By Angela Sylvaine
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Creepy Craft Corner, which will feature HWA members who are also artists, crafters, makers, or creators. We hope to provide you, the reader, with the tools and inspiration to try creating something new! This column will appear exclusively in the HWA Newsletter for one month before being reposted on the HWA Colorado Springs Blog.
Special thanks to Maria Abrams abramstheauthor.com for the creation of our beautiful new logo.
Today we welcome Ben Monroe, who is going to talk with us about Monster Models!
Welcome to Creepy Craft Corner, Ben. Tell us a little about what you write and any upcoming projects you’d like to promote.
Hi! I’ve been working on a new novel over the past two years and getting it ready to shop around soon. I’ve also written a few short stories in the same time, many of which have already been published, and a few more are coming out in the near future. Most of my stories feature normal people in reasonably normal places, who suddenly have an encounter with the unnatural, and we get to watch as they deal with it. Sometimes things just go slightly off-kilter for them. But more often, everything goes completely off the rails.
For example, two stories I’ve got coming out soon: “the Devil in the Details” will be in Attack From the 80s, and is about a college student in the 80s who falls afoul of devil worshippers in the Hollywood hills. Then there’s “Darkness Peering” in the forthcoming Were Tales, which is about a woman trying to escape her abusive boyfriend, and finding an ally in a strange shopkeeper. For anyone interested, I keep a running list of my publications at benmonroe.com/fiction, and am pretty active on twitter.com/_BenMonroe_
What craft or creation have you decided to share with us today?
So, I used to build these things when I was a kid, and had a lot of fun. When COVID hit, and we were all stuck at home, I started thinking about some kind of hobby to pick up, especially one that didn’t involve sitting in front of a screen. I was watching the 70s version of Salem’s Lot one night, and I got to the part where the kid’s up in his room painting an old Aurora Model Co. kit of the Mummy. It reminded me of how much fun I had with those kits as a kid, and I started looking around to see if anything like that was still available. Turns out, they are! In fact, addition to reproductions of the original Aurora kits, there’s a thriving community of companies making new monster models these days.
What tips or instructions do you have for our readers who might be interested in trying this craft for themselves?
There are three things I think are important, really:
Some of these kits are old, and can be expensive on the secondary market. But if you look around, and throw in the right keywords, you can find them pretty cheap. Let’s say you start with “Frankenstein model kit” as a keyword search on eBay. You’ll get a ton of options. And the original kits are crazy expensive. Throw in extra keywords like “Recast” or “reissue” and you can narrow the search. Also, while collectors want pristine boxes, if you just want the kit to build, you can drive the price down by finding a crunched box or a kit out of the box.
eBay has been my go-to for finding these kits. But the CultTVMan (culttvmanshop.com) and Monsters In Motion (monstersinmotion.com) websites are also great sources for monsters and other neat Scifi kits. Also check out Escape Hatch Hobbies (escapehatchhobbies.com) who make resin replacement and customizing parts.
The basic construction supplies are pretty simple, and easy to find. You’ll need a pair of clippers or an x-acto-type “hobby knife” to remove the parts from the sprues, and a tube of “plastic model cement” (note, plastic cement only works on styrene plastic models; if you’re building a vinyl kit, use superglue). If you want to paint your model, I find acrylic craft and hobby paints are just fine. You can get all this stuff at a place like Michael’s or Amazon.
A quick tip: I tend to keep my kits only partially built before painting. Sometimes it’s easier to paint the pieces if they’re not completely assembled (like getting the back of Dracula done before attaching the cape, or finishing the base before attaching the figure).
Painting and Finishing
Painting plastic models and miniatures is a whole topic in itself, but here are some basics.
Definitely prime your kit before painting. I use cheap hardware store spray paint for this. Use a flat black paint if the kit’s going to be darkly-colored (EG: Wolfman fur, Dracula’s dark clothing) or flat gray for a lighter color (EG: the Mummy’s wrappings). Primer helps the paint stick to the plastic.
For the paints, I use hobby acrylics. I use a combination of cheap craft paints (“Americana,” or “Apple Barrel” which you can find at Michael’s or other crafting stores) and specialized hobby paints (“the Army Painter” or “Vallejo”). The craft paints I use for large areas, and the hobby paints for small details. Simply, this is because the hobby paints have a finer texture, so they don’t blot out tiny things like eyeballs, fangs, buttons, etc.
And that’s the basics. It’s a fun hobby, and can eat up a few evenings (remember what Norman Bates said, though: “A hobby’s supposed to pass the time, not fill it”.). I find that a single model can take about an hour a day for a few days (pausing to let glue cure, paint dry, etc.).
If you want to learn more, I’d recommend doing some searching for tutorials on Youtube or the greater internet. There are innumerable modeling enthusiasts sharing their knowledge online.
These are just the basics, of course, but hopefully enough to get people inspired and started. I hope at the very least I’ve piqued people’s interest enough to give it a shot. If anyone does decide to build one of these models, let me know how it goes (and shoot me a line if you need any tips)!
Thanks for joining us today, Ben!
Until next month, keep it crafty!
Angela Sylvaine is a self-proclaimed cheerful goth who still believes in monsters. Her debut novella, Chopping Spree, is available now. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple publications and anthologies, including Places We Fear to Tread and Not All Monsters. You can find her online angelasylvaine.com.
Special thanks to our logo creator, Maria Abrams abramstheauthor.com
Note: Due to an overwhelming response from talented creators, I am not currently accepting new submissions for Creepy Craft Corner. I will post here in the HWA newsletter and on Twitter when I reopen to submissions.