Phil May

So where did it all start? Well, I suppose I have my late uncle to blame for infecting me with the modelling bug. Way back in the mid-1950s he was a bit of a mentor to me, being not that much older, and he was always up to something interesting. I remember watching him building a 1/50thscale Lindbergh Mitsubishi Zero which really inspired me. For my birthday (9thI think) he bought me an Airfix Hurricane and the seed was sown.  

Thus hooked I would stake out Woolworths every Saturday with my two bob (10 pence!) pocket money to see what the latest Airfix offering was, invariably buying something winged, although the odd ship, car or tank sometimes slipped through too. At that time I would have a go at anything.

In 1964 I joined Oxford Model Club, a spin-off from a local model shop (run by another mentor of mine, the late Derek Vaughan) and which met fortnightly. Before long I discovered the newly formed IPMS, joining it as one of the initial 100 members, and shortly thereafter the British Model Soldier Society – yes, by now I had also discovered figures, and this genre formed my main interest for many subsequent years

Although concentrating on figures, I also developed an interest in AFVs, working through the whole gamut of WW2 types in various scales.  This coincided with the early days of Francois Verlinden, whose “chocolate-box”, sanitised style of AFV modelling (which I don’t like) set a trend that is still apparent today. At that time I was mixing with some of the recognised modellers in the UK, and some of the best figure modellers of the time, sadly mostly now gone. I learned a great deal in that buoyant period of UK modelmaking.

Come 1975 I gave it all up. I had been introduced to competitive shooting in 1969 and this took over, and remains an interest to the present day. I did put shooting towards the back burner a bit in 1992, returning to figure modelling and the BMSS, and doing this competitively right through to 2006, at which time for various reasons I simply lost the drive to model.

By 2015 I had (in the words of Steve Abbey) “got my modelling mojo working again” and I eventually renewed my IPMS membership and more recently my association with Earley Risers.

I am now mainly back “doing” figures, and a few AFVs – not your usual TigerpantherStuGsherman stuff, more the oddities, converting and/or scratchbuilding, with the odd kit thrown in. I like aircraft too, and build chiefly to 1/48 scale, choosing anything that takes my eye. I maintain a very modest stash, maybe 80 kits including mainly aircraft, and also some figures. I tend to buy to build, and aim to reduce my stash while I can still see to model!

My advice to newbies – don’t be overawed by what you see in the glossy model mags – the builders all started at the bottom. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for advice or be turned off by criticism.  Enjoy what you do, do whatever takes your fancy and remember that if you’re happy with your results, that’s all that counts really. Oh, and if you haven’t already done so – join IPMS!

Click here to see some of my latest models