Saturday, April 28, 2012

Building My Own Phantasm Car!


To call me a car guy would be like calling Clay Aiken a boobs guy; I don't care for cars, I don't know a thing about them and I don't even own one.  Nevertheless, I have always had an interest in the car that Jody drives in Phantasm, a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda.  There's just something about that car that's so badass, and I admit that the 'something' I refer to is most likely the fact that ... it appears in Phantasm.

I don't swoon over the car or someday dream of sticking my weenie in the tailpipe, but I have always kinda secretly wanted a small scale replica of that car, to display on my toy shelf right next to my Tall Man action figure.  There are no toy cars in my toy collection, but for this particular car I'd happily make an exception.

Now there actually is a replica car company by the name of ERTL that believe it or not put out a replica of the car, branded with the Phantasm logo on the packaging.  It's one of those collectibles I've always desired, but with a price tag of at least $100, if it can even be found on eBay, I've never been able to justify it.  I mean come on, a dude who couldn't care less about cars spending 100 bucks to own a toy car?  It just doesn't seem right.

Which brings us to this here post of DIY frustration, several weeks in the making.

At my job, I've risen up to a position where my boss allows me to place orders through the various vendors we buy from.  Prestigious, I know.  Anyways, I was recently looking through one of the companies' catalogs, when I saw a section of model car kits.  Believe it or not, right there before my very eyes, was the 1971 Plymouth Barracuda, a model kit put out by a company called Revell.  Obviously there was no direct tie-in with the movie, but it was unmistakably the same car that Jody drove in it.  And so I placed the order.

A couple weeks later it arrived and I purchased it, soon after beginning my work on the first ever model kit I've ever assembled and painted.  It was frustrating as all hell and nearly drove me mad, but I wanted to show off the finished product tonight, as well as share some of my frustrations.

So come along for the journey, as a dude with no artistic talent whatsoever attempts to build a model car!

When I say I have no artistic talent, believe me that me saying that isn't merely a case of self deprecation, intended to get you to comment and boost my self esteem by telling me I in fact do.  I'm not the hot chick who's claiming she's ugly here.  I really, truly, 100% have no artistic talent anywhere inside of me.  I can write, this much is true, but when it comes to drawing or painting or anything like that, I might as well be Teri Schiavo.  Artistic talent is something I always wish I had, but the fact that I can't even draw a good looking stick figure lets me know that not all dreams have the possibility of coming true.

Now in addition to having no art talent, I am also an incredibly impatient sack of shit.  Whenever anything takes too long of a time, even if that time period isn't that long at all, I tend to freak out and give up.  You can often find me at the drive-thru area of Wendy's (in a car driven by my girlfriend, of course) internally freaking the fuck out because my fries are taking too long to come through the window.  I'm not a total dickhead, so I don't yell and scream, but my internal struggle with impatience is an epic battle that has raged on for many years.  Hell, even as a kid I used to rip the pages off my parents' page-a-day calendars every December 1st, hoping that by doing so the next morning would magically be Christmas.  OK so I never actually did that, but you get the idea.

Where was I?  Oh right, so I'm impatient and have no talent.  As you can imagine, this combination of poor character traits resulted in this project being one of the most frustrating things I've ever done.  When I bought the kit I foolishly thought that it'd require nothing more than putting a few pieces together and slapping on some paint, efforts that would surely be rewarded with a car that looked exactly like the one on the packaging did.  Boy, did I underestimate the car people of the world.  These folks aren't messing around.

The idea with these things is that car freaks want to display mini replicas of the cars they love, display pieces that are 100% down to every last detail exact small scale replicas of the real things.  In other words, this kit literally contains hundreds of tiny pieces, not just for building the visible shell but for handcrafting the engine and all sorts of other little things that you'd never see unless you opened the hood or turned the car over.  I guess the idea is that these things are supposed to look like you took the real full size cars and shrunk them down in size, with the only difference being that they don't actually run.  And thank the good lord for that, because I'm shit when it comes to electrical issues too.  Come to think of it, I guess my only talent is writing, and I'm quite frankly not even sure if I'm any good at that.  Hm.

I also underestimated how much it costs to do these things.  You not only have to buy the kit ($25 plus 20% employee discount), but you of course have to buy all the paints, the brushes, the glue and the tips to put on the glue bottle so you can direct it into fine lines.  All told this thing ended up costing me nearly $50, which kinda makes me wonder why I didn't just buy the official replica release.

My original plans of getting this thing banged out the first night I bought it and having this post up by the next day didn't go so well, as you might imagine.  I bought the kit nearly a month ago and here I am tonight, with it finally sitting in front of me finished.  You do the math.  Though I admittedly worked on it off and on, a night here, a week off there, this bad boy took me several weeks to complete and resulted in many paint stained pieces of furniture, both from spills and one incident where my cat decided it would be fun to step on a paint covered piece of newspaper and then run around the house.  That's my boy.  So again, given the time, frustrations and money put into it, it probably would've been best to just shell out the 100 bucks and get a real nice Phantasm car, perfectly constructed and painted.

But if I'm being honest, frustrations and everything else aside, this was deep down on some level a fun project and I gotta say, I'm pretty proud of myself for sticking it out and seeing this thing through to the end.  Though the end result is a fairly tiny car that's a bit sticky in spots (when my gloss black acrylic paint ran out, I somehow ended up buying an enamel replacement...doh!), I kinda love it all the more for its imperfections.  I poured my heart and soul into this car, and for that I can look back on the finished product and smile.

So here it is, my completed 1971 Plymouth Barracuda ... or, as us non-car guy horror geeks know it ... the motherfuckin' car from Phantasm!!!

CLICK to super-size the image!

As proud as that picture makes me, this whole ordeal was ultimately a reminder of why I'm a writer, and why I should probably leave artistic stuff to artistic people.  It was fun though and I'm glad I did it, if only because I got a nice long drunkenly written post out of it. And that's really what it was all about anyway.

So help me god though, please don't let me stumble upon a model kit of Gregory Tudor's truck from Ice Cream Man, because I really don't want to be tempted to do another one of these fuckin' things ever again.


Frank Browning said...

MAN! '71 Cuda is my favorite car (ashamedly along with the '78 Trans Am for Smokey & the Bandit reasons) from the movies... If I ever bought a Muscle Car, it'd definitely be a Cuda (also, Model Cars Rock!)...

Jay Amabile said...

That came out good. You aren't giving yourself enough credit. I have patience for my hobbies and stuff like that but definitely not model kits. I always hated them. I bought one years ago...I think it was an Elvira car...gave up on it.