Mark C. Glassy’s book ‘Movie Monsters In Scale’ has a more descriptive sub-title, ‘A Modeler’s Gallery Of Science Fiction And Horror Figures And Dioramas’ which suggests far more than a location. A medical scientist by profession and from the looks of things, we’re also of a similar age, Glassy has the itch and by the looks of things, enough money to fulfil his hobby of model-making. If you’ve ever had the desire to know what resin and some vinyl models of horror and SF models, specifically centred on those from the 1920s to the 1990s films look like made up then you’re going to be in for a beautiful ride. Although Glassy indicates from the start that he isn’t going to show you how to make models, his opening two chapters points out in the direction as to what equipment and materials he uses to prepare his models. Whether all of it is available in the UK, you’ll have to decide for yourself.
When I do models myself, I tend to prefer to play around or modify plastic or vinyl kits, having avoided going after garage resin kits through expense and weight simply because you can’t learn by expensive mistakes on limited editions. However, the information is here on how to sort things out if you’re willing to take the plunge, although I suspect there are more garage kits in the USA than in the UK. He makes emphasis on the fact that model-making is a team hobby from sculptor to manufacturer to the builder who does the final work and interpretation.
If you’ve only ever made a model by following the box instructions, then this book will either feel your head with dread or inspire you to think of it as a starting point to stir your imagination and get constructing. You will also need patience because these models aren’t made over a weekend but over many weekends. Glassy’s description makes it sound like a conveyor belt with at least three models on the go at any one time and at different levels of construction while waiting for things like paint or glue to dry.
Glassy’s choice of model is to bring to life a scene, poster or lobby card from a particular film. Even he admits that he loves all these kinds of films, irrespective of quality and is also a great admirer of any that contain Boris Karloff. As he points out in the afterward, he couldn’t include all his models here and had to be selective. The final pictures showing his displays reveals a life-size CP-30, which surely must have its own story. In many respect, though, by staying away from the ‘Star Wars’ films here and showcasing the other models makes this a better book because it highlights kits you wouldn’t normally see.
When the book switches to the models against the films in chronological order rather than the age of the model, even if you’re not interested in model-making, you’re just going to admire Glassy’s work and diligence for detail. For each one, he gives a little information about the film and some comments about what he did to create the models. A lot of the time, this is a showcase of how the models were originally intended to be. Others, to make dioramas, he isn’t beyond combining models together. Occasionally, I wish there was a ruler nearby to give some idea of the actual scale he was working at.
I was rather intrigued that he uses black as the base colour, especially with resin kits which need a lot of bubbles covered over as I would have thought that might have hidden the detail. From my perspective, I think I would be forever adding more coats to bring up the brighter colours and figuring out how to hide the black. I’m going to have to have a think about that one as to whether it’s applicable to the models I occasionally make.
One of the most surprising things was noting how many of these models were originally sculptured by Jeff Yagher. For those of you who don’t know, Yagher who is both an actor and brother of special effects maestro, Kevin Yagher. Seems like this kind of work runs in his family.
I would not recommend you leaving this book on your coffee table because too many of your ‘friends’ will want to ‘borrow’ it. Even taken purely as a picture book, it is captivating. On a fan level, you can get carried along by Glassy’s own enthusiasm. Whether this will encourage you to attempt garage kits, I’ll have to leave to you to decide but there are plenty of magazines and books on the subject to offer guidance if you decide to pursue it further. As I said, you do need to be able to plan your work and not to expect to be completed in a weekend but any hobby that can be so involving will justify the cost you invest in it. Quite an eye-opener.
(pub: McFarland. 233 page illustrated indexed large softcover. Price: £45.50 (UK), $37.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-7864-6884-3)