Spelunking Into The Hobby Archives

By | Jun 16, 2008

Years ago I took photography as a class in Junior High.  I new I had a lot of photos of old hobby stuff, so this weekend I was bored and decided to go digging.  I was amazed at what I found.
As record keeping goes, I feel lucky that photography was one of my hobbies at an early age. I took a class in school and was hooked, so I took many photographs of all sorts of things. Many of these photos are in black and white, because that’s what we used in class. Color film was difficult to process and expensive, so it was used much less frequently.

First up is another unearthed photo of my original Rough Rider.  It’s pretty much brand new in this photo, with only some dirt on the tires to show any signs of wear and tear (September, 1981).

Fast forward a few months and the Rough Rider is showing signs of hard mileage.  The roof pillars are gone, replaced by coat hanger wire.  The lights on the roof snapped off the mounting tabs and now are being held in place by a piece of Erector Set.  Repairs like this were a necessity on my limited budget as a kid.  After dropping $300 on the Rough Rider kit, battery, and radio, I didn’t have any cash left for replacement parts!

Two more shots of my Rough Rider in action.  On the left it’s kickin’ up some snow in the winter (December, 1981) and on the right it’s kickin’ up some gravel in my uncle’s driveway in the spring (May, 1982).  The photo on the right shows the Rough Rider with evidence of more abuse.  Check out the duct tape holding the roof on.

Now this is vintage! Back in 1977, I got this single channel, left turn only, R/C Mercedes car from K-Mart in Warminster, PA. I think it was around $10. I must have put a hundred miles on this thing. It was a blast! This photo was taken on top of an old mechanical digital clock housing on the desk in my bedroom. Under the glass of the desk is a map of my town taken from a local phone book (May, 1978).

So for two years I’m R/C’ing with a left-turn-only R/C cars when I finally save up enough money to buy a Ferrari 512 (center) with left AND right steering.  I get it home and run it for the first time, guess what?  It only turns left!!!  Argh!!!  The thing was broken right out of the box.  Had to take it back, but by this time, I was disillusioned and waited for something better (October 1978).

My first foray into proportional radio control. This Ford Econoline Van (it was the 70’s after all) sported forward, reverse, and proportional left and right steering. Wow! It ate batteries though (bunch of D’s and AA’s) and was only good on flat, hard surfaces. Can’t remember the brand name (November, 1978).

My friend Jason and I trying in vain to get his Cox Interceptor .049 glow engine powered R/C car to run. These engines were tricky for inexperienced punks like us. This was just after Christmas, 1978 and shot with a self timer on my camera. Note my R/C van to the left.  Another 70’s memento in this photo is Jason’s black plastic LED watch lying next to the car’s transmitter on the right (December, 1978).

Frustration is starting to mount in this picture.  When all else fails, pour a quart of fuel all over the engine, something’s bound to ignite and get that finicky motor running! (December, 1978)

R/C wasn’t my only toy hobby.  Here is a Guillows Javelin rubber powered airplane under construction in my basement (February, 1979).

I dabbled in some plastic models now and again.  This is a diorama I built around a Monogram P-61 Black Widow.  The scene depicts airplane maintenance taking place on an island somewhere in the South Pacific during WWII (February, 1981).

Closer shot.  Could have spent a little more time hiding the seams between the two wheel halves! (March, 1981).

Colonial Viper from the original Battlestar Galactica TV series.  For this shot I supported the model on the side opposite the camera, lit the model with a strong light from above left, and used white beads on a black background to simulate stars (February, 1981).

Model of the Rebel Snow Speeder from Star Wars-The Empire Strikes Back.  It sits next to a model of the Millennium Falcon (April, 1982).

I played around with HO trains here and there.  This is a shot of two trains passing on a layout my friend Al and I cobbled together from bits and pieces we both had (December, 1981).

Here’s a shot of Al working on the layout. Note the sophisticated scenery techniques with old newspaper.  Built to last!  (December, 1981).

This is a time exposure of two trains running on the layout in the dark.  Their headlights trace a path around the track.  This negative suffered a light leak prior to processing which caused the heavy streaking.

This is my original Estes Astrocam camera rocket.  This rocket took many of the photos in my Astrocam post (May, 1982).

Any account of the 80’s wouldn’t be complete without a photo of a vintage computer.  Here is my friend Lisa typing on my Commodore 64 that’s hooked up to my small black and white TV. I remember I was hooked into the online service Compuserve. Back then online services like Compuserve were few and were all text based (no web browser with HTML and nice jpg images) and accessed over phone lines with a 300 baud modem. (November, 1983).

Not just one vintage computer, but TWO!  This is my Texas Instruments TI-99/4A that I had prior to getting the Commodore (December, 1982).

Of course my coverage of the 70’s wouldn’t be complete without a CB radio!  I got this Sears RoadTalker 40 model from my brother-in-law.  Unfortunately, there would be no road-talkin’ for me because I hadn’t reached (legal) driving age yet. So, I purchased a 12v power supply and set the rig up in my bedroom. Also propped up on the desk for some unknown reason is another piece of 70’s tech, a Criterion multi-function LCD watch.  (October, 1979).

Of course none of these photos would be possible without a camera.  Above are three that served me well throughout my youth and still survive intact in my collection today.  From left to right: The Konica Auto S2.  My dad gave me this camera in April of 1978.  Already taking a photography class in school at the time, my dad saw that I was really into it and parted with his baby.  This is not a vintage photo of the S2.  I couldn’t find any, so this is a recent shot.  In August, 1979, working a summer job and saving up all my pennies, I purchased the Konica Autoreflex T4 (middle photo).  Here it is shown in a self portrait (shot into a mirror and then flipped horizontally) with the optional autowinder (December, 1979).  Lastly, is the Pentax MX, purchased in January, 1982 (February, 1982).

We had a pretty well equipped darkroom at the school (December, 1978).

And lastly, my primary mode of transportation throughout my pre-driving years: my second-hand Tour-de-France ten speed bike.  It was originally metallic green, but after many hard miles, I stripped the original green and painted it metallic blue (October, 1980).

So that’s it for now. It’s interesting to note that as I was going through and scanning these photos and negatives to create this article, my wife had me pegged early on. She observed how I move from one hobby to the next and consume as I go and thus gave me the unflattering title of “hobby locust”. These photos prove that this is not a recent trait of mine, but deeply rooted in my past!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this trip into the past.  I sure did and it brings back a lot of memories.


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1 Comment so far
  1. ALEX Thompson February 12, 2010 3:56 pm


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