Nowadays, one has the luxury of discussing at length the merits or shortcomings of a Lunar or Masterpiece model kit. Both versions, in spite of their slight flaws, are highly detailed and fairly well cast. With a fair amount of skill, one can build a decent model from either of these kits. But prior to 1995 – before the Lunar Models kit was first introduced – fans had little choice if they wanted to build a model of the Time Machine from the George Pal movie: Either they built it from scratch or they bought the only kit available – a rather simple one made by Alan Terry (also known as “ATL Models”) and sold by a few garage kit enterprises. Since Lunar Models - one of the best-known model retailers at the time - sold this kit, it was often assumed that Lunar was its manufacturer (even though Lunar credited Alan Terry in their catalogues).

The Alan Terry kit ad from the 1988
“Rocketships & Accessories” catalogue.

I first discovered the existence of this kit back in 1988 when I saw it in a catalogue from “Rocketship & Accessories”. I believe it had just recently been introduced. The photograph of the model did not impress me very much and I never got around to buying it. A few years later, in October 1990, I came across a build-up of this kit at a SF convention in Montreal. The model had been put together by André Rivard, a local fan. It is actually that model which rekindled my interest in The Time Machine, a movie I had loved since I first saw it at age eleven. I thank André for that !

The Alan Terry kit was made of a butterscotch-coloured resin and was about 1:12 scale, which is the size of the movie miniature, although it was patterned after the full-size Machine. Compared to later models of the Time Machine, this one had surprisingly few parts as most of them incorporated several components of the Machine into a single casting. For example, the motor housing and pods (and originally, the dish-support shaft) were all moulded together as one part. The seat was also a single component, save for the headrest and armrests. (It would appear that later versions of the kit had the armrests and headrest already mounted to the chair). Even the control console had the domed end caps, the lamp base and lamps attached. The parts had few details when they had any at all and most of the castings had several flaws and air bubbles. Needless to say, a lot of work was required to turn this kit into an acceptable model. Ironically, some of the painted motifs (on the control console and on the dish) appeared instead as raised designs moulded into the parts.

The first version of the Alan Terry kit.

The second version of the kit – with modified dish.

In spite of the rather crude nature of this kit, it is interesting to note that an improved version was eventually produced. The main improvement was in the border of the dish. The original dish had a border that sharply curved inwards. The second-generation dish was a bit more faithful to the original design.

Over the years, I came across other fans that had courageously built their own version of this kit before anything else was available. The most ambitious of them, Jim Bertges, actually customized his markedly, by adding lights in the pods and working console lamps as well as by modifying many of the parts.

Jim put so many lights in his model that he had to install an array of batteries in a display platform to power them. Jim also reconstructed the motor housing and pods completely and reworked the details extensively. His feat was detailed in two issues of Modeller’s Resource magazine in the mid-nineties.

One of the most ambitious projects ever attempted with this kit was a lighted version
made by Jim Bertges, commissioned by SF writer Mel Gilden.

Although the Alan Terry kit is today frowned upon and interests mainly those who collect vintage kits, one fan by the name of Paul Shapiro recently decided to rise up to the challenge and turned an Alan Terry kit into an animated model featuring a motorized dish ! To display his model, Paul went so far as to acquire an original Tantalus and upholstered the interior exactly like the one in the movie. Never has an Alan Terry model been treated so royally !

Here then are some examples of the work of pioneer Time Machine builders.

This model built by André Rivard was the first Time Machine build-up I ever saw – now in the collection of SF illustrator J-P Normand.

Don Coleman's take on the Alan Terry kit.

Another early build-up by Allen B. Ury. See more pictures of Allen’s model here.

Paul Shapiro’s recent custom job with motorized dish in upholstered Tantalus.

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The Time Machine Project 1998 Don Coleman
Web Site 1999 Don Coleman
Web site created by Don Coleman
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