King Kong
1/35 Scale vinyl model kit by
GEOmetric Design/Max Factory Custom Craft

Kit #VHO 50
Size: 1/35 scale; just a hair above 8 inches tall
Price: $64.99
Out of production and very rare

Kit Review by Alan Nadel

This review originally appeared on the PC Modeler website


 
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 co-stars.
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 kit.

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 fee 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, fur can be sculpted into filler putty. I used epoxy putty with a 4-hour cure time for maximum workability and 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 easy.

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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