Occasionally I receive posts from customers and individuals who like to model; the following post was submitted in response to an older post that asked about “first kits”. We love to hear about your memories and your models. Please feel free to jump in and share your own.
My First AMT Kits…
By: Jim Ervin
Every time I think of my first AMT model car kits and how I found them, I’m reminded of a prophetic cartoon in one of my old model car magazines. A grandfather shows a model car kit to a child and says “In my day we could build a model kit 3 ways.” Now, at age 66, I’m old enough to be repeating those very words except there are no grandchildren or children either. I suppose my model car collection and my restored Model A coupe are my children.
The first of my “children “came along in the first year of AMT kits. 1958. I was on holidays with parents and brother and sister. We traveled from the Vancouver, B.C. Canada area down to Spokane, Washington that year to see the Grand Coulee Dam Our old ’49 Dodge proved very dependable for the trip. In every town we stopped, I always went into the local drug store or souvenir shop to buy a pennant of the town. In Spokane, I found myself in the basement of a rather large store and there in the corner was a stack of AMT model car kits. The attraction was immediate. The black and white pictures of the real cars on the side of the box were all I needed to become interested. I picked out a ’58 Ford and ’58 Pontiac convertibles and likely talked my mother into paying for them. I recall fitting the parts together one night at a campsite, since we were camping in those days, and couldn’t wait to get home to build them.
I later regretted my customizing attempts which involved the usual body putty, detail sanding and brush painting. Still I saved them and have the Pontiac almost rebuilt as a custom. The boxes on the other hand, were cut up for their pictures. Many model kits have come way, both cars and airplanes since (and even before) 1958. But sometime in the 1980’s, I made contact with a model car enthusiast in Louisville, Kentucky. We exchanged a few letters and he mentioned that he had some AMT models to sell. Among them were a ’58 Ford and ’58 Pontiac, both built stock and unpainted. He didn’t mention that he had the boxes and instruction sheets as well. Those were just a nice little surprise when I received the package in the mail. I’ve since built the ’58 Ford and my picture shows it and the now disassembled Pontiac.
My collection now includes lots of other automotive related stuff, Matchbox Toys, Dinky & Corgi Toys, books, magazines, license plates, name plates, etc, and still those pennants. But that’s how it all began for my AMT collection.
New York Comic con is just around the corner – October 10-13, 2013!
Round 2 will be there – stop by and see us at booth 443. You won’t want to miss our new model kits, die-cast cars, slot cars, Forever Fun, Captain Action, and even the Wicked Witch of the West will be in display.
ALIEN made audiences cringe in 1978 and played a major roll in cementing science fiction as the next great film genre. Among the intricate set and spaceship design work, the costumes contributed greatly to the film. The environmental protection suit is the focus of this resin model kit of Executive Officer Kane. The resin parts capture every detail down to the quilted pattern of the suit. The kit focuses on the tension-filled moment where Kane first encountered the bizarre ALIEN life form in its embryonic egg. The kit is engineered to allow realistic lighting effects. Everything rests on a detailed base as well. Decals and illustrated instruction sheet are included to finish the model.
We had announced at Wonderfest that we’ll be releasing a 1:1000 scale kit of the U.S.S. Reliant in 2014. It is personally one of my favorite Star Trek ships. We’ve been working on it for a while now.
Angelo Bastianelli who worked on our recent Cadet Series models built the CG model. At this stage, there are still a few details for the factory to nail down, and then we’ll be able to see a prototype (hopefully soon).
The original “Star Trek” television series featured technology that had first appeared decades earlier in science fiction stories. Pulp heroes had been wielding ray guns, flying faster than light and teleporting from place to place since the 1930s. But perhaps the true inspiration of Star Trek’s superscience is the revolutionary physics discoveries of the early 20th century. Relativity, discovered by Albert Einstein and quantum physics, pioneered by Max Planck revealed a universe far different than ordinary human experience might suggest.
Although Einstein’s theory forbids matter to accelerate past the speed of light, the demands of sci-fi storytelling require that people be able to travel between the stars in a reasonable amount of time, usually hours, or at most, days. Enter the space warp drive, or as it was called in “Star Trek’s” pilot episode, “hyperdrive.”
Warp drive in Star Trek works by annihilating matter (in the form of deuterium, a kind of hydrogen gas) and antimatter in a fusion reaction mediated by dilithium crystals. This produces the enormous power required to warp space-time and drive the ship faster than light.
To see more visit:
In 1962 the world was introduced to the future as The Jetsons made their television debut. Set in 2062, the show followed the day-to-day exploits of family man, George Jetson. This re-issue of the Jetsons Spacecraft model kit is a simple to assemble snap-together model. It comes injected in green and clear plastic and includes prepainted figures of George and his loyal dog, Astro. Both figures have been re-sculpted to capture authentic likenesses of the characters.
Two all time classics join forces as Polar Lights presents Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man VW Beetle. This intricately detailed 1:24 scale snap-together kit features Spider-Man stickers to appeal to young modelers and several optional parts for the VW modeling enthusiast. Part options include steering wheels, bucket seats, bumpers, mirrors, exhaust systems, wheels and more. The hood and trunk open to show the spare tire and complete engine assembly.
In the process or recreating the original MPC Alien box art, I had quite a time finding all of the images that were used originally. Modeler and historian, Mat Irvine, recently inquired about what the differences were. It was a fascinating hunt, so I figured I would reorganize my explanation and share it with you guys.
First, I’m showing the before and after images. The left side shows the original raw package scans of our vintage kit. The right shows our final production art. Whenever we reproduce a package we take a little bit of liberty to punch up the color slightly to account for fading. We replace any solid color with our best guess of the original CMYK values. In this case, the green in the word “ALIEN” was 100% cyan and %100 yellow. The scanner always captures values of magenta and black that was never on the original piece. Otherwise, we force black to become black, white to become white, etc. and generally touch up the image as needed to remove printing flaws or dirt.
The challenge of this particular piece was the small inset images in the filmstrip on the front and side of the box. I knew that many of the images were familiar and figured I could find them either in the licensor’s style guide assets or could be found online. Since they were relatively small, even medium-res images would work well enough. I decided to hunt them all down rather than spend time doctoring up the small shots that when looked at closely really broke up due to the larger dot size that was used during printing back in the day. Upon close review, the images were rather muddy.
We’ve all seen the image of Kane walking the transom in the egg room and the shot of the Space Jockey. Images of the Nostromo corridor and pics of the trio in their EVA suits seemed familiar enough and seemingly didn’t pose a problem. I knew some shots were more obscure like those of the tractor on the front and the Nostromo storage bay on the side. I figured the rest would be discovered along the way with some deep digging. Little did I know what I was getting into. I’ll cover each one shot by shot starting with the easy ones…
#6 & 7 were the most straight forward as I found nice hi res pics in the style guide. And that’s where the “ease’ of the project would end.
#8 & 9 and maybe #10 seemed pretty familiar. I had to have seen them somewhere or another. As it turns out, “close” images could be found of #8 in the style guide. The positions of the figures weren’t quite a match, but upon reviewing the film, we never saw them in the film in that exact position either, because I watched it again… to find that shot and all of the others I was lacking. I defaulted to an HD screen grab found online to supply pic #10. I settled on using the style guide image for #8. I found myself resorting to more drastic measures for #9 and several others.
#5 & 11 I had never noticed in the film before. After watching again, I found them, but at different angles than what we see on the box.
#2 reminded me of the emergency helmets on the bridge of the Nostromo, but I’ll be darned if I could tell you where those suits show up on screen.
#4 was kind of tricky but #2 took the cake. The pic of the corridor is mirrored form what we see on screen. I eventually realized this and found a scene that was pretty darn close, but what the heck do we see in pic #2? Eventually, I realized the only way to figure that one out was to keep an eye out for anything resembling a perspective shot of something resembling a wagon wheel. I eventually figured it out. The image is a rotated shot of the ceiling in the bridge. I tracked down that shot eventually.
So how did I get the images I was missing? For DVDs we have an app for that, but the images are really small. Bluray is the way to go, HD with nice brilliant color, but we didn’t have a Bluray drive and pulling screengrabs from a Bluray is a complicated process. (which we eventually figured out after the fact) So, I basically paused the Bluray on my HD TV at home and took a photo of the screen. I had the lights out and camera on a tripod for stability. After some experimenting, I found decent enough results that they tightened up well enough for the packaging. In some cases, I tweaked the color balance a bit to more closely match the box. In the case of the tractor in pic #5, I found that buried in the image gallery (that I otherwise never would have gone through) on the special features disk. I found the suit in #1 there as well. I had a bit of egg on my face though when I later also found the suit pic in the style guide assets.
In some cases, there was no exact match and I settled for the best I could get. My theory is that since still photography from a handheld camera would have required a flash that we would have seen on screen. Therefore, my final hypothesis is that the shots on the box that don’t quite match were from cut footage of some kind. In the case of image #10, the characters are riding the elevator down, but in the film Kane is facing the opposite direction before the scene is cut. He never faces right with the elevator that low.
So there you go a great adventure in packaging design. Only the crazy few would dare go down this path. But, what the heck it was fun. In what other business do you have an excuse to watch a great sci-fi movie like ALIEN to make your paycheck?
Congratulations to all of the winners from the Berrien County but particularly the 3 that have won the Auto World Trophy for Modeling and Pine Wood Derby
Folk Arts – Woodworking – Ch. Pinewood Derby Cars, 5-8 AutoWorld Store Trophy
A – Andrew M Smith, Saint Joseph, MI
Folk Arts – Woodworking – Ch. Pinewood Derby Cars, 9-15 AutoWorld Store Trophy
A – Robert L Cromwell, Berrien Springs, MI
Folk Arts – Crafts – Champion Models AutoWorld Store Trophy
A – Collin C Krumrie, Bridgman, MI