model builder scores major YouTube viewership
At what age should one put aside childish things? For local model builder Rob Mattison, the answer sure as hell isn’t 46 years old. Rob still likes to play with monsters. In fact, he has parlayed his hobby into a successful weekly program (more on that in a bit). Hardly sounds like child’s play to me.
“I remember films like Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing’s Dracula films, Godzilla, and my favorite, King Kong. I was fascinated by the make-up and special effects and always wanted to help create monsters. I was really excited to see what strange or unusual creatures people like Lon Chaney, Jack Pierce, Dick Smith, Rick Baker, and Rob Bottin could conjure out of their minds. I saw it as an art form, not really monsters at all,” Rob reveals, warming at the opportunity to talk about monsters.
However, realizing a career as a Hollywood special effects artist would most likely remain elusive, Rob found other mediums to explore his interest.
“I was also into comic books and would always see ads for these cool monster models. This was my chance to build these monsters myself, and with the help of my mom, I was able to get most of the monsters of the time.”
Just as those who once dreamed of becoming heavy metal gods found themselves performing on the stage of a classroom (guilty!), Rob found a workable compromise for his dream; he was making monsters albeit out of model kits. “Today, thanks to the internet, there are a number of great companies pushing out great kits: plastic, vinyl, and resin. There are shows all around the world based on collecting and building these fine items.”
Interestingly, it’s this idea of showmanship that allowed Rob to bridge one childhood dream with another, the monster movie show. Long time viewers of Community Television will no doubt recall the Chester and Woody Show, Rob’s homage to the golden age of TV horror hosts and vintage public domain horror films (even this hack found himself opposite Chester, a floating skull, discussing the social commentary within George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead).
During the “off season,” the proposition of doing a model show, and eventually a monster-themed model show, emerged. “We produced more than 30, half hour, episodes for a show, Model Citizen, over the next couple years. We would go to model conventions and interview the sculptors, painters and kit producers and just started having fun with the hobby.”
Today, Rob and co-host Chris Gierke run the weekly program, Monster Model Review, with 100 episodes and 30 spots for producers under their glue-hardened thumbs thus far. “We started by using our own collections and just reviewing what we had or were able to get a hold of, but it didn’t take long for kit producers to start sending us products, too. Our show has 375 subscribers and our videos have been seen over 250,000 times. We’ve produced shows on every aspect of models from building, painting, sculpting, and producing to the trade shows. I’ve also started to work with companies to start hobby wide contests, like last year’s Prehistoric Scenes, and we are just starting a new one with America’s No. 1 model producer, Revell Models, in conjunction with the re-release of the first four Aurora monsters.”
It would seem a very busy time indeed for Rob and his monster pals, but the artisan is taking it in stride, “I understand that monster models are a small niche market, but we are very happy to be helping how we can.”