RODAN - Aurora Model's Monster of the Movies Re-issue
The Classic Aurora Model Kit Flies Again
The Classic Japanese Giant Monster Model Kit Returns as a Re-Issue
Suffice to say, you do not want a giant, radioactive pterodactyl landing on top of the building where you work. After a long day at work, though, you might want to build a model kit of the most legendary - and frightening - pterodactyl in movie history just to get a bit of relaxation.
Who would be the greatest radioactive pterodactyl of all-time? Well, there is only one: Rodan.
Japan's Toho Films released the science-fiction classic Rodan in 1956 and, in 1975, the legendary Aurora Model Kit brand released an excellent reproduction of Rodan as part of its swan song Monsters of the Movie line.
The Rodan Model
For over three decades, the original Rodan model kit was a rather pricey collectible. Unless you could afford the high price of an original, owning one was impossible. Polar Lights Models had acquired the molds to the original Aurora models and re-issued several of the classic 1960s models. Surprisingly, it re-released the Rodan kit from the aforementioned Monsters of the Movies line. Rodan was one of three Toho Monsters tapped by Aurora with the other two being Godzilla (which saw a release ten years earlier) and Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster, which was one of the Monsters of the Movies releases.
The re-release of this model, along with other 1975 releases, is somewhat interesting. It would seem the Rodan model and the other models from the Monsters of the Movies line are finally getting the respect they are so deserving.
Horror/Science-Fiction on TV Begin to Wane as Petroleum Costs Rise
A little history becomes necessary to put the original release of this model kit in its proper perspective.
By the mid-1970s, model kits based on figures of any kind were not doing well. The popularity of the GI dolls of the 1960s slowly chipped away at the sales of models based on figures. The oil crisis and the high petroleum costs required to make plastic led to a real scaling back on model kits' components under the Aurora name. (GI Joe would also suffer as he shrunk down to 8 inches from 12 and then into retirement in 1978)
There were certainly still fans of horror and science-fiction films, and they were still buying toys and collectible merchandise. Unfortunately, they were not buying enough to keep the Aurora line afloat. Rodan was an interesting choice because he was familiar to horror and science-fiction fans and could have stimulated buys among fans of Japanese giant monsters. The films were still airing on television to declining audiences, but even a small audience would, hopefully, have enough little kids in it to buy the models.
The Kaiju Connection
Rodan debuted film in its movie titled, not surprisingly, Rodan. The flying creature was featured in several classic Godzilla films as a co-star. Rodan was a popular Kaiju Eiga (Giant Monster) character throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but Rodan was not as popular as Ghidorah or MechaGodzilla, or even Mothra. Rodan still remained a giant monster fixture on television, so it is no surprise that the creature was tapped to be one of the three Toho releases in the Aurora Monsters of the Movie line.
Like the classic Universal Horror Monsters, the Toho Monsters were rapidly declining in popularity in the 1970s. 1974's Terror of Mechagodzilla would be the last Godzilla film in the original series. While horror and sci-fi films would remain Saturday afternoon and evening staples until the early 1980s, the craze of the 1960s was waning.
This did not bode well for those wishing to make money through tie-in merchandise.
Nabisco Cannot Sell Models Kits All That Well
Aurora felt it had no options in terms of making money via model sales in the early 1970s. Actually, Aurora was not even Aurora at this point as it the company was sold to Nabisco, which, frankly, did not know how to make money in the model kit market. It tried to make money with the Monster Scenes shock horror line, but this came off more as an act of desperation and controversy, so these models pulled. Nabisco sought to release newer kits based on the classic models it had great success with in the 1960s. The company released a line of excellent PLANET OF THE APES model kits during this period as well. Unfortunately, sales were dismal, and the new and re-issued Aurora model kits would eventually disappear until returning in the late 1990s as re-issues.
Building The Kit
The actual model itself is relatively simple to put together as was the case with all Aurora/Nabisco models. Not very many pieces are required to put it together, and glue is not necessary. However, you probably will want to use model glue to make sure the model is seamless when it is built.
The model kit's two primary components are the smashed buildings and, of course, Rodan itself. Rodan truly is a cool looking monster, and the smashed building is not as minimalist as they look when you first open the model kit.
Honestly, building the model kit is not really where the fun comes into play. You will get a lot more fun and enjoyment out of painting and customizing the model. Skilled model builders will be able to flesh this kit out.
The Monsters of the Movie Rodan kit is a curious timepiece. The re-issue of the kit is a surprising one, and for those wishing to turn back the clock and pretend they are building a model during the dying days of Aurora, this kit might be a good selection.