The other odd day I was looking about eBay for a long out of production 35th scale set of
resin figurines by Jaguar. I found a lot. And I got excited. Not only did I find quite a lot from the long out-of-production company, the prices were very good. I started loading up my eBay shopping cart and before I knew it I had spent 500 Euros.
Clicking the order button I leaned back in the sofa rubbing my hands together with eager anticipation. A feeling took me back. Back to the time before the internet. Then—in the early 1990’s—there were catalogs. I had two personal favorites—the Red Lancers for
content. They carried every conceivable figurine you could ever want. But their catalogue was utter shite. Thick as a brick and a photocopy of a photocopy sometimes on blue paper it was difficult to read, or rather interpret. The Red Lancers is still soldiering on, they’ve entered the digital age and have a very user friendly webstore. Have a look. Loads of hard to get figurines.
The other—a big impressive affair in full colour—was the Verlinden catalog loaded with photographs of Verlinden figures and accessories and monthly inserts with the latest from its parent company VLS. Ordering model kits, figurines and accessories by catalogue was something of an extravagance. I’d put a CD on, pour a nice glass of vino blanco, and sit down by the fire with a catalog and a note pad and pen and scratch down the item numbers of everything I desired. In the end, I’d order 20% of what I fancied. In those years I didn’t have the extra dough to splurge. Even so, a few hundred Euros a week (in those days US Dollars) generated a huge order, especially with a VLS Master’s Discount which knocked off 20-40% from Verlinden and Custom Dioramics items.
The order was transcribed to a proper VLS order form, credit card number attached or bank cheque, then the order was sealed in an envelope, postage added and off it went in the post.
Then the waiting. Excited anticipation. From Moscow Mills, Missouri to Studio City, California could take 2 days once the order was packed up and shipped. And that was only if everything was in stock. If something wasn’t in stock you either waited until the order was fulfilled or you paid extra for shipment of back-ordered items. Mostly I paid extra. On average it was a week before the order was received. In the age before Amazon two day service a week seemed fast. Still, the excitement of waiting for that package of resin goodness was an itch you could not scratch. I spent night after night looking at the VLS catalog, chain smoking in anticpation.
I became chums with my local UPS delivery man and the sight of his brown van would
send me scurrying frantically to the front door. If I wasn’t home he’d leave it behind the gate to the pool. Out of sight and safe. If it was my regular driver’s day off, a delivery man I didn’t know would refuse to leave the package if I wasn’t home to sign for it and I would suffer in agony for yet another day.
That moment I had the box from VLS in my hands I would run to the kitchen, grab a kitchen knife to cut open the tape sealing up the cardboard box. And then. That moment when the cardboard lid parted like cracking the seal on the Arc of the Covenant. The angels cried. Trumpets sounded. There hidden amidst a sea of styrofoam peanuts packaging was my order. Reaching in I began to retrieve box after camouflage box or Verlinden figurines and accessories. It was Christmas morning. And I was happy. Finally. Opening the plastic wrapping of each little box I removed the plastic bag containing one of those beautiful resin Verlinden figurines. Oversized as they might have been, the castings were always exquisite. And that smell. The marvelous resin smell. Ufff. Turned me on.
Once the internet hit the days of catalog and mail-order were numbered. Ordering by internet is the standard now. You can close the deal at any hour and usually the order goes out the next day. Ebay is much the same. Today, instead of Verlinden and VLS we have more and in some cases better manufacturers and online retailers such as Stalingrad Figurines, AK, Ammo, Sockelshop and Hobby Link Japan to name just a few. As I sit here waiting patiently—or impatiently as it may be—I have the same feeling of excitement I felt when I was a 28 year old, living in bungalow in Studio City, California in 1995.