As I sit here inside on this cool snowy day in New Jersey, my thoughts turn to modelling. Over the weekend, I setup my new basement workshop which has been beckoning me to come and finally finish my father’s 1/48 Roden Mohawk! I am constantly inspired by the great modelers and friends I have made through Facebook.
I am excited to present this outstanding interview with noted Sci-Fi Modeler and Author April Welles from Halo, HI! Not only is her model of the Daedalus Icarus outstanding – she did it using only her non-dominant hand! It is so easy to get into the same old routine when starting a new model – this approach shatters the mold. It is like luminosity for the modeling brain – take those challenges that come along or come up with one of your own!
April Welles and TSR © 2015
1) Can you tell us a little about yourself – how long have you been modeling?
I have been building models, mostly, for about 17 years. I started when I was a child, but I did not receive a lot of encouragement from my family. They did not like that I built them. My first model I recall building was the 1/32 F4U Corsair from Testors (I believe). I enjoyed building it, and, I admit that I did play with it a bit afterwards. Heck I was 7. Why not.
I got the model as a gift because I used to enjoy watching ‘Black Sheep Squadron’ and thought the planes were cool (although my favorite WWII plane is the P-38).
How, if I received very little encouragement from my family, did I get a model kit? They didn’t think I would want to do more. They thought it was a small phase, and after trying to build one I would give up.
I did not, entirely. But I did get scorned looks from my step-fathers, and confused looks from my mother. Why did I like building Naval Vessels, and occasional aircraft? Then when I got into Science Fiction models, well, that’s when things went downhill for me.
Without getting further into it, suffice to say the effect upon me was enough to make me stop building for about 10 years.
I started for a short time as an adult in Santa Clara, CA. But stopped again after less than a year. Until I finally moved to Oregon. THERE is where I was able to build to my heart’s content. That was 17 years ago.
2) Where do you hail from?
I have moved a lot in my life. A lot. But I was born in North Dakota, then at six months I was brought to Northern California. After many, many, many other moves, I finally spent my longest years in Portland Oregon, before moving to The Big Island of Hawai’i five years ago.
3) I know it’s a little off-topic, but you are a female modeler in a hobby dominated by males. Do you compete or belong to any clubs?
I belong to a great club called The Co.M.Mi.E.S., The Colorado Modelling Militia Enjoying Sci-fi, led by our Fearless Leader, Dan Holmes. A very wonderful group. Filled with very encouraging and enlightened males, some of whom are married with very supportive, and in many cases, very artistic wives as well.
There are no competitions in the group that I am able to attend. Although, they have been recognized as an IPMS Chapter about 6 years ago (possibly a bit longer).
I have submitted my builds at the local IPMS challenges in Oregon a few times and won 1st place for a few of my builds, as well as Best Science Fiction subject. I have also entered many of my builds into the contest at Wonderfest in Louisville, KY.
I have won many Bronze medals, as well as a Silver for my modified 1/32 Monogram Viper from Star Wolves Squadron (my own squadron).
Here in Hawai’i there are no model stores, or hobby stores. Nor are there any modeling groups or clubs on The Big Island.
4) Have you had an uphill battle to gain the respect of your fellow modelers?
Before I was asked to join the CoMMiES (after meeting me at my second Wonderfest in Louisville, KY), yes, I had a challenge being accepted by males.
I built many Sci-fi subjects (what I primarily focus on) and put some on display at my local hobby store, in Portland, 17 years ago.
They were a pair of 1/43 AMT X-Wings that I had kitbashed and modified with my own ideas.
One was painted in shades of blue with six forward-firing cannons, with a female pilot standing nearby checking the landing area for possible threats. I detailed the cockpit and made the forest clearing terrain using railroad supplies. The plaque was titled ‘Arctic Phoenix’ as that was the pilot’s name for her fighter, as well as a play on her own name (Daranah Fenix).
The other X-Wing I built as an Experimental one. It had a bare metal finish except for blue stripes along the fuselage and the wings. It had a rear-firing Ion Cannon and the standard forward wing cannons.
This build also had battle damage and showed some of the internal machinery; Blasted wing cannon, power conduits, lowered Proton Torpedo Launcher (for maintenance and reloading), the nose sensors, and a detailed cockpit. The base was a desert terrain, with some scratchbuilt droids and other tools and equipment about, with ground crew working on the fighter.
The pilot was standing beside it, hand touching it, caressing it, thanking it for bringing her home. The title on the plaque was ‘Incom T-65A-IC: “The Caress”‘.
As I was standing in the hobby store admiring those builds a couple of young men (late teens-early 20’s) entered the hobby store, stood in front of me and were admiring my builds. Making comments like, ‘That’s so cool.’, ‘Man, that’s really original.’, ‘Awesome work.’
Feeling bolstered, I stepped forward and expressed my thanks.
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