originally appeared on the PC Modeler website
Scale vinyl model kit by
Design/Max Factory Custom Craft
Kit #VHO 50
Size: 1/35 scale; just
a hair above 8 inches tall
Out of production and
Kit Review by Alan Nadel
|Watch the original 1933
version of the movie King Kong and you'll see a film with special effects
that are laughable by today's standards. What sets this classic apart from
other "effects films" however, is great writing, some exceptional over-acting
and a stop motion puppet with acting skills exceeding those of his human
|I've been a big fan of the
movie since I first saw it on TV in the 1960s. Unfortunately, there's never
been a really good model kit of the big guy. The classic Aurora kit is
the first to come to mind, at left. Even in the best of recent figure kits,
Kong's appearance is so stylized that all resemblance to Marcel Delgado's
actual creation is lost.
Click on the above image
to view instructions
|In the 1990s, GEOmetric
Design/Max Factory Custom Craft produced a licensed model kit of the mighty
ape. Thanks to the wonderful sculpting of Izume Takabe, GD/MFCC has produced
probably the best likeness of the Eighth Wonder of the World in a model
This nicely packaged kit
comes in nineteen black vinyl parts, six of which are optional. The instructions
include an assembly diagram, building tips and a basic painting guide all
contained in a nice glossy "collector's
booklet." The booklet also has four pages of behind-the-scenes and
rare photos and a wealth of Kong trivia written by none other than Bob
Burns (the Ninth Wonder of the World).
|Detail on the kit is exceptional,
especially the face which is a beautiful reproduction of a roaring Kong.
The kit itself is easy to work with and wonderfully engineered. The hard
vinyl softened nicely under hot tap water and excess vinyl was easily removed
with a hobby knife. Parts are numbered and clearly marked "L" and "R".
The warm parts popped together firmly and easily at the joints which are
all circular to allow rotation. These joints include the neck, waist, hips,
shoulders, elbows, wrists and ankles. What one winds up with is an eight
inch tall, fully articulated figure.
|The kit comes with what
the instructions call the "Fay Wray option." This includes a manacled right
hand and a figure of Ms. Wray in the gown she wore in the New York scenes.
The four piece figure, which measures three inches when assembled is nicely
executed. It consists of top and bottom body halves separated at the knee
and both arms which attach at the shoulders. Once again, detail is excellent
including the face and delicate little hands.
|At the kit's listed 1/35
scale, however, the three inch Fay scales out to nearly nine feet tall!
If we assume that Fay Wray was "average height" of between five feet and
five feet, five inches tall, then the kit works out to about 1/20 scale.
But that would make Kong scale out to just over thirteen feet tall. According
to the book The Making of King Kong by Orville Goldner and George
E. Turner, the miniature backgrounds used in the Skull Island scenes were
scaled to make Kong appear 18 feet tall which would make the kit 1/27 scale.
The New York miniatures were built to make Kong appear 30 feet tall which
roughs out to 1/45 scale. Either way, Ann Darrow winds up being seven or
eleven feet tall, respectively. (I knew Bruce Cabot was wearing
lifts!) I decided to leave the Fay Wray option out and instead posed Kong
with arms raised in a menacing gesture using super glue to fix the figure
into position. A 1/35 scale military figure was modified to resemble a
sailor and placed alongside Kong for comparison. At that scale, Kong works
out to about 23 feet tall, an acceptable compromise.
|Puttying and blending the
seams is a challenge because of the kit's furry texture but with a little
patience and a pointy object, I was able to blend in the seams at the joints.
I used epoxy putty with a 4-hour cure time for maximum workability. My
sculpting tool would be a 3/8-inch wood dowel sharpened to a point using
a pencil sharpener. Extra putty was needed at the backs of the hip joints
to hide what looked like "panty lines." Ambitious modelers may want to
sculpt extra fur detail onto the backs of the hands and to re-texture both
upper arms (parts 4 and 5) which seem to be less sharply detailed than
the rest of the kit.
|Painting Kong was simple
enough. The instructions recommend "rabbit fur brown" as the original Kong
puppet was covered in brown rabbit fur. Since the movie was in black and
white, I decided to take liberty with the colors. I chose to use a darker
brown for the fur and flesh to try to capture the coloring of a real gorilla.
A base coat of 1:1 flat brown
and flat black Tamiya acrylic was sprayed on with a Badger 250 mini spray
gun. Lighter mixes of brown were then dry-brushed on over-all and finally
a mix of brown, white and yellow was dry-brushed on to add highlights to
the fur. Kong's face is large enough to make painting his eyes and mouth
|When finished, I had spent
about nine hours on Kong: one hour building, five hours filling and texturing
seams and three hours painting. The finished model looks just like the
real Kong, even down to the dramatic facial expression. The kit is easy
enough for modelers new to vinyl figure kits and because it's poseable,
it can be placed in any scene or setting.
Pros: Excellent likeness,
easy to build, poseable
Cons: Fay Wray figure
way out of scale, detail on forearms softer than rest of the kit
Worse than that: this
kit was discontinued long ago!
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