Sunday, November 9, 2014

Three dollar decals

I recently wrote about my first hobby shop, Carl’s Hobbies in tiny Inverness, Florida. As I was thinking back to those days enjoying the shop and the hobby, I remembered the excitement of discovering Microscale decals.

I first learned about them from an advertisement in Scale Modeler. There was a short list of new releases, and it seemed that – wow! – I wasn’t restricted to using the decals that came with the kits I bought. I could actually make my models unique!

Carl didn’t carry Microscale decals, but I asked him if he could special order them. He could. The price…$3.00! I couldn’t believe it! That’s a lot of damn money for just decals! Hell, the Monogram 1/72 F-15 I wanted them for cost me $6.00 at the toy store across the street! Luckily my friend Steve offered up $1.50 for the Streak Eagle markings that were included on the sheet, so my pain was halved, but still!

My first decal sheet. Note the $3.00 price tag!

I still have that very same decal sheet (I’ve used some of the markings as you can see), along with dozens of others that I’ve acquired over the years. I’m almost embarrassed at my stash of decals, but I’m glad I have them.

It’s amazing how much we now pay for decals given the three dollar price tag you can see on the Microscale decals above. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’ll be the first to support the cottage industry and argue the value of, not just decals, but our hobby as a whole, but these retrospective voyages back into my earliest experiences in the hobby sometimes prompt me to pause and assess what it is that I enjoy about scale modeling. For me, variation is important, and at the very least decals – even inaccurate decals, as many of those early Microscale decals were at times – allow us to create models that reflect our interests and creativity. They offer ideas and possibilities every time I browse through them.

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