Sunday, March 27, 2016

Inspiration: Bob Steinbrunn

I’ve met many excellent modelers in my 30 years in the hobby and seen the work of hundreds online and in print, but there are a handful that have truly inspired me, whose techniques, craftsmanship, or approach to the hobby shaped the modeler I am today. This is the first of a series of articles to acknowledge their contributions to my participation in this wonderful hobby.

You may not recognize Bob Steinbrunn’s name, but he’s been building models for more than 30 years. I saw his work in early 1985 when he published his first article in FineScale Modeler. He described his build of the old Monogram T-6 Texan, eliminating what semblance there was of detail in the cockpit and superdetailing it using basic modeling techniques and sheet plastic; the result was a cockpit that looked better than any of the resin aftermarket alternatives on the market today. He extended the same treatment to other areas of the model, such as the landing gear bays, flaps, and engine. He followed up this article with many others over the years, focusing mostly on 1/48 WW2 aircraft.

A selection of Bob Steinbrunn's articles in FineScale Modeler.
Bob’s articles showed the modeling community what you can do with simple materials and a bit of skill. I’m convinced that the scratchbuilding he showed in FSM sparked the origin of the cottage industry as we know it today. Modelers saw his work and wanted the same results (albeit without the commitment of time at the bench), and we now buy photoetch detail, resin cockpits, and aftermarket detailing parts from dozens of aftermarket companies. This was a turning point in the hobby.

Bob eventually moved on from aircraft, turning his attention to armor – scratchbuilding a 1/6 scale M5A1 Stuart, which is documented in a book he published in 2011 – and ships – such as a mostly scratchbuilt 1/192 scale USS Kidd. Bob is modeler par excellence, and I often think about his modeling as I hone my own humble skills. His modeling reminds me that I don’t have to buy expensive aftermarket to detail my models. If I had to pick a favorite modeler, Bob Steinbrunn would be that man.

Read more about other inspiring modelers.


  1. As fantastic as Bob's FSM articles were,,,,the aftermarket industry already existed before FSM came along.

  2. That Otaki Corsair article was very influential on me. I had no idea stuff like that could be done when I was mashing models together with orange tube glue! I still have that issue. Bob's work definitely inspired me. Thanks for posting this.