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Historic Donation by Tom West

Note: In the late Summer of 2007, famed kit designer Tom West called Mark S. Gustavson and offered to donate a "truck load" of historic items gathered during his days at Revell. These items were very historic and needed to be picked up quickly because Tom was planning a move and didn't want to cart along the many, many items.

Mark called his good friend Steve Roullier, a Californian, who jumped in his vintage Ranchero and drove some distance to Tom's house. He and Tom loaded hundreds of items into the bed of the Ford. Subsequently, Steve boxed the items and shipped them to the Museum.

Steve prepared a narrative on his experience of visiting with Tom and picking up this remarkable collection of historic items:

"In October of 2007 I received an e-mail from Mark Gustavson: Would I be willing to pick up a load of items that were being donated to the Model Car Museum? Based on my previous contact with Mark, I suspected right away that a mission of this sort, besides doing a good turn for the Museum, would likely be an interesting and rewarding adventure.

I set up a meeting with Tom West and drove out to his house at the appointed time. Even as someone who has built model cars and devoured car and model related publications since the early Sixties, I'll confess that the name initially meant nothing to me. Unless we've been intimately connected to the industry of creating and marketing plastic models, it probably appears to most of us like even the most engineered of these creations spring full blown from some mysterious place, perhaps created by robots or elves. Model kits have just always been there in my life – you just go down to the hobby shop and buy them.

 Tom is a passionate but generally modest and discrete fellow, but as he described some of the items he was giving the Museum - mostly model catalogs going back as far as the sixties - I began to get the sense that this was a man who had been involved in the higher levels of the model car industry for quite some time. He seemed particularly proud of his role helping create the large scale Racing Scenes for Aurora in the early Seventies and he showed me several pages of promotional materials for this ambitious project.

After packing up a load of boxes, including one printed with "Revell - Venice California" (a piece of modeling history in its own right) I was getting ready to leave when a familiar looking shape on a shelf in the garage caught my eye. "Is that what I think it is?", I asked him. He reached over and pulled it down. "I guess the Museum should have this, too", he said. I now clearly saw that it was the large scale wooden pattern for the Attempt I model kit body! Having recently built the Revell kit, I was in awe. As he talked a little about his days at Revell in the sixties, I began to fully understand that this was a man who had spent the better part of his life as an insider in our hobby, someone who had been present at the creation of some of our plastic model icons.

I placed the buck on the floor next to me (no way was I leaving it in the bed of my Ranchero with the rest of the boxes!) and drove home. I packed and shipped this precious cargo off to the Museum a couple of days later, but not before taking the time to carefully examine and photograph the Attempt I pattern. I figured it might be the only time I was likely to have such an item in my care – both the responsibility and the thrill were intense and I barely wanted to let it out of my sight."

It required two SUVs to transport the many large boxes from the commercial mail center to the Museum. When we opened the boxes, we were utterly amazed to see historic records of Revell corporate management notes from the Sixties, the wood buck for the Challenge I model, many dozens of model car catalogs, late Sixties Revell "man to the moon" educational materials for schools and 75 pieces of Radio Control car material. There were also over 100 pieces of toy, diecast, and train catalogs and related material. These materials will be researched for years to come.

Our greatest thanks to Tom for his generous contribution, and to Steve for driving the long distance to get these items and send them to the Museum.

In a future article, we'll carry a feature article on Tom's great contributions to the hobby.

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Steve literally filled the entire bed of his vintage Ranchero with the items that Tom (pictured) donated to the Museum. 

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Probably the most significant item in the West donation is the 1/10 scale Attempt I wood buck created decades ago by skilled woodworkers.

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This Attempt I buck was built in two parts. The wood buck is in very good condition and will not be restored to its "new" condition – patina is good!

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It took four guys to load the many boxes into two large SUVs to take them from Help-U-Mail to the Museum. Left to right, Scott Hjelm, Butch Hjelm, and Kevin Hejlm, and Trustee Brian Dees handled the transportation chores. It has taken Trustees Mark Brown and Phil Gladstone nearly 18 months to inventory, categorize and catalog all of the items. 

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Trustee Gladstone (L) and Trustee Dees admire the excellent workmanship of the wood buck. They're standing in the new display room in Phase Two of the Museum. 

 

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