Thursday, February 5, 2015


THE SCALE MODEL WORLD lost another of its greats on February 1, 2015, when the Rev John Burns died, aged 80. He created and published model publications, including the Kit Collector’s Clearinghouse and Collector Value Guides.

Mat Irvine: The Rev John Burns (below) always had model-making as a hobby, his first kit being a wooden Strombecker P-61 Black Widow. Although he had been to college and married, he, like so many of us, retained an interest in modelling, and in 1974 created the ‘Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Scale Model Kit Collecting’ - the tongue-twisting SPESMKC for short.

Later the same year year he started to publish the Kit Collector’s Clearinghouse (KCC) as a bi-monthly newsletter. The KCC began as a duplicated set of stapled pages, but developed into a pocket-sized magazine dealing with all things to do with collecting kits, as well as, occasionally, building them. The first and last issues (below) of the KCC were dated April 1974 and February 2007.

For many years the KCC ran an annual ‘What’s New’ article on what kits were due for that coming year. At first, it was written by Andy Yanchus in New York, who had put me in contact with John in the first place, but I eventually took it over, assembling kit lists for John.

Alongside the KCC, John wrote, collated and published The Collectors Value Guide (CVG) (above, below) that comprehensively and exhaustively listed kits and values.

Then there were special volumes, such as Commercial Airliners, Science Fiction and Figures, and Rocket, Missile and Spacecraft Kits. I based my own book Creating Space on the latter title, with John’s approval and blessing, appropriate for his full-time work as a Baptist minister in Edmond, near Oklahoma City. John’s second ‘In Plastic’ volume Rocket, Missile and Spacecraft Kits (below) lies on my own Creating Space.

John was the first person I can recall who signed off letters as “Cheers JWB”, of which the first part at least is now almost universal.

The back page of the KCC’s last issue (header, below) included John’s stylised ‘Cheers’ and a mention of the last episode of TV’s M*A*S*H, titled Goodbye, Farewell, Amen. A fitting tribute to John himself.

So, Thanks John, for all your contributions to the hobby, and "Cheers, John W. Burns."

It was an honour knowing you. RIP.  

John Burns used this toon of himself (below) as a header on his notepaper.

John with his collection in 2001 (below) where he holds a Revell Army Combat Team set.

John holds a Monogram Regulus II missile kit (below).

John Burns and Mat Irvine (below right) taken outside John’s house in 2001.