Although we just announced our upcoming Marvel Comics Thor model kit recently at Wonderfest, the kit has been in the works for some time. The Thor box art was just turned in this past week, so we figured we would show off a preview.
The first step in starting a kit like this is getting control drawings or turnaround drawings done of the model so that we can get the idea of the kit submitted to the licensor and also supply a clear vision of the kit to the sculptor. I did the drawings myself for the Wolverine kit. (I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by) I wasn’t quite as attached to Thor as a character. He has always been around as one of the key characters in the Marvel universe and an Avenger of course. My heart was always with the X-Men though. I knew what he was all about, knew his background and powers etc., but I wasn’t sure about the details and idiosyncrasies of the character. I needed to find someone that I knew I could bounce my overall idea off of and would be able to flesh it out form there. Joe Jusko came to mind. Though he is known as a painter, he had done a few pieces of line art for us for our Captain Action line so I figured I would run the job past him. As it turned out not only was he familiar with the character, he was a huge fan having read the Jack Kirby and John Buscema comics from the “Silver” and “Bronze” age of comics. Not only that, he also had a fondness for the old superhero models that we are all familiar with and was excited by the opportunity to turn one of his favorite characters into a kit.
So, I explained my idea of trying to translate one of Kirby’s classic poses into a kit that would feature a modern, realistic but stylized sensibility. The one thing I was hung up on was what to do for the base. I like a figure to tell a story similar to the old Spider-man kit. Joe suggested a broken rainbow bridge along with some rubble and Thor-centric accouterments. As long as we could make sense of the goofy-footed Kirby-esque stance I was up for anything. He came back with an awesome drawing of everything we had discussed. I had to plan on editing it down a bit due to concerns for the cost, but for the most part, it was exactly what we needed.
Of course Joe’s next question was “any chance I could do the box art?” After some quick negotiations, we were able to come to terms to allow him to do just that. The exact pose he had drawn actually fit our established figure box layout quite well. So we decided to just keep working with that angle. The question then became, “Okay, what’s in the background?” Of course the remainder of the rainbow bridge and Asgaard of course, but I threw a bit of a monkey wrench into the works when I brought up the idea of the box turn reveal of a bad guy. I had used the same approach for the MPC Hulk & Spider-man kits and in a more overt way on Wolverine. Joe figured out a way to incorporate a fallen storm giant. Again, I trusted the Thor fans intuition and let him run with it.
I think the end result turned out great and I was glad to have such an established and respected artist like Joe. I also feel fortunate to have found that he was a true Thor fan and was able to contribute to a kit of one of his favorite characters.
All images subject to licensor approval.
- Before gluing parts together, always ensure that the contact points are clean and that the parts fit well. When applying the plastic cement, only apply to one of the parts. An excessive amount of plastic cement will not only prolong or prevent proper adhesion, but may also melt and deform the parts. Plastic cement must always be used as conservatively as possible. When gluing clear parts, such as windows or canopies, try to avoid plastic cement. This is because plastic cement can “fog” clear plastic even in areas where not directly applied. For clear parts, use white glue.
- Gaps between parts may become apparent after assembly. To remove a gap that is too large to overlook, it may become necessary to separate the parts, adjust their fit, and re-adhere. Another option is to fill the gap with modeling putty, or another substance which dries to hardness and can be smoothed and painted over. When applying putty, only the smallest amount is required. An excessive amount will be difficult to remove later and in the case of clear parts, may be impossible to remove without evident damage to the part beneath. Follow the instructions on the packaging and use a plastic tool to apply the putty, so as not to scratch the model.
- If an assembled part is not adhering properly in some places, it may not be necessary to separate the parts and re-adhere. Another option is to use a liquid plastic cement to re-adhere the parts. By applying a small amount of liquid glue to the outside of the gap, the glue is drawn into the gap by capillary action. It is important not to apply too much glue, for the reasons above, but also because too much glue may remain outside the gap and dry to hard, malformed bubbles. In general, less than a drop will suffice. When the glue has been applied, hold the parts firmly together until proper adhesion is assured.
Once two parts are glued together, it may be necessary to clamp them together until the glue sets. This may be done by holding the two parts firmly together with your hands, but you may also use a variety of tools to do the same job. Elastic bands, clothespins, plastic clamps, tape, and wire are all suitable materials. When applying the clamps, make sure that the pressure exerted on the parts is great enough to keep the parts together, but not nearly enough to deform or break them. Also make sure that whatever clamp you choose to use will not scratch the plastic.
Whether you are a competitive modeler (contest, 4-H, Boy Scouts, etc…) or building for fun the following links offer some great tips and tricks to help you.
Here we are assembling the engine. He used most of the parts from the Stingaree model, he choose to use use the larger exhaust headers found in the Royal Rail model to customize this model. Here he is trying to hold them in place while they dry.
I am starting to learn what the H’s stand for…this is my son’s 4th year in 4-H modeling and each year become progressively more difficult. I have tried to help him find some of the best practices for completing these projects.
We live in an apartment for our first challenge was to choose a suitable place to paint. You should not paint where dust or other airborne particles may adhere to your work. Choose a clean, dry place, between 5 and 30 degrees Celsius to apply and dry paint.
We have a balcony which at least provided good ventilation, however he skipped the first instructions that were to wash the release agent and any other dust particles off the car and went right to work painting the car. (sigh). He also held the spray can about 3 inches from the car. Now I am not sure which of these factors caused the problem, but the paint pooled in spots on the car.
So, step 2 for my little modeler was sanding and stripping the paint off the car.
What he failed to realize is that Painting over particles will not remove or hide them, but trap them in place.
Now there are several kinds of paints you can use. We used model spray paint, some people prefer air-brushing. This is a little more costly (which is why we use the other)
You will want to mix your paint to a thorough consistency. Start by striking the closed container of paint sharply and repeatedly against the palm of your hand.
It may become necessary to mask adjacent parts from the part you wish to paint, so as not to accidentally get paint on that part.
When painting with a brush, always ensure that it is of appropriate size and that there are no loose or stray bristles. Brush painting should be reserved for small or isolated parts, or parts which require a certain finish to them. Applying paint with a brush leaves striations in the direction of brush travel, and must not be used for exteriors or large surfaces.
Our first step was to clean all of the parts. Since we learned from our 2012 experience, we knew that for the paint to stick evenly all parts had to be clean. Dust and oil inhibit the adhesion of paints and glues, as well as detract from the final appearance of the model.
To remove dust and oil, we simply washed the pieces (still on the sprue) with warm water and a very small amount of detergent. We used the sink, however you may also wish to use a shallow basin and a strainer to ensure that you do not lose any small pieces down the drain. We let them soak for several minutes, agitating them occasionally. Taking the pieces out, you can leave them in the strainer to rinse thoroughly, the lay them out on paper towels and dry them thoroughly with a clean paper towel.
Some modelers suggest removing pieces and assembling prior to painting, however out 4-H leader suggests that is all items on a sprue will be the same color, you can paint them while still attached.
Small scissors or shears can be used to remove the parts from their respective sprues. Using a knife to remove parts is difficult, dangerous, and may damage the part. Only when the part is removed may you use a fine knife to remove any flash or excess sprue still attached, this is where we use the small nail clippers they are easy for him to handle alone and less dangerous than the sharp small knife.
My son has selected the AMT Stingagree (http://www.autoworldstore.com/AMT_Stingaree_1_25_Scale_Model_Kit_p/amt38664.htm) which he will kitbash with pieces from the AMT Royal Rail (http://www.autoworldstore.com/AMT_Royal_Rail_ihobby_Exclusive_1_25_Scale_Model_K_p/amt630ihobby.htm). The Stingaree is described as a wild showrod-meets-dragster, which will be a perfect fit to kitbash with some of the wilder elements of the Royal Rail. But more on that later.
This year we are taking what we have learned over the last few years and combining the use of glue, paints, and decals to create a finished model – incorporating parts of another model.
In addition to the materials that are referenced above we have also purchased or at least gathered (and by we I mean I have purchased for my sweet 11 year old) the following items:
- Assorted paints (mostly greens – because he likes green)
- Plastic cement – several kinds including one especially for windows
- Tweezers and small nailclippers (these are great for trimming sharp bits from the sprue)
- Assorted elastic bands
- Modeling knife (this is my exacto knife – and used with my supervision)
- Small shears
- Masking tape – we do very little masking because the painting we do is pretty basic
- Paper towel
Some people would also include modeling putty and sand paper but we are also a little more basic. Now the rules say he could do any vehicle, spaceship, airplane, etc… but since this was the first year he has done a combination kit like this, I suggested something a little more basic. Our first few attempts were basic designs, snap together kits, then last year marked a new project where he had to both paint and glue.
The paint did not stick to the model, bubbled – badly. So when I started at Round 2 I set out to figure out just what had happened to avoid having it happen again.
1) So now that we have selected the model. This is not the kit he wanted, but we had to select one that was more advanced than some of his choices, and a little less exotic than others.
2) While we did not research these cars, we did visit the Auto World store to look for a model that we would like to do, that fit the requirements. We looked at the number of pieces, materials required to complete this project and the ability to modify this particular piece. Without the ability to see the step-by-step instructions – I think he made a good choice.
3) Next he had to look at the configuration. Configuration may include tires, accessories, the doors and windows open or closed, or even embellishments and exhaust pipes. In the case of the Stingaree, and the Royal Rail both offered many customization options.
One of my personal highlights each year continues to be the annual Wonderfest show in Louisville, KY. This year’s show is coming up the weekend of May 18 & 19 and it seems to be shaping up to be another great one. Seeing all of the great product available and seeing the work of all of the great modelers out there is a rare treat. Most of all though, I look forward to seeing all of the familiar faces and the chance we get to have to talk about our kits, the hobby and what you guys think.
Even though we won’t be unveiling big news like the 1:350 TOS Enterprise, there will still be tons to talk about. We look forward to showing off our brand new buildups of our 1:144 C-57D, Robby & Altaira, Wolverine, the U.S.S. Enterprise bridge set and plenty more. We’ll give some info on development of the Galileo, Superman and all of the other all-new model kits we have brewing. We’ll have some surprising licensing announcements including hints at our plans for the ALIEN license. As always, we’ll have our annual survey ready to fill out to supply us with your feedback. We’ll be sure to fill in everyone that misses the show with our usual follow up youtube video of our booth and announcements.
We look forward to seeing everyone at the show!
Okay so apartment living and modeling is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I tried to build the hood (and being mechanically challenged) this was no easy task. It did not work nearly as well as I had thought it would in my head. It did contain some of the fumes and over spray which is good since I did this on my balcony.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Since it is the older ones project and he is old enough to handle some tools safely I have had to step back and allow him to sink or swim. For the most part it has been really good. The one thing that we have done differently this year versus prior years is that we have washed all of the pieces very well. We had a painting issue last year where the paint basically bubbled up and ran off. So this year we took the whole tree and washed it using plain dish soap and hot water. I am hoping that this will be enough to save the paint job.
7 weeks until the fair and counting…
I will post some pictures of our progress next week…
We announced our intention at Wonderfest last year to do give our Robby the Robot model kit a fresh spin to give a 3D representation of the iconic Forbidden Planet movie poster. So this June Robby the Robot returns as the Robby the Robot Movie Poster Edition. It seemed simple enough to take our existing Robby kit, add on a few new parts and boom; we would be off to the races. As usual, there really is no such thing as an “easy” task.
We knew we would need work with the parts we already have, so we knew we couldn’t work digitally in this case. We started out by hiring Tim Bruckner to tackle the sculpting duties. Tim has sculpted many licensed collectible statues and action figures. The difficulty before him was to use hard parts that we wanted to avoid retooling like Robby’s head and body and sculpt the needed Altaira figure along with new arms, legs and base for Robby. On top of that, he needed to stay as close as possible to the main reference, the movie poster, and translate a 2D painting into 3D that keeps all of the human body parts in proper proportion and get it to seat correctly on Robby. Our licensing agreement does not include likeness rights so we knew we needed to make sure the face stuck closely to the poster, and looked nothing like the actress. The Robby you see on the poster also strays a bit from the look of the real character. Ultimately we found that we needed to find that elusive sweet spot between the poster and what the “real” thing should look like in 3D. So with the parameters of our mission set before us, Tim began sculpting.
The first hurdle that was encountered was the fact that the movie poster shows no trace of Altaira’s right arm. It really isn’t something you notice when you look at it, because the mass of Robby’s body lends enough cover to make us assume that it must be there somewhere. Robby’s shoulder dome restricts the notion that the arm could drop straight down like the left one does. That left two possibilities. A) Her arm was tucked in between Altaira’s and Robby’s bodies, but her right hand could not land in her lap which would have been the natural position for it. B) Her arm had somehow landed up resting back over Robby’s shoulder. (Think it through, if Robby was lifting her unconscious body, how could her shoulder have ended up there?) We decided to proceed with notion A and see where that would lead us.
While we were figuring that out, creating Robby’s new wide stance was a simpler proposition. Old kit parts were utilized to create a mockup of the new part. They were cast up into solid resin soon enough.
With the legs in hand, the base was begun. We wanted the new base to represent the rocky alien ground that he was standing on in the poster. We also wanted to finish off the full poster effect by including a cardboard backdrop that supplies the background. So a channel was implemented to situate the backdrop. We left it to the factory to supply some gravel/soil texture to the piece after tooling was cut.
Getting back to the figure, another problem that arose during the process is that in the illustration, Altaira isn’t really resting on Robby’s arm. The right side of her torso is raised so that we can see it, but she is clearly being held up by Robby’s hand on her left side. This left a gaping hole in the model. We played with the idea that her right arm had been caught up under her and that was what was holding her up.
Well it is that time of year again and we are just starting our fair projects at home. Unfortunately we live in a 3rd floor apartment, which makes painting both inside and outside difficult. To minimize fumes and mess I began to look for options for building a miniature spray booth. I am not endorsing either of these, because I have not completed it yet, but I found 2 sets of instructions for completing this project.
It looks like the materials I will need to complete this project are
1) Plastic Storage Crate or Similar Size Cardboard Box depending on which set of instructions you choose..mine will depend on whichever box I can find.
2) An extractor fan – the second set of instructions uses the exhaust hood from a stove. This one seems simplest.
3) Flexible hose – like for a dryer vent
- Full instructions are available on the individual pages.
We have received some questions about the installation of the new lighting sets for the 1:350 scale U.S.S. Enterprise model kits so we put together a quick tutorial video that is available through our YouTube channel and our Collector Model Blog. Polar Lights brand manager, Jamie Hood, shows step-by-step how the lights should be installed into the model. This video covers some of the trickier spots that a modeler may encounter as well as some helpful hints to ease the assembly of either MKA005 Deluxe Accessory Set and MKA007 Lighting Kit. As with any of our model kits, we recommend reading all of the instructions completely before you begin any project, but this video should grant a great insight about the installation before the project is begun.
We’ve seen some excellent buildups with the lights installed. We hope this video assists those that have been holding back from lighting their builds. Enjoy!