Ron, your story was very entertaining and reminded me of a similar experience. I was a lad in the late '60s or early '70s and looked and looked for a Revell 1/72 scale DH 2 WW1 biplane kit at the local department stores. There weren't a lot of local hobby stores near me at the time, but department, hardware and drug stores carried a lot of plastic models in the day. They weren't real good about restocking once something sold, however. A local drug store had one on the shelf, but you could tell this thing had been around a while. The box was worn and crushed and had been opened. I remember opening the box in the store and noting that several parts were off the sprues, but had to have the kit. Once I got the kit home however and started inventorying the parts, there were probably a dozen or so missing: several of the struts, a wheel, the machine gun, etc.
That evening, I sat down and wrote Revell in Venice, California, a nice letter telling them about what had happened. I am happy to report that my story has a happy ending as Revell did respond to the letter. They did however want me to send proof of purchase of the kit and stated that there was no way the kit left their factory with all those pieces missing. I had to bum another stamp from my mom to mail a second letter and an end of the box as proof of purchase of the kit. In a couple more weeks, all the parts I had requested were sent to me and I was a happy little boy, and quickly put that kit together, using tube glue and sewing thread to rig it with. It was my pride and joy for several months until my mom knocked the upper wing off of it while dusting it one day while I was at school. Due to the complexity of the rigging, I did not try to repair it, but had my own little dog fight in the back yard between von Richtoven's Albatross and Lanoe Hawkers DH2, with Hawker being burned to death as the fuel (a small cup of gasoline I threw on the model) ignited during the crash. Oh what fun memories of youth.
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