AURORA MONSTER MODELS
It all started with Frankenstein in December of 1961. There had never been a horror figure model kit before, but the release of this kit changed everything for Aurora and its customers. The company went on to become the premier manufacturer of figure models, monstrous and otherwise. The first nine Aurora monster models were issued in a constant 1/8 scale and all but the Forgotten Prisoner were graced with box illustrations
painted by James Bama.
The Collection: Under the competition rules of the International Plastic Modelers Society in the United States of America (IPMS/USA), a collection is usually defined as "5 or more closely related models" of a particular subject. The idea of competing with the Aurora monsters as a collection appealed to me, primarily because the models were very well known by the turn of this century and contest judges would have seen them before - but never in a group.
So I built the first eight Aurora monsters, omitting the Forgotten Prisoner (not a Universal Pictures character) but retaining Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde; all the models were in a constant 1/8 scale. I created a display base made from a comic book storage box covered with Celluclay, a prepackaged form of paper-mache. Finished with oil-based paints, the base was very sturdy and doubled as a transport container for most of the collection.
The collection was awarded First Place in its category in the model contest of the 2001 IPMS/USA Nationals, held in Chicago, Illinois. In 2003 it received an award for "Outstanding Collection" in the Non-Polar Lights category at LightningFest, run by PL's then-parent company, Playing Mantis, in South Bend, Indiana.
This is the collection at WonderFest 2004, where it was awarded an Honorable Mention. This photo comes courtesy of Rick "Night Owl" Evans. In 2020, Mr. Mike Blanchard purchased the collection.
Now, on to the individual models, which I arranged in the order of their original release dates.
Aurora procured the rights to make models of all the monsters who appeared in the horror films of Universal Studios. Naturally, then, the next monster model released was Dracula (this one is also a 1999 reissue). The base was far more detailed than Frankenstein's - a sign of things to come.
It took quite a bit of work to remove the mold-parting lines of the parts and fill the seams of the tree assembly, but the result was worth the effort. One difficulty with this model is that the cape sections must be painted and then assembled to the completed Dracula figure. This makes the filling of the seams at the shoulders pretty tricky.
Dracula_Close Up Right
Bill Lemon, who sculpted masters from which the molds for the models were made, got pretty close to Bela Lugosi in 1/8 scale. As with - really, all of the Aurora monster models - there are resin replacement parts available that allow you to customize your model.
Dracula_Close Up Front
I added tiny slivers of styrene for fangs and drilled out the pupils of Dracula's eyes. Artists oils provided the lifelike (?) flesh colors. This model appeared in the "Kits That Time Forgot" feature of MODELER'S RESOURCE magazine, number 48.
The Wolf Man
The Wolf Man
The year 1962 was a good one for monster modelers. In addition to Dracula, Aurora also released The Wolf Man. With this one, another 1999 reissue, I puttied the orifices of the hollow skull and detailed the lower jawbone to make it look more realistic.
Wolf Man_Close Up
Although Bill Lemon detailed the irises of his figure nicely, he didn't include the pupils. I located mine on the primed face with a pencil, making sure the eyes lined up properly (weren't cross-eyed, for example). Then I drilled the pupils out with a tiny bit in a pin vise. After painting the irises green, a wash of black paint outlined them while filling in the pupils. Even in 1/8 scale a clear gloss coat gives the eyes an authentic "wet" look.
Although I followed the instruction's suggested color scheme I did add baking soda "snow" to the base. The idea was to add a little variety to the apparent time of year depicted by the model. Winter was appropriate because many old werewolf tales were set in that season.
Wolf Man_Close Up_Right
The deep detail of the fur is both a curse and a blessing. It's difficult to hide the seams of the heavily textured parts. But the fur and underlying musculature make The Wolf Man a fun figure to paint. This model appeared in the "Kits That Time Forgot" feature of MODELER'S RESOURCE magazine, number 49.
The Creature From the Black Lagoon
The Phantom of the Opera
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde
The success of the first eight monsters spurred Universal to continue the line.
These other monsters weren't included in the "Aurora Presents the Universal Monsters" collection because they either weren't in 1/8 scale or they appeared in movies produced by companies other than Universal. Nevertheless, they're all classics!
The Bride of Frankenstein