His hobby grew out of his fascination for his dad’s job, and it’s brought him rewards that are more precious than money, writes Adrian David
HE could not follow in his dad’s footsteps and become a military pilot so Brian Parameswaran chose to do the next best thing — building scale models of military aircraft.
When young, Brian was fascinated by his father Brig Gen (rtd) Datuk Parameswaran Thambipillai’s airborne duties. Brian built aeroplane scale models as a hobby, he even assembled one as a souvenir for the late Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah.
“I remember it was a scale model of a Royal Malaysian Air Force Hercules C-130, better known as ‘Charlie’, which my dad commissioned me to build. My father then presented it to the Sultan during his majesty’s official visit to the Subang base where the former was commanding officer.”
Brian, 36, is the principal of Olympia College Kuala Lumpur. He says that his passion for scale models began as a 6-year-old when his parents presented him with his first kit — an Alouette III helicopter.
“I was fascinated with the scale model which had RMAF markings, something that was rare and unique at that time. It was like the real thing. I remember building it with my father and it got me hooked on the hobby, seeing something evolve into something tangible.
“There is this self-accomplishment of completing a project.” Brian also has an interest in radio-controlled car models.
As he grew, Brian focused on building aeroplanes and helicopters flown by the RMAF and Royal Australian Air Force, including those by his father.
“In the earlier years, it was difficult to find kits in the market with Malaysian markings. I used to mix and match to try and get the best possible outcome,” he said.
Brian added with the easier availability of kits today, he was able to assemble a No. 58 Harvard trainer which was similar to the one his father flew during his flying instructor’s course in New Zealand.
“My task is all the easier thanks to the Selangor and Federal Territory Plastic Models Society which comprises die-hard scale modellers like me. We usually gather at E-Hobby HQ, a one-stop shop in the city, where we exchange ideas, hold discussions and organise activities.”
The society has about 150 members, mainly aged between 30 and 40 years, and many of whom are professionals like pilots, engineers, architects, accountants and educators who have a keen interest in history and aviation.
“Our work is often showcased at events like the Merdeka celebrations. The society ran a month-long exhibition at Muzium Negara,” said Brian, who has built over 200 scale models, and has visited museums in Britain and Vietnam to gather information.
Among Brian’s favourite scale models are the Mirage III, Scotish Aviation Bulldog, Canadair Tebuan, F-5E and BAE Hawk. Contrary to belief that scale modelling is associated with toys, Brian said it was a serious affair: “Most people do not really understand scale modelling, associating it with toys. They are not toys and they cost a lot of money.
“I am fortunate that my family, friends and even colleagues understand this and support my interest.”
His keen interest in scale modelling coupled with computer games and Information Technology once got his wife Luz Jennifer Armstrong, a teacher, teasing that he “was an old man trapped in a young body”.
Brian said the Internet is handy as it keeps society members connected with overseas groups with similar interests.
“With the Internet, it is so easy to communicate and exchange ideas and tips, and purchase items from all over the world. Some of us have grown to become good friends,” he said.
There was a period in the 1990s when Brian took a break from scale modelling to pursue his studies in Britain, only to resume his hobby in 2000, thanks to his father-in-law Kenneth Armstrong.
Armstrong, a former air traffic controller, was also an avid scale modeller and had built many kits, which he donated to the RMAF Museum. Asked if he planned to make his hobby a profitable business, Brian replies: “No, not really. I build for myself and enjoy completing a project. I do, on occasions, sell some but usually not for a profit. Just to cover the kit and materials such as paint, glue and such.
“I do not charge for the man hours. To me, building and reliving history is rewarding enough.