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WHO IS "INTERNET MODELER"?

By Tom Cleaver

In recent weeks I seem to have gotten a lot of correspondence from people who take it for granted that I am "Internet Modeler," that it sprang whole and complete direct from me. Some of you may know I have worked in Hollywood, the land where no one ever has the slightest difficulty taking as much credit for a "hit" as they can get away with, but it strikes me that it's time to spread that credit around a bit more accurately. To me, "Internet Modeler" is greater than the sum of its parts, and that couldn't happen without the parts being who they are.

For those who may know a bit of the history here, previous to working on "Internet Modeler" I obtained a certain prominence as the Aviation Editor of another well-known scale modeling website. When I left there I was looking for an alternative, and fortunately I was able to find one. Back in the Fall of 1997, while surfing around the net, I had run across an elegant little site: "Aviation What-Not." One read-through was all it took to know there was a personality behind it that was sympatico with mine. That was how I came to know Chris Banyai-Riepl, who is the Publisher of "Internet Modeler." Chris is definitely a genius at design, of which both "Aviation What-Not" and "Internet Modeler" are clear examples. Believe me, with the server we have been on, were he not as good as he is the complaints about slowness would be far more than they have been. Not only that, he's not too darn bad when it comes to producing something out of plastic that resembles an airplane, even if it is an eensy-teensy one that I have to put my glasses on to be able to see.

To get back to the story: as it turned out, at the time I was looking for a place to land, Chris was planning to make AW-N into something more than it was. The timing was too fortuitous to be entirely coincidental: two people who not only got along, but who liked each other's work and respected each other, each of whom could bring elements the other did not have to a project both wanted to do. Thus was born "Internet Modeler." If it can be said to "belong" to anyone, it's the two of us.

But if IM was merely Chris Banyai-Riepl and Tom Cleaver, it wouldn't be even close to what it is.

Bob Pearson brings art direction to a new level of knowledgeability, in addition to being willing to do heavy lifting, swing whatever brooms, mops, dustpans, and whatever else comes under the category of "gotta be done" that's involved in getting the issue out. Not only that, but my First World War modeling has become far better than before as a result of his being a veritable fountain of information on the subject.

I've been involved in some form of writing and publishing since back when I ended up writing press releases for an Admiral when I was in the Navy. The one thing any operation like this has to have and cannot survive without is an Editor who can make certain that everyone's stuff ends up reading as intelligent as they actually are. Mike Benolkin does that, and also brings experience as a practical manager to the project from his years in aerospace; that kind of clear-headedness is crucial around here. Coupling that with the fact he was named IPMS Webmaster of the Year last year (which he didn't get sitting around) and his excellent model-building talents, means we not only have talent but depth on this project.

So, there's who figures things out around here.

We are also fortunate to have an armor modeler with Ray Mehlberger's talent and reputation among his fellow "tread heads." Chris Bucholtz is not only a practical editor but a useful counterweight in favor of teensy-weensy models with the other Chris against Michael's and my bias for models you can actually see. Tony Goetz and Juho Ala-Laaski keep us remembering that the hobby has to have a future.

Beyond that, if it wasn't for people like John Lester and Steve Filak Sr. and Robert Karr, we'd really be up the creek. You can ask any one of them to do a project, and go off to other things and forget it. If they have to work all night, it will be in on schedule and looking great; I can't begin to tell you how important that is.

A well-known Hollywood Producer once told me, "A Producer doesn't have to know how to make a movie, a Producer has to know how to get a movie made." Basically, that comes down to assembling the best most knowledgeable people possible, giving them their head, and hoping for good fortune to strike. When it turns out that the whole does add up to more than the sum of the parts, the folks in Hollywood call it a "hit," and the truth is that nobody really knows how to do one of those until the thing is in the theaters and the lines are forming outside.

With what is going on here these days, I think I can safely call "Internet Modeler" a hit. If I am going to take credit for anything associated with that fact, it is that I was lucky enough to run across a bunch of folks who share my passion for scale modeling, who are willing to bring talents to the project I only wish I had, and put them at the service of this place.

So, the next time you hear someone mention "Tom Cleaver's Internet Modeler," remind them it isn't. And it isn't just Tom's and the two Chris' and Bob's and Mike's and Ray's and Tony's and Juho's and John's and Steve's and Robert's, either. From what I hear from many of you, it's yours, too, the way you care about it. Another old Hollywood saying is that the only critics who count are the ones who show up on opening weekend. It takes all of us together to make this a hit. Thanks from all of us for showing up.

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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
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