For fans of the “Psycho” movies that starred Anthony Hopkins as “Norman Bates”, this kit will bring back some fond or not so fond memories. This kit arrived just as my favorite time of year started, as I decorate for Halloween like no other holiday. I was also fortunate enough to have one of the movie channels recently run “Psycho”, “Psycho II”, and “Psycho III”, which provided good references for how to paint the house. When first released, this was a new kit made by Polar Lights, and it does a nice job of capturing the look and feel of the Bates mansion of the original “Psycho” movies (the remake with Vince Vaughn has a completely different house).
As the original movie was made in black and white, the second and third movies are recommended for references, but you may want to watch all three (or four) to get into character for this build. For this new release, the folks at Polar Lights/Round 2 Models have added an LED light and battery pack to light up the mansion for your display. The 1/87, or HO-scale house, will likely also be a hit with railroad modelers, as well as horror movie fans.
Upon opening the rather large box, the modeler will find some 75 parts molded in a very light gray plastic, an acetate sheet of windows, and the LED light assembly. There is also an instruction sheet, as one would expect; a flyer from Round 2 Models showing some of their releases, and a postcard to sign up for e-mail updates on future releases.
The parts layout on the sprues places all of the parts for the individual steps in close relation to one another, which will greatly benefit any builder, but especially those new to the hobby. The level of detail is very nice on all of the parts with little to no clean up required on any of the parts, aside from sprue attachment points. The kit does include a base for the house, and also a longer, stone stairway similar to the one from the movies. This [longer stairway] will require the fabrication of an additional base (there are comments provided in the directions on how to accomplish this).
I found the assembly to be straightforward enough, and I had no issues with getting the walls to align at good 90 degree angles all around. My only issue was two small gaps on the pieces that make up the brick foundation of the house. The kit does include a figure of mother Bates, and a piece that can be used to perch her at the window she is frequently seen in during the movies. There is also a part used to hold the LED light in place. The directions have the builder mount this lighting hook at his discretion, so I elected to place it so that the light would be in a central location.
I have built several Polar Lights kits over the years (mostly figures), and have yet to come across one that I did not enjoy building. Some of the parts may seem a bit thick to some modelers, but the fit is usually good overall, requiring little putty if any, and Tenax-7R (my glue of choice) works great with the plastic utilized. The instructions are easy enough to follow for the less experienced, and the detail will please the more experienced. In the case of this kit, they are laid out in a concise order that will help later when installing the window inserts.
I followed the directions for the most part, and I did not attach the walls to the base or to the roof until I had added the windows. I kept the sub-assemblies to the base, house foundation, house walls, roof, and base; I painted all of these assemblies prior to final assembly of the house. Although the directions recommend adding electrical tape to the inside corners of the walls, the seams looked tight enough after being glued together, and the flat black paint appeared to seal it without issue. I elected to paint the light areas of the house a light gray for the base color, and then dry brushed a light brown and later white, and then applied a Burnt Umber filter to make it look like the house shown in the movies. I used Humbrol “brick” paint for the house foundation, and later picked out some individual bricks with paint that I added white or black to in order to break up the appearance, and I used a light gray sludge wash to pick out the mortar lines. The roof shingles were painted with Humbrol “rust”, as this looked reasonably close to what I could see in the movies, and this received the same Burn Umber filter as the rest of the house.
As far as my hits on this kit are concerned, I would have to start with the level of detail put into the pieces, as the foundation bricks, house siding, and roof shingles are all well represented. I also felt that the kit was reasonably easy to build, which will allow less experienced modelers to enjoy the kit as much as someone with several years of experience. There is the opportunity to put as much effort as one wants into the painting, which is what will set the kit apart. The addition of the LED light is a nice touch in this release, and makes the house more interesting to the viewer. I also liked having the mother figure to add in her second floor window, as the house would seem like less of a home without her.
My only legitimate knocks on the kit are minor The first would be the fit of the brick foundation pieces around the base of the house. As mentioned before, I was left with two small gaps, but nothing too horrifying. Secondly, when assembling the porch, the post and railing that goes to the left (when looking at the front door) is part number 45 on the sprue, not 48 as mentioned in the directions. And, thirdly, the acetate windows do not have any part identification, so it is up to the modeler to determine what will go where, other than the obvious ones which attach to the doors and front second floor windows.
Overall, I would highly recommend this kit to folks wanting to add the Bates mansion to their horror movie model collection. I would like to thank the folks at Round 2 Models for providing this review kit to the IPMS-USA, to John Noack and the review corps for allowing me to perform this evaluation, and to you for taking the time to read it.