Posts Tagged ‘Monster’

Model build: Aurora Godzilla

March 19, 2020

Every boy growing up in the seventies built plastic models at some point or another – now a lost art of sorts – and I was no exception. Aside from the usual selection of cars and planes, for a science fiction and horror geek like myself the coveted models were the Aurora series of monsters. The first one of those that managed to get my grubby little hands on was either the Creature from the Black Lagoon or the ‘Glow in the Dark’ Godzilla. (I can’t be sure exactly which but I know these were my first two.)

With nostalgia and ‘rarity’ of these models today, prices for original, unbuilt kits have been in the stratosphere for years. Thankfully, licensed re-issues by companies like Polar Lights and Playing Mantis have made some of them accessible in recent years. My luck in acquiring one of those was even better about 15 years ago when I stumbled upon a pile of Aurora 2000 re-issue Godzilla kits for an incredible measly $5. I knew even then that it would be ‘a while’ before I got to build it, but finally managed to get to it these last few months, sparing a few minutes here and there.

Unboxing the kit revealed bright green molded parts with two extras (upper right arm and “Godzilla” placard) and none missing.

Unboxing kit

Now as much as I love these kits in their “out of the box’” design, they do have a number of shortcomings that become noticeably visible when looking at the model from anything but a front view. Forgivable for a young builder but I knew I wanted a number of modifications to suit my tastes. For better or worse, here are the details of my long awaited Godzilla build, or re-build to be more precise.

While pretty decent in terms of body and scenery this kit has a few unfortunate design aspects when it comes to the head in particular. The eyes are bad enough but even worse is the V shaped head top. Looking nothing like any of the dozens of Godzilla film variants, I knew that I would tackle that first, and luckily this was an easy fix with a few layers of putty, then ‘raking’ over the last layer to try to get some of the lizard skin texture back.  I forgot to take a good ‘before’ profile photo to provide comparison with my finished head so you’ll just have to trust me that it looks a lot better.

Next up was the mouth which did not have an upper palate. This was remedied with a cutout plastic that roughly followed the counters along the inner ‘teeth’ line held place with some foam backing until it was secured with epoxy to which I was even able to give some texture before it completely dried. Another easy fix really.

Palate buildup

The one thing that immediately becomes noticeable as you change from anything other than a front view is that a number of the background damaged buildings are hollow without even any roof, much less floors in between. While some like the rightmost buckled steeple-top look great as is, others are mere unfilled, open ended ‘boxes’. Worse, those that had openings in the middle also had lower building sections that were empty clear to the base. To remedy these deficiencies I used temporary foam cubes to glue in appropriately sized plastic rectangles, slightly recessed to create exposed floors. Then, to add even a bit more realism, I added a few walls on those. Now I realized that the walls I added did not conform to the relative size (I’m not that good) but it certainly looked better than before.

Buildings

For Godzy himself I decided to putty and texture the areas where the arms and legs join the torso since the sharp angles did not make anatomical sense. The hardest part was trying to match the texture of the rest of the body, which was not uniform to begin with.

Front and back views (completed)

When it came to painting I was faced with one of the more controversial aspects in the Godzillaverse. Is Godzilla grey or green? Portrayals vary in licensed materials and even in some of the films. While the licensed creations tend to be green variants, most of the films stick to the drab grey and so I opted for that, although I confess I’m still mulling that decision. With a grey primer giving me a nice base a few darker washes seemed to suffice. Had I been a bit more experienced I would have added selective shading, but I’m not there yet.

Side views (completed)

The buildings presented some unexpected challenges in paint selection. I wanted to use common building colors but that makes the diorama rather dull especially with Godzilla being a grey behemoth already. Aside from the usual washes and dry brushing I added flames and embers and smoke blackened a few areas. I coated the ‘fire’ hotspots with some Pledge to add some gloss. Thankfully the last addition, the “Godzilla” placard display allowed me to give the final build a bit of much needed vibrancy.

In the end, I think I was partially successful in what I aimed to make but happy enough with the results. Still a bunch of areas I could improve on, but learned a few things along the way and had fun building it.

Hope you liked it and I am looking forward to comments and critique (I can not only take it, but need it) to improve my still limited model building skills.

Movie Reviews 103 – Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

February 27, 2013

Humanoids from the DeepLove the title.

This is one of those cult movies that many would have you believe must be seen at least one time in your life. That time came for me tonight and I can see the appeal.  It stars Doug McClure (Journey to the Center of the Earth) who I’ve always considered as one of those actors who wavers between A list movies and B movies. But the real attraction are of course the ‘humanoids’ which we all want to see.

A small fishing village is in turmoil as the fishermen and residents are divided on the development of a new cannery hoping to set up shop.  The first encounter with the humanoids is by a small fishing boat when some sort of creature gets snagged in their nets and ends up sinking ship down to the bottom after a fiery blast. Soon after, a creature makes it’s way onto the beaches where it kills a young man and rapes his girlfriend.  You heard me right, rape.  These creatures aren’t just intent on killing, they’re horny!

When most of the dogs in town start disappearing, Hank Slattery (Vic Morrow), the local redneck fisherman, notices that the only dog still around happens to belong young Johnny Eagle, a native American and local ecologist. Hank and his goon buddies try to beat the ecologist to a pulp but another fisherman,  Jim Hill (McClure), comes to the rescue.  As everyone tries to figure out what is really going on, beautiful scientist, Dr. Susan Drake (Ann Turkel) from the cannery company shows up at a town meeting. She harbors suspicions of her own while reassuring the residents.  Seems there was some experimenting with salmon growth hormones going on in the companies’ labs.  She teams up with Jim to hunt down the creatures and they run into a hoard of just as the town’s annual salmon fest is in full swing. This climax is a wild night with the creatures descending on the festivities and the local town folk beating the beejesus out of the creatures.

It’s got to be seen to be believed, especially the Rob Bottin (The Thing) created humanoid costumes and makeup that look like The Creature from the Black Lagoon, with a set of razor sharp Critter teeth and exposed brains. Awesome. And being a Roger Corman/ New World Pictures production, they didn’t skimp out on the nudity either (no pun intended) with plenty of gratuitous boob scenes on the beach. Be sure to stick around for the last scene.

A few notes on the movie: The original movie was also released with the simple title of “Monster” and there was a Made for TV remake in 1996 with Robert (Revenge of the Nerds) Carradine.