Jack "John" Tassell
3 Feb 1936 - 3 Nov 2015
Sadly, John Tassell passed away in November of 2015 after a struggling against illness for most of that year. Many of you may have known John, as he was a very influential figure, both in the hobby as well as the business with a career that spanned over half a century. John will be remembered, not only for his tremendous talent in most areas of modelling, but as a great character, a term often overused, but in his case, very appropriate.
John joined the Grenadier Guards in the early 50's when he was in his late teens, serving largely in Germany. John's career in modelling began shortly after his discharge from the army, when he began sculpting masters for various companies such as Series 77. John was heavily involved in the Lasset range from the late 60's until the mid-70's, when he started Sovereign miniatures. In the early days of Sovereign John concentrated mainly on 54 and 75mm figures from the ancient world, which was something of a passion for him. By the early 80's vehicles had also been introduced to the Sovereign range and proved every bit as popular as John's figures. Although he was a master of most aspects of modelling, it was John's skill at sculpting horses that I admired most, which will be just one of the many things he will be remembered for.
I first met John in the early 90's, initially as a customer. Since we lived fairly close to each other, I would often pop by to pick up the odd item. John being a great talker, we would inevitably spend some time chatting and eventually became friends. It was John who recognised that I had some talent for pattern making and suggested that I should try casting some of the things I had made which, with John's help and advice I did. Over this period I learned a great deal of what I know about pattern making, mould making and casting from John, for which I will always owe him a great debt of gratitude.
In early 1999 John mentioned that he was planning to retire. When asked he told me that he had no plans for Sovereign Miniatures other than to simply stop trading. I offered to buy the business from john and he accepted. This was an arrangement which suited us both, as I had been considering turning pro for some time and this gave me a range of products to start with. It also gave john something of a retirement fund. As with my recent dealings with Wolf, I felt that it was important to keep the Sovereign name alive (which also pleased John) with the 2000 being added, as it was the year we started trading. The rest, as they say, is history.
John actually made the masters for a number of the early Sovereign 2000 kits, but latterly he had been impressing everyone with his superb scratch built 1/9 scale motorcycles. A member of a number of modelling clubs in the Kent area, John was always happy to give advice and pass on handy hints and tips, which many others would have considered "trade secrets".
A true pioneer of the hobby, John will be missed and not forgotten by a great many of us.