|KIT:||Income Toy and Hobby 30 cm USS New Jersey|
100 Masterpieces – The Income Toy & Hobby 30 cm USS New Jersey
Styrene molded in two colours, engine, battery compartment, rubber pipe, Contact Metal,
Tube Of Unknown Content, Cardboard Water Base and Backdrop
Instructions on genuine Chinese Rice paper
Unknown Craftsman and Poet
For Age 10 Up
This little gem baffles the senses in various subtle and bold ways. The crinkly texture of the see-through instructions, the unique stage complete with back-cloth, the boldness displayed in its conception and sculpturework, the stunning amount of hi-tech gadgets incorporated into the Gesamtkunstwerk, the secrets surrounding the cute metal container, but above all the synthesis between sculpture and poetry, paired with the attitude that made „The Hitchhiker´s Guide to the Galaxy“ the most successful production of the big publishing companies from Ursa Minor – all this sucks you into this kit´s spell like the tug of a friendly black hole.
Let´s approach this work of art cautiously from the periphery and than explore its depths and inner reaches. We´ll begin with the brightly illustrated box that already hints at the philosophy of the creators of this work.
Everybody knows the wisdom that „It´s 5 o´clock somewhere!“ The designers added depth to this adage by introducing the idea that „Anything will end up at 30 centimeters in some scale!“ So they set out to prove it not in a unique piece but in a whole series of works, amongst them SMS (Seiner Majestaet Schiff) Bismarck, a cunning reference to this ship´s plans originating in designs from the First World War under the reign of the Kaiser. The motto, or should I say Koan, already gives away what is to be won in interacting with this work: Creativity, Pleasure, Intelligence, Amusement. The surreal image of a battlement sailing (with red sails in the sunset?) adds the final kick to this powerful mantra that really sets your mind adrift.
Yet it´s not only this transcendent level of mind which is being catered for. A comprehensive overview of historical and technical data plus a deep insight into the level of quality engineering complete the walkaround of the box. Most notably is the recurring motive of reassurance. Like the said travel guide that boasts the big and friendly words „Don´t Panic!“ on its sleeve, the unknown poet makes sure we „need not worry“ „withou any worry“ and provided we fill a comforting sturdy box with thick lubricant (reminding us of the work of the late Joseph Beuys) „water can not seep into it at all“.
Upon opening the box, the first thing that catches the eye is the two-piece hull, molded in grey and red respectively, a sturdy sculpting with finely engraved planking and very strong capstans molded in. The void in the bow area hints at great things to come and does just the right thing to keep up the art connaisseur´s (pardon my french) attention. A cosy plastic bag reveals the other major parts of the sculpture. The number of parts is concise, and they all share the boldness of execution that shows the master´s chisel at work. The cryptical title „30 cm Ne Io Mi“ is so much better than the hackneyed „Untitled“. After some searching, the bow piece is identified and sports magnificent geometrical embellishments vaguely resembling a symbol for bonding two things that need keeping together. No sharp, hard, or angry corners are present in the work, everything is well-rounded, cosy and comfortable. Every so often, depressions of a more or less pronounced nature hint at the entrance to the underworld, most notably on the pieces labeled „Auxiliary Gun“. The artistic peak is climbed when fully savouring the design of the parts labeled „The Body of the Helicopter“. These torsoes proudly display entrenched panel lines of bold execution and vertical poles of utter sturdiness.
A second bag is reserved for the heart of the matter – the electrical engine plus battery compartment and assorted metalwork and Ruber Pipe. The symbolistic shapes and patterns, although hidden later on inside the work, make up for a serene and Feng-Shui-like aura.
My personal favourite item is the nondescript white tube with its mystery that, like the actual state of Schroedinger´s cat, can only be discovered upon interacting and interfering with it. Does it contain Pomade? Soft Marcapine? Glyce? Sambal Oelek? The artist has cunningly withheld any reference to uphold the audience´s tension for just that tad longer that it takes to tell true great art from the lesser.
As this is a Gesamtkunstwerk, it would be nothing without the written word. (Image njinstr01b) The instructions, calligraphed on rice paper, continue the theme from the box in not only just instructing, but also in reassuring the work´s end-consumer. Even though your dad is not with you when you´re interacting with the work, the artist is and does a good job of both reassuring you and counselling you on how to best execute your reception of his art. Yet he also adds some doses of humour for good measure now and then, as in saying: „Please take care of the helicopter´s assembly“. Daddy won´t do that for you! My personal favorite is the one wisdom he reserved for the very end of the process: „No Comment“
Proper use of language discerns Art from the mundane depths of everyday life, making it so much easier for us ordinary people to grasp immediately what is Art and what is Trash. There are artists that have gone so far as to reshape language to their needs of enhanced artistic expression, and our unknown poet has gone to great lengths in this respect, too. Thus decoding the meaning of many words of his into everyday language is an equally mind-boggling as refreshing game. I had my first glimpse into his mind right at the start of his text, where it says: „Please pag attention to the instruction for the keg parts.“ Well, I got a bit disappointed, as there was absolutely no keg to be found, neither whole nor disassembled, not to mention any beer. But then I grasped that I had let myself be lured on a wrong trail, thinking more of beer than of progressive deconstructive meta-linguistics. Hence I was soon able to decode the term „chumneg“, but „Hange tindes“ kept me in the dark for a sizable time. I won´t give my personal interpretations as this Truth obviously is up to any beer-holder.
I´ll conclude my essay by describing the colourful stage for the display of the completed sculpture. The instructions printed on the rear side of the backdrop tried tricking me again but this time I was fully alert and didn´t look for an actual bull, though there might be a cunning reference to Admiral Halsey hidden somewhere. All in all, the artist leaves us considerable freedom in how far we dare explore the waterline above water, another example for his mind-broadening outlook on Things.
This multi-media interactive work-in-progress Gesamtkunstwerk should grace any progressive home; it combines the best virtues with an easygoing and positive attitude of the artist towards the end-user. Highly recommended for all those who savour the fact that 30 centimeters are nearly a foot.
I received this kit a few days ago from a friend who had obviously thought me worthy of a fresh challenge. He indicated to me I might add scratchbuilt interiors to the helicopters. Nice try, Tomcat! I´ll at least try building practically any kit and I´ve got a weakness for offbeat and weird stuff. This early Chinese offering of a 1:900 (!) USS New Jersey in her final configuration with helos, Harpoons and Tomahawks is still very toylike and goes to show how far Chinese manufacturers have come in the few years since this kit was produced. Nowadays a good Trumpeter offering is on par with the best of what the world has to offer, so it´s remarkable to put things in perspective. I didn´t mean to insult people, mind you, but the colourful language and inadvertent humour led me to write this review in a more than tongue-in-cheek style. I´ll build the model, engine and all, and will duly present her to you as soon as possible. The addition of the cardboard waterline plate and backdrop is a nice idea and should look fine for kids, and this offering is surely marketed for kids as a toy and source of fun, not for one of us middle-aged bean-counters with oodles of reference works and tendencies towards obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Take it as my start for lent and have fun nonetheless says
Frank „Dieter“ Spahr
Thanks and apologies to German cult radio comedy „Neues aus Stenkelfeld – 100 Meisterwerke“ for a heavy dose of inspiration as to the style of this review.
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