Researching the history of greeblies/kitbashing for a short YT documentary

jonfuturist

New Member
Hi guys,

Hope this is ok to post.

I'm a so so model maker/kit basher myself (done a bit of diy sfx work too), certainly not near the standard required for studio scale, but basically I'm beginning research on a personal video documentary project on the subject of greeblies/kitbashing in sfx model making for films for release on Youtube. Professionally I work as a videographer making corporate videos, but as a hobby I'm quite obsessed with the practical effects world/history of film.

Basically, I want to explore the technique of kitbashing in this short video documentary, and look at how it's been an essential but fairly invisible technique in the history of sci fi films that have shaped a lot of modern pop culture. I also want to link in how a lot of prop making/sound design and indeed storytelling is often repurposed/"kitbashed" to make something new too - I see the technique as emblematic of what makes Star Wars/sci fi familiar but new and exciting - ie how Ben Burt's work on the Original Trilogy pillaged a lot of old industrial sound effects, similar to how a model maker might pillage a Tamiya model kit of an engine for cool parts. Many would argue George Lucas' stories themselves are kind of "bashed" together from much older influences too (well, that's pretty common knowledge!. Sorry if that sounds a bit abstract, but I promise there's a running theme.

I thought this forum would be one of the best places to start speaking to experts in the field, or if any of you might have info/be able to recommend books on the history of the technique? Obviously the hallmark works full of kitbashing/greeblies is the SW Original Trilogy, but the technique was being used as far back as 2001: A Space Odyssey and likely before when injection moulding first came on the scene. Also, I'd love to speak with any studio scale modellers on obtaining parts today from kits and the process involved. Definitely focusing on the pre-3D printing era.

I've seen a few amazing Adam Savage videos on the technique and read about it in books such as Sculpting A Galaxy by Lorne Peterson, but I'm really looking to go deeper if possible!

I am based in the south of the UK - if anyone would be up for maybe being interviewed/showing off their studio scale work that would also be amazing, but at this stage I am primarily beginning research.

Thanks,

Jon

greeblies-falcon1.jpeg
 

Studio Kitbash

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
This sounds like a great documentary -- be sure to check out Michael Heilemann's site: kitbashed.com

Also talk to Dave Goldberg on this site -- he taught many of us on here a lot of what we know about how to do all this.

And then, of course, talk to as many of the "first" guys to do key replicas -- guys like Lee Malone, Steve Neisen, and others that are too many to name but who, if you ask around, are easy to identify even if they won't necessarily name themselves.
 

jonfuturist

New Member
He Jon, welcome.

Perhaps check out Piercefilm Productions series of youtube videos. Many encompass early kitbashing with the VFX teams of the day. Lots of good stuff!

Thank you - I'm familiar with that channel, it's really great. I might well message him directly.

This sounds like a great documentary -- be sure to check out Michael Heilemann's site: kitbashed.com

Also talk to Dave Goldberg on this site -- he taught many of us on here a lot of what we know about how to do all this.

And then, of course, talk to as many of the "first" guys to do key replicas -- guys like Lee Malone, Steve Neisen, and others that are too many to name but who, if you ask around, are easy to identify even if they won't necessarily name themselves.
Ah, that looks like a great site to explore. Thank you. I'd love to chat to Dave Goldberg and anyone else on here via message - do you have his username?

Jon
 

joberg

Master Member
Interesting thread/subject Jon. It comes to the "When and How" it all started. Historically speaking, are we to use the word "Kit-Bashing" as a particular technique of "finishing/detailing a model. Or, is "Kit-Bashing" the technique used by the old model makers (serials made in the '30s) who used pieces of every day objects to build their models? Or both definitions will be used as a general consensus?
As others have mentioned and I'm sure you've made your initial research into the first industrial/commercial plastic kit (1936-U.K.) appearing for the general public. Are you simply looking at the first movie/serial that used those particular techniques?
Many questions, as you can see...eager to see the next update/finding on that discussion(y)
 

jonfuturist

New Member
Interesting thread/subject Jon. It comes to the "When and How" it all started. Historically speaking, are we to use the word "Kit-Bashing" as a particular technique of "finishing/detailing a model. Or, is "Kit-Bashing" the technique used by the old model makers (serials made in the '30s) who used pieces of every day objects to build their models? Or both definitions will be used as a general consensus?
As others have mentioned and I'm sure you've made your initial research into the first industrial/commercial plastic kit (1936-U.K.) appearing for the general public. Are you simply looking at the first movie/serial that used those particular techniques?
Many questions, as you can see...eager to see the next update/finding on that discussion(y)
Hi Joberg, thanks for replying. I am looking to begin by specifically looking at the particular technique to finishing/detailing a model with model kit parts (so I can tie it into something I am working on...), but then explore wider the idea of repurposing parts inc every day objects into sci fi aesthetic/set design. So, like how the Alien guys used loads of old helicopter engine bits as set dressing, too.

I have info Star Wars onwards ('75+) into the useage of plastic injected model kits as finishing/detail on studio models, but not really anything prior to that. I know the model makers who built the Discovery in 2001 and the Space Station made use of the technique, but I am scant on detail of anything before that really. I did think the birth of commercial plastic kits would be a good starting point. To be honest, I probably won't present specific detail on the plastic industry and injection moulding, rather the broad emergence of its usage as a technique in model making for films, particularly sci fi films.

Thanks
 

Pyramidrep

Well-Known Member
Welcome to the forum, jonfuturist.
Like the other members here, I would point to the Berton Pierce’s Sense of Scale documentary as a superb introduction to the subject.
For me, one of the finest and earliest movie that used the technique was Silent Running(1972) and that really was the beneficiary of Doug Trumbull involvement in 2001:A Space Oddssey(1968). If you google “Valley Forge” studio scale model,you will find a wonderful reference website on a lot of the work done . I think the website author ” Lunadude” is also a member here.
 

Aku

Active Member
Does it have to be limited to films??

If you include TV shows then the old Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds (1965), Stingray (1964) etc. used a lot of greeblies for set decoration (Thunderbirds launch bays) and for model enhancement (Thunderbird 2 pod interior, The Mole etc.). The Dapol girder bridge being the most famous model kit donor. The WASP Stingray aircraft and some of the baddies vehicles were modified model airplane kits

Train model kit parts, submarine parts, house hold objects, all were pressed into service to decorate the sets and models (and talking of "pressing into service" I believe the round part, middle screen, is a lemon juicer :) :)

maxresdefault[1].jpg


Many of those working in the TV shows went on to make movies later on.

And rather like Star Wars, model makers will identify which original kits supplied the dressing, so that they can make studio scale models

 
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jonfuturist

New Member
Does it have to be limited to films??

If you include TV shows then the old Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds (1965), Stingray (1964) etc. used a lot of greeblies for set decoration (Thunderbirds launch bays) and for model enhancement (Thunderbird 2 pod interior, The Mole etc.). The Dapol girder bridge being the most famous model kit donor. The WASP Stingray aircraft and some of the baddies vehicles were modified model airplane kits

Train model kit parts, submarine parts, house hold objects, all were pressed into service to decorate the sets and models (and talking of "pressing into service" I believe the round part, middle screen, is a lemon juicer :) :)

View attachment 1551802

Many of those working in the TV shows went on to make movies later on.

And rather like Star Wars, model makers will identify which original kits supplied the dressing, so that they can make studio scale models


Certainly - I did suspect there was a lot of parts repurposing going on on Thunderbirds. I'll have a look at the link, thank you!
 

jonfuturist

New Member
Welcome to the forum, jonfuturist.
Like the other members here, I would point to the Berton Pierce’s Sense of Scale documentary as a superb introduction to the subject.
For me, one of the finest and earliest movie that used the technique was Silent Running(1972) and that really was the beneficiary of Doug Trumbull involvement in 2001:A Space Oddssey(1968). If you google “Valley Forge” studio scale model,you will find a wonderful reference website on a lot of the work done . I think the website author ” Lunadude” is also a member here.

I love his Youtube stuff, I'll try and contact him too.
Ah amazing thank you. I've had a scant look into Silent Running, but I'll be sure to have a proper look at that
 

Studio Kitbash

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Like Martin Luther on the 95 theses: You Nailed It.

Lovely rhetorical connection between kitbashing the models to kitbashing the entire Star Wars universe from known "used" parts of history, mythology, film, pop culture, etc.

Really well done!
 

jonfuturist

New Member
Like Martin Luther on the 95 theses: You Nailed It.

Lovely rhetorical connection between kitbashing the models to kitbashing the entire Star Wars universe from known "used" parts of history, mythology, film, pop culture, etc.

Really well done!

Thank you! I'm so pleased you've got that message/theme, I was concerned it was a little too abstract as it doesn't appear to be doing so well on places like reddit lol.

Love live niche observation!
 

StevenBills

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Hey guys, here's the finish doc if anyone's interested. It's quite short and skirts without loads of detail in the subject, but hopefully it'll be fun for at least some of you!

Ha! I saw this on your Insta so I watched it today, and then I login here and see you (as a new member here) wanted to do some research on this very subject, and I was going to post this very video! Well done!

SB
 

jonfuturist

New Member
Ha! I saw this on your Insta so I watched it today, and then I login here and see you (as a new member here) wanted to do some research on this very subject, and I was going to post this very video! Well done!

SB
Thanks so much! I didn't go into huge detail as I wanted it to fit into the video essay format, but it was a joy to research. Members on the forum here are like archaeologists. It's fascinating to read their findings.
 

joberg

Master Member
I really enjoyed your video mate(y)(y) I love your ideas of "repurposing" industrial pieces from our world; that is a "variation" on an existing bases.
To build, the 1:1 scale set (now you have to go to the plane/scrap yard and pick pieces that you'll affix on that set; the same exercise the model makers did with the model in the first place) It would be fun to identify a greeblie, nernie, wiget, from an early Sci-Fi movie!
 

publiusr

Well-Known Member
I find the best greebles don’t come from model parts. Pilot pen inserts look like ribbed ray gun emitters. So showing someone cutting a pen in half and removing the insert and making a mess… getting a Musselmans cap out of the garbage can as a girlfriend looks on disapprovingly. “You’re a hoarder!”

Then seeing the end result:
“See, you would have destroyed art honey.”
 

Pyramidrep

Well-Known Member
jonfuturist,
Very well done. I really liked the finished doc. You even got a few shots from Silent Running in there.
Creativity, originality, artistic influence can be a complex subject and the old idiom “ art is not made in a vacuum” is certainly true.
 

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