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The Ymir . . . The Other Italian Stallion

 

When you think of Italy, what comes to mind?  Food?  Wine?  Da Vinci?  The Coliseum?  Since this week's film comes from Italy, I thought it would be a good time discuss the Italy's greatest treasure, the Ymir, and its history in model building. 

 

Well, okay . . . technically, the Ymir, Ray Harryhausen's original monster creation from 20 Million Miles to Earth, is from Venus, not "The Boot," but where other giant monsters have chosen to smash up New York, Tokyo and occasionally London, the Ymir is the only cinematic creature to crush the Eternal City. 

 

The Ymir is one of my favorite movie monsters of all time and it has been very popular in the model kit world since the late 1980s.  For one thing, the monster design and back story is inventive, centering on an initially small creature in a cylinder lost at sea when a US rocket fresh from Venus crashes into the Mediterranean and grows to enormous proportions in Earth's atmosphere.   Despite some very corny lines and hammy acting, the Ymir steals (and saves) the show.  This creature has numerous similarities to another sympathetic favorite, King Kong, but otherwise it is a pure original.

 

Probably the first important kit version of the creature (and frankly, I think the first one produced) came from the long defunct company, "Classic Plastic."  Unfortunately, I cannot tell you much about the kit or company, but it came out originally in 1985 (early in the garage kit explosion) and was reissued in the early 1990s.  Almost no other information is available, but the kit stood about 12 inches tall and featured more detail and articulation than most previous kits on any subject . . . just compare it to the Aurora models that came before.

   

The next important Ymir model came from GEOmetric/Max Factory in 1993 as a vinyl kit sculpted by Izumi Takabe.  Though vinyl is a relatively rare thing today in the kit world, it was fairly common in the 90s from the bigger producers like GEO, Screamin' and Horizon.   Vinyl can be challenging to work with but one of the big advantages is the posable parts, so modelers had lots of options for building.  As a result, it can be hard to identify the kit from builder pictures since it could be done in many ways. 

As a separate accessory, modelers could also get a Roman column resin base as seen in the build up to the right from Bill "Monster" Jones.  Bill has been modeling for years and he had one of the first sites on the internet devoted to figure kits.  He was also a regular writer back when I did Creaturescape and a heck of a nice guy.  The bazooka army man and glass eyes were  an add on from Jones and typical of his integrated diorama style.

 

Before we move on, as an interesting historical side note,  the original owner of GEOmetric gave me the back story on the kit and informed me that there were actually TWO heads/versions of the model.  According to George Stephenson, who now owns the exceptional Blackheart Enterprises (aka Blackheart Models):

"The kit [was] a GEOmetric/Max Factory joint venture just as Medusa, Cyclops and Kong.  GEO obtained licensing for the characters, collaborated with MAX regarding the design and look of the model, designed the box art, and then handled all distribution except in Japan.  MAX handled all of the sculpting, molding, and (except for King Kong) casting. 

We had Takabe sculpt a different head for the wider release of the kit. We felt the first head was just a little too flat.  I'd guess that fewer than 50 kits were released with the first head.  They were released in dark blue, purple and light green vinyl. The regular run was brown vinyl."

   

The next two kits come from sculptor Joe Laudati, an artist powerfully inspired by Ray Harryhausen who has produced several of the best renditions of Harryhausen classics ever to grace the kit world.  He is particularly adept at diorama and vignette style sculpts that capture a critical moment in a given film.  The first was a Resin from the Grave kit depicting the showdown between the Ymir and a circus elephant.  It came in approximately 20 pieces.  The kit is so rare there are few photos of a even a completed version, but here is a very nice build up from Geoff Lucier.

   

 

To the right is a kit produced in 2015 by Gillman Productions which is, unfortunately, out of production for the moment.  When completed, this solid resin kit stood a little over 8 inches tall and retailed at $150.  In Joe's words:

 "There's the great scene where it has escaped and is roaming the Italian countryside. It stampedes a flock of sheep and then approaches with curiosity a bleating lamb. I always thought this was the Ymir's "little girl with daisies" moment, a chance for Harryhausen to show his normally rampaging creature with a little more depth of character."

   

Perhaps the most prolific Ymir sculptor of all time is Ohio native, Mick Wood.  Wood has done several versions of the monster including full kits and busts and a few original creatures inspired by Harryhausen's creation like the 2004 "Ymith" seen below:

 

Many of these kits have come and gone, but a couple of Wood's busts are currently available as a pre-order for shipping on October 30, 2017 through Monsters in Motion for $79.99.  This is the deluxe version which stands at nearly a foot tall when completed.  The kit to the left was completed by the talented Bruce Horton.  You should check out his website too at www.handsofhortondesign.com.

   

Finally, we have my personal favorite Ymir kit (and one of my favorites of all time period), a piece from Tony McVey who originally produced the kit in the early 2000s through his company, Menagerie Productions which no longer appears to produce kits.  However, it is being released again through Monsters in Motion in late September of 2017, which is pretty exciting news.   Just like the original, it comes in seven  pressure cast solid resin pieces and it stands over 9 inches tall and is more than a foot long.

The photo to the right is a close up of McVey's paint up and the photo below is my own buildup from about 10 years ago.    As you can see, it is McVey's personal rendition and features more lifelike, dinosaur like anatomy.  In my build, I wanted to use exotic colors (I mean he IS from Venus), but I am tempted to get a new one for a more natural look.

 

 

 

Well, until next time, happy kit building.  Feel free to check out my new site, www.mustbethefumes.com and email me a writesjk@gmail.com if you have questions.

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