Friday, September 16, 2016

Buried Treasures: Aurora Comicscene Model Kits

Redartz:  Greetings, everyone!  Under the banner of "Buried Treasures", we have been treated to glimpses of various Bronze Age rarities pulled from the dust of time (and storage box). Today I'll share a story of 'buried treasure' which might be better described as a 'reacquired treasure': the 1974 Aurora Spider-Man model kit, and it's accompanying comic.

 In 1966 Aurora Plastics started a line of model kits featuring superheroes from Marvel and DC, including Superman, Batman, Hulk,  Captain America and Spider-man. They were produced until 1970, and then in 1974 they were revived. This newer release featured an instruction book which also contained a short comic story telling the tale of the assembled model scene. In the case of the Spider-man kit, the comic was written by Len Wein and drawn by Spidey's own John Romita! 

1974 also happened to be the year when I caught the comic fever, and when I saw that Spider-Man kit on sale at the local Woolworth's, it was ordained. Had to have it. Thanks to my kindly, understanding parents, that cool plastic face-off between Spidey and Kraven was soon sitting on my bedroom shelf. And so it stayed for some years...until somewhere at college it vanished. Never found it, and figured it gone, and basically forgot about it. 

Until, that is, my wife and I attended a local flea market earlier this year, and lo and behold: sitting on a table was that same Aurora Spider-Man model, boxed even!  The dealer didn't think the comic was still there, but I opened it up to see if the kit itself was intact. Amazingly, not only were all the pieces still there, but so was the comic- and in brand new condition! Well, just like that day years before, I was hooked. Took it home, took two weeks to assemble and paint it (the webbing was the biggest challenge). This time thanks went to my understanding wife, as I spent each evening after work upstairs with a very tiny brush and tube of Testor's cement.

The finished product:

And now, as many of you may never have seen this item, here are some pages from the instruction 'comic', beautifully rendered by the Jazzy One. Incidentally, page 5 shows only the background, as it was provided for use as a display for the model kit. Enjoy!


Does it strike anyone else that Spider-man seems rather unconcerned that his webbing was responsible for the destruction of some valuable, historic tapestries?


Dangermash commented today on the likelihood of the Spider-Man model kit being based upon Amazing Spider-Man 34. Here's a  panel from that issue- no Kraven, but the pose and setting are certainly similar...

And that's my tale for today. Anyone else have this, or one of the other kits? How did the assembly work out for you? Any details on the other instruction comics? Tell us all about it...


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I suspect that ASM #34 was the original inspiration for the design of the model and that the Romita comic strip was drawn afterwards. Maybe because Stan didn't want anybody to be reminded of Ditko?

And that Romita strip has a few swipes in it, doesn't it? Alive it swipes of his own work.

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, Spidey's attitude about the destruction of historical artifacts is quite cavalier, to put it lightly. Also, Kraven of all people should know that spiders aren't insects ... :P

Redartz, I have to commend you on putting that model together. Even as a kid, I barely had the patience to put those damn things together (which is why I only had a few - of dinosaurs, naturally) - as an adult, I don't think I'd even bother taking the pieces out of the box. Love the comic, though - it reminds me that back in the mid-'70s a line of the G.I. Joe dolls, er, that is, action figures, also came with comic books.

Doug said...

Redartz, that is a beautiful model!

I actually had this kit as a child -- I must have only been 7 or 8. I recall being so disappointed that the models I put together never approached the glory that was the image on the box. What? Paint them?? Yes, I had many, many little bottles of that Testor's paint. I believe I also had the Batman model from Aurora, and maybe a Planet of the Apes one as well.

Thanks for the memories today.


david_b said...

Great subject today, Redartz.

As most know, 1973 was my first year in Marvel Zuvembism and this kit was probably my first Aurora model as well. I saw it at a Milwaukee store just as my Dad was driving me back home and I frankly pined/begged to get it. He did buy it and I paid him back, what a brightly-colored glorious box for it as well. I saved most of these 'box fronts' for the next year or so I built these. Previously I had only the AMT Trek sets and some Aurora Monster kits as a youngin'.

I felt bad for those kits that were molded in the non-primary subject-matter color, but I believe all these were in red, luckily enough. I did the eyes and spiders quite well, but didn't seem courageous enough to try the suit webbing; only a few years later did I master the art of 'dirtying-down' ship models like the Space:1999 Eagle and the later-Millennium Falcon ~ That process would have been a nice alternate way to embellish and contrast the webbing to a lesser-degree.

The comics were all very well drawn, I had only gotten the Hulk and Batman kits after that. The ones I would have LOVED to have had were Robin and Captain America ~ Neither were ever found in my childhood. Frankly, I was always a perfectionist with my modeling skills so occasionally I'm happy I didn't find them, I would have been a nervous wreck in my painting and probably lost patience. These days, I still have my Spidey figure from that kit somewhere in my stash. The stand is probably long gone, but his figure itself is still boxed up somewhere.

Actually I've collected a few of the original '60s empty Aurora boxes for display, they're quite nice. There's a few nice eBay sellers who professionally air-brush and sell them, every so often I still look for a finished Robin model to purchase, but with the altered '70s swooped hairline painted in, not the Kane cowlicks.

(Uggh, I had enough of that look with my Mego Robin..)

Martinex1 said...

Redartz, that is very cool. I give you a lot of credit. I never had the patience or the steady hands for that type of work. Very nice.

I also never saw that model before. It is pretty clever that they have that one page without characters to be used as the background to the model.

Redartz said...

Thanks for the comments and kind words, folks!

Dangermash- nice observation regarding ASM 34. Looked it up (thanks to that wonderful Omnibus edition), and found a panel of Spidey perched upon a stairway rail. I'll try to post that frame later, it looks pretty similar to the model design. The timing would have been right, as that comic was cover dated March 1966, and the original Aurora kits came out later in that same year.

Edo and Martinex- thanks, it did require some patience. Also very small brushes, several corrections and an occasional 'oops'. Oh, and Edo, I wanted but never had those dinosaur models. Did have a caveman, though.

Doug- your youthful disappointment is understandable. That's some challenging work for any kid. My original model didn't finish quite as well, to my great consternation.

David_b- great tips about the 'dirtying down' technique. I considered that, but figured I might just muddy up the whole thing.And very cool that you have some of those original boxes, maybe you can post some photos...

Anonymous said...

Looks good Redartz; like Edo and martinex1, I never had the patience for that sort of thing. I'd probably end up like Homer Simpson, with half the pieces glued to my face.

Mike Wilson

pfgavigan said...


Hey Mike Wilson . . .

Whenever I put together a model, especially one of a military aircraft, it always wound up looking like the ones done by Calvin from 'Calvin and Hobbes'.

In short, the plane encountered heavy FLAK and went down without survivors.




I had the Hulk model from this series. All I can say is that when I was finished it looked like Thunderbolt Ross finally won one.

Redartz said...

PFG- love the "Calvin and Hobbes" reference! We can all relate to a frazzled kid, fingers sticky and head swimming from Testor's glue fumes.
Say, regarding your Hulk model- do you recall anything about the comic?

pfgavigan said...


Hey Redartz . . .

About all that I recall is that Happy Herb Trimpe did the art and Green Genes was fighting either the army or Hydra.

The trouble with assembling models is that it's really a learned skill and parents are only so tolerant about buying kits to experiment with.



ps, just did a google image search. Definitely Hydra, the disposable evil empire.

Graham said...

I got the Superman and Batman sets for Christmas when I was four or five. Of course, I had to have assistance. My dad helped me glue it and my aunt painted it. She did a really good job, except she got the colors reversed on Batman's chest insignia (still looked pretty cool though).

When I was a teenager, I repurchased the Batman model and did it myself. Only difference that I can remember was that the chest insignia was a sticker this time.

Jack Alberti said...

Seriously curious. How much did you pick this little gem for?

Redartz said...

Graham- that's a nice family effort you describe. Pretty cool gifts for a five-year-old (or for any age, for that matter).

JackAlberti- the dealer at the flea market originally asked 25 dollars for it, but when we discovered the comic was still included, he asked 30.00. I still considered it a bargain...

Stephen said...

I had one of these! Wow, I had forgotten about it for many years until seeing this thread. I had the one with Robin, who in the midst of trying to put out some lab fire. 1974 sounds about right, maybe 1975 or 1976. I was in no more than about first or second grade. I wasn't really buying comics of my own yet. I knew Robin from reruns of the '60s Batman show, which aired every weekday afternoon on one of the local cable stations, and of course from Superfriends. Since he didn't seem impossibly older than me, he seemed to be a hero I could aspire to be and thus was my favorite. There was an accompanying comic book, the content of which I barely remember. I have no idea who drew it.

Anonymous said...

I have a Hulk, Spiderman and a Robin all glued together but unpainted. Any one know where I could sell these?

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