As many devoted Horror fans also enjoy building model kits of their favorite
monsters, most are well aware that Modeling is not an inexpensive hobby. At a
bare minimum, a decent resin kit from a reputable company will run 50-60
dollars, and the average would be well over $100. Add in tools, paints, and
time, and we could easily spend thousands on this hobby we love.
But that wasn’t always the case. When I started building models, resin and vinyl
kits were virtually non-existent. Airbrushes and moto-tools were unimagined
luxuries, glue came in red and white tubes and paints came in little square
bottles with “Testor’s” on the cap. My first kit was ancient even in 1972…
Monogram’s 1/72 scale Curtiss P-36 Hawk. I doubt that I paid more than 75¢ for
it, and the finished product was hardly worth bragging about. But I was
instantly hooked on a hobby that I still enjoy 47 years later.
In those days I built everything and anything… from the crappy Hawk box-scale
airplanes, to Monogram TBF Avengers with a torpedo that actually dropped from
the bomb bay, to Aurora’s Russian Golf-class Missile Submarine. I even tried my
hand at the Visible Eye… and wound up with something not even the eye surgeon
who recently restored my sight could save. But given my natural affinity for the
monsters, it was only a matter of time before I found the fantastic Monster kits
Anyone who was a regular reader of Famous Monsters in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s will
remember the ads for these kits… Dracula and Frankenstein, the Wolf-Man and the
Mummy, the skeletal Prisoner chained to the section of dungeon wall, even a
scraggly-toothed, wart-nosed witch, hard at work stirring a bubbling cauldron.
Famous Monsters #59, November 1969, lists several of the monster kits in the
Glow-in-the-Dark style for the princely sum of $1.49… quite a bit of money when
you consider that you could get a perfectly good airplane or car kit for half
But the monsters of Aurora were hard to ignore, and, as soon as I saw one for
sale at my neighborhood Pic-n-Save, I had to have it. It was, luckily, my
favorite monster, the Mummy. But I wouldn’t have cared which monster I wound up
with… I just wanted one of them. Somehow, I came up with enough money to buy it.
How, I’m not sure; I am sure that it was no mean feat on a dollar a week
allowance. How much I paid for the kit is a mystery; I doubt I could have told
you the next morning the price of the model. I had one, and that was all I cared
When I got home with my prize, I rushed to my room and opened the box. The
figure seemed huge compared to the kits I was used to building, though simple to
assemble… a definite plus at that stage in my modeling experience. I can’t
recall much detail about the kit, other than the Mummy was undeniably Kharis. I
don’t remember what color plastic it was molded in, or how good the quality was.
I just remember the joy of building it.
I later added other monsters to the collection, as well as some of the MPC
Pirates of the Caribbean and AMT/Ertl Star Trek kits. There was a Tarzan along
the way, as well as a Spock, a Batman, and others. Eventually, Aurora folded,
the monster kits went away, and I returned to the B-17G’s, M60A1’s, and
Federation Starships that I loved.
Now, some forty-seven years later, those Aurora monsters are hot collector’s
items, going for a hundred dollars or more, unbuilt. Companies such as Polar
Lights have issued their own versions of those kits, and high-quality resin and
vinyl monster kits abound. These kits, especially the latter, are so far above
the old Auroras in terms of quality and accuracy that comparing the two is akin
to comparing a ’78 Ford Pinto to a brand-new Mercedes S-class. I just wish I
could afford them.
Yes, the new kits are better in terms of quality, better in terms of accuracy, better in terms of choice of subject matter. The only thing they don’t do better is inspire joy and wonder in the mind of an eight-year-old boy.
Creature Feature © D. Dyszel 2019
Dick Dyszel - Voice Actor