Model Airplane Collectors Online Magazine recently had the chance to talk to model airplane collector and diorama builder Steve Jacobson. Jacobson agreed to share a little of his history in collecting model airplanes and building dioramas with the readers of The following is an excerpt from that interview! Just wait till you see his photographs following the interview! How long have you been collecting model airplanes?

SteveJ: If you mean die-cast collectibles then the answer would be since 1999. For the record I have been building model airplanes for 40 years. Do you remember what your first model airplane was?

SteveJ: In diecast my first model was Geminijets Pan Am B747SP. Do you still have it?

SteveJ: Yes I do. What got you started in collecting?

SteveJ: I read an ad in Airliners magazine for Gemnijets. I always wanted a 747SP model and since it was not available in plastic, I took a chance and ordered the PA SP. I liked it so much that I ordered the PA B747-100 and the PA B707 the next day. What is your favorite model?

SteveJ: Can't really answer that one, my favorite changes a lot, sometimes on a daily basis. I like them all. What is your favorite airline?

SteveJ: American Airlines What is your favorite airplane?

SteveJ: I like all the props, but if I had to name one it would be the DC-4. When did you first attempt to build a diorama for your planes?

SteveJ: I guess around 2003, I saw a diorama online of the Idlewild IAB. The moment I laid eyes on that diorama I said I had to build one myself. Over the next several months I built the Pan American Worldport at JFK in 1/400 scale. How many dioramas have you built?

SteveJ: Oh, at least a dozen. What type of research goes into each build?

SteveJ: It depends on the subject. I spent many hours researching the Worldport because most of the photos available were taken from the parking lot out front. First I go through all my aviation books and magazines, then A-net and jet photos and then google. On my current project, I have all the information I need in just one book, so no further research was needed. I could use a color photo, but I have never come across one in all these years so I haven't really spent any time looking, if I come across one, then so be it. Do you have a favorite diorama?

SteveJ: Yes, my diorama of the new terminal recently opened at Stint Marten (TNCM). Have you ever built a diorama for someone else?

SteveJ: No, but I have built some duplicates of my buildings for someone. How much time does it normally take you to complete one of your builds?

SteveJ: Three to six months depending on the season. The workshop is not air conditioned, so not much gets done during the summer months. What scale do you build your dioramas?

SteveJ: All 1/400, have a 1/200 in the works right now. The driving force here is the availability of ground support equipment, there is a decent but not anywhere near complete sets of GSE available in 1/400 and almost nothing available in 1/200. Keep in mind that if you are starting out now to purchase GSE, most if not all of the good sets are no longer available and also keep in mind you will need multiple sets. What type of work do you do for a living?

SteveJ: I work for a company called Aeronautical Radio Inc, ARINC for short. We are contracted by the FAA to handle all the overseas communication for air traffic control. Have you ever had a pilots license or flown your own aiplane?

SteveJ: I hold a commercial pilots license, IFR/CFI rated. Not current at the present time. What do you plan to do with your dioramas?

SteveJ: That's a good question. I should have explained this earlier but no one asked the question. Why do I build dioramas? I build them to provide an authentic background to photograph the models against. Like in Hollywood, if you can,t see it, then I don't take the time to finish it. With the exception of TNCM and the PA Worldport, I only finish off what will be visible in the photographs. Hence, they are not museum quality and you could not sell them to anyone. My AA LAX and the PA Worldport are headed for the shredder in the very near future. Do you see them in a museum some day?

SteveJ: No, absolutely not. Do you have any advice for people considering taking on a build of their own?

SteveJ: You will need some basic modeling skills in the area of scratch building if you want to serious about this. In these small scales you have to fabricate everything yourself. You have to be good at research, drawing up plans and picking the correct materials to work with. What do you think of Model Airplane Collectors Online Magazine so far?

SteveJ: Can't answer that right now, I haven't seen my first issue yet. And, I plan on asking this next question to everyone kind enough to give us an interview; What do you want to be when you grow up?

SteveJ: Ha Ha ...Been here done that!

Thanks for taking the time to share a small part of your passion for collecting and building dioramas! I am sure that you will have people dying to know what they can do to save those dioramas from the shredder! I am first in line if they go up for adoption!

Matt Whisenant

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Comment by AM on November 7, 2013 at 1:37am

Amazing stuff!

Comment by Ben Godlington on December 2, 2010 at 2:28am
Beautiful and utterly stunning models, inspires me to make my own 1:400 airport. Seems sad hey should be destined for a shredder!

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