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, 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
In 2012, MPC reissued The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-man as snap-fit model kits. The fit of these types of fit is better than you'd think, but they do pose challenges for those who want to assemble them with glue.
MPC Hulk, Close Up
This Hulk sports a 1970s-era hairdo while he wears the classic enraged expression.
MPC Hulk, Left
This issue of The Incredible Hulk came molded in green and purple plastic. My test shot was white, which I painted with Testors oil-based enamels.
MPC Hulk, Back
There's quite a gap between the Hulk's back and the top of his trousers, one of the fit issues that occurs with snap-fit models. I couldn't fill the gap without altering the shape of the back part. For Polar Lights' purposes, the models had to be built strictly out-of-the-box.
MPC Hulk, Right
I left the seams along the side of the Hulk's pants alone because they would appear on a real garment, but I did fill all the gaps on his body. I didn't photograph the alternate open hands because Round 2/MPC wanted the Hulk built with the closed fists.
MPC Spider-man, Front
The Amazing Spider-man is a terrific companion piece to The Incredible Hulk. It's also an airbrusher's dream to paint.
MPC Spider-man, Right
The detailing of Spidey's figure was very well done, as was the webbed engraving of his costume. The blue and red sections of Spidey's costume come molded in those colors. Therefore, if a modeler prefers to paint the figure, there will be a lot of masking involved.
MPC Spider-man, Left
The engraved webbing of Spidey's costume isn't too difficult to paint. A clear gloss finish can be applied to the figure to seal the underlying colors. Then thinned black water-based paint can be applied to the webbing with a fine tipped brush. Errors can be easily wiped off and the finished webbing sealed with a clear matte finish; I used Testors Dullcote.
MPC Spider-man, Back
Spidey's flat left hand shows that the figure can be posed in alternate positions off the kit base - on a wall, for starters.
Round 2/Polar Lights Figures
Robby the Robot and Altaira
In 2013, Polar lights released their third issue of Robby the Robot, the mechanical man first seen in the classic Science Fiction film, FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956). This time, Robby came with alternate parts to accommodate the figure of Altaira, as seen in the copy of the movie poster they're posed with here.
Robby and Altaira, Full
From the waist up, the Robby model is a duplicate of the earlier releases. Robby's arms and legs were changed to fit the movie poster pose along with the new base. My test shot didn't come with the printed background.
Robby and Altaira, Right
I painted Robby, Altaira, and the base to match the movie poster as closely as possible. The glittery effect of Altaira's dress was achieved with craft store spray paint.
Robby and Altaira, Close Up
Please note that it was I and not E. James Small who assembled this model, as noted on the instructions. I think the error was made because Mr. Small, who is an excellent builder, had completed Robby for the earlier releases of the model.
Polar Lights Superheroes
The last two models I built for Round 2 were all new snap-fit models of Superman and Wolverine. Since they'd never been on the market before, and therefore I had no experience with them, both posed interesting challenges.
Polar Lights Superman, Left
The basis for this model was the cover of SUPERMAN #233, "Kryptonite Nevermore". This was DC Comics' attempt to remove an overused plot device - Superman's weakness to Kryptonite - while also scaling back his powers. Both ideas faded quickly.
Polar Lights Superman, Close Up
Unfortunately the weakest feature of the model is Superman's head.
Polar Lights Superman, Back
The cape requires a lot of work to eradicate the large seam running down the middle. I found that adhering a piece of stretched sprue into it with liquid cement gave the strongest joint. Filler putty was still needed in spots along the joint.
Polar Lights Superman_Right
Getting the chains fitted with no instructions was not easy. They represent the deactivated Kryptonite described in the comic book, so I painted them a metallic, rather than glowing, green.
Polar Lights Wolverine
This is a fine model from every standpoint. The pose is dynamic, the sculpture spot on, and the base is well detailed. Also, the breakdown of assemblies makes it possible to paint them with a minimum of masking.
Polar Lights Wolverine, Back
The model looks great from any angle. As with Superman, I had to print the decals on my own, using image files from Polar Lights. But they fit the figures perfectly; I'm sure the kit decals are far superior.
Polar Lights Wolverine Mask_Close Up
Alternate masked and unmasked heads come with the kit; I used tiny magnets to secure them in place on the figure. The test shot came without the chrome claws, so I used Bare Metal Foil on them with less than satisfactory results (that I admit I've overcome in these photos with Adobe Photoshop).
Polar Lights Wolverine, Left
Here's a good view of the base. I created battle damage on the Sentinel's helmet by sprinkling salt onto the moistened silver base coat. An acrylic metallic purplish red was sprayed over the salt and allowed to dry. The outer layer was scrubbed with a moistened toothbrush; as the salt came off it left behind a "chipped paint" effect, allowing the underlying silver to show through the outer metallic purple.
Polar Lights Wolverine, Right
This guy looks ready to fight from any angle!
PL Wolverine, Unmasked
Wolverine's features were very nicely sculpted. I couldn't help but paint the squinty-eyed appearance so frequently seen in comics. His heavy 5 o'clock shadow seemed natural for him.