Robert James (Arjay) MacDonald / Debris Field Co-Webmaster

Moncton, New Brunswick / Canada

Occupation: Architect


A wise woman (my mother) once commented: never trust a person who does not have a hobby. The reasoning behind this is somewhat unclear ~ perhaps it has something to do with having too much time and energy to devote to ‘non-productive’ pursuits. Whatever the case, I guess I can consider myself to be one who can be trusted!

Without question, ship research and modeling is my hobby. Complimentary to my architectural career (and perhaps an offshoot of it), it is only natural for me to delve into the world of miniatures, deck plans, profile drawings and the like. I find it extremely satisfying. And being born and raised on Canada’s East Coast, the smell of salt is permanently engrained. Ships, all ships, from a very early age became a natural interest.

To select one word to describe my present hobby activity, I would have to say primarily ‘research’. To me, it is not necessarily the final product that is the most rewarding, but rather the process involved in going from A to B. I have amassed a collection in excess of over 30 kits, most of which could be completed, ready for display, in a matter of a week or two. However, I regard all new kits as being a welcome challenge. As soon as the shrink-wrap is removed, the quest for detailed information commences. It is this analysis and the interaction with fellow modelers ~ the sharing of information, details, facts and opinions ~ that I find most rewarding. As for my kits, most have, in one way or another, been worked on ~ just not brought to completion!

With respect to modeling, I would have to say that 1:600 is my preferred scale. Perhaps this originates from my youth when the original Airfix liners were readily available in the toy department of most all department stores. It is a comfortable scale, offering just enough detail to allow a fairly satisfying representation of the subject. However, I do marvel at the level of detail that is now afforded by both the larger and smaller scales. My Favorite ship? Although liners are my primary interest, I do enjoy the no-nonsense of other merchant vessels, the everyday workhorses: tugboats, trawlers, research vessels and the like. As for liners, I would have to say the 1929 Bremen is my favorite. She was revolutionary, the ship of the 1920’s. I can not help but believe that if not for her, the Normandie perhaps would not have been as daring in design. Bremen set the stage, raised the bar so to speak. All others took notice, and followed in her wake. It is unfortunate a plastic assembly kit, in 1:600 scale, has not been produced of her. Most definitely a future DF campaign.

The future of modeling? It was once expressed to me that, due to computer games and the like, modeling could be on the verge of becoming a lost art. I disagree. If anything, the computer (Internet and emails) has made modeling, and detailed information in support of, all that more accessible, bringing together modelers worldwide whom, in the past, for the most part enjoyed the pleasures of their hobby in relative solitude. I value the friendships I have been fortunate to develop over the past 4 or so years, resulting from my involvement with the Debris Field, and look forward to the continuance of this spirit of cooperation.

Advice to the modeler, whether new or experienced? Enjoy! Your hobby is supposed to relieve stress, not contribute to it. Experiment ~ do not be afraid to attempt something new for fear of failure (most mistakes can be undone). Skill is something that is developed, over time ~ do not become intimidated by the natural tendency to compare your work to that of others, especially those more experienced. Without doubt, even the old salts are never ‘too experienced’ to learn a new trick, or two. If anything, model to satisfy yourself, not a jury.

Will I ever complete one model, for posting on the DF? Yes, yet this is not an immediate priority. As long as I continue to experience personal satisfaction collecting kits, researching the subject vessel, writing reviews to share my findings with others within the DF community, I can honestly say that I believe I have the perfect hobby. Who could ask for anything more? However, a completed model, for posting, is in the works!

I can be reached at I have a fairly extensive nautical library, and as I noted in my original DF profile several years ago, it is my belief that no ship in any one person’s ‘intellectual property’. Thus, I am willing to share my resources, as much as I can, with those who need.

So to all visitors and contributors to the DF ~ Happy research and modeling!


Arjay ~ 10/03