Originally published Nov. 28, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.
In this era of shopper mania about PlayStation 3 or TMX Elmo, it’s easy to grow nostalgic about a time three or four decades past, when the Aurora company’s plastic monster models beckoned menacingly – but quietly – from store shelves.
Wide-eyed boys gazed at the bright artwork on those boxes, created by painters such as James Bama or Mort Kunstler, depicting the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man, Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde, the Phantom of the Opera and more. At home, they struggled with the glue and paints needed to assemble the models, then often played with their creations until they fell apart.
Scott McKillop was one of those Aurora fans, and if he has his way, plastic monster models will return to excite boys of all ages by Christmas 2007.
McKillop, 40, a doctor in London, Ontario, is dedicating one year of his salary to starting up Monarch Models, which he plans to launch late next year with a “Nosferatu” kit, based on the Max Schreck vampire, Graf Orok, in the 1922 F.W. Murnau silent film based on Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.” The film has moved into the public domain, and thus no licensing of the character is required.
The kit, designed by artist Gary Makatura and sculptor Jeff Yagher, and sculpted by Yagher, will be in one-eighth scale, the same as most of Aurora’s best-known monster kits, and will be “packaged to harmonize perfectly with the early Aurora long boxes,” McKillop said in an e-mail interview. He hopes the kit will make “the toughest die-hard Aurora fan feel like a 10-year-old again.”
McKillop wasn’t ready to be specific about what will follow the Orlok kit, but he did say the second offering is “a gift to the sci-fi fans, and the third offering is sure to spook you.” After that, he said, Monarch will “step into the murky waters of licensed properties.”
Makatura said Monarch will aim to be true to what Aurora could have actually produced “in both substance and spirit.” He will be in charge of original kit design and box-art illustration.
Monarch also intends to reissue classic Aurora kits that have been often requested by fans, McKillop said. This will be largely determined by how easily the company can get licensing agreements, and so he couldn’t say yet which kits might be reissued.
The company’s Web site is scheduled to be unveiled in February. McKillop said it will feature illustrations by Rod Keith, who will also be in charge of illustrations for Monarch’s print advertisements.
The company will be headquartered in London, Ontario; the kits will be produced in China, “but I am looking into bringing the work back to North American soil,” McKillop said.… Read the rest