It began around 2002, when Mr. Fred DeRuvo, the editor and publisher of Modeler's Resource magazine. requested input from the members of the HobbyTalk Modeling Forum. I responded with an article on my buildup of the Revell reissue of Aurora's Alfred E. Neuman kit. That led to more articles about old model kits. Then there came assignments to build and write about newer ones. Many of the photos on this page appeared in Modelers Resource magazine and the book, From Graves to Caves. Both of these publications were edited and published by Mr. DeRuvo, who gave his kind permission for me to publish the pictures here
The Absorbing Man
This model was commissioned for MODELER'S RESOURCE #52. The base was made more elaborate for the book by Fred DeRuvo, MR's editor and publisher, titled FROM CAVES TO GRAVES.
The Absorbing Man, Back
As usual, I detailed the back of the base to match the front. I used Vallejo Acrylic paints to render the metallics on The Absorbing Man's ball and left arm.
The Absorbing Man, Close Up
The figure was so well sculpted, he practically painted himself. It's not apparent in this photo, but I initiated the use of steel wool fibers to represent body hair on the model. By the way, the model was identified as "The Crusher" in the magazine article.
The Absorbing Man, Left
Fred loves a scenic base with figures as much as I do. The prison architecture was based on that of the UPS facility where I was working at the time I built the model. The door and frame were made from styrene stock and sheet, with doll house hinges and watch parts used to detail the door.
The Absorbing Man, Right
This model was entered in The Amazing Model Contest of WonderFest 2014, in category IV. Super Heroes & Super Villains, where it received a Gold Award in its category and also the Most Amazing Figure trophy, sponsored by AMAZING FIGURE MODELER magazine.
Sculpted by the legendary Gabriel Marquez and produced by Gwin Sculpture Works, this 1/5 (?) resin figure was called "Guide to the Black Gate". Fred sent the model to me shortly before he closed down MODELER'S RESOURCE.
Gollum, Right Side
The idea was that Fred would build a base for the figure to replace the featureless resin disk that came in the kit. But with the closing of the magazine we never completed the project.
Gollum Base Close Up
Finally I decided to finish the figure and make a base for it myself. This not only got another of my all-too-numerous unfinished projects finished, it also gave me the opportunity to use the small animal skull I'd purchased in an antique store years earlier.
Gollum, Another Angle
The base was made from a large, irregular lump of Styrofoam covered with Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty. Colored with oil-based paints, it's quite durable. I added some bits of groundwork to make the scene look "alive".
This was another well-detailed model that was a painter's dream. It took First Place in its category at the 2015 IPMS Nationals and a Gold at WonderFest the same year. In 2017 I sold it on eBay to a buyer in Canada.
Fred asked me to build this 1/8 resin figure by Koma Designs. They called it "Rampaging Hulk", we called it "Incredibly Mean and Green", since we weren't sure it was properly licensed. Fred very graciously planned this project for the for the cover of MODELER'S RESOURCE issue #53.
The Hulk, Closer
I adapted a Polar Lights reissue of Aurora's James Bond 007 figure, to represent a security guard being menaced by the Big Green Guy. The extra figure added drama and a sense of how large the creature was.
The Hulk, Closer Still
The model was exquisitely detailed, a pleasure to paint. Since the creature had mutated from a human being, I wanted to give some impression that red human blood was still coursing through him; I find solid green flesh colors hard to believe. But I think I made the reds a little too pink.
Just for fun, I altered the James Bond face, which had originally been sculpted to look like Sean Connery, to resemble Fred. I thought it was a good likeness, but he missed it. Really, editors... ;)
"Incredibly Mean & Green" Cover
Once again, I made an elaborate base with a story-telling element, with plenty of input from Fred. I'm pretty sure that this is the picture Fred used on the magazine cover. It's my one principle cover appearance on any magazine to date.
This critter appeared in a little horror film, THE GATE (1987). The Minions were actually the most impressive effect in an otherwise unremarkable movie. In 2017, a buyer from Italy purchased this model when I offered it on eBay.
In the movie, the little Minions were attacking a kid who was kicking at them after he'd fallen into a pit. The Minions' attack on him was staged live: the creatures were actors in suits and the kid was really perched about 20 feet above them. This gave a forced perspective effect of foot-high demons bedeviling the kid from just below him.
When my wife was ready to replace a bowl of potpourri I crumbled some of it to serve as debris on the resin base. Typically I adhere this stuff with a 50-50 mix of white glue and water. I brush on a base coat, then sprinkle the potpourri from overhead for the most natural look. Once this application is dry, I may mess with the debris, blowing excess off or adding more until I'm happy with it. Then I'll fix it with more of the glue and water solution, sprayed from a dollar-store atomizer.
Minion is a 2003 issue by Cygenus Studios; I placed it on a “Skulls and Bones” base by Dynamic 3-D Designs. Although there's no scale given for either item, going by Minion's appearance in THE GATE, I would say that it's about "actual" size. That may make the base detail the wrong size for the figure, but it still is a nice presentation.
Minion, Close Up
Fred DeRuvo sent me the partially completed model when another writer had to back out of the project owing to an illness. I finished the paint job and pinned Minion to the Skulls and Bones base. The finished article titled "The Gate" was published in MODELER'S RESOURCE number 52.
"Modeling Basics 101"
Robin, the Boy Wonder
At a local IPMS show, comments about the Gigantic Frankenstein I'd brought led me to believe that a lot of pretty basic techniques that simply weren't being communicated to the model-building public. I pitched the idea of a series of articles on the subject to Fred DeRuvo, and he agreed to run them in MODELER'S RESOURCE under the title "Modeling Basics 101". I chose Robin (the 1999 reissue by Revell) because it was a figure that also had Sci-Fi elements in the base.
Robin, Close Up
Robin's flesh tones were achieved over a base coat of almond-colored hardware store paint. I gave the gloss paint a matte finish with Testors Dullcote. When this was dry, I used ground up artists pastels to color Robin's youthful skin.
Out of the box, Robin is stepping on the equipment boxes that are sitting on the floor. That didn't make sense to me so I scratchbuilt a table - and subsequently had to extend the floor - to accommodate the rearranged lab equipment. That's supposed to be an inspection hatch that Robin is stepping on - it was necessary to be there in order for him to be able to grasp the On/Off switch on the control panel.
The lab equipment probably wasn't battery powered, hence the electrical cords. There's an outlet in the floor just beyond the inspection hatch. This shot shows how well the JT Graphics decal set, which is a vast improvement over the kit-supplied decals, added authenticity to the scene.
Robin & Back of Control Panel
I have always added detail to the hollow backs of the vertical elements of Aurora's bases. Here the back of the control panel was blanked off and detailed with pieces of styrene sheet and strip stock. The "Modeling Basics 101" series appeared in numbers 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 60, and 69 of MODELER'S RESOURCE.