Members Name: Al LaFleche


Tell us a little bit about yourself: age, occupation, where you live, family  (nothing too personal but a general idea).

Iím 61 (but donít feel it) and retired last year from the Commonwealthís Department of Disabilities Services, formerly known as the Department of Mental Retardation after it split from the Department of Mental Health, after almost 32 years service. I grew up in Southbridge, just east of Old Sturbridge Village before moving to Worcester, Oxford and Ware in the 70ís. I settled in West Springfield in 1982. Iíve been married to Judy 39 years as of August 2011.

Modeling Interest: (Planes, Cars, Ships, Figures, etc.)


Over the years, Iíve modeled everything from figures to ships. Well, except for railroad subjects, unless HO scale buildings count. Over the last few years, Iíve been specializing in figures.


How long have you been interested in modeling?  How did you start?

I believe I built my first model sometime around 1955, possibly a Revell P-39 with my father. That would have been the only one we built together. My maternal grandfather worked on a number of other models with me, including a Disney based clear plastic rocket ship, an Indian chief in battle Barbie scale. The first major solo project I remember was the nuclear sub, George Washington (Renwal?) which had a firing Polaris in one of the tubes and a full interior, including raised detail pinups on the walls: rather provocative for an 8 year old! Fortunately, I didnít try to paint them, otherwise, it would never been on display in the living room. Other subjects were several life sized birds (Scientific Models?) which included paint as little tablets to which you added a solvent to liquefy. Who knows how toxic those were! I also built numerous AMT/SMP 3 in 1 annual cars. As with most of us, college drew me away from the hobby, but as Michael Corleone said, ďEvery time I try to get out, they pull me back in!!" I was in the now defunct Worcester Galleria Mall one day in 1975 and found a discarded bag with kits of a Cobra helicopter and a Helldiver in it. That was all she wrote.


How long a member of Wings and Wheels?


I was one of the refugees and the deposed president of Connecticut Valley Scale Modelers, in the beginning, along with a few other of the original and still current members.

Who in the hobby world has influenced you and why?


In 1976, I was working in a Kay-Bee Toy and Hobby when Shep Paine was doing his Monogram dioramas. I was amazed at what could be done with a model kit and would attempt several much less artful dioramas myself. Along these lines, the late Jim Jones of the defunct Worcester club, was super detailing kits and dioramas. It was he who taught me to stretch sprue. Some of you whoíve been around a long time, may remember his Japanese carrier, the Shinano, which was featured in a Fine Scale Modeler around 1990. The clubís figure guys have been both mentors and inspirations bringing me back to the figures I was fascinated by in the late 70ís. At my first Long Island Show, I saw the work of Christian Petit on Indian subjects and was inspired to move from the Civil War to Indian and western subjects.


What is your favorite historical period and why?


18th and 19th century US degree was in history and these subjects provide a good palette for creative painting and dramatic scenery.


Favorite Book: Rather than a book, some of my favorite authors include Steven Pressman, Jeff Shaara, Steven King.,

Favorite Movie: Top choices include Last of the Mohicans,  Alien/Aliens, Terminator, The Godfather

What is your next project? Iím currently in the middle of a bust and Iím not sure what the next project will be on the bench.


What do you enjoy most and least about modeling and why?


Cleaning mold lines and filling seams. So much tedium before the artistic part begins.


Besides (possibly!) what you model, do you collect anything?  If so, what, for how long, and how did you get started?


I briefly collected stamps as a kid and Judy says Iím collecting bicycling clothes since my return to the sport a couple years ago.


Is there something in modeling you have always wanted to do but never tried?


Iím fascinated by sculptors who can take a bit of putty and turn it into a stunning figure. Iím sure my attempts would look like Gumby or Mr. Bill after an encounter with Mr. Sluggo!


What type of paints, brushes or other modeling equipment do you use and why?

I use Vallejo acrylics almost exclusively for the ease of application, economy and huge color palette. I have Paasche VL and a Badger 150 airbrushes powered by a Sears air compressor. For regular brushes, Iíve been slowly replacing all my old ones with Kolinsky sable.

What other outside interests do you have (music, food, auto racing, sailing, etc)?


For many years, I ran for exercise and competition (okay, I entered road races) until a knee injury sidelined me. In the last couple years I returned to cycling, another interest that Iíve had since my early years. The only sports I enjoy watching are sports car racing and Le Tour de France. NASCAR is a soporific for me, however. Hot and spicy food is the best; remember, too hot is just about right!


Parting Modeling tip:

John Hiatt wrote these lines in his song HANDS

ďWhatever you do with your hands

You must do with all your heart.Ē