This wasn’t supposed to be a serious subject. I bought “the Snake Kit” from Steve just for fun. However, when I opened the box and started in on this little gem over a week ago, I had no idea it would push aside all my other projects and consume my attention. I can only credit a certain amount of enthusiasm from nostalgia, as this is not a kit I ever had as a kid …but I always wanted one.
The kit builds up into five easily paintable sub-assemblies, listed in order of complexity:
- The base, with 3 grass uprights
- LOTG Billboard
- Female figure (Betty) – no building, but needs some cleanup sculpting
- Two male figures with pin (Steve and Dan)
- The Rattlesnake, being the most complex
The only two subs which are actually glued together are the Diamondback itself and the two figures holding the safety pin. I glued none of the subs in place, they simply nest in the divots provided in the grass base. Any gluing was done with Pacer cyanoacrylate Zap-A-Gap (gap filling formula). The snake’s seams were filled with Liquitex Modeling Paste, then wet sanded with 3-M 320 paper.
The snake went through a mildly complicated construction and prep process. The head is in 2 pieces which capture the snake’s mouth. So, the two mouth pieces were painted to completion (except the fangs), assembled, and then glued up with the two pre-primed head pieces.
The four body parts (coil, tail, neck, and head) were all assembled, puttied, sanded, and primed separately. All snake parts required a little bit of sculpting with an x-acto knife to clean up where the scales cross seam lines, but it really wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t get too fussy about this as I figured the paint job would hide a lot. Once I was happy with the individual pieces, I then joined them up, and repeated the above process to make it a whole snake.
The two male figures with the safety pin were a real pain in the rear. Maybe my fingers are getting fat as I’m aging, but it took a good 45 minutes to get the pin and the figures hands to be in happy alignment and also fit in the base’s “footprint” divots. Once I had them in position, I glued the crap out of the hands/safety pin joints. I also made the mistake of painting the figures before gluing the pin and this resulted in wear spots through to the green plastic from too much handling.
My biggest surprise with this kit was how well sculpted and engineered it really is. While the seams on the snake are what they are, for the most part, everything fits very tightly where it belongs. The figures are in dynamic action poses and all of the surface textures are well considered. A good example of how far this was taken is the grass base. At first glance it doesn’t seem much except an overall texture, but if you look closely, you’ll see where the sculptor has this bit of grass going over that area of grass and so.
When painting, I found this to a great guide in shadowing and it revealed a lot of interesting movement and depth. The only area that gets a little squirrelly are the diamond shapes on the snake. They’re fine on his back, but to avoid confusion, it is a good idea to map them out on the coil and the tail before painting. Though it’s a nice touch of kitsch, I actually prefer the kit displayed without the billboard. I think it clutters up the action of the scene.
I wanted the kit’s paint to reflect the “painterly” quality of the kit box art, as well as taking cues from nature (the snake) and the show (the figures). I easily found on the internet photo references for Daimondback Rattlesnakes and for the LOTG characters’ costumes. During painting, I kept the box art and my reference print-outs close at hand. All pieces were primed with Floquil gray enamel primer from a spray can. The rest was done with Artist’s Acrylics and brush, built up in many thin wash layers. Some washes were for color, others were specifically intended to “push & pull” different shapes and lines. I actually did a pre-highlight layer drybrushing Liquitex white gesso to brighten up the high spots before applying the wash layers. To finish, I sparingly drybrushed opaque highlight colors were necessary. The safety pin was leafed with Aluminum leaf after assembly. The selection of Artist’s Acrylics colors I used are too numerous to list here, but the brands were Goldens, Liquitex, Shiva, and Winsor & Newton.
I don’t recommend this kit to anyone who needs to stay focused on their current crop of projects. It’s a fun and seductive kit- a snake charmer