Wed, Jan 20, 2010
The Straits Times
Miniature General

JONATHAN LIAUTRAKUl, 20, full-time National Serviceman

JONATHAN'S World War II tanks may look like toys, but they are anything but child's play.

Each model measures about 25cm by 15cm but is made up of 500 to 800 pieces.

Related link:
» Simple pleasures
» The self-taught birdwatcher
» Heir to a stamp fortune

Some are only a centimetre long and all must be assembled correctly, with glue.

If he spends three hours a day, three times a week, he can complete a tank in two to three months. He has eight tanks in all, including the Panzer III, T-34 and Sherman.

What if you were to put the parts together wrongly? He gave a wry smile: "Then too bad for you!"

And it is not a case of just blindly following the manual.

There are differences in the tanks' appearances, according to time period. "For example, German tanks had less armour and nuts and bolts in 1943 than the year before, because of a shortage of war material," the history buff explained. He would then exclude some pieces when constructing the model and even use pliers to "damage" the tank and paint on "dirt" for added realism.

Military modelling is not mere toy-making. It is an art, the modeller of five years asserted.

The single child has spent more than $200 on books on tanks and war, and $500 on modelling courses with M Workshop, a scale modelling hobby shop at Sunshine Plaza in Bencoolen Street. He eventually hopes to complete the advanced course, which allows him to construct whole war scenes.

"You can't approach and understand history unless you've experienced it for yourself," he said. "And modelling is the closest I can come to reliving the war."

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

  Simple pleasures
  A 'new deal' for teachers, school staff
  NUS law dean term extended
  School-less girl wants to be a cop
  Furious mum slaps teacher
  Blaze at unlicensed kindergarten kills infant
  357 new teachers graduate
  Why have extra lessons after school hours?
  SMU appoints old S'pore hand as new president
  More than just jobs the grads get