Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Scrap(book) Yard #6 - "The Future is out of Shape..."

Yes, it's been a while, but the yard is still open for business!  Although I have had no time for personal modeling, I still follow the genre.  Tonight's post is another article featured in the "Special Effects Modeler" magazine from 1979.  (See Scrapbook Yard #5)  This was only a two page feature on a Canadian film, "The Shape of Things to Come" which Brick Price Movie Miniatures was contracted for the model work.  More about the film later, but here is the original print:

Normally I would end this post here, but in re-reading the article I drifted off and began thinking about the other miniatures made for the film.  I am a little reluctant to admit I actually saw this in the theatre, way the hell back in 1979!  But it being a Canadian film, "The Starlost" had been cancelled 6 years ago, and nothing else sci-fi related at the movies that week, it seemed like a good idea at the time....

It was the late '70s, 1979, but the actual month is forgotten.  This was originally supposed to be a sequel to "Things to Come", a 1936 epic film about war, famine, and the rebirth of civilization.  (If you have never seen it, I urge you to check it out.  It is one of the ten greatest sci fi films of all time!).  I think poor Herbert George must still be spinning in his grave from this one!  The only real connection are the names of two characters,  evidently descended from the savior of mankind, John Caball.  

It's a basic comic book plot with evil dictator on Planet Delta 3 planning on taking over the last survivors of Earth who have retreated to large domed cities on the Moon.  Our poor home planet has taken yet another beating after rising from the ashes, this time a robot war. The population is now dependent on a drug, Raddic-Q-2 which cures the radiation sickness caused by this war.  Unfortunately the drug is only available on D3, so begins our tale....

Of course the quintessential baddie Omus is played by Jack Palance.  Who else could pull it off so well?  He has seized control of Delta 3 with his robot army and commands from the massive Citadel.

This miniature was about 5 feet tall.  Here is a top view:

I also remembered this film discussed in another magazine around the same time.  Here is the feature in Starlog #23.  It describes the destruction of this miniature.

A very familiar actor also appears.  It is four years later and he is back on the moon!  Another time; another place.  I would have preferred him to be in Season Two.  You know what I mean!

Barry Morse in John Caball, and he is a scientist (again) who has constructed the Star Scream.  This warship is can be seen on the first page with red background.  Here is a screen cap of the rear view:

Part of the fun I had watching this film was "shape-spotting", trying to pick out and identify the various kit parts used for the model.  The disc on the front of the ship is easily identified as the central hub from the K-7 Space Station model.  This section can also be separated to be used  to land on other planets.  Behold the image I refer to as "The Project UFO Shot"!

Another shot of the Star Scream on the launch pad of the New Washington moon colony:

The other major player in the miniature fleet is the Delta Three freighter, used to transport the mineral to the moon.  We got lots of swooping and overhead shots but very rarely was the model in full frame.  Here it is lifting off from the mining platform on Delta 3:

The opening of the film had this ship crash into the moon city dome.  About 15 minutes spent with long swooping shots building up to the impact.  To repair the hole in the dome, the besieged inhabitants send up the repair drones.

These swan-like ships trail behind them some sort of sealing mist.  Kinda Tholian Web style!  Now I have to mention some other elements of this film not related to the miniature work.  The locations include Ontario Place, which was meant to represent the future moon city.  Many shots feature the pods and Cinesphere (IMAX) as well as connecting corridors.  All external filming for both the radio active Earth and Delta Three were done somewhere north of Toronto.  No distinction between planet locales!  Of course there had to be obligatory robots, especially since evil baddie Omus has an army of these mechanical horrors.  

Hard to believe these are from 1979.  I think Robby or B-9 could have taken them out with one claw behind their backs!  Must have been a shock to some hikers or campers in the area!  And thanks ot R2, had to have the cutie robot.

This little fellow was salvaged from the robot who piloted the suicide run at the dome.  They name it Sparx, and it can, of all things, teleport.  Why they never exploited that plot point further I don't understand.  

Here is the closing shot where both ships fly off into the "sunset".  If you want to watch the film, I'm sure you can find somewhere on the internet where you can stream....

OMG!  I paid real money to see this!  Looking back I think there was only about 12 people in the cinema!  And it only lasted a week.   We didn't have the luxury of Rotten Tomatoes back then.  And if anyone is interested, I have a 27 x 41 official 1-sheet for sale!  Contact me if interested!

That's it from the Yard this time!  

Friday, May 5, 2017

Gunpla - Kobayashi Style

I have been a big fan of Anime for many years, first being introduced in the '70s to a show called "Star Blazers".  Since then its been pretty much out of control, with acquiring many kits from dozens of series.  The franchise know as "Mobile Suit Gundam" began way back in 1979, and still continues today.  Luckily Bandai has no problem with churning out plastic model kits of the many machine variations, so Gunpla (Gundam Plastic) was born.

In the early 80's I became aware of an artist, Makoto Kobayashi.  Not only a manga artist, he is also a master modeler, concept artist, and mechanical designer.  His distinctive style is easily recognizable, most notably in his distorted and bloated mechs.  His work can be seen in many series.  The Marasai, Bound-Doc and The-O in "Z Gundam", his own "Dragon's Heaven", machines in "Venus Wars", and "Last Exiles" to name only a few.  His many models have been seen in "Hobby Japan" magazine, as well as individual publications such as the "Hyper-Weapon" series and "AS Wars".  Rather than do a full bio I encourage you to pursue his work further; there are ample sources all over the internet.

So with Kobayashi on my mind, I looked for a suitable kit to convert and settled on a mobile suit from the 1989 OVA Gundam "War in the Pocket", the MS-18E Kampfer.  Actually a spacey mech, I decided to make it more down to Earth and put it in a desert environment.  So then it was many nights of scrounging for the perfect shapes, and altering the model accordingly.  I wanted this to be a walking battleship of the desert.  Eventually this evolved...

The finishing began with a basic coat of khaki from the Krylon Camo line.  A nice series of paint which dry quickly.  So far it has not harmed any of the plastic I have used and you can paint over it with both acrylics and enamels from several sources.  Thus was created the MS-18SK Desert Kampfer "Schildkrote": 

More guns than it can handle, but I use the philosophy of Jayne Cobb.  Start with the biggest gun and work your way down.  Schildkrote translates as turtle.  I thought this very apt because of the nice chunky appearance.  All of the large form shapes are acrylic scoops, spoons and tongs.  Thank you kitchen aisle of the dollar store!

The "radiator" on the back-pack is simply an acrylic honey dripper.  I carefully cut one in half, then quartered it.  There is also the other half under the rear "skirt"; not easy to see in most of the shots.

Any of you long term visitors may be wondering, where are the customary Kinder eggs?  They too are under the rear skirt but not so visible either.  After primary painting and accents, weathering was achieved with good ole pastels.  For the final display base, scenery materials, sculptured foam, and some dried Sedum heads for the sparse foliage.  In hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea to put some figures or vehicles in for scale, which is 1/144 by the way...

This is definitely not the last of the Kobayashi-influenced mobile suits.  As if it isn't enough, there are also the works of other artists such as Kow Yokoyama (SF3D), and Kazuhisa Kondo.  All with their unique styles.  Retirement cannot come quickly enough!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bastards from Outer Space #3: "Terran Trade - Alliance?"

Recently I was very lucky at a local second-hand bookshop.  While scanning the many shelves of the sci-fi section and breathing in the aroma of thousands of old musty paperbacks, I happened upon an almost mint copy of "Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD", the first in the four book series of the "Terran Trade Authority" handbooks.  They are full of beautiful art tied together with fictional histories.  While carefully reading this gem from 1978, I saw a painting by Bob Layzell on page 53, the "Martian Queen"...

Its bulbous configuration with the outrigger engines was strangely familiar, but I couldn't quite place it, so on to the next page.  The next spacecraft was known as the "Intersellar Queen", and this ship was so impressive it garnered six pages with three paintings, but the one which hit home the most was the page 57 image.

This was by Angus Mckie, another artist I had been quite familiar with, especially with his contributions in "Heavy Metal" magazine.  I had also seen this particular craft in another similar book known as "Mechanismo".  Apparently this ship is known as the 'Hooded Swan', and was used on book covers in the early 70's.  I think because I saw the concepts so close together is what triggered the memory.  Anyone see where this is going?  From the 2002-2003 (cancelled way to soon...) series "Firefly", the ship known as 'Serenity':

I like this shot because of the anti-grav train...  But it should be obvious now.  Outrigger drive engines, a very bulbous stern, and the very bird-like neck and 'head' of the forward section of the ship.  Apparently Joss Whedon was the primary concept designer for the ship, and I have a feeling he had a copy of the art book maybe about the same time I did.

What better 'parents' for yet another iconic spacecraft than from two artists from the Golden Age of British Science Fiction Art!  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Scrap(book) Shape Spotting Yard - "Project UFO"

Way back in 1978, NBC ran a X-File(ish) series called "Project UFO".  It ran for 26 episodes into 1979.  Produced by Jack Webb (from many a cop show fame...), it concerned two Air Force officers (from Project Blue Book) investigating UFO sightings.  Of course most of the time the end result was the typical explanations of hoaxes, weather balloons and swamp gas, but the final frames gave the final twist of the sighting being genuine.  For the shots of the UFOs, the task went to Brick Price Movie Miniatures, a newly formed effects company (who at the time were constructing the model for the refit Enterprise for the Phase 2 series that never was...)

Early in 1979 I found a magazine called "Special Effects Modeler".  It was published by Price himself and had articles about regular modeling plus the projects they were doing for various productions.  I have never found another issue; I think only one issue was actually printed.  In it was a pictorial feature on the models for the afore mentioned series.  It's a good lesson in modeling on a budget with limited time.  Unfortunately the magazine was in black and white.  So here is the five page spread of various "UFOs of the week".  See how many bits and pieces you can identify!

I left that advert of Brick's company in for historical reasons, but I wouldn't call that number.  I doubt it is in service any more!  Lastly, as a newsman in an Artic outpost once said, "Keep watching the skies..."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Welcome to the Inner Sanctum

Tonight's post is a "Behind-the-Scenes" feature as to where I do the bulk of my model building.  So let us descend the staircase and follow the dark hallway to the end, where a most imposing door appears.  (Yes, I do work in the basement, but I live with my wife and not my Mum...)

You've gotten this far, but there is no door knocker or door bell.  Fortunately I heard you coming, so enter please....

And this is essentially it.  Yes, I do keep it this neat and organized!  The workbench area is only 10 square feet, and during a project it is crowded with all sorts of tools, a work platform, paints and adhesives, containers of greeblies, nurnies, and shapes, and the omni present rotary tool.  I also have a portable clamp mounted on the bench.  Most of the basic work is done here, but when it is time for large scale cutting and sanding, I do that outside.  The painting is done in a utility room against a large sheet so over-spray is not an issue.

Under the bench is another toolbox, along with 6 bankers boxes full of assorted parts.  The closet to the left out of sight has 7 bankers boxes of more bits and pieces and shapes.  All labelled accordingly of course!  The 20th century tube television on the left does double duty.  Something I found out by accident...  I usually have a film or series running on the TV (connected to a VHS and DVD player) during a project.  I discovered a few years ago that when the TV is on, the screen is of course static and attracts the dust (since its mostly plastic dust anyway).  So my entertainment system is also a dust collector.  I just wipe it down every few days.

So thanks for popping by!  I am currently working on a project which will have three models associated with the theme.  Hopefully be finished by end of April.  Be sure to visit the gift shop on the way out and sign the guest book!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Shape Spotting #5 - "Good dental hygiene..."

For tonights re-purposed shapes we have "Dr. Bob's Oracare Toothbrush Covers!"  Used to protect the tooth brush when travelling, these nice little shapes are available only at Dollarama in this area.  (There are similar covers available at other dollar stores but this one is the most durable.  It comes in a two pack in several colours; I prefer the clear ones when I can get them....  The dimensions are 1.75" x 1" x .75".  

The covers have a hinged lid but I have removed them for both times I incorporated the shapes into a model.  I first used 5 covers in the "Tortoise", a 1/35 mech I did two years ago:

Four for the thruster units, and the other was made to be a missle pod.  Although it is some kind of vinyl I believe, a little sanding to remove the gloss and I have no trouble glueing or painting them with standard off the shelf products.  There is also a small hole at the narrow end, I guess for ventilation...  More recently I used 6 more on the Gibraltar:

A little difficult to see under all the other greeblies and nurnies!  They made nice modules and again I had no trouble in glueing them to other materials.  I have future plans to use them as cargo pods in larger numbers on ships or maybe railroad cars.  To look at them as pictured above, you could easily ad a handle, two little wheels, and a city logo.  Now you have a garbage or recycling cart!  Always look beyond the items intended purpose!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Scrap(book) Yard #4 "When Puppets Attack!"

Tonights little TV Guide snippet is from an ABC TV movie from 1975.  The film "Trilogy of Terror", was first broadcast on March 4 of that year (should have posted this last week for the 42nd anniversary!) and was basically a Twilight Zone-ish/Night Gallery-ish anthology with Karen Black playing four different roles in the three segments.  In the final chapter, "Amelia", Karen has bought her anthropology-professor boyfriend a "Zuni Fetish Doll", a rather ugly little bastard only 12 inches tall.  The doll has a necklace which, when it accidentally breaks and falls off lets the demon within bring the doll to life.

The rest of the film has Karen running and screaming about her apartment in a bathrobe being relentlessly chased and attacked by the persistent Pinocchio.  All practical in camera effects and hands on puppetry.  Eventually she traps the murderous doll in the kitchen oven where it catches fire and burns up.  It's never good to be a wooden actor....