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Aurora reborn? ...Not! (I think)

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I stumbled across this website:

http://www.auroraplasticscorp.com/index.html

It looks like this was supposed to launch in 2012 but didn't. I never heard anything about it and I doubt that they ever actually got any products on the market or there would have been some buzz in the hobby. Still, it's fascinating and makes me wonder if all those molds still exist or what. Also, could there still be any life in it? Does anybody have any background info on this?

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IIRC, I e-mailed them a few years ago when I stumbled upon the 'site, but never got a reply. I think it's just as you stated-- an attempt to rekindle the fire of what was once Aurora.

My opinion? It looks like many or all of their planned or future releases were kits which have subsequently (since Aurora closed up shop in the late '70s) never been reproduced by anyone else, so perhaps the molds still exist. There was another topic here discussing Aurora, and what become of their tooling inventory, but not all of it was purchased by others from what I recall. Monogram acquired some, and even then, not all of it survived after it arrived in Morton Grove. I want to say the most "desirable" of Aurora's kits were purchased and taken away from their Long Island location, but I don't think I've ever read/heard what happened to the rest of Aurora's molds, and what remained at the end. Maybe it was mentioned in Thomas Graham's book?

There must be some connection with Tom Lowe who previously owned Polar Lights and produced several originally-produced-by-Aurora kits in the late '90s and early '00s. I have to believe the molds for the "Frankenstein's Flivver", "Dracula's Dragster," etc. still existed, rather than being reverse engineered, so why not other molds from Aurora's inventory?

Should we throw in Addar, too, to really complicate things? ^_^

Just for kicks, here's the wiki on Aurora:

"Aurora’s founders retired in the late 1960s and the company was sold to outside investors in 1969. After expanding into the toys and gamesmarket with limited success, the new owners sold the company to Nabisco in 1971. Nabisco in turn sold the model kit division in 1977 to Aurora’s one-time rival Monogram.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, toy and hobby company Playing Mantis created a division called Polar Lights (as a reference to aurora) which reissued some of Aurora’s most popular kits. Other companies following in Aurora's shoes have reissued earlier Aurora kits. These include Moebius, Atlantis and Monarch, which mostly have focused on the Aurora trend of sci-fi and horror TV and movie figures and scenes. For example, Moebius, started by a former distributor of Polar Lights models in Glenwood, Florida, has reissued the large kit of the submarine Seaview from the 1960s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV show and the old Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kit (Moebius Models website). Monarch models is based in London, Ontario, Canada - started by a doctor (Powell 2009; Monarch Models website 2011). Atlantis Models is based in East Northport, New York, and though also making sci-fi figures, has equal focus on animal dioramas (Atlantis Models website; Powell 2010). Polar Lights, Monarch and Moebius all use an oval logo very similar in shape to that of the original Aurora style. The Atlantis (see Zorro re-issue) logo uses a more abstract, though nostalgic, oval broken into six sections.

In the 1990s, the family of Joseph Giammarino announced the return of Aurora Plastics Corporation as a manufacturer of hobby kits under the name LAPCO, or Lost Aurora Plastics Corporation, with a product line to include reverse engineered reissues of long gone kits. Nothing came of this. Again in 2007, Giammarino's family announced the return of Aurora, with their first offerings stated to include aircraft and figure kits from their original 1960s line (Giammarino 2007). Their web site lists products to be made available in May-June 2012, but as of September 2012 none are available to order."

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Tom Lowe's Playing Mantis (Polar Lights was a department of that company) reverse-engineered such former Aurora kits that they offered--those were not from original Aurora tooling. I was told, perhaps 20 years ago by the late Bill Lastovich that Monogram did in in fact buy pretty much all of Aurora's plastic model kit tooling, only to scrap the vast majority of it in the deep recession of 1981-82 in order to fund new product. It seems that Monogram's people found that very little of the Aurora lineup met their then-existing high standards for accuracy and parts fit.

That's all that I know about it.

Art

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The story I've heard for years in Model Airplane World is that Monogram bought Aurora's tooling but much of it was lost in some kind of railroad wreck. Back in the '70s/'80s, they reissued a few of the Aurora kits. They did some upgrading and improving on the airplanes, I believe.

Here's a list (by no means complete) of the Aurora-based Monogram (or Revell) models:

Airplanes (1/48)

Sopwith Camel

Fokker D.7

SE.5A

Vought A-7 Corsair II

GD F-111

Cars 1/32

'65 Barracuda

'65 Mustang 2+2 (at least once with Shelby decals)

'65 GTO

Cars 1/24

Aston-Martin DB4

Jaguar?

Maserati 3500

Ferrari 250 GTO?

Ford GT40

There might have been more.

Somebody reissued the Carl Casper Undertaker AA/C dragster, but I'm not sure if that was Revellogram. (I keep trying to come up with SOMETHING to do with that kit. Don't like the Undertaker but the chassis etc is pretty cool.)

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Some quick search around here will yield most of the stories about Auroras train wreck and existing tools.

Bottome line, I highly doubt that Aurora will come back as most of its niche market items have been brought back by other companies, either as repaired existing tooling or new tools.

Put a fork in this one, folks, it is done!

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No email reply indeed...

"We will bring back what was lost???" a bit fishy, since, as already mention, Monogram took most of Aurora molds back in 1977'78.

(Casper's "Undertaker" was reissued by PL).

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No email reply indeed...

"We will bring back what was lost???" a bit fishy, since, as already mention, Monogram took most of Aurora molds back in 1977'78.

(Casper's "Undertaker" was reissued by PL).

Yeah, sounds like there was another game at play here that had nothing to do with reviving old kits.

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8iuTX4LlGZO.pngAuthor
Only 5 tools were lost, we actually have the shipping and documentation of the rail cars going to west hempstead to Morton Grove. I believe it was this day in 1977 when it happened.
8iuTX4LlGZO.pngAuthor

 The exact date was 12/2/77 near Binghamton NY.

 

8iuTX4LlGZO.pngAuthor
 This has to be it. When in get back in the office tomorrow I will check to see who the carrier was on bills of lading. If I see Conrail as the carrier or truck containers going to Georgia City NJ then we know for sure.

 

8iuTX4LlGZO.pngAuthor
5 molds lost total SKYMASTER NIKE MISSILE for sure have to dig a little deeper for other other 3 molds. The sad part is all the ones monogram destroyed. I can understand dulpicates Aurora P-47 compared to Monogram P-47 but to trash the Raider Ship Atlantis?? Monogram had nothing like it in the line at the time or ever. I'm sure they regretted this down the line there was no real collector market for this stuff back in 1977.
 
 If anyone has a reasonably exact date and location of the train wreck I'll look it up in my Newspapers account to see if there's any coverage. I did find coverage of a freight train that derailed near Binghamton, N.Y. in the early morning hours of December 1, 1977. It was a Conrail train going from Georgia City, N.J. to Chicago. Ten cars derailed, most of them piggyback cars hauling trailers full of cargo. There are a few pictures of the wreckage in the Binghamton paper. If this is it - or if anyone can give me the specifics on the when and where - I'll see what I can find, and share.

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1 hour ago, Casey said:

 

8iuTX4LlGZO.pngAuthor
Only 5 tools were lost, we actually have the shipping and documentation of the rail cars going to west hempstead to Morton Grove. I believe it was this day in 1977 when it happened.
8iuTX4LlGZO.pngAuthor

 The exact date was 12/2/77 near Binghamton NY.

 

8iuTX4LlGZO.pngAuthor
 This has to be it. When in get back in the office tomorrow I will check to see who the carrier was on bills of lading. If I see Conrail as the carrier or truck containers going to Georgia City NJ then we know for sure.

 

8iuTX4LlGZO.pngAuthor
5 molds lost total SKYMASTER NIKE MISSILE for sure have to dig a little deeper for other other 3 molds. The sad part is all the ones monogram destroyed. I can understand dulpicates Aurora P-47 compared to Monogram P-47 but to trash the Raider Ship Atlantis?? Monogram had nothing like it in the line at the time or ever. I'm sure they regretted this down the line there was no real collector market for this stuff back in 1977.
 
 If anyone has a reasonably exact date and location of the train wreck I'll look it up in my Newspapers account to see if there's any coverage. I did find coverage of a freight train that derailed near Binghamton, N.Y. in the early morning hours of December 1, 1977. It was a Conrail train going from Georgia City, N.J. to Chicago. Ten cars derailed, most of them piggyback cars hauling trailers full of cargo. There are a few pictures of the wreckage in the Binghamton paper. If this is it - or if anyone can give me the specifics on the when and where - I'll see what I can find, and share.

Very interesting! 

The airplane appears to be the Aero Commander, a very desirable kit that they'd enjoy brisk sales of today. I'd buy at least one. 

Jodie Peeler is a net friend of mine. She's a trained journalist (from back in the day when that credential actually meant something) and serious historian. If she tells you something, you can believe it. 

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I remember as a kid building a bunch of the Aurora 1/48 scale military vehicles (not long ago I came across the remnants of the Stalin tank) and they seemed really good at the time.  Don't recall ever seeing those reissued by anyone and that scale seemed to die for military vehicles, until now that Tamiya has resurrected it.

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2 hours ago, Snake45 said:

The airplane appears to be the Aero Commander, a very desirable kit that they'd enjoy brisk sales of today. I'd buy at least one. 

 

79719437_3890414730984818_4057440361692266496_n.jpg

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40 minutes ago, Lunajammer said:

 

79719437_3890414730984818_4057440361692266496_n.jpg

Possibly, but it looks more like the prop-driven regular Aero Commander to me. Shape of nose, dihedral of tail, and so forth. 

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3 hours ago, Snake45 said:

Possibly, but it looks more like the prop-driven regular Aero Commander to me. Shape of nose, dihedral of tail, and so forth. 

894954138_Aurora285-29Acommbuilt.JPG.6c6a3be17d015e5e5d69a6970ff515e8.JPG

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From what I can remember of the Aurora kits the ones I came across were not very good. For example embossed national insignia on aircraft kits. How were you expected to get a decal to stay down on them goodness knows. Did they make a Maserati 2300 kit along with another and the moulds are now in Revellogram's hands?

We look back in nostalgia at some of these old kits with rose tinted spectacles sometimes when in reality most are best forgotten.

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Aurora made the Maserati 3500GT and Aston Martin DB4, both of which are very nice and detailed kits. More than likely, those molds were acquired by Atlantis.

2 hours ago, Bugatti Fan said:

We look back in nostalgia at some of these old kits with rose tinted spectacles sometimes when in reality most are best forgotten.

There is the other side of that coin; that being, looking back with a jaundiced eye because you're using the standards of today to make unfair comparisons with the past.

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The Maserati and Aston, were last seen in Revell/ Germany boxes in the 1990's, so Maybe Atlantis did get them. It would be nice to see them return, as the prices are getting crazy.

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, djflyer said:

I remember as a kid building a bunch of the Aurora 1/48 scale military vehicles (not long ago I came across the remnants of the Stalin tank) and they seemed really good at the time.  Don't recall ever seeing those reissued by anyone and that scale seemed to die for military vehicles, until now that Tamiya has resurrected it.

Atlantis recently re-issued the Aurora M-46 Patton tank kit in 1/48, originally released in 1956.  It's in stock right now at the local Hobby Lobby, so we can hope there will be more to come.

One of my favorite Aurora armor kits was the M-109 "dash-nothing" short-barreled 155mm self-propelled howitzer.  It even had a figure holding an M-16 rifle.  In the early 1970's diorama building got popular, mostly thanks to Shep Paine's awesome Monogram diorama kits.  At that time Aurora re-issued its armor kits with  vacu-formed plastic display bases.   As I remember, they looked pretty good.

There's also another "Aurora" company in existence now, a Russian outfit that makes 1/35 scale resin figures.  I have to qualify eBay searches for "Aurora" so they don't flood my results.

Aurora-314-98-M109.jpg

Edited by Mike999
omit

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It was all hashed out months ago on facebook-- just click the link to read. The image of the mold halves wasn't really pertinent to this discussion, as it was more about what became of the Aurora molds Monogram purchased and the story of he train derailment en route to Chicago.

Keeping in mind this section is for automotive talk, it was mentioned in the facebook topic the Aurora 1/32 American LaFrance 900 Pumper was one of the kit which were destroyed in the derailment. Whether that's true or not I haven't a clue.

AuroraALFPumper.jpg.f337e7e487a8b51791a7ca3acbdc29ec.jpg

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My biggest question is what did the Marketing people really scrap out when the molds came in? 

Tom West didn't exactly know, but he had an idea. My biggest question to him was about the Aurora Racing Scenes 1/16 Drag Stuff, and he told me that for sure that one of the HEMI molds was destroyed when they tried using it. It was a multi piece mold that had to be done in a certain sequence and they didn't do it right, thus breaking the mold, which Tom still had a piece of! 

He told me that the tires for these kits where being done in Canada, and to his knowledge, they never came back. And with the recent release of the AMT Garage Scenes stuff using very similar, if not the same, mechanic figures, it leads me to believe some of this stuff survived. 

But, who has it and how much? Hopefully Atlantis and Round 2 will find out. 

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12 minutes ago, Daddyfink said:

My biggest question is what did the Marketing people really scrap out when the molds came in? 

Bob Johnson might be the best person to ask. He hasn't logged on here in a while, but one of us could try to contact him through facebook and ask. Maybe Luc has a better suggestion?

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Joe, regarding me looking back with a jaundiced eye, you are quite correct. I have been building kits since the late 50s when I was at school. Seen a lot come and go, good, bad and indifferent over the years Some older kits were quite nice. Yes I have come to expect better quality and got used to better kits to build. Things have moved on and my observation about many old  Aurora kits  was subjective rather than unfair. One must remember the mass market those old kits were aimed at in their day. Today's market is very different and modellers these days rightly expect both accuracy and good assembly as a norm.

Put it another way. Would anyone  be satisfied with an old black and white TV when you can now have Ultra High Definition?

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55 minutes ago, Bugatti Fan said:

Put it another way. Would anyone  be satisfied with an old black and white TV when you can now have Ultra High Definition?

A better analogy with many old models might be: Would you rather watch an old B&W TV, or not have any TV to watch at all? B)

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It all boils down to subject matter in most cases.  If the only available kit is an older tool, then that's what you have to work with.

What kills a lot of Aurora and Lindberg stuff (military/planes) is that their products were often the first of a particular subject to hit the market.  They usually became obsolete if/when someone else brought out a better one.

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