Strange Art Projects: Kiss Destroyer in 1/32 scale

I'd always loved the album, Destroyer, by Kiss. It had my fave Kiss song, "Beth" on it, as well as the full-length "Detroit Rock City". That was the second album that I had ever purchased, back in 1977. The first album that I had bought was Rock and Roll Over, also by Kiss.

This scale model was done many, many years later, sometime in October 1995. I simply decided that I wanted a set of miniature Kiss figurines, and at the time, nobody made model kits or figures of Kiss (this was before they had their big makeup reunion tour and subsequent merchandising blitz). So this became a do-it-yourself project. I chose the standard model scale of 1/32, or 54mm. I used to work in 1/48th scale (model railroad "O" scale) but after I hit the big "3-0" it became difficult to work in that size.

The supplies cost about $5.00 for the entire thing, but, oh, the labor involved! (some people do this for fun)

Step 1: All figures started as a wire armature. It was basically flower-arranging wire bent to the general shape of a human being. Previously, I did not use wire, but the possibilities of wire finally did hit me- the figures could hole a pose better, and, since all of them would be standing on 1 leg, a wire would keep them solidly on their base, without my worrying that they'd fall off or fall over someday.

Step 2: I used Super Sculpey to form the basic body. That stuff can literally last decades if you don't bake it. The stuff I used was, oh, about 15 years old when I made the Kiss figures. After a quick trip to the oven, Gene, Paul, Peter and Ace were in their permanent positions.

Step 3: Super Sculpey doesn't hold detail very well- that's a limitation of the medium. So I sculpted the faces and hands in Squadron Green Modeling putty. After a coat of white primer and more sanding, the boys in Kiss were ready for their costumes.

Step 4: When I had gone beyond traditional model kits at age 20 (I started to want things that nobody manufactured!), I realized that anything could look impressive as long as it had a good paint job on it. The materials themselves didn't actually matter. So the details of the Kiss costumes were made from primarily... pieces of cardboard from cassette tape liner sheets. Gene's armor and scaly boots were made of cardboard, and so were Ace's space bib and boots. I used Elmer's Glue to build them up and stiffen them. Once they got the black n' silver paint job, their cardboard origins were no longer obvious. Paul's costume and Peter's boots were created by laying pieces of glitter, one piece at a time, on the bodies, using slow-setting epoxy. Not an easy task! The elbow attachments of Peter's outfit, and Gene's "bat wing" cape were made of the material from a Nail-Mender kit.

Step 5: My first experience with wood bases. I didn't trust myself with trying to chisel out a "KISS" logo, so I cut the logo out of one piece of wood and stained it walnut. This was glued and nailed (using model ship brass nails) onto a thicker wood base, stained mahogany. This was varnished with about 3 coats. After these photos were taken, my set of mini Kiss figures was sealed in an clear acrylic case.

The true scale of these figures is illustrated below, with a genuine U.S. quarter set next to Gene to demonstrate their real-life size. This was photographed at a downwards angle.


This article is Copyright 2000, K.F. Louie. May not be reproduced without the written permission of the author.

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