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Mel Birnkrant's “Annotated Archives”
Work in Progress - Series II

           When the long awaited sculpts for Series I arrived, hideously done and badly busted, I was utterly devastated.  I dove, head first, into the deep end of the pool for a self taught, sink or swim, refresher course in sculpting.  I hadn’t sculpted anything in ten years, except one 4” dancing  poodle.  And I didn’t come up for breath till they were finished 3 weeks later.

The Second Series was a different matter.  With Series I to guide them, the sculptors in Hong Kong did a far better job. This time I took the time to shoot some photos of their efforts first, before I started refining them.  I discovered some of those photos just the other day.  So here they are, evidence of  intense, but subtle, alterations, before and after.   Hong Kong did a petty good job on Gemini. The left head’s theirs, just as it arrived, the right one's mine.

                  Gamma X would need to enter the Fourth Dimension, to fit inside the shell the team in Hong Kong had created for him. More than a little chubby , he had to seriously slim down.
Mystron was tough one. Although there was certain Dionysian charm about him,  he had a receding chin that would put Andy Gump to shame.  But the hardest part to correct was something I didn’t pick up on at first glance. I assumed the wings had just been put on backwards, until on closer examination, I discovered they had been sculpted inside out.
                  The last thing I attempted was the head of Metamorpho. That was a toy  unto itself.  When it was finished I put my sculpting tools away, and had no call to pick them again for the next 15 years.
               The Final Outer Space Men tooling was fashioned from the re-sculpted originals of brass, clay and Hydrocal.  But before these were sent to Hong Kong an expert model maker in New Jersey cast three sets of copies in epoxy. These were for the sole purpose of working out and indicating the colors. The photo below shows a few imperfect “scraps” that still remain today.   The epoxy copies were nearly as clean and crisp as the originals, and had an ivory like quality about them.  I hated piling on the paint, which obscured their pristine detail, but that’s what they were for.

                   The set you see below was used for working out the colors.  The paint is some places is several  multi-colored layers thick. The layers chronicle the history of trying to get the colors just right for each figure, and at the same time  making sure it worked well with all the other figures in the line. Once the colors were determined, I carefully duplicated them on the two other sets.  One became the color guide for Hong Kong, the other was a reference set for me. 
                As soon as the Series II epoxy Masters were painted, I photographed them, full figure, and sent the shots along with copies of the boards to Bob Engle to do the of the package back painting. This time around  there was no time, or appetite on my part, to recreate six interplanetary scenes, so we decided to go with art instead. Thus, I mocked up six comp cards with marker suggestions for the backgrounds and planets and tissue overlays to show how and where the figures would be positioned.  And Bob Engle turned them into finished art.  His paintings ended up in Hong Kong, and if they still exist, remain there still.   I was surprised the other day to discover that the comps he worked from came back to me.  Here they are!  Miraculously, Bob based his second series background paintings on nothing more that these .
Photo, courtesy of The  Gary Schaeffer Collection.
Copyright Acknowledgment: All images of THE OUTER SPACE MEN , THE WORLD OF THE FUTURE and other Products and Images, created by Mel Birnkrant, are Copyright (c) MEL BIRNKRANT
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