- Associated Press - Monday, September 18, 2017

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - More than 2,000 hours, a few hundred dollars and eons of patience.

That’s the investment Aberdeen resident Todd Koller made to take home a first place prize at the International Plastic Modeling Society in Omaha, Nebraska, on July 24, the Aberdeen News reported . There are around 200 categories into which society members can enter, ranging from military vehicles to miscellaneous figures. Members travel from around the country, and even as far away as Germany and Brazil, to compete.

Koller’s winning scene, which he first started in 2007, depicts the Battle of Midway and the American aircraft Dauntless. It won first place in its category of small composition aircrafts, best diorama overall, beating out twelve other first-place category winners, and the Chairman’s Award. The model was chosen for its attention to detail, simplicity and as one that fit the scene of American striking back.

For persons engaged in the plastic modeling society, those accolades are impressive. Koller remembers that the presenters had to ask him several times if he was aware of what was happening or what he had won.

“I was floating. I knew it was good enough to take to Nationals, but I didn’t expect this. I was floored,” he said. “Even if you just place at Nationals, it’s still cool.”

Modeling, which consists of spending long, tedious hours creating miniature scenes from little more than plastic and paint, is one of Koller’s life-long passions. “I love miniatures,” he said. “I’ve always loved them.”

Koller relishes in the solitude that comes with modeling. In fact, it was a head injury in 1989 that got him back involved with the hobby that he once enjoyed during childhood. Out of work and trying to stay busy, Koller took to miniatures, teaching himself the meticulous art of modeling through how-to books and online research.

As a history buff, most, if not all, of Koller’s models are military-related. First, he chooses an interesting aircraft. He’ll then look into the history of the plane and determine whether or not he can tell an accurate story, based on the size, scale and parts that are necessary for the particular model.

In modeling, it’s not just about aesthetics. Scenes are docked for a lack of accuracy, too, so it’s important to have all the facts right.

Koller will sometimes practice a certain technique a dozen times before he feels it’s perfect enough to implement for a part of his scene.

“I hate to say it, but I’m a perfectionist. I won’t turn anything in that’s sub-par,” he said. “It’s not about trophy-hunting, it’s about reaching to do the best you can do.”

Though he doesn’t plan on making the trek to next year’s Nationals in Arizona due to time constraints, Koller has no plans to slow down with miniatures. “I’d rather be doing this,” he said. “I’d rather be modeling.”

Someday, he hopes to spend the majority of his time in his dining-room-turned-shop, unwrapping dozens of unopened kits and sharing their story with the world, one tiny piece at a time.


Information from: Aberdeen American News, https://www.aberdeennews.com

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