Martin Bower’s World Of Models by Shaun McClure & Martin Bower (book review).

I’ve known Martin Bower was involved in model-making from many decades back, enforced when he had a small exhibition in Bristol’s ‘The Forever People’ comicbook shop back in the mid-1980s. Oddly, a couple scale female figures he did then aren’t featured here.

This book, ‘Martin Bower’s World Of Models’ goes over his life and how he first started working for Brian Johnson creating models for ‘Space: 1999’ and progressing to other TV shows and films. Although I’m not a particular fan of ‘Space: 1999’, I was surprised just how many model spacecraft he made for it. Following this show, Bower also polished the detail of Blake’s 7’s Liberator and made their full-size gun and teleporter props. From there, his models started popped up in films, TV and adverts and this book covers the full gamut.

Of course, what you will really be buying this book for is seeing Bower’s work over 20 pages on ‘Alien’ (1979) from the inside with photographs and how involved director Ridley Scott was with a hammer. Seeing the Nostromo going from a shade of green to zinc white shows how the first choices aren’t always the best. I was looking at a photo of the Nostromo a while later and saw some green tinges in the lighting showing as an undercoat, it gave a certain texture to its form.

His work on ‘Outland’ and, later, ‘Doctor Who’ in the McCoy era shows are mostly illuminating as to the problems that arise. Oh, should I mention the TV version of ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’?

I did wonder when I came to the Anderson models he did to the 1990s ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘Stingray’ comics that he hadn’t weathered them unless this was a requisite from the publishers or pre-doing it to them.

He also shows how to build models of FAB ONE, Thunderbird Three and scratch-building a spacecraft using a cleaner as its chassis. I’m not sure how many brave souls would spray pink FAB ONE’s chassis with the masked canopy without fear of getting paint on the inside or problems getting the masking tape off though.

Bower only hints at the occasional times he’s mechanised or lit his models but I guess we’re all entitled to our secrets. However, he is very candid about his work and where it has appeared. I’d have been curious to how he felt about computer modelling has encroached on his territory and any experiments with 3D modelling particular parts but with his talent, improvisation is often the key to being inventive.

I’m a sucker for books such as these and glad he got it out there. The paper is matt rather than glossy but considering the number of pages, sheer quantity beats every time.

As a self-published book, it appears there are few copies left at this time and model fans have already picked up their copies but if you haven’t, grab before they’re all gone.

GF Willmetts

April 2020

(pub: Amazon Fulfilment/Martin Bower, 2019. 311 page large illustrated softcover. Price: I pulled my copy for about £ 28.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-07348-741-7)

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