Obscureco Company History

Making a mole-hill out of a slightly smaller mole-hill

The first Obscureco Aircraft headquarters in San Jose, circa 1939.

Obscureco Aircraft was born one evening in the dining room of a 1930s farmhouse in the small agricultural town of San Jose, California, located 45 miles south of San Francisco astride a major railway line. Chris Bucholtz, an itinerant modeler and self-educated scratchbuilder, joined forces with Bill Ferrante, an expert in the budding resin-casting industry and himself an accomplished modeler. The two vowed to create a line of products that were perhaps not for everyone, but which would tackle problems that were overlooked by the huge multinational conglomerates and international cartels dominating resin parts production at that time.

With just $12.24 in the bank, the two found a willing ally in Mike Meek, a professional fabricator and part-time crewman for an air-racing team. Drawing from his technical expertise, Mike produced the master that got the company off the ground: the 1:48 F6F-3/5 Hellcat Corrected Cowling. The cowling was a smash hit, buying time for the fledgling Obscureco organization to create other new masters. The Hellcat cowling was soon followed by Mike’s Bearcat cowling and several 1:72 sets mastered by Chris.

The new Obscureco Aircraft builing in Alameda after construction in 1961.

In the years that followed, other talented Bay Area modelers contributed their own special talents to Obscureco’s growth. Ben Pada, Mike Braun, Angelo Deogracias, Mike Burton, Rodney Williams and Roy Sutherland, proprieter of would-be rival Cooper Details, all did master work and helped the line grow. In 2000, Louisianan Lee Coll contributed his work to the line, and in 2004 Seattle’s own Norm Filer, whose experience included time as an Air Force flyboy and a Boeing engineer, added his pattern making genius to the team. Also in 2004, the company’s workshops were moved from the San Jose farmhouse to a site near the Naval Air Station Alameda, California, where product development could be continued in close proximity to the appropriate facilities.

While their business advisors warned that the subjects Obscureco sought to make were too “obscure” to drive sales, the leadership of Obscureco eschewed the months of focus groups and page after page of yellow-and-black catalogs the experts insisted were needed. After chasing these charlatans from their offices, the ax-handle-wielding Ferrante and Bucholtz decided that their own hearts, and those of their pattern-makers, would decide what Obscureco’s product line would include. By pursuing products they themselves want, the Obscureco team turns each product into a true labor of love, ensuring only the highest level of quality for you, the scale modeling public.

Today, Obscureco is set to take on the offbeat, the outcast and the unusual subjects that others won’t touch—detail sets for older kits, conversions no one thought possible, and obscurities that capture the fancies of its idiosyncratic owners. At the dawn of a new century, one company is poised to boldly explore the huge new frontiers of tiny plastic airplanes. If it’s obscure, chances are it’s Obscureco!

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