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Model club caters to plastic generation

Troy Riley, left, and son Hunter, 7, share a passion for plastic modeling. Hunter celebrated his seventh birthday at The Butchers model car club meeting on Jan. 21.

Founder of The Butchers, Keith Reimers, concentrates on a scale model of a 1992 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Members of The Butchers work on their plastic models at the Jan. 21 meeting.

THE BUTCHERS' MEETING SCHEDULE Monthly meetings for "The Butchers" model car club is every third Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Delavan Community Center, 826 E. Geneva St. The year's schedule is Feb. 18, March 17, April 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15. The club is open to modelers of all skill levels and interests. Donations for the "Make-a-Wish Foundation" will be collected at meetings as well as at swap meets and car shows during the year. For more information call Keith at (262) 728-1483, Richard at (262) 215-0287, Bob at (920) 723-3595 and Tim at (815) 988-8472.
February 01, 2012 | 07:44 AM
DELAVAN -- Keith Reimers calls it a plastic addiction.

But at no time does styrene enter the veins.

Rather, Reimers and several friends, called "The Butchers," gather once a month at the Delavan Community Center, 826 E. Geneva St., with a load of model cars.

They then proceed to mix, match and even make parts for the scale model cars, trucks and trailers they're assembling in a ritual known as "kit bashing," or "model hacking."

The "bashing" and "hacking" are intended to make the models look more realistic, look cooler,or just for fun. The club motto is no nonsense: "Build 'em if ya got 'em."

Despite the club name and rather grisly club logo (like something from a '50s horror movie), the only blood spilled here is drawn by accident.

Even when transplanting plastic engine parts or slicing into model car pieces (and the occasional wayward finger), these guys are pretty much friendly.

And they're collecting money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Reimers said the club first started in Davenport in December 2006, founded by his older brother Ken. The Davenport group called itself "The Mad Modelers."

The brothers started building models in the 1960s. Their father, who worked for Racine Case, helped them build their first model, a '40 Ford Coupe, and started them down the scale modeler road.

When Keith Reimers of Delavan started his club in Wisconsin, he also called the club.

"The Mad Modelers," only to learn that another modeling club in Madison was going by "The Mad City Modelers."

To avoid confusion, the Delavan club changed its name to "The Butchers," as in "he really butchered that kit."

"Well, we're not necessarily master modelers," Reimers explained. "And, we are using sharp instruments and we do draw blood." Usually their own, he added.

During the Jan. 16 meeting, Reimers was working on the model of a 1992 Pontiac Grand Prix. Of his 150 or so kits at home, Reimers estimates that he's started about 35 of them, each in a different state of completion.

This 1992 Pontiac Grand Prix has a long way to go.

Reimers said The Butchers became involved with Make-a-Wish when members heard of Ryan Luxem, 11, of Union Grove. The youngster had participated in the Make-a-Wish program, which tries to fulfill the dreams of children facing life-threatening illnesses.

The boy, who died in December of last year, did origami and sold items on e-Bay, turning the profits over to the MACC fund, Reimers said.

Reimers said he and fellow club members were so touched by Luxem's story, that they started collecting for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, taking donations from members and putting up a collection jar at model car club meets and shows.

Last year, the club raised $117, Reimers said. And they will be collecting for Make-a-Wish this year at their monthly meetings and at the shows and swap meets they attend.

Also at the January meeting were fellow modelers Tim Kracht of Delavan, Richard Morgan of Elkhorn, Bob Carey of Jefferson and Troy Riley and his son, Hunter, of Delavan.

Carey builds models and then modifies them with unusual items, that nonetheless look authentic. For example, plastic spoon halves, properly positioned and painted, become head rests on a model of a Chevy Stingray Corvette.

Morgan and Carey are 4-H leaders who teach modeling to 4-H members. Morgan also runs the 4-H arts and crafts competition and was president of the 4-H Senior Leaders Association for two years.

While The Butchers work mostly on car models, the club isn't totally cars. Kracht does trucks and semis. Morgan does farm equipment. Riley does trailers.

"I don't know how I got into it," the elder Riley said of modeling.

But now that he is, he has about 125 kits waiting to be built in his basement. And Riley confesses that he can't build anything just out of the box.

"I've got to modify it," he said.

The older Riley also does scale model farm equipment, and he can whomp up a good-looking trailer from scratch. He brings resins and clays to mold his own parts.

Hunter was the youngest one there, celebrating his seventh birthday. He had some of his models at the meeting, but for the time being, he was keeping modeling clay soft for his dad, who was molding parts for a model trailer.

"We're not totally cars," confessed Reimers. "It's all plastic."

What they are, totally, is for fun.

The club is open to anyone who wants to build a plastic model with some friends around to help.

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