Miniatures make big splash in W.Va.

June 13, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Steve Jones will spend more than 300 hours building a plane he knows will never fly.

It's not that Jones is a pessimist - just the fact the F-4 Phantom 11 he's assembling is made of plastic and fits comfortably on a tabletop.

The Chambersburg, Pa., insurance adjuster was one of several Tri State-area model builders on hand Sunday afternoon at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg.

The vice president of the Tri State Scale Modelers club in Hagerstown, Jones and his fellow model builders may spend months patiently gluing, cutting and modifying hundreds of plastic pieces into cars, planes and spaceships.


"This is just what we do," Jones said.

While the basic model kit for his Phantom cost about $70, Jones uses a tackle box filled with tools that rival those of a jeweler in his attempt to make his model perfect when he enters it in an upcoming national contest.

With the competition for nothing more than trophies and the respect of fellow modelers, the hobby is far from kid's stuff for Jones and his friends.

"On the national level of competition, you've got to get it perfect," he said.

Ed Warner, 70, of Hagerstown, has spent the last two months working on an Italian World War II-era tank that, when finished, will fit in the palm of his hand.

"I like armor and aircraft," said Warner, who has been building models for about 65 years.

If pressed to make a choice, the Navy veteran said he prefers the tanks.

"If you make a mistake, you can just paint over it and say it happened in battle," he said.

Club President David Monet, 35, of Hagerstown, spent more than two painstaking hours on Sunday installing seatbelts in an airplane cockpit no bigger than his thumb.

He recently spent a year building a dragon made from vinyl similar to the siding found on the side of a house.

"It was tricky just trying to figure out how to paint it," Monet said.

Monet said he used to spend a lot of time alone in his workshop, but the model club has allowed him to get of the house more often.

"I used to be kind of reclusive," he said. "Now we can get together and talk about what everybody's working on."

With about 30 members, Tri-State Modelers is trying to attract more young people to the hobby, Jones said.

"It's great for hand-eye coordination and it teaches kids to follow directions," Jones said.

Jones, who was introduced to the hobby by his father when he was 10, has gotten his own 10-year-old son on the model-building kick.

"It's tremendous patience therapy. You will learn how to be patient," Jones said.

The club does not charge a membership and meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at the Morris Frock American Legion hall in Hagerstown, Jones said.

"We're not picky," Jones said. "We don't care what you build, as long as you come to the meetings and have a good time."

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