My Dumb Projects
Sunday, March 26, 2006
  Woolly Mammoth: 1:3 scale Kit rebuild
I got this kit back in 1972 and assembled it as only a child of 7 could...badly.

Somehow it survived my childhood and multiple moves to eventually return to my hands when my parents retired. I don't know how accurate it is but I thought it was a nice sculpt so I decided to rebuild it.

I tackled the base first by puttying up the two seams and giving it a coat of primer. The cliff took multiple coats of various grays and washes and I painted the rest in mud browns and greens for the vegetation.

I reassembled the legs and puttied the seams while rescribing the hair as best I could.

My original intention was to merely clean up seams, paint and then build the kit as designed. Once I put the legs on, however, the hips seams are quite pronounced and looked too "toylike" I puttied up the seams and then put it aside to dry.

Hours later, I was able to carve the hair into the putty seam and it matched pretty good.

Even with the seam covered, it still looked like a toy. I researched elephant muculature and built additional mass to the hips and shoulders. I put it aside to dry.

I sat at my work table to watch the last 5 minutes of a DVD and thought,"Maybe I can carve the hair into the wet putty"

As anyone with a brain might expect, it worked beautifully and I was able to do four legs in the time it took to CARVE one of the dry putty seams. I guess that's why kits were originally sculpted in wet clay.....DUH!

The head on the original kit was built to pivot on a ball joint for a limited range of movement. This created a massive gap in the neck area that I would need to fill. I chose to turn the head slightly to the left and tilt it. The seam was filled with epoxy putty.

The space to fill was so big it would have demanded a large amount of putty and could have become front heavy. I used aluminum foil to fill the big gaps and then covered that with the putty.

I scribed the neck hair into the (wet) putty. For realism I added little dangling clumps of hair from the bottom of the neck, hanging off the belly and from the tail


To disguise a pronounced belly seam I added a row of hanging fur down the belly.

Naturally a snap-together kit would not address an animals genitals. Seeing as the mammoth looks male (to me), If I didn't do something about it it would look strange. I based the penis sheath on modern elephants (You don't want to see what's inside...think "Dune") and according to a REAL frozen mammoth find, the testicles were internal...probably a good idea during the Ice Age.

During research, I read that mammoths only had 4 toes whereas modern elephants have five. Naturally the kit had five.

Naturally, I had to fix this. In the end, it was a good thing as I could make the toes protrude a bit and add bits of hair hanging over and between them.

I added model railroad gravel to the base of the cliff and little bits in crevasses. I watered down elmers glue and sprayed it over the gravel to lock it in place.

The mammoth was ready for painting. I painted the tusks with a basecoat of ivory paint (duh) and the rest of the beast with semigloss acrylic black.

The rest of the fur was drybrushed on with various shades of brown, leaving the underside black.

The toenails were painted with a light grey and weathered with various dark washes.

I based the painting of the mouth and trunk opening (?) on those of modern elephants, making them a pale greyish pink.

The tusks were weathered with multiple washes and the eyes were painted to match a modern elephants (strange, I know).

I added some railroad grass (very fine green threads that you cut to size) to the base as well as a dead tree that I recently discovered in a box.

So the mammoth would seem to be standing firmly on the rock, I coated the soles with epoxy putty and pressed it into the cliff (covered with Saran Wrap). After the putty dried I painted them with black washes.

Here is the final kit.

Really nice work!

I remember these kits as well when I was a kid. I can't remember for the life of me who manufactured them. Makes me want to find the kits on Ebay again and do them over.

Incredible results. You are not right fella.

Young Bill
Hey -

Beautiful! I particularly liked the testicles & penis part, as you might guess! He's adorable (though you probably don't want to hear that word!)

Beautiful work BS, I really admire your skills.
Awesome work !!
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These are all the dumb things I find myself obsessed with building when I SHOULD be doing something more productive.

As a kid I built lots of plastic model kits, never knowing that one day those skills would actually be of use.

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Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
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