Perspective: Boys Keeping Busy

At one time, 80 percent of tween lads built plastic models. Not any more.

In 1927, when Charles Lindbergh became the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic, the death-defying feat had a curious effect on thousands of preteen boys across the United States. Using glue, paper and popsicle sticks, they started to build model airplanes. By 1945, a new company called Monogram introduced kits with prefabricated parts to help. Soon, its offerings included cars and ships. Plastic would replace balsa wood. By 1956, model building was the hobby of choice for 80 percent of American preteen boys, and it was still a rite of passage in 1979, when Monogram portrayed the two tweens at right, visibly proud of that B-26 Marauder they’d just built.

@UpperEastRob Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.