuation normal? My hypothesis would be YES, yes it is), or try to find things to sell. And the easiest things to sell I knew, were always the models still stacked neatly in the corner, some even in their original packaging! But somewhere back in my brain I’d say, I’m gonna do these someday! And then another part of me would say, Letters from old girlfriends! Let’s read these for 15 hours straight! Dang… that girl was CRAZY! And then after a few nights of doing this exact same thing it’d be time to go back to wherever was home that year and I’d forget about those old models for another undetermined while.

Then, just a few years ago, a couple sorta chance things came together at the same time.

  1. My sister had gotten me one of the Universal Wolf Man re-issue kits from Polar Lights (© 1999?) that she had found used at some secondhand store. It was still in its shrink-wrap and she had just bought it for me because she knew the Wolf Man was my favorite of the classic Universal Monsters, not thinking that this would actually be the thing to finally get me into modeling. It would be a fun thing to have on a shelf of trinkets and whatnots that are my primary decorating scheme, me, being a dude and all, and that seeming to be our favorite method of said decoration. Box of old G.I. Joe parts! Those will be AWESOME to be on my desk and maybe I’ll even glue some odd arms and weapons to the bathroom mirror, as I said to my current girlfriend’s growing horror.
  2. I found a used self-healing hobby mat cutting board-thing (is that what they’re called?) when digging through a pile of fresh throw-out (not throw-up, throw-out, which is something all New Yorkers love to dig through since there is always someone either being kicked out of this town or realizing they can’t hack it here and moving to the Bay Area and telling everyone it’s where they always wanted to be (so, maybe some of you caught me, I did steal this joke from 30 Rock but I have found it to be true over and over again, so the theft is for a good purpose: Truth! And no disrespect to San Francisco itself, it is a beautiful city and blahblahblah thank you for not being upset…)
  3. I was happily out of a job and needed things to do to make it look like I was doing things other than catching up on classic Anime…
Now I have a full fledged Nerdery of my very own!
Now I have a full fledged Nerdery of my very own!

So I took my found mat and tore the yellowed shrink-wrap off of the Wolf Man and opened the box… and then suddenly I was transported to eight hours later. My hands covered in superglue and some blood from constantly gluing my fingers together and tearing them apart (before I knew such a word as Cyanoacrylate existed, and before I learned that you needed cement and not glue for most things model related), my forehead covered in tiny beads of deep concentration sweat, and my shirt covered in all the hues of whatever kind of paint I could find kept underneath the kitchen sink, you know, the ones that come in gallon-sizes instead of 1/4 oz. size.

I had horrifically sanded half of Wolf Man’s face right off trying to erase a seam line with whatever sandpaper was in our tool bucket (“What’s a tool bucket?” you ask? Well, a tool bucket is something all young New Yorkers have that is a… a medley or a salmagundi if you will, of all the tools you have ever stolen (not on purpose) from all of your collective roommates from all the times you had to be up and out of an apartment and have the entire thing dismantled and spackled and caulked within two hours time before you move to your next apartment. The tool bucket is your accumulation of “borrowed” tools from throughout the years of having to move every four months. It contains exactly one screwdriver with switchable flat-head or Phillip’s head (who’s Phillip and how’d he get a screwdriver named after him? Mark my words here and now, there will be a Justin’s head screwdriver someday! I may not know what it’s purpose or shape, but it will be!!!) with a paint-covered handle, two pairs of regular pliers (both broken), one pair of needle-nose pliers that are missing the rubber grips that make it so it hurts your hands like crazy to use them, one plastic spackling spatula with dried spackle all over it rendering it mostly unusable, one plastic grocery bag full of rusted nails and screws that stabs you every time you pick it up to see what it is, and finally two pieces of sandpaper of grits that are more like serrated knives than they are sandpaper. This number 50 grit is what I used to erase seam lines that day.)

Currently working on Dragon's 1:35 Heuschrecke, along with needing to reorganize my paints!
Currently working on Dragon’s 1:35 Heuschrecke, along with needing to reorganize my paints!

With all of my ridiculous happenings aside, I did realize that I had just been afraid of my models for all of those years. And I don’t know what finally gave me the courage to decide to work on (mangle and destroy) the Wolf Man that day, but I loved every second of those eight hours that vanished into thin air… well, not thin air (I also don’t think I knew about proper ventilation yet) since the air was actually very thick with all sorts of fumes and harmful chemicals—you know what? Maybe that’s how my eight hours vanished, maybe I was under the influence or had brain damage—but anyway it happened, that day I finally became a modeler… and my brain damage has been downgraded from “Extreme” to “Just leave him alone with his toys and he’ll be fine…”

Justin Skrakowski

I am a capital D Dude. I like Rock & Roll in my music and Blood & Guts in my movies. I was born in Dallas, Texas and currently live in Manhattan with my girlfriend who is awesome and beautiful.
I am also a journalist, and I have a book available on Amazon entitled Strongman, you should totally check it out!
My first model I actually finished was AMT’s 1:25 Munster Koach.
I’d like to thank George for letting me share some thoughts on this wonderful site :)