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HEAD HUNT!

Model building is a signature hobby with each individual having their own claim to fame. From scaled armor to sailing ships, each kit can be built one hundred times over and never completely duplicated. To me, this is one of the fascinating things about model building. From decals or paint on a model car to using a variety of arm positions on a 1/35-scale soldier, model builders sometimes find unique ways to personalize their work. Like my mother's delicious "home cooking," no matter how many times I attempt the recipe; I find it can never be accurately duplicated. The same goes for some figure kits. In this article I am going to showcase three different model kit "upgrades." With these parts you can easily transform a boxed model into a signature showpiece.

Polar Lights re-issued the vintage Godzilla model in 2000. The model was taken from the original Aurora molds and in my opinion is one of their more unique kits. I have built several original Aurora Godzilla kits and the base is a lot of fun to assemble. The destroyed city at the monster's feet really adds to the potential of this model. Getting the right look of the carnage really accents the assembled kit. But after all your hard work on the base, there is just no getting around that head! No matter how good a model builder you are, there is little that can transform the original style Godzilla head into anything that even closely resembles the "Terror of Tokyo."

Tom Parker was not going to sit back and watch, as a new generation of builders had to resort to building this style of Godzilla. After studying the creature he was able to come up with a new improved head for this kit. His head (sculpted by Henry Frickel) features the original movie version of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, with a subway car clinched within his snarling teeth and another subway car gripped in it's left hand. This head really accents the original model nicely. The pieces are molded in white resin and required very little prepping prior to adding them to the kit. There is some cutting that has to be made on the neck of the monster to get the head to fit correctly on the monster's shoulders. I found that if you remove the molded lower jaw from the original kit (at roughly a 45-degree angle) the head would rest squarely on the neck. Filler putty will be required to hide the transition between the resin and the styrene. Once painted, it is hard to tell that this is even the same kit.

It is amazing how the addition of these two pieces can transform the over all display of this kit. I highly recommend it to any die-hard Godzilla fan. At $35 (delivered) this includes the resin replacement parts and also the Polar Lights Godzilla kit! You can't beat that. I spoke briefly with Tom and he related that a new version of Godzilla is currently in the works and this (his original Godzilla head) will no longer be available. Currently Tom has very few of these on hand so do not delay in contacting him if you want to purchase one of these!

Another great upgrade Tom offers is the 1960's "Batman" head with Utility Belt and Cape "Bib" as well as a reproduction of the television version chest emblem. With all the Revell re-issue kits floating around, this is another must have. Having built several of the Batman kits for friends, I needed a way to spice up the figure a bit. The original Batman had a Bob Kane sculpt that looked too flat to be realistic. Eventually, there was the addition of the "Super Powers" head that had a different look to it, but still did not have the flair that the original kit yearned for. What better way to dress up a 1960's kit than with a nostalgic 1960's character head? I first got this head in the mail several months ago and set it on top of the workbench. After several restorations I had run low on motivation toward assembling "another" Batman kit. I stumbled onto an original Batman kit for under $20 that needed a lot of work. The original figure could not be salvaged but the base was 80% present. (Including the Owl) Deciding not to let this vintage base go to waste, I quickly assembled a Revell re-pop of the original Aurora model figure.
Once again, the replacement head and accessories were sculpted by Henry Frickel and cast in resin. The bib that fits onto the cape really adds to the look of the television version of the caped crusader. The utility belt on the original model was lackluster at best and Tom has come up with a very nice looking buckle and pouch combination that will impress you and really improve on the over-all look of the completed kit. Finally, the head looks fantastic! It does not look too realistic prior to painting, but with a little paint you can come up with a fine looking (Adam West) version of Batman. All in all, this conversion kit is another must have for the any "Bat Fan." This conversion set sells for roughly $25 delivered. If you want to just upgrade your original Batman model, Tom also has resin replacement owls and Bob Kane heads available for $10 each. Tom also told me that currently he has a Burt Ward (Robin) head in the works as well as an upgrade to the control panel for the Revell Robin retro kit.

Another head Tom offered in the past is from my favorite childhood cartoon, Space Ghost. (sculpted by Jay Harless) With the new found popularity of Space Ghost through the syndicated "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" (seen on Cartoon Network) Cult of Personality saw fit to honor this forgotten hero in white resin. Using a Revell Superman kit, I easily made my conversion.

First, I covered the base with modeling clay and sculpted a lunar type landscape. I covered it with model railroad "Talus" and threw in a few sprigs of "Martian Weeds." (The tree branch is from an original Dracula model.) Once the base was completed I assembled the entire Superman figure sans the head and filled all the mold lines and seams. (This also held true for the wrists.) Once the figure was puttied and sanded I sprayed the completed figure with flat white. After the paint dried, I masked off the wrist areas and painted the red "Powerbands" onto the forearms. I then cut squares of sheet styrene for the yellow power switches. Another 1/2" strip of sheet styrene was wrapped around the waist to hide the original belt. Finally, an additional 2" was added to the cape length to achieve the desired length. I then cut out waves in the tail of the cape to replicate the one worn by this cartoon hero. Though no longer available, this head originally sold for $10 and was available for purchase via the "Cult of Personality" website.

Tom told me that the Cult of Personality website will eventually be back on line but was under going a lot of changes at this time. To contact Tom on any of these items, or future items, he can be e-mailed at Bwain@webtv.net. His mailing address is listed in the "Letters to the Editor" section in the August/September issue #41 of Modeler's Resource Magazine.

Easy to paint, and assemble, there is no better way to spruce up a tired kit than with some resin replacement parts. Special thanks to Tom for allowing me to showcase his parts in this article. Until next time, keep that glue bottle tightly closed and the shop well ventilated.