My Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Collection video

dimetrodon w alt base 018 - by Mike K

My Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Collection video

I put together this video to showcase my Aurora Prehistoric Scenes model kits. All the kits were built and painted by me. Most of the ones in this video are original 1970’s kits, not reissues. Many of these were damaged and had missing pieces that I refurbished. For some I made minor modifications. I have more kits yet to be built that I will be working on in the coming year. Part II of my video will be made when they are complete. I did a voice over in my 1950’s style narration voice. it came out hokey but I left it in anyways. It was my dry attempt at humor…

Kits: Cro-Magnon Man, Cro-Magnon Woman, Neanderthal Man, Sabertooth Tiger, The Tar Pit, The Giant Bird, Allosaurus (2 kits), The Wooly Rhino, Dimetrodon

You can see photos of these kits and more here: Model kits by Mike K

dimetrodon w alt base 008 -  - by Mike K

Aurora Prehistoric Scenes – Allosaurus (w/original base) – model kit

 Aurora Allosaurus pic 1

Aurora Prehistoric Scenes – Allosaurus (w/original base)

This is my original Allosaurus by Aurora. When I say ‘original‘ I mean there are no modifications made to the kit or base. However, it is actually a combination of original released Aurora parts and re-released Revell Allosaurus parts, plus half the base was the recast from Prehistorix.

So, it is original in look and spirit but not all original Aurora parts.

The Allosaurus base was only produced for one year (I’m thinking it was 1971) then the kit was sold without a base for many years from Aurora and re-issued for many years through Revell without a base.

I’d like to thank the guys from Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Historical Society for helping me find missing parts to complete the kit and save it from the trash heap.

Also, I’d like to mention, this guy has been snubbed by the Jurassic Park franchise for too long, what’s the story?

 

My Top 5 Dinosaur Movies, other than Jurassic Park.

one million years BC pic 8

My Top 5 Dinosaur World Movies, other than Jurassic Park

In preparation for Jurassic World, you may want to catch up on the genre of Dinosaur films. For this list I am speaking of dinosaur worlds, not just single dinosaurs that have been awakened in modern times for the purpose of a film. Dinosaur worlds include; Islands, continents, planets, prehistoric times, underground caverns, etc. I’m also talking about real dinosaurs for the most part, animals that once roamed the earth, not fictional beasts created for sci-fi films.

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5) Planet of Dinosaurs (1977)
We got some beautifully crafted dinosaurs in this film. One of the final forays into stop-motion dinosaur extravaganzas, it is a cult favorite for dinosaur fans. The script and plot ain’t so great but the bevy of fantastic creatures make it worth a viewing.
Dinosaurs: Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Rhedosaurus, Ceratopsian, Brontosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Kentrosaurus, Allosaurus, and Struthiomimus

planet of dinosaurs dvd planet of dinosaurs pic 23

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4) The Land that Time Forgot (1978)

The dinosaurs in this film aren’t perfect but this film gets the nod for variety of species and prehistoric beasts. The dinos were scale rod-puppets which made interaction with humans minimal, the giant pterodactyl that carries off the caveman being the exception. A good story penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs lands this in the Top 5. Extra points for the awesome movie poster!
Dinosaurs: Mosasaurus, Plesiosaur, Diplodocus, Pterodactyl, two Allosaurus, two Styracosaurus, Ichthyostega,  Triceratops,  Ceratosaurus

the land that time forgot - poster the land that time forgot pic 19

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3) When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970)
With Victoria Vetri running around in a dino hide bikini, it would be hard to take notice of the dinosaurs. However, these dinos are noticed because of their fabulous renditions in stop-motion artistry. The stop-motion dinos were the work of Jim Danforth. There’s not a lot of dinos in the film but they are top notch-Danforth’s work in this film rivals the greats, Harryhausen and O’Brien.
Dinosaurs: Plesiosaur, Chasmosaurus, Rhamphorhynchus, A carnivorous dinosaur based on the Scelidosaurus, (and it’s baby). 

when-dinosaurs-ruled-the-earth-movie-poster-1970 When Dinosaurs ruled the earth pic 6

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2) King Kong (1933)
This is the first mega dinosaur-land presented to the public at a time when most people didn’t have a clear picture of what dinosaurs looked like and were just discovering these creatures. The T. Rex is a fast moving, active beast as described by Charles R. Knight, not the slow sluggish reptiles other scientists were in favor of portraying. The film made Willis O’Brien the father of stop-motion special effects and giant monsters, influencing future directors and filmmakers, Ray Harryhausen, Ishiro Honda, Peter Jackson, Steven Speilberg, and Tim Burton, to name a few. Marcel Delgado built O’Brien’s models and was largely responsible for capturing the look O’Brien wanted for the dinos (and Kong).
Dinosaurs: Pteranodon, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, Styracosaurus (edited out), Elasmosaurus and although he’s not a dino, King Kong

King Kong posterkong

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1) One Million Years BC (1966)
Although given moderate praise through the years, this film contains some of Ray Harryhausen’s most impressive dinosaurs. I think the special effects were overshadowed by Raquel Welch and her fur bikini – (the original furkini, accept no substitutes!). But take a look at the beautiful renditions of the Triceratops and Brontosaurus and you’ll see some master craftsmanship. I’d like to mention that the models were sculpted by Arthur G. Hayward with direction from Ray and designed from Ray’s artwork.
Dinosaurs: Archelon, Brontosaurus, Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Triceratops, Pteranodon, Rhamphorhynchus

one-million-years-bc_thumb one million years BC pic 12

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Honorable Mentions:
Valley of Gwangi (1969)
Once again Harryhausen applies his talents to prehistoric beasts with great success.

Valley of Gwangi poster Valley-Of-Gwangi

 

Dinosaurs (2000)
Despite being a Disney film with talking dinos, it has some great scenes and dino imagery.

dinosaur 2000 poster dinosaur 2000 pic 1

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OK, want to see some more dino pics? Here ya’ go!

Because this post is about Dinosaurs, I’m going to refrain from posting yet another pic of Raquel in her fur bikini. But if you really want to see one look here!

one million years BC pic 3 b

Planet of Dinosaurs (1977) – movie review

planet of dinosaurs pic 23

Planet of Dinosaurs (1977)

Directed By James Shea
Written by Jim Aupperle and Ralph Lucas

This is an important film for the dinosaur movie fan because it is the last full-length *dinosaur world film to feature stop-motion animation dinosaurs. The film was a labor of love by the (at the time) up-and-coming special effects artists and animators. Most of the animation was handled by Doug Beswick and the effects photography was done by Jim Aupperle who was a knowledgeable special effects camerman. The models were built by Stephen Czerkas and Jim Danforth did some of the matte paintings.

The dinosaurs strive to equal the quality of the men’s mentor and hero, Ray Harryhausen and they even pay tribute with a Rhedosaurus-type dino in the film. The numerous dinosaurs have a unique lizard texture, scaly and knobby and are each planet of dinosaurs dvdmarvelous creations for their stop-motion format. The dinosaurs engage in some violent scenes pushing the envelope of the past, such as when the Ceratopsian impales one of the crew with his forward horn. This film has a large amount of dinosaur action and scenes, as they are the main reason for the film being made. In fact, Aupperle designated most of the limited budget for the film to go into the special effects. Dinosaurs include, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Rhedosaurus, Ceratopsian, Brontosaurus, Tyranosaurus, Kentrosaurus, Allosaurus, and Struthiomimus.

The story is a fairly lame hodge-podge of old ideas and is only outdone by a terrible script and hokey dialogue. A spacecraft veers off course and lands in a lake on a distant planet. The crew get out alive but all their equipment is lost. (Sound Familiar anyone?) They find the planet to be populated with savage dinosaurs that attack them relentlessly. The ships captain wants to take a passive path through the land, avoiding the dinos and finding a secure place to hide until help comes. The older experienced macho-man, Jim, wants to show these dinos who’s boss and kill the biggest one in town, the T Rex. At one point the Captain yells at Luke Skywalker dude for giving an hysterical woman a weapon. This was 1977, the year of Charlie’s Angels, didn’t they know women had the power by then?

There’s some weird dialogue about being a vegetarian and a meat eater and how only the meat-eaters survive. To prove the point, all the ‘vegetarians’ die first. The remaining crew sets out to kill the T. Rex. They first kill a Kentrosaurus, stuff it with planet of dinosaurs pic 13poison berries and bring it to Rex’ s cave. Well, old T. Bone skips right over the Kentro and grabs Luke Skywalker dude in his teeth. Ouch! Another team member gone. They come up with a new, more aggressive plan to kill Rex and it works. And they live happily ever after on their new planet.

Realizing early on that the actors are not going to carry the film, the filmmakers take lots of footage of them walking. Up mountains, down hillsides, across deserts, there’s just too much walking. The hokey dialogue is funny at times but wears thin as the film continues. The only saving grace is the last 45 minutes of the film has a lot of dinosaur scenes

If you’re looking for a good story, interesting sci-fi themes or any tense character drama, your ship is way off course with this film. But if you just want to see some impressive stop-motion dinos, and some humans get gobbled up by them, you will find this film enjoyable.

planet of dinosaurs pic 11

Check out more dinosaur film reviews at my master page: Dinosaur films

* other films beyond this point did feature stop-motion animation dinos, most notably The Crater Lake Monster and Q: The Winged Serpent, but POD was the last to show a full dinosaur world with many species of dinosaurs using this form of animation.

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Note about the dvd release:
In a homage to stop-motion effects animation, the dvd special features also include the silent Willis O’Brien shorts, The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1919) and Dinosaur and the Missing Link (1915)

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Notes about the effects crew:

Jim Danforth – worked on films as an animator and/or matte artist quite often uncredited. He made contributions to titles such as: Jack The Giant Killer (1962), The Outer Limits (1963-64), Equinox (1970, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) (the Wonkanator), Diamonds are Forever (1971) (Submarine models animation), Flesh Gordon (1974), The Crater Lake Monster (1977), Clash of the Titans (1980), Creepshow (1981), and many more…

Doug Beswick
Worked on notable films such as The Terminator (1984) (stop motion terminator skeleton), Aliens (1986) (Mechanical armature design), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Flesh Gordon (1974), Beetle juice (1988), Evil Dead II (1987), episodes of Xena Warrior Princess (1998 – 2000), to name a few.

Jim Aupperle
Worked on some mega hits as well including, Ghost Busters (1984), The Thing (1982), Hellboy (2004), Creepshow, Flesh Gordon (1974), Troll (1986), Dinosaur (2000), Harry Potter (part 2), and Ted (2011), to name a few.

Stephen CzerkasSteve Czerkas passed away 2015

And a special note about Stephen Czerkas who passed away January 22, 2015.

Stephen provided modeling and effects work early in his career to films such as, Dreamscape, Flesh Gordon and Planet of Dinosaurs. In 1981 he was commissioned to do some life-sized models of dinosaurs for museums. In the years following he released several books on the subject of paleontology including, Dinosaurs: A Global View, My life with Dinosaurs and Feathered Dinosaurs. In 1992 he opened The Dinosaur Museum in Utah which will continue to astound, inform and educate visitors on the subject of prehistoric beasts.

The Land That Time Forgot (1975) – Amicus Films – movie review

the land that time forgot pic 18

The Land That Time Forgot (1975)

Directed by Kevin Connor
Based on the story by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Doug McClure
John McEnery
Keith Barron
Susan Penhaligon


Here, I get to continue my task of reviewing Amicus Films, and simultaneously revisiting old and obscure dinosaur movies. From the mind of Edgar Rice Boroughs comes a story set during WWI and encompasses the mystery of the Antarctic, specifically a mythological island, Caprona, and what lies beyond its hostile shoreline. Boroughs pictured an unwelcoming fortress that hides inland secrets, perhaps even the secrets of time itself. I had read some Edgar Rice Burroughs books when I was a young lad but can’t remember a lot of specifics. So I’m not sure if this is a good adaptation, but the high drama and action early in the film certainly reflects good writing.

the land that time forgot - poster

The story begins with a man throwing a bottle with a message in it into the sea. This bottle travels until it eventually reaches a narrator, who then reads the manuscript and sets the story in motion. It begins with the survivors of a destroyed British merchant ship coming upon the surfacing U-Boat that had sunk them. When the Germans open the hatches, the survivors overtake the commander and take over the vessel. The survivors consist of two Americans, Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure), and Lisa Clayton (Susan Penhaligon), a biologist, along with a handful of British crew from the Merchant Ship.

After some cat & mouse battles for control of the sub, Tyler realizes they are lost in Antarctica, low on fuel and supplies. He convinces the German commander, Captain von Schoenvorts that they should work together in order to survive. They come across a legendary island of Caprona and find an underwater cavern streaming warm, fresh water and plant life. Tyler, with the help of the Captian, navigates the sub through the tight twisted caverns in a visually and dramatically intense scene. Coming out the other side they are in a tropical land with lush vegetation and numerous forms of life.

In this hidden land kept warm by volcanic activity, they discover dinosaurs; a Mosasaurus, a Plesiosaur, a Diplodocus, a dicken - land time forgotPterodactyl, two Allosaurus, and two Styracosaurus. There is also a prehistoric amphibian, Ichthyostega. Later in the film a Triceratops and a Ceratosaurus fight a bloody battle. I give the film kudos for using a wide variety of prehistoric animals. They also discover oil and the crew rigs parts from the sub to set up a primitive refinery. They battle cavemen and even befriend one. In the end the German officer, Dietz outsmarts the Brits and leave Tyler and Lisa on the island. However, their getaway is foiled by the erupting volcanic activity and the struggle with the Brits on the vessel.

Special effects in the 1970s were going through a transitional stage. Puppetry and animatronics became more cost effective and feasible than stop-motion and made it possible for actors to interact with monsters in real time. The puppettronics and special effects in The Land that Time Forgot range from decent to very puppet-looking to funky rubber appendages being thrust into the actor’s faces. Most of the dinosaur work was done by FX-man, Roger Dicken animating his rod puppets in scale jungle scenes. Despite the drawbacks, I still enjoy the dinosaur interpretations in the film. In some scenes you can see the carnivorous dinosaurs drool. Animatronics and robotics would take over special FX in the next few years with award winning creature designs such as Alien. However, they could never get Dinosaurs exactly right; not until they were able to combine it with CGI some 25 years later in Jurassic Park. To me it’s interesting to see the early evolution of these mechanical FX techniques.

Land Time Forgot Giff

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Fun Facts

Roger Dicken also worked on Alien, The Creeping Flesh, The Blood Beast Terror, Thunderbirds Are Go, Warlords of Atlantis and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.

The Land That Time Forgot was remade in 2009 with CGI dinos and with little similarities to the book. Produced by Asylum Pictures.

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See more Amicus Films reviews at the Amicus Films Overview page

See more Dinosaur Movies reviews at the Dinosaur Films Overview page

Model Kits – Aurora Prehistoric Scenes – Allosaurus

Aurora - allosaurus box Aurora - allosaurus 008

Aurora Prehistoric Scenes

Allosaurus

with custom base

Aurora - allosaurus 001This kit was re-issued by both Monogram and Revell and is still widely available to those who look for it. It originally hit the market in the 1970’s. It had it’s own base for one year, then, for unknown reasons, Aurora dispensed with the base and sold the Dino, only.

The kit I purchased is an original Aurora Prehistoric Scenes kit (without base) in a ‘used lot’ collection. It was missing a hand and the outer half of it’s left arm.

I sculpted a new hand and arm piece.

I never liked the kit’s original green color, so I primed it gray and decided to go with a brown color with snake-like designs along it’s back.

Flowing from the mouth is slather which attempted to make the beast look like it was Jurassic_Park rex scenesalivating over a kill. I debated cutting it off and just having a tongue. I think most kit builders agree, it wasn’t very authentic looking, but I decided to leave it to represent the original kit.

In Jurassic Park, I believe the effects crew set up this shot as a homage to the kit. Instead of slather, the T. Rex had bits of the rubber from the car’s tire hanging from his mouth.

Once the kit was complete, I decided to make a base from scratch. I started with a Styrofoam board and cut out a random shape. I edged it with rocky molding and outcrops to mimic the Aurora bases.

I molded grass and plant designs similar to those on the cave-man kits. I could have used more realistic Scene-it products but I wanted to keep some aspects of the Aurora look. I did use Scene-it trees and some branches.

I liked the idea of the Allosaurus crashing through the trees, onto the scene.

Aurora - allosaurus 014 Aurora - allosaurus 016

 

Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956) – movie review

the beast of hollow mountain pic 9

Rare and Obscure Dinosaur films

Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956) – movie review

This was the first western/dinosaur film mash-up, made many years before The Valley of Gwangi. Both films were based off of a story Idea from Willis O’Brien. It is said that O’Brien penned some of the script under a pseudonym, El Toro Estrella. Although it beat the Harryhausen/Gwangi film to the punch it is not nearly as good. O’Brien was originally going to do the effects for the film but did not for the-beast-of-hollow-mountain-posterunknown reasons. It was directed by Edward Nassour and Ismael Rodriguez and the stop motion effects (and replacement animation) were most likely handled by, Nassour and Henry Lyon, though a clear credit is impossible to find. It stars Guy Madison and Patricia Medina.

An American rancher, Jimmy Ryan, comes to Mexico to find cheap land to raise cattle. He does, right next to a legendary cursed place called Hollow Mountain. The Mountain has never been explored. Soon Cattle go missing and it is said that a giant beast takes them in the night. Jimmy Ryan becomes friend’s with a boy and his father (Panchito and Poncho) and gets into a love triangle with a local gal, Sarita. Soon Jimmy and the rival suitor have to team up to stop the giant beast, an Allosaurus, from destroying the small village and eating their loved ones.

The film is rather dull at points and the Allosaurus was not all that realistic looking compared to dino flicks to that date. The Allosaurus was cartoonish and looked like a dinosaur that you would see in a children’s show. If you replaced the Allosaurus with a wild animal you would have a grade-z western. There were parts of the film I did like. The scene where the Allosaurus attacked Sarita and Pachito and destroyed the barn trying to get them is interesting, but comparable to what you‘d see in the 70‘s children’s TV show, Land of the Lost. It was not a great film, but being a dino-film completist, I had to purchase it nevertheless. It is currently available on Bluray as a double feature with The Neanderthal Man.

the-beast-of-hollow-mountain spanish poster

 

Aurora Monster Models and Prehistoric Scenes Kits

bride of frankenstein newer model b

Aurora Monster Models and Prehistoric Scenes Kits – Part II

When I was a youngster, I loved to build monster model kits. I would see ads in the back of Famous Monsters of Filmland and I would send away for them via mail order or have my mom take me to local hobby shops to purchase them. The premier company in horror model-kits back then (1970’s) was Aurora. I started with the Universal Monsters model kit collections and soon moved on to the Prehistoric Scenes Kits. Eventually, the kits I owned went to the big toy graveyard where all kids things seem to find their end. For the longest time I thought those model kits were gone forever. But recently, I have found many of the wonderful kits I enjoyed as a kid, still available for purchase.

Aurora Prehistoric Scenes kit molds were first bought by Monogram who only kept seven of the Dinosaurs and the Wooly Mammoth. Sadly they destroyed the other kit molds to reuse the material. Then Revell bought Monogram and re-released the dino kits (twice). Today you can still purchase many of the Aurora Dinosaur kits under the Revell label. Although the box art is different, the kits are basically the same as the old Aurora kits minus the bases and extra accessories.
ankylosaurus reissues
the same Ankylosaurus model released through the years…

Many of the Aurora Monster Model kits were purchased by several different companies such as Playing Mantis, Moebius, and Polar Lights. It is a bit of work to hunt all of these down as they release them sporadically but you can get almost all of them. I have recently purchased, The Forgotten Prisoner and the Aurora Godzilla model.godzilla model

On top of that there are several companies that release customizing kits under the “What if…” banner and alternative pieces market which are often called Conversion Kits. You can change the head of the original Godzilla to one that is more in line with the movies. You can change the heads of the Triceratops to create different horned dinosaurs such as the Torosaurus or the Monoclonius. You can change the head of Dr. Jekyll to match the original  film “The Fly” (which looks amazing). You can now buy Julie Adams to fit with your Aurora style Creature From the Black Lagoon, where she will be set in his arms like the famous scene from the film.

Today’s model kits are amazingly detailed and there are quite a few hobbyists that take great pride in the buildingorgo modelg and painting of these kits. Many are limited release and can sell for upwards of $200. There are 3 types of kits, plastic, vinyl, and resin kits. The resin kits are the most expensive and offer the most detail.

One new kit I’ve been waiting for is Gorgo, by the company, Monarch. It was supposed to be released last year but no one has heard any news since. I hope they continue there plans to release it, because it is a fantastic model. Update: model kit was released – you can see my build here: Monarch Gorgo Model Kitaurora models documentary

Below are some links if you care to check out some more info and pics on the subject. Some of the pics used here are from these sites.

If you want to learn more about the Aurora Kits and product lines, a good place to start is with the documentary dvd, The Aurora Monsters: the model craze that gripped the world. You can get the dvd at monstersinmotion.com or Amazon.

www.monstersinmotion.com
www.geometricdesign.net 
www.culttvman.com
www.auroraprehistoricscenes.com
www.tylisaari.com
www.morbidmonster.com
www.universalmonsterarmy.com
http://creaturescape.com

Gallery of classic kits:


Gallery of new kits and conversion accessories:

Model builder vids:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAWsr3aI0Ic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlB_rkH2414&feature=youtube_gdata_player

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnWP3cg0olE