Build up of the Direct 3D Morlock Kit
by
Bruce Holroyd

For anyone who has seen the 1960 classic film, "The Time Machine," the gruesome appearance of the underground creatures known as 'Morlocks' is just one of the memorable facets that have endeared the motion picture to science fiction fans throughout the world. Our first glimpse of the subterranean cannibals created in 1895 by the imagination of H.G. Wells and realized into cinematic vision by renowned producer/director/artist George Pal was a moment that has lived with filmgoers for over forty years! The task of bringing the eerie cave dwellers to the screen was the job of veteran makeup artist, William Tuttle. Given a pale bluish, almost zombie-like pallor and cropped with manes of white hair, the Morlocks made their ominous presence felt immediately (though somewhat concealed) in the film, from the moment lovely actress Yvette Mimieux was ambushed in the forest to the final climax when the George, the Time Traveler (Rod Taylor in one of the best roles of his career) was attacked on his invention within the foreboding Sphinx.

For years, sci-fi and fantasy model makers have awaited the visage of the Morlocks from that memorable film journey to be transformed into a collectible figurine worthy of joining the ranks of filmdom's finest creatures reborn in resin. There have been a few successful attempts at fulfilling the wishes of modelers, and all of them noteworthy...but the highest recognition is deserved by Direct 3D's version. Faithfully sculpted by the skillful artistry of Jacques Lamontagne, the 1/6th scale Morlock stands as the closest likeness to its creepy counterpart on the silver screen. To be fair, Lamontagne has actually improved upon the original Morlock design, adding accent detail to the face, hair and body, giving the model a superb rating even upon close examination! The attention to detail is a stunning tribute to William Tuttle's classic creation! Forty years? The Morlock from Direct 3D is now immortalized...and it was worth the wait!
Recently, I had the honor of tackling the challenge of building one of Lamontagne's Morlocks.... and I still have another kit waiting to be brought to life! For this writing however, the modeler and fan alike might be interested in the treatment I decided to give to the Morlock kit.....

The kit comes in seven pieces...base, Morlock body, arms, legs and the whip (brandished by the monsters in Pal's film). All the parts should be washed in mild soapy water to clean off any modeling residue and to aid in paint adherence in later steps of construction. It is then advisable to sand the model free of any excess plastic around the molding seams. Then, it is important to apply several light coats of primer to prepare the resin surface for the final paint application.

I started with the base... choosing to spray paint it in muted greens and earthy brown tones in selected locations... after which the rocks, painted in varied shades of gray and brown, and highlighted with a dry brush streaking of white mixed with gray to bring out details, completed the 'environment' the Morlock would eventually 'inhabit.'

 

The nameplate was painted in dark grays, accented with lighter shades to appear as rock like texture; the name "Morlock" was done in a wood brown color, and detailed in a dry brush treatment of darker brown and a touch of black.

Painting the base was just the cosmetic treatment. What you don't see are the screws under the Morlock's feet, permanently attaching them to the base. I opted for this technique rather than simply gluing the figurine in place, as it could easily snap off, perhaps damaging the base. All it took were two holes drilled up through the bottom of the base (recesses were also drilled to 'countersink' the screws, the reasons of which I will explain later), and two wood screws long enough to pass through the thickness of the base and eventually, up into the bottom of the Morlock's feet.

The Morlock required four screws to attach the arms and legs. I drilled the holes in all four appendages and corresponding holes into the appropriate joint areas on the body. But to stabilize each arm and leg further, I used a motor tool with a carving bit to hollow out a larger area to accommodate the heads of the screws once they were seated inside their assigned drill locations. The threaded end of each screw would go into its arm or leg, with the head embedded inside the body. To reinforce the screws I filled all the holes with superglue, then coated the joining surface of the arms and legs with the same to permanently attach them onto the body, giving our flesh-eating fiend something to climb down into ground wells and to grab unsuspecting Eloi with in the dead of night!

After the glue dried thoroughly, the joint seams were filled with modeler's putty, sanded and textured with a motor tool until the seams were well hidden and appeared to be molded onto the body. I cleaned the entire model again, to eliminate any small shavings or particles clinging to the model after sanding. The whole figure was then sprayed with several light coats of Krylon primer.
Painting the Morlock with its preliminary coats of blue required a bit of paint mixing. I would advise that this particular step be left to the modeler's personal discretion, but I blended a bit of light gray and light blue with a few touches of white to come up with a color I preferred. A few coats of this color covered the Morlock and progressed it toward the next step.

I brush painted the base brown coat of the Morlock's garment next. This 'skirt' was sort of difficult in that it is molded with a lot of fine detail and the paint didn't exactly soak into the small indentations and folds completely. But with a little perseverance, I managed to get it a solid dark brown, in anticipation of finishing its intricacy with accenting hues of light tan and darker browns and blacks.

 

The long hair of the Morlocks is almost a ghostly silvery white in the film...something I did not wish to totally convey on my buildup. My judgment was as such: The Morlocks are an underground race, living in musty, dirty locales beneath the earth. They just do not give a hoot as to how 'clean' their tresses are...they have other things on their minds, like human guests at dinnertime! With all the mechanized labor that they perform (remember that it is the Morlocks who actually give the Eloi their tranquil existence), how in the 'underworld' can these foul beasts look like they just had their hair cleaned and brushed by a stylist??? Taking the obvious choice, I decided to represent the Morlock's hair with an off-white hue, accenting it with subtle shades of tan and light brown. He hasn't washed his hair for several months!!! You might say that I utilized a bit of artistic license in a few areas, but did not stray too far from the actual physical characteristics represented on film!

Getting back to the base that the model stands upon... I mentioned drilling out recesses for the screws underneath the base that attach the feet of the Morlock securely to their appropriate positions. Two reasons for this are that naturally, I wanted the base to sit level, but I added a felt cushion to cover up the drillwork and the screws. This serves the purpose of supplying the model with a means of being displayed without marring the surface that it sits on as well!

My deepest thanks to Direct 3D and to Mr. Jacques Lamontagne for a superb piece of artistry! If any of you modelers out there are contemplating a build up of your own, I highly recommend the Morlock! It adds such a stunning addition to any Time Machine collection, and as any collector knows... no collection is complete without it!

The whip was attached with superglue and painted as follows: dark brown for the branch gripped by our friend, accented with subtle dry brush details of black and dark gray... the binding was done in a light tan with dark brown to 'antique' it... the 'whip' itself was painted with a medium gray and carefully darkened with dry brushed black and small hints of dark chocolate brown.

 

The Morlock's small body details are again at the modeler's discretion as far as which colors to paint; things like eyes ( I painted them in black with yellow pupils to simulate the glowing effect), lips, teeth ( again, a bit of artistic license... I painted them in an of white and added some light brown accents to make them appear slightly worn and decayed from lack of personal hygiene), claws on the hands and feet, creases in the skin, implied shadow accents under the arms, around the neck, under the hair and so on complete the kit. I then finished it off with Krylon's matte spray fixative, which added a certain low grade shine to the rocks and the Morlock's skin (their environment is a bit moist and damp, right?)

The Morlock was, indeed a challenge...but I enjoyed it immensely! I have another one to do now (the first that you see here is for a good friend of mine, Susan Mitchell) ... soon I will bid it farewell! However, I anticipate the excitement to begin once more with my next Morlock! And after that... I face the ultimate build up in all my years as a modeler. the Masterpiece Models "Time Machine!" Photos of that build up will be coming...all in good time!!!

--- Bruce Holroyd

 

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The Time Machine Project 1998 Don Coleman
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