by Tommy H. Thomason

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Late, Great Gordon Stevens

Gordon Stevens basically invented the vacuform kit. You can read about it HERE in his own words. We corresponded in the early 1980s (long before email) after I ordered a Douglas F3D Skyknight kit that he had advertised in Finescale Modeling. The result was that he binned his A3D Skywarrior masters that were essentially complete since, as he put it, "my A-3 was something of a caricature", and created replacements using Douglas drawings that I provided. I was very pleased to be of help to him and the resulting kit (except for the canopy, which has become discolored over time) is excellent. We lost touch thereafter when my career took precedence over my hobbies.

It was a happy day when I finally was able to buy one of his very rare Box-Kites XFT-1 kits, basically completing a 1/72-scale kit collection of U.S. Navy carrier airplanes.
I plan to build it eventually as part of a 1/72-scale model collection of U.S. Navy carrier airplanes. Some will be built from his Rareplane vacuform kits, which still match or better the accuracy of shape and detail of more recent injection models of the same type.

A few years ago, I referred to him as late and great in a post on a modeling website. I was very pleased to be corrected. I regret to report that the statement is now true. 


  1. He was a true craftsman an a pioneer in the hobby. Each one of his kits seemed to be better than the last. As you correctly point out, many of them even today stand up well to newer, injection-molded "replacements."

  2. I built a couple of his kits and the one I had the most fun Imagineering was his C-54. He was a pioneer. I really enjoyed his kits and ability to "get it right".

  3. He was an inspiration for me and I really appreciate his work. I too spent 5 years looking for a copy of the Box-Kites XFT-1 kit for my collection of Northrop aircraft for display in their office and was delighted to get hold of a copy only 2 weeks ago. Recall that this kit won the Best Vac at this year's IPMS Nats here in Columbus.