Sunday, May 31, 2009
When I was a kid (admittedly a pretty dorky one), the ultimate Saturday night was building a plastic model kit then watching the Chiller Thriller movie on Channel 12, KCND TV (all the way from North Dakota via our cutting edge roof-top antenna!!).
There were lots of plastic model makers, but in my mind and heart the greatest was a company called Aurora. Like other model makers, they had popular lines like cars, airplanes, tanks, etc., but Aurora, I felt, had two huge advantages over other model makers. First of all, they made models of all my favorite movie monsters, in both regular and "glow in the dark" versions, cleverly getting me to buy the same model two, three or even four times, depending on how many times I knocked them off the top of my dresser, or my parents threw them away out of concern for my young psyche.(The most notorious was the "guillotine" kit, which actually worked and chopped the little guy's head off. Bliss!)
For the most part, these kits were high quality, the pieces always fitting together properly, with lots of "hand candy" to add to the monster tableau you were building (for example, the Mummy had a cool plastic cobra, the Creature had a weird-looking lizard, etc.) The kits pictures were prices from $1.00 to $1.49, not too bad on a .50cent per week allowance. It wasn't just building the model of course, it was painting them! Choosing the tiny little glass bottles of Testor's model paint was as "artistic" as young boy minds got in those days. For some reason, I remember how cool it felt to clutch those little indestructive bottles, and try to predict what shade of red would most simulate the "spurting blood" effect, requisite for any self-respecting monster.
The other advantage was the fantastic box art, shown here! These are scans from our old Aurora model catalogue, more treasured than any Christmas catalogue. These beautiful covers sometimes showed exactly what the kit might look like, but occasionally taught us the meaning of the term "artistic license" (the Wolfman never looked like that box cover, but what the heck, he was the Wolfman, and I believe he had some plastic rats on his diorama!). You can't quite make out the text in this scan, but you, the model builder, are encouraged to be the "man behind the monster", painting the models with "goulish green", "gruesome gray" and "bloody reds". How could a self-respecting mondter kid refuse??
Aurora also came out with some humorous takes on the moster craze, mixing them with the "hot rod" craze of designers like the immortal Big Daddy Ed Roth. What kid wouldn't want to build the "Frankenstein Fliver" or "King Kong's Thronester"? My personal favorite, which I never had, was "Godzilla's Go Cart". MAN he looked serious!!
I don't know if you can see the goofy Vampire and Frog kits displayed at the bottom of the monster dragster page, but the captions are as follows: the lady vampire with the ironically "crossed" eyes came with a sign that said "I like to go out at night...WAY OUT", while the frog had a sign that said "Kiss me and you'll live forever". The back of the sign said "You'll be a frog, but you'll live forever!".
What kid could want anything more?? Thanks Aurora, for being...BETTER THAN AWESOME!!
BTW-of anyone wants to see other scans from my old catalogue, just respond to this, I'd love to post some more!!