Model and Hobby KitsThere was a time in our nation's history when practically every young boy had a model of something on his shelf: an object he had assembled themselves, made of plastic from a kit and held together by a curiously citrusy-smelling glue. It may have been a car, a ship, an airplane, or even something more exotic like a Frankenstein's Monster lumbering through a graveyard; but chances are that boy had built several models over his young life, painted or unpainted, with or without help from Dad.
The 1950's were a decade of do-it-yourself for kids, a national craze wherein youngsters built birdhouses, made signs with woodburning kits, or even constructed their own gravity-powered racing cars for local contests. The first big boom in model kit building came when this hobby mania coincided with the cheap availabity of plastic as well as a booming economy: companies found that kids were clamoring for plastic kits devoted to subjects that interested them. The usual family-safe subjects dominated.
Model building took a leap forward into the unknown in 1962 when Aurora Plastics Corp. put out a kit that rocketed to popularity: Frenkenstein - or at least, the monster that forever bears that name. This gruesome kit sold so well that Aurora was obliged to have a second mold created, just so that they could have two machines cranking them out 24 hours a day. This was the time when the classic monster movies were being reintroduced to the nation's youth via TV reruns, so that all things monstrous were now in heavy demand. A whole host of toothsome creatures followed Franky's lead, and soon bedroom shelves all over the nation were stocked with a variety of harmless horrors.
After this, the model companies grew more daring, and put out kits devoted to more far-out subjects. Certainly, automobiles still won out with most boys, but more imaginative kids could now find kits devoted to spaceships, superheroes, prehistoric subjects, and even car-monster hybrids (such as Hawk's Weird-Ohs or the Lindberg Loonys), inspired by Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth.
For the modern collector of vintage model kits, there is a great wealth of material to choose from, much of it at prices that are thankfully not as out-of-this-world as the variety of subjects available.