1/6 Scale Kit from
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I am a born again modeller.
Like many others I nailed kits together as a kid as fast as my pocket
money and tube cement would allow. Then one day, somewhere along this
linear period of plastic heaven, came the advent of raging teenage
hormones and an unquenchable interest in girls. Plastic modelling ceased
and took its place in my childhood past.
Fast forward to 1994. I succeeded in finding a girl who couldn’t run as
fast as all the others so I caught her, married her and persuaded her
that she’d really appreciate the opportunity to experience child birth
twice (later three times), especially as I could deliver the fun part
while she got all the pain and ‘where’s the bloody epidural?’ while I
stood through every agonising minute with her thinking ‘I’m glad I’m
a boy, I’m glad I’m a boy’.
I’m on a train station. I need something to read and idle into a book
store. Glancing over the titles of the monthly publications my attention
is caught by Tamiya Magazine’s front cover. Staring back at me with a
compelling and thoroughly baleful glare is a model (a very, very
good model) of a Velociraptor. I read the article inside. I read it
again. Then I decide I’d better pay for the (now) well thumbed pages. I
stand astonished by how far modelling has come in the intervening years
since my childhood. Before my eyes is evidence of the magic that an
airbrush can produce in the hands of someone who knows how to use one.
There was no going back - I had to have a Raptor of my own and in that
short space of time my dormant interest in modelling was back ‘n
burning! So it came to pass that I pleaded at the time of my birthday
that I receive thanks for being brought into the world in the form of
hard cash, thank you very much. So with £60.00 odd pounds sterling in my
hand I snatched the last 1/6 scale Horizon Velociraptor kit off the
shelf of my nearest stockist and skipped happily all the way home.
Now, to bring the beast to life.
I cut off the moulding plugs and held the various bits up to each
other to test the fit. As this was my first vinyl model I was
discovering lesson one the hard way - when the parts come out of the
mould they’re put to one side to cool. As they chill on the
manufacturer's work bench they deform. Not a little but a lot. So the
parts don’t fit even vaguely well. This is a disappointing culture shock
when you’ve forked out sixty plus beer vouchers for something that
appears to be a hopeless case. Still, every problem has a solution or
three. My wife comes to the rescue.
I robbed my wife of her hair dryer (after waiting for her to finish
using it of course) and shot hot air over the ends that needed to be
reformed. Suitably warm, the vinyl was pulled and pushed into shapes
that ultimately mated very well together. The trick is not to get it too
toasting and to be near cold water so you can plunge it in (not the
hairdryer) and instantly set the new form.
Before long I had a nearly complete animal. Well, the head was missing
(which is a bit of a disadvantage for a dino) but for a good reason -
the eyes. You see, Marcus Nicholls (editor of Tamiya Magazine) had cut
out the vinyl eyes of his Raptor and replaced them with glass taxidermy
substitutes. The effect on the front of the magazine was electric. The
eyes simply give life to the model in a way that paint over vinyl can’t
I rang Marcus at the magazine's office and he was very helpful in
explaining what he’d used and so on. I ordered a pair of identical eyes
for my kit and was astounded that the effect ‘in the flesh’ was even
greater than the pictures conveyed. So out came the vinyl and in they
went. The Raptor grew a head and all she needed (mine’s a girl – must be
some left over teenage hormones still kicking around) was paint and a
I had an airbrush. I had a compressor. I had paint. I had three cats.
I had a wardrobe. I had my Raptor on top of it. I had the weekend
looming to spray the beast.
‘I’m home dear’, I said as I came in one Friday evening. ‘Do you want
the bad news or the really bad news or the tiny amount of good news
first dear’? My wife looked grim but then she always did when I’d gone
out wearing one of her dresses.
‘As it comes please’ I replied, gripping the stair rail. ‘Well you know
your dinosaur thingy, one of the cats has had it off’. I reeled in
horror. ‘One of the cats has attempted an obscene act with my Raptor?
Those cataracts will have to come out’! ‘No you prawn – the cat jumped,
the dino fell – it’s a kit again – the good news is I think I got all
the pieces before I vacuumed the floor’!
When I examined the slaughter I found the forearms had shattered like
glass leaving head, body, rear legs and tail intact. The original parts
count was around twenty-five. Feline interference had lifted this to
Back Into Theatre
know the advice experienced modellers always give – keep the sprues?
Well, I had some left over from a couple of aircraft kits and these were
transformed into bones of sorts that allowed the multitude of fragments
and chunks to reform into limbs.
The bit that really struck me was the very clean way the vinyl had
fractured, not at all as I had expected. Careful re-assembly therefore
meant relatively easy clean up of the warty skin until it was impossible
to believe the Raptor’s short and unsuccessful attempt to make like a
Pterandon was anything more than a dream.
Horizon’s Raptor is part of series the (sadly now defunct) company
ran following the film Jurassic Park. It seems they were given access to
the moulds used by Stan Winston and his team in the creation of the
special effects and as such, it represents the movie Raptor, not the
real animal that ran (we think) in packs in prehistoric times.
The film Raptor is depicted some six feet tall, not the four feet of the
living Velociraptor. I guess the film makers figured man size was more
scary so applied 33% artistic licence. In actual fact, Dinonychus (a
relative of Velociraptor) was six feet tall with similar habits but
doesn’t have the ‘Raptor’ name advantage and didn’t therefore make the
cast list. However, it will always remain my favourite dino but not one
I’d have liked to meet as it’s believed it had binocular night vision
capability – now that is scary!
lower jaw is a separate part so the mouth and teeth were painted in
advance of the main event before being attached and masked off with the
Happily there are no FS or RLM colours for dinosaur models so freedom
of choice is the order of the day.
The kit was primed with a grey acrylic car body spray and left to
cure as a barrier to the Tamiya paint thinned with cellulose that was to
This was my first major airbrush project so I made plenty of mistakes to
the point where evidence of my failure meant I was better off starting
again with the top coats. Second hit was more in line with where I
wanted to be so it was satin varnished and later dark washed before
getting the satin sealer treatment.