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(Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

(Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

Modelers come together for annual expo in Westlake

Last Modified: Saturday, January 26, 2013 10:03 PM

By Jordan Gribble / Special to the American Press

Scale models of tanks, war dioramas and statues of fictional figures such as Batman scaling a tower were on display and ready for judging at the 27th annual Calcasieu Parish Model Contest and Exposition in Westlake on Saturday. The exposition, hosted by Southwest Area Modelers of Plastic, had over 200 entries in more than 70 categories.

Models included historical pieces such as replicas of aircraft, ships and tanks, cars, motorcycles and fantasy objects such as TIE Fighters from “Star Wars.” Though there were children present looking at the models with their parents, many modelers insist that these works are not toys meant for children.

“They’re very fragile. You don’t pick them up and play with them. They’re not toys. They’re very complex,” said Robert Leishman, a contest entrant. “I’ve seen models built with only 10 pieces all the way up to models with over 200 pieces. Some of them only take about 20 hours to build, but some guys spend six months or more on one piece.”

Lester Robertson has been building models since childhood and says he has stuck with the hobby because of his interest in studying history.

“The first model I ever built was a World War I biplane, and I love researching the history of the pieces I build,” he said. “You’re able to take a model of a tank, do some research on the real thing and then decide that you don’t want to build it like it came in from the manufacturer. You might want to add an extra turret, or change it into another variant.”

Models of vehicles and other mechanical objects were not the only thing on display. There were several models of robots from “Transformers” and video game characters from Halo, as well as models of historical figures. Contest entrant Josie Harris said her model, a 3-inch-tall figure of a Viking, was the hardest piece she had ever built.

“It’s all handcrafted, made of white plastic and then hand painted. It was tedious to paint because of the size of it, but modeling is just so relaxing for me that I don’t mind,” she said. “You always get this feeling of success when you’ve gotten a piece just right.”

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