The Ultra monster garage kit fest continues...



billiken ultra-q pegira

The walrus-headed, frost-breathing, wind-whipping, object-levitating, & black smoke-generating Pegira first appeared in episode 5 of Ultra-Q, set in the frozen Antarctic. The clever protagonists figure out that he's vulnerable to a substance derived from a moss (Pegamin-H... or is it Arinamin-A?), and deliver a dose packed in a missile. He reappears in episode 14, set in an unseasonably frozen Tokyo. Once again, Pegamin-H comes to the rescue (there's also a subplot involving a kid, a down-on-his-luck thief who used to be a pilot, etc., etc...) He was briefly resurrected as Chandora in Ultraman (with the addition of ears), and gets gruesomely whupped by Red King in the episode, "The Lawless Monster Zone" (where "lawless" means that it's okay to tear off your opponent's wings).

billiken ultra-q pegiraThis was another reconditioning/repainting project from eBay. The original modeler had added the Milliput ears and anchored them with piano wire (but apparently they'd broken off and hadn't been reputtied/painted). The overall paint job was strange-- it looked "hard" with a candy-like sheen. Although it had lots of different shades, they seemed to be applied randomly in patches, and as a result the features and detail were concealed in the randomness. The eyes were crudely painted with too-thick paint and the pupils had ragged edges, so at the very least, these would need to be redone. The part that I really liked were the nails. These were far yellower than any I'd ever seen or done, with a fantastic gradation of brown to orange to yellow. I don't know why the tusks weren't painted that way, but it makes me wonder about the history of this model: How many hands had this thing gone through?

Before starting my remodeling, I had lots of questions. It felt slightly heavy for vinyl, the vinyl seemed very stiff, and the frontal detail seemed a little soft. I wondered what was behind the paint: was it was a thick, detail-obliterating accretion of paint layers and putty? Or was it just the way that Billiken made things in 1989? I was hoping it was the latter since I wasn't up for the tedious and messy job of stripping all the paint. I stripped a small section from the bottom of a foot, and the paint seemed to be a single coat. I did one more test-- I had decided to restore the model back to Pegira, and had to remove paint and putty from the head. This is what convinced me that the paint coat wasn't objectionably thick. That's not a definitive test, but it's what I wanted to see. That meant that I could treat the brown as a primer coat and paint over it. If there were gobs of putty elsewhere under the paint, I didn't want to know about it!

I decided to change the paint scheme to gray because I believe that this is closer to the monster suit's color-- at least it seems to be true for Chandora, from what I can tell from my poor quality video and a single tiny color photo.

I haven't had very many pleasant experiences with airbrushes, so this was a real shocker-- I actually enjoyed airbrushing this! This was probably the first time that I haven't had problems with paints instantly congealing in the nozzle, nasty spatters/spitting, & apocalyptic spills. From start to finish, it was as easy as adding paints to the color cup to change blends, with a little thinner added between colors, and a final cleaning when I'd finished painting. I think that's the way it's supposed to be. If I'd been a little more optimistic, I'd probably have masked the nails, so that I wouldn't have had to clean them up afterwards. Nevertheless, I'm pleased-- the paint's got some nice gradations of gray and white over the brown, with a greenish and yellowish cast in certain areas. It seems to bring out details that weren't apparent before.



billiken ultraman antora antler

This wasn't a very interesting kit to mess with. The original modeler had done a perfectly fine job given the subject matter-- It's a frickin' ant (or Ant Lion), and all it needed was a black wash over the dark brown base. To his credit, he didn't try to make it unique by doing a faux marble paint job. I added the two pairs of his small comb-like and beaded feelers, painted the eyeballs white, and dusted his frontside with yellow pastel chalk. The yellow is more muted than the actual costume's, which reflects the fact that I didn't think it was such a great idea on the original monster suit. Likewise for the humps on his back, which should have a hint of blue.

The actual monster & episode are much more interesting. The episode is set in the far-off desert lands of Baraj, where there's a forgotten people with an old timey mystical legend. The monster's got a kewl set of monster sounds (derived from Rodan's), and can create a magnetic vortex which messes with modern technology and stuff in general. He gives Ultraman a very respectable battle: It's one of the few where Ultraman is actually saved by the humans.



billiken ultraseven pegassa seijin

Back in the late '60s, they didn't have shows like "What Not To Wear", and lots of people wore bell bottoms, leather fringe jackets, and just about anything (or nothing at all). That might have something to do with this guy's squirrely looks, but maybe not. Oh... that's right, it's a monster suit, or more acurately, an alien suit. Who knows where the flesh begins and ends?

If I didn't already like the designs of most of the Ultraseven creatures, I'm not sure that I would now. Objectively speaking, some of them are pretty funky, and hint of the impending downward spiral in creature design. Ultraman Ace gave us a brief glimpse of some of the most absurdly stupid creature designs imaginable, and unfortunately, more were to follow with greater frequency in later incarnations of the Ultra shows. They weren't all bad, but when they were bad, they were really, really bad...

I think this guy looks kewl. As a kid, the image of him revealing his true form in Annu Yuri's room was burned into my brain as a classic moment. He was one of the few aliens that you felt sorry for. He didn't grow to 40 meter size for a climactic battle with Ultraseven. I think he may be the only one who escaped without getting sliced, diced, exploded, or fatally maimed by an energy beam. I never thought to critique the components of his outfit like those puffy things, his boots, and his smock. It's perhaps a little like one's religious upbringing. Now, looking at the costuming piece by piece to evaluate its components seems somehow sacrilegious: It detracts from the spirit and content of the episode and steals some of the magic that the episode held. But I suppose it's good to take a step back to reassess things-- it gave me the perspective I needed to cancel the order with the Hong Kong tailor for my custom Pegassa Seijin styled Dinner Jacket.

The original modeler did an outstanding job on this one.