Apr 152014

1782089_10152350716160429_1555553431_nSome time ago, Monique expressed an interest in the resin model kit, Devonian Encounter.  She’s always built styrene kits up until now, but this one really caught her eye.  With good cause, it’s one of the coolest ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ kits out there.  Not just the monster, but a whole diorama… pretty girl snorkeling, sunken boat, some vicious fish and a whole underwater scene.

At the time I couldn’t find one, but eventually Monsters in Motion listed it as available.  We’ve both bought from them, and always been pleased.  So I ordered it, wrapped it, and surprised Monique with it.  Then it sat for a while.  That’s normal for us, both of us have a backlog of models to build.  It’s kind of fun, picking which one to do next.

The whole mystique of ‘resin kits’ may have intimidated her at first, but it didn’t take long for her to dive right in.  We’re both members of a Facebook page full of excellent modelers, so there was always good advice on hand when she got stuck.

Not that she got stuck all that often.  There were things she had to research, like the best way to attach the sunken boat, or the best way to provide support for all the integrated elements.  For instance, she wound up screwing the boat onto the base.  Glue or putty just wasn’t strong enough on it’s own.

As always, she pays exceedingly fine attention to detail.  Not just with the build, but with the painting.  I was very impressed with the detail on the girl’s mouth.  For as small as that area is, Monique managed to get the lips exquisitely edged, with the teeth and interior all perfect.  While she’s great with all aspects, I think her strongest point is in the painting.  Monique has a touch with the colors that’s on the verge of magical.  Right from when we first began this hobby together, her sense of color was always spot on.  She said it’s because painting models has a lot in common with putting make-up on.  She custom blends a lot of her colors.

It shows in all her kits, and this one is no exception.  When she finished, she posted final pictures on the Facebook page that helped her so much.  Someone asked if she was sure this was her first resin kit?

That’s an awesome compliment, and very well deserved.  Spectacular build-up.  Enjoy the gallery below:

Cleaning Paint off Janus Man of 1000 Faces Model Kit

 Lon Chaney, Monique's Models, Monsters, Resin Models  Comments Off on Cleaning Paint off Janus Man of 1000 Faces Model Kit
Feb 222014
Almost ready for his close-up.

Almost ready for his close-up.

If you’ve built models for a while, chances are you’ve got your own “Holy Grail” kit.  The one you missed.  The one that’s out of production, super-rare, and nobody will sell.

For me, it was actually the Captain America kit I built a few months ago.  The Ultimate Soldier, by Mad Dog Resin.  And before that, it was the resin Phantom kit, with his wolf ‘Devil’.  For Monique, it’s Lon Chaney, Man of 1000 Faces.  Made by Janus, and long out of production.  Monique has wanted this kit for a couple of years, from the moment she first discovered it.  I can see why –  the detailing is great, and the subject matter highly unique.  Plus it’s a fabulous tribute to Lon Chaney.

Been looking for the kit ever since she told me how much she wanted it.  Recently, we had a chance to buy one.  I met the gentleman on a facebook modeling page.  He was asking $400 and it was missing the crate.  I didn’t object to the price or the missing part, but when all was said and done, we could only scrape together $300 plus shipping costs.  He took some time to consider the offer, but eventually declined.

It worked out for the best.  A few days later there was an eBay auction, offering pieces from an estate sale.  They had a pre-built Man of 1000 Faces.  It had all the parts, and went for a decent price.  I’m currently cleaning the paint off.  Did a lot of reading online, decided to try Easy Off Oven Cleaner.  There’s a lot of uncertainty about what will clean the paint without harming the resin, and it’s different for different resin materials.  I liked Easy Off because I knew what it was, where to get it, and it sounded mostly safe for resin models.


I randomly chose the legs for testing.  It took a lot of back and forth.  Soak a day, clean… soak few days, clean.  After the third cycle it was looking pretty good, and the Easy Off wasn’t doing any damage.  So I put everything into one large trash bag, put that in a box, and emptied the can of Easy Off in it.

All that soaked for a few days, and when I pulled it out, the first layer of paint was mostly gone.  Put everything back in, soak a few more days…

This is still ongoing, but so far there’s been no harm to the model kit.  By now, some of the pieces are good to go, and some very close.  At this point I’m using a scrub-brush and a toothbrush.  It’s a lot of hard work, but the result, so far, is very good.  Soon, I think, I’ll resort to tweezers and toothpicks.  After that, it’s all up to Monique!

Just can't wait to get started!

Just can’t wait to get started!

Moebius Elvira Model Kit: Finished!

 Elvira, Moebius Models, Monique's Models, Monsters, Plastic Models  Comments Off on Moebius Elvira Model Kit: Finished!
Aug 272012

This was a big weekend.  I got some work done on my project, but Monique completed hers.  She’s been working on Moebius’ Elvira plastic model kit for quite a while now.  I like Moebius kits, they’re always highly detailed and well made.  Elvira is no exception to that, but she’s exceptional in other ways (that sentence didn’t turn out like I meant, but I’ll let it stand).  The Elvira model kit is a first for Monique on several levels.  To begin with, it’s Monique’s first Non-Monster kit.  Up until now, she’s restricted her model build-ups to movie monsters.  Elvira may be in a related genre, but it’s not exactly the same thing.

This is also the first time Monique ever used an Airbrush.  (We’re both beginners… but i think she’s picking it up better than I am.)  She used a Badger Anthem 155.  After she got the hang of that, she switched over to a generic airbrush that came with our air compressor.  Wouldn’t you know it, she’s great with that one, too!

We’ve been learning a lot from the Phil Lister and David Fisher DVD video series.  These are great videos, and well worth looking up.  So next thing I know, Monique is wanting a set of chalk pastels.  She used them for Elvira’s face and makeup.  The first time I ever heard of using chalk on a model kit, I was trying to imagine how you’d scribble on the model with it.  It didn’t work quite that way.  Monique scrubbed them on a piece of sandpaper, then blended the colors together and brushed them onto the model.  The results were very similar to airbrushing.

It’s a pretty neat technique.  Monique’s mentioned before the whole painting and color-blending come naturally to her, since it’s so similar to applying make-up.  In Elvira’s case, it’s the same either way.  I’m very impressed with the chalk effect.  It blends in very smoothly, and gives excellent color gradations.  Her Dad suggested she lighten the skin tones.  He pointed out Elvira doesn’t get much sun, and her skin is a very pale color.  So Monique lightened the skin tones.  In the face, to protect her detail work on the eyes and lips, she used Mold Builder.  (I’m currently trying that on my Captain America model, too.)  You paint it over the already-painted areas to protect them.  When you’re done, carefully (!) peel it off.  It’s kind of a rubber-cement feel, but comes off a lot better.

You know, I used to think you just  ‘painted’, and then it was done.  Heck, when I learned how  to dry-brush, that just wrapped it all up in a pretty bow.  Now we’re airbrushing, dry-brushing, using chalks, making painting friskets with Mold Builder…  We’ve learned a lot from these videos.

Another new technique for Monique… using my Black and Decker rotary tool (like a Dremel).  The tool was a gift from a good friend, and it’s come in handy for years.  I’m not sure how to build a model without it.  But Monique’s always been a bit leery of it.  So I was a bit surprised, but pleased, when she decided to smooth the legs out with it.  My main experience is with resin though.  Neither of us had any idea how easily it would gouge out the legs.  Instead of smoothing the legs, they were nearly destroyed.  Monique informed me that was no problem… if she couldn’t fix it, she was going to order a new kit just for the legs.  Lucky for me, she was able to fix it.  Sanded and puttied it nearly to death, but when it was done, the legs looked smooth and silky again!

One of Phil Lister’s videos was an actual project video for Elvira.  This was extremely useful, especially when it came to assembly.  With the legs, torso, and arms, there’s a specific sequence required.  You have to make sure the legs rest properly on the couch, while the arms rest cleanly on the back and side of the couch.  Without Phil’s advice, that might have come out seriously off-kilter.  Even knowing in advance, there was some trouble getting both arms to actually touch the couch.

All in all, another fine project, and a fitting one as Monique’s display centerpiece.  It’s been not quite a year since that fateful day we celebrated our anniversary by building models together.  In that brief time, she’s grown by leaps and bounds.  We may have started with me teaching her… but by now, it’s clearly a partnership where we both have skills and ideas to share.


Moebius Mummy Kit: Excellent Plastic Model Kit with Lots of Detail

 Moebius Models, Monique's Models, Monsters, Plastic Models, The Mummy  Comments Off on Moebius Mummy Kit: Excellent Plastic Model Kit with Lots of Detail
Jun 142012

Recently Monique and I started new models.  Mine was the little 120mm Doc Savage.  Hers was the very large (by our standards) Moebius Mummy kit.  As always, Moebius exceeds expectations.  The box was surprisingly large.  When we opened it, the kit was larger than we had expected, intricate, and had a lot of detailed paint work required.  The complex paint requirement was expected.  Monique actually selected this model kit because of the complexity.  Her last kit was (also Moebius) the Invisible Man.  It placed a lot of emphasis on detailed painting, but most of the work involved careful assembly of many small pieces.  Invisible Man was a great kit, but she wanted something oriented more toward the painting than the building.  She’s also got the bug to make some resin models after seeing me enjoy mine, but her next projects for a while to come are all plastic.
Anyway, this was a pretty big kit.  First time she’s ever had to use rubber bands and clothespins during assembly.  Initially, I think Monique was getting frustrated that she couldn’t put it all together in larger increments.  Once she realized each part needed time and attention, she drilled down to a very detailed approach.  This was good, because the result was a very clean build.  Everything fit well, seams and gaps were minimal.  Build-wise, another well-crafted kit from Moebius.
The painting was every bit as complicated as expected… with the added factor that Monique couldn’t originally decide what color scheme she wanted.  She had a good variety of metallic and pearlescent colors, which neither of us had really worked with.  With all the details carved into it, she had a lot of opportunity for dry brushing and using washes.  Monique uses washes more (and  to better effect) than I do.  My preference is dry brushing.  Because of her, I’ve actually expanded my bag of tricks and techniques.
For instance, on two previous models she came up with a method of painting rocks that looked amazing.  Something I would never have thought of.  On this kit, she really went the extra mile.  The cobra snake was well-built, but lacked some detailing.  On the hood, front and back, it was smooth.  Nothing to account for the typical markings of a cobra.  No problem, just paint them on, right?  Monique thought that lacked depth.  So she took a candle, and several differently shaped needles, and burnt the patterns in!  After some experimentation, she found a good pattern and depth.  She’s still a bit afraid of the rotary tool, so I smoothed the edges for her.  Mine’s the Toolman Tim version… big, clunky, and heavy.  Maybe for our anniversary, I’ll go all romantic and buy her a smaller hobbyists Dremel.  :^)
In the meantime, painting the mummy went very well.  She did her usual great job, including painting his eyes through the very small slit of his nearly opened eyelids.  She thought  really hard about adding real bandages to him, but to be honest, the sculpt was so good, there wasn’t really a need.  Especially since she saw the sarcophagus as the primary point of this model kit.  For all the difficulty, I think it was her favorite part of the project.
Speaking of, the sarcophagus exterior was wild.  She did a dark base coat on it; looked kind of like Burnt Umber to me.  Then she covered it with a very bright metallic gold, thinking to do several layers for effect.  After the first coat of gold though, it turned out so cool, she left the golden parts just like that.
The other colors were another story.  Probably the only part of the Mummy kit that gave her real trouble. She wasn’t sure of her color choices, and they were so different from each other the contrast was very startling.  Had some trouble dry brushing the metallic colors, the medium was kind of thin.  She eventually wound up blending a bit into one and the other until they looked more like they belonged together.  Still had the problem of brightness.  The paints were so vivid, it looked far too new for an ancient Mummy’s final resting place.
Monique found the answer in a forum.  I wish I knew which forum, and which thread, I’d like to give proper credit here.  But someone else building the same model, had the same trouble.  He solved it by using a very watery black wash, then sponging it off quickly.  She tried it, and the result was beyond fabulous.  Instant antique!
The base she blitzed through easily, doing a marble effect for the fallen columns.  She told me she put less effort into the actual ground, because most of it won’t be visible in the final.  She’s right, when it was all done, what little I can see of the ground looks fine.
Her last effort was on the back wall.  On the far side, was embedded artwork and some runes.  With many options on how to handle it, she chose to color it in.  Used a very washed-out technique to make it look very old and worn.  It’s such a wonderful look, I really regret it’s going to be mostly unseen.  We’ve discussed a rotating stand, or a mirror in back, but probably won’t go that far.
There’s something both magical, and frustrating, about knowing all the effort will not be seen and appreciated.  Sometimes, the only reason to do something is because you’ll know.  And generally, that’s reward enough for me.  The sense of pride and happiness I get from model-building comes from knowing I did the best I could.  It’s a great hobby, and I’m glad Monique and I both share it.

Moebius Invisible Man Model Kit- Finished and on Display!

 Monique's Models, Monsters, Plastic Models, The Invisible Man  Comments Off on Moebius Invisible Man Model Kit- Finished and on Display!
May 092012

Monique finally finished her Moebius Invisible Man model

.  Personally, I loved it right from the start.  As soon as she opened the box, and we saw approximately 500 million little tiny pieces…  Monique’s been something of a juggernaut  now that she’s started building models.  Not only does she enjoy them, she’s extremely good at it.  Plowing through one kit after the next, I foresaw having to build a new room just to hold them all.  When I saw The Invisible Man was so complex, it looked like she had finally found a challenge to stretch her skills.

Not that it was just a bunch of parts.  Moebius has a well-earned reputation for quality kits.  The only part that surprised us, was the material.  We had assumed it would be resin, but instead, the kit was of a high-quality plastic.  Very smooth, well cast and no air bubbles.  The fit was excellent, requiring only a bit of putty work here and there.

The instructions were amazing.  Went into very good detail, with full color pictures, charts, recommended colors, and exacting step by step guidance.  All together, this model kit provided the perfect challenge to Monique’s abilities.  At times I could hear her quietly muttering to herself… at other times, she was quite vocal.  Being a perfectionist is an asset in kit-building, but it also means you do, and re-do, and spend a lot of time making something to be proud of.  So yes, it slowed her down.  To be fair, we also had several real-life projects in the same time frame, so that accounted for some of the time factor.

Several things about the model were worth noting.  To begin with, the pieces were detailed in the extreme.  Tiny, partially invisible rats.  Rows and rows of books to detail.  Vials of strange and mysterious liquids.  The pieces were either clear plastic, gray, or a kind of off-orange.  For the clear things, Monique experimented with transparent paints.  Neither of us had any experience, and had no idea how well it would work.  After seeing the finished model, I have to say the transparent paints turned out extremely well.  With the vials, she went the extra mile and carved tiny cork stoppers to put on top.  It was a great touch that really added some realism.

Another extremely clever and innovative idea Monique had was to paint the shoes the basic colors, do some dry brushing, and while they were still tacky from the paint, she stirred the brush into the dust from a nearby shelf (but aside from that one shelf, our home is perfectly clean!!)  and brushed the dust onto his shoes.  This gave a very subtle feel of quality that’s seen better days.  Monique’s goal was to make him seem slightly shabby.  Appropriate for someone who’s been on the run and hiding out.

For the mortar and pestle, they were originally clear pieces.  She painted them to look like stoneware, then added real honest-to-goodness herbs from the kitchen into the bowl for verisimilitude.  She also put different herbs in some of the vials.  Talk about attention to detail!

She’s got a great hand with bandages, as seen in her Mummy model.  These turned out quite nicely, as she was looking for a slightly dingy appearance to them.  The broken bits of glass on the floor were sculpted into the floor, but Monique thought they needed more, so she put a small beaker nearby on it’s side.

The tables and bookshelves were just plain plastic.  Monique gave them a wonderful dry-brush that looked like real wood, and then made it look aged and worn, in keeping with the slightly shabby feel of the overall scene.

I personally liked the look of the rats and the frog, being partially invisible.  One small unforeseen difficulty- This was our first time working with clear pieces.  Neither of us realized that spraying a clear finish to protect the paint would fog clear parts.  As a result, the aquarium holding the rats, and the vial holding the frog is a bit fogged.

The rug was my one complaint about the kit.  It took me a while to understand what looked wrong, but I finally realized it was the carpet.  Monique did a great job painting it, but the carpet was sculpted in the base, and was on the same level as the wood flooring.  A real carpet would have been raised up on top of the floor.  Having just realized this, I blurted it out without thinking.  Knowing Monique, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it.  She’s a perfectionist, and now it was bothering her.  Lucky for me, she’s also a problem-solver.  After discarding several ideas, she found a miniature carpet on eBay meant for dollhouse hobbyists.  It was an absolutely perfect fit to hide the original carpet, was still circular, had a great design… and looked believable.  A perfect solution, and the final crowning touch.

For the most part, the rest was standard procedures in a model.  Getting the colors just right, mixing tones for dry brushing and making sure multiple pieces matched when assembled.  Sanding, filing, puttying as needed.  Monique also found a decal set made specifically for this model, which included things like the book titles, and some printed pages.  She didn’t use all of it, because some parts weren’t suitable to her vision.  And the parts she used weren’t the free pass you’d expect.  For instance, the books had to be painstakingly prepainted before applying the titles.  You might imagine just cutting out a row of book titles and applying them en mass, but they actually had to be cut and applied individually.  It was still a lot of work to do, but having custom designed titles and binders for the books was an awesome find.

I don’t mean to make all this sound easy.  Monique spent a lot of time getting everything just right.  Painting very small details onto hard-to-see parts.  This was a great kit.  I love how it challenged her skills, and led to several creative solutions over the course of building it.  I’ve tried to highlight things that impressed me, or that she mentioned specifically.  I’m sure there are things I’ve missed mentioning.

The finished model looks incredible.  It’s her best work to date.  If you think you’re up to the challenge, I can highly recommend the Moebius Invisible Man kit.  As a matter of fact, I recommend pretty much anything by Moebius.  Monique’s next project is their Mummy kit.  Great size, tons of detail.  She’s going to enjoy this one even more!!

Monique's current monster gallery!

Monster From the Black Lagoon Model Kit – Reissue of Original Aurora

 Creature from the Black Lagoon, Monique's Models, Monsters, Plastic Models  Comments Off on Monster From the Black Lagoon Model Kit – Reissue of Original Aurora
Mar 232012
Monster of the Movies Creature of the Black Lagoon

Not the same model, but as close as I can find

Still no Phantom.  I’m really feeling the need to work on it, but not going to happen this weekend.  Plans tonight.  Visiting with parents tomorrow.  Going to see Hunger Games Sunday.  Maybe somewhere in the middle we’ll find the time, but not counting on it.  I’ve nearly brought Monique’s modeling up to date; there’s still her Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein yet to include.  You can tell from the posts, she’s been on a Universal Monsters kick, working her way through all the old Aurora kits that are being re-released.
(This particular kit doesn’t seem to be available at Amazon like the others.  The picture to the left is the closest I can find at Amazon for now.)
She really struggled with the Creature.  Monique’s come a long way from her first model kit, but trying to get an appealing blend of green on green for a underwater monster from a black and white movie was giving her fits.  Texture-wise, the kit had a lot to work with.  Plenty of detailing, nice sculpt.  Had a cool retro feel to the pose.  But she went back and forth with differing shades of green, and different shading styles.  Personally, I thought most of them looked pretty good, but she wanted better.
Eventually she found a good blend of dark greens and mid-lighter greens.  Then she topped it off with some yellow along the belly, and on some of the trim.  Gave his fins a nice ‘seaweed’ coloration.  The claws, mouth, and eyes added some needed contrast.
Painting the base went far easier.  Monique gave the water an attractive blend of blues.  I know, the movie showed a swampy look to the lagoon, but sometimes you get better results blazing your own trail.  In this case, that’s what happened.  With the water, and especially with the lizard.  Not wanting a stereotypically green lizard, she modeled her lizard after a Water Dragon (thanks to Nigel for the inspiration!)  It provided a good contrast to the overall model.
But my favorite part of this entire model… and maybe from all of her models… is the rock.  Not talking about the whole model, but specifically, the rock.  I had been thinking dark, mossy algae-covered rock.  Came home to find she’d gone an entirely different direction with it.  Monique chose to do a very light colored rock.  I’ll be honest here.  Not only would this never occurred to me, but I don’t think I could have matched that color even if I’d tried.  Seeing how well this turned out, I made note of it for future use.  She made a basecoat of Burnt Umber, then blended Cashmere, Mink, Ivory and off-white.  It’s hard to say exactly what proportions she used, because she just kept blending until she liked the mixture.
Out of all her models and all the great work she’s done, this rock is probably my favorite specific detail.  It’s incredibly realistic, and looks even better in person than it does in the pictures.  (I still think the Mummy is her best overall model.)  I can’t think of a higher compliment than to say, someday I’m going to need that color and I’ll know how to do it because of Monique.
Below is the box and original parts before painting.  In the 2nd picture you can see where the seams were puttied before painting.  The other 3 pics are of the finished model.  She did another great job, and it has a place of honor on our model display shelves!

I do wish I could find a link to Amazon for the same exact model.  We found this one as part of a group of 4 models on ebay.  If you want to find this particular one, try ebay (like we did), or maybe Monsters in Motion.  I’ve never ordered from Monsters in Motion, but they’ve got a very nice variety of models.

Revell Re-issue of Aurora Mummy Plastic Model Kit

 Monique's Models, Monsters, Plastic Models, The Mummy  Comments Off on Revell Re-issue of Aurora Mummy Plastic Model Kit
Mar 192012

Revell 1:8 MummyNo new modeling.  Been on my mind, but the last week around the house has been pure chaos.  Good chaos, but it meant no time for working on The Phantom.  Even Monique has put her current model (Moebius’ Invisible Man) on hold for a while.  Just to keep Monique’s collection going, today I’m writing about her Mummy build.  It’s a Revell model, re-issued from the old Aurora classic Mummy.  The pic on the left is a link to it on Amazon.  For Monique’s version of the kit, see pics at bottom.

Anyway, this was her third model.  By now, she’d done Dracula, Wolf Man, and had the rest of the old classic monster kits lined up waiting for her to work on.  She’d practiced detailing on Dracula, dry brushing on Wolf Man, and taken her first stab at hiding the edge seams with Wolf Man’s feet.  The Mummy was where it all came together.  I thought we’d taken “as she went” pics, but can’t find anything but the finals.  Too bad, it was interesting watching her put all her new skills into play.

It was easy to see, she had a clear vision of how the Mummy should look.  Not just clean bandages, he needed moldering, dirty, ragged bandages, in keeping with his age and condition.  Many times I saw her looking up reference images from other modelers, and from the movies.  Both of us like to research our work before jumping in.  A methodical approach just makes it easier to know where you’re going, and how to get there.  Sometimes you have to wing it, but even then it’s usually after a lot of thought.

Monique assembled portions of the model before painting.  Used Testor’s Contour Putty to smooth out the seams.  Then a series of small files and an exacto knife to blend her work into the original carving.  Painting the Mummy just flew by with ease.  Maybe she agonized and pondered over each color, but to me, it looked like one of those times when intuition strikes.  Choosing colors with sure confidence, sweeping the brushes from area to area.  Dry-brushing the perfect shades over the base tones.  Within days, she had an ancient mummy living on our table.

The base, and the snake, weren’t quite so fast.  Monique originally planned on gray stone for the base, to contrast with the desert sand.  She tried several variations on portions, compared, took time away, came back.  Next thing I knew, she’d done them up in an amazing marbled pattern with variations of red sandstone colors.  The desert sand was a mix of light tans, browns, and lord knows what else that looked just like windblown sand.  She even detailed sand blown into all the appropriate crevices.  The colors of the base, especially the sand, blended into the Mummy.  Makes sense, since he’s been out in that stuff for centuries.

Unfortunately, it left her without a lot of contrast.  Here’s where the snake came in.  Several concepts came and went.  Eventually, she went with a bold green for the back, red eyes, and a black/brown/tan stomach.  The cobra’s hood became a very pale green, with some high-contrast colors to define it’s patterning.  This snake goes right in front of the Mummy’s farthest foot, near the front of the base, and centered horizontally.  It’s the perfect position for the vivid colors to break up the rest of the model kit.

During the build, we both admired the sculpt and details on the kit.  This is a good model, with excellent artistry.  It was an easy assembly, with plenty of scope for painting.  A great model to express Monique’s vision and style in a unique way.

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