The first collection I have memories about is a cards’ album whose
subject was nature and wildlife. The album pages had a specific
section where the card was affixed with glue, leaving the rest of
the area below the image for instructional text about the pictured
subject. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete the collection.
Latter on, other albums followed, although none with real
When I had just passed age 6, I was given a 2500 piece puzzle
depicting London’s Trafalgar Square. I completed it except for the
sky which featured very few clouds. I didn’t develop a passion for
solving those kind of puzzles and as a result didn’t get any more of
Around late 1974, my grandpa gave me a scaled model of a wooden
ship for assembly. All its elements were plastic (even the sails,
which were modeled as fully deployed). Given that it was my first
assembly model ever, I did a fairly good job. I didn’t paint it and
neither did I use the decals that came with it. Again, although I
had a good time assembling it, since it was not for playing, I
didn’t develop an interest on models and moved on.
It was not until I became an outcast that puzzles and scale models
became hobbies. This happened after our flight from Nicaragua’s
civil war when I became aware of the reason my parents had for being
insistent that I get educated. Most of my peers in Honduras, having
experienced none of what I did, continued behaving as if the world
owed them a living. Having a different set of values forced me to
spend time alone. Puzzles and Models filled my hours after school
I started with scaled models. This time I would go to the trouble
of looking for the recommended colors for the painting and affixing
all the decals. Of course, I started small, not just because of
complexity but because of lack of financial resources. It was not
just the models; it was all the ancillary equipment required: paint
enamels, dissolvers, glue, cutters, and brushes. I don’t remember
which model was my first one. It could have been the F-5 fighter
plane or the SR-71 spy plane. I do remember however, that in the
interest of detail, I developed a taste for World War II planes. My
scale of choice for those was 1:48 As my interest was weighted more
on the process of assembling rather than in displaying the final
product, I didn’t mind that many of the painted details on the
interior were not visible once the plane’s fuselage was glued
together. Some exterior features such as the windows’ metal frame
was only engraved on the plastic element and required painting
dexterity. Large planes included human figures such as pilots
(transport planes also included some paratroopers). Bomber planes
usually included bombs and cartwheel. It was on the human figures
that I came to display my painting dexterity by going after the
smallest features such as rank insignias, harnesses, belts, and
adding some personal touch, moustaches and beards on their faces.
When it came to puzzles, I chose subjects by the complexity of
assembly as well as for the attractiveness of the picture. The idea,
after all, was to spend lots of time putting it together. At first I
would finish, leave it on the board for a while –for contemplation-
and then, dismantling it, putting it back in the box to repeat the
cycle at a latter time. As soon as I could afford to have a few, I
started to frame the finished picture and hang it as decoration. The
biggest puzzle I ever had was a 5000 piece featuring an Alpine town.
I became so fast at putting it all together that I only had (2) 500
piece units and (1) 1000 unit.
By the time as was dedicating my free time to other activities I
was able to assemble puzzles for which I didn’t have a reference
picture! I would start by sorting the pieces as to find the puzzle’s
edges and then working inwards; or by coupling a few obvious pieces
I found by luck and then, building around it.
Alas, I don’t have pictorial records of my collection of puzzles
and models which I left behind when I moved to California.
Today, my hobbies are photography and my web site.