Model expo brings in visitors to view miniature displays

21:32, Jul 22 2012
Model-maker Bob Hartsuiker with the scale models he made of a Kubel Wagon and German soldiers
WELL CRAFTED: Model-maker Bob Hartsuiker with the scale models he made of a Kubel Wagon and German soldiers, part of his display at the model expo and competition at the weekend.

Hundreds of people stopped by the model expo in Invercargill at the weekend with army tanks, aeroplanes, and even Dr Who's Tardis on display.

Model-maker Bob Hartsuiker had some of his WWII collection at the Invercargill Plastic Modellers Society Model Expo, held at the Workingmen's Club in Esk St.

Mr Hartsuiker's interest in scale models began when he was five or six, encouraged by his father who enjoyed the hobby.

He loved the building and creation of it, he said.

He has been building scale 1:6 models for the past 10 years, focusing on WWII.

"Both mum and dad, and my grandparents, went through that time. They were like living history books to me."


Each piece is thoroughly researched and replicated down to the tiniest detail - even the stitches on the hand-sewn uniforms are to scale.

He made smaller scale kit-set models of army vehicles, then calculated each aspect so he could build it again from scratch in the larger scale.

Some were made from cardboard, while others were made from a plastic purchased from a sign-making company.

A basic soldier figurine took a couple of days to make, while the more complex British soldier would take about a week, he said. The vehicles could take months to build.

Mr Hartsuiker, who has a fulltime job, spends about 70 hours each week working on his collection which he is in the process of expanding so he can open his own WWII mini-museum.

"I was a bit disappointed that there is nothing in that sort of timeframe, and WWI also, in Southland. The closest you come to a WWII museum is Christchurch," he said.

"I thought ‘maybe it's time for Invercargill to have something like that'."

The museum, which will be set up at his home, should be finished in the next couple of months and will be open to the public by appointment.

The display will feature information about the models, and photographs and information sheets about the war.

He was hoping to add some New Zealand Army figurines to his collection. Their uniforms were more complex than those of the British, he said.

He was looking for a "lemon squeezer" hat from one of the uniforms to borrow for a short time so he could recreate it in miniature.

Invercargill Plastic Modellers Society president Lester Kidd said the weekend had been "absolutely tops" and they had been overwhelmed by the number of people who had attended.

About 400 people had stopped by on Saturday, and they were on track to reach about 700 by the end of the weekend. "It's the best year we have had . . . [Saturday] the place was chocker all day."

The event, held every second year, featured more than 300 models.

The Southland Times