With more time spent indoors, men are given a chance to go back to long forgotten hobbies and crafts. In this series called "Back in the Habit," ANCX will share these passion projects, bonding activities, and little pockets of joy that these have rediscovered within the comforts of their home.
Architect Amerigo dela Paz was home, like most of the world under the COVID-19 quarantine, trying to fill his days with something useful. He’d decided on taking up an online course, a new computer-aided design program on architecture, when his plans changed.
“My children came home because of the lockdown,” dela Paz shares. His sons, 35-year-old Miko and 29-year-old Enzo, were already living on their own in their condos. But faced with the prospect of solitary confinement, they moved back in with their parents. That’s when dela Paz’s summer took a different turn. “My two boys saw my model kits and started to work on them,” the 65-year-old says. “Since I've long wanted to start working on my models, I got back to it.”
Scale modeling is a popular hobby among history buffs. To the outsider, it looks like making smaller versions of things, usually planes, tanks, and other war machinery. While not entirely inaccurate, scale modeling is more than just building little toys. A scale model is an accurate three-dimensional representation of a physical object.
You may also like:
“Scale modeling is not just building the kits,” dela Paz says. “Historical research is done to make the markings and variant of the plane or tank historically accurate. This particular plane or tank really existed. Some modelers would even make a diorama depicting an event, usually from a picture they saw in books or on the internet. So if I would make a tank that saw action in World War II, I would try to paint and model it in a particular era.” He pays so much attention to detail that dela Paz will even check whether the tank was used in the eastern front against Russia in the winter because “the camouflage would then be different if it was summer.”
Scale modeling involves a vast array of skills. It all begins with research and this can involve spending a great deal of time poring over books, photographs, websites, and even visiting museums. Once all the details are mastered, that’s only when modeling begins. Engineering and crafting skills like cutting, sawing, and sculpting are summoned to construct plastic parts into a highly detailed three-dimensional object. Once the model is assembled, paint is applied with delicate and painstaking detail.
“I started making model kits in grade school when my father gave me an airplane and tank to assemble,” dela Paz says. “I think he noticed that I would always disassemble my toys and assemble them again. So he just gave me something that I would have to assemble.”
Working with your hands
As he grew older, dela Paz took it more seriously. “It was only natural that I took up this hobby because I like working with my hands and I love history. This hobby combines both,” he says. “I think most modelers are history buffs, too. There is a worldwide club of modelers called the International Plastic Modelers Society (IPMS). I joined its local chapter, IPMS Bert Anido. Our chapter was named after its founder who was a member of the Philippine Air Force.” (He was also the father of Alfie Anido, the actor who died during Martial Law.)
Before the lockdown, their club met every Sunday at UP Fine Arts, and would hold an exhibit or competition once a year. They have a variety of members: retired generals, lawyers, dentists, doctors, businessmen, and architects.
“One notable project we did was to make the USS Aircraft Gambier. This ship saw action in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in WW2 and was sunk by the Japanese,” dela Paz shares. “We did it in 1/48 scale, the ship was around 12 feet long. After it was finished, it was displayed in the Navy museum. I think we also sent photos to the US Navy.”
As dela Paz began devoting more time to his successful architecture practice and large family (he has five grown children with wife, Rosa Rossini), the model kits gathered dust. “I didn't really stop. I just went into a hiatus,” he says. “Maybe because I engaged in new ventures, work and sports, that took most of my time. In fact, I was still buying model kits even though I was not actively building them. As with many modelers, we buy kits that are desirable or wanted for our collection so I have some kits lying around, waiting to be built.”
The long wait ended when the kits were discovered by his bored sons. Soon, father and sons were huddled around a table full of plastic parts, tools and paints, completely absorbed in building models, learning new skills, and relishing each other’s time.
Click on the arrows for slideshow
A model of a Tiger tank used in the Eastern front (Russia) in winter WW2, hence the white camouflage.
A Leopard tank, which is a modern German tank.
A Russian T62A from the Cold War.
“Scale modeling is more than just building little toys; it is an accurate three-dimensional representation of a physical object.”
Scale modeling is a hobby that benefits the brain. According to Kelly G. Lambert, a professor at Randolph-Macon College, the brain is “devoted to movement. So hobbies and activities that use our hands are engaging more of our brain’s real estate. Gardening, building model airplanes, and knitting could be the key to mental health because they activate a lot of our brain.”
With the dela Paz men, it’s not just their brains that have seen benefits. While scale modeling is by nature a solitary pastime and one that dela Paz has enjoyed quietly alone for years, he has found the unexpected pleasure of sharing it with his sons. In fact, even when quarantine lifts, he wants to continue scale modeling, but no longer as a sole pursuit. “I plan to convert a vacant room in the house where my boys and I can work together on the hobby, and maybe with my grandson when he gets older,” dela Paz said. “My sons started on the hobby quite late but they seem to enjoy it. We are having a great time bonding.”
IPMS Bert Anido could be contacted through their Facebook page. Scale modeling kits are sold at Lil's (Megamall, Building A basement and Glorietta) and at JMN Hobby Shop, Fisher Mall.