In September of 1964, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea captivated television viewers with plots of political intrigue, foiled assassination attempts, and the capture of government spies. Aurora models released this kit and model builders young and old stormed their local "Five and Dimes" to get their hands on this futuristic submarine kit. The sleek futuristic lines coupled with the "ocean floor" display stand made it both a great display piece and bathtub toy. Several years later, Aurora re-released the kit with a larger base, but the over-all submarine remained unchanged.
Fast forward, 2001. Polar Lights has had an ear to the wall of what many modern era builders have been yearning for. Polar Lights has re-issued several baby boomer kits in the past using original Aurora molds but the Irwin Allen kits have been elusive. Licensing with Irwin Allen and Twentieth Century Fox was a major hurdle that has taken some time for the modeling department of Polar Lights to over-come. Much to the delight of older modelers, the fruits of Polar Lights labor has paid off, not only has the Seaview been re-released, but in the future we can expect two more awesome kits from them, the Land of the Giants Spindrift and the Land of the Giants Snake scene in late 2002.
Upon receiving the Seaview, I was thrown back into the simpler time of kit building. The bold original Aurora graphics on the narrow coffin box sent me down memory lane. I noticed the "Aurora" oval was cut out on the lower right corner of the box revealing a glance at the parts inside the box. I spoke with Lori Schlotfeldt from Polar Lights and she said that one in every 10 kits is molded in white styrene to promote collectability. My kit was molded in the standard black plastic similar to the original.
Upon opening the kit I inventoried the parts, a mind altering 18 parts in black and two clear. This was going to be a breeze to assemble and paint. Parts were molded with little or no sinks with crisp injection points. This is the kind of model a builder dreams of.
First thing I did was taking the main observation window and mask it of in its entirety. Once taped, I massaged the tape to adhere it completely to the clear plastic. I then took an exacto knife and trimmed away the support areas. With the tape trimmed away, I applied a base coat of flat black to the framework. Once dry, I shot it with a light coat of Testors #1233 Flat Light Aircraft Gray. I used the black base coat to prime the area as well as give the clear area the same base color as the styrene. This would provide with a more uniform color and smother transition of parts once assembled.
Then turning to the interior of the main hull assembly, I shot a light dusting of gloss white to the inner upper hull halves and brushed on some Chromium Oxide to the lower floor assembly. By doing this, I felt that light entering the observation windows would better be reflected on the inside to show depth of the kit. Now I was ready to assemble.
A light sanding to feather in the putty and this sub was ready for paint. The upper hull assembly was painted with the Testors Flat Light Aircraft Gray but the belly was painted gloss Bright White. Several coats were applied to ensure uniform coverage. One word of caution, when painting any model a light shade like this, make sure the paint has completely cured before you pick it up. Fingerprints like to leave their mark on fresh paint. I found, by standing the kit on its fins in a vertical position that the sub received a smooth finish. This also frees the builder to do 360 degree viewing to ensure the right effect was achieved.
Once the paint was dry, I turned my attention to what the instructions refer to as the side windows that were scribed into the upper hull halves. The instructions said they needed to be painted black. I wanted to get an even looking effect without brush strokes. Also, I did not want to have to take the time hand painting each individual wind and risk marring the lighter colored hull. I took a tube of artists Mars Black acrylic paint and heavily covered the window area with it. Then with a paper towel soaked in warm water I simply wiped away the excess resulting in the perfect look.
Finishing touches consisted of the hand detailing of the conning towers and the rudders. Coning Towers black highlighted with gunmetal and brass and the main rudders silver.
Finally the base received a dry-brush of white with brown and tan highlights. The nameplate was painted bright white with yellow lettering.
At a price point of around $13.00, this kit has a lot of potential. Mine was built box stock with no major alterations to the assembly. If I had more time, I would consider building another and tweaking the observation window for a more seamless look. All in all, a desirable kit with a nostalgic feel and appeal. And it looks pretty good in the aquarium too!
Until next time, keep the shop well ventilated and the lids tight on your paint.