Random Abode Spookage & Monsters #7: Inactive Model Division

As a child, I made models by the dozens. Always had something being glued together... cars, jet fighters, dinosaurs, monsters. It wasn't that I really loved doing it, but every month or so, I would convince one of my parents to purchase one or two new model kits for me. Suddenly, I found myself putting together some tank battle set or T. Rex, but the truth is that I was never very good at it.

To me, it was always like putting together any other puzzle, like a jigsaw, but you don't have to glue jigsaws. Well, some people do, but that has always seemed silly to me.  Model-wise, I was sloppy. I never had the patience needed to build one to perfection. I hated the smell of the glue, I hated getting it on my fingers, but my real downfall was in the painting. Zero skill with the brush and too many other things to do not to rush the job. I would begin to paint, something would drip no matter how careful I was, and I would see other models that master builders would do and it would drive me crazy. Why can't I do it that way? Why do I always end up with blobs of glue at all of the critical seams and joints? Honestly, I had never considered sandpaper at that age, but as I said, it was more about having the model rather than completing it, so I never ventured too deep into gathering tips about doing them better. Mine was a cursory interest; my real love at that time was baseball cards, and the modeling thing was probably just a way of getting my parents to buy me more stuff.

Eventually, I wearied of the hobby, but to this day, I still have a soft spot for the idea of model building. Like most hobbies, deep down it's merely a silly and addictive time-filler, but also lovely when done right. It was with just such an attitude that I forged through life, and when the time came that I had mad money to burn, I would go back to trying out model building. But a twist came with my new purchases in adulthood: I never actually built them. I have a handful of kits that I have bought over the intervening years between childhood and now -- mostly monsters -- but the fear of screwing up a paint job to the point where I would cause physical destruction to my surroundings in my frustration always loomed too large for me to get over it. Which is where the appeal action figures laid for me. They were already finished, they came with swell accessories, and best of all, unlike most models, you could play with them.

I have gone onto a couple of model boards recently and read some of the disdain for Tsukuda's officially licensed horror/sci-fi model kits of the late '80s and early '90s. Large, vinyl kits of the sort to which I never had access as a kid. As a monster nut, when these were released, I was naturally drawn to them. Bosco's, the only real game in town as regards comics and collectibles in Anchorage, Alaska (and home base to many of my very good friends -- and my little brother -- at one point or another), sold these kits pretty regularly in those days. I would stare at them up on those higher shelves in the store every time that went in (which was then about three or four times a week), but the price tag of roughly $50 a shot gave me pause.

Finally, after mentioning it briefly to my then-spouse, she surprised me at my birthday with the Frankenstein kit, based on the Jack Pierce-designed Karloff makeup of the original Universal film. Awkwardly titled "A Monster of Dr. Frankenstein," Tsukuda Hobby Jumbo Figure Series No. 38 may have its drawbacks according to finicky, nit-picking hobbyists, but to me it has always proved to be a daunting figure of horrific beauty. Once again, though I was happy to own the damnable monster, my fear of totally screwing up the paint job meant that I was doomed to let him lie in his giant cardboard coffin for the next 20-plus years.

Every few years, I would pull him out of the box again, snap his limbs and hands into place (he is meant to have some articulation points) and stare intently at what I had always felt was a pretty accurate sculpt (though apparently, I am so wrong), and muse about the purchase of new paints and brushes. And then, after a few days of display on my dining room table which was meant to provide the impetus for my to actually complete my monster, he would end up back in the box and back up on a shelf in my game closet. I couldn't make the leap.

However, finally owning the Monster kit opened up the floodgates just enough where I was determined to get the other Universal monster available at the store, Tsukuda Hobby Jumbo Figure Series No. 39, "Mummy Man." I had my eyes on the Tsukuda King Kong model as well, but it ran for $100 at the time, and so I opted for the half as costly Mummy figure, with the intention of saving up for Kong (which never happened). This model seems to be based on the Kharis figure from the later Universal series, not the 1932 Karl Freund classic with Karloff as Imhotep. It didn't mean anything to me when I bought it, however; the main thing was that I had a Universal model kit. A kit which I stared at a lot. A kit which I would think about completing. A kit which never got painted.

And so now the monsters and I live thousands of miles from where we started, and we are now at this juncture where I have them up and out of their boxes on our apartment's dining room table. There is a lot of staring going on as I think about what is involved in bringing these creatures fully to life. I have been looking up paint colors online and reading hobbyist tips and tricks. But I have also begun to feel the eventual frustration looming in the near distance.

It's enough to make you quit while you are still behind...

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