Happy Halloween everyone! I've been threatening to do this for a couple of years and this year I decided to get off my sorry rear end and get this done.
Let me begin by giving a brief explanation to our friends in distant places who may not be familiar with our customs. Halloween an observance rather than a holiday. It is a day/evening when kids dress up in costumes and go door to door for candy and other sweets. In a more traditional sense, one should dress up as a ghost, witch, or any other ghoul/creature of the underworld as it is a night of frights and horrors. Here in the states, we've managed to turn it into a great big party. Consequently, many adults enjoy it too. Thus I was inspired to write this feature as a tribute to the real "dark side" of our hobby.
There was a time many years ago when modeling was becoming too "routine". Airplane after airplane was just not getting it anymore. I needed a change of pace like one needs a vacation from work once in a while. I had a real urge to do something different and, while rummaging through my old models, I came across my old Aurora models that I built when I was just a kid. My mother had thoughtfully and carefully packed them away years before and later, as I started to get more serious about the hobby, I unpacked them, took them each apart, and stripped off all the old paint. I put them in separate plastic bags and reboxed them in what ever old shoe boxes I could find. Then came girls, college, more girls, taverns and yet more girls. Years later while visiting with the family, I rediscovered those old kits in the basement after Mom said she was cleaning house and "getting rid of all the old junk", her words. So, I went downstairs and started picking out what I wanted to save and to my surprise, look what I found!
The most difficult obstacle I had to overcome was which one I was going to do first. My top priority was ease. Something simple. Also, I wanted to maintain the original integrity of each kit but yet I wanted to do more to enhance the models and make them stand out from others. I decided that the best way to accomplish this was to improve the model base and expand on the ground work on which the model stands. I'm sure that most of you know that these kits were never considered the best fitting kits available (from a construction standpoint) and can appreciate the effort involved. So, listed below are the models that I built in the order I built them.
Straight forward. Still a novice at working with oils but I lucked out and created the effect I was aiming for. Getting the faces right was always the biggest challenge with me. This was a terrific learning experience for me in blending, shading, and highlighting. I altered the skull at the Wolfman's foot by cutting off the lower jaw and added the lichen.
|THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA|
Again, the original pose. Needed something behind the Phantom because of the man in the dungeon. I made the wall out of Styrofoam and I pressed in the brickwork using a straightedge. I expanded both sides of the base by using plastic rocks borrowed from a diorama kit. I used the simulated "car modeler's carpet" on the inside of the Phantom's cape. For the Phantom's face, I worked from a black and white photo that I clipped from a newspaper and saved just for this occasion.
The most challenging of the projects. By now I'm getting confident at doing this. I figure that an expanded graveyard scene would do the trick. The monster is standing on the original base; it's just blended in with the rest of the base. I carved out some Styrofoam and placed the original base inside. I carved out the hole for the coffin. The coffin was made from popsicle sticks. The extra headstone was scratchbuilt from sheet stock and I used a Dremel and a carving bit to weather it up a little. I needed an easy, identifiable German name so I chose Heinrich. However, this is where I cheated a bit. I did not have the capability to carve the name myself so I sub-contracted so to speak. I took the headstone to a jeweler and had them carve the name. The woman behind the counter must have thought I was out of my mind. The skeleton is nothing more than the "glow-in-the-dark" parts from Aurora's "The Forgotten Prisoner". Add a little static grass, a broken twig from the backyard, and some railroad landscaping moss and basically it was done. My one criticism about this model was that I got the Monster's complexion is a little too green.
|THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN|
The only one that is not an original Aurora. This is the Polar Lights kit from a few years back. Check the archives on this site for a full build review. Straight out of the box except that I added horseshoes to the horse's raised front hooves. Basically an exercise in working with different shades of black. I have an idea for expanding the groundwork on this kit but I haven't gotten to it yet, although I have scratchbuilt a few of the parts I'll need.
|THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME|
Because Quasimodo is placed on a turnstile for public humiliation, I needed to elevate the kit and create a "gallows" effect. It was made from popsicle sticks and matchsticks (the long wooden kind for grills and fireplaces.) Unfortunately, it suffered some damage prior to photographing. No damage to the kit itself so I'll focus on that. This was the only Aurora kit I had that I still had instructions for. I had no instructions for any of the other Aurora kits, but, you don't need an engineering degree to put these together. That is also the reason for the green shirt and lavender pants. It's what the instructions called for. Also, notice Quasimodo's back where he has been whipped. It wasn't enough to just paint the lash marks. Any beating like that would turn the skin red so I added more red to my skin tone when I painted his back. However, the real trick on this kit was capturing the agony on Quasimodo' face.
I hope everyone enjoyed this feature. I look forward to doing another one next Halloween. As I have stated before, I will build anything that interests me. If you are in a modeling rut or funk, my suggestion is to build something outside of your realm. Do something completely different. I guarantee you will have fun and most likely improve on a few modeling skills. Your only limitation is your own imagination. Happy Halloween!
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