Building: Introduction

Location of Brian Sherriff's model shop, 1970sWhen I was a solitary, bespectacled and distinctly oikotropic child growing up in Dundee, there was a close approximation to Heaven at the end of the red arrow in the photograph. That, in the late 1960s, was the location of Brian Sherriff’s model shop in the Cowgate. The place was stuffed, floor to ceiling, with plastic model kits, at which it was possible for a child to gawp for a good hour before leaving the premises clutching a single tinlet of Humbrol enamel paint. Occasional indulgent relatives would buy me small Airfix kits, which I would bodge together with an excess of glue, and then suspend from my bedroom ceiling.

Revell 1/72 scale Space ShuttleFast forward forty years, by which time model shops like Brian Sherriff’s had become rare, as children found increasingly electronic modes of entertainment. I was wandering down a side street in a small town on the south coast of England, when I happened on one of the Last Decent Model Shops In Britain. Perched on a high shelf behind the counter was a huge 1/72 scale Revell Space Shuttle model. Something about the kit-saturation of the environment, combined with the neck-craning position of the box, zapped me back through the decades, and I was that speccy Dundonian child again. But this time I had disposable income.

As soon as I got home, I phoned the shop and organized delivery. For some reason I neglected to tell the Boon Companion about this. So when I came home from work one day to discover a really huge box in the hallway, I had to confess that I was possibly undergoing a midlife crisis. After inspecting the contents of the box, the Boon Companion opined that she’d seen much worse midlife crises than this one, and at least it didn’t involve either a motorcycle or a mistress.

Revell 1/72 Space ShuttleIt took a disproportionately long time to build the thing. Bits went well, bits went badly. I used much less glue, but I messed up the seams between the parts. The decals went on well, but I realized that hand-painting was not the way ahead. And there clearly was a way ahead, because I felt a definite need to get better at this.

Like all pre-retirement activities, I began to develop a backlog. There were things I wanted to spend time researching and building, but no time to do the job properly. So this bit of the blog should turn into a build log for future projects drawn from the backlog.

Revell 1/96 Saturn VReproachfully prominent in the stash is the Revell 1/96 scale Saturn V, a reissue of a huge old kit (there’s perhaps some sort of psychological trend going on here that doesn’t bear close examination). There were well-known defects in the original kit, and unfortunately Revell did nothing to rectify them in the reissue. So it needs a fair bit of fixer-uppery and detailing.

Six 1/48 WWII fighter model kitsThere’s also a stack of six 1/48 scale World War II fighter aircraft, all of which were flown by my late father at some time during the war: a Hurricane IIb and IIc, a Spitfire mark IX and XIV, and a Thunderbolt I and II. These I want to build to match as closely as possible the specific aircraft he flew.

And there’s a lot of other stuff—American spacecraft from the high days of the Space Race, and a selection of flying boats. For some reason I do love a nice flying boat.

5 thoughts on “Building: Introduction”

  1. I remember Brian Sherriff’s. I remember wasting quite a few hours staring at kits I couldn’t possibly afford. Now I just have the money and just waste it buying crap online!

    1. Sherriff’s in the Cowgate was still open well into the 80s; and I think there was a branch in Aberdeen that lasted to the 90s.
      I remember it was just a couple of high-ceilinged rooms, crammed to the top with kits. The high shelves needed a ladder to get to, and had amazing stuff like complete plank-on-frame wooden ship models to build, and mysterious boxes labelled entirely in Japanese. Difficult to believe now, but there were also replica hand-gun kits with detailed mechanisms – the trigger worked the hammer, the slide would eject a shell on the way back and shove a new one into the chamber as it was closed again. Amazing that anyone thought that was a good idea!

      1. I can picture it very well in my minds eye. I’d forgotten about the replica firearms, but now you mention it I do remember them as well.

        That was a fun shop. I miss having places like that in Dundee.

  2. Love it.
    Seem to have been fantastic in the day!
    There is a model toy store on Albert Street now.
    I run the store on the Cowgate now and it’s great to see old photophraphs of the place.

  3. Yes, happy days.
    Brian Sherriff was next door to your shop—in the left half of what’s now Rainbow Music. I tried to find a photograph that showed the shopfront, but had no luck. Hence the rather confusing red arrow.

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