King Kong 1933

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Apollo

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Came in late on this.

He is looking great

Would have been cool to see you do a build up on one of sideshows Bob Burns Kong armatures!!
 

JoeCS

Active Member
That is looking fantastic! Here's a couple of reference photos if you haven't seen them already.
Thanks for the kind words! Those first two photos are of the long face Kong, I'm basing mine entirely on the round face one (see photo). I've ordered most of the materials I need to finish the build, so hopefully I'll have some decent updates by the end of the month/early March!

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TheCopperhead

New Member
Look forward to it! Last year I managed to buy a resin skull casting from the Bob Burns Kong armature. It's only till you see it in person, you realise how big the models actually were. Must have been quite cumbersome to animate with back in 1933. Same with the 'Joe Young' models, pretty big for animation puppets.
 

JoeCS

Active Member
Kong's head is covered in silicone and an epoxy mother mold. I have yet to crack it open, I plan on doing that later this week, but I'm crossing my fingers that it works out. Even if there would be something wrong with the resin castings, I could still probably fix it, and worse case scenario I have enough supplies to redo the entire mold.

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Look forward to it! Last year I managed to buy a resin skull casting from the Bob Burns Kong armature. It's only till you see it in person, you realise how big the models actually were. Must have been quite cumbersome to animate with back in 1933. Same with the 'Joe Young' models, pretty big for animation puppets.
After working on this thing for almost a year, I don't think Kong is that big. But I can imagine how massive the sets must have been to accommodate these models. Sets like this (although this one never shows up in the movie) must have been huge.

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JoeCS

Active Member
First castings! There were air bubbles at the points of the fangs, so I'll have to fix those with some epoxy putty - easy fix. And then the head casting came out great for the most part. A few of the wrinkles had some air bubbles so I'll have to repair those, and then there are some little specks of clay and silicone in the surface of the casting, so I'll have to get a needle and pick those out, fill them, etc.

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I also made the chest a couple days ago.

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Thanks for looking!
 

Zombie_61

Master Member
Yes, it's hard to say how big he is, looks bigger in NY than on the island..I think that's just for effect...
You're right. Director Merian C. Cooper decided Kong should look bigger in the city scenes, so they constructed a new armature for those scenes. The jungle and city "sets" built for the stop motion animation were the same scale, but the armatures in the island scenes were 18" tall and the armature in the city scenes was 24" tall. Since Kong's exact height is never mentioned in the movie, Cooper thought a larger Kong in the familiar surroundings of New York would be more imposing and threatening.
 

JoeCS

Active Member
You're right. Director Merian C. Cooper decided Kong should look bigger in the city scenes, so they constructed a new armature for those scenes. The jungle and city "sets" built for the stop motion animation were the same scale, but the armatures in the island scenes were 18" tall and the armature in the city scenes was 24" tall. Since Kong's exact height is never mentioned in the movie, Cooper thought a larger Kong in the familiar surroundings of New York would be more imposing and threatening.
I've heard this before, and I'm pretty skeptical about it. To me, I think it would have made more sense just to use an existing Kong puppet and make the New York miniatures in a smaller scale so Kong looks bigger, especially since the New York animation scenes seem to have been filmed after the jungle scenes. We also have no physical evidence of the supposed 24" tall puppet, only the other two armatures. So I think it's possible they made Kong look bigger in the NY scenes, but I don't think they made a bigger Kong. I could be wrong though, and there might be a third armature out there.
 

Zombie_61

Master Member
I've heard this before, and I'm pretty skeptical about it. To me, I think it would have made more sense just to use an existing Kong puppet and make the New York miniatures in a smaller scale so Kong looks bigger, especially since the New York animation scenes seem to have been filmed after the jungle scenes. We also have no physical evidence of the supposed 24" tall puppet, only the other two armatures. So I think it's possible they made Kong look bigger in the NY scenes, but I don't think they made a bigger Kong. I could be wrong though, and there might be a third armature out there.
As far as I know no one has found a 24" Kong armature connected to the movie, so until that happens I don't know if there's another way to verify the story beyond what's been reported through the years. This is nothing more than pure speculation but, assuming they did film the jungle scenes first, Mr. Cooper may have viewed the footage, decided Kong should look larger in the New York scenes, and a larger armature was hastily and cheaply created--so cheaply that it didn't survive after filming was completed. Or perhaps it was intentionally destroyed in order to preserve the "secret".

Regardless, even though the visual effects surely look "dated" to modern audiences, every time I watch the movie I'm more and more impressed by how well done they are for a movie made in the early 1930s.
 

JoeCS

Active Member
Small update. I made more castings of the head and got one I liked on the fourth try. A few areas needed reinforced with epoxy, and some bubbles needed filling as well, but this was the best casting so far. I also fixed the bubbles in the teeth castings. I'm pretty close to having the model finished - I need to sculpt over the hands and feet with epoxy, pick out a fur so I can paint his body appropriately, and then attach the fur.

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About the fur... I have two ideas of how to do it: I cut out strips of the fur (including the backing) and glue those strips to the body, OR I basically make fur 'clothing' that I pull over the body. If any of you have other recommendations on a better way to do it, I'd love to hear it. Thanks!
 

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DarkHelmet

Sr Member
Great job so far! You've nailed him perfectly so far.

If you want to continue the authenticity, use a rabbit pelt. That's what Delgado used on the original Kong's. He also applied it to Kong in sections. You can see the seams in Kong, which has become part of "him".

The late stopmotion animator Dave Allen has built a few Kongs true to Delgados methods and he too applied the fur in sections. I even read that he can't imagine Kong without "seams".

Good luck
 
As far as I know no one has found a 24" Kong armature connected to the movie, so until that happens I don't know if there's another way to verify the story beyond what's been reported through the years. This is nothing more than pure speculation but, assuming they did film the jungle scenes first, Mr. Cooper may have viewed the footage, decided Kong should look larger in the New York scenes, and a larger armature was hastily and cheaply created--so cheaply that it didn't survive after filming was completed. Or perhaps it was intentionally destroyed in order to preserve the "secret".

Regardless, even though the visual effects surely look "dated" to modern audiences, every time I watch the movie I'm more and more impressed by how well done they are for a movie made in the early 1930s.
In the all the years of documentation I've read, this is the first I've ever heard of an additional, larger armature. Anyway, it is true that Kong appears larger in the New York scenes, but Occam's Razor and the nature of movie magic suggests Cooper and RKO taking the easier solution of just building the NYC scenery at a smaller scale than those built for Skull Island rather than commissioning yet another Kong puppet.
 
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DarkHelmet

Sr Member
There was no armature taller than 19". I've been a Kong fanatic for 50 years. I've studied everything about Kong and the armature and I can say that with absolute certainty.

I've talked to Bob Burns and was lucky enough to hold the original Kong armature and he said there was only three armatures. Two long face Kongs used in publicity still and the round face Kong used for the movie.

The scale changed throughout the movie, most noticably the NY scenes but the armatures all stayed the same.
 

JoeCS

Active Member
If you want to continue the authenticity, use a rabbit pelt. That's what Delgado used on the original Kong's. He also applied it to Kong in sections. You can see the seams in Kong, which has become part of "him".

The late stopmotion animator Dave Allen has built a few Kongs true to Delgados methods and he too applied the fur in sections. I even read that he can't imagine Kong without "seams".
Thanks for your interest in the project! I think I will go this route then, applying the fur in sections. Although I will probably still use faux fur.

There was no armature taller than 19". I've been a Kong fanatic for 50 years. I've studied everything about Kong and the armature and I can say that with absolute certainty.
Technically speaking, Peter Jackson's Kong is 22" tall (based off of auction information) - I assume this is when the model is completely straightened out though, so in the film this model (the long face Kong) probably never reaches 22"
 

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