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Model kit review: Moebius Models 1/8 scale Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde

Free online extra
By Mark Hembree
Kit: No. 482
Scale: 1/8
Manufacturer: Moebius Models, www.moebiusmodels.com
Price: $24.99
Issue Published: Online extra
Moebius Models' first kit is a repop of the 1964 Aurora "Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde." Touting it as the "missing link" in reproductions of the Aurora "Monsters in the Movies" series, Moebius has produced three versions of the injection-molded plastic kit, two of them with optional parts molded in "Frightening Lightning" luminous plastic. One of these kits is packaged as a "limited edition" in a long box. (I built the "glow" kit from the square box.) All the packaging evokes the original Aurora scary box art; even the oval Moebius logo resembles the old Aurora mark.

Comprehensive instructions echo the old kits: numbered step-by-step text; exploded-view illustrations; assembly and kit-planning tips; painting suggestions; and directions on required modeling materials. Parts are labeled with both numbers and names. On the back side of the instruction sheet is a half-page featuring "The Tragic Story of Dr. Jekyll" and a photo of the built model.

Look, it glows!

To build the "glow" version, I used 27 parts molded in dark brown plastic along with the 20 luminous pieces (which also are provided in brown as well as clear plastic). Most of the moldings are pretty thick, although a few more-fragile pieces are specially packed within the bagged sprues. The plastic seemed hard, oily, and somewhat resistant to the Testors liquid glue I was using; I was tempted to go with tube cement (just like the old days!), and did opt for super glue gel to fill gaps on larger opaque parts, such as the three-piece lab coat. I used Testors clear cement on the luminous parts.

According to the instructions, "Before assembling, take all parts into a darkened room or closet to determine which features to paint and which to leave with ghoulish glow power." The sheet also clearly states, "DO NOT PAINT THE GLOW PIECES."

I wanted the kit to glow as much as possible. But I also wanted more than bare, green plastic in daylight, especially for the face. I experimented with the kit-supplied rat to see how much paint would dim the glow and found that a very thin coat of Tamiya smoke, followed with light sanding to bare the high spots, allowed some luminescence while lending detail in "nocturnal" viewing. The rat halves fit well, and I was reluctant to fill and sand the seams for fear of erasing the furry surface texture. But applying thinned paint outlined the seams, so I sanded and used a hobby knife to rescribe the texture.

Assembling the monster

Step 1 calls the assembly of opaque shirt, pants, and shoes. The trouser seams were not a perfect match but easy to sand smooth, and the shirt tucked in nicely. I left the shoes off to shine them separately and to wait until the figure was complete before attaching the feet for best balance. Seams on the shoes are tough to hide, although the laces help obscure the line. Sawing the seam laterally with a hobby knife blends it into the laces. I brush-painted the shoes with Testors gloss black enamel, socks with flat black. Using Testors acrylic paints, I mixed a light blue for the shirt and dark gray for the pants and brush-painted them.

Arms, head, and lab coat go together in Step 2, but I assembled those parts separately and left them unattached for easier painting. Pieces of the lab coat fit fairly well, with the joints falling along the same lines as garment seams. I filled gaps with Squadron Green putty, sanded them smooth, preshaded folds in the coat with dark gray enamel, then sprayed the coat with Testors flat white primer. The primer surface nicely approximated coarse fabric. Halves of the head didn't match up smoothly at the top, but I was reluctant to damage the molded hair texture by sanding off those edges. Instead, I flowed super glue against the "step" and combed it into the waves of hair.

The arms and head are luminous pieces, so I coated them very thinly with acrylic paints, using a light tan for flesh and thinned flat black for hair on the head and the right arm. (The latter looks somewhat ape-like, "sprouting" hair as the doctor morphs into his evil alter ego.) The molding of the inner left arm came up a little short above the elbow, but I easily sanded off the difference. Sanding improved luminosity, so I went for a close, smooth fit, painting, filling with super glue, resanding, and repainting until I had a smooth, flesh-colored translucent finish.

I paid extra attention to painting the face (mostly acrylics), lightly sanding each layer to preserve the glow. Again, light tan was the base coat. I used a lightened flat-red on the lips, gloss white on the teeth, and washed the face with dark tan acrylic and just a bit of burnt sienna artist's oils. The eyes are gloss white with a pink wash. Most figures of this scale require corneas, but not my monster - this guy is completely dialed! I painted the pupils gloss black, then coated the eyes with a dab of Pledge Future floor polish to give them a rheumy gleam.

I dithered over the molded hairline, which includes the eyebrows. I followed the molding, but you might want to paint the brows so they're not completely connected. I lightly sanded the face and hair to add highlights and maximize glow.

A bonus in the "glow" version of this kit: Moebius used the occasion of inserting glow pieces to correct the face by giving the mouth a few teeth. The opaque brown counterpart is toothless, as it was in the sealed Aurora kit Moebius used as a template. (Moebius offers a replacement for 4.95.) Additionally, replacement "dentures" and, indeed, a completely different head depicting Jekyll/Hyde actor Frederic March are available from a couple aftermarket sources, as are nameplates for the display (molded in wavy, spooky-movie script rather than the blocky, sans serif font of the kit part).

I found the teeth sufficient. A more serious shortcoming is the ears, which have no detail at all. Carving some crenellations would take time but certainly improve the look.

Constructing the laboratory

Step 3 constructs the laboratory, equipping it with a tall, spindly table, a well-detailed stool (albeit too short for the table), and luminous parts including beakers, a test-tube rack, a Bunsen burner, a glass with a separate, molded spill, and a thickly molded, out-sized spider on a thick, molded web. (I am not kidding about the spider; it scales out about the size of an adult gerbil.) I coated the spider with Tamiya smoke, tried a little Tamiya clear green on a beaker or two, and left other luminous elements bare for maximum "glowage."

The table and stool went together easily, but the parts are marred by pin marks, mold lines, sink holes, and flow marks. Part numbers are molded directly on some pieces, rather than the sprue. By the way, watch out for Part No. 25; it is so thickly attached one you might mistake it for sprue. A little filling and a lot of sanding repairs these parts. I "varnished" the stool and table with Testors wood enamel and a streaky top coat of Tamiya clear orange.

The laboratory floor's molded planks and nails are cartoonish, with lines that undulate as if seen through the addled doctor's eyes. Using acrylics paints from Vallejo's Panzer Aces line, I applied a base coat of new wood, then a light coat of weathered wood. I probably added the second layer a little too soon, as it wore away a little of the base coat. However, the appearance of a little of the kit's dark brown plastic through the wood grain was a happy accident that added a little depth to the floor treatment. I finished by picking out nail heads with a No. 2 lead pencil and deepening the grain with a wash of burnt umber artist's oils.

A tip regarding the lab equipment: Keep all the itty bits in a sealed plastic bag to avoid having to hunt for them.
After the floor and furniture were complete, I assembled the pre-painted figure. Getting the lab coat, head, arms, and pants/shirt assembly all together was a little tricky, and I'm not sure I achieved the intended pose. The coat seems to ride a little high. The kit design offers adjustability at the left elbow with a choice of two locating holes at the end of the left sleeve so the arm and hand can angle properly toward the throat. The feet fit well - nice and tight - and I was delighted to find the figure stood on its own.

Once I was satisfied with the stance, I tacked the fateful beaker into the doctor's right hand and set everything on my windowsill to soak up the sun and charge up the "Frightening Lightning" for the night to come. It was only then that I realized the figure's slacks, which looked a little tight to me, also had a high-water look by contemporary standards. Then I remembered this was a 1960s design. Groovy!

This is a great kit for a returning modeler, a beginner, or anyone looking for a ghoulishly good time.

- Mark Hembree

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