Having read “The Great White Fleet” [in the February issue] I strolled down to the local hobby shop and bought a plastic model kit for the Oregon, Olympia and the Maine . I have no quarrel with the Oregon or the Olympia but when I got to the Maine, I made a revolting discovery —it was the same ship and kit as the Olympia except that one smokestack was moved.…
Now as you are probably familiar with these model kits, you are probably aware that they are usually very accurate in their data, detail, proportion, etc.—that is, they are authentic scale models and are sold as such. In this sense they are history in the hands of kids (and some not quite kids any more) and may be the only history that ever makes an impression on these kids—nothing like the visual impact, you know.
The Olympia kit and the Maine kit are both manufactured by Pyro Plastics Corporation, Pyro Park, Union, New Jersey. Locally, these kits sell for $1.95 each, so I am enclosing my check for $4.00. Send the office boy out and buy one of each so that you may see for yourselves what I am talking about.
We checked with the ship-model expert at Folk’s, one of New York’s big hobby shops, and were told that Pyro Plastics has voluntarily withdrawn the model of the Maine, at considerable cost. The trouble apparently stems from the fact that no precise plans of the Maine survive in the Naval Archives. According to Folk’s expert, Pyro’s model of the Olympia is “fairly accurate,” but not as much so as the one made by Réveil, Inc., of Venice, California. We bought both, and they are slowly being assembled here in the office for a comparison which will take place, we estimate, along about Christmas. Incidentally, the real Olympia is still afloat, preserved at Philadelphia by the Cruiser Olympia Association as a public memorial to the ship’s great record .