ROUND 2/POLAR LIGHTS
In 2010, Polar Lights was planning to reissue the Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was originally an Aurora kit. But there was a hitch: the company didn't have a built up Hunchback to photograph for the box art, advertisements, and so on. So they contacted Steve "CultTVman" Iverson, whose web site boasts an enormous photo gallery of models of all types. I had posted photos of my work on Steve's site and was fortunate enough to have my Hunchback chosen by Polar Lights to be photographed. This led to my being contracted to build test shots of models manufactured by Polar Lights and MPC, which are both under the Round 2 umbrella.
This and the other photos of the Beatles with the white backgrounds were generously provided by Mr. James Hood, of Round 2.
This photo courtesy of Round 2.
Paul with Disguise
Since I had the test shots at hand, I assembled the upper bodies of the figures. The shoulders were trimmed away and the cuts blanked off with pieces of 0.20" sheet styrene. These were then glued to the pillars with liquid cement and became the displays for the alternate heads.
Paul in Disguise, Right
Finishing the Beatles was almost like painting "desktop" car models. The paint had to applied smoothly for the proper cartoon appearance. That's difficult to do with a brush, which was required for the smaller areas.
Paul in Disguise, Left
The body of the drum doesn't appear in YELLOW SUBMARINE, so I simply sprayed it with some Rustoleum paint I had handy. The Sgt. Pepper graphic on the front of the drum took an entire night to paint.
Paul, Full Figure
I avoided using black outlines except around the figures' eyes, Paul's cuffs, places like that. Glossy surfaces were represented with squiggly white lines in the cartoon, but for the three dimensional models I opted for a shiny overcoat.
This photo courtesy of Round 2.
This photo courtesy of Round 2.
Ringo in Disguise, Full
When Polar Lights reissued these kits, they had some old buildups for me to upgrade. The heads were missing, so I had to build them from test shots of the models.
Ringo in Disguise, Right
I had to come up with little display bases so both versions of the heads could be displayed at the same time. I cut the pillars from a plastic wedding cake topper, thinking they would make classy-looking displays. But the pillars wound up looking more like upside-down flashlights.
Ringo in Disguise, Left
I borrowed a copy of YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968) from the local library and made screen caps of all the Beatles, with and without their disguises. That ensured that the colors with which I painted the models were as accurate to the movie as Testors and I could make them.
Ringo in Disguise, Another Angle
I found that the pegs which attached the heads to the holes in the bodies were tight enough to require no extra effort to keep them securely in position.
Round 2/MPC Monsters
Round 2, the parent company of Polar Lights, also owns MPC, which first issued these two models in the mid-1960s. The kits were based on characters that appeared in the Gothic soap opera DARK SHADOWS. The show was originally run on the ABC television network in the afternoon from 1966 to 1971.
Barnabas Collins, Full Right
Barnabas was a vampire, who was introduced into the show when its ratings began to slide after its first few months on the air. Portrayed by the late Johnathan Frid, he became an overnight sensation and was the linchpin of the series for the next five years.
Barnabas, Close Up
Although there is subtle texture molded into the fabric of Barnabas and the Werewolf's clothing and the overall quality of the sculptures are very good, the likenesses to the TV characters leave a lot to be desired. The use of artists oils helped me get a better resemblance to Mr. Frid.
Barnabas, Full Front
This was an early Round 2 project for me, and I made a serious error. I wanted to show the bat that came with the kit, but there was nothing on which to mount it. My solution was to park the bat on Barnabas' shoulder - a cute idea, but not one that could be replicated by the parts in the box. Therefore the bat was removed from all Round 2 photos of the model.
Barnabas, Full Left
Round 2 reissued these figures with styrene and vinyl arms, along with wire armatures and bending jigs. These features were part of the original MPC issues. The idea was that the builder could bend the wires to pose the vinyl arms in alternate positions. I was doubtful about this feature and used the styrene arms.
The Werewolf, Full
There were actually several werewolves during the run of DARK SHADOWS, but all were portrayed by the same actor, Alex Stevens.
The Werewolf, Close Up
Sorry to have to admit it, but the Werewolf's head is pretty goofy; the extra finger joints don't help either. Sadly, 21st century builders were once able to find nice resin replacement heads by Cult of Personality, but it's proprietor, Tom Parker, has passed away and his business' future is in limbo.
The Werewolf, Full Left
I used a limited color palette to tie the Barnabas Collins and Werewolf figures together. Barnabas is dressed in gray with brown accessories, the Werewolf in brown with gray items. By the way, many of both figure's parts come in glow-in-the-dark plastic.
The Werewolf, Full Right
A comparison of the tree and critters on the bases of the Dark Shadows models leads me to believe that these items were "borrowed" from the Aurora Dracula and Phantom of the Opera kits when MPC first released the models in the 1960s. That said, they work as well for MPC's monsters as they did for Aurora's.
In 2011, Round 2/MPC reissued the "Strange Change" models of the Mummy, Time Machine, and the Vampire. These unique kits featured two figures or scenes on turntables contained in decorative boxes with hinged lids. Powered by rubber bands, the turntables were designed to flip 180 degrees when the lids were closed. When the lids were reopened, the scene had changed!
SC Mummy, Full
This is how the Mummy looks on opening the coffin.
SC Mummy, Close Up
The Mummy looks quite serene, doesn't he?
SC Mummy, Coffin
The coffin was evidently copied from that of King Tutankhamen. I referenced photographs of King Tut's coffin when I painted this one.
SC Mummy Awake, Full
The coffin is closed, and when it's opened again -- the Mummy has had a rude awakening!
SC Mummy Awake, Close Up
I follwed the color scheme indicated in the instructions a much as possible. Photos of real Egyptian scorpions provided references for these critters.
SC Time Machine, 20th Century
Here's our happy Time Traveler, about to set off from the year 1936 AD.
Time Machine, Closed
The Time Machine is closed, and Our Hero is off on his journey into the past.
SC Time Machine, Pre Historic
Where, upon opening the door, we see that the Time Traveler is observing prehistoric life a lot more closely than he intended!
SC Time Mach. 20th Cent., Angle
This higher angle shows the arguable dull color palette I used for the machine's interior. I wanted it to have a "businesslike" look, rather than be garish and cartoony. But I did spray the recessed panels around the back with fluorescent colors to suggest the exotic forces that propelled the machine through Time.
SC Time Mach. Pre Hist., Angle
The sky background was painted to look dark and menacing. Of course, it's painter's choice for the dinosaurs, although I used the color suggestions of the instructions as my point of departure.
SC Vampire Coffin, Hinge Side
The Vampire's coffin was very carefully painted to look old and rotted.
SC Vampire, Full
When you open the coffin, you find him resting comfortably- perhaps a little hungry - on somewhat faded upholstery.
SC Vampire, Close Up
It was difficult to paint the small-scale figure convincingly. But the details are there if you're willing ( and have the optical aids) to make the effort.
SC Vampire Coffin, Handle Side
I reinforced the handles, which are butt-joined to the coffin, with sections of straight pins. Otherwise I was afraid they'd snap off almost immediately.
SC Vampire Skeleton, Full
Another Strange Change! The Vampire has turned into a skeleton, with more scorpions AND some rats to keep him company. These kits were surprisingly well sculpted and a lot of fun to build and paint.
SC Vampire Skeleton, Close Up
Round 2/MPC Super Heroes
Round 2/Polar Lights Figures