Eve Of The War

War of the Worlds (1953) model kits
Page 1 of 1

Author:  craigr [ Sun Aug 22, 2010 4:39 am ]
Post subject:  War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Hi, everyone. This is actually old news, but Pegasus Models has released some plastic model kits of the Martian War Machines from the 1953 WotW film. One is a 1/48 scale model of the 'manta ray' machine, and the other is a 1/144 scale diorama kit featuring a landscape base, two war machines, two US Sherman tanks & a plastic 'heat ray' piece to 'shoot' one of the tanks. There are deluxe versions of each kit, pre-painted (finished in a shiny 'chrome plate' copper) and much more expensive.

I received the standard version (unassembled & unpainted) of the diorama kit for my birthday over a year ago, and am finally getting around to building it. It goes together ridiculously easily, so little to no model building experience is required. I, of course, can't leave well enough alone, and am expanding the model to include three war machines and an extra Earth vehicle, a halftrack. The halftrack is modified from a model-quality toy, with me adding a rocket launcher assembly. I'm finishing the Martian war machines in a standard spray paint copper finish, as it better resembles the 'weathered' look in the film, rather than a 'show-room new' shininess that the deluxe kits have. I'm also binning the single solid plastic sticks for each war machine (engineered to get stuck right into each machine's underside) in favour of making a 'tripod' for each machine out of clear acrylic rods. I hope to somehow simulate a sparking effect on the ground where each 'leg' makes contact, like in the movie.

I haven't any pics of my progress, and am on a borrowed computer at this point anyway, so someday when I get the thing finished, I'll post pics then. (And yes, I know I still have to finish my model of the Lifeforce shuttle Churchill... I messed up some of the windows and put it away for a bit in order to not further screw it up.)

Another idea I have for a future diorama is the farmhouse scene, with two machines next to the wrecked house; one of them will have the probe extended, while the other will be disembarking a Martian interested in doing a little 'field work.' I plan to have a third machine still inside the cylinder that wrecked the house (as dialogue in the film established that there are three machines per cylinder). Thanks to the clear print in the special edition dvd, I noticed that the top of the cylinder in the film seems to have a large 'lid' unscrewed from it & laying alongside, as well as 'petal'-like lids sticking up along its topside, I assume to allow easier egress for the machines. (I suspect that the 'petals' open in a fashion similar to the protective coverings for the camera-probe, after the lid has unscrewed, but who knows for certain?)
Anyway, that diorama will be a long time in coming, but if anyone else out there has a notion to try it, I'd love to see what you come up with!

Author:  craigr [ Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Quick update/correction... it's Pegasus Hobbies, not Pegasus Models. Incidentally, they are also releasing this year an all-plastic model kit of the 'space ark' rocket ship from the other George Pal classic When Worlds Collide. It features the rocket, the launch 'sled' & part of the launch rail. I imagine that ambitious modelers shall want to scratch build the entire launch rail, and/or make an 'under construction' version of the rocket featuring its exposed innards. (I'm not that ambitious, at least for that project... I respect that film's model & sfx work, but outgrew the film many years ago, and have so many other projects to take care of. Still, I would have loved this model kit as a child.)

Author:  craigr [ Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Another quick update: Pegasus has released a model kit of the Martian from the 1953 movie! It comes on a stand that resembles the wreckage of the farmhouse, with wood floorboards, plaster chunks and a book or two. I don't know what the scale is, but if I recall correctly, it's a fairly large kit, maybe standing around a foot tall when built. The box was rather large, though that's not always an accurate indicator of model kit size. (Yes, I'm lookin' at you, AMT/ERTL! :roll: )

Anyway, I just mentioned on the LIFEFORCE shuttle thread: "On the other hand, I am currently working on a WotW diorama based on the 'US Marines versus the Martians' battle from the 1950's film." This is the 1/144 scale stuff I mentioned earlier. I've got three War Machines completed, and had hoped to post some pics, but can't find my camera's USB cable.

I'll just describe what I've done so far:
I built the models, which were a very straightforward build, with minimal seam filling/filing required (though not taking care of the seams will spoil the kit due to it's small size). I spray painted them from a 'rattle can' with Testor's metallic copper, not the high-shine 'chrome' looking stuff like the deluxe kits are finished. Nevertheless, the copper looked too shiny; not mirror-like, but way too bright. As my older son pointed out, 'it doesn't look sinister enough.' No problem, a coat of 'smoke' tint (a translucent black) used for car model windows should do the trick. I tested Boyd's smoke on some scrap stuff, and to my horror (and relief that it was only a scrap I'd wasted) found that their 'smoke' was very nearly opaque! I went with Testor's (or maybe it was Model Master) grey window tint, and found that to be much lighter. Too light, in fact, as it required three coats of the stuff to get the copper finish dark enough. I almost want to add a fourth coat, but each successive layer results in 'crazing' of the finish, making a mottled appearance to the overall colour. Though this isn't 'screen accurate,'. it does create an interesting-looking alien 'camouflage' that I'm decided to keep. (I really don't feel like stripping the paint off and starting over!)
As for the green parts of the War Machines, they are made in a clear--though somewhat milky, not crystal clear--plastic. I figured painting them from inside with a bright lime green might work, though the thickness of the plastic might look wrong unless viewed directly from the front. Another option was to coat the outside with translucent green, though that seemed like it would be too dark. I opted to do both: insides lime green, outsides translucent green. The effect is decent enough to make the things look light they're actually glowing from within! (Just a side note: I had to have two of the model kits to get three War Machines, as each kit only comes with two WMs. So, I have one extra War Machine... this is going to be used in a 'crashed WM' diorama, with a crowd of civilians gathered round as Dr Clayton Forrester examines the dying Martian in the WM's hatch. On the 'dead' WM, I'm going to paint the green parts only with the translucent green outer coat, to make them look like they are out of power.)
I've not yet painted the Heat Ray parts, as nobody seems to manufacture a translucent orange. There's translucent red (which works for the War Machines' Heat Ray 'eyes'), but no orange for the beam. Perhaps I'll have to custom mix something & shoot it through an airbrush... which means buying an airbrush someday... I digress. Another option is to lightly 'dust' a coat of orange paint over the milky-clear Heat Ray parts, so that they still have some translucence to them. Yeah, I think I'll go that route!

As for the Earth stuff, the Sherman tanks area built out-of-box. I added a 1/144 scale toy of a US halftrack, cutting off a large peg from its bottom (used to secure it to its display case) and scratch built a rocket launcher assembly & mounting rack. Careful viewing of the movie has me thinking that the rocket launchers were actually mounted on the scout car variation of the real vehicle, rather than the halftrack, but I want to finish this diorama soon, and don't wish to take more time converting the toy. (I'd have to remove the track parts, shorten the back end and add a set of wheels where the tracks had been; not easy on the toy, since it's some type of soft plastic or vinyl, rather than styrene.) I'm going to find some US troops in that scale and have them running & getting zapped.

Anyway, the base will be some custom made thing using train layout scenery turf to simulate dirt & grass, with a few artificial twigs & trees here and there. I've got clear acrylic rod to support each War Machine on a (not-so-invisible) 'energy tripod,' and I plan to make the ground beneath those 'legs' look charred. (Don't know how--or even if--I'm going to simulate the sparks where the 'legs' contact the ground. I may scratch build some fire-shaped blobs coated with pearly reflective white, which will look cool when photographed with a flash. :idea: )

I shall post pics of the War Machines and the built but as-yet-unpainted Earth vehicles as soon as I find my USB cable. Stay tuned!

EDITED TO ADD: 'Another QUICK update'? This is my longest entry yet on this thread! :lol:

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Hi Craigr. As you probably guessed I've not been here for some time. :oops: I've only just found this thread.
By a strange coincidence I stumbled across the War Machine model kits about a week ago and at the time I thought they looked way too shiny, you do right to build your own and paint them duller. looking forward to seeing the photos.... when you've found that USB cable. :lol:
I've been doing a little model work myself these last couple of months.
It's of a British comic book character called 'Nemesis The Warlock' You're forgiven if you've never heard of him, as I said he's from a Brit comic called 2000ad, I don't know if it's even sold in the USA. :?
So as not to fill your thread up with inconsequential stuff I'll just give you the link to the forum where I'm posting pictures of the Nemesis work in progress:
http://evilnerfherder.proboards.com/ind ... 065&page=1

You should pop over and join us, there are several of the old gang from this site over there, plus it's not just a WotWs site, it's Sci/Fi in general.
If you do want to join, here's a link to the site:

I'll keep an eye on this site to see if you ever found that Cable. :lol:

Author:  craigr [ Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Well, I found the cable, but when I tried to connect to the Mac I'm currently using, I had no joy. A different Mac I used in the past worked OK, and of course long ago, all the stuff I uploaded to post here (my sons' paper tripods, drawings, the Churchill) worked just fine on my now-dead PC. Ah, well, I'll keep trying. If nothing else, I'll get a photo cd made at a local store & see if I can transfer stuff from that. Check back in a week.

Thanks for those links; I'll check them out when I have a bit of time (like right after I post). I have heard of 2000 AD, by the way, though I've not actually read it, and thus am not familiar with the characters.
Though I'm no expert on all things British, I have had more exposure than most people I know on this side of the pond, since I've been interested in British sci-fi pretty much most of my life. Early influences include Gerry Anderson fare like Thunderbirds (the real one with Supermarionation, not the recent American live action version), UFO, Doppelganger (or Journey to the Far Side of the Sun as it's called over here; watching it as a very young child is one of my earliest conscious memories), and Space: 1999 (personal favourite). Another film I enjoyed in my youth was Quatermass and the Pit, though it was titled Five Million Years to Earth over here. I even liked Gorgo, the non-Japanese Godzilla-like monster that trashed London in search of her baby. Oh, and the Hammer horror films with Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee... I used to watch those when the local TV station had Halloween horror marathons after school. (I doubt such things would pass muster nowadays for school age viewing!) Of course, War of the Worlds has always been one of my favourite books, and the 1953 movie still remains a classic in my collection. I know, I know, the movie is American, but it's based upon the book. And the various comic adaptations of the book published in the 70's (and earlier, in the case of the Classics Illustrated version) all retold the original story set in England.

I also hang out around British fora (like this one for example), though nowhere near as often as I used to. Nevertheless, I will often be exposed to 'new' things as a result, the likes of which many Americans have never imagined existed.

So much for not loading this thread with extra stuff. Sorry, but I like to talk, and you inadvertently opened a floodgate there. Off I go to check those links!

Author:  craigr [ Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

:shock: WOW!
I thought your sculpting skills on the old version of Nemesis were superb, but when I saw the new one, my jaw dropped to the floor! (We need a smilie that does that!)
The sculpt alone was great, and the pose incredibly dynamic. And those eyes, very realistic. I love how you grafted the eye sections into the face, and cringed while I was reading/scrolling... so glad that it turned out OK!
The paint's looking good, too. Thanks so much for sharing! (PS: Milliputt's great; I've used it for everything from some dinosaur models' skin to wreckage/debris in military dioramas.)
Excellent work! 8) =D>
And now, back to the WotW 1953 model kits thread...

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Glad you liked the Nemesis sculptures, thanks for the comments.
Does your camera use a memory card such as a SD Card? and do you have a card reader built into your PC? I'm sure you've already though of this.
What you want is Image a jaw dropper like this :D

Author:  craigr [ Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Lonesome Crow wrote:
Does your camera use a memory card such as a SD Card? and do you have a card reader built into your PC? I'm sure you've already though of this.
I'm on a Mac, as I mentioned, and one with not very much memory left for anything. Somewhere, I have a software CD for my camera, which I hope I can install to the Mac so that it can recognise the camera, but the CD went missing during a move and/or a flood we had two years ago.
Lonesome Crow wrote:
What you want is Image a jaw dropper like this :D
LOL! That's exactly the one!
And now, on to some photos. First, a short sample of the Deluxe Edition model, built by a teenage girl (I think she's seventeen). I photographed her model through a glass display case to have a reference for my model once it's completed. (The street rod & the squad cars behind her diorama were built by someone else.)


Very nice work, especially given her age!

And now for the first of mine...
This is taking me far too long; these four pics took about three times as long as on my old PC, and I have other things to do today, so I must log off for now. Sorry to only tease you with these images, but I shall upload more as time allows during the week. Remember that my model is a work in progress, and only the War Machines are completed at this point; the Earth vehicles need to be painted, and the diorama base has not yet been started.
Check back later in the week for more War Machine pics!

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Wow! I didn't know they fired syrup :mrgreen:
I agree, the copper/Chrome effect is far too shiny, I would be tempted to airbrush some sooty streaks over it.
Yours has an eggshell like texture to it, that might give an interesting finish.
But only one picture of your work :( I'm champing at the bit here :alien: I need more. :D

Author:  craigr [ Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

The 'eggshell' texture is a result of using a spray 'rattle can' for painting, as opposed to an airbrush with which I could control air pressure & paint volume. Of course, the model's small size, plus the zooming in with the camera, enhances any flaws about a zillion-fold.
I just realised that the eggshell texture may be a contributing factor to the 'crazing' of the tint overcoats I applied later. Interesting, and thanks for helping me see what should have been obvious.

I should be able to upload a few more War Machine progress pics later today. Next week, I hope to have some of the Earth vehicles... I made a mistake in my last post when I said the WM pics would be next week. :oops:

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Crazing is usually caused by incompatibility between two different types of paint, an effect that can be very useful in the right place.
And I know what you mean about the camera zoom blowing up any imperfections. With my Nemesis sculpture I was happy with the paint job I had done until I looked at the photos I'd taken with the camera set on macro, then every little flaw looked like the surface of the moon, now I wear a jeweller's loop whilst painting, it makes the model look 2.5X larger. :D

Author:  craigr [ Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Hmm... I'm having trouble with my latest pics. I have them uploaded (did so the other day with the ones I posted here, in fact), but I want to add captions like I always do, and I now can't. Everything worked fine earlier today on a different set of photos I was captioning, but when I switched to do the rest of my WotW pics, the function didn't work. I'll try again tomorrow. (Sorry! It's just as frustrating to me that I can't get this done as it must be to you! :evil: )

As for the paints, they are both spray enamels, Testors copper & Model Master grey window tint. I wonder, though, if the tint is chemically different. I knew a guy who sprayed a nicely painted model of a German tank with Testor's Dullcoat to tone down some not-so-flat bits of colour & to help seal the decals in place. The paint job fogged up, looking like a translucent coat of white glue had dried on it in places. (Necessity being the mother of invention, he hid the bad parts with some camouflage netting draped over the tank.) He contacted Testors, who admitted that there was a bad batch of Dullcoat that they knew about... I guess they sent him some new paint cans, free of charge, to make up for it. :)

Interestingly, on my War Machines, the first coat or two cover the copper just fine, only they don't make it dark enough. It's around the third coat that the crazing starts to show up. As I'd mentioned, maybe I'm applying too thick a coat each time, and/or not letting the coats dry thoroughly enough between applications. (Are you kidding me? 2-3 days isn't enough? I guess I'll try a week between coats next time!) Interestingly, on the third WM, painted about a week or two later with the same cans of copper & tint, the crazing isn't as pronounced. (I thought humidity might also be a factor, but my workshop has a dehumidifier running constantly, and the temperature is fairly consistent until winter drops it a bit.)

Oh, well... I'll stick with what I've got, hoping that 'studio miniature' purists don't mind the effect. [-X

Now if my Earth vehicles look weird, I'll try to fix that!

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

No problem. Don't rush it.
24 hours is usually enough between coats. :?

Author:  craigr [ Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Lonesome Crow wrote:
No problem. Don't rush it.
24 hours is usually enough between coats. :?
That's what I thought. I do think that the 'eggshelling' texture of the sprayed-on copper must be part of the problem. Interestingly, the clear grey tint is said to work best on clear parts (duh!) and on metallic paints. :? :roll:

So... I got some more pics now. Want to see?
Each pic has its own captions, so off we go!




Nice typo on this one... 'looks' should be look.'

Honestly, the inside-coated lime green doesn't look bad as far as its 'brightness' goes; it does appear to closely match the studio miniatures' lighted areas. But I do prefer the combined greens to help get rid of the clear parts' dullness or milkiness; once again, they look a little better in person.

Had to switch to orange text on this one, as the yellow didn't show up very well against the background.

Well, I hope you liked these, and find them educational as well as entertaining. See you next week!

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Looking really good.
I also like the dark camouflage pattern, one of those serendipitous moments.
Are the clear parts colourless to start with? I imagined they were already tinted green.
I quite like the dark diffraction line between the inner and outer surfaces of the clear parts, it look as though it's glowing inside.

Author:  craigr [ Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

The green parts in the standard kit are initially clear, though not crystal clear; they have a slight 'milky' or 'cloudy' look to them. I should have taken a 'before' pic, and if I get one more kit, I'll do so in order to show all the parts on their sprues (trees) prior to any painting. I don't know for certain, but the deluxe kit may have the clear parts pre-tinted, since the War Machines in that version have are pre-painted 'chrome' copper... as you can see on the girl's diorama, they don't utilise a combination of green colours like I did, and appear quite dark.
I'm glad you like my 'glowing' effect, which is what I was trying to achieve all along. Now that I've had some time away from the photos and can look at them with fresh eyes, I guess the thickness of the plastic does help make it look so.

Thanks for the compliments! :)

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

I've just been looking through other people building of this diorama and found this http://kitbash.net/scifi/Wow/wow.html I particularly like the work on the base.
This model maker said "the clear parts on the war machines do not fit to the bodies. Unfortunately I didn't find this out until it was too late." Did you have this problem?

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

:o Oooo! I've just seen some tumble weed roll by..... :D

Author:  craigr [ Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Yes, sorry about the delay. There's been some illness running through my family coupled with a lot of hours at work on my part (trying to make up for my wife being ill & missing her job), and I've not had time to get any further pics taken, let alone posted. I've not even been in my workshop for a week! I'm also trying to have car repairs made in the midst of all that. Plus, just to make this seem like 'too much farce for a real life; this is like Fawlty Towers or something:' we just had elections on this side of the pond, and I discovered to my shock & anger that I'd been dropped from the voter registry and had to waste time re-registering! (It was, apparently, a paperwork/bookkeeping update error. Thankfully, the re-registration process was relatively straightforward and I got to vote, but still... I don't like when something gets in the way of my right to do so!)

Right, then.

I can quickly answer your question about the clear end parts fitting--or rather NOT fitting--very well. When test fitting them prior to painting, I didn't notice a slight gap near the pointed ends of the clear parts where they should fit against the main body. #-o Had I noticed it then, I could have gently filed/sanded the convex edge of the main body to conform better to the concave portion of the clear part. (Note: in that photo I posted earlier showing the now-green clear part with a gap, the part doesn't really stick out that much! I had simply stuck it in part way for the photo, and thus further reinforced my misperception about it fitting properly later. Also note that from certain angles, such as the ones in my photos posted here thus far, the gap in not at all apparent... it's noticeable when looking straight down at the model, but when viewed obliquely, doesn't stand out as much.)
As it turns out, I've carefully removed part of the clear part's tab that inserts into the main body to make sure that the tab doesn't prevent the clear part from going in all the way. I then even more carefully sanded the edge of the main body to conform to the concave curve. This is, mind you, after painting! :shock: Like that other model builder, I wish I'd paid better attention prior to painting! (All this info will be detailed in captions on the pics I post next.)

I'm off to continue catching up with the 'real life' (non-hobby) stuff, and hope to clear the tumbleweeds from this thread in a week. (Nice visual, that... I picture some dust blowing by, as well, with rotting 'Old West' style buildings in the background. At least vultures aren't circling overhead yet...) Sorry once again!

EDITED TO ADD: OK, 'quickly' answering you would have been simply saying 'Yes, I had a fit problem, too.' :roll: :P I went into some detail in order to help out anyone else reading this thread, that they might be prevented 'reinventing the wheel' so to speak. (The kit is deceptively simple to build, so much so that I wasn't paying enough attention during the pre-painting phase.)

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

Thanks for the update, hope you're all well now.
:D I'll have to do a little animation of tumbleweed bouncing down an old western street and save it on Photobucket, post it up whenever a thread slows up. :lol:

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War of the Worlds (1953) model kits

So how's it going? :D

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group