|By Edrolfo Leones Copyright © 1998.|
I found this relic of a model of the antagonist robot from Disney's The Black Hole left over from nearly twenty years ago after the movie was released in 1979. The unopened boxed models from the movie are going for upwards of $300. I got a great deal on this model of Maximillian from J.F. Green Models since the box was opened.
For a kit that was over 20 years old, it was in great condition. The detail and quality definitely rivals today's injection molded models. Considering that I was less than a decade old when this movie was released, I was always under the impression that model making evolved quite a bit since the late 70's. It was interesting to see and handle a relic that was well made.
After cleaning up the small amount of flash and sanding down seams and edges, I did a dry fit to figure out which parts I wanted to mount together first to start painting. The only awkward thing about this kit was how the 'legs' fit onto the torso. They didn't really lock into place and there was a lot of slack to move the legs wider or narrower. So I had to check the movie on video several times to make a close estimate. The legs actually make a very slight downward V shape from the torso. But since the fit was so flimsy, I used an epoxy putty to fill the upper leg thighs and then fitted them onto the protruding plastic extending from the torso. This gave the legs good reinforcement from minor shocks and handling and gave the overall model a bit more weight and sturdiness.
I then glued all the arm weaponry together and mounted them onto the upper torso. This divided the model into 2 easy to handle peices: The head and torso. I used gap filling super glue to fill the seams and sanded them to look like a single piece of molding. I used a grey vinyl-safe primer for the under coat. Next came the painting.
If you watch the video and download every picture available on the internet of Max, you'll see that he's made up of a base "blood" red and successive darker accents to simulate what I guess was supposed to be weathering. I used a base coat of Acryl Dark Red.
I could have used my airbrush to add the darker accents, but I'm an old-school painter. I used successively darker washes of Dark Red and Black to weather the details of Max's body. For the metallic accents, I used base coat of black and then dry brushed silver paint over it. This gave it a fair look of weathered steel. I then finished off with a Satin Gloss over coat.
The only lighting effect it could use to bring it to life was the "cyclops" eye. I even thought of using some gears and drives attached to a motor which would make the arm blades turn, but this would have required some considerable work at the scale of the model. I decided to stick to the lighted eye effect for "life". Normally, the eye would give off a dim, red light. But when Max got mad, his eye would pulsate from dim to bright red. This would have been a tough effect to pull off with a typical flasher unit since the pulsing light consisted of a gradual but steady glow from dim to bright and back again. I decided to use Minatronics' Two Directional Light to give off the pulsating red light effect.
The next problem was that the Two Directional Light went completely dark during its dim on-dim off stage and the original movie model went from a dim glow to a bright glow and back. I used a simple red Panel Indicator Light at the inside rear of Maximillian's "helmet" to simulate the dim steady glow. Used in combination, the effect looks identical to the original movie model, pulsating its red light while never going completely dark.
The last step was the base. I used a 5" x 7" acrylic frame painted flat black and turned upside down. In fact, I highly recommend using these frames from the local art store. They are easy to use, cheap (two bucks for this one) and look great. The only drawback is that they are brittle and scratch easy. To solve this, I carefully drill a hole on the top center to insert my brass stand. I use Epoxy putty underneath to hold the brass tubing in place while I carefully balance it to stand 90 degrees straight up. After the epoxy putty dries, I pour a thin layer of 5 minute epoxy on the inside of the entire stand to reinforce itself. I also drilled a small hole at the rear for the power supply and added some led weight to give it some sturdiness and to counterbalance the model.
Finally, I mounted everything together but decided not to glue Max's helmet on. It fit snuggly onto his torso, and could be gently pulled off if I ever needed to replace the light bulbs inside.
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Last updated on 13 February 1999.