Clubhouse co-founder Mark Mitchell helped glue together a strong modeling community of friends who’ve never met

[caption id="attachment_1045" align="alignleft" width="464" caption="Mike Hill sculpted this garage kit of Spider-Man battling the Lizard. It was the first full resin kit Mark Mitchell built and painted."][/caption]

Words from another Clubhouse co-founder: The one person I credit for the existence of the Clubhouse is Mark. He was the person that put in the hard work and dedication to create this community that survived these long nine years. He set the standards that allowed the Clubhouse to stand the test of time. He fought the battles and the Clubhouse stands as a testament to his determination. Everyone in the community owes a debt of thanks to this man. There would be a lot less styrene and resin in the world if not for Mark Mitchell. He is a generous soul. He has been and always shall be my friend.

— Harry “Spock”

“Friend” has taken on a new, sometimes peculiar meaning in the 21st century. How many of those people sharing game scores through their Facebook pages do you really know? Some of them, yes, and maybe all of them strike you as folks who’d be interesting if you could just take a little time to acquaint yourselves … which is probably never gonna happen.

Lots of people who call Mark Mitchell “friend” have never seen his face in person, never heard his voice, might not know him if they passed each other on the street. But they’re friends just the same, and they share more of their lives with each other than many of us do with our next-door neighbors.

I consider Mark my friend, part of a special group of people with whom I’ve interacted only through various hobby forums and e-mails. He used to type more words of encouragement in a week than I could read. He also pissed me off from time to time, and I know I did the same to him.

I’ve known him about seven years.

Third Clubhouse co-founder: Hi, fellow modelers,

I just want to say a few words about my old buddy Mark Mitchell. He was there in the beginning when I first started my Yahoo group Marvel Model Club back in the late ‘90s. We were a couple of superhero comic geeks! But Mark was a DC guy, so he decided to start a DC modeling group. Then the next thing you know Spock invited us to move over to his Clubhouse and as the saying goes, the rest is history (read about it here).

In those early days of the Clubhouse, Mark was an administrator and a driving force that helped turn it into a premiere modeling club. Our hobby wouldn’t be what it is today without Mark’s kindness and generosity. Mark worked his ass off for the Clubhouse. It took a tremendous amount of his time and energy, we all owe him a great debt of gratitude for it.

Mark, old friend, you truly deserve a medal for what you did and do for the hobby. I hope you enjoy the little bit of spot light you are receiving today. God bless you man!!

Norm “Kitman” Piatt

[caption id="attachment_1052" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Mark Mitchell's buildup of a Monogram repop of the Aurora Superman. Mark writes on his website: "I had the original Aurora as a child of the ’60s but like all the rest of my Aurora kits, it met its fate with a firecracker or two... What was I thinking back then??? Sheesh...""][/caption]

Mark Mitchell is 51 years old and lives in Lacey, Wash. His family includes his wife, Kab Son, 53; sons Greg, 29, and David, 26; daughter Michelle, 24; grandsons Tyler, 3, and Hayden, 5; and granddaughter Emily, 10 months. He works as a UNIX Systems and database administrator.

“I support a series of IBM servers running UNIX and Windows at work,” he said via e-mail. “At home I have an HP Pavilion PC with a 21-inch monitor.”

He’s an Army veteran (1975-1995) whose tours of duty included Fort Carson, Colo., right outside Colorado Springs, which is where I spent most of my early years. Young Mark was there around the same time I was a sophomore in high school.

He spent three tours in Korea and one in Germany. He was also stationed at Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Gordon, Ga.; and Fort Ord, Calif.

Fellow hobbyist: The only thing I really want to say about Mark is what a very good friend he has been to me (very much like yourself, Todd). I mean here are two guys who I have never met, but who have stood by me, who have complimented my work, who have always done good by the GK community. I felt a strong link with Mark probably because his “No messing” attitude was the same as mine … funny because it was also the reason we both finished with the CH. I think that link was due to Mark’s Army training and my similar fire training … by that I mean the discipline that was installed, the “cutting out the crap and getting on with it” because that was why we do those kind of jobs.

I hope Mark is on the mend, I miss those days when we were all very close in a very small community and I know those will also be the days that Mark will reflect on.

— Keith Cousins

Mark builds model kits. Check out his work on his website, godsnmonsters.org. His write-ups are interesting and informative.

He helped found the Clubhouse with Spock and Norm, and served as administrator for years.

[caption id="attachment_1054" align="alignleft" width="293" caption="The Gore Group's Dark Hunter, sculpted by Martin Canale and painted by Mark Mitchell."][/caption]

“Harry, a.k.a. ‘Spock’, came up with the idea and laid the groundwork, he got things running and then asked Norm Piatt, a.k.a. ‘Kitman’, and myself to merge our forums, the Marvel Modeling Club and The Hero’s Emporium, with his, to sort of bring everything under one roof. Afterward, Norm and I combined our two forums into one and kept the name The Hero’s Emporium.”

Batmobile expert: Mark Mitchell is my mentor in figure kit modeling. He was the founder of the Batman Modeling Club. His patience and talent are extraordinary. He helped me with supplies, techniques, and support. Along with Mr. Spock and the other moderators, Mark played a huge part in making the Hero’s Emporium, and later the Clubhouse proper, the place(s) that they are today. Probably the biggest source of modeling info available on the Net.

Truly modest, his personal “Model Shelf” site shows just how talented a modeler he really is. Cleanly laid out with great photos, it carefully explains and shows just what this hobby is all about. Modeling has a true champion in “The Commissioner”, for sure.

On a personal note, Mark is a loyal friend, with common sense and a terrific sense of humor. He’s a patriotic American with a great family. John Wayne would like the guy. I know I do. I thank him for being one of the very first people I ever had the pleasure of “meeting” on the web.

— Chopper McGee

A LITTLE OF MARK’S HOBBY BACKGROUND

Resin the Barbarian: What’s your history with the hobby? Did you build kits as a kid and rediscover them as an adult? What got you into it in the first place, and what brought you back?

Mark: Built lots of kits as a kid, mostly the Aurora monsters and superheroes, but I also built some car kits, primarily the show rods like Tom Daniels kits and such….

Like a lot of folks I lost interest in my early teens when I started to focus on other things.

Got back into the hobby in 1999 when while checking out Toys “R” Us with my wife. We were looking for a gift for a friend’s kid, I spotted the Polar Lights Aurora monster reissues, picked up a couple, took ’em home and found the PLBB listed on the back of one of the boxes…. Started building again from there.

Polar Lights played a major role in pulling me back into the hobby. Then I discovered resin and vinyl…. GEOmetric Design, Horizon, Screamin’ and all the individual garage kit producers and companies really got me on a roll….

RtB: Roughly how many kits have you built in the last decade or so? And what happened with them after you built them?

Mark: Built probably 75 to 80 kits in the last decade….

Some of those I built went to friends and family members as gifts… Some that looked especially bad were relegated back to the closet where they are currently awaiting a stripping, rebuild and repaint! LOL….

[caption id="attachment_1060" align="aligncenter" width="680" caption="The Change, sculpted by Dave Lewis and produced by Keithy Boy. Mark used Delta Ceramcoat acrylic paints and pastels for this kit."][/caption]

Resin expert: Mark is considered the Commish by many of us Clubhouse alumnus for a reason. He speaks his mind and has a low tolerance for childish, disrespectful antics. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and consider him a good friend. I was lucky enough to watch his love of the hobby mature from styrene to resin and rapidly increase his skills in both building and painting. Despite his gruff exterior, his encouragement and respect for his fellow modelers was always his priority. He always made time to post on everyone’s work . I consider his time moderating at the Clubhouse the good old days. Mark has always lent a helping hand to any of us who needed it and never asked for a thing in return. He has and was always an asset to this hobby and I am proud to call him a friend.

— John Diaz

HEART ATTACK AND AFTERMATH

RtB: You had a heart attack in August, followed by serious complications at the hospital. How do you feel today?

Mark: Today…. I’m feeling much better and am just about fully recovered. I managed to quit smoking, I haven’t had a cigarette since the day of the heart attack and I’ve lost a chunk of weight, about 65 pounds or so. I plan to lose a bit more as well…. Eating healthy now makes a huuuuuge difference, no more triple cheeseburgers and eating a large pizza by myself. LOL….

RtB: You’ve periodically done some kit sell-offs, explaining basically that you needed to pay some bills. You did one shortly before your heart attack, and I’ve wondered if you had an idea that you needed to get to the hospital. Did you?

Mark: Nope, no premonition about needing to go to the hospital whatsoever… Hell, I was indestructible!!! I actually did start feeling a little chest pain here and there, on and off for about two to three weeks prior to the heart attack. My wife and daughter finally convinced me to go to the ER the day after I had started a two-week vacation. My daughter drove me to the hospital with me protesting every inch of the way. If she had not forced me to go in, I probably would have been dead within 24-48 hours.

Once in the ER, the doctors told me I was having a heart attack and they were going to admit me… They took me upstairs to a room, my daughter went home to tell my wife what was going on and I woke up nine days later not knowing that I had had a triple bypass and had been knocked out on a ventilator all that time. Spent a total of two months in the hospital for the heart issues and complications.

I have sold of large chunks of my collection over the last few years in order to help pay tuition/books/etc. for college for a couple of the kids and to assist in paying unexpected bills.

RtB: What is the best thing to come of your health problems?

[caption id="attachment_1062" align="alignleft" width="248" caption="Locutus of Borg, produced by GEOmetric Design, sculpted by Thomas Kuntz, built and painted by Mark Mitchell."][/caption]

Mark: Quitting smoking, losing some weight and having a lot of time in the hospital to think about my life in general…. I’ve made some serious lifestyle changes and have spent more time with my wife, children and grandchildren. I appreciate them all more than you can imagine and have finally decided to pay attention to the things in life that matter the most…

RtB: Anything on your workbench now?

Mark: Two kits as a matter of fact…. Wolfy’s Kits’ “Damaged Spider-Man” bust (for myself) and the Polar Lights repopped Aurora Spider-Man (for my 3-year-old grandson Tyler, who is a big Spider-Man fan)

RtB: How many models remain in your collection? And, what is your most prized kit?

Mark: Probably around 120 or so, it was up around 400 at one point. I like all that I have left and there are really none left that would command any large amounts of money were I to sell again. The few that were given to me by close friends have the most value to me and I will never part with any of them.

RtB: What kit are you most happily awaiting, or more tenaciously looking for?

Mark: No one kit in particular, but I always look forward to any new Batman or Universal Monsters kits. I have however been drawn back into styrene kits with all that Moebius has been releasing and what they have coming down the pike. Moebius has given the styrene side of the hobby a shot in the arm that it sorely needed IMO.

Model maker: I have counted mark as a good friend for many years now, going way back, to the Hobby Talk/ Polar Lights board, and the beginnings of the Clubhouse.

I always admired Mark’s, fairness and sense of purpose, when dealing with some of the more unsavory characters/incidents, that an entity like the Clubhouse can throw at you it takes a strength of character that Mark possesses in heaps, to keep things rolling, through thick and thin.

Another of Mark’s character traits, known by all his close friends, is his generosity. I have yet, to meet anyone in the hobby who is prepared to go further out of his way to help his fellow modelers. Many times, Mark has, helped me to obtain kits from the States, when less enlightened people have refused to ship outside the U.S. He has gone way past the extra yard, in both his own time, and at his own cost financially, to help out.

Mark, you are a true Gentleman and Scholar, but most importantly a good mate.

— Mark A. (Wolfy)

HOPES TO SHAKE HANDS WITH SOME FRIENDS

RtB: I suspect you’re going to cut down even more on your involvement with the stressful sides of the modeling community. True? How do you envision your future involvement in the hobby?

Mark: That is a true statement! My future? Hopefully it will be spent building more kits. My output has been pretty dismal as of late LOL….

[caption id="attachment_1064" align="alignright" width="295" caption=""I'm not interested in using an airbrush at all. I find the act of using a regular ol' hand brush very satisfying and relaxing," Mark Mitchell says in his write-up about this N&T Productions Scarecrow bust."][/caption]

I also plan to start making it to some shows, I really want to shake the hands of the friends I have made online over the last 10 years and to say “thank you” in person for all they have done not only for me but for the hobby as a whole.

RtB: If you knew someone who was going to become a forum moderator or administrator, what approach would you advise he or she take?

Mark: DO NOT handle things the way I did. I made more mistakes and fumbled the ball on more occasions than I care to remember.

Don’t approach every situation as if you are the “ultimate” authority … take the time to listen to others input and remember that you are there to facilitate discussions and to help keep the peace.

You are not necessarily the “Expert” in all situations nor should you attempt to be!

Develop a thick skin, don’t take things personally. Remember that most folks are genuinely decent and well-meaning by nature and deserve to be treated respectfully.

RtB: You’ve shared many interesting stories about your family over the years. I still remember laughing, almost in pain, about a particularly memorable series of mishaps with your son in about 2002. How are your wife and kids doing today?

Mark: Kids are all grown and on their own now. Every one of them is doing well, as is my wife.

RtB: You’ve made dozens, maybe even hundreds, of friends in the modeling community over the years. How many of them have you actually met in person?

Mark: In person I’ve only actually met two of them, “Qtan” and “Fluke”, which are the names they use on the Clubhouse and Hobby Talk forums…

We met at a mall one day as I was selling a few kits and since they both lived so close we thought it would be nice to just meet up somewhere halfway have a coffee and do the deal. Both were great guys and a real pleasure to meet.

Pretty sad that I haven’t personally met more folks in person, but my work and home life over the last several years definitely played a big part in not being able to do so

RtB: Anything you’d like to add?

Mark: Just to thank you for the honor of being a part of your column. Hopefully I haven’t bored anyone to tears or put anyone to sleep … LOL.

Hope you keep this thing going Todd, I always enjoy reading it….

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Jamie Cook aka JamieCk
    Posted February 1, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Although I’ve never met Mark face to face, I consider him to be a friend. When I first joined The Clubhouse about seven years ago, he was quick to welcome me to the fold. He encouraged me to post some pics of my work and gave me the confidence to become an active member.

    As has been said previously, Mark put an incredible amount of unpaid work in to making The Clubhouse a great place to visit and shoot the breeze with fellow resin-heads.

    Cheers mate, may 2010 be a fantastic year for you and your loved ones.

  • David Morrison
    Posted February 1, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Good to hear a bit more about Mark and especially pleasing to hear he is almost back to full strength. Thanks for all the work at the Clubhouse and looking forward to seeing a few more “painting” contributions soon.

  • Posted February 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it’s true, Mark and I have met in person once. It was back in September of ’02, maybe 2 weeks after I joined the Clubhouse. After suggesting we meet up, and save the shipping costs on something that would only travel 40 miles anyway, I was actually getting nervous about it. He was the HEAD moderator and one of the administrators, and I was an upstart newcomer to the community. I knew I would clam up when we met–thank God Fluke was with he; nothing can shut him up! lol I really didn’t know what to expect but, when we finally met, before me was middle aged man of unassuming visage, but with an aura of authority that you could not mistake. We sat and talked for about 20 minutes. No more than that…but that was more than enough to know that I had met a very special person who would forever after command my respect. I will never be so presumptuous as to say that he is my friend (only he has the right to make that choice) but I know that I am his friend, and proud of it.

    Steve

  • Posted February 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    As a former mod/admin of the Clubhouse, I’ve considered Mark to be a good friend and mentor for a number of years, now.

    I’m very glad to see he’s doing ok and hope that we’ll finally meet one of these days. Mark is more than deserving of the spotlight that he recieved in this column, and I enjoyed reading it very much.

    Mark, here’s hoping 2010 is shaping up to be a great year for you and your family.

  • Posted February 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Not enough kind words can be said about Mark. He’s the real deal. A true SuperHero in my book. I hope you continue on the road to better health my friend. When, not IF, you get to WonderFest, you will have some tired hands from all of the hand shaking.

  • J.B. Weeks (Glusniffer)
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Kudus to Mark! A great friend allthough Weve never met. Weve shared many laughs over the past years as well as opinoions. He has been very morally suportive to Me through some personal hardships! What more can I say?
    Oh Marky, Your so fine………:)

  • -->