First published Feb. 23, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.
“Aurora” is an important name to anyone who enjoys monster models. It was the company that introduced the world to such kits back in the ’60s, first with the Frankenstein Monster and followed by many more, including a wonderfully detailed kit of the monster’s Bride:
For the record, the picture above is the kit issued a few years ago by Polar Lights. It looks pretty much the same as Aurora’s, although I hear the glass parts on the original weren’t cast in clear plastic. The PL kit isn’t hard to find; original Aurora Brides are.
Truth is, while many of us love the classic Aurora kits, we recognize that the figures inside the boxes weren’t as spectacular as the box art paintings, most of which were created by artist James Bama. Here’s how Bama painted the Bride:
Similar to the kit, but better, right? A lot of Aurora nuts (and I became one of them in the ’70s) just accepted that this was how things were. But finally, all these years later, super-talented sculptor Jeff Yagher has translated Bama’s artwork into three dimensions:
The Bride Of Frankenstein Aurora Box Art Tribute Kit is a brand-new offering from Monsters in Motion. It’s the latest in a continuing series of Yagher-sculpted Aurora box art tribute kits, including the Phantom of the Opera, WolfMan, Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde, Dracula and King Kong. Pictures of all of these can also be found on MiM’s site, but I’m linking to the buildups by Mike Rutherford, who is the biggest fan of the series I’ve encountered and has a gift for making them look just like Bama’s paintings.
Monsters in Motion’s new Bride is a pressure-cast resin kit, more than 40 parts, 1/7 scale, priced at $199.99 plus shipping and scheduled to be available at the end of February. Price got you intimidated? Hey, I understand, but it’s not like these garage kits are being mass-produced by sweat-shop workers making a nickel a day in China. Kits like this are available in very limited editions, and this one in particular is sculpted by one of the most talented people you could hope to encounter.
Speaking of whom, you may not think you know anything about Jeff Yagher, but there’s a pretty good chance you do. He’s a man of many careers, most visibly as an actor. He’s got a ton of titles to his credit, including the “V” television series, “Six Feet Under” and many, many more. He even played one of Elaine’s sponge-worthy boyfriends on a 1996 episode of “Seinfeld” titled “The Rye.” If you’d like to read a detailed (if slightly dated) interview with Jeff, look for issue 15 of Amazing Figure Modeler magazine. For now, here’s a short e-mail Q&A:
Me: Were the Aurora box art pieces your concept or someone else’s, and what attracted you to doing them?
Jeff: I’ve been wanting to do these box art kits since I was a kid. I was always a little disappointed that the kits didn’t look exactly like the art but it was the same for every kit on the market. At the time I had no idea how to produce one so I used to make my own heads out of homemade clay I concocted of bread dough and Elmer’s glue. I’ve been contemplating this notion for about 10 years and no one would sponsor it, even though they thought it was a good idea. Thirteen is a big commitment. Finally Terry at Monsters in Motion said he would give one a try and it sold so well he has commisioned others. Now everyone who hesitated on the idea is kicking themselves.
Me: I presume you are at least interested in the original Aurora model kits. What did you discover first, the kits or the movies that inspired them?
Jeff: My first kit was the Aurora Mummy and my father helped me and my little brother Kevin build it on our kitchen table. I was 6 years old. (Kevin is now a Hollywood makeup artist… he created the makeups for Freddy Krueger, the Chucky Child’s Play doll, HBO’s the Cryptkeeper and dozens of other film makeups and special effects.)
I’d never seen the Universal films but had a kind of natural interest in monsters and science fiction even then. It was the kits that led me to the films…
Me: Do you plan to continue the Aurora box art series, and if so, what character(s) do you want to do?
Jeff: After the Bride, I’m not sure what the next installment will be. Terry makes up his mind after doing his own market research. Sometimes it’s just intuition … I hope it’s the Forgotten Prisoner … always one of my favorites…