` Contractor scale models by Topping Inc., Precise Models, Rolen Plastics, Matthys Verkuyl and Raise-Up
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Aircraft instrument panel restoration

Promotional contractor aircraft scale models - Introduction to Topping Incorporated, Precise Models, Inc., Raise-Up, Verkuyl and other models


Introduction

Rolen Plastics F-104Scale models were often used as recognition tools in the military, but also for promotional purposes. Such models were given away to pilots as a gift, to clients to serve as reminders of the company, as well as to travel agents for display in their offices. Because of their promotional value, the scale models are ordered by the contractor well in advance of the roll out and sales of the original.

There were several contractor scale model manufacturers in the United States. One of the earlier producers was Topping, Inc. who started business in 1943. In the 1960s, Precise Models, Inc., Rolen Plastics, Inc., Allyn Sales Corporation (who made models for Douglas Co., General Dynamics and Boeing) and Pacific Miniatures (Est. 1946) produced both military and commercial airline models. Only Rolen Plastics, that diversified to industrial parts production, and Pacmin are still in business.

Qantas Airbus A-380 model on display at a travel agent
Qantas Airbus A-380 model (scale 1/72, manufacturer Pacific Miniatures?) on display at the World Ticket Center travel agent on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam.

In the Netherlands, promotional scale models were produced by Matthys M. Verkuyl between 1948 and 1988 and by Raise-Up Metalworks until 1964. These Dutch companies do not exist anymore.

Some technical information about how plastic models were manufatured, tips for cleaning and restoration of models and useful links are given  at the bottom of this page.

In some cases, models were also produced by the Aircraft companies themselves. These were often made in very limited numbers and given to the directors of the companies on some special occasion. The Lockheed SR-71 model below is an example of such a model.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird model
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird 1/72 scale model in USAF colours. Model made of resin(?) and stand of wood. This particular model was a gift from Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, the designer of the SR-71 at Lockheed's Skunk Works, to a senior vice-president of Lockheed Corporation in the early 1970s (source: Paul Dearborn).

This USAF F-4C model below is cast from aluminum. Paolo Monti was so kind to inform me that the model was made by FomAer located in Misano Adriatico, near the Italian Air Force Base of Rimini. Flight crew and canopy are made of plastic.

FomAer McDonnel F-4C Phantom II scale model
Full-metal McDonnell F-4C Phantom II scale model, made by FomAer, Italy, scale 1/64.

Several F-16 models and a stand for the F-4 Phantom made by Precise Models Inc. are now available on my aviation sales web page, where fellow collectors are invited to trade aviation items.

Cover of Esso Air World 10(4), 1958
Cover of Esso Air World 10(4), 1958, showing two kids playing with Fokker F-27 and Douglas DC-6 models on the Apron of the Schiphol Airport of the Madurodam Miniature City near The Hague, The Netherlands. These models may have been produced by Raise Up, and perhaps by Maarten Matthijs Verkuyl.

Deze web pagina toont vliegtuig modellen die gemaakt zijn voor reclamedoeleinden voor veelal grote Amerikaanse vliegtuigfabrikanten. Informatie wordt gegeven over Topping, Inc., en de opvolgers van Topping Inc., Rolen Plastics, Inc., Precise Models Inc. en Allyn Sales Corporation. Twee nederlandse vliegtuig model bouwers komen ook aan bod. Dit zijn Maarten Matthijs Verkuyl uit Badhoevedorp, die vanaf de jaren vijftig tot de jaren negentig veel modellen bouwde voor onder meer Douglas, en Raise Up Metalworks uit Rotterdam. De modellen die hieronder weergegeven zijn, werden cadeau gegeven aan piloten en ander luchtvaartpersoneel, de mensen die vliegtuigen inkochten, en aan reisagentschappen voor tentoonstelling in de winkel. Ik ben op zoek naar meer informatie over de geschiedenis van Verkuyl en Raise Up. Zo zou ik graag weten wat de adressen van deze bedrijven waren, of er foto's of advertenties zijn, etc. Alle informatie is welkom. U kunt mij per e-mail bereiken, ook voor vragen, via aviation@watergeek.eu.

Stewardess of Japan Air Lines hoding a model of a DC-8 in JAL colours.
Stewardess of Japan Air Lines holding a model of a DC-8 in JAL colours. Cover page of the ESSO Air World Magazine (1957, Vol.10, No. 2).

The goal

Precise Models F-4 noseI started this web page because there was little information available on the internet about the history and models of Topping, Precise Models Inc., etc. I now have the ambitious plan to put images of the full Topping and Precise Models collections on this page. With your help, this may actually work so please do send me images of your Topping or Precise models and let's see how far we get.

If you have more information about the history of contractor scale model manufacturers, nice images of contractor models, have other catalogues or promotional material from Topping, Precise Models Inc., Rolen Plastics, Inc., Verkuyl, Raise Up, or others, or if you have an old model made by these manufacturers for sale, please contact me at aviation@watergeek.eu. If you want, I'll credit you as the source of images or texts.

Eurofighter Typhoon model
Promotional scale model of a Eurofighter Typhoon (EFA 2000) fighter aircraft (scale 1/50, manufacturer unknown). Resin model in two-tone grey colour with international factory markings. Source: G. de Graaf.

CollectAir Aviation Art and Artifacts, Dr. Michael Kosman D.C. (Geneseo IL., USA), Mr. Mark Johnson, Mr. Rich Beebe, Mr. Frank A. Doll, Mr. Walter D. Willett IV, Mr. Steve Eisner, Mount Vernon Auction Center, Mr. James A. Powroznik (Custom Models, Clovis, California) and the Air & Space Museum, San Diego, California, and many others were so kind as to provide information about the companies and images of their models as listed below.

NOTE ON DISPLAYED IMAGES: Most of the images displayed below are from my own modest model collection or sent to me by other collectors, Some images displayed on this page were downloaded from Ebay. Although I generally try to contact the Ebay sellers and include their names as the source of the image, I did sometimes forget from which seller the image came from. I hope that the sellers that made these pictures and are not credited as source do not mind me displaying their images here. If you do recognise an image, or perhaps do have better images for me to display, please contact me at aviation@watergeek.eu and we'll work something out...

Vintage contractor scale models for sale

A few vintage models made by Precise Models Inc. and some other aviation items are now for sale through this web site. Click here to see details. In addition, links are provided on the different web pages pointing to other information sources. If you have a vintage scale model that you might want to sell, you can contact me at aviation@watergeek.eu for an assessment of its value (see below) and perhaps I may also be interested in adding it to my collection.

Assessing the value of a vintage scale model

The value of a scale model depends on a great many factors. These include:

With so many factors that potentially influence the price of a vintage scale model, it is hard to give a general value for any model. For a single model (e.g Precise F-4 Phantom scale 1/72), the price range may already be considerable, ranging, for instance, from $10 for a model in very poor condition up to $150 for a Blue Angels model in excellent condition. I have therefore not given value indications for any of the models displayed on my web pages. However, after years of looking at vintage model auctions and buying such models, I do have gained some experience with assessing the value of a model and know the market prices. If you have a model that you want to sell and would like to have an indication of its value, you can send me one or more pictures and a short description (e.g. size) by e-mail (aviation@watergeek.eu) and I'll be happy to give you an honest appraisal of its market value.

Professional scale model designers & producers

Allyn Sales Company - Los Angeles 1, California, USA

Allyn Sales Co. logo The Allyn Sales Company made metal promotional sales models for Douglas, Convair, General Dynamics and Boeing. Their production included metal and plastic models, chrome plated models, ashtray models and model kits. Edward Das in Canada is a collector of such ashtray models, some of which can be viewed on his very interesting aviation web site at canadianaerospace.weebly.com. The plastic model kist were very simple, consisting of only few parts, several of these kits made by Allyn can be viewed at http://www.philsaeronauticalstuff.com.

Allyn Sales Co. further produced 1/2A model engines (engines with a displacement of 0.049 - 0.051 cubic inches) as well as engine model kits.

Boeing Stratocruiser model kit (scale 1/144)
Example of a plastic model kit of a Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser produced by Allyn in scale 1/144 (Photo: a_dartigues4y65).
Douglas DC-4 contractor model (scale 1/50)
Mar Fury 0.049 RC model marine inboard engine made by K&B (Photograph: rureelybob)

The company was was taken over by K & B Manufacturing, who continued to produce some of Allyn's engines under the name K&B Allyn. Production of aircraft scale models did cease completely, though. K&B Manufacturing is now part of RJL Industries - Sierra Madre, California, USA. More information about Allyn Sales Co. and images of some of their beautiful models, are given on the Collectair web site. Below is a nice example of one of their plastic models, the F3D Skynight.

Allyn Sales Co. F3D Skynight
Allyn Sales Co. Douglas F3D Skynight, scale 1/48 (photo: Greg Westphal)

Allyn's model production further included (list not complete):

1940s Bristol 167 cutaway model
Cutaway model of a Bristol 167 Brabazon I passenger aircraft, scale unknown (source: Shell Aviation News 104, January 1947)

Arifer: The art of cutaway modelling, Antwerp, Belgium

Arifer Logo

Arifer is a very exclusive European cutaway model production team that creates large cutaway replicas of vintage airliners and also restores vintage models. As the production team is formed by collectors of vintage models (e.g. Raise Up airline models in Sabena livery) they adhere to a very high standard. Production numbers are low as all their models are produced according to designs from the past and are hand-made. Their web site shows several images of 1950s - 1960s aircraft interiors and examples of their production, including a Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser, DC-7 series, the Lockheed L-188 Electra, etc. They also produce aircraft decals on demand. Their site is definitively worth a visit!

Examples of Arifer cutaway model and restoration projects
BOEING B-377 Stratocruiser (scale 1/72)
Cutaway model of a Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser in 1st class passenger configuration, used by PAA in the early 1950s, scale 1/72. Interior based on contemporary pictures from airline brochures, material metal and plastic.
Douglas DC-4 contractor model (scale 1/50)
Douglas DC-4 contractor model restored by Arifer, scale 1/50. Blank model painted in livery of the Belgian International Air Services. Decals custom made by Arifer.

Bel Air Models - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Bel Air Models LogoBel Air Models is a Dutch company that creates handcrafted scale models upon commission, mainly for collectors. The company is owned and run by Bob Dros. The focus is on creating very high quality historical or obscure aircraft models that you cannot buy of the shelf. Models are made of perspex and are usually from military or civilian aircraft produced by Dutch (e.g. Fokker), European or American manufacturers. Model scales normally range from 1/48 to 1/72, but other scales are also possible. Bob designs his models using original historical drawings and other historical documents.

Airspeed Ambassador, United Kingdom 1947 perspex model
Example of a Bel Air Models perspex model of an Airspeed Ambassador airplane (scale 1/72) that flew in 1947. Image source: www.bel-air-models.com.

The prices of Bob's models reflect the time for background study, care and finesse that goes into the production of each model. I would say that Bob is a good follower of the Dutch model designer/builder tradition that started with Mathijs Verkuyl. If you want a museum quality model, I would recommend that you contact Bel Air Models. You can contact Bob through his web site at www.bel-air-models.com or by phone at +31 20 6004750. His web site is well worth a visit.

FomAer, Misano Adriatico - Italy

Fomaer was known for its polished, mostly military, 1/50 scale metal aircraft models, such as the F-4 Phantom already shown above. FomAer manufactured high-end models for the general public in the period from 1960 until the late 1990s and made perhaps only one alpha-jet contractor scale model for Dornier. The Golden Hawk F-86 Sabre model shown below is a good example of a FomAer model.

FomAer Golden Hawk F-86 Sabre model
Golden Hawk F-86 Sabre model made by FomAer, Italy. Image courtesy of Darryl Pajot.

REQUEST: Daryll is a collector of RCAF jet-era memorabilia and is looking to acquire an original FomAer "Golden Hawks" F-86 Sabre desk model. If you have one of these models and want to part with it, please contact him at darrylpajot@hotmail.com.

W. Osgaard & Co, Charlottenhund - Denmark

This is a Danish model maker who has produced models in the 1950s and 60s? I do not have any information yet so if you know more, please contribute text by e-mail to aviation@watergeek.eu. An example of a vintage DC-7C cutaway model made by Osgaard & Co., presumably in the late 1950s is shown below.

KLM DC-7 model from Osgaard & Co, Denmark
Metal cutaway model of a DC-7C, scale 1/40, produced by Osgaard & Co, Dnemark (image courtesy of Ed van Rooijen).

Pacific Miniatures (PacMin) - Fullerton, California, U.S.A.

PacMin LogoPacific Miniatures (PacMin) was established in 1946 and has continuously been in the contractor model business, now for over 60 years. The company designs new models from drawings and their services include prototyping, tooling, moulding, preparation, painting, customizing, graphics and printing. Over 170 persons are employed to manufacture high-quality models for large aerospace and airline companies. Their clients include Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed - Martin, Bombardier American Airlines, British Airways, etc. A short description of how PacMin produces their Airbus models is given on the About Airbus Models web page. Their web site, with examples of their models and contact information, can be viewed at www.pacmin.com. Retail models can be bought from their factory outlets.

A second good source for information about PacMin and its models is www.pacminfinder.com. This site also has a section for trading PacMin models.

Precise Modeling - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Precise Modeling LogoThe Canadian Precise Modeling company, not to be confused with Precise Models, Inc. discussed above, claims to manufacture "the finest scale models on Earth". They target an international market and their scale models are of museum quality. Their web site with examples of their models and contact information can be viewed at www.precisemodeling.com. Their models do indeed look very real!

Precise Models web forum - Precise Models LLC.

Precise Models LLC LogoFor all of you who have affinity with the products of Precise Models Inc., there is very good news. Mr. Mark Johnson has teamed up with the former Precise Models Director, Mr. Gary Schneider, to develop the Precise Models LLC web site and internet shop. This site serves as an additional source of information for scale model collectors and includes a forum to exchange ideas, tips and techniques. Furthermore, Topping and Precise models and parts are for sale at this web site and can be bought for competetive prices.

Space Models Limited, Bedfordshire, UK

Space Models Logo

Space Models Ltd. is a leading European model and plastic prototype company that was established in 1947. They produce professional display models over a very large range of scales, including full scale replicas that are displayed on major air shows. Their models include airline models, as well as military air planes and missiles. They will be part of the Curvature Group of companies and have recently moved to a new facility with state-of-the-art model making technologies.

Architectural scale models

Architectural Modelling and 3D visualisation design

Architects have long used analogue models (maquettes) to show their clients what their prosepctive building or design would look like form the outside or inside. These analogue models used to be made on scale from wood, plastics, metal and cardboard, such as those shown for a NAM platform and Schiphol Airport on the Verkuyl web page. Photorealistic models are now also made digitally, which is called 3D computer visualisation and rendering. The three American companies listed below specialise in the creation of such digital architectural models and designs.

Global3D-Arts architectural scale models - Hays, Kansas, USA

Global3D-Arts LogoGlobal3D-Arts provides very high quality photorealistic 3D illustration renderings, architectural home renderings, 3D animation and architectural scale models and maquettes. Global 3D Arts has been working with architects and developers for over 20 years and their artists therefore have extensive experience in creating architectural animation, rendering, and in building scale models according to their customer's wishes. Their web site shows numerous examples of high-quality 3D illustration renderings, animations and scale models and maquettes of interiors, buildings. Well worth a visit if you are interested in architectural models or need to have an architectural model made. They can be contacted through their web contact page or by e-mail at global3darts@aol.com.

LunarStudio 3D Architectural Renderings and Illustration - Medford, MA, USA

LunarStudio LogoLunarStudio is a small group of talented artists and architects founded by owner and artist Charles Leo. They specialise in architectural renderings, architectural illustrations, 3D illustrations, 3D animations, architectural visualization, design, and 3D modelling. Numerous examples of their impressive designs can be viewed at their very web portfolio site. Certainly worth a visit if you are interested in modern computer-based 3D visualisation models or need a custom-made architectural design. Contact by internet contact page, e-mail charles.leo@lunarstudio.com or phone.

Architectural MAGIC - Crescent City, CA, USA

Architectural MAGIC logoArchitecturalmagic.com is a 3D Architectural Rendering and Computer Animation Services company that provides architectural rendering and animations for architects, interior design studios, real estate developers and city planners. Their web site shows numerous examples of their work - including animations and interactive use - and also includes examples with price estimates. You can contact them by e-mail at info@architecturalmagic.com.

Architectural MAGIC Model A Floor 2
Digitally rendered furnished house by Architectural MAGIC (Model A Floor 2).

Model packaging

Original packing by the manufacturer

Much attention was given to the design of the carton boxes and carton holders of the models in the box for shipment. The producers of the models were well aware that their models were very fragile, especially those which had propellors, missiles or other small protruding elements. This required the models to be firmly fixed in their box to avoid them moving around during transport. A lot of clever design went into the carton holder of the model within its box, that prevents the model from moving around and sustaining damage. Soft paper and foam were used to provide further protection against damage to paint and decals. Several examples of such professional packing solutions are shown below.

Precise Models Inc., AGM-109 missile box
Example of the carton model holder and packaging material of the AGM-109 model of Precise Models Inc.

Precise Models Inc., Cessna T-37 in box
One of the first models produced by Precise Models Inc., a Cessna T-37 in its box (Photo: Mark Johnson)

Most boxes show the name of the model manufacturer (Topping, Precise, etc.), as well as the name of the particular model and the contractors name (Boeing, McDonnell, etc.). Some examples of the graphics on the boxes are shown below. The graphics range from a simple logo and type indication (Precise Models Inc., McDonnell RF-4C) to more elaborate graphics (Topping Vigilante and the Precise Models Inc. F-16).

Topping Inc., Vigilante box design
Graphics on the cover of the box of the North American Vigilante model made by Topping, Inc. (photo: Steve Clemens).

Precise Models Inc., F-16 box graphics
Graphics on the long side of the 1/48 model of the General Dynamics F-16, Precise Models Inc.

Models that are sold together with their original box fetch higher prices than those for which the box is missing.

Models for wind tunnel experiments

For the design of new aircraft models wind tunnel experiments are needed to determine the forces on the aircraft and to test and optimise the aerodynamic design. Scale prototype aircraft models were used for the experiments as full-scale aircraft would not fit in a wind tunnel. Recently, NASA did a full scale B757 vertical stabilizer wind tunnel test in a very large wind tunnel located at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett, California.

Below is a 1/60 scale model of a Lockheed C-130 Hercules four engine turboprop model (designed in the 1950s) that was used to determine its aerodynamic characteristics in a wind tunnel. The model is made of aluminum and has a detachable wing section.

Lockheed hercules C-130 wind tunnel model
Full-metal 1/60 wind tunnel scale model of a Lockheed C-130 Hercules (Source J. Rose).

Packing and shipping of vintage models

In the past years, I have received many vintage models that I bought internationally. In quite a number of cases damage was sustained to the model during transport from the seller to me, which leads to a lot of frustration. As such I would like to include some tips on how to pack vintage models to avoid damage during shipping.

Topping A2F Intruder stand
Acrylic Topping A2F Intruder stand, broken during transport due to poor packing.

If you need to ship one or more models, you should realise two things:

  1. Vintage models and stands are much more fragile than they may look. This is certainly true for resin models and stands (see A2F stand above), but also for metal models (see image below)!
  2. The handling of parcels by the shipping companies is much rougher than you can imagine.

This means that your parcel gets thrown around, dropped on concrete floors, shaken, twisted and may have other much heavier parcels placed on it. This may cause the model to move around in its box when not properly secured and may cause the carton box (and your model) to be compressed and deformed. A poorly packed model will easily break under these conditions.

Verkuyl F-105 Thunderchief
Verkuyl F-105 Thunderchief model of which the left horizontal stabilator was severly bend during transport.

Fortunately, you can avoid most damage during transport by packing the model correctly. The best way to do this is to give the model a lot of space within its box, and by placing a second box around the box containing the model, again keeping space between the inner box and the outer box. Compression of the outer box would then not have any impact on the inner box. If you proceed as described below, there is a good chance that the model will not be harmed during transport and that you save yourself and the buyer of your model a lot of frustration.

Technical aspects: Plastic Injection Moulding

Most of the resin models shown above were made through a technique called Plastic Injection Moulding. First, very accurate and expensive metal or aluminum moulds are made of the models to be created. A machine is then used to inject molten liquid thermoplastic material under pressure into the mould. The plastic is allowed to cool and harden. When the mould is removed from the injector and opened, an exact replica of the shape of the mold is inside. The process has been described in more detail on the page of Precise Models Inc.

Moulding and tooling companies

Moulding and die casting are widely used techniques for producing a whole range of plastic and metal products, including scale models. The techniques are described on my Precise Models Inc. and Verkuyl pages. I would like to list a few companies that are active in this business. Their web sites show images of modern machinery and examples of moulds and molding products. These companies may also be contacted for producing moulds or the products derived from them using injection molding or die casting. Communication with these companies is in English.

Tips for model restoration

There are many opinions about restoration. As a general rule, the restoration should be reversible. My personal view is that restoration should only be done if the model is in a really bad shape with lots of paint or parts missing. If possible parts and decals should be replaced by originals. A good place to look for these is www.ebay.com. If you need to repair a model, Mr. Gary Schneider from Precise Models Inc. recommended the use of acetone solvent or superglue to fix parts to the model. An alternative glue is Eastman Chemical Tenite Butyrate cement No. 7756.

If fins or wings of your model are bent, but not broken, I would suggest to leave them as they are. Often wings will start drooping over time as the plastic gives away to gravity. If you really want to get them straight, you could try to submerge these parts into hot water and carefully bent them straight again. Be careful not to exert to much force because they may otherwise break.

Links

The following sites are good references for information about contractor scale models or scale model kits:



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