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The Model Citizen: Cleaning The Model Room

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The Model Citizen: Cleaning The Model Room

"If we spent a few minutes organizing and putting things away, modeling might be a tad more enjoyable."

Tom Geiger
September 1998

One of the chores we always put at the end of our list is cleaning the model room. In our zest to start a new project, it's always much easier to push aside the projects currently taking up space, than to properly box up, categorize and move them to a logical location.

This continues until we are working in a bench area of twelve inches square and we have a hopeless tangle of parts. Sometimes this works to our advantage. I never would have figured that the '66 T-Bird interior fit into the '61 Ranchero, other than the two kits got pushed into the same pile in my "bench top traffic jam". Much like the collision of chocolate and peanut butter in the Reeces Cup commercials, sometimes these things just occur.

We live with this chaos, wading up to the bench through the piles of open kit boxes that we either were using for reference or stole a part from for one of the projects in the aforementioned pile. We forge onward, like a plow through deep snow, attempting to model under these less than ideal conditions.

As time goes on, we develop a haze as to what part actually goes to which project. This has the potential of developing some real interesting projects… if we ever actually finished anything. I used to wonder how articles referred to a piece on a trophy winning model as, "from the parts box", with no clue to it's origin. Now I not only understand this, I live there.

I personally believe that this annual event is the end result of a chain reaction of frustration, atmospheric conditions, procrastination guilt and the proper allignment of the planets. Sparks fly, there's a brief roar of thunder in the distance and there you are… cleaning up.

For me, the annual cleansing was a build up of frustration finally capped with the event, "Where the heck is my Falcon parts box??"

This started out a very minor quest for a part that a friend needed to complete his '61 Ranchero. The box should have been very accessable. I know I just saw it. Again, my memory says that the '55 Cameo kit is a recent release. Who knows?

Anyway, I started with that five minute search that usually causes more disarray. On my second pass, which was made more difficult by the first pass, we had one of those "Hold everything!" moments.

An earth shattering thought! If we spent a few minutes organizing and putting things away, modeling might be a tad more enjoyable.

My model room is a glorious disarray of all the hobby has to offer. A 10' x 14' former bedroom with a 6' closet jammed solid. There is an old china cabinet in which I display my finished projects. My work bench is an old hollow core door wrapped in brown craft paper. It sits on two old night stands. A microwave cart is jammed into the corner, holding my 13" TV. The opposite corner has my spray booth, a file cabinet and an antique rocking horse that my wife detests, so it's up in 'my room'. I've been told that there is a roll top desk somewhere under the kits.

Every inch of the room from the closet, to the shelves over the work bench, to all the floor space screams, "MODELS!" It's almost like the Revell truck ran off the road and rolled over a couple of times. I long ago stopped worrying about space to store my collection. Now I am concerned about floor load.

I start this undertaking by matching up all the open kits with the proper box tops.These I put into spare slots in the closet, opening up a little floor space. I consolidate the remnants of several Jeep related parts kits into a new shoebox entitled, "Jeep Parts" and fold up the kit boxes for flat storage. I sort the unfinished projects off the work bench and into their own respective boxes. I leave these out for now, since I'm sure that I'll find more of each project as I dig.

The motherlode of stuff, in the center of the floor, is like an architectural dig. The goodies found can be categorized into time periods as one digs deeper. Not periods such as "Colonial" or "American Indian", but those of "Fall Englishtown Show" and "NNL East timeframe". Stuff I bought at the hobby shop and the last three shows I attended are found as purchased, but never put away.

Several empty Ertl cases are brought down from the attic and are quickly filled with recent purchases that won't fit into the now swollen closet. Fliers for model shows, now in the past, are sent for recycling.

I find the June '97 issue of "Scale Auto Enthusiast" that I'd been looking for, along with kit instructions to "Billy Carter's Redneck Pickup" that I never knew was missing.

Under the workbench, we retrieve several kit parts, a small photoetched piece and the parking light for my Fiat 500. We take a break from cleaning long enough to glue this light back onto the Fiat before it goes into hiding once more.

There are several sparkling discoveries of kits or parts I'd been looking for. We lost our momentum from time to time, examining the '64 Valiant and '63 Nova Convertible that we hadn't seen in awhile. I reread an article from "Old Cars Weekly" prior to filing it in my "Light Commercial Model Ideas" folder in the filing cabinet.

Stray instructions find their way back into kit boxes. Decal sheets from God knows what kit, wind up in the "Decals" folder in the filing cabinet. We come across a '60 Comet built up we didn't know we owned and an All American Models '61 Fury resin kit that I almost ordered again.

Once the workbench has been cleared, I wrap it in fresh brown craft paper. I carefully organize the tools and accessories on the bench and shelves above it. It's gotten late and I notice that it's dark outside. The family has not dared to interupt me as I turn my space back into habitable. I know my wife is quietly rejoicing downstairs.

I look around and I'm pleased with the results. I wonder what all the procrastination was about. It wasn't all that bad a chore. I flick on the TV and sink into my modeling chair. I pull a recent project down off the shelf and start to look it over with the thought of actually finishing it this time.

I start to think about new models I want to build. My thoughts are as clear as a kid on the first day back to school. I'm off to a fresh start, ready for anything. Mission accomplished. I again swear to myself that I will keep it clean THIS time.

Oh, and by the way…. I never did find those darn Falcons!

Copyright 1998 by Tom Geiger, All Rights Reserved, Used with permission.

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