There appearss to be something familiar within those smiling eyes of TORY MUCARO. They seem to reveal a youthful appreciation for a series of plastic kits that, back in 1971, charmed so many young builders, despite any doubts put forth by nervous parents. As we we're pleased to discover when we first met Tory, he knows Monster Scenes very, very well.

Tory is son of Sal Mucaro, Aurora's own Packaging Designer responsible for the Monster Scenes package design. As a youngster in 1971, Sal would often take son Tory to the Aurora offices and factory, allowing the boy to ogle at the plastic terrors in production. His moniker, "Aurora Brat," bears no level of presumption - he's the real deal, a descendant within the actual Aurora bloodline.

Now a professional model maker in his own right, we contacted Tory to ask if he'd provide his professional assessment of the pre-production test shots of our three new styrene Monster Scenes kits. "Love to," he replied. His objective feedback was invaluable and the first set of build-ups he sent back were so exceptional that we featured them on the back panels of the final retail boxes.

When we asked Tory if he'd share his experiences building and painting the new Saber Tooth Rabbit, Feral Cat, and Skeleton kits, he graciously agreed. Having taken this trio of kits for a spin, here's the official report from a bona fide Aurora Brat. We're happy to know he considers these among his new personal favorites, bringing some frightfully good fun to a new generation. 

"These kits are a real blast to build and paint. I highly recommend them!"    --
Tory Mucaro

A 40-year reunion...

"Upon receiving these kits from Dencomm, I had to remind myself that it had been a full 40 years since I had last opened and assembled an all-new plastic Monster Scenes kit," Tory shared. "It was pretty amazing that, after all that time, I could be enjoying another first-time experience with Monster Scenes."



"With kid-like anticipation, I cracked the clear plastic shrink wrap and carefully examined the boxes; they're beautifully printed on high-gloss stock and very nicely designed. Then, as I opened the boxes, I was immediately overcome with a wave of nostalgia as I examined the runners - everything about these kits just screamed Aurora! Even the instruction sheets were true to the Aurora originals with a full color comic on one side and the illustrated assembly instructions on the reverse. As a nice bonus, there's a full color pin-up poster of the box art printed on glossy stock, too."


Building the Rabbit and the Cat... 

"I decided to build the Saber Tooth Rabbit and Feral Cat kits at the same time since they're designed to be similar.

I started by removing the parts from the runners and cleaning up the mold parting lines. I then began assembling the parts into logical sub-assemblies - Rabbit head, Rabbit body, Cat head and Cat body. I used Micro Mark “Same Stuff” professional plastic welder to join the parts. This creates a chemical weld that softens the plastic where the parts meet so when pressure is applied there is a slight bead of melted plastic that fills and often squeezes from the seam. When dry, this can be filed and sanded. leaving a smooth joint that vanishes after painting."

I always prime everything with Plasti-Kote light gray automotive primer to make sure there are no visible seems and to help further paint adhesion. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the fit of all the parts was so tight that there wasn’t any need for putty work!"



"Regarding my paint scheme, I decided to keep the Rabbit and Cat within the same color family since their heads are intended to be interchangeable; I wanted them to look somewhat natural after having been swapped. I used shades of gray for both creatures which, nicely enough, represents the actual colors of both cats and rabbits.

For initial base coats, I prefer to use acrylic water- based paints like Tamiya and Polly-S. The acrylic base coat makes it easy to apply color washes and other details using enamels since the acrylic colors aren't affected by solvents. Using an

airbrush, I applied the main colors with the intention to go back and apply the fine details using a regular brush. As a special note, I carefully studied real rabbit eyes, learning they're mostly a solid color with rarely any white showing - sort of like a shark's eye. My approach to create a really deep but creepy look to the Rabbit eyes was to begin with a solid black base coat. After that, I applied a coat of Tamiya transparent red. The end result is a life-like orb that is dark blood red. It's a technique I learned from Andy Yanchus and it looks great.

Painting the Rabbit was fun and rather straightforward since the fur pattern and coloring wasn't very complex. Painting the Cat, on the other hand, presented a particular challenge since I wanted to give its fur a striped pattern. For this, I used my trusty Iwata fine point airbrush and set the pressure to about 10 psi (it gives excellent control when rendering free-form details like this).


"For the base and stone block of the Rabbit kit, I again started with an acrylic base coat then followed that with a color wash of enamel paint. For the final textural details, I drybrushed the highlight colors. A final airbrushing of medium gray set the final color tone and softened the shading. For the drain on the rabbit base, I masked the area then airbrushed a nice rust color. I used the same rust color for the top plate, hook, and chain of the stone block. 

For the Cat’s cage, I starrted with a gray metallic acrylic base coat and followed that with a dark gray wash. I drybrushed with a silver enamel and then applied a rust overcoat with my airbrush. When finished, I believe I was able to give it a look as if it was quite old, stored away in a damp and dark dungeon." 



The skinny on the Skeleton...

"Building the Skeleton required a bit more time and effort only because it required filing to remove the small mold seams from all of the bones (which is a common chore with skeleton kits, regardless). The seams are small but I still wanted to remove them for that pro look. There's also a seam in sternum where the two rib cage halves come together (with that nifty "T-bone" connector that will make this an easy assembly for new modelers). I puttied the seam and sanded it smooth. Beyond this, the rest of the kit was a breeze to assemble and prep for painting.

For painting, I again laid down a coat of gray primer for starters. I then painted the Skeleton with an ivory acrylic and followed on with a brown wash. Next, I dry brushed pure white over that to bring out the details and then over coated it with the original ivory color to tie it all together.

I wanted to create the illusion of acid still dripping down the bones (as the mini-comic revealed), so I airbrushed some florescent yellow along the bottom edges of everything.


The Skeleton’s base was a quick and easy bit of assembly. For the rock and stone base, I approached the painting same as I did with the Rabbit's base, using the same colors to create consistency between the two kits' bases. As a final touch I picked out the badge molded into the base with brass enamel and dripped some of the florescent yellow on the base running down the drain to represent the acid remnants.

For the Skeleton's  wooden hanging post, I started by coating it with brown acrylic followed by an enamel wash of burnt umber to bring out the wood detail. I then dry brushed with a slightly lighter mix of the burnt umber to make the molded details pop a bit more.


All told, these make for a fun and consistently-styled set of three kits. I really enjoyed the authentic Monster Scenes experience, from opening the boxes to displaying the finished kits. I highly recommend these to modelers of all skill levels.


Born in Queens, NYC, in 1961, Tory Mucaro's first exposure to model kits came via his father, Sal Mucaro, who built plastic airplanes for his boy. The kits would eventually be destroyed as a result of young Tory's attempts to play with the "toys." But, at age 6, Tory attempted a first kit build of his own, completing a Revell B-24 Liberator bomber that his older cousin left unfinished. Tory quickly discovered that Elmer's White Glue would not yeild the results he aspired to, confounding his first-time efforts. Dad came to the rescue with a tube of aromatic Testors cement and Tory was soon competently building more aircraft kits with the occasional Tom Daniels show rod or Pyro dinosaur kit thrown in for variety.

Like most red-blooded boys of the 1960s, Tory ultimately destroyed his model kits through rough handling and inventive encounters with explosive materials. Besides, this was just a passing hobby phase, right?

Tory's outlook and approach to kit building changed practically overnight (that would be a night in the fall of 1970) when his dad landed a job as a Package Designer with Aurora Products Corporation. Ten-year-old Tory was mesmerized by the photos in the Aurora catalog that Dad had brought home. The images of professionally built kits, those that hadn't any visible glue globs, part seams, or paintbrush marks, convinced Tory to take his kit building efforts to the next level. 

In February of 1971, Sal Mucaro escorted young Tory and family to the NYC Toy Fair expo. There, Tory met Aurora R&D Product Developer, Andrew P. Yanchus. Immediately, Tory peppered Mr. Yanchus with an endless amount of questions, all of which Mr. Yanchus answered with grace, enjoying the boy's obvious enthusiasm for model kits. Tory marveled at the built-up kits in Aurora's office showroom, those that Mr. Yanchus had assembled for display. Tory found his kit-building hero in Andy and the two became lifelong friends, Tory's goal was to learn how to build kits with the same skill and precision as new mentor-friend.

Over the next 7 years, Tory honed his modeling skills, absorbing every bit of information shared by Mr. Yanchus and augmented by articles he read  in Scale Modeler magazine. His efforts paid off when, in 1978, we won 1st Prize in AMT Corporation's Model Airplane contest. He elected to take a cash prize, that which would help fund his future education. The contest, however, also helped him gain a summer position at Mego Toys. Upon his graduation from high school, Mego Toys hired Tory for a permanent position. Since then, Tory has worked in the toy industry as a professional model maker and model shop supervisor. Of course, he still builds plastic models, maintaining his love for the hobby in the spirit in which it is based - FUN!  

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