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. The folks would drop me off at Box-Kar Hobbies on the way into town, go do their shopping and pick me up on the way back home. I would go down every aisle over and over, talking with the clerks to pick up modeling hints and tips. What cheap babysitters…and smart parents.
In the sixties I got into cars for awhile (yes, the Dark Side) but they did not stick. I quickly moved back into planes and even some spaceships. I remember that Stromberg had some great spaceships. Model kits were quickly becoming more available and the subject matter was growing. And so was I.
During school, my dad had taught me to draw or at least showed me the talent I had. I graduated (just) from high school and went to Hawkeye Institute of Technology to train as a Commercial Artist. Afterwards I moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I worked for a really fun advertising company. Quickly I found a local hobby shop that was very pleased to take most of my paycheck. They were nice enough to display some of my models, and I helped them organize model contests and even taught modeling classes for kids. I also started doing some scratch-building like a 6’ long Zeppelin and the Eagle glider from a very small picture on the YES ‘Fragile’ album. This was the early 70s if you haven’t guessed.
Star Wars, ERTL and Professional Modeling
After a few years I came back to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I worked in some retail stores so I could eat and not have to build models by candlelight. Then Star Wars was born. Does anyone not recall the rush they got from the opening scene of that movie? Well, I decided I just had to have an X-Wing Fighter for my own and there were not any kits available- I would have to scratch-build one. I went to see the movie again armed with a penlight, a drawing pad and a pencil. I waited through the whole movie till the Death Star battle then made sketches and took notes. This was repeated again and again- 30 times. There was a young lady in town who had seen the movie more than I had, but not by much.
I built the model 1/32nd scale. A Russian pilot became my X-Wing pilot. The model turned out not too bad, so I took it down to Box-Kar for display. They called the local paper, which sent a reporter in. He took a picture of me holding my model and put it in the next issue with the heading “Little Star Wars”. Needless to say I was hell to live with after that.
Somehow ERTL had seen the story and I got a call from them asking me if I would be interested in building box-art models for them. I decided to take my X-Wing to ERTL for the interview, and placed it in the back seat of my ’63 Chevy. During the trip, a car in front of me came to an abrupt stop due to a snowdrift, and I rear-ended her. The accident destroyed the model, but I got the position with ERTL. I started off free-lancing for them, but they quickly decided it would be cheaper to bring me on full-time. I snatched up the opportunity and was soon building models professionally. They were mostly doing models of John Deere tractors and International Harvester trucks but, hey, they were model kits. Life was good and I had a lot of fun. The guys at ERTL were great. We went to a bunch of model shows, even got to wear an ERTL badge. Then one day their model kit designer (note: singular) quit. My boss, Dave Carlock, came to me and said, “Today you’re a model kit designer.” My first assignment was the Great Dane trailer. Being a commercial artist, I did what I did best – draw. And I did a knock-out job – three-views, cutaways, the works. When my boss took a look, he asked me “Where are the draft angles?” I said, “What’s a draft angle?” In short, draft angles are necessary on all model designs so that parts eject from the mold properly. In other words, there has to be a release angle on every stinking piece or they do not come out of the mold. The entire design had to be reworked, but you learn something new every day. And this bit of information was pretty vital to someone who wants to be a model kit designer. Well, I learned that little lesson and much more. Thank goodness they were patient.
ERTL Great Dane Trailer
Time went by and one night my boss and I were pounding down a few cold ones. He said that he had been hired by Revell Models out in Marina Del Rey, California. He asked if I would like to come along. I thought “Hollywood!” As a matter of fact, the Revell plant was right across the street from this little brick building with blacked out windows where the movie models for Star Wars had been built. Did you know Revell had been contacted by Lucas to do the Star Wars model kits and Revell turned him down? Someone at Revell thought it sounded like a cheap 1960s Japanese movie and wouldn’t go anywhere. Hindsight is always 20/20…the big money was in CHiPs motorcycles and a Charlie’s Angels van. But there’s a bright side to everything.
Revell called me, hired me over the phone and flew me out to LA. My boss picked me up at LAX airport and drove me back to the hotel. I only had time to drop off my bags and head out again… because all the Revell guys were having a party to watch the premiere episode of Battlestar Galactica. I knew this was gonna be great!
Revell 1/72 Space Shuttle
The first kit I worked on at Revell was the 72nd scale Space Shuttle. I learned a bunch of valuable lessons from that one. My friend and co-worker George laid out the design for the heat resistant tiles. It was a long and thankless job, but our model shop was second to none and did an incredible job of replicating them. They were all model fanatics in there own right and we got along great. We would take lunch across the street at TGI Fridays and once watched the filming of an episode of ChiPs. God, I loved LA.
Once we got to do some Kawasaki motorcycle models. Kawasaki sent us the bikes and we drove them up from the receiving dock to our drafting studio. I also got to work on the Visible Ford 4-Cylinder Engine (read ‘Pinto’). We had the real engine completely disassembled in the shop. We cut one of the pistons in half to get an accurate cross-section. When we were done, we reassembled the engine and sent it back to Ford. But you didn’t hear that from me. At Revell I also worked on the 1/48h scale CH53-A helicopter, the 1/32 scale F-14 and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader’s Van. Lord help me. Laugh if you like, but I got a signed poster.
One of the guys in the Revell model shop got wind of a pilot giving airplane rides. So one day a bunch of us went out to the Torrance Airport to take our turn riding back-seat in an AT-6 while the pilot put her through her paces. Oh my God! We took off and flew out over Palas Verdes peninsula toward Catalina Island. The pilot looked over his shoulder and says, “You ready?” The horizon line vanished. We did snap rolls, outside loops and a little dog fighting. I will never forget that thrill.
A little side note – and this will make some of you weep. One day a coworker and I were given the task of cleaning out Revell’s archive building. It held stacks and stacks of model kits dating back to their first release. We had to make sure there were at least 5 of every kit but any leftovers were ours. OK- I’ll give you a minute to visualize that moment when we opened the door to go in.
In the later years, Revell started loosing ground due to some business decisions and competition from other companies like Monogram. So I packed up and went to TOMY Toys, which was another fun place to work. I worked on a train that would extend as you pulled it, a tricycle ATV for kids, a neat little gas station/car wash and the Light Cycles from TRON. That was a blast. They were toys but also real engineering stuff. I had to figure out gear ratios and loads so they would function properly. I was terrible at math in high school, but I did not really care…because I was going to be an artist. Life is not without a sense of irony…and thank God someone invented the calculator.
TOMY lasted for a couple of years and I got wind that Mattel was hiring. I was hoping to work on boys’ toys but they were only hiring in for the girls side. Oh well. So I started designing Barbie accessories. There is no way that I could I make this stuff up. Yessir, the Bubbling Spa and the Home and Office are mine. Also if some of you will remember a classy sparkly Metalflake Corvette- yep, that’s me. We did some really bad things to Barbie while I was there and I’ll tell you about them some other time.
I saw the movie ‘The Last Starfighter’ while I was working at Mattel and I decided to build a Gunstar…since Mattel had a really great model shop with a really big vacuform machine. I was sitting in my cubicle one day and decided to call the studio that did the movie. I hoped they could give me some drawings. They told me they couldn’t release any information but American Cinematographer Magazine had done an article on the movie, which included blueprints of the ship. Cha-ching! I called the magazine and they sent me a free copy. I blew up the blueprint from the article and began a new set of drawings on the computer (working through my lunch breaks, you understand). This is where it got to be fun. Your see, doing things on a computer is not reality. Everything on the ship was geometric shapes, but they would take a cone and just push it through a cylinder. You can’t do that with solid objects…give it a try sometimes. But I love a challenge. And I was learning all sorts of new skills. I made wooden bucks for the “wings” and there was a plastics place up in Santa Monica where I bought 4’x8’ sheets of .060” styrene. Then the guys in the model shop helped vacuform the sheets over them. Many of the details and components on the ship were repetitive. So I would make one, then make an RTV mold of it and cast the parts in polyurethane resin. The canopy was a real gem because I made the buck small enough so I could vacuform two layers of .030 sheets over it – one for the canopy, one for the frame. It’s a sad testimony that I never did complete this project- but I’m going to start working on her again this year. I hope soon to be showing her in some local shows. She is big, 1/48th scale- about 16” long with a 12” wingspan.
Gunstar Spaceship (via Larry Yaeger website)
In the five years I was at Mattel, I worked on Barbie, Princess of Power, My Pets, and even designed a joint connection that got a patent. Then they started laying off mostly due to losses with Mattel Electronics.
I started working for a company that created technical illustrations for Boeing aircraft maintenance manuals. I was transferred to San Diego to start up a new 747 project. I can tell you where all the phone installations are on Airforce 1, but I’d have to kill you. Our office building was right across the street from Miramar, the Top Gun school. F-14s occasionally took our roof off. Yes, I have been to the bar in the movie.
I was sitting in my apartment one night, and I get a call from my old boss from Revell. He said that Monogram bought Revell and moved it to Chicago. He asked if I would like to design model kits again. So I packed up and moved from San Diego to Chicago in the dead of winter, but not before I broke my ankle at my going away party. Please don’t ask how. It was a testament to how much I love designing models.
So, I was back with models, and even had the exact same drafting table I had at Revell. Déjà vu. I got to work on a lot of great kits. If you look very closely at the odometer on the 1959 Chevy Impala, it reads 1959. I love doing stuff like that. I designed the A/B-26 Invader, which got ‘Kit of the Year’ from Squadron.
Monogram 1/48 A/B-26
I followed that with the He-111 which also got ‘Kit of the Year’. The guys at Revell-Monogram were top notch and incredible modelers. I got to travel all over the place on photo shoots, gathering reference material for the future projects. We made many trips to the Wright-Patterson Museum in Dayton, Ohio. I got to climb into the pilot’s seat on many a WWII aircraft under the guise of ‘taking measurements’ – all while getting paid for it. All we had to do was show our Revell-Monogram badges and the red carpet was rolled out. When we arrived to take photos of the He-111, it was about 90F outside and about 125F in the greenhouse (canopy). But I had to do it for you guys.
Monogram 1/48 He-111
One little project that Revell-Monogram took a chance on was Seaquest DSV. The TV show had some really fun underwater ships and everything was computer generated. I got the task of designing a model kit of the Stinger, a one-man sub. The exterior was well-defined, but no time had been spent on the interior since it hadn’t been needed yet. So the studio told me to make it up since nobody could tell me I was wrong. So I started “what if-ing”. I took part of the cockpit from an F-16, added more buttons and knobs, threw in some tubing and included a pilot figure. The kit came out pretty nice. Later in the TV series the studio needed to use the interior to the Stinger, so they used my design for the prototype. The model of Flipper with the backpack is my design but I don’t like taking about it. You understand.
I stayed at Revell-Monogram for a few years. I had such a great time and learned so much more about designing model kits from the crew there. We went to a lot of great model contests and shows, like the RCHTA show in Chicago where I was actually a company representative with the rest of the model kit group. We would get deluged with requests for specific kits, few of which would sell more than the one for the person who requested it.
Meanwhile, my friend Dave got hired back at ERTL, which was now AMT/ERTL. He called to let me know they were looking for someone to design model airplanes. I applied and got hired. You see, the model kit group at AMT were all gear-heads and wheel-nuts- totally into cars. They didn’t know airplanes and didn’t want to. Great group of guys though. They accepted me even though I liked things with fewer wheels and more propellers.
AMT 1/72 XB-35 Flying Wing
My first project was the YB-35/49 Flying Wing which had been started by some guys trying a new computer design program. I spent the first month going over the drawings, correcting things and adding detail so it was more like a model kit and less like a toy. Some of you may have seen the results. I got to work with Alan Griffith, fellow wing-nut and more of a guru, who came up with some great subjects and most of the reference material. We made a great team. He (we) tried to talk AMT/ERTL into doing a 1/72nd TU-95 Bear because Wright-Patt had informed us they were trying to get the real one. It would have been in the Cold War display, nose to nose with their B-52. That would’ve been awesome. AMT would not make the kit, but Trumpeter later proved us right (hah).
AMT 1/48 ES-3A Viking
AMT let us go all over the place to take pictures of airplanes (again!). One trip was to Pensacola NAS for the ES-3A Shadow (Electronic Viking). The guys there were great and it’s amazing how much cooperation you get when the wing commander learns someone is doing a model kit of his airplane. They would not let us take any photos of the inside, however- top secret, you know. Of course I sent them a case of kits as a “Thank You”. Then we drove over to a Skunk Works base for the AC-130U. We’re the only ones I know of who have gotten to take photos of the Gatling gun ammo being loaded. On that trip it was 95F in the shade with 90 percent humidity, but I ate my weight in Cajun food- there is always a silver lining.
AMT 1/72 XB-70
For the next project we went to Wright-Patterson to go over the XB-70, and I mean that literally. I had to climb all over the top of the fuselage and wings to take photos and measurements. I even walked part way into the intakes. There were so many times I’d been at that museum and walked by the XB-70 and didn’t even notice it. You can walk by the landing gear and then realize it’s not the ceiling overhead but the plane itself. The museum crew got out the cherry picker to help us get on top of the plane. Then we talked them into opening her up so I could get photos of the cockpit. None of them had been inside. She had been sealed up since she had arrived in Dayton. So they opened the hatch and it obliged with a slight hiss. We were like tomb raiders, but more like kids exploring a new cave. I am fortunate enough to be one of only seven people to sit in the pilot’s seat of the XB-70.
AMT 1/48 F7F Tigercat
One of the next projects was the 1/48th scale F7F Tigercat. I have always been in love with this plane- it’s like a whole lot of engine with a pilot attached. I told my supervisor and marketing that I had had two ‘Kits of the Year’ with Revell-Monogram and would like to have another shot at it. They told me to go for it. I really designed the F7F for me. I wanted every bit of detail I could cram into it and tried to leave as little as possible for the after-market add-ons. I could have used the engine facades like I did on Revell-Monogram A/B-26 but decided this was a chance to do it right. I used all of my photos and measurements from the R-2800s that I had wanted to include in the A/B-26. I talked them into molding the engine ignition harness, which was only .020” diameter. They said it couldn’t be done. I said the Japanese were doing it. That was the end of discussion. I even talked the Execs into rubber tires and four versions.
For the F7F, AMT was trying a new mold company called Marketech, in Korea who were using a new mold building technique. When I received the first test shots, all my dreams came true. These guys were amazing and I let them know it. It turned into a really wonderful relationship. They sent me a first boxed kit signed by all of them and asked if I would do the same. I sent cases of kits to Squadron and Fine Scale for review and waited…and the Tigercat was a hit! One review said they couldn’t believe it came from AMT/ERTL. I didn’t get ‘Kit of the Year’, but Squadron told me I got beat out by Revell-Monogram’s Catalina only because RM found an inaccuracy and pulled their molds to correct it- which put them over the bar. I agree with them whole-heartedly. That takes guts and great attention to detail. I really expected nothing less from the guys I knew there.
AMT/ERTL had the Star Trek license and had been doing the starships for quite awhile. I am a Trekker so they gave the line to me to build up. An exciting benefit of designing this line was to be on a daily first name basis with the team at Paramount – Mike Okuda, Rick Sternbach, the rest of the special effects team and Bill Birtini in Marketing. Working with them was like nothing else. I even got to meet Rick face to face on one of my trips to Paramount. He is a great guy and it was like two buddies getting together. As a bonus, I got a peak at the movie models before any of my Trekker friends. (I ruined seeing ‘First Contact’ with my wife because I knew it was the Vulcans- and I told her) I’d chime into some chat rooms where some self-proclaimed Trek expert was going on about thus and so and I’d say “…well, the last time a talked with Mike Okuda, he said…” I know that’s bad, but I could not help it. But really, the Enterprise D is not a specific shade of blue. It’s Star Fleet gray. OK?
I designed the Reliant, the Defiant, the Enterprise E, C/Yamaguchi and B, and the Cardassian cruiser. Inside info: I got some great reference shots of the studio model of the cruiser. On one shot I noticed the studio model builders had used two Phillips head screws to attach the rear engine plate, so I included that detail on the model kit. Look for it next time you see one. Attention to detail, ya know.
AMT/ERTL had also been dabbling in a new direction: vinyl figure kits, starting off with Star Trek. More inside info: Scotty looking like a beefy prizefighter on steroids was not the sculptor’s fault. The meat got added after the kits went to the actors for approval.
I started painting these figures and found I was fairly good at it. Since AMT/ERTL had the Star Wars license and had done some figures before I got there, I painted a kit of Quark to show them what I could do. It turned out better than what they’d used for the box-art and so they turned the Star Wars line over to me too. We got the test shots of Emperor Palpatine and I tried my hand at painting it, which ended up being used for the box-art. I was hooked on figure kits. My next project was The Rancor. I got in touch with a sculptor, Jim Groman, who had done a great resin piece called Beach Blanket Beastie. I always wanted to have this kit. I asked him if he would like to try the Rancor. To say he was thrilled would be a vast understatement. The work he did on this kit was amazing. When we got the first test sculpt of the head, everyone at ERTL including the president was very impressed. When we finally got the casting of the whole sculpt, I jumped on a plane with Tom Walsh, our Marketing guy. We headed for Skywalker Ranch, which was nestled in the vineyards and rolling hills of Napa Valley. On arrival we were ushered into the boardroom with all the Marketing and Licensing folk. Tom and I pulled our Rancor out of the plain brown shopping bag we’d brought it in. The room fell silent and everyone’s jaw dropped. We had a hit! By the way, Jim Groman and I finally met face to face at a Wonderfest show a year later. He came up and asked if I was the Bruce who worked at ERTL, introduced himself, and it was all hugs and photos after that. Jim is a great guy and a great sculptor.
I tried my hand at painting it and that one wound up as the box-art. I also did an article on the paint job, which came out in Modeler’s Resource magazine. Does the name Bruce the Brush ring any bells? It was great to be able to design the kit, paint it up and then do an article on the kit. It was a win-win situation and ERTL loved it too.
My next project was an ill-fated Darth Vader’s command ship. I jumped on a plane and flew out to Skywalker Ranch again. This time I got a guided tour and petted George Lucas’ cats. I was told that George was in his office just a few feet away but was not to be disturbed. I got escorted to the archive building where a guard kept a close eye on me lest my camera angle wander from what I had been approved to shoot. This was not Fort Knox, however. I almost tripped over Boba Fett’s backpack and the piano instrument that little blue elephant guy was playing for Jaba the Hutt. I almost impaled my head on an Imperial Cruiser but I got the shots I needed and headed back home.
I have to tell you Lucasfilms is hell to deal with. You see, you have to pay royalties for any licensed products, but Lucasfilms’ royalties are among the highest in the industry- maybe second only to Disney. In addition, you pay for every bit of information that they send you. But ERTL was hoping to cash in. We did a lot of kits from the prequels. I got to do the STAP with battle droid, which was pretty cool. They were hoping to follow it up with a foot droid with backpack, so I scratch-built one at home along with a rifle and binoculars. I made a mold and cast some pieces that were sent overseas for production. I kept the originals and built up a droid on foot and put him in a diorama with STAP droid. It was on display at a Wonderfest shortly afterwards and now it’s on display at a local hobby shop.
ERTL Jupiter 2 from Lost In Space
They also took a chance on the new Lost In Space movie. This studio was the complete opposite of Lucasfilms to work with. Anything we needed was Fed-Exed overnight. They were great folks. I designed the robot and the Jupiter 2 models. The robot was a real nightmare but turned out cool, so I talked ERTL into producing it big. The model shop overseas that we used for the Jupiter 2 was incredible and the model came out gorgeous. I wish I would’ve snagged the tooling model before I left ERTL. When you design a model kit, the tooling model is 1 ½ – 2 times bigger than what the production model kit will be. Can you imagine having a Jupiter 2 that big on display in you home? Well, I was too slow and too late.
My final project before I was laid off from AMT/ERTL (again) was a ’41 Ford Woodie. I know what you’re thinking- a wing-nut doing cars. But please check out the detail on the kit sometime. There was a ‘Woodie Club’ out in Huntington Beach, CA., so Tom Montgomery (my very close friend and resident wheel-nut) and I flew down to get the shots and templates. We landed and got in touch with our hosts, had dinner and went to a sidewalk car show that night and partied a bit. Then we got up at the crack of dawn and worked all day doing the templates and measurements and photos. One guy’s car was used for the body stuff and another collector’s car was put on a hoist for the undercarriage. When we did the car model we cut templates from cardboard on the real car, side to side, front to back, top to bottom. The owner of the car got a little nervous watching us climb all over his pride and joy, but we were professionals. We left nothing off the model.
Freelance Artist and Designer
My time at AMT/ERTL had really hooked me on figure kits, so I had started doing them for other folks and writing more magazine articles. I did free-lance figures for a couple of years and ended up doing box-art models for ERTL. Ironic, isn’t it? This was rounded out with some free-lance model designs for other manufactures such as the Ta-183 for Amtech, a 727-200 for Minicraft, and the Seaview for Moebius. The Ta-183 got rave reviews. One said they thought it was from Tamiya. I also designed a two-seater version that never saw the light of day. I thought the kit was overpriced, but what are you going to do?
The Seaview is a very strange story. I got the drawings done and they finished the tooling model while the company was still Playing Mantis/ Polar Lights. But at that point they got bought by AMT/ERTL, now Racing Champions 2, and the project was shelved. Some of the guys from PM/PL got together and started a new company called Moebius. They couldn’t bear for the Seaview to die, so they bought it back. But Racing Champions 2 kept the tooling model, so the guys had to shell out more money to have a new one built. That’s commitment and dedication.
I love doing details, as you may have figured. There’s about 60 pieces in the nose section alone. I was sent some great detail photos from a guy who’d watched the movie a bunch of times and bought and restored the 12’ movie model. But in the long run, there were some things that just had to just made up. For example, I really like the movie Hunt for Red October, so I took the props from the movie sub and made them a bit more futuristic-looking and included the caterpillar drive as well. The props on the Seaview are enclosed so I figured there just had to be a caterpillar drive. The Seaview is a bit pricey but BIG at 39” long…that was fun trying to fit it on my drafting board. When you get it done it’s quite the display piece and could be very easily lighted. It’s nice that someone has recently come out with a photo-etched kit to make the ship even better.
I’ve been building figure kits for folks now for the past 15 years and have gotten my name out there in the garage kit industry. Once I started doing figure kits, I finally decided to go to one of the major shows, Wonderfest in Kentucky. My first trip down there was mind-boggling. I was like a kid in a candy store. It melted my credit card. I got to meet and talk to some of the modeling gods, like Dave Fischer, Terry Webb and Tom Gilliland. My wife was quite a writer and did an article for Modeler’s Resource about the experience…it is a very funny story.
I got back home and started building like crazy since business had picked up. The next year we went down to Wonderfest again and I got a table to get my name out there. The table had a big vinyl banner announcing ‘Bruce the Brush’, and it drew a lot of attention. It was the perfect niche and people loved it. They would buy their kit from the vendors and then just bring it over to me to build. There were even a few folks wanting to get their picture taken with me. This was nuts. I told them I was just a guy. But unlike some of the other builders and vendors, I would sit and talk with people for as long as they wanted, as long as they were buying the drinks. I just love talking about models, so I freely shared tips and techniques (secrets). And on this trip the modeling gods ask my wife and I to join them for drinks and dinner. I was in the inner sanctum. Life is good.
Well, I found that I just couldn’t build kits fast enough to pay the bills. I didn’t want it to become an assembly line, so I got a real job to support the business. The result is working all day and building all night, but wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Well, that about brings us up to the present. I’m now working for Lowe’s in the paint department here in Dubuque, IA, divorced (ladies) and still building kits for people. I will be doing that for as long as I can. What I would like to pass along is simple- Keep Modeling. There’s no telling where it might lead. And say Hi to everyone you meet at the shows and exchange ideas. The modeling world is a great big family. We are all blessed with having these unique gifts and talents, to preserve history and pass along what we’ve learned. It’s up to us to keep this going. Modelers of the world, Unite! I hope to meet some of you at the shows one day. Ya’ll take care.
Bruce P. Byerly
A.K.A. “Bruce the Brush”