Model Build: That time I accidentally became an award winning model maker!

The story of how I came about building RAM, a mecha-figure from the Net Warriors series of Hobby Craft models, is more interesting than the model itself. I refer to the whole episode as “That time I accidentally became an award winning model builder”. If you think me winning a model building contest is surprising I can tell you that no one was more surprised than myself, so let me explain.

The story begins sometime in the mid 90’s when I first started attending science fiction conventions. While I have always been a genre fan, I almost had to be dragged by friends to my first convention, Con*cept in Montreal, as I was not entirely convinced I would enjoy the experience. Suffice it to say that I not only found my milieu but was surprised to see that the convention touched upon many other aspects of fandom than the fiction itself, SF oriented plastic models being one of them. I was immediately taken by the variety and quality of the many models on display. I noted that people could vote for their favorite models, but did not think much of it at the time. But seeing more models the following year, I vowed that I would build one myself to participate in the fun. This pledge was one that went unfulfilled for a number of years, just one of those things that just seem to fall by the wayside as time goes on.

That changed the day I stumbled upon a trove of cheaply priced robot model kits in a department store where I picked up this RAM kit and three others. Now I suspected that these would not be the best quality models, but given my limited experience this was actually exactly what I needed as I knew I would not be able to do justice with the build anyhow. I considered it a trial-and-error, practice project. However, with the intent to bring it to the next convention, I set out to build that model to the very best of my abilities.

The build was straight forward and for the painting, all Testors enamels, I created two variants of blue and green mixtures to mimic the box art. This was also my first attempt at ‘weathering’ although at the time I didn’t I barely knew about washes or dry-brushing. I wanted more than just a stand alone model so I made a simple wood base with some quarter round ‘Corderon” moulding which I lightly varnished. On this, I created a crude plaster ‘Island” with a single embedded rock and some sand for texture. I remember being concerned on how the unstable model would stand up, and forming grooves for the feet before the plaster set. I can’t recall exactly what I used to keep the feet clean of the plaster, but I think I just used sections of a plastic bags wrapped around the feet to mold the contours before the plaster dried. Once dry, I lightly painted some brown and green into the base. The only real ‘mod’ to the model – my first ‘mod’ to any model ever – was to add a tiny aim sight wire loop at the end of the rifle. The end result, shown here, was not bad, but hardly anything special.

With the model completed I just waited for the convention to begin, and right after the weekend registration sign up, proceeded directly to the model display room so that I could plunk it down on a table after filling out a simple form. Aside from admiring all the other model entrants occasionally the rest of the weekend, I pretty much forgot about it with the exception of hoping to remember to pick it up at the end of the convention.


My surprise came on Sunday afternoon when I did go to retrieve it. There was a woman there, not one of the volunteers running the convention as far as I knew, and as I went to pick my model up she asked me my name and then exclaimed to me “You won a prize.” Certain that a mistake had been made, she explained that I won third prize in the “Robot” category. The evident look of shock on my face made her add “There were four Robots, and yours came in third in the voting.” which she said with an understanding smile. I even got a prize, a brand new paperback novel of Star Trek Voyager #14: Marooned along with the award itself which consisted of a plastic laminated paper with a minuscule trailing white ribbon sticking out.

The prize novel is very fitting as I was never an ST Voyager fan so it was indicative of my merit. The book however does offer one clue in that it was printed in 1997, so I at least know that the event was held on or after that year.

I never bothered looking up what the organization was that handed out the award, and have been curious ever since. Aside from the “Model Contest: Third Place” designation all the award has is a stylized logo for SFMBA, and “Science Fiction Model Builders’ Association”. Looking up the club online today brings scant information. The best I could do was find a Fancyclopedia entry stating that it was a Toronto club, and another discussion thread saying that it was an Ottawa club. If anyone knows more on the history of the SFMBA please let me know.

I’m also curious about the entire model set of this Net Warriors series of Hobby Craft models. After a nearly twenty-five years hiatus, I am currently building a second kit from the series that I bought that day, one called CO-RUPT. And someday I’ll get around to building the others I have, E-MALE and SIR-FUR.

And that was how I became an ‘award winning’ model builder. Hey, at least there was one other model robot there that day that got less votes than mine, right?


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