We were at Model X, the annual hobby show organised by the Western Districts Model Railway Club, when equestrian enthusiast Miss Seven spied the display of model horses.
"Granddad," she said seizing his arm and her chance, "I think I'd like to make a model - a miniature - of what my vet clinic will look like when I'm grown-up and have some of these horses on it."
And that was that. She spent the next six Saturdays with my model-maker father cosseted away in the basement of his North Shore home learning the finer points of measuring to scale, why some glues work more effectively than others, how to use grass textures and ways to create model ponds. The result: a miniature replica - complete with veterinary clinic buildings, a duck pond and a field with two model horses grazing peacefully - of what Super Vet Clinic might look like.
Crafts like knitting and crocheting, baking and cheese-making, and sewing and embroidery have enjoyed a revival so maybe it's time for model-making to take off again. Of course, model-makers will tell you their hobby is alive and well but they acknowledge there are not as many youngsters showing an interest as there once was.
Model-making is a great way to learn practical and life skills and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from creating something - be it from a kitset or scratch. There are lots of model-makers and clubs able to help novices learn the tricks of the trade.
The International Plastic Model Society's Auckland branch could be a great place to start. Like its affiliates worldwide, IPMS Auckland is made up of scale model enthusiasts who want to develop and promote modelling as a hobby and art form. Its website has links to a whole range of groups and the society meets at 7.30pm on the third Tuesday of every month at Leys Institute Library, St Mary's Bay Rd, Ponsonby.
Walking through the door of the Western Districts Model Railway Club's headquarters (in the basement of a former farmhouse building at Te Rangi Hiroa Park in Massey) is akin to entering another world. The entire room is dominated by a model railway with electric trains running through mountain tunnels, past towns and villages, fields and forests and even a port.
Club president Colin Davies says many members have family connections with trains and the railways. They build models to keep alive their family history.
Colin's own father was a coach builder with Great Western Railways in England.
Club night is from 7.30pm on Mondays and enthusiasts gather to see the model trains in action or, alternate Mondays, discuss model-making techniques, share tips and hints, and review the latest news from abroad.
The club is closely affiliated with the Waitakere Modular Railway Group, for those with an interest in N (the distance between the track rails) and HO/OO gauge scale model railways.
They developed a modular system which allows different layouts to be joined and create portable and smaller-scale displays. One of the most popular is, not surprisingly, the Thomas the Tank Engine display.
Alan Dick, vice-president of the Papakura Manukau Aeromodellers Club, can't remember a time when he wasn't interested in aeroplanes. The former Air Force engineer designed his home to ensure he would have a workshop with the space to construct his favourite models including a Westland Wyvern and De Havilland Rapide.
Alan spends countless hours building models from scratch and says a lifetime of model building and working on real planes has taught him numerous skills including perseverance and patience. If you don't want to spend so much time scratch building, you can buy plenty of kits that come almost ready to fly, and many modellers now do this.
He flies his remote-controlled models at the PMAC's flying site at the Clevedon Showgrounds, Monument Rd in Clevedon where a variety of different-sized aircraft can fly from a 90m grass strip.
The main club flying day is Sunday, but members also meet on the first Monday of each even month at the Warbirds Clubrooms at Ardmore Airport.
With more than 130 members, the club is an active one which organises and supports specific events throughout the year such as Warbirds over Manukau, electric rally days and aerobatic flying displays.
Alan says age is no barrier to model flying - there are schoolkids and pensioners actively involved - nor is gender, and there are female pilots at the club.
To find out more see: pmac-rc.org or to find a club closer to you, see the website of Model Flying New Zealand (MFNZ). The organisation promotes and protects aeromodelling in New Zealand and carries a range of information about and links to specific branches of aeromodelling such as model jets, vintage aircraft and helicopters.
Park flyers - are a group of enthusiasts who fly smaller electric models in local parks. Their very informative website has all the details plus info about model building. A small plane is typically made from foam of some sort, but not always, is light and electric powered and capable of flying in a public park.
Wingnut Wings - Around a decade ago, film-maker Sir Peter Jackson quietly gave wings to a private passion: creating a new line of accurate and highly-detailed large-scale World War I aircraft models.
The result was - is - Wingnut Wings which provides models to build for both experienced and novice modellers. The models are designed in Wellington by 3D computer modellers employed by Wingnut Wings but the company receives great support from Weta. The models are designed and researched by professionals using original factory drawings whenever possible, historic and contemporary photos, and information supplied by some of the world's leading experts.
Sold solely online, starting from $75.
The Unofficial Wingnut Wings fans Facebook page can be found here. IPMS Auckland, scale model enthusiasts share their latest Wingnut projects.
Meccano is a model construction system where reusable metal strips, plates, angle girders, wheels, axles and gears are connected with nuts and bolts to build working models and mechanical devices. From one basic kit, enthusiasts can create a range of models usually limited only by their imagination.
Meccano has been around since 1901 when it was invented by Frank Hornby, who also created Hornby Model Railways and Dinky Toys. Some 111 years later, it has enthusiasts around the world including Peter Hancock who's the secretary of the Auckland Meccano Guild. The guild holds quarterly meetings in members' homes where visitors are welcome to join in discussions on all things Meccano from building models to its history.
Peter says Meccano used to have the slogan "Meccano hours are happy hours" and that's something he can attest to.
He says a number of guild members build Meccano models to de-stress and forget about the worries of the world.
Chances are very few of us will ever get to live in a French chateau or decorate our homes with genuine Edwardian antiques, but Wendy Craig, of the Hibiscus Miniatures Club, knows a way we can experience a slice of that life.
Wendy makes beautiful and elaborately detailed miniature houses and rooms.
A history buff, she immerses herself in a time period, then sets to work replicating, to scale, whole houses and rooms. In the 11 years since she started, Wendy has created a Tudor home, complete with tiny model food laid out for a banquet, an Edwardian house where a mini photo album contains her own much-reduced family photos handed down since the 1880s, and a selection of individual rooms from different eras. She is now working on a retro-style caravan.
For Wendy, the appeal lies in the combination of historical research and interior design.
Miniature making and collecting is an extremely fast-growing hobby in New Zealand and around the world. There are now 24 individually run clubs throughout the country, many of whom belong to umbrella organisation the NZ Association of Miniature Enthusiasts.
The association says the main difference between local and overseas enthusiasts is that in New Zealand, we attempt to learn and build all our houses, shops, box-rooms, furniture and accessories rather than just collecting. There's the old DIY ethos Kiwis are famous for at work!
To find out more see: nzame.org or you can contact Wendy by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy also has a blog.
RADIO CONTROLLED CARS
Ask Trevor Reid, treasurer of the Auckland Radio Controlled Car Club, what he loves about the sport and he doesn't hesitate: "It's an adrenalin buzz".
Racers start with a kitset car which they assemble, paint and fit with the appropriate engines and remote control equipment - the cars are fuel/nitro powered - and then they take it to the race track.
The ARCCC holds its meetings on the first and third Sunday at 10am at its purpose-built off-road track at Saville Drive, on the Otahuhu/Mangere border. Club members race off road 1/8th Nitro IC powered Buggies and Truggies, which can go from 0-60km/h in just three seconds.
Trevor says radio controlled car racers take the sport seriously and are as competitive about it as Formula 1 drivers.
He must love it because, for 20 years, the club has been trying to find a permanent home which, he says, has been challenging and costly. The club hopes to find a new home at the Colin Dale Motorsport Park, an international motorsport venue planned for a venue near Auckland Airport and resume on-road racing. In the meantime, they're racing at Saville Drive and, on Queen's Birthday Weekend, hold the ARCCC Club Championships.
Wanting to learn more about model making, collecting or hobbies in general? Then Model X is for you.
It's billed as an "extravaganza" of hobby activities with exhibitors who are hobby groups, suppliers or individuals passionate about their interests.
Now in its 26th year, Model X started out as a show for model-makers and collectors but has grown to include other hobbyists. This year you can check out Meccano, miniatures, model railways, boats, trucks and emergency services vehicles, plus talk to representatives of local genealogy groups if you want to ``meet'' your ancestors, chat with rockhounds about digging up the past, watch a demonstration of woodturning, learn more about jewellery making, ceramics, green-ware and dolls' house making, study firsthand the intricacies of combustion, heat and steam engines, see if succulents and bonsai planting might be for you, discover the latest about space flight and get chased by a full-sized Dalek or K9 from Dr Who.
Need to know
Model X 2012 Hobby Show: Queen's Birthday Weekend (June 2, 3 and 4), 9am-5pm Saturday & Sunday and 9am-4pm Monday at the West Wave Aquatic Centre, Alderman Drive, Henderson.