In 1965, my oldest sister Sherri brought home a quirky little model that she was very proud of. I am not sure what possessed her to build this particular model and to my recollection, she has never purchased any other model since that day. The kit was the original Dracula’s Dragster produced by Aurora. I remember her building the model and being so proud of it. The kit was molded in all black plastic and was a comical tribute to the successful Monster Model craze. The car was a coffin dragster with a grotesquely huge headed Dracula wearing his signature garb and a British style driving hat behind the wheel. I don’t recall what ever became of my sister’s model but that kit has always served as a constant reminder of a younger, more innocent time.
I picked up a nice model reference book some time ago and it had a nice shot of a painted version of that kit. The book is Classic Plastic Model Kits Identification and Value Guide by Rick Polizzi. Inside this book is a treasure trove of photos and graphics from many kits of my youth. As stated, page 30 was the first page to show case the “Monster Rods”. Seeing Dracula’s Dragster again rekindled my urge to build one. Sadly, as with most Aurora kits, the price was not conducive to my budget.
IA few years back, Polar Lights purchased the rights to the old Aurora kits and cranked out reproductions of some of their more show case kits. Monsters, Planet of the Apes, and Land of the Giants kits are now reproduced in the same quality and splendor as when they were originally produced 30 plus years ago. Originally selling for around $15, these simple kits took us back to a simpler time in our lives where accuracy was not a watch-word. Sadly, Polar Lights fell on hard times as well and these kits soon blew out in the retail market for about $3 a kit. I was fortunate to receive several of the Monster Rods to build for a collector friend and was excited to see this kit in the box.
Upon opening the box the first thing I noticed was the kit is no longer molded in black. The kit is now a camel tan color and clearly marked with the Polar Light logo and the new production date of 1999. There is no way of confusing a vintage kit wit this reproduction. As a collector, I respect that. As a restorer of kits, it is equally refreshing to have this reproduction available to restore vintage kits that are missing a few minor pieces like a wheel or the bat hood ornament.
Painting the kit was a treat. The nice thing about fantasy kits is creative freedom. Though the instructions do provide a detailed paining guide, I chose to go in a different direction. One I was more comfortable with.
For the coffin “body” I masked off the top intake area and shot a few coats of Testor’s Flat Red as shown on the box art. Once the red dried, I masked off the intake and shot several coats of gloss black to the entire coffin assembly. I dry brushed flat white on the seat back to bring out the detail from the body. Once the body had dried, I clear coated it to seal in the colors and to get a uniform sheen.
The rest of the kit was beyond easy to paint and assemble. A few parts were painted white such as the candles used as front and rear markers. Also, I masked of Dracula’s torso and painted his shirt white. I sprayed the remaining parts flat black. I then added a few personal touches like adding silver detailing to the base of the bat “hood ornament” and gold to the handles. I dry brushed gold onto the cob web wheels to bring out the details and painted the inner spoke bones white to bring them out. It was then I noticed the wheels were marked with raised lettering “Brim Stone” I gently dry brushed a little white to bring out the etching. Not real easy to see but a neat touch of details I never new existed on the original model.
Once the car was assembled and the body was glued into position, I turned my attention to the head. The head is actually three pieces; the front section, rear section and mouth insert. The mouth insert was molded in clear plastic and by painting it red on the reverse side it looked very smooth and there were no visible brush strokes. I then glued the mouth piece into the rear of the front section of the head and assembled the rest of the pieces. The head, along with the rest of the model fit together very nicely and required no putty to fill cracks or sinks in the plastic. Once the head dried I dry brushed it with a light dusting of white and then flushed the cheeks and nose with a touch of red for color. I then mixed a light amount of flesh tone with flat white to give a ghastly ashen hue to the detailed features of the face. Once the look was achieved, I touched up the hair and brows with blat black and painted the eyes a bright blue. I then coated the head with an even layer of dull coat to remove any sheen from the paints.
The martini glass (though not too politically correct by today’s standard) is a nice comedic touch to this kit. Molded in clear I painted the inside flat red similar to how I painted the mouth insert. I then painted some veins onto the heart, topped off with the wooden stake skewer. Assembling it in his hand, Dracula now has his “Bloody Mary” to go. I then glued the head onto the torso. I added the hat to top off the kit and the Monster Rod was complete.
This was a fun little kit that, to my surprise, took about a week to complete. Time really drags when you factor in paint drying time. Since I have completed this model, I have a new found respect for it. I also now know why my sister bought it. This thing is cool! Soon, this article will be followed by several companion articles to include Frankenstein’s Fliver, the Wolfman’s Wagon, King Kong’s Thronester and the Mummy’s Chariot. Sadly, no Godzilla’s Go Kart because, much like its original variation, it is too hard to come by.
Now, it is off to my Sister’s house to give her this token of our childhood