Several folks have emailed me to say they would love to put together some
of the models they remember fondly from their youth, but where in the world
do they find them now?
First of all, don't neglect the new models now being produced. Plastic models do appear in your toy and hobby stores of popular and classic movies. If you want to introduce your child to the hobby or like the movies yourself, start with these. Just in the past few years, we had reissues of the Planet of the Apes series, most of the Aurora monster and superhero characters, Toy Biz kits of Marvel superheros, and even a series of WWE wrestlers to build. Polar Lights is involved in reproducing some of the great classic models, and there were recent reissues of the fab four (Frankie, Wolfie, Mummy, Dracula) in Toys R Us. You might also want to support your local hobby stores - it's getting tough for small businesses to compete with the big chains. This really is a great time to get back into the hobby and build those classic monster models!
I won't try to list all the classic models Polar Lights is giving us, I'd have to keep updating. The biggest problem is that most toy and department store chains don't carry many of these, so you have to visit that hobby store and special order, or get them from the hobby and auction sites on the net.
Now for the oldies. You will be competing against other collectors,
especially for the earliest issues still unbuilt in good boxes. Would you
believe there are people who only want to collect the boxes, not build the
models? Would you believe an unbuilt Aurora 1962 issue Dracula in a good
box is valued at $300.00? Would you believe I've never paid more than $80.00
for any of my models? The search is half the fun.
Don't let the prices of the early issues scare you. You see, a lot of these models have been reissued over the years. For the ones that haven't, you might go the route of getting an already built model, taking it apart and redoing it, something I cover in depth on my tips site. A built model can be found for more like $20.00, depending on rarity. The more popular monster models (Frankenstein, etc.) are being reissued as I type this. One great place to get these is the ebay auction site Ebay Classified Search. The following is a list of some of the more recent reissues I know of before Polar Lights, the ones that will take the smallest chunk out of your wallet.
Aurora Monsters: (Monogram ended up with the molds)
1994 Walmart issue Frankenstein, Mummy, Dracula, Wolfman. These either flew off the shelves or were pulled after a few weeks, but they're one inexpensive reissue.
1994 Phantom of the Opera and Creature from Black Lagoon. These two models had limited distribution, but were carried by some national toy chains and hobby stores.
1992 Luminators Neon Monsters The same fab four, but also included the King Kong (hard to find). These were made of transparent plastic that glows under black light, and suffer from that type of plastic being rather brittle and doesn't take paint easily. Expect to use a primer before you paint. They do look neat under a black light, by the way. I have several built just for that purpose. Most builders weren't impressed and won't bid on these at ebay, so they are probably the cheapest reissue of the monster models to buy.
Superhero models: There was never a lot of variety in the classic kits, and some great comic book heroes never made it into plastic. Before Polar Lights and the recent exclusive Toys R Us edition of a few years ago, the latest reissue of some great ones like Superman and Batman was from the MPC Superpowers models of 1984. Monogram did a reissue of some kits like Superman and Batman in the late 1970's, and Aurora did one series called Comic Scenes in 1974, before going out of business. For some reason, Monogram decided to modify these models when they got their hands on the molds, so any model issued now of Superman, Robin, Batman, etc, will not look exactly like the old Auroras.
As you can see, finding these models can be a challenge. There are companies (or at least individuals with a ventilated garage) putting out resin recasts of some of the old models today, but these are expensive and in many ways just don't give you the same modeling experience as the detailed plastic models. Some resin kits come in a grand total of two parts! To me, that's taking away a lot of the fun out of the hobby. I eagerly await the next reissue by Monogram or Polar Lights of more of these classic plastic kits.
If you're interested in the whole area of the old plastic models and would like to know more, check out a book recently printed called Classic Plastic by Rick Polizzi. Packed with history, info, pictures, and even a price guide. Take the price guide with a grain of salt, the rare old models are going up in price while the not-so-rare ones drop in price every time a reissue comes out. The best way to see what an old kit is worth is to watch ebay and see how many appear for sale and what people are actually paying.
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