My husband (and model coach) first built the Strange Changing Vampire kit when it initially came out in 1974 at the tender age of 11. When he heard that Round 2 Models was releasing a re-issue, he jumped at the chance to present me with my third model build. Being a “monster kid,” I was excited with this opportunity to build my second Round 2 model and add it to my growing collection of built kits. My mind’s eye pictures this piece billed in some side show, with a barker calling out “Come see the strange changing vampire! Watch the skeleton change into a real live vampire right before your eyes!” I imagined my husband as an 11 year old boy, opening the coffin to see a dead, decaying skeleton; then eagerly closing it and using the key to work the “strange change action”. With delight, he would then reopen the coffin, revealing the scary vampire with bared fangs, ready to grab him for a midnight snack!
MPC released the original Strange Changing Vampire figure in 1974. The skill level required to build this kit is a 2, for ages 10 and up, perfect for the new or younger modeler. The scale is 1/12, making it fit in easily with many of the other monster or dungeon-related model kits coveted by today’s monster memorabilia collectors and model enthusiasts. Round 2 Models has reissued this kit, along with the Strange Change Mummy kit, to the delight of “monster kids” everywhere.
My first impression was the great artwork and painting job on the box. I decided to try and give my model the same spooky color scheme. The instructions are well organized and easy to read. There are 10 steps to building the model, with step 11 showing how to operate the mechanism. The model comes in approximately 37 parts and includes a piece of wire and 3 rubber bands to work the changing mechanism. The model itself is molded in beige colored plastic, and came with practically no flash. I was very impressed with the ornate detail on the coffin, and couldn’t wait to put my painting skills to the task. It also came with some scary looking scorpions and a rat to add even spookier atmosphere to the finished piece.
I am assuming that Round 2 Models is using the same tooling as the original model, acquiring the molds from MPC Models.
Step 1: Read the directions
After reading the directions, I decided to paint the model first before putting it together. This would make it easier to assemble, while making sure the mechanism pieces are all in place.
Step 2: Cleaning the model
I decided to clean the model of any flash, and make sure it all fit well before beginning to paint. I was very pleased at the small amount of flash. The only thing I had to clean up were some lines on the coffin where the mold came together, a little line on the top of the skull, and the small intricate skeleton hands and shoes. The cleanest model I’ve seen yet! When I tested the fitting of the pieces, they all seemed to fit very well with no putty required!
Step 3: Painting
I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the gorgeous coffin, so I had to start there. I decided to use my collection of Vallejo paints. The coffin I base coated with black, and then dry brushed some “black red” over where the hinges and some of the intricate gold would be for some depth of color. Then I dry brushed “old gold”. I used the black red to base coat the interior of the coffin. (My husband then absconded with this color to use for the bottom of his submarine build) I then dry brushed red over that and highlighted that with Delta Ceramcoat Tomato spice. For the two vampire figures, I tried to get the look of some fading on the part of the skeleton, with brighter colors on the “live” vampire, so I used a black on the skeleton and German Grey on the clothing of the vampire, then highlighted and low lighted accordingly. The shading was fun on the skeleton, and I’m still learning to work with skin tones. The molding of the face was very good for the vampire, and I had fun bringing out his eyes and bared fangs! I kept the scorpions and the hinges and handles of the casket on the sprue while I painted them, with just a little cleanup and touchup before applying them. I did apply dull coat to the entire piece to give it the look of a coffin long lost in a crypt somewhere. So, once I completed the detail work, it was time to put the thing together.
Step 4: Putting it all together
This is the time I call for help from my model coach. He helped me to put all the pieces together and glue them down. The pieces went together very well, but the instructions tell you not to glue the skeleton down. This will give you access to the mechanisms in case the rubber band falls off or needs adjusting. One thing that I have learned in this process is that I will always spray my painted pieces for protection before I try to assemble it. Some of the paint was scratched off of the interior of the coffin and the skeleton while trying to put it together and while it was moving during the “change”. So, I had to take it apart and repaint a few pieces. So, lesson learned. Also, I missed a red piece on the mechanism that shows through the coffin when you put it all together, but I was able to paint it after it was assembled.
We found that when we use the key for the “strange change”, my skeleton would fall, and I was afraid the hands would break because they are such small little skeleton hands. So, I am very cautious when using the mechanism.
I had a wonderful time working on this model! I love the coffin/sarcophagus so much, I may even leave it out on my mantel!
I would recommend this kit to all modelers of all levels. If figures are not your thing, now is the time to dig in! This model could be built by beginners and can be a fun challenge to seasoned figure modelers who want a fun detailed piece. Guys, this would be a fun kit to introduce your girls to your hobby. She just might be frightened enough to jump in your lap!
I would like to thank Round 2 Models and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to build this model. Thank you for encouraging new modelers to participate and learn from some of the best modelers around.