Saturday, June 18, 2016

E. L. Moore on the trials and tribulations of kits and kitbashing

[A 'kit-visioning' of the Model Power Speedy Andrew's kit, which is itself based on the Model Power Ma's Place kit, which is based on  E. L. Moore's Ma's Place build]

That kit-bashed chair company thing was good, too. I know one shouldn’t knock anything one hasn’t tried, but it has always seemed to me kit-bashing was more work and more expensive than to build from scratch. Fact is, I hate like poison to put a kit together. Seems I have a helluva time following instructions.
From a letter dated 6 September 1977 E. L. Moore wrote to Russ Larson, then editor of Model Railroader, thanking him for mailing a free copy of the October 1977 issue of the magazine.

That chair company kitbash E. L. Moore was complementing was David Petty’s N-scale The Shakey Chair Co.. Although that kitbash might seem un-notable in today’s world of plenty, in ’77 kitbashes in N-scale, especially quality ones like that in the article, were still quite novel. 

The article kicks off with a Moorian-style story about the origins and fate of the Shakey Chair Co. - shades of E.L. Moore’s own spin on the subject, The Cract & Dentit Manufacturing Co., that appeared in the December ’72 issue of Model Railroader under the title The chair and desk factory? Even if you didn’t build the project, the article has some timeless advice about buildings and placement. Mr. Petty argues that it’s important to tailor a building to its setting and have it make sense in its context, not just plunk something down anywhere no matter how well built or detailed it is.

-- fact is I hate like hell to put a kit together. Friend Crosby sent me four -- I finally put the Haunted House together for him but sent him back the others -- to hell with them -- too much like work to suit me. But does you good in that you try to make your own directions more logical and plain.
Extract from a letter E. L. Moore wrote to Hal Carstens on 3 July 1967. Seems like he thought the only benefit from trying to assemble a kit was learning the goods and bads of instruction writing.

And to wrap up, here’s an interesting, but purely coincidental, E. L. Moore - David Petty connection. In the August ’80 issue of Model Railroader, Art Curren, in an introduction to an article on the basics of kitbashing, mentions an earlier kitbash he did of the plastic kit version of E. L. Moore’s Ma’s Place called Petty’s Garage & Grocery, named after David Petty.

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