More than 4,000 models will be displayed this weekend at the International Plastic Modelers Society's USA National Convention. / Photo by Lynn Petty

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International Plastic Modelers Society

Remember those plastic model kits of the 1960s? Popular mini images of Godzilla, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Ford Mustangs, Plymouths, muscle cars and an assortment of airplanes that youngsters meticulously glued together, painstakingly handpainted, then proudly displayed on their bedroom dressers.

"If you grew up in the 1950s and '60s, models were thought of as kids' toys. As those kids grew up into adulthood, they developed better modeling skills," says Lynn Petty, a local plastic model enthusiast.

"The emphasis in models turned to historical accuracy. People got deeper into the quality of the build. They started doing very deep historical research and doing things to make their replicas more like the real machines in paint schemes, more accurate markings."

Convention Special

Lynn Petty announces that Eduard company is marketing a new P-51 Mustang model that will be released at this weekend’s convention.

“This new kit will have a commemorative decal sheet in it called the Chattanooga Choo Choo. I think that’s kind of cool. It will be a limited edition, but we are unsure at this time how many will be in the series,” he says.

This weekend there will be more than 4,000 of these plastic facsimiles on display when the International Plastic Modelers Society's USA National Convention is held for the first time in Chattanooga. Regional clubs hosting the show are from Chattanooga, Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia.

More than 1,000 hobbyists from across the United States as well as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America began arriving in town Wednesday to take part.

Highly detailed scale models of planes, cars, ships, tanks and figures made by some of the best modelers in the world will be displayed in the Chattanooga Convention Center Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 8-10.

Additionally there will be 450 vendor tables in the convention center — a larger vendor market than at any previous national show.

"People will sell old and new kits, display cases, adhesives and paints. There will be displays of future releases and a company from Chicago selling tools geared to fine work," says Petty, who is the show consigliere. Mike Moore is convention chairman.

If you go

› What: International Plastic Modelers Society USA Nationals

› Where: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter St.

› When: Doors open to the public 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8-10

› Admission: $12

› For more information:

Petty says this convention has taken over all the center's exhibit halls. Half will hold vendors; the other half will be display rooms for models. Models will be judged in categories by style and size. Petty estimates there will be 60 or more categories within the aircraft division alone. Prizes will be awarded in categories; Judges' Best, Best in Show, People's Choice Award and other special awards.

Petty believes visitors will be amazed by the intricacy of these display models.

"In the 1960s, model kits were built a little better than a toy. For example, a plane's cockpit might just have a pilot figure but no interior. Now models have far more details replicating instruments or seats in the cockpit. What were simple kits are now very complex and might be multimedia kits. It's growing into an adult hobby."

While Petty concedes the majority of the hobbyists are older adults, he happily adds that there are young people adding to their numbers — primarily through the introduction of Gundam models to the hobby. Gundam models depict characters from the Gundam universe Banda, which is popular with Japanese anime fans.

The convention will include workshops and seminars related to developing skills, which are for registered conventiongoers. However, the Model Display Room will be open to the public ($12 admission). Display Room hours are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

But since conventiongoers, and their accompanying models, will still be arriving Thursday, Petty suggests the best times for the public to view displays will be 2-5:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

"They'll get inspired; they'll see what's possible with builds," he says. "There will be demonstrations in the vendors area of products, too. It's just a great learning experience."

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.


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