Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Building Barnabas Collins

The Barnabas Collins model kit is one of the best-known pieces of Dark Shadows merchandise. Recently re-released by MPC, it's a nifty little throw-back to the original '60s show that's easy to find. Unfortunately, putting together a model requires a certain kind of skill that most of us never acquire. After mulling my own dubious model-building skills for a few weeks I decided to take a more practical route and hire a Model Mercenary.

And not just any Model Mercenary, but THE Model Merc: Lyn Powell. I've see his work for sale on the shelves of Heroes and Dragons in Columbia, S.C., and asked him if he was game to build a Barnabas Collins model. Even though he admitted he didn't know much about Dark Shadows he was aware of the model kit and had heard it had ... issues.

And because I have a hungry blog to feed, he also agreed to take a few photos of the process and provided me with a detailed journal of the ordeal. Here's what he had to say:

Barnabas Collins, disassembled.
Lyn Powell Vs. Barnabas Collins

Oh the world of plastic model kits! Those retro nightmares reissued for a new generation to throw against the wall in rage! Ha ha ha. I'm not a huge fan of plastic kits. Can you tell? They're usually overpriced and small, and aren't known for their attention to details.
So, when given the MPC Barnabas Collins it, I expected the worst. The kit promised glow-in-the-dark parts and extra arms made of PVC. Let the madness begin!

The "glowing" parts, in white.
The glow-in-the-dark parts were just silly. If left unpainted they looked horrible. If painted, they don't glow. Sigh. On to the PVC parts.

The PVC parts were another failed attempt by MPC and included a metal rod that was to be used on one half of the arm, then the other half would "sandwich"  the rod so the arm could be bent. The problem is when PVC isn't warm it can't be bent. When warm, the arms split open. Epic fail, MPC! Bring me the basic parts.

Blocking the sunlight.
At first appearance Mr Collins' pose looked like he had a stroke, but when playing with the kit I settled on an OK idea. When the left arm is raised and has the hand titled, he was shielding his face. With a small modification to his neck he seemed to be blocking out the sunlight! Presto! Not a bad pose after all.

I glued all of the parts and primed Mr. B. with black sandible auto primer. I decided on a dark grey color for the jacket and a grey/black suit. I used a drybrushing technique for the coat using a lighter shade of grey on the raised edges to get the desired highlights. I decided on a light grey for the shirt with a dark burgundy tie, just to give him some needed contrast. He's not  in the FBI!

His shoes were done in a high gloss black. As with most plastic model kits the head comes in two pieces. This kit was not too bad ... sanding and a little putty and he was ready for paint.

Happy vampire is happy.
I chose a medium flesh tone to start. I then drybrushed lighter shades of fleshtone, hitting all the highlights to the face (nose, cheeks, etc.) I decided on a red fleshtone around his eyes. I wanted a "vamp" look, not the undead look. I was happy with the overall look so I moved on to his hair.

The kit had a decent sculpt of hair. Nice details made painting fun! I studied more reference pics and decided on the hair color. I started with a black, working from darkest to lightest, making my way up to a natural brown. I enjoyed the fact that, even if very small, they added his ring to the hand sculpt. Little details are what the fans love.

The base was just a tiny plastic "cobblestone" surface. This just wouldn't do for Mr. Barnabas Collins. I added a round wooden base painted black marble. I added grass and small wildflowers to give the look of an early morning stroll. "Ah, the sun's coming up!"

I think this was a nice little build. It had annoying moments but that's part of building model kits. Hope you guys enjoy Barnabas Collins!

The final product.

So, do you think you've got what it takes to build the Barnabas Collins model? If so, visit Amazon HERE and order yours today. If you do, feel free to send me photos of the final product. I'm sure everyone would like to see your work!


Anonymous said...

I had one of the original kits from the 60's and also had trouble with the arms.They would split open where the seams are at and not be able to keep closed. When i tried glueing them the glue showed on the seams.If i had known all
this in advance i would not have bought it.In my opinion unless you are a professional model builder you should not get this because it is just too much trying to deal with putting the arms together.

The Model Merc said...

Yes these arms are a poorly thought out gimmick. Super glue is the only glue that works on PVC , and the bend is so limited. Multiple arms would be better

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