Vampire Van


Built by: Mark Gaare, Milpitas, CA

I built a lot of plastic models when I was a kid in the 1970s.  I still have some of the award-winners, but most of the models didnít survive, after being blown to bits with fireworks.  This summer I found myself between jobs, so I got on E-Bay and bought re-issues of two of my favorite car kits, the 1932 Ford Sedan and the Vampire Van. 

I originally built one of the MPC releases of this kit.  This new version is owned by AMT.  Well, a few pieces are missing from the sealed box.  Namely, two wheel pins and two lantern lenses.  Thus, the back wheels donít roll on my finished model, and I decided not to use the rooftop lanterns (other builders apparently made that same choice).  The front wheels roll and turn in sync, even if they are a little cock-eyed. 

Iíve seen other modelers paint the Van in reds or copper, but I wanted to see it in its original gloss black finish.  I painted the trimmings gold, reminiscent of the Boot Hill Express.  I think this color scheme gives the model a strong contrast.  I did a decent job masking that gold trim.  If I was really brave, I wouldíve painted the trim beneath the window gold also. 

I painted the engine block in blood red to match the curtains, and I painted the chassis a dark primer gray instead of black.  The gray helps the chassis to stand from the wheels and body in the unlikely event of a rollover.  

I made the decision to glue the side glass windows to the inside of the van instead of the outside as shown in the instructions.  The side glass is really thick and it sticks out to far from the body.  The thick edges also create unwanted frost lines all around the window.  You can minimize the frost lines by painting the edges black (a Sharpie marker also works well).  Iíve seen some builders omit the side glass altogether, but gluing it inside gives me the reflection I wanted while allowing the front and rear curtains to match visually. 

The hood pieces required lots of filing, putty, and bending to get a good fit.  This was important to me.  Almost all of the chrome pieces were assembled per the instructions, except for the headlamp handles which have no where to go and interfere with the removable hood.  Last but not least, I chose not to build the Barnabas figure in his coffin trailer.  If the coffin fit inside the van, I would have built it.  But as a trailer, it just looks dorkyónot even a vampire is going to ride behind in that deathtrap! 

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