War Of The Colossal Beast

The box art for this OOP vinyl kit from Billiken.

War of The Colossal Beast” (1958) is a science fiction horror film by Bert I. Gordon who was something of a poor man's version of Ray Harryhausen and Roger Corman. His earlier black and white films were the standard fare of the Fifties and Sixties drive-in theater and though were often derided for their terrible special effects but are still held dear by some. 95% of Gordon's films involved gigantism of some kind, be it human or otherwise, and WOTCB is no exception.

The film is the sequel to “The Amazing Colossal Man” (1957) where a US Army officer, Glenn Manning, is accidentally caught in an atomic blast (an effective sequence I might add) and subsequently grows to great size to terrorize the country side. He ultimately meets his supposed doom by falling to his death off Boulder Dam. Why no one tries to retrieve a 50 foot corpse floating down the Colorado River is never explained which ultimately paves the way for the sequel.

In this story, the facially deformed (presumably from his fall) and taller (60 feet now) Glenn Manning resurfaces (pardon the pun) as a half crazed monster terrorizing the countryside once again. I have to mention that the deformed face makeup is pretty darn good though it essentially piggy back's on the make up from another Burt I Gordon film “The Cyclops” from the year before.

The scene in this diorama is at the conclusion of the second film where Manning, in a moment of clarity, realizes the damage he has done along with the plight of his condition, so he commits suicide by grasping the high tension power lines before him and promptly disappears from sight which handles the body disposal issue unbelievably. On a side note, this scene switches to full color during his electrocution which was surprisingly effective despite the disappearing act.

My build of this kit. Note that the kit only had the figure. I made the other elements of the diorama which measures 10" deep and 20" wide.

The kit is a 1986 (!!!) release from Billiken Models and though I don't really care for vinyl kits that much, this one was a pleasure to work with. The detailing was excellent and the model had well fitting joints and were easy to disguise with hobby putty.

The two transmission towers are 3D prints that I scaled to fit the scene. They don't really match those in the film but mine look a bit more realistic. The base is a shallow shadow box of the type that I had used before and provides an excellent hiding place for wiring and a power supply (like a battery) should one decide to light a scene.

I contoured the base with randomly shaped chunks of 1” thick builders foam and placed 3” x 4” flat pieces at either end to act as bases for the two towers. I then covered it all with a layer of plaster cloth to enclose the entire surface. After the cloth had set, I coated it with a layer of Mod Podge dyed green and then dusted the entire surface with scenic ground foam using various shades of green and brown to simulate a grassy field or meadow.

As I said, the two towers were 3D printed and required a little assembly, mainly attaching the four arms to each that support the high tension lines. I used common pins in the end of each arm to mount small craft beads to simulate ceramic insulators and slightly larger beads for the aerial marker balls.

Before stringing the towers with stiff wire, I fabricated a number of trees and shrubs of varying sizes to populate the open field. To further break up the monotony of the field, I made a small pond surrounded by rocks & trees out of clear resin.

I was going to leave the scene as it was but some visitors remarked that the giant (Manning) would look cool getting electrocuted as I had described it to them. Not being one to miss an opportunity to further enhance a scene in the most horrific way possible, I set out to find a way to “electrify” it without harming myself or any future observers.

After a bit of searching on the Google machine, I found that the methods shared there for a lightening or electric arc effect weren't, well, electrifying. I ended up using fine wire that I twisted into electrical “trees” and then crumpled into zigzag shapes, using Google pictures of lightening and electrical arcs as visual guides. I then painted each strand with fluorescent blue craft paint followed by a coating of glow-in-the-dark paint which worked out pretty well. Once the paint had dried, I CA glued each electrical “tree” to the high tension lines near the figure which was easier to say than do since they wanted to stick to me more than the high tension lines.

This build was a little more challenging than I had anticipated but I enjoyed it nonetheless. That's what I love about this hobby is that it can take you into directions you hadn't thought of when you began that sometimes result in a better scene altogether. 9/6/21

  • Left side angle shot. Click for a larger image.

  • Right side angle shot. Click for a larger image.

  • A B&W still from the film. Click for a larger image.

  • My take on the same scene. Unfortunately, the stance in mine is different but my trees look better. ;-)