The Life of a Plastic Model Kit Designer By Bruce P. Byerly

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Editors Note: The appearance of the great AMT XB-70, F7F Tigercat and XB-35 Flying Wing kits was always a surprise to me. They seemed to appear from nowhere – from a company that almost exclusively made car models. Many years later I was fortunate enough to receive an email from Bruce Byerly, the designer of these and numerous other kits. He has been kind enough to write his bio and it is my pleasure to print it. Model designers are where it all starts – and Ihope that this story adds as much to your depth and appreciation of the modeling art as it has mine. AB Google+ profile

I’ve not written this story to brag, not by any means. I’ve had a very wonderful life because of models and you fellow modelers. I thank GOD everyday for the road I’ve traveled. I’ve gone through a lot of would’ve, could’ve, should’ves, but when I do, I look back on all the adventures I’ve had. I’ve been very lucky and blessed.


I was born very young, I’ve been told. It’s been said I saw the first light of day with a hobby knife in my hand. I truly don’t remember.

My father had been a fighter pilot in World War II flying PT-17s, Corsairs and Hellcats, so I was born with a love of aircraft. My Dad got me started building models when I was about 5. One day he brought home an airplane kit and some glue and we jumped in. He saw that I showed an interest, so he took a chance I could build a model and wouldn’t cut my finger off. There were no “snap-together” kits back then but most kits were pretty basic. My first kit was a disaster…the canopy had enough gluey fingerprints on it that you couldn’t really tell what it was. My skills soon improved as I recall a Revell box-scale B-52 that didn’t turn out half bad. The joy of having all these winged things around the house took hold deep inside me and I was hooked. My best friend Gary and I would take weekly trips down to our Ben Franklin store to see if anything new had come in. We grew our thumbnails long so we could slice open the taped boxes, revealing the goodies inside…always careful that ‘ol man Penner didn’t catch us. We’d look inside and if the clear parts were decent, the rest of the kit would be. We had standards, you see.


Revell Box Scale B-52

I remember many a shopping trip to Cedar Rapids, the next biggest town from ours. Continue reading “The Life of a Plastic Model Kit Designer By Bruce P. Byerly”