Hi guys. I know it has been a while since I have posted. My only excuse is my usual one of just not being able to find the time. Still, I feel guilty for not finding at least something quick to show you. So, I’m going to try to at least do a quick post every couple of weeks. It will be a sign of life at least. Wonderfest is coming up and I didn’t want to miss making the point that we’ll be there once again to meet face to face to talk about any of the sci-fi products we offer.
I recently got in a time pinch (can you believe it?). Our usual go-to car modeler, Mike Wherry, got buried in a small rush of buildup work and I was in need of a buildup of the AMT1989 Batmobile which will be coming out later this summer. I gave the kit a quick look and did a little poking around on the net to see what others had done with it. Eventually, I got to the point where I thought to myself, “Ya know. it isn’t a really complex kit. The car is all shades of black with some steel accents. Maybe I could build it myself and I could have it done in a couple weeks.” So I did.
When I was a kid, I usually built cars and I left the hobby behind after getting frustrated with assembling engines that I never truly understood and with getting runs in the body paint. My younger brother on the other hand loved to chop tops and do mods to his cars. I couldn’t compete, so I built a couple jets and a couple of my dream cars before moving on to other things. The first Burton Batman film came out in the summer after my senior year in high school, and as a Batman fan I was a completist. So I bought and built an ’89 Batman kit when they first came out. So, as I was thinking about this build, I had vague memories of that one in mind. I remembered having to fill the seams in the tail fins and that there was a pull out turbine engine (only to relearn later that the pull-out feature was added to the Batman Returns edition which I would later buy). As you may know, I rarely build models to completion, but I fully understand the concepts and techniques used to build and finish them. The materials available these days and my ability to airbrush would give me a huge advantage over my younger attempt.
How did it go, you ask? Well enough for what I needed it for. I ran into the same problem I had as a youngster in that I got a little impatient with the spray paint (in this case a Testors lacquer). The first coat went down the best, but it didn’t cover 100% and my seams were still showing through. The second coat had runs and orange peel, so I sanded a bit and hit it again and a bit of orange peel remained, and some details started filling in, but it covered well enough and figured I could help the surface irregularity in Photoshop when I used it on the packaging. I’m sure that more practice with a rattle can would have gone a long way. If I had all the time in the world, and really wanted to do an outstanding job, I would have decanted the paint and ran it through my airbrush to get much better control.
The interior turned out well enough though. I left the seat unpainted black plastic as I felt the sheen and color looked like vinyl or black leather. I hit some bits with flat black for contrast and try brushed the dials lightly enough to have them stand out, but not look heavy handed. I decided to hide most of the chrome to make it look more like the real thing. It was good enough to do the job, but I have nothing on the skills of someone like Mike Wherry.
It wasn’t until I was finished with my build that I realized that the last model I ever built and painted to completion was the same kit. Two builds nearly 25 years apart, and having done none (in styrene at least) in between. Anyway, I figured I would share the fruits of my labor. I’ll see if I can dig out my old build. I’m sure I’ve still got it in a box somewhere.
The first pic shows an unaltered pic of the buildup. The second shows how I plan to incorporate it into the box lid (pending licensor approval). The rest of the pics show a few other angles of the buildup.
We announced that we would be bringing out a new Polar Lights model kit of the STAR TREK: TOS Romulan Bird-of-Prey back at Wonderfest in May. We’ve shown around some of the preliminary 3D work, but we recently received the mockup of the kit. here is a first look.
Some may have noted that we showed an earlier version at iHobby in October. In many ways it was not up to our expectations, but this version is about ready to go. Some may be disappointed that we were not able to reproduce the saucer front/side windows due to tooling restrictions. I’m sure enterprising modelers will find a way to introduce that detail back into the model. Overall, the kit looks great though.
3D work was done once again by Angelo Bastianelli based on reference by Gary Kerr and Petri Blomqvist. Petri is a lifelong fan of this particular ship and the shape and proportions were painstakingly determined by building his wireframe over screen caps of the original filming miniature.
Back in May we announced the coming of a STAR TREK: Deep Space Nine themed Cadet Series 3-ship set featuring the U.S.S. Defiant, U.S.S. Saratoga and Galor-class ships. We showed the mockup at Wonderfest, but we wanted to take a minute to give a first look at the Cardassian Galor-class model test shot.
Somehow we really tend to luck out with first test shots for cadet kits in that they usually tend to snap together pretty well on the first go and the Galor was no different. The only faults I found was that one of the connection pins had been short shot and the front edge of the wings tended to open a gap. I have to say the detail is pretty great for a 5 ½” long plastic kit.
I promised this post a while back. I know we are running behind on getting the U.S.S. Reliant decals out to market, but they should be here by the end of August.
The images below show you what to expect so you can plan ahead so you can start building while waiting for the decals. as expected, it s a our usual aztec wrap and we’ve added in several alternative names and registries as well. A preview of the instructions gives you a better idea of how they are broken up and placed on the model. I’ve pumped up the contrast of everything I am previewing here so you can see it at the relatively low resolution that our blog system restricts me to.
In the late 1990s, Ertl began a tool sampling program. This was prior to the buyout by Racing Champions (RC2). The goal was to set up every model kit tool, one by one and create test shots of the parts. Then, a physical system was to be devised so that the test shots could be easily viewed and referenced. It did not matter if it was a large, primary body tool (which very often contains everything except clear parts and tires) or a smaller window or taillight tool, or even a tire tool. Sample shots were to be produced.
As many of the tools had been used to create alternate or updated versions of the respective kits over the decades, in some cases there were parts blocked off. Efforts were made to unblock the closed gates to allow all the parts cavities currently in the tool to be injected with plastic.
In the end, not all the tools got sampled. When RC2 bought Ertl the program was cancelled and tools started getting shipped overseas. However, an impressive number of tools did get checked and sampled and the shots thereof have proven to be a big help in finding and putting some old kit tooling back together!
The method that was developed to catalog and display the hanger shots was to sandwich them between two clear sheets of mylar, with a metal clothes hanger at the top. Now they could easily be hung up and viewed. Racks were built to hang them all on and they were set up in a dedicated portion of a warehouse room. The first time I visited that room, it was an overwhelming sight. Many of the shots represented kits that had been reissued in recent years, but many others were exciting models that have not been reissued in decades. For an example, one of those shots was the MPC Daytona Transport Truck. As most of you know, we were able to reissue this kit back in 2012 already! Seeing that hanger shot definitely help put things in motion.
With Round 2’s purchase of all the AMT, MPC and Polar Lights tooling, all the existing hanger shots were acquired. I’m happy to say we finally have these set up in Round 2’s warehouse and wanted to share a couple photos with you, to give you an inside look at a system that will help us to continue bringing you as many sought after kits as possible!
Another Wonderfest has come and gone once again. I have to admit that though this year’s show didn’t sneak up on me it seems like the time needed for planning for it gets pinched more and more every year. In such great haste, mistakes are bound to happen. Luckily they were small and no one got hurt. (What is it with me and Star Trek ship name spelling…?)
More than anything else show attendees want to see what we have coming next. In light of recent events (which I’ll get into later) I’ve decided it is best to wait on getting too far ahead of ourselves with product announcements. So, we focused mostly on things that are coming very soon, but we still slipped in a few things that we feel confident enough to talk about.
On the Star Trek front, we had…
The U.S.S. Reliant 1:1000 scale snap kit which will be out very soon. I received production samples the day I returned from the show. This means the kit is about 4-6 weeks from hitting store shelves.
The next new kit on deck is a 3-ship Cadet Series set that focuses on Deep Space 9. It features the U.S.S. Saratoga, U.S.S. Defiant and Galor-class ships. As usual the set will include full decals for all three ships.
New to our 1:1000 scale ship lineup of will be the TOS Romulan Bird-of-Prey. The ship is a personal favorite of mine. We are just getting started on it, but we hope to have it out in about a year.
Also coming in 2015 will be a reissue of the U.S.S. Enterprise Cutaway. We are just now starting to examine the kit to see what changes we might make to it. I wouldn’t expect anything terribly extensive, but we’ll see if there is anything “logical” we should do to improve it from previous releases.
Lastly, though it may not look like much as far as our display goes, we’ve completed the overall plans for the Galileo shuttle kit. So we can now begin the mockup process.
We showcased our new reissue of the Moonbase Alpha kit. It features an all-new four-part vacuform base. I know dealing with the vacuform base in the past was kind of a hassle, so we’ve done what we can to make it as easy as possible to assemble and hide the seams. The new base was necessary to present the entire layout of the base including five all-new launch pads that feature optional docking extensions and new in-scale Eagle transporters. The travel tubes are included as separate pieces where the original release had them embedded as part of the base. New decal artwork rounds out the improvements. These are supplied for the launch pads as well as the computer terminals for the command center interior.
The next development for license is a Deluxe Eagle Transporter. This kit utilizes our existing Eagle kit, but now includes resin parts for the laboratory pod and booster pack.
For the Alien license…
We showed our RP of the resin XO Kane kit which was a little worse for the wear having been sent around the world and back. The #1 question we got at the show was “when will this be available?” We hope to announce a price and release date for the kit soon.
We also showed the CG work done by Angelo Bastianelli on the USS Sulaco. His work has since been approved by the licensor so we’ll be moving to the next step on the ship. I hope to get the kit to market in 9-12 months.
Best of the rest…
We presented our Back to the Future II Time Machine and all-new General Lee snap-together kits along with a reissue of the Hindenburg. All should be out later this summer. We gave a preview of new Lindberg reissue box art that shows our approach to using vintage art and design cues in a fresh way. Everything else on display is available now from your usual hobby retailer.
Along with the compliments on our product, we also fielded questions about a few projects that were conspicuously absent. After “When will Kane be available?”, the next most common question was “So, what happened to the Wicked Witch kit?” Please believe me when I say there isn’t purely one reason, but a pile of reasons that made us reconsider releasing the kit. The final decision was hotly debated here and was a painful one to make. Unfortunately the Witch wasn’t the only kit we have to talk about… Sadly, I had to inform those that asked that the King Kong kit which we’ve shown images will also be cancelled as will the Marvel Comics Thor kit and 1966 Batman & Robin 1:8 scale figures. None of these decisions was taken lightly and I can assure you every one was fought for to continue.
I’m loathed to end a blog post on such a down note, so back to other aspects of the show…
For the past three years Round 2 has presented awards for the “Best Use of a Round 2 Model Kit” in the Wonderfest model contest. This year’s competition had a record number of entries with well over 600. As usual, the level of quality in the buildups was amazing. We present our award for three categories Adult, Teen and Junior. This year’s adult winner was David Lewis who used one of our 1:350 scale TOS Enterprises to build his vision of a TOS-era Miranda-class ship. It was a beautifully built model that featured lights as well as interior details like an arboretum and dual shuttle bays. The junior division winner was Alex Tabor whose diorama presented his vision of the TOS U.S.S. Defiant making waste of a mirror universe Enterprise era ship. Unfortunately, we ran into the same problem we had in the past two years as no buildup was entered in the teen division that had used one of our kits. We’ll have to reconsider next year’s awards and probably do one award for junior/teen. Alex walked away with both junior and teen prizes which featured three 1:1000 scale Star Trek kits (child award) and a pile of kits including the Man In Space rocket set, 1:144 scale C-57D and an Enterprise-E (teen award). David walked away with a $100 coupon for autoworldstore.com. Congrats to the two of you. Also, I want to send a special shout out to Mark McGovern who we have build our own “amazing figure models” who took away the big award for Most Amazing Figure sponsored by Amazing Figure Modeler magazine. His work on the Absorbing Man was truly “amazing.”
As always, it is great to see everyone at the show. We always walk away with the clear message received that we are doing all right by everyone there. I personally have to say that it is my pleasure to be there. I always leave with a sense of renewed vigor for the tasks awaiting me when I return to the office.
The popularity of mainstay pop-culture characters can be tracked back to the earliest instances of licensed merchandise. Superman debuted in the comics in 1938 and less than a year later, the first merchandise was offered to the burgeoning crowd of fans. The Supermen of America Club supplied members with a button and official membership card. Supermen of America rings were offered to new members in 1940 and over time have become one of the most sought-after collectibles ever. In the early years, trading cards were introduced. They were followed by nearly anything that could have a Superman logo applied to it from lunchboxes to puzzles, books and records, action figures and of course… today’s Superman model kit.
Characters like Superman change with the times, but still resonate with every generation. As sensibilities evolve so do the characters and the various interpretations of them. Technology allows our look at the characters to become more defined. In the comics, the original interpretations offered on pulpy page stock by his creators Joe Seigel and Jerry Shuster gave way to the visions of Mort Wiesinger and Curt Swan (among many others) to the more contemporary renderings by Neal Adams and John Byrne to the version offered on today’s glossy page stock or the subtle glow of a tablet. The big and small screen offered a range of interpretations from the shorts created by the famous Fleischer Studios which put still images into stunning motion in a series of cartoons to the live-action serials starring Kirk Alyn to the TV series starring George Reeves to the most fondly remembered depiction supplied by Christopher Reeve in four films to last summer’s blockbuster film.
Every time we see a character depicted in a new way, we are biased (whole-heartedly or in part) by the previous interpretations of him. Some people are die-hard fans of the old stuff, the stuff they grew up with as kids and have loved ever since. Some people are coming to the party late and they latch on to the version being offered at that time. Some are into it for a while and eventually let it go. Others are life-long fans.
For sci-fi and pop culture modelers, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. You know if you like Star Trek better than Star Wars. You know if you like STAR TREK: The Original Series better than STAR TREK: The Next Generation. You know if you like the Curt Swan interpretation of Superman better than Jim Lee’s. Classic TV show Batmobile or the Tim Burton version?
Our recent Superman and Wolverine super-hero kits were created with the mindset of appealing to the widest audience possible. The Wolverine kit offers optional heads to appeal to guys that want something a step closer to the recent movie versions. We chose the costume to depict his iconic early appearance, but it was engineered to allow easy modification to create other later versions. Superman depicts one of his most iconic comic book covers, but with a little adapting he can look more like any of his various incarnations.
So, my question to you, the modeling public, is what do you like? (Please don’t misinterpret the question as “what do you want?”) Did you like the Man of Steel movie? Did you like The Wolverine? Do you like what Marvel Comics is doing right now or do you like DC better? Are you into the Arrow TV show or are you more excited about STAR TREK: TNG being remastered to be released on bluray? While you are at it, let us know what you think of our recent figural model kit releases. Feel free to let us know by responding here on the blog or on our Facebook repost.
To commemorate the return of the Space 1999 Eagle 1 (MPC791) in 1:72 scale and the Space:1999 The Alien (MPC 795) in 1:25 scale MPC (R) is randomly inserting 100 autographed mini prints into these model kits. Space: 1999 which originally aired in 1975, featured the crew of the Moon Base Alpha as they found themselves stranded on the moon when a nuclear disaster knocked it from the Earth’s orbit. Modelers have the chance to find 1 of 100 mini prints signed by Nick Tate (Alan Carter, pilot of the Eagle-1) or Catherine Schell (the alien Maya) in boxes that showcase the contributions of these two actors made to the show.
Recently I have had some inquiries about resin. I do not have a lot of experience with resin as a medium so I asked one of our advanced designers for some feedback. His response is as follows.
As a material, resin is not as forgiving as plastic. It is more brittle, and if made solid, the end model is much heavier than a plastic one. Most modelers’ experience with resin kits are building “garage kits”, which means a guy or group making an unlicensed kit of their own in their basement or garage and selling them to whoever is interested. By the nature of that market, quality is very spotty. A lot of the product being sold at a show like Wonderfest is this kind of stuff. A lot of what you see in Amazing Figure Modeler is this kind of product. If we or Moebius didn’t make a kit you see in there, somebody made it themselves and they are selling them.
Yes, resin kits are much more expensive, but we are trying to find sources that will make them for a reasonable price and with more consistent quality than those found in the aftermarket. Garage kits usually go for no less than $125 and could be anywhere above that. Take a look at the product review pages of AFM.
Why are we doing kits in resin rather than styrene?
Our public answer is that we want these to be super detailed kits. Because of the injection molding process, detailed textures get minimized on the sides of plastic parts. They almost always have to be smooth to keep the part form being trapped in the tool. It would be easier to show you an example than to explain it in writing. Anyway, with kits like Kane or King Kong, a lot of the great detail would get compromised.
What are your thoughts on resin as a medium?
Before you lay your head down Christmas Eve and visions of new model kits start dancing through your heads, let’s finish up our rundown of projects in the hopper here at Polar Lights models. I hope you have enjoyed the looks the progress on Kane, the U.S.S. Reliant and King Kong kits.
We announced acquiring the Alien/Aliens license at Wonderfest. Here is a look at something we have talked much about yet, the Alien Queen! This is the digital sculpt as rendered by Bill Wieger, the same sculptor we used on the Kane kit. The model offers a dynamic look at the creature. We are still nailing down the details on the final scale and release date. We’ll announce more when we know more.
Well, that wraps up a great 2013! Please have happy and safe holidays. We’ll see you next year!