Modelling Anderson - Mike Reccia

Modelling Anderson

Mike Reccia on feeding his obsessive need to recreate the 21st Century

I like models. Big, curvy, stunning, well-proportioned models. Can't get enough of them. Fortunately my partner, Jane, is very understanding - and in return I've almost completely forgiven her for, on a number of occasions, describing the Space:1999 Eagle as 'a pylon on its side'. Hello, fellow fans... I'm Michael, and I'd like to confess to you that, for as long as I can remember I have been an obsessive Anderson modeller.

I'd better explain. You see, I was there, in front of the box, when each of the Anderson series premiered (yes, I really am that old, children), my love affair with Gerry's puppets dating back to Twizzle. Things really began to - pun alert - take off for me, however, with the screening of Supercar in 1960. Ooooh! The puppets are nice... but... but... It has wings! It has fins! And it's a MODEL. My lifetime hobby had been kick-started. From that time until now I have only really felt secure, upon waking at three o'clock in the morning, knowing that I have replicas of most of the major Anderson craft lurking somewhere in the house (my next psychiatric appointment is next Tuesday, at 2.30. I will be taking Thunderbird 3 with me to show the nice Doctor).

Subsequent series fired my imagination with an endless parade of superbly designed hardware (personal favourites are Thunderbird 2, the SPV and the Eagle) and led me down the usual sixties route of buying my first pocket money Airfix kit from the local newsagent, as all small boys did in those days. I not so much modelled as massacred that 1/72 Spitfire, discovering in the process that Lion glue, which smelled like Halibut underarms after a night centre stage at the 'Enchantment Under The Sea' Disco, did not weld injection moulded plastic aircraft together, no matter how much of the stuff you trowelled over the pieces. Unlike most other boys of my age, however (not sporty. Never have been. Couldn't and can't see the point), and because very, very little was made available in kit form based on the Anderson series, I then began to branch out. By snipping and shaping cornflake packets and kit bits - and by applying that awful enamel model paint you had to work in rapidly with a three-inch brush before it set into a surface-of-the-moon pattern that really didn't do your model any favours - I created sort-of-accurate-if-you-closed-one-eye-and-looked-in-the-opposite-direction representations of my favourite craft. Subjects included a wonky Spectrum Patrol Car on a section of coastal road, a partial Joe 90 cottage (what was I thinking?) a stick thin Zero-X, an Anderson-esque 'oil rig' and many more, most of these eventually falling prey to 'death by fireworks', their tormented and twisted forms committed to monochrome celluloid via the completely underwhelming capabilities of the consistently awful Kodak Instamatic.

The Anderson series caused me as a young man, and between hankering after girls, to also hanker after a career in special effects and model making and, whilst my life would follow a somewhat different path, that love of Gerry's hardware and of special effects has never left me, nor has my constant need to recreate Anderson craft and, ultimately, to choose these as my favourite modelling subjects. Indeed, that passion for all things Anderson was the inspiration behind Sci-Fi & Fantasy Models, a newsstand monthly modelling magazine I co-published and edited in conjunction with my business partner and gud-bud Dave Openshaw back in the early nineties, the title running for eight and a half years before indifferent distribution sadly forced us to close the roof doors on that particular incarnation. During that period, however, as well as featuring models and kits representing hardware and characters from a wide variety of TV series and films (Alien, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.) we also published a number of one-off, themed issues, including one specifically focussing on the studio models of Space:1999 and a second featuring the models and FX of UFO.

You can't keep a good title down, I always tell people (... that, and 'never eat the yellow snow'). Undefeated, we 'came back' in 2006 as a series of quarterly 100-page books, now titled Sci-Fi & Fantasy Modeller. This resurrection gave me the opportunity to indulge myself shamelessly by producing, to date, three 100-page, all-colour, extra-curricular softcover specials titled Modelling the 21st Century. These books are, I suppose, principally written for me, really, as they represent volumes I've wished someone would make available for almost as long as I've been modelling (as they say, if you want something doing...), and are, hopefully, the answer to every other Anderson Modeller's prayers for reference, support and encouragement in their hobby too. In them our team of modeller/writers, who create many other subjects for our main title but have a particular fondness for Anderson craft, cover conversions of standard kits into classic Anderson 'star' and 'guest' vehicles, scratch builds, conversions of Japanese Anderson kits into more accurate representations of the 'real thing', 'what-if' designs and builds for new vehicles that would have been right at home in the series, and much more. We only print 2000 copies of each of these specials, with each of them featuring hundreds of step-by-step and 'beauty' photographs, so they really are a labour of love for us as they're hardly likely to ensure a brace of retirement villas on one of the Florida keys for Dave and myself.

I'd like to see the specials become a yearly event (so far we've produced three in six years) and to also cover the work of some of the original studio modellers, so we have a fourth volume planned for late 2011/early 2012, and are changing the format a little to include a further 28 pages plus a photo-section featuring some original Anderson miniatures now in the hands of collectors and fellow modellers. 

If you'd like to find out more about Modelling the 21st. Century why not drop by our website: where you can view sample pages and order online if you're of a mind. Me, I'm back on Main Mission tonight, cutting out little squares of plasticard and gluing them to the sides of the building above the tower section, as I've been doing almost every night this week. When it's finished I'll place it on a stand, gaze lovingly at it for a little while, then rub my hands together and say to myself, 'Right, then, Matey-Captain (I'm on very familiar terms with myself)... That's that one in the can... what are you going to make next, Big Boy?' (I've always had a vivid imagination). Anderson modellers are tough! Anderson modellers sleep when they die.

Mike Reccia