George Reeves Superman

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Man, I like this kit!

This is a resin kit from IDC of the George Reeves Superman, from the 1950s Adventures of Superman TV show. If you know your TV Superman, you can tell (from the chest emblem, as well as from the hairline) that this is a pose from one of the first two black-and-white seasons. (When the show went color, the emblem changed -- became less rounded. Plus George's hair got progressively thinner through the years.)

The kit itself was simple to build (two hands, head, and body), and fit together well. I even turned George's head a little up and to his left, to give that "gazing into space" look he had in the show's opening credits, and in a lot of publicity stills. A good solid pose, IMHO.

The big problem with the kit were the literally hundreds of pinholes, all over the place -- and most prevalent in some of the fine-detail areas (face, hair, chest emblem). I tried just about everything, but ended up mixing a batch of Squadron White putty with some lacquer thinner, and "painting" over the holes. (A very valuable tip I got from the Gremlins in the Garage Web site.) The mix was thin enough to fill in the pinholes without mucking up the kit's detail, and all ended up okay.

This kit being from the black-and-white seasons, then, I had some decisions to make regarding the color scheme. Most of the build-ups I see of this model (like this one, from Tony Moe) use the darker blue for the suit, as typical of the color seasons of the TV show. To me, that didn't look right -- this model is definitely from the black-and-white years, and I just didn't like using the color scheme with that version of the chest emblem.

Another option was to paint the model in black and white, the way we all saw it on TV. To see what that would look like, I tracked down a buildup (also by Tony Moe) that painted the suit in all gray and black, just like you'd see it on a black-and-white TV. (Except for full-color skin tones, oddly enough.) That didn't look quite right to me, either; the actual costume in the black-and-white years was actually gray and reddish-brown, not all gray. (Those particular colors looked best when shot on black-and-white film.)

No, I wanted a color scheme that looked like it might have been the real full-color colors, if shot on black-and-white film. (Follow me on this?) This took a little imagination.

On the TV show, the blue parts of Supes' long johns came off as very light, and the cape and trunks as fairly dark. In my mind, this translated to a light, almost robins-egg, blue for the main part of the suit, with reddish-brown (just like the actual black-and-white outfit) for the cape, trunks, and boots. The yellow, to me, was then a very light yellow, almost white, not the bright yellow you typically see.

So that's the way I painted it.

What I ended up with is, to my eye, a fair representation of what Superman would have looked like had we been able to view the black-and-white episodes of Adventures of Superman in color. A lighter color scheme overall, with kind of a 1950s feel, instead of the darker color scheme of the later color episodes.

As to George's skin, my painting skills took a major step forward with this model. First off, I added some blush to the base skin tone (good old Ral Partha Sun Tan -- what am I ever going to do when my cache runs out?) by drybrushing a little Dusty Mauve to the cheeks. I also used a heavier drybrush of the same color for the lips. For the first time, I did eyes with both irises and pupils; even though George's eyes were really brown, I made the model's eyes a light blue, same color as the suit. (It just looked better -- more color-coordinated than real life, I suppose.)

One little bit of trivia. The TV Supes wore the only costume where the emblem on the cape carried the same color scheme as the chest emblem -- that is, red "S" and outline with yellow interior. In the comics, Supes' cape emblem was yellow-on-yellow -- and in the Fleischer cartoons (and the recent Superman and Justice League animated series), he didn't have a cape emblem at all. It looks a little funky, with the emblem the same color as the cape, but that's the way they did it in the TV series. (And, to be fair, in the Kirk Alyn serials, several years previous.)

Back to the painting, where George's hair was another big issue. In real life, in the early 1950s, George had brown hair going gray, starting to thin, and dyed black for the TV show. I tried doing all-black hair, and it didn't look right; too black, actually. I ended up going with a base coat of dark brown, and then drybrushing black over that. I then painted the eyebrows the same dark brown, and it looks okay -- at least from a slight distance.

The IDC model came without a base, so I purchased a Moon base from Night Life Productions. After priming it (with good old Model Master Gray), all I did was drybrush several coats of white on top, which gave that kind of dirty white look we saw in all the Apollo moonwalk missions. A little pinning and gluing, and the model was done.

It's a big model (about 13" tall, without the base), and a really good sculpt. The facial likeness is fairly true; you definitely know which Superman it is when you look at it. As I've always had a fondness for the old Adventures of Superman TV series (especially the black-and-white episodes -- and particularly those from the first season, with the "good" Phyllis Coates Lois Lane), this model is close to my heart. It took a long time to find one (on eBay, of course), and a bit of time to build (all those pinholes -- and a painstaking paint job!), but the waiting was worth it.

MODEL FACTS
Name: Superman (George Reeves)
Manufacturer: IDC
Year Manufactured: Unknown
Year Built: 2002
Base: Night Life Productions Moon Base

PAINTS
Superman
Apple Barrel: Sky Blue (costume), Dusty Mauve (skin highlights), Burnt Umber (hair & eyebrows), Black (eyes & hair highlights), Misty White (eyes)
Delta Ceramcoat: Barn Red (cape, trunks, and "S" emblem), Custard (belt & "S" emblem)
Ral Partha: Sun Tan (skin)
Tamiya: Gold Leaf X-12 (belt buckle)
Base
Apple Barrel: White

SUPPLIES
Primer: Model Master Gray
Putty: Squadron White, Squadron Green
Glue: Zap-a-Gap
Lacquer Thinner: Testors

 

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Last modified: March 08, 2011