Wednesday, November 16, 2022

My Modeling Days (or Sometimes They Land)

There's nothing quite as satisfying, to me at least, as the feeling you get when you finally are able to take in the finished version of a project that you have been working on for a significant amount of time. That was the feeling that I would get after completing a plastic model when I was younger.

My first model, at least that I can remember, was a snap-together Ford Bronco, vintage late 70s. I found the process fascinating; I had always played with toy cars, like Matchbox and Hot Wheels, but here I was, actually making the toy car. Of course, I had a fair amount of assistance from my parents. I was never really adept at putting on the frustrating decals that required soaking in water and placing on the model wet. They either came off crooked or with folds and wrinkles.

Anyway, that experience really turned me on to the joys of building models. It wasn't long before I was building more than simple car models. My first truly complex glue-together model was a Testors Convair B-58 Hustler. It was the first model that I wasn't able to finish in a single sitting, and was likely the model that gave me the biggest sense of accomplishment upon completion. Of course, being a kid, I proceeded to play with the model instead of display it, and it didn't survive long after one too many crash landings. But it was awesome while it lasted. Later models faired better, as I came to terms with the fact that most plastic models were meant to build and look at, not necessarily play with.

My first Star Wars model was a snap-together X-Wing fighter, released around the time that Return of the Jedi was in theatres. My brother got a snap-together Tie Fighter from the same line. Of course, both of these models were played with significantly. We even used the models to shoot our own miniature Star Wars battle scene. Budding film makers!

I don't build models much any longer, mainly because I simply don't have the space to properly display them at the house. I've still got a few models that I've kept over the years, including the space station from Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and a B-2 Stealth Bomber, and I've got a couple of new Bandai Star Wars models waiting for some attention. Might be time to start some modeling again.

An offshoot of my model building amusement was model rocketry. This came about primarily from our participation in 4-H, which I've talked about previously. One of the clubs within the organization was a model rocketry club, and being fascinated with space as I was, it seemed like a great fit. Building a model that was actually going to fly, with an actual rocket engine? What's not to love?

My first rockets were small, simple single-stage missiles with little variation. They didn't go very high, but they were quite spectacular to launch none-the-less. Fortunately, living out in the country next to open fields made it relatively easy to retrieve the rocket once the parachute had deployed and it floated to earth. Most of the time, the rockets survived the ordeal and cold be launched again. As I became more experienced at the craft, I was able to build and launch larger, more complex rockets. For the most part, things went to plan. We did have an unfortunate accident on the launch pad for one rocket with a faulty rocket engine. The other accident that I recall happened when the nose cone of one of the rockets had become affixed too tightly to the fuselage. You see, in order for the parachute of a rocket to deploy, the engine fires a small explosive charge at the end of its burn cycle up the top of the rocket, which pops the chute. Unfortunately, the nose cone was too tight. When the ejection charge fired, the rocket was in the downward trajectory of its flightpath, it couldn't go out the top, so it fired back out the bottom of the rocket, which had the effect of blasting the rocket into the ground. The nearly 2-foot rocket was buried at least 6 inches into the soil, and was, unsurprisingly, unsalvageable. But it was quite funny.

Well, enough about my modeling days. Let's get to this week's strips.

This week brings four strips that, while outside of any narrative in the comic, are not necessarily the usual "gallery" strips, that didn't always land the joke. Honest, I think they are among the best examples of these types of one-off strips, which goes to show that, as the comic continued to evolve, my style did mature on some level. 

Strip 142/166 - It's like two stormtroopers shooting at each other!

The first one is directly inspired by a scene from an episode of Police Squad!, which had Leslie Nielsen's Drebin shooting at a perpetrator behind a trash can a couple of feet away from him, hiding behind a park bench. It's one of those iconic scenes that is so funny that you simply don't forget it.

Strip 143/166 - No stand-up comedy here

This one was probably funny without the "punchline" in the last pane. Just took it one frame too far...

Strip 144/166 - The Olympic spirit lives in odd ways

I've always been a huge fan of the Olympics. I'm glued to the television every two years watching these amazing athletes and para-athletes accomplish astonishing feats of strength and endurance. While the Olympics on Furbulia might not be quite what we expect, I think we can agree that the feats are equally as astonishing in their absurdity.

Strip 145/166 - It's not easy not seeing green

For those not aware, in the late 80s/early 90s, Ted Turner was a champion of a colorization process for old black-and-white films and television shows. It was pretty controversial at the time, as may people felt that tampering with films and programs in this fashion was not appropriate. Or course, being printed in a paper without a color section, Furble never had a chance.

Next week, we say a final goodbye to Night Talk, and move onto some of the final stories of the strip.

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