King Kong 1933

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JoeCS

Active Member
This is a build log of a King Kong (1933) model from scratch. He will technically be in "studio scale" (based off the 19.5" tall Kong which Bob Burns owns), but because I'm making a static model and not a stop motion puppet replica, I put this thread here and not in the studio scale forum. If you'd like to know more about how I figured out Kong's proportions and height, check out this thread: https://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=290296.

So, here's a brief overview of how I plan to build the model:

-Armature made mostly of wire (where his skull is carved wood)
-Cotton batting and thread to build up his muscles
-Thin coat of PVA glue to smooth everything out
-Head, hands, chest, and feet sculpted in clay, molded in silicone, and cast in resin
-Final assembly of attaching resin pieces to armature
-Painting
-Fur coat

And here is where I am now, still on step one:

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All in all, the build process is not that different from how the actual Kong puppets were made. I'm just doing a couple things differently so that this model will last much longer than a puppet with rubber skin. The goal, though, is to make something that looks identical on the outside to the original puppet.

Up next is working on the skull, hands, and feet pieces of the armature, so until then, thanks for looking!

-Joe
 

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JoeCS

Active Member
Small update - Just continuing the work on the skull. I was also thinking about display options, where one is Kong on the top of the Empire State Building. The building section alone would be 17.5" tall, not including Kong who would add another 10 inches or so. So I may just go with the puppet by himself with a Fay Wray miniature in his hand.

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JoeCS

Active Member
Continued work on the skull. I started adding the teeth by gluing on square strips of wood. The top two fangs took a long time to shape because I wanted to get them right. The other teeth will just be a matter of cutting in some detail with an xacto.

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I'm starting to get something which looks like a Kong skull, which is promising. His skull is very different from an actual gorilla's, his is more square, which may be part of an effort to make him a mix between a human and gorilla.

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kev1969

Well-Known Member
King Kong is one of my favourite films of all time, good luck on your build and subscribed :)
 

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JoeCS

Active Member
King Kong is one of my favourite films of all time, good luck on your build and subscribed :)
Thanks! One of my favorites as well, if not my favorite. This is something I've always wanted, especially because there aren't really model kits of Kong
 

JoeCS

Active Member
Worked mainly on the lower jaw today.

20180520_162821.jpg

I'd like for his mouth to be able to close completely, but if I can't get it to work, it's not the end of the world. His mouth will be open on the final display anyway. I'm pretty happy with the fangs, which are probably the most important part of this area, but the rest of his teeth still need some refining.

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JoeCS

Active Member
Popped out the armature for the hands because I was tired of working on the skull. The Bob Burns armature has two differently designed hands, one of which is cleaner and sharper looking, so I based both of my hands on that sharper one.

20180521_210546.jpg

Looking ahead, it is apparent that the wire alone may not be enough to support his weight, or at least he'll be very wobbly in his arms and spine without some extra stability. I haven't tried putting the cotton batting over the armature yet, but I'm thinking even then he'll still shake around, so I may be putting copper pipe over the wire to make sure he doesn't move at all.

EDIT: Tested the cotton batting on just one of the arms and the body slumped over from the weight. I wrapped the batting many times around the armature, but I think in the end I may do layers of cotton fluff and batting so I can define his muscles more, and this layered method will likely be lighter than pure batting. Nevertheless, I still want to reinforce his legs and back, and it wouldn't hurt to do the same to the arms.
 
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nick daring

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Copper pipe reenforcement is a solid idea!

I've wanted to do this exact style of project for years. Eagerly watching how it comes out!
 

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JoeCS

Active Member
Copper pipe reenforcement is a solid idea!

I've wanted to do this exact style of project for years. Eagerly watching how it comes out!
Found out today that my armature was deeply flawed from the start, and that it's easier to just make a new, more stable one from scratch than trying to reinforce the old one. This will probably involve some soldering work, but that's not too big of a deal. The skull and hands are fine as is though, i just need to remake the body. More updates at a later point...

Thanks for sharing your interest in the project! Hopefully by the end of this I'll have worked out the do's and don't's of making a Kong
 

scotthothpatrol

Active Member
Hi joe
I am intrigued by your build. For your armature have you considered using aluminum armature wire? How were you going to do the fur? If memory serves me correctly I think the original had a brownish colored rabbit fur that was made by rubberizing the hide. This meaning the pelt was given a coat of glue brushed over it to hold the hairs in place and then the hair was cut off from the hide and a coat of latex brushed on and finally the glue is dissolved in water. I used the same technique using calf hide for a taun taun. Nice work on carving the head out of wood.
Scott
 

JoeCS

Active Member
The new armature is coming along. I plan to join the copper pipes together by soldering two strands of twisted copper wire (so that's 4 pieces of wire, technically) to each piece of pipe. The wire for the neck, the wood pieces for the collar and waist, and the pipe for the spine are all joined together, and they are really solid, so I'm hoping the rest of the armature will follow suit. I have yet to make the wood pieces for the feet, but it'll be nice having pipe going through the feet because I can have screws coming up from a base which go through the pipe and hold him up.

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JoeCS

Active Member
Hi joe
I am intrigued by your build. For your armature have you considered using aluminum armature wire? How were you going to do the fur? If memory serves me correctly I think the original had a brownish colored rabbit fur that was made by rubberizing the hide. This meaning the pelt was given a coat of glue brushed over it to hold the hairs in place and then the hair was cut off from the hide and a coat of latex brushed on and finally the glue is dissolved in water. I used the same technique using calf hide for a taun taun. Nice work on carving the head out of wood.
Scott
I have thought of aluminum armature wire. I'm just using materials which are readily available to me. I'm basing my build somewhat on this documentary, skip to like 53 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsDHbWx-6ZI. I trust their process, which is basically armature, cotton, rubber latex, fur. Doesn't seem like the fur was covered with anything, considering it moves a lot during the movie.

Also, I plan to buy faux fur. If it's cut and sewed to fit snug over his arms and legs, I think those will look fine, but I will have to glue it in certain places like his head and hands.
 

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JoeCS

Active Member
Thanks for the Youtube link. I actually saw that a few years back but forgot about it. I look forward to seeing your progress.

I did a little research and found this, an excerpt from King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson. It doesn't seem like the fur was rubberized, but it does shed light on how they attached the fur to his body. This also mentions how they smoothed down the pelt with glycerin, which is probably why, in addition to the animators handling the puppets, Kong's fur is so flat throughout the movie. They don't really offer any info on what glue was used, and the documentary through the youtube link glosses over how they attached their pelt.

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Here is an image of Kong how Bob Burns received him. The puppet was unchanged since filming Son of Kong, hence the white fur. But it looks like the fur and latex skin were sort of one unit, so when the latex failed, so did the fur.

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What does this mean for my build? I have no idea, really. I want something that will last virtually forever, so I don't want to recreate the techniques used for making stop motion puppets, as those puppets serve very different purposes than display models. I've also never worked with fur (or in this case I'll be working with faux fur). Below is a promotional image from the movie, it's my favorite image of Kong and what I'll be basing his expression on. His fur here looks a little more fluffed up than how it appears in the movie, and I prefer it this way than how it looks in the film.

King-Kong-1933.jpg


Long response, but I'm just trying to work out how to tackle this thing.
 

JoeCS

Active Member
Completed the most exciting part of the build.

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The feet were actually interesting to tackle because the Bob Burns armature has none of its toes, and the Peter Jackson armature does have its toes but the design of the feet overall are pretty different. So for mine, I just winged it, and they turned out well.
 

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