Bob Letterman

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The Golden Years Model Museum Part 3

April 26th, 2017 by admin
Chapter Three
Part Seven.
The Glass Cases

.

151 Book Covers, Newspaper articles and a very special letter, (In white and Blue), inviting Susan and I to the White house, 2004. Two Who’s Who plaques on the left.

152. A photo of a stereo I built back in the 60s taken by Stereo Review magazine. The Old Mastercon Logo I commissioned to Don Kanaval. It was behind the dais for 16 Mastercons! The Three flags of VLS, Belgian, American and Dutch. (Verlinden, Letterman and Stok).

153. A photo in Japan with me and Susan talking to Freddie Leung, the CEO of Dragon and all their subsidiaries. Model Fan, a major model magazine publisher in Germany gave the medallions at the Nuremberg show for best manufacturer, 2002, (VLS Production companies). A letter from the Soldiers Memorial Museum in St. Louis in reference to their featuring my diorama, The Winds of War, as a centerpiece for their WW II exposition from January, 1983 to January 1984. Thank you letters for sponsoring awards at four IPMS National conventions.

153a. Something you may not know. When I first entered competition, I went to the IPMS Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. There was a celebrity there who was getting a lot of attention. His name was Nate polk and he owned Polk Hobbies in New York. To those who have seen the movie, The Godfather, when Tom Hagen exited the store at night, carrying an armload of toys, just after Vito Corleone had been shot, Virgil Sollozzo approached him and pushed him into a car. The shop Robert Duvall walked out of was Polk’s Hobbies!

154. Selected catalogue covers of VLS Mail Order beginning with the very first, (The tiny blue one from 1984 to the ones in the 1990s). VLS Published it’s last catalog in 2007.

155. Medals from a show in Indiana back in the 80s. More bowling trophies. (Not for bowling, they were model trophies back in the 80s before the familiar wooden plaques became popular). The Scabbard, a publication by the Military Miniature society of Illinois. Shep Paine’s club and annual competition. Lewis took his Vietnam Riverine dio and I took the first version of Legacies. Lewis entered and won best of show. I had retired from competition and took mine to display only. Both ended up on the cover of the Scabbard.

156. Some more awards, my university and Law School diplomas, an arial photo of the last VLS facility, a 40,000 square foot building on five acres. We moved into this in 1999, after the split with Verlinden and remained here until I sold the business to MMD/Squadron and the Building to a giant plumbing company with 27 crews of repairmen.

157. Flags from around the world. When the museum was in St. Charles, we had all the flags of the world in a larger size hanging throughout. No way I could fit them all in here, so I replaced them with these smaller versions.

158. Awards from an IPMS regional convention in 1984. A VLS women’s hat and a US army engineer’s hat with the unit I served with, the 87th Engineer battalion. I was given that hat by an army buddy I served with in the same unit, Harry Puncec. That was in 1959, almost 60 years ago, and we are still buddies! The 10 year award from the National Federation of independent Businesses.

158a. PFC Harry Puncec. Now retired with grandchildren. Still buddies!

159. More awards, a piece of leather from the seats of the Mercedes staff car used by Hitler in the 1930s and 40s. An article in a St. Louis paper about my diorama, “The Winds of War”. 1982.

160. A practice bomb from Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack in 1941. A history of the Miniature World Museum, it’s three locations from 1993 to 2005, compiled by my now deceased partner, Ralph Koebbeman. More awards on the inside of the window frame.

161. The bomb again, more awards and the dark blue cap is from the Olympics in London.

162. Awards from the IPMS National Convention in 1983 in Phoenix, Arizona. On the right in silver, is the first place award from the St. Louis IPMS National convention for “The Winds of War. 1982. My first military diorama that brought so much notoriety, It was featured in books and magazines all over the world within three months of accepting that trophy. I have always believed if not for that single trophy, VLS would have never existed. (Long Story).

163. More awards and a silver tray awarded to the VLS staff for their dedication to the hobby. There is a hat from the Olympics in London and another from Normandy on the celebration of D-Day, 1944 to 2014. On the far left is a trophy from an IPMS national for first place awarded to a 1/12th scale red Porsche in 1985. It was my final entry in competition.

164. The entrance to my model workshop, plus some more awards, Pierre, the chef welcoming to my man cave! And some political awards.

165. Ditto, Pierre, my chef, welcoming people to the museum and my very different man cave. Also note the cover of the second issue of Fine Scale Modeler, February, 1983, with “The Winds of War” on the cover.

165a. John Rosengrandt. An incredible modeler who is now head of one of the biggest and best special effects movie studios in Hollywood! I bought Warriors from John.

165b. John, when much younger with Chris Mrosko in the, (Then), Stan Winston Studios.

165c. Taken in the early 90s, at Verlinden’s son’s wedding in Lier City Hall, Belgium, where I was best man. A photo of Jos Stok, my Dutch partner. He is on the far left with white hair. He was an extremely wealthy man. Jos passed away about 12 years ago. Also in the photo is Lilliane and François Verlinden and relatives. Susan and i are in the back on the right.

165d. A photograph taken in front of the VLS facility in O’Fallon, Mo, in 1992. Jef Verswyvel, my doberman Warlock, me and Susan. To the far right, François is standing.

165e. On Grand opening day at the O’fallon location, the entire city council, mayor, police chief, fire chief and many others in attendance, Susan, in black, takes a break with some of our personal friends. The Guy sitting on the desk with Susan is a long time friend. He was an atomic physicist for Monsanto with a very odd name of Dyke Simer. Everywhere we went, people always thought we were brothers. His blond wife Debbie and the dark haired Bonnie were Susan’s best friends. You can see on the wall a display and behind Susan a diorama. Both are in the museum today.

165f. A really old photo of me at age 26 and Susan at 21. I had just graduated the St. Louis Police Academy, it was summer, 1967. We lived in a little apartment in a town now famous, then a peaceful little suburb of St. Louis, called Ferguson.

165g. A Newspaper article from 1982 during the National IPMS convention in St. Louis that started everything!

165h. I have previously mentioned my custom car/hot rod phase in my teens. This was my 52 Ford while in the army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. I was stationed there for almost a year before shipping out to France. I did all my own flame jobs and scallops back then and even made some money on the side doing others. Altogether, I had seven custom cars and hot rods back in the day!! The girl in the photo was my main squeeze then and worked as a secretary for the F.B.I. Her father was an agent. We were both 18.

165i. When I got out of the army in 1962, the flames and scallops had pretty much went out of style. Clean lines and power had succeeded them. My first car in ‘62 was an almost new 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air two door hardtop. Here’s a couple of photos.

165j. Ditto, interior. Center console with tach, tape recorder, etc. Tuck and roll upholstery, floor shift, swivel bucket seats and an aircraft type steering wheel! Even a padded dash before padded dashes were normal!

165k. Later, I got a 1962 Corvette. It was one of the hottest cars in town! 327 cu. in. bored out to 60,000 over, Duntov Cam, solid lifters, Edlebrock manifold, Twin Cadillac Four Barrels and a 4:56 rear end.

165l. I loved this car. Wish i still had it. tThey go for more than a hundred thousand today when you can find them!

165m. Susan and the Vette on our honeymoon at the brand new “Over the highway” McDonald’s in 1966. It is still there, just north of Tulsa OK. I have had six Corvettes in my life. That was the first!

Part 8 Militaria.

166. Us Navy A-6 Intruder pilot’s uniform. I have a storage unit filled with this kind of military and even dioramas I had no room for. I plan on rotating them from time to time.

167. Then a Soviet MIG-21 pilot’s uniform complete with parachute, oxygen equipment, and so on.

168. And an F-16 fighter pilot’s uniform from the 1990s. It is complete down to the last detail. I should mention a modeler in Seattle, a Vietnam gunship gunner, who had been exposed to far too much Agent Orange. He always used his nickname, “Blinder”. He was so in love with the idea of the museum, he donated many items such as this uniform, He was a dealer in Militaria and we were good friends. I met him in person back in 1990 I think, at the IPMS Nationals in Seattle. For many years, he emailed me daily. He wasn’t married and had no family. One day, the emails stopped.

169. This is a “Boots and Coots” firefighter’s suit. It was used to extinguish the oil rig fires in Kuwaiti during the first Gulf war. It can withstand 2000° (F) for an hour. Original cost? $100,000.00! It was also donated by Blinder. Boots and Coots are the :Other firefighting company, their competition being the one that John Wayne made Famous in the movie, “Hellfighters”.

170. Various Militaria. Where did I get all this and much, much more in storage? Besides Blinder, VLS customers sent it to me requesting I commission my sculptors and pattern makers to do them in miniature. They wanted in return a half dozen or a dozen products when they were released. I made it a practice to send them a dozen kits for each item sent.

172. A US Carrier flight deck crewman’s head gear. A WW II US gas mask, various country’s military medals, a Gold coin from the Tower mint in London commemorating the bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar, 1n 2005, as well as a tie tack from the Euromilitarie Figure exposition. Both were given to me by Ken Jones.

173. Various hats. Soviet pile cap, A Dutch police officer’s service cap, Two Belgian police service caps and a WW II G.I.s Dress cap.

176. A really special item. General Colin Powell’s Desert Storm Kevlar helmet. This came from the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff back in 2001, along with artifacts from Schwarzkopf as well. (See later artifacts). to the left are Inert hand grenades of several types, and some Desert Storm 120mm figures. VLS had customers throughout the military including those in the Pentagon. To the right are two VP 120mm figures from Operation Desert Storm.

176a. Ditto. That’s a Miniature World Beer Mug from the gift shop back in the 90s.

177. During Operation Desert Storm, some of our military customers in Kuwait, had this shipped to me complete with name tag and a combat infantryman’s badge. I have learned that people who model are diverse, but, there is an unusual number of Police Officers, the Military, Doctors and especially Dentists involved. Go figure! That’s an inert Laws rocket on the right. And an imitation M-26 rifle on the left. It fires .22 long rifle only. The uniform is complete with the “Fritz’ helmet. The photograph of the girl in the background was one of the tour guides in the museum. All the employees wore those uniforms.

178. A North Vietnam regular’s sun helmet from the 1970s. Several gas masks from different countries and eras plus some 120mm figures.

179. More gas masks and an NBC chemical head cover. An Arab head dress is in the center.

180. A 37mm shell taken from the back of an American aces ejection seat. It didn’t explode and the pilot survived. A rifled grenade cartridge, (Inert). Two Chopper crew helmets, Vietnam vintage, and a very rare Inmates cap with Jewish star embroidered from Auschwitz Concentration camp.

181. A WW I steel helmet and a campaign hat. (In very bad condition, it’s a hundred years old this year! Also several VP product displays built by Lewis Pruneau in the 1980s.

185. The main hat case. Military and police hats from various countries. (More on that later).

186. Ditto.

187. Police patches from all over the world. In the background is the academy notebook I compiled in 1966 at the st. Louis Police academy.

188. A tactical Operations uniform, (complete with kevlar helmet, all riot gear, boots, gloves, black ski mask and so on. (St. Louis County Police)

189. “Upgrade”, 1980s, I built this after visiting the California Highway Patrol facility in San Diego, California. With my press pass, but even more so with my retirement badge, they gave me the grand tour of the place, I took lots of photographs. The diorama’s subtitle is, “What if the California Highway Patrol had a Lamborghini Diablo”? It features Verlinden 1/24th car series figures and a 1/25th Fujimi Lamborghini Countach and an AMT Ford Taurus Police Car. On the wall behind it is one of the photos in a magazine article about the diorama.

189a. Another angle.

189b. Another angle.

190. Back in the early 80s, on one of my many trips to Europe, (I’ve crossed the Atlantic more than 200 times in my life. I’d like to have all the money I spent on those trips!) I stopped in a Kaiserslautern police station. I showed them my retirement badge and told them I collected police equipment, (“Sammalung” in German = collection). I met a patrol officer named Klaus Sinner. We became friends over the years and I went on patrol with him a couple of times! That is his work uniform in the photo. Police work is much the same the world over. Except that Europe had far less crime, at least when compared to St. Louis. They gave me an commanding officer’s uniform, trousers, shoes and all. At the time, it actually fit me! No comments!  :laugh: It was soooo cool! Klaus and me beside his patrol wagon.

190a. The German Police Uniform.

191. These model buildings are all box art. I think I built and painted all the box art for several of the brands from 1999 to 2007. As soon as a new release came off the line, production would bring all the parts, I would build it, paint and weather it and then photograph it and send that to the art department where they would make the labels. VLS’ 15 production companies had a total of 2,200 products when I sold the company. The photo was taken on a cruise to the Caribbean with the Verlindens back in 1986. Susan is behind me and Francois’ wife, Lilliane, is in the green dress.

Part 9. The Glass Cases.

192. More box art. There is a beer stein from Miniature World in the center. Name Tag from Euromilitaire to the left.

193. Ditto.

194. More Box art, there is the jungle hut I posted on my forum here. Dave Harper photographed it as i painted. He was obsessed with the Pacific theater of WW II. Above is a massive photo-etched fence and gate in 1/35th scale. It was one of the Tech Star products.

195. More Box art.

195a. Ditto.

196. More Box art. A name tag from the Chicago Trade fair. A Japanese pilot’s headband, WW II. Note the DCS box in the back. When Verlinden first started making plaster buildings in the 1970s, they were called DCS productions. A man I came to know well from Belgium, moved to St. Louis and, with Verlinden’s permission, started producing them in America. His name was Richard Mottard. Later, in 1984, he returned to Belgium and started a figure company. VLS carried them until Richard had a heart attack and died while at the second Euromilitaire show out on the balcony overlooking the channel coast. His company was Belgo figures.

197. For years, VLS commissioned sculptors and pattern makers from around the world. One of our primary pattern makers was Carles Elias from Portugal. He was a friend of Mig Jiminez who you all are familiar with. One day, I got the photograph you see on the glass wall behind the model buildings. He had taken it on a trip to Russia. He had offered it to Mig to paint like the photograph. Mig told him he should give it to me. Long story short, I painted it, it became a best seller in the Custom Dioramics line and later, I converted it to the white building and we sold a lot of them as well.

198. More box art!

199. More box art and some Verlinden figures. Lewis Pruneau worked for VLS from 1985 to 1990 and he painted many Verlinden products for us to display at trade fairs. These are examples. Note the case and women’s wrist watch. We had both men’s and women’s watches made with the VLS Logo on the dial. Sold a lot, all the employees got one and they made nice gifts to business vendors and customers.

200. More box art, (Now maybe you can understand why my dioramas kept being put on the back burner during those years). A white coffee mug from Miniature World. We did a lot of merchandising during the VLS years! A photo of Susan and I on a Caribbean cruise on The Norwegian ship, “Sovereign of the Seas”, with the ship’s captain.

201. More box art and a product Verlinden created from a real F-16 fighter plane. We sold hundred’s of those silly things! I still have three myself! Then an HO trolley. I used it to give pattern maker Ben Jacobsen the idea I wanted for the Custom Dioramics Trolley. That was one of our best sellers and it retailed for a hundred dollars. BTW, Ben was also a friend of Chuck W. on MA and passed away in November of last year.

202. Ditto plus another DCS product!

203. One of my most treasured dioramas. The late Shep Paine built this for Monogram back in 1972. One 0f the 8 wheeled armored cars is stock and one is converted to a command vehicle. He made many of these dioramas for Monogram and they used them as artwork for their “Tips on Building Dioramas” brochures, including them in their armor and aircraft kits in the 1970s. It is extremely rare and collector’s would die to get their hands on one. Back in 1986, after VLS had been growing to include all the plastic manufacturers in our wholesale inventory, The president of Monogram at that time, Bob Johnson, took us, Wes Bradley, Susan and I on an elaborate tour of the factory. When we walked into their conference room, I spotted this on a shelf. Naturally, being a modeler who had not yet became so used to models as I would be later, freaked out. The president asked me if I would like to have it. I’m sure you can’t guess my reply! I have now owned it for the last 32 years. I have had many inquiries about buying it, but, not a chance! The two figures to the right in the second angle shot, were sculpted and painted by Mike Good, a very well known sculptor and figure painter from back in the 1980s and 90s. I lost contact with Mike several years ago! The last I heard was he had moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico to join an art community there.

203a. Another angle showing the “Tip Sheet”.

204. This diorama was featured in The Verlinden Way, Volume 2. I met François Verlinden for the first time in 1984 at the IPMS Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. I had read his first book, The Verlinden Way Volumn One, and we had, by coincidence, had articles, back to back in the second issue of Fine Scale Modeler magazine. I was still a cop, and had started a company I called Warwinds Militaria and hobby Ltd. I ran it out of our basement on a couple of work tables and some old shelves. The agenda back then was to travel to as many weekend shows as possible, Susan and Wes would man the vendor tables and I would compete. In Atlanta, Verlinden and Stok came to find a distributer for his products in the states. We had 12 tables and had brought Lewis Pruneau and a couple of other guys along to help! We turned out to be the largest vendor at the show. I was selling Verlinden’s books and plaster buildings I was buying through Lynn Sangster of Historex Agents in England. (Lynn recently passed away). Long story short, Francois and i hit it off and Warwinds eventually became his exclusive American distributor. We did so well in fact, that in August, 1985, Stok and Verlinden asked me to become partners with them. The rest is history. He gave me this diorama and another one shortly after we became business partners.

205. This truck was built by the late Duane Phister of Southern California. He was the primary modeler for the California magazines, Scale Modeler and Military Modeler for many years. Duane was a Master’s Group member for many years as well, and he rarely missed a Mastercon, even though he wouldn’t fly and always took Amtrac to and from the show. The truck is 1/16th scale. Duane and I partied together many times! He passed away 6 or 7 years ago.

205a. Duane Phister receiving a Best of category from me at Mastercon 12. I met Duane when we were in Verdun France. I was 20 and he was 17. Almost the time when I was going home for a discharge, a young recruit Duane was just arriving. We met on an army bus that ran between Verdun and Etain Air force base. When Duane came to mastercon every year, we’d sit down over a beer or two and reminisce about old times!

206. This bust was painted by Hal Sanford. You may remember the book, “Modelaholic” from the 1990s. Hal was the author. He was a regular at Mastercon, one of the “Old Guard” and one of the nicest and funniest guys I have ever known. We still keep in touch and he continues to attend the show in Dallas, now called Eagle Quest. In the background, a Christmas card from Shep Paine. We exchanged cards from 1982 until he died. I kept them all. The Mercedes Staff car was a product we produced in the Trakz range. Now there are a ton of plastic German staff cars. For years, they were non-existent!

206a. Hal Sanford, (left) and Shep Paine. Mastercon 12.

207. You may recognize the F-16 cockpit from the Verlinden books. It was painted by François and is the original Box art.

208. Heavy Flak Emplacement. A new Verlinden product back in 1986, I built the Tamiya 88 and Pruneau put it in the emplacement and detailed it out. A side story with this dio. Back in the early 1980s, I built a very large number of models each year. Building my “Superdioramas” with dozens of vehicles and hundreds of figures, required me to learn short cuts and techniques to speed up my building and painting. Some of the guys in my IPMS chapter became suspicious. They didn’t believe I could build all those so quickly. One evening, at a meeting, Susan came to pick me us and was talking with other wives in a room adjacent to where we met. In the conversation, one of the women asked her why she was always with me at shows, meetings and so on. She then said the wrong thing. She said, “Bob and I do everything together”, we always have”. The next thing I knew there were rumors that Susan was building the sub-assemblies for my models. That was considered a capital crime in IPMS competition, so I had to put it to rest! In short, I had a one of the doubting Thomases come over on a saturday morning, I opened the box of the Tamiya 88 kit, built it, painted it and mounted it on a base during the nine hours he was there. I took it to the nationals that year and it took a second place in it’s category. BTW, that didn’t stop the rumors! :-) That gun was the one I gave Lewis to put in the diorama. Don’t you just love old IPMS stories?

209. A very early model in my military modeling phase. A British Centurion Mk 5 and one of my first attempts at serious figure painting. 1981. Below is a photo taken at a Mastercon. That is Carlos Andrea of Andrea Miniatures in Spain in the white shirt awarding a trophy to a modeler. Carlos and I have been friends for many years. He began his professional career sculpting figures for Verlinden. From that small beginning, he created an empire becoming the largest figure company in the world. Behind him on the left is Lewis Pruneau and on the right is Joe Porter.

210. Another very early model of mine. A German Field kitchen built back in 1982.

211. Another of my favorite dioramas. Modelers Alliance’s own Ian Hil’s diorama from way back in 1991? A Panther workshop! Very busy and clearly shows the budding talent of a fellow member who has went on to do much greater things. Ian came to Mastercon back then and gave it to me before departing back to Australia. I can’t believe that was 27 years ago, and we’re still connecting, both on this website and via email!

212. Yet another one of my favorites. Lewis Pruneau scratched this 1/16th scale BMW motorcycle and converted the 120mm figures to go with it! I believe he did this one in the late 90s. It has always been a favorite in the museum.

212a. Another angle.

213. You guys may remember Jim Stephens from the Shep Paine How-to books which featured several of his dioramas and models. He liked to scratch build in 1/24th scale and he was damned good at it. IMO, he was the best ever with pastels, the forerunner of the pigments many of us use today. All the weathering on this truck was done with pastels. He was a Chicago cop while I was still carrying a badge. We had a lot in common and he was a fun guy to hang out with.

213a. Me and Jim Stephens at one of the Mastercons, probably in the mid-1990s.

214. This German Hetzer dio was built by Gordon Stronach. Gordon worked for VLS for many years as a in-house pattern maker. An amazing painter, he built the best painted aircraft I have ever seen. It was a 1/48th scale Stuka with a winter white finish that caught my eye at a Dallas show. I located him, with the help of Joe Porter, who knew him well, offered him a job and moved him to St. louis. That Stuka was flawless! There is a Christmas card behind it. That was one of many I exchanged with the owners of Mascot models, Roger and Janet Styles from England. VLS carried their products for decades. The figures were all nude/semi-nude female figures in all kinds of outfits and from all different countries. Him and his wife were very young and looked like the teenagers next door. Roger always reminded me of a young Paul McCartney. Both seemed so innocent. Their figure kits were so much unlike them, I always had to laugh! Some were downright raunchy. They used live models to sculpt them and, one Christmas, they sent me a folder with dozens of photographs of the girls who modeled for them and I don’t mean scale models! The guys at VLS relentlessly pestered me to check out that folder!

214a. A photo of Gordon Stronach at my house eating some Australian Lammingtons I made from a recipe given me by a girl once a part of this website. :laugh: Gordon was the founder of all the Planet model websites, Planet Armor, Planet Figure, Planet Aircraft and Planet Diorama.

214b. The Lammingtons I made that day!  :laugh:

215. This is the other Verlinden Diorama he gave me when we became partners. It is a German Rathaus, (City Hall), and an abandoned German 88 gun. It was also featured in The Verlinden Way, Volume 2 among other publications as well as the Box art for the product.

216. A tiny GMC gasoline truck in 1/72nd scale I built in 1982. I opened up the hood and scratched a tiny little GMC motor. It won a first place in it’s category in the Phoenix IPMS Nationals back in ’83. Not very impressive today, but I was proud of it back then!

217. Two more 1/35th and a 1/72nd vehicles I built 35 years ago for the Phoenix IPMS Nationals of 1983. A 1/72nd French AMX-30, A 1/35th German Hanomag, and an M-32 Sherman ARV. I took 37 entries, in all, and drove all the way in my car as obviously I couldn’t take them on a plane. It was my first competition after winning the Nationals in St. Louis with the Winds of War. I brought home 47 awards, every single entry won at least a second place and three took best of categories. I was in heaven! Those were such glorious times! They seem like another lifetime!

218. Mort Schmitt from Kentucky, was the official VLS Photographer for several years. He was also an excellent modeler. I have several of his models and this M3A1 Stuart is one of his best! It won a gold and Best armor. It was in 1/16th scale. The “nose art” was hand painted. Mort passed away at a very young age a few years ago.

218a. Mort Schmitt. Mort passed away at a very young age a few years ago.

219. The old Esci kit in 1/8th scale Zundapp motorcycle and sidecar, that I also built for the Phoenix Nationals way back when.

220. Robert Oehler, a great modeler and author for several British magazines and books publishers. He lives in California and is still active in the hobby! He was also a Mastercon regular. He gave this M-47 Jordanian Patton tank from the West Bank, 1967, to me after one of the Mastercons he attended.

220a. Robert Oehler giving a seminar at one of the Mastercons/

220b. Another modeler buddy of mine is Frank Stumpo. Frank was an N.Y.P.D. cop who was laid off back in the 80s. He then applied to the Houston, Texas department and moved there. Susan and I used to spend our first summers after retirement in Kemah, a resort suburb and we hooked up there with Frank. We also met him at an AMPS show in Maryland and the last time we saw him was when my daughter, Gail and I went there for a week, we had lunch in a Mexican restaurant with him. Frank and Jose Rodriquez of Tiger Models are coming to visit in June to see the museum this year. Below: Me, Gail and Frank. 2013.

221. George Woodard was considered one of America’s best armor modelers when I joined IPMS back in 1981. There were three master armor builders in the club I joined which just happened to be the largest chapter in the world, more than 150 members! When those three went to a National, or any convention, for that matter, nobody else won in their categories. This was an almost scratch built M-3 Lee. The entire aircraft engine was scratched, (Check it out at the rear of the tank), and most of the model as well. It had a complete interior that was lighted. George is still in the hobby in St. Louis! This was built during the 1970s and early 80s.

222. Some more box art I built and painted from the VLS line, “Streets of Laredo”. That was a line that featured the old America West. Buildings, horses and figures. One of my bucket list projects in the future is an old west town. Ken Jones gave me the Andrea “General” locomotive, I have all the kits from the Laredo series, plus a lot of Andrea and other western figures and accessories from other companies. Note the upper right hand corner. A photo I took of The Tamiya building in Shizouka Japan.

223. More Streets of Laredo Box art. Note the coffee cup from Riga, Latvia, former home of the infamous German Concentration camp! Plus some Indians and Cavalrymen from the VLS line, “Legends and Lore” in 120mm.

224. Another Don Kanaval diorama. Don always earned a gold medal for every entry. Mastercon was unique at the time as I had made the rules so there were no judges. If you had an entry, you had two votes and you couldn’t vote for yourself. In the background, Verlinden magazine published an article on Don for his famous “Nose Art. What an incredible artistic talent! Don made everybody look bad!

Continued in Chapter 4
Chapter Three
Part Seven.
The Glass Cases

.

151 Book Covers, Newspaper articles and a very special letter, (In white and Blue), inviting Susan and I to the White house, 2004. Two Who’s Who plaques on the left.

152. A photo of a stereo I built back in the 60s taken by Stereo Review magazine. The Old Mastercon Logo I commissioned to Don Kanaval. It was behind the dais for 16 Mastercons! The Three flags of VLS, Belgian, American and Dutch. (Verlinden, Letterman and Stok).

153. A photo in Japan with me and Susan talking to Freddie Leung, the CEO of Dragon and all their subsidiaries. Model Fan, a major model magazine publisher in Germany gave the medallions at the Nuremberg show for best manufacturer, 2002, (VLS Production companies). A letter from the Soldiers Memorial Museum in St. Louis in reference to their featuring my diorama, The Winds of War, as a centerpiece for their WW II exposition from January, 1983 to January 1984. Thank you letters for sponsoring awards at four IPMS National conventions.

153a. Something you may not know. When I first entered competition, I went to the IPMS Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. There was a celebrity there who was getting a lot of attention. His name was Nate polk and he owned Polk Hobbies in New York. To those who have seen the movie, The Godfather, when Tom Hagen exited the store at night, carrying an armload of toys, just after Vito Corleone had been shot, Virgil Sollozzo approached him and pushed him into a car. The shop Robert Duvall walked out of was Polk’s Hobbies!

154. Selected catalogue covers of VLS Mail Order beginning with the very first, (The tiny blue one from 1984 to the ones in the 1990s). VLS Published it’s last catalog in 2007.

155. Medals from a show in Indiana back in the 80s. More bowling trophies. (Not for bowling, they were model trophies back in the 80s before the familiar wooden plaques became popular). The Scabbard, a publication by the Military Miniature society of Illinois. Shep Paine’s club and annual competition. Lewis took his Vietnam Riverine dio and I took the first version of Legacies. Lewis entered and won best of show. I had retired from competition and took mine to display only. Both ended up on the cover of the Scabbard.

156. Some more awards, my university and Law School diplomas, an arial photo of the last VLS facility, a 40,000 square foot building on five acres. We moved into this in 1999, after the split with Verlinden and remained here until I sold the business to MMD/Squadron and the Building to a giant plumbing company with 27 crews of repairmen.

157. Flags from around the world. When the museum was in St. Charles, we had all the flags of the world in a larger size hanging throughout. No way I could fit them all in here, so I replaced them with these smaller versions.

158. Awards from an IPMS regional convention in 1984. A VLS women’s hat and a US army engineer’s hat with the unit I served with, the 87th Engineer battalion. I was given that hat by an army buddy I served with in the same unit, Harry Puncec. That was in 1959, almost 60 years ago, and we are still buddies! The 10 year award from the National Federation of independent Businesses.

158a. PFC Harry Puncec. Now retired with grandchildren. Still buddies!

159. More awards, a piece of leather from the seats of the Mercedes staff car used by Hitler in the 1930s and 40s. An article in a St. Louis paper about my diorama, “The Winds of War”. 1982.

160. A practice bomb from Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack in 1941. A history of the Miniature World Museum, it’s three locations from 1993 to 2005, compiled by my now deceased partner, Ralph Koebbeman. More awards on the inside of the window frame.

161. The bomb again, more awards and the dark blue cap is from the Olympics in London.

162. Awards from the IPMS National Convention in 1983 in Phoenix, Arizona. On the right in silver, is the first place award from the St. Louis IPMS National convention for “The Winds of War. 1982. My first military diorama that brought so much notoriety, It was featured in books and magazines all over the world within three months of accepting that trophy. I have always believed if not for that single trophy, VLS would have never existed. (Long Story).

163. More awards and a silver tray awarded to the VLS staff for their dedication to the hobby. There is a hat from the Olympics in London and another from Normandy on the celebration of D-Day, 1944 to 2014. On the far left is a trophy from an IPMS national for first place awarded to a 1/12th scale red Porsche in 1985. It was my final entry in competition.

164. The entrance to my model workshop, plus some more awards, Pierre, the chef welcoming to my man cave! And some political awards.

165. Ditto, Pierre, my chef, welcoming people to the museum and my very different man cave. Also note the cover of the second issue of Fine Scale Modeler, February, 1983, with “The Winds of War” on the cover.

165a. John Rosengrandt. An incredible modeler who is now head of one of the biggest and best special effects movie studios in Hollywood! I bought Warriors from John.

165b. John, when much younger with Chris Mrosko in the, (Then), Stan Winston Studios.

165c. Taken in the early 90s, at Verlinden’s son’s wedding in Lier City Hall, Belgium, where I was best man. A photo of Jos Stok, my Dutch partner. He is on the far left with white hair. He was an extremely wealthy man. Jos passed away about 12 years ago. Also in the photo is Lilliane and François Verlinden and relatives. Susan and i are in the back on the right.

165d. A photograph taken in front of the VLS facility in O’Fallon, Mo, in 1992. Jef Verswyvel, my doberman Warlock, me and Susan. To the far right, François is standing.

165e. On Grand opening day at the O’fallon location, the entire city council, mayor, police chief, fire chief and many others in attendance, Susan, in black, takes a break with some of our personal friends. The Guy sitting on the desk with Susan is a long time friend. He was an atomic physicist for Monsanto with a very odd name of Dyke Simer. Everywhere we went, people always thought we were brothers. His blond wife Debbie and the dark haired Bonnie were Susan’s best friends. You can see on the wall a display and behind Susan a diorama. Both are in the museum today.

165f. A really old photo of me at age 26 and Susan at 21. I had just graduated the St. Louis Police Academy, it was summer, 1967. We lived in a little apartment in a town now famous, then a peaceful little suburb of St. Louis, called Ferguson.

165g. A Newspaper article from 1982 during the National IPMS convention in St. Louis that started everything!

165h. I have previously mentioned my custom car/hot rod phase in my teens. This was my 52 Ford while in the army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. I was stationed there for almost a year before shipping out to France. I did all my own flame jobs and scallops back then and even made some money on the side doing others. Altogether, I had seven custom cars and hot rods back in the day!! The girl in the photo was my main squeeze then and worked as a secretary for the F.B.I. Her father was an agent. We were both 18.

165i. When I got out of the army in 1962, the flames and scallops had pretty much went out of style. Clean lines and power had succeeded them. My first car in ‘62 was an almost new 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air two door hardtop. Here’s a couple of photos.

165j. Ditto, interior. Center console with tach, tape recorder, etc. Tuck and roll upholstery, floor shift, swivel bucket seats and an aircraft type steering wheel! Even a padded dash before padded dashes were normal!

165k. Later, I got a 1962 Corvette. It was one of the hottest cars in town! 327 cu. in. bored out to 60,000 over, Duntov Cam, solid lifters, Edlebrock manifold, Twin Cadillac Four Barrels and a 4:56 rear end.

165l. I loved this car. Wish i still had it. tThey go for more than a hundred thousand today when you can find them!

165m. Susan and the Vette on our honeymoon at the brand new “Over the highway” McDonald’s in 1966. It is still there, just north of Tulsa OK. I have had six Corvettes in my life. That was the first!

Part 8 Militaria.

166. Us Navy A-6 Intruder pilot’s uniform. I have a storage unit filled with this kind of military and even dioramas I had no room for. I plan on rotating them from time to time.

167. Then a Soviet MIG-21 pilot’s uniform complete with parachute, oxygen equipment, and so on.

168. And an F-16 fighter pilot’s uniform from the 1990s. It is complete down to the last detail. I should mention a modeler in Seattle, a Vietnam gunship gunner, who had been exposed to far too much Agent Orange. He always used his nickname, “Blinder”. He was so in love with the idea of the museum, he donated many items such as this uniform, He was a dealer in Militaria and we were good friends. I met him in person back in 1990 I think, at the IPMS Nationals in Seattle. For many years, he emailed me daily. He wasn’t married and had no family. One day, the emails stopped.

169. This is a “Boots and Coots” firefighter’s suit. It was used to extinguish the oil rig fires in Kuwaiti during the first Gulf war. It can withstand 2000° (F) for an hour. Original cost? $100,000.00! It was also donated by Blinder. Boots and Coots are the :Other firefighting company, their competition being the one that John Wayne made Famous in the movie, “Hellfighters”.

170. Various Militaria. Where did I get all this and much, much more in storage? Besides Blinder, VLS customers sent it to me requesting I commission my sculptors and pattern makers to do them in miniature. They wanted in return a half dozen or a dozen products when they were released. I made it a practice to send them a dozen kits for each item sent.

172. A US Carrier flight deck crewman’s head gear. A WW II US gas mask, various country’s military medals, a Gold coin from the Tower mint in London commemorating the bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar, 1n 2005, as well as a tie tack from the Euromilitarie Figure exposition. Both were given to me by Ken Jones.

173. Various hats. Soviet pile cap, A Dutch police officer’s service cap, Two Belgian police service caps and a WW II G.I.s Dress cap.

176. A really special item. General Colin Powell’s Desert Storm Kevlar helmet. This came from the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff back in 2001, along with artifacts from Schwarzkopf as well. (See later artifacts). to the left are Inert hand grenades of several types, and some Desert Storm 120mm figures. VLS had customers throughout the military including those in the Pentagon. To the right are two VP 120mm figures from Operation Desert Storm.

176a. Ditto. That’s a Miniature World Beer Mug from the gift shop back in the 90s.

177. During Operation Desert Storm, some of our military customers in Kuwait, had this shipped to me complete with name tag and a combat infantryman’s badge. I have learned that people who model are diverse, but, there is an unusual number of Police Officers, the Military, Doctors and especially Dentists involved. Go figure! That’s an inert Laws rocket on the right. And an imitation M-26 rifle on the left. It fires .22 long rifle only. The uniform is complete with the “Fritz’ helmet. The photograph of the girl in the background was one of the tour guides in the museum. All the employees wore those uniforms.

178. A North Vietnam regular’s sun helmet from the 1970s. Several gas masks from different countries and eras plus some 120mm figures.

179. More gas masks and an NBC chemical head cover. An Arab head dress is in the center.

180. A 37mm shell taken from the back of an American aces ejection seat. It didn’t explode and the pilot survived. A rifled grenade cartridge, (Inert). Two Chopper crew helmets, Vietnam vintage, and a very rare Inmates cap with Jewish star embroidered from Auschwitz Concentration camp.

181. A WW I steel helmet and a campaign hat. (In very bad condition, it’s a hundred years old this year! Also several VP product displays built by Lewis Pruneau in the 1980s.

185. The main hat case. Military and police hats from various countries. (More on that later).

186. Ditto.

187. Police patches from all over the world. In the background is the academy notebook I compiled in 1966 at the st. Louis Police academy.

188. A tactical Operations uniform, (complete with kevlar helmet, all riot gear, boots, gloves, black ski mask and so on. (St. Louis County Police)

189. “Upgrade”, 1980s, I built this after visiting the California Highway Patrol facility in San Diego, California. With my press pass, but even more so with my retirement badge, they gave me the grand tour of the place, I took lots of photographs. The diorama’s subtitle is, “What if the California Highway Patrol had a Lamborghini Diablo”? It features Verlinden 1/24th car series figures and a 1/25th Fujimi Lamborghini Countach and an AMT Ford Taurus Police Car. On the wall behind it is one of the photos in a magazine article about the diorama.

189a. Another angle.

189b. Another angle.

190. Back in the early 80s, on one of my many trips to Europe, (I’ve crossed the Atlantic more than 200 times in my life. I’d like to have all the money I spent on those trips!) I stopped in a Kaiserslautern police station. I showed them my retirement badge and told them I collected police equipment, (“Sammalung” in German = collection). I met a patrol officer named Klaus Sinner. We became friends over the years and I went on patrol with him a couple of times! That is his work uniform in the photo. Police work is much the same the world over. Except that Europe had far less crime, at least when compared to St. Louis. They gave me an commanding officer’s uniform, trousers, shoes and all. At the time, it actually fit me! No comments!  :laugh: It was soooo cool! Klaus and me beside his patrol wagon.

190a. The German Police Uniform.

191. These model buildings are all box art. I think I built and painted all the box art for several of the brands from 1999 to 2007. As soon as a new release came off the line, production would bring all the parts, I would build it, paint and weather it and then photograph it and send that to the art department where they would make the labels. VLS’ 15 production companies had a total of 2,200 products when I sold the company. The photo was taken on a cruise to the Caribbean with the Verlindens back in 1986. Susan is behind me and Francois’ wife, Lilliane, is in the green dress.

Part 9. The Glass Cases.

192. More box art. There is a beer stein from Miniature World in the center. Name Tag from Euromilitaire to the left.

193. Ditto.

194. More Box art, there is the jungle hut I posted on my forum here. Dave Harper photographed it as i painted. He was obsessed with the Pacific theater of WW II. Above is a massive photo-etched fence and gate in 1/35th scale. It was one of the Tech Star products.

195. More Box art.

195a. Ditto.

196. More Box art. A name tag from the Chicago Trade fair. A Japanese pilot’s headband, WW II. Note the DCS box in the back. When Verlinden first started making plaster buildings in the 1970s, they were called DCS productions. A man I came to know well from Belgium, moved to St. Louis and, with Verlinden’s permission, started producing them in America. His name was Richard Mottard. Later, in 1984, he returned to Belgium and started a figure company. VLS carried them until Richard had a heart attack and died while at the second Euromilitaire show out on the balcony overlooking the channel coast. His company was Belgo figures.

197. For years, VLS commissioned sculptors and pattern makers from around the world. One of our primary pattern makers was Carles Elias from Portugal. He was a friend of Mig Jiminez who you all are familiar with. One day, I got the photograph you see on the glass wall behind the model buildings. He had taken it on a trip to Russia. He had offered it to Mig to paint like the photograph. Mig told him he should give it to me. Long story short, I painted it, it became a best seller in the Custom Dioramics line and later, I converted it to the white building and we sold a lot of them as well.

198. More box art!

199. More box art and some Verlinden figures. Lewis Pruneau worked for VLS from 1985 to 1990 and he painted many Verlinden products for us to display at trade fairs. These are examples. Note the case and women’s wrist watch. We had both men’s and women’s watches made with the VLS Logo on the dial. Sold a lot, all the employees got one and they made nice gifts to business vendors and customers.

200. More box art, (Now maybe you can understand why my dioramas kept being put on the back burner during those years). A white coffee mug from Miniature World. We did a lot of merchandising during the VLS years! A photo of Susan and I on a Caribbean cruise on The Norwegian ship, “Sovereign of the Seas”, with the ship’s captain.

201. More box art and a product Verlinden created from a real F-16 fighter plane. We sold hundred’s of those silly things! I still have three myself! Then an HO trolley. I used it to give pattern maker Ben Jacobsen the idea I wanted for the Custom Dioramics Trolley. That was one of our best sellers and it retailed for a hundred dollars. BTW, Ben was also a friend of Chuck W. on MA and passed away in November of last year.

202. Ditto plus another DCS product!

203. One of my most treasured dioramas. The late Shep Paine built this for Monogram back in 1972. One 0f the 8 wheeled armored cars is stock and one is converted to a command vehicle. He made many of these dioramas for Monogram and they used them as artwork for their “Tips on Building Dioramas” brochures, including them in their armor and aircraft kits in the 1970s. It is extremely rare and collector’s would die to get their hands on one. Back in 1986, after VLS had been growing to include all the plastic manufacturers in our wholesale inventory, The president of Monogram at that time, Bob Johnson, took us, Wes Bradley, Susan and I on an elaborate tour of the factory. When we walked into their conference room, I spotted this on a shelf. Naturally, being a modeler who had not yet became so used to models as I would be later, freaked out. The president asked me if I would like to have it. I’m sure you can’t guess my reply! I have now owned it for the last 32 years. I have had many inquiries about buying it, but, not a chance! The two figures to the right in the second angle shot, were sculpted and painted by Mike Good, a very well known sculptor and figure painter from back in the 1980s and 90s. I lost contact with Mike several years ago! The last I heard was he had moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico to join an art community there.

203a. Another angle showing the “Tip Sheet”.

204. This diorama was featured in The Verlinden Way, Volume 2. I met François Verlinden for the first time in 1984 at the IPMS Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. I had read his first book, The Verlinden Way Volumn One, and we had, by coincidence, had articles, back to back in the second issue of Fine Scale Modeler magazine. I was still a cop, and had started a company I called Warwinds Militaria and hobby Ltd. I ran it out of our basement on a couple of work tables and some old shelves. The agenda back then was to travel to as many weekend shows as possible, Susan and Wes would man the vendor tables and I would compete. In Atlanta, Verlinden and Stok came to find a distributer for his products in the states. We had 12 tables and had brought Lewis Pruneau and a couple of other guys along to help! We turned out to be the largest vendor at the show. I was selling Verlinden’s books and plaster buildings I was buying through Lynn Sangster of Historex Agents in England. (Lynn recently passed away). Long story short, Francois and i hit it off and Warwinds eventually became his exclusive American distributor. We did so well in fact, that in August, 1985, Stok and Verlinden asked me to become partners with them. The rest is history. He gave me this diorama and another one shortly after we became business partners.

205. This truck was built by the late Duane Phister of Southern California. He was the primary modeler for the California magazines, Scale Modeler and Military Modeler for many years. Duane was a Master’s Group member for many years as well, and he rarely missed a Mastercon, even though he wouldn’t fly and always took Amtrac to and from the show. The truck is 1/16th scale. Duane and I partied together many times! He passed away 6 or 7 years ago.

205a. Duane Phister receiving a Best of category from me at Mastercon 12. I met Duane when we were in Verdun France. I was 20 and he was 17. Almost the time when I was going home for a discharge, a young recruit Duane was just arriving. We met on an army bus that ran between Verdun and Etain Air force base. When Duane came to mastercon every year, we’d sit down over a beer or two and reminisce about old times!

206. This bust was painted by Hal Sanford. You may remember the book, “Modelaholic” from the 1990s. Hal was the author. He was a regular at Mastercon, one of the “Old Guard” and one of the nicest and funniest guys I have ever known. We still keep in touch and he continues to attend the show in Dallas, now called Eagle Quest. In the background, a Christmas card from Shep Paine. We exchanged cards from 1982 until he died. I kept them all. The Mercedes Staff car was a product we produced in the Trakz range. Now there are a ton of plastic German staff cars. For years, they were non-existent!

206a. Hal Sanford, (left) and Shep Paine. Mastercon 12.

207. You may recognize the F-16 cockpit from the Verlinden books. It was painted by François and is the original Box art.

208. Heavy Flak Emplacement. A new Verlinden product back in 1986, I built the Tamiya 88 and Pruneau put it in the emplacement and detailed it out. A side story with this dio. Back in the early 1980s, I built a very large number of models each year. Building my “Superdioramas” with dozens of vehicles and hundreds of figures, required me to learn short cuts and techniques to speed up my building and painting. Some of the guys in my IPMS chapter became suspicious. They didn’t believe I could build all those so quickly. One evening, at a meeting, Susan came to pick me us and was talking with other wives in a room adjacent to where we met. In the conversation, one of the women asked her why she was always with me at shows, meetings and so on. She then said the wrong thing. She said, “Bob and I do everything together”, we always have”. The next thing I knew there were rumors that Susan was building the sub-assemblies for my models. That was considered a capital crime in IPMS competition, so I had to put it to rest! In short, I had a one of the doubting Thomases come over on a saturday morning, I opened the box of the Tamiya 88 kit, built it, painted it and mounted it on a base during the nine hours he was there. I took it to the nationals that year and it took a second place in it’s category. BTW, that didn’t stop the rumors! :-) That gun was the one I gave Lewis to put in the diorama. Don’t you just love old IPMS stories?

209. A very early model in my military modeling phase. A British Centurion Mk 5 and one of my first attempts at serious figure painting. 1981. Below is a photo taken at a Mastercon. That is Carlos Andrea of Andrea Miniatures in Spain in the white shirt awarding a trophy to a modeler. Carlos and I have been friends for many years. He began his professional career sculpting figures for Verlinden. From that small beginning, he created an empire becoming the largest figure company in the world. Behind him on the left is Lewis Pruneau and on the right is Joe Porter.

210. Another very early model of mine. A German Field kitchen built back in 1982.

211. Another of my favorite dioramas. Modelers Alliance’s own Ian Hil’s diorama from way back in 1991? A Panther workshop! Very busy and clearly shows the budding talent of a fellow member who has went on to do much greater things. Ian came to Mastercon back then and gave it to me before departing back to Australia. I can’t believe that was 27 years ago, and we’re still connecting, both on this website and via email!

212. Yet another one of my favorites. Lewis Pruneau scratched this 1/16th scale BMW motorcycle and converted the 120mm figures to go with it! I believe he did this one in the late 90s. It has always been a favorite in the museum.

212a. Another angle.

213. You guys may remember Jim Stephens from the Shep Paine How-to books which featured several of his dioramas and models. He liked to scratch build in 1/24th scale and he was damned good at it. IMO, he was the best ever with pastels, the forerunner of the pigments many of us use today. All the weathering on this truck was done with pastels. He was a Chicago cop while I was still carrying a badge. We had a lot in common and he was a fun guy to hang out with.

213a. Me and Jim Stephens at one of the Mastercons, probably in the mid-1990s.

214. This German Hetzer dio was built by Gordon Stronach. Gordon worked for VLS for many years as a in-house pattern maker. An amazing painter, he built the best painted aircraft I have ever seen. It was a 1/48th scale Stuka with a winter white finish that caught my eye at a Dallas show. I located him, with the help of Joe Porter, who knew him well, offered him a job and moved him to St. louis. That Stuka was flawless! There is a Christmas card behind it. That was one of many I exchanged with the owners of Mascot models, Roger and Janet Styles from England. VLS carried their products for decades. The figures were all nude/semi-nude female figures in all kinds of outfits and from all different countries. Him and his wife were very young and looked like the teenagers next door. Roger always reminded me of a young Paul McCartney. Both seemed so innocent. Their figure kits were so much unlike them, I always had to laugh! Some were downright raunchy. They used live models to sculpt them and, one Christmas, they sent me a folder with dozens of photographs of the girls who modeled for them and I don’t mean scale models! The guys at VLS relentlessly pestered me to check out that folder!

214a. A photo of Gordon Stronach at my house eating some Australian Lammingtons I made from a recipe given me by a girl once a part of this website. :laugh: Gordon was the founder of all the Planet model websites, Planet Armor, Planet Figure, Planet Aircraft and Planet Diorama.

214b. The Lammingtons I made that day!  :laugh:

215. This is the other Verlinden Diorama he gave me when we became partners. It is a German Rathaus, (City Hall), and an abandoned German 88 gun. It was also featured in The Verlinden Way, Volume 2 among other publications as well as the Box art for the product.

216. A tiny GMC gasoline truck in 1/72nd scale I built in 1982. I opened up the hood and scratched a tiny little GMC motor. It won a first place in it’s category in the Phoenix IPMS Nationals back in ’83. Not very impressive today, but I was proud of it back then!

217. Two more 1/35th and a 1/72nd vehicles I built 35 years ago for the Phoenix IPMS Nationals of 1983. A 1/72nd French AMX-30, A 1/35th German Hanomag, and an M-32 Sherman ARV. I took 37 entries, in all, and drove all the way in my car as obviously I couldn’t take them on a plane. It was my first competition after winning the Nationals in St. Louis with the Winds of War. I brought home 47 awards, every single entry won at least a second place and three took best of categories. I was in heaven! Those were such glorious times! They seem like another lifetime!

218. Mort Schmitt from Kentucky, was the official VLS Photographer for several years. He was also an excellent modeler. I have several of his models and this M3A1 Stuart is one of his best! It won a gold and Best armor. It was in 1/16th scale. The “nose art” was hand painted. Mort passed away at a very young age a few years ago.

218a. Mort Schmitt. Mort passed away at a very young age a few years ago.

219. The old Esci kit in 1/8th scale Zundapp motorcycle and sidecar, that I also built for the Phoenix Nationals way back when.

220. Robert Oehler, a great modeler and author for several British magazines and books publishers. He lives in California and is still active in the hobby! He was also a Mastercon regular. He gave this M-47 Jordanian Patton tank from the West Bank, 1967, to me after one of the Mastercons he attended.

220a. Robert Oehler giving a seminar at one of the Mastercons/

220b. Another modeler buddy of mine is Frank Stumpo. Frank was an N.Y.P.D. cop who was laid off back in the 80s. He then applied to the Houston, Texas department and moved there. Susan and I used to spend our first summers after retirement in Kemah, a resort suburb and we hooked up there with Frank. We also met him at an AMPS show in Maryland and the last time we saw him was when my daughter, Gail and I went there for a week, we had lunch in a Mexican restaurant with him. Frank and Jose Rodriquez of Tiger Models are coming to visit in June to see the museum this year. Below: Me, Gail and Frank. 2013.

221. George Woodard was considered one of America’s best armor modelers when I joined IPMS back in 1981. There were three master armor builders in the club I joined which just happened to be the largest chapter in the world, more than 150 members! When those three went to a National, or any convention, for that matter, nobody else won in their categories. This was an almost scratch built M-3 Lee. The entire aircraft engine was scratched, (Check it out at the rear of the tank), and most of the model as well. It had a complete interior that was lighted. George is still in the hobby in St. Louis! This was built during the 1970s and early 80s.

222. Some more box art I built and painted from the VLS line, “Streets of Laredo”. That was a line that featured the old America West. Buildings, horses and figures. One of my bucket list projects in the future is an old west town. Ken Jones gave me the Andrea “General” locomotive, I have all the kits from the Laredo series, plus a lot of Andrea and other western figures and accessories from other companies. Note the upper right hand corner. A photo I took of The Tamiya building in Shizouka Japan.

223. More Streets of Laredo Box art. Note the coffee cup from Riga, Latvia, former home of the infamous German Concentration camp! Plus some Indians and Cavalrymen from the VLS line, “Legends and Lore” in 120mm.

224. Another Don Kanaval diorama. Don always earned a gold medal for every entry. Mastercon was unique at the time as I had made the rules so there were no judges. If you had an entry, you had two votes and you couldn’t vote for yourself. In the background, Verlinden magazine published an article on Don for his famous “Nose Art. What an incredible artistic talent! Don made everybody look bad!

Continued in Chapter 4
Chapter Three
Part Seven.
The Glass Cases

.

151 Book Covers, Newspaper articles and a very special letter, (In white and Blue), inviting Susan and I to the White house, 2004. Two Who’s Who plaques on the left.

152. A photo of a stereo I built back in the 60s taken by Stereo Review magazine. The Old Mastercon Logo I commissioned to Don Kanaval. It was behind the dais for 16 Mastercons! The Three flags of VLS, Belgian, American and Dutch. (Verlinden, Letterman and Stok).

153. A photo in Japan with me and Susan talking to Freddie Leung, the CEO of Dragon and all their subsidiaries. Model Fan, a major model magazine publisher in Germany gave the medallions at the Nuremberg show for best manufacturer, 2002, (VLS Production companies). A letter from the Soldiers Memorial Museum in St. Louis in reference to their featuring my diorama, The Winds of War, as a centerpiece for their WW II exposition from January, 1983 to January 1984. Thank you letters for sponsoring awards at four IPMS National conventions.

153a. Something you may not know. When I first entered competition, I went to the IPMS Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. There was a celebrity there who was getting a lot of attention. His name was Nate polk and he owned Polk Hobbies in New York. To those who have seen the movie, The Godfather, when Tom Hagen exited the store at night, carrying an armload of toys, just after Vito Corleone had been shot, Virgil Sollozzo approached him and pushed him into a car. The shop Robert Duvall walked out of was Polk’s Hobbies!

154. Selected catalogue covers of VLS Mail Order beginning with the very first, (The tiny blue one from 1984 to the ones in the 1990s). VLS Published it’s last catalog in 2007.

155. Medals from a show in Indiana back in the 80s. More bowling trophies. (Not for bowling, they were model trophies back in the 80s before the familiar wooden plaques became popular). The Scabbard, a publication by the Military Miniature society of Illinois. Shep Paine’s club and annual competition. Lewis took his Vietnam Riverine dio and I took the first version of Legacies. Lewis entered and won best of show. I had retired from competition and took mine to display only. Both ended up on the cover of the Scabbard.

156. Some more awards, my university and Law School diplomas, an arial photo of the last VLS facility, a 40,000 square foot building on five acres. We moved into this in 1999, after the split with Verlinden and remained here until I sold the business to MMD/Squadron and the Building to a giant plumbing company with 27 crews of repairmen.

157. Flags from around the world. When the museum was in St. Charles, we had all the flags of the world in a larger size hanging throughout. No way I could fit them all in here, so I replaced them with these smaller versions.

158. Awards from an IPMS regional convention in 1984. A VLS women’s hat and a US army engineer’s hat with the unit I served with, the 87th Engineer battalion. I was given that hat by an army buddy I served with in the same unit, Harry Puncec. That was in 1959, almost 60 years ago, and we are still buddies! The 10 year award from the National Federation of independent Businesses.

158a. PFC Harry Puncec. Now retired with grandchildren. Still buddies!

159. More awards, a piece of leather from the seats of the Mercedes staff car used by Hitler in the 1930s and 40s. An article in a St. Louis paper about my diorama, “The Winds of War”. 1982.

160. A practice bomb from Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack in 1941. A history of the Miniature World Museum, it’s three locations from 1993 to 2005, compiled by my now deceased partner, Ralph Koebbeman. More awards on the inside of the window frame.

161. The bomb again, more awards and the dark blue cap is from the Olympics in London.

162. Awards from the IPMS National Convention in 1983 in Phoenix, Arizona. On the right in silver, is the first place award from the St. Louis IPMS National convention for “The Winds of War. 1982. My first military diorama that brought so much notoriety, It was featured in books and magazines all over the world within three months of accepting that trophy. I have always believed if not for that single trophy, VLS would have never existed. (Long Story).

163. More awards and a silver tray awarded to the VLS staff for their dedication to the hobby. There is a hat from the Olympics in London and another from Normandy on the celebration of D-Day, 1944 to 2014. On the far left is a trophy from an IPMS national for first place awarded to a 1/12th scale red Porsche in 1985. It was my final entry in competition.

164. The entrance to my model workshop, plus some more awards, Pierre, the chef welcoming to my man cave! And some political awards.

165. Ditto, Pierre, my chef, welcoming people to the museum and my very different man cave. Also note the cover of the second issue of Fine Scale Modeler, February, 1983, with “The Winds of War” on the cover.

165a. John Rosengrandt. An incredible modeler who is now head of one of the biggest and best special effects movie studios in Hollywood! I bought Warriors from John.

165b. John, when much younger with Chris Mrosko in the, (Then), Stan Winston Studios.

165c. Taken in the early 90s, at Verlinden’s son’s wedding in Lier City Hall, Belgium, where I was best man. A photo of Jos Stok, my Dutch partner. He is on the far left with white hair. He was an extremely wealthy man. Jos passed away about 12 years ago. Also in the photo is Lilliane and François Verlinden and relatives. Susan and i are in the back on the right.

165d. A photograph taken in front of the VLS facility in O’Fallon, Mo, in 1992. Jef Verswyvel, my doberman Warlock, me and Susan. To the far right, François is standing.

165e. On Grand opening day at the O’fallon location, the entire city council, mayor, police chief, fire chief and many others in attendance, Susan, in black, takes a break with some of our personal friends. The Guy sitting on the desk with Susan is a long time friend. He was an atomic physicist for Monsanto with a very odd name of Dyke Simer. Everywhere we went, people always thought we were brothers. His blond wife Debbie and the dark haired Bonnie were Susan’s best friends. You can see on the wall a display and behind Susan a diorama. Both are in the museum today.

165f. A really old photo of me at age 26 and Susan at 21. I had just graduated the St. Louis Police Academy, it was summer, 1967. We lived in a little apartment in a town now famous, then a peaceful little suburb of St. Louis, called Ferguson.

165g. A Newspaper article from 1982 during the National IPMS convention in St. Louis that started everything!

165h. I have previously mentioned my custom car/hot rod phase in my teens. This was my 52 Ford while in the army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. I was stationed there for almost a year before shipping out to France. I did all my own flame jobs and scallops back then and even made some money on the side doing others. Altogether, I had seven custom cars and hot rods back in the day!! The girl in the photo was my main squeeze then and worked as a secretary for the F.B.I. Her father was an agent. We were both 18.

165i. When I got out of the army in 1962, the flames and scallops had pretty much went out of style. Clean lines and power had succeeded them. My first car in ‘62 was an almost new 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air two door hardtop. Here’s a couple of photos.

165j. Ditto, interior. Center console with tach, tape recorder, etc. Tuck and roll upholstery, floor shift, swivel bucket seats and an aircraft type steering wheel! Even a padded dash before padded dashes were normal!

165k. Later, I got a 1962 Corvette. It was one of the hottest cars in town! 327 cu. in. bored out to 60,000 over, Duntov Cam, solid lifters, Edlebrock manifold, Twin Cadillac Four Barrels and a 4:56 rear end.

165l. I loved this car. Wish i still had it. tThey go for more than a hundred thousand today when you can find them!

165m. Susan and the Vette on our honeymoon at the brand new “Over the highway” McDonald’s in 1966. It is still there, just north of Tulsa OK. I have had six Corvettes in my life. That was the first!

Part 8 Militaria.

166. Us Navy A-6 Intruder pilot’s uniform. I have a storage unit filled with this kind of military and even dioramas I had no room for. I plan on rotating them from time to time.

167. Then a Soviet MIG-21 pilot’s uniform complete with parachute, oxygen equipment, and so on.

168. And an F-16 fighter pilot’s uniform from the 1990s. It is complete down to the last detail. I should mention a modeler in Seattle, a Vietnam gunship gunner, who had been exposed to far too much Agent Orange. He always used his nickname, “Blinder”. He was so in love with the idea of the museum, he donated many items such as this uniform, He was a dealer in Militaria and we were good friends. I met him in person back in 1990 I think, at the IPMS Nationals in Seattle. For many years, he emailed me daily. He wasn’t married and had no family. One day, the emails stopped.

169. This is a “Boots and Coots” firefighter’s suit. It was used to extinguish the oil rig fires in Kuwaiti during the first Gulf war. It can withstand 2000° (F) for an hour. Original cost? $100,000.00! It was also donated by Blinder. Boots and Coots are the :Other firefighting company, their competition being the one that John Wayne made Famous in the movie, “Hellfighters”.

170. Various Militaria. Where did I get all this and much, much more in storage? Besides Blinder, VLS customers sent it to me requesting I commission my sculptors and pattern makers to do them in miniature. They wanted in return a half dozen or a dozen products when they were released. I made it a practice to send them a dozen kits for each item sent.

172. A US Carrier flight deck crewman’s head gear. A WW II US gas mask, various country’s military medals, a Gold coin from the Tower mint in London commemorating the bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar, 1n 2005, as well as a tie tack from the Euromilitarie Figure exposition. Both were given to me by Ken Jones.

173. Various hats. Soviet pile cap, A Dutch police officer’s service cap, Two Belgian police service caps and a WW II G.I.s Dress cap.

176. A really special item. General Colin Powell’s Desert Storm Kevlar helmet. This came from the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff back in 2001, along with artifacts from Schwarzkopf as well. (See later artifacts). to the left are Inert hand grenades of several types, and some Desert Storm 120mm figures. VLS had customers throughout the military including those in the Pentagon. To the right are two VP 120mm figures from Operation Desert Storm.

176a. Ditto. That’s a Miniature World Beer Mug from the gift shop back in the 90s.

177. During Operation Desert Storm, some of our military customers in Kuwait, had this shipped to me complete with name tag and a combat infantryman’s badge. I have learned that people who model are diverse, but, there is an unusual number of Police Officers, the Military, Doctors and especially Dentists involved. Go figure! That’s an inert Laws rocket on the right. And an imitation M-26 rifle on the left. It fires .22 long rifle only. The uniform is complete with the “Fritz’ helmet. The photograph of the girl in the background was one of the tour guides in the museum. All the employees wore those uniforms.

178. A North Vietnam regular’s sun helmet from the 1970s. Several gas masks from different countries and eras plus some 120mm figures.

179. More gas masks and an NBC chemical head cover. An Arab head dress is in the center.

180. A 37mm shell taken from the back of an American aces ejection seat. It didn’t explode and the pilot survived. A rifled grenade cartridge, (Inert). Two Chopper crew helmets, Vietnam vintage, and a very rare Inmates cap with Jewish star embroidered from Auschwitz Concentration camp.

181. A WW I steel helmet and a campaign hat. (In very bad condition, it’s a hundred years old this year! Also several VP product displays built by Lewis Pruneau in the 1980s.

185. The main hat case. Military and police hats from various countries. (More on that later).

186. Ditto.

187. Police patches from all over the world. In the background is the academy notebook I compiled in 1966 at the st. Louis Police academy.

188. A tactical Operations uniform, (complete with kevlar helmet, all riot gear, boots, gloves, black ski mask and so on. (St. Louis County Police)

189. “Upgrade”, 1980s, I built this after visiting the California Highway Patrol facility in San Diego, California. With my press pass, but even more so with my retirement badge, they gave me the grand tour of the place, I took lots of photographs. The diorama’s subtitle is, “What if the California Highway Patrol had a Lamborghini Diablo”? It features Verlinden 1/24th car series figures and a 1/25th Fujimi Lamborghini Countach and an AMT Ford Taurus Police Car. On the wall behind it is one of the photos in a magazine article about the diorama.

189a. Another angle.

189b. Another angle.

190. Back in the early 80s, on one of my many trips to Europe, (I’ve crossed the Atlantic more than 200 times in my life. I’d like to have all the money I spent on those trips!) I stopped in a Kaiserslautern police station. I showed them my retirement badge and told them I collected police equipment, (“Sammalung” in German = collection). I met a patrol officer named Klaus Sinner. We became friends over the years and I went on patrol with him a couple of times! That is his work uniform in the photo. Police work is much the same the world over. Except that Europe had far less crime, at least when compared to St. Louis. They gave me an commanding officer’s uniform, trousers, shoes and all. At the time, it actually fit me! No comments!  :laugh: It was soooo cool! Klaus and me beside his patrol wagon.

190a. The German Police Uniform.

191. These model buildings are all box art. I think I built and painted all the box art for several of the brands from 1999 to 2007. As soon as a new release came off the line, production would bring all the parts, I would build it, paint and weather it and then photograph it and send that to the art department where they would make the labels. VLS’ 15 production companies had a total of 2,200 products when I sold the company. The photo was taken on a cruise to the Caribbean with the Verlindens back in 1986. Susan is behind me and Francois’ wife, Lilliane, is in the green dress.

Part 9. The Glass Cases.

192. More box art. There is a beer stein from Miniature World in the center. Name Tag from Euromilitaire to the left.

193. Ditto.

194. More Box art, there is the jungle hut I posted on my forum here. Dave Harper photographed it as i painted. He was obsessed with the Pacific theater of WW II. Above is a massive photo-etched fence and gate in 1/35th scale. It was one of the Tech Star products.

195. More Box art.

195a. Ditto.

196. More Box art. A name tag from the Chicago Trade fair. A Japanese pilot’s headband, WW II. Note the DCS box in the back. When Verlinden first started making plaster buildings in the 1970s, they were called DCS productions. A man I came to know well from Belgium, moved to St. Louis and, with Verlinden’s permission, started producing them in America. His name was Richard Mottard. Later, in 1984, he returned to Belgium and started a figure company. VLS carried them until Richard had a heart attack and died while at the second Euromilitaire show out on the balcony overlooking the channel coast. His company was Belgo figures.

197. For years, VLS commissioned sculptors and pattern makers from around the world. One of our primary pattern makers was Carles Elias from Portugal. He was a friend of Mig Jiminez who you all are familiar with. One day, I got the photograph you see on the glass wall behind the model buildings. He had taken it on a trip to Russia. He had offered it to Mig to paint like the photograph. Mig told him he should give it to me. Long story short, I painted it, it became a best seller in the Custom Dioramics line and later, I converted it to the white building and we sold a lot of them as well.

198. More box art!

199. More box art and some Verlinden figures. Lewis Pruneau worked for VLS from 1985 to 1990 and he painted many Verlinden products for us to display at trade fairs. These are examples. Note the case and women’s wrist watch. We had both men’s and women’s watches made with the VLS Logo on the dial. Sold a lot, all the employees got one and they made nice gifts to business vendors and customers.

200. More box art, (Now maybe you can understand why my dioramas kept being put on the back burner during those years). A white coffee mug from Miniature World. We did a lot of merchandising during the VLS years! A photo of Susan and I on a Caribbean cruise on The Norwegian ship, “Sovereign of the Seas”, with the ship’s captain.

201. More box art and a product Verlinden created from a real F-16 fighter plane. We sold hundred’s of those silly things! I still have three myself! Then an HO trolley. I used it to give pattern maker Ben Jacobsen the idea I wanted for the Custom Dioramics Trolley. That was one of our best sellers and it retailed for a hundred dollars. BTW, Ben was also a friend of Chuck W. on MA and passed away in November of last year.

202. Ditto plus another DCS product!

203. One of my most treasured dioramas. The late Shep Paine built this for Monogram back in 1972. One 0f the 8 wheeled armored cars is stock and one is converted to a command vehicle. He made many of these dioramas for Monogram and they used them as artwork for their “Tips on Building Dioramas” brochures, including them in their armor and aircraft kits in the 1970s. It is extremely rare and collector’s would die to get their hands on one. Back in 1986, after VLS had been growing to include all the plastic manufacturers in our wholesale inventory, The president of Monogram at that time, Bob Johnson, took us, Wes Bradley, Susan and I on an elaborate tour of the factory. When we walked into their conference room, I spotted this on a shelf. Naturally, being a modeler who had not yet became so used to models as I would be later, freaked out. The president asked me if I would like to have it. I’m sure you can’t guess my reply! I have now owned it for the last 32 years. I have had many inquiries about buying it, but, not a chance! The two figures to the right in the second angle shot, were sculpted and painted by Mike Good, a very well known sculptor and figure painter from back in the 1980s and 90s. I lost contact with Mike several years ago! The last I heard was he had moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico to join an art community there.

203a. Another angle showing the “Tip Sheet”.

204. This diorama was featured in The Verlinden Way, Volume 2. I met François Verlinden for the first time in 1984 at the IPMS Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. I had read his first book, The Verlinden Way Volumn One, and we had, by coincidence, had articles, back to back in the second issue of Fine Scale Modeler magazine. I was still a cop, and had started a company I called Warwinds Militaria and hobby Ltd. I ran it out of our basement on a couple of work tables and some old shelves. The agenda back then was to travel to as many weekend shows as possible, Susan and Wes would man the vendor tables and I would compete. In Atlanta, Verlinden and Stok came to find a distributer for his products in the states. We had 12 tables and had brought Lewis Pruneau and a couple of other guys along to help! We turned out to be the largest vendor at the show. I was selling Verlinden’s books and plaster buildings I was buying through Lynn Sangster of Historex Agents in England. (Lynn recently passed away). Long story short, Francois and i hit it off and Warwinds eventually became his exclusive American distributor. We did so well in fact, that in August, 1985, Stok and Verlinden asked me to become partners with them. The rest is history. He gave me this diorama and another one shortly after we became business partners.

205. This truck was built by the late Duane Phister of Southern California. He was the primary modeler for the California magazines, Scale Modeler and Military Modeler for many years. Duane was a Master’s Group member for many years as well, and he rarely missed a Mastercon, even though he wouldn’t fly and always took Amtrac to and from the show. The truck is 1/16th scale. Duane and I partied together many times! He passed away 6 or 7 years ago.

205a. Duane Phister receiving a Best of category from me at Mastercon 12. I met Duane when we were in Verdun France. I was 20 and he was 17. Almost the time when I was going home for a discharge, a young recruit Duane was just arriving. We met on an army bus that ran between Verdun and Etain Air force base. When Duane came to mastercon every year, we’d sit down over a beer or two and reminisce about old times!

206. This bust was painted by Hal Sanford. You may remember the book, “Modelaholic” from the 1990s. Hal was the author. He was a regular at Mastercon, one of the “Old Guard” and one of the nicest and funniest guys I have ever known. We still keep in touch and he continues to attend the show in Dallas, now called Eagle Quest. In the background, a Christmas card from Shep Paine. We exchanged cards from 1982 until he died. I kept them all. The Mercedes Staff car was a product we produced in the Trakz range. Now there are a ton of plastic German staff cars. For years, they were non-existent!

206a. Hal Sanford, (left) and Shep Paine. Mastercon 12.

207. You may recognize the F-16 cockpit from the Verlinden books. It was painted by François and is the original Box art.

208. Heavy Flak Emplacement. A new Verlinden product back in 1986, I built the Tamiya 88 and Pruneau put it in the emplacement and detailed it out. A side story with this dio. Back in the early 1980s, I built a very large number of models each year. Building my “Superdioramas” with dozens of vehicles and hundreds of figures, required me to learn short cuts and techniques to speed up my building and painting. Some of the guys in my IPMS chapter became suspicious. They didn’t believe I could build all those so quickly. One evening, at a meeting, Susan came to pick me us and was talking with other wives in a room adjacent to where we met. In the conversation, one of the women asked her why she was always with me at shows, meetings and so on. She then said the wrong thing. She said, “Bob and I do everything together”, we always have”. The next thing I knew there were rumors that Susan was building the sub-assemblies for my models. That was considered a capital crime in IPMS competition, so I had to put it to rest! In short, I had a one of the doubting Thomases come over on a saturday morning, I opened the box of the Tamiya 88 kit, built it, painted it and mounted it on a base during the nine hours he was there. I took it to the nationals that year and it took a second place in it’s category. BTW, that didn’t stop the rumors! :-) That gun was the one I gave Lewis to put in the diorama. Don’t you just love old IPMS stories?

209. A very early model in my military modeling phase. A British Centurion Mk 5 and one of my first attempts at serious figure painting. 1981. Below is a photo taken at a Mastercon. That is Carlos Andrea of Andrea Miniatures in Spain in the white shirt awarding a trophy to a modeler. Carlos and I have been friends for many years. He began his professional career sculpting figures for Verlinden. From that small beginning, he created an empire becoming the largest figure company in the world. Behind him on the left is Lewis Pruneau and on the right is Joe Porter.

210. Another very early model of mine. A German Field kitchen built back in 1982.

211. Another of my favorite dioramas. Modelers Alliance’s own Ian Hil’s diorama from way back in 1991? A Panther workshop! Very busy and clearly shows the budding talent of a fellow member who has went on to do much greater things. Ian came to Mastercon back then and gave it to me before departing back to Australia. I can’t believe that was 27 years ago, and we’re still connecting, both on this website and via email!

212. Yet another one of my favorites. Lewis Pruneau scratched this 1/16th scale BMW motorcycle and converted the 120mm figures to go with it! I believe he did this one in the late 90s. It has always been a favorite in the museum.

212a. Another angle.

213. You guys may remember Jim Stephens from the Shep Paine How-to books which featured several of his dioramas and models. He liked to scratch build in 1/24th scale and he was damned good at it. IMO, he was the best ever with pastels, the forerunner of the pigments many of us use today. All the weathering on this truck was done with pastels. He was a Chicago cop while I was still carrying a badge. We had a lot in common and he was a fun guy to hang out with.

213a. Me and Jim Stephens at one of the Mastercons, probably in the mid-1990s.

214. This German Hetzer dio was built by Gordon Stronach. Gordon worked for VLS for many years as a in-house pattern maker. An amazing painter, he built the best painted aircraft I have ever seen. It was a 1/48th scale Stuka with a winter white finish that caught my eye at a Dallas show. I located him, with the help of Joe Porter, who knew him well, offered him a job and moved him to St. louis. That Stuka was flawless! There is a Christmas card behind it. That was one of many I exchanged with the owners of Mascot models, Roger and Janet Styles from England. VLS carried their products for decades. The figures were all nude/semi-nude female figures in all kinds of outfits and from all different countries. Him and his wife were very young and looked like the teenagers next door. Roger always reminded me of a young Paul McCartney. Both seemed so innocent. Their figure kits were so much unlike them, I always had to laugh! Some were downright raunchy. They used live models to sculpt them and, one Christmas, they sent me a folder with dozens of photographs of the girls who modeled for them and I don’t mean scale models! The guys at VLS relentlessly pestered me to check out that folder!

214a. A photo of Gordon Stronach at my house eating some Australian Lammingtons I made from a recipe given me by a girl once a part of this website. :laugh: Gordon was the founder of all the Planet model websites, Planet Armor, Planet Figure, Planet Aircraft and Planet Diorama.

214b. The Lammingtons I made that day!  :laugh:

215. This is the other Verlinden Diorama he gave me when we became partners. It is a German Rathaus, (City Hall), and an abandoned German 88 gun. It was also featured in The Verlinden Way, Volume 2 among other publications as well as the Box art for the product.

216. A tiny GMC gasoline truck in 1/72nd scale I built in 1982. I opened up the hood and scratched a tiny little GMC motor. It won a first place in it’s category in the Phoenix IPMS Nationals back in ’83. Not very impressive today, but I was proud of it back then!

217. Two more 1/35th and a 1/72nd vehicles I built 35 years ago for the Phoenix IPMS Nationals of 1983. A 1/72nd French AMX-30, A 1/35th German Hanomag, and an M-32 Sherman ARV. I took 37 entries, in all, and drove all the way in my car as obviously I couldn’t take them on a plane. It was my first competition after winning the Nationals in St. Louis with the Winds of War. I brought home 47 awards, every single entry won at least a second place and three took best of categories. I was in heaven! Those were such glorious times! They seem like another lifetime!

218. Mort Schmitt from Kentucky, was the official VLS Photographer for several years. He was also an excellent modeler. I have several of his models and this M3A1 Stuart is one of his best! It won a gold and Best armor. It was in 1/16th scale. The “nose art” was hand painted. Mort passed away at a very young age a few years ago.

218a. Mort Schmitt. Mort passed away at a very young age a few years ago.

219. The old Esci kit in 1/8th scale Zundapp motorcycle and sidecar, that I also built for the Phoenix Nationals way back when.

220. Robert Oehler, a great modeler and author for several British magazines and books publishers. He lives in California and is still active in the hobby! He was also a Mastercon regular. He gave this M-47 Jordanian Patton tank from the West Bank, 1967, to me after one of the Mastercons he attended.

220a. Robert Oehler giving a seminar at one of the Mastercons/

220b. Another modeler buddy of mine is Frank Stumpo. Frank was an N.Y.P.D. cop who was laid off back in the 80s. He then applied to the Houston, Texas department and moved there. Susan and I used to spend our first summers after retirement in Kemah, a resort suburb and we hooked up there with Frank. We also met him at an AMPS show in Maryland and the last time we saw him was when my daughter, Gail and I went there for a week, we had lunch in a Mexican restaurant with him. Frank and Jose Rodriquez of Tiger Models are coming to visit in June to see the museum this year. Below: Me, Gail and Frank. 2013.

221. George Woodard was considered one of America’s best armor modelers when I joined IPMS back in 1981. There were three master armor builders in the club I joined which just happened to be the largest chapter in the world, more than 150 members! When those three went to a National, or any convention, for that matter, nobody else won in their categories. This was an almost scratch built M-3 Lee. The entire aircraft engine was scratched, (Check it out at the rear of the tank), and most of the model as well. It had a complete interior that was lighted. George is still in the hobby in St. Louis! This was built during the 1970s and early 80s.

222. Some more box art I built and painted from the VLS line, “Streets of Laredo”. That was a line that featured the old America West. Buildings, horses and figures. One of my bucket list projects in the future is an old west town. Ken Jones gave me the Andrea “General” locomotive, I have all the kits from the Laredo series, plus a lot of Andrea and other western figures and accessories from other companies. Note the upper right hand corner. A photo I took of The Tamiya building in Shizouka Japan.

223. More Streets of Laredo Box art. Note the coffee cup from Riga, Latvia, former home of the infamous German Concentration camp! Plus some Indians and Cavalrymen from the VLS line, “Legends and Lore” in 120mm.

224. Another Don Kanaval diorama. Don always earned a gold medal for every entry. Mastercon was unique at the time as I had made the rules so there were no judges. If you had an entry, you had two votes and you couldn’t vote for yourself. In the background, Verlinden magazine published an article on Don for his famous “Nose Art. What an incredible artistic talent! Don made everybody look bad!

Continued in Chapter 4