Friday, February 19, 2010

LEM

Sometime during my early to mid teens, I assembled and painted my favourite model kit, the Apollo Command Module/Lunar Excursion Module set. I was never much of a modeller, and most of the kits I attempted to built turned out poorly. But enraptured as I was by the space sciences, I devoted more time and effort to this kit than any other, carefully filing down the rough edges of the individual parts, taking my time when glueing the pieces together, and choosing and applying the correct paints to the correct places. Somehow I even managed to apply the decals at the right angles.

I still have both pieces of the kit, but time has not been kind. The Command Module is missing its long-range antenna, and the LEM is missing all kinds of protrusions - antennae, landing gear, retrorockets...

Building model kits has a ritualistic aspect. It's as if by carefully recreating a vehicle or character or landscape in miniature, you somehow attune yourself to the essence of the thing you're recreating; somehow participating in and sharing its power. Building these kits certainly made me feel as though in some mystical way I were a part of the space race, at least if my still-potent dreams of space travel are any indication...

5 comments:

AllanX said...

My life was building models, plastic models and model rockets, between the ages of 10 and 14. If that's the Revell kit, I had it too. I was lucky to have an airbrush and compressor and almost know how to use them. The version I had had gold foil that you applied to the engine stage, if memory serves. It also came with a couple of astronaut figures, the flag, the laser reflector experiment and other stuff. They were all attached to a lunar surface stand that had astronaut footprints stamped into it. Hell, why am I describing all this shit? This is the Internet.

http://www.toycollector.com/gallery/scale-model-news/Revell_Lunar_Module.jpg

Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

This type of model-building is one of the rare forms of recreation that actually involves "re-creation".

I think it is nothing short of magic that a bit of plastic and some glue are all it takes to catapult your mind to the lunar surface, or Kursk, or the Alamo, or the 41st Millennium, or anywhere else.

"The Jeffemy Within" said...

I too had a kit almost like Allan describes. It didn't have the laser reflector pieces, and Buzz Aldrin had a spacesuit but no EVA gear. In my kit, you were supposed to glue him into the lunar module, where he could look out the window, but I didn't have the heart to seal him forever inside that cramped and sterile cockpit.

I also never painted the thing because I was terribly inept with brushes. I've only gotten into brush painting since seeing some of the masterworks in the Uffizi gallery in Florence. I undertstand that's a large jump from decorating a lunar module. I thought the foil and the decals were cool, though.

My favourite model was a durable Eagle One from Space:1999. That one I actually painted a little bit, as the decals were not very extensive. I also has a few cars, airplanes, and Star Trek gear, all crusted over with that gooey model glue. Windows that were supposed to be clear were especially coated with that stuff. Mostly, I just remember the fumes.

Earl J. Woods said...

I had the large Eagle One model kit! But Sean smashed it into a million pieces. Oh well.

Sean Woods said...

If you didn't hold me down and spit on my face, I probably wouldn't have smashed your model.