By Pete Jacelone
(Chiropractor, Independent film maker, Artist and Amateur Model Maker)


I first saw the George Pal's THE TIME MACHINE in a movie theater when I was 13 years old. Since then I became obsessed with Time Travel and Time Travel movies. In college I wrote a paper on the theoretical possibilities of Time Travel, and subsequently made a short film called The Time Trip, which depicted a twenty something year old "me" traveling through time in a home made time machine. Interestingly, I have two professions. I am a practicing chiropractor "by day" and an independent film maker specializing in psychological thrillers and horror movies ("by night"). Despite my love for horror, George Pal's The Time Machine has always been my favorite movie. As my life progressed, got married, built a practice, etc., I sort of forgot about my youthful passion for time travel until recently when I, for the heck of it, did a Google search for "The Time Machine" and discovered Don Coleman's most excellent web site. Going through its many informative pages, my passion for time travel was rekindled. As a young boy I occasionally built plastic models (specializing in the Aurora "famous monster" models), so I decided to try my hand at the Wah Chang miniature. It took me about a week to build. I was fairly happy with the result, but I wanted more...actually, I wanted to build my own replica of the "big machine". I decided to do the Masterpiece 1:6 model with working electronics, but admittedly thought it might be a bit too much for me to handle. Then I accidentally discovered the Comet Model web site and found their 1:12 version of The Time Machine model....but it was not yet available, and seemingly might not EVER be available. Nevertheless, I put in an order....

Time Machine Build Progress Notes

After a long wait, I received the Comet Time Machine model today, February 10th, 2010. (Coincidently, the day of that huge first North Eastern Blizzard of 2010). The box, approximately 8 x 8 x 10 inches arrived intact and well packed from Comet Models, United Kingdom. It is noted that the Wah Chang model is pictured on the box, however there is no doubt that the 1:12 model enclosed is a replica of the "big" time machine. After inspecting the pieces I conclude that master model builder Ian (Stargazer) Walsh, did an excellent job in creating this Time Machine replica.

The model consists of both resin and metal parts. Both are highly detailed. The kit includes decals which include 12 possible dates (or combinations of many more) from 1899 including the Time Traveler's various stops, to the year 802701. The parts are almost identical in size to the Masterpiece Wah Chang miniature, but compared to the Masterpiece model, there are more pieces to put together, through in a few instances, (for example the control panel), there are actually less pieces. The kit comes with an easy to follow 5 page instruction sheet with illustrations, written by master model maker Ian Walsh.

After laying all the pieces out and checking each one, I began the prep work, including filing and sanding where necessary. It is good to note that the pieces required very little prepping (again, I am comparing this to the Masterpiece Wah Chang miniature). Just a little sanding and filing was required. The metal pieces required practically no prep work. It is noted that the only pieces that are not included in the replica are the six wire coils, although the electrodes the coils attach to are included. After cleaning and priming all of the pieces, I began building the model on February 12th. I began with my favorite part (from an artist's point of view)...The Barber's Chair....

Painting notes (The Chair): It is best to paint the pieces before gluing them together. Many amateur model builders would probably paint the chair a solid brown, and the cushions a solid red. To get a more professional "artistic" look, I start by painting the wood pieces a very dark brown. After letting it dry, I "dry brush" a lighter coat of brown on top of that, being careful not to paint over the design crevices. Then I finish by lightly dabbing and brushing an even lighter color brown on top of that to accent the wood. This results in a very realistic wood-tone appearance closely resembling a real piece of wood furniture, which is rarely a "solid" brown. I used the same process for the cushions, first applying a very dark red to fill in the crevices,then with a dry brush, dabbing on a true red over the dark red. This gives the appearance of real cloth or leather which often appears darker in the crevices

The chair took two evenings to paint and assemble. It was finished around 8PM the evening of February, 13th. I did, however have a minor set back. I was holding up the chair, admiring its completion, when it slipped out of my hand and smashed on the floor! I had to pretty much start from scratch. I finished it "again" around midnight...
I then worked on the base, and spray painted all of the railings and other brass and gold fixtures.

February 14th: I completed the control panel, and began working on the rear generator components. As the instructions indicate, every piece should be painted and detailed before final assembly...


February 15th: Making the coils for the rear components was a slight challenge. Notes on coils: I used flower wire and twisted it around a stirring stick, first making three very small twists (to adhere to the lower electrodes) then 23 (an arbitrary number) for the coil, then three more small ones for the upper electrode. After coiling the six wires, I painted them and set them aside. Meanwhile, I glued the electrodes to the rear component.
February 16th: It was tricky and somewhat grueling attaching the coils to the electrodes on to the rear component. The wires had to be carefully bent so they would fit just right. Once attached, I carefully re-painted them. This evening I also painted the disc. By late evening, February 16th, all of the pieces have been painted and are awaiting decals and final construction.

February 17th: This night was devoted to apply decals. With care, they are fairly easy. I messed up on the small circular decal on the disc. I wish I had another one. I improvised and made it look as best as I could.

Notes: Decals are by nature potentially difficult, I have heard of problems even from the most experienced model makers. The key is to soak them just enough so they easily come loose, then put them in place with the backing still intact, and GENTLY slide out the backing taking EXTREME care not to rip the decal. If the decal rips, you can still salvage it. I used toothpicks and a small brush to gently push the decal into their proper places.


February 18th. At this point, all of the pieces are painted and have decals. I began assembling the pieces, which must be done in phases. Basically the machine consists of the front control panel, which must be attached to the front rails, the rear generator components, which must be attached to the rear rails. (on the comet model, the middle portion of the rails is pre-attached to the base.) So, on this night I did as much pre-assembly as possible, before final assembly.

February 19th. Tonight I glued all of the pre-glued/assembled components to the base, making sure they all line up as symmetrically as possible. Although it is acknowledged this model is not an "exact" replica, when compared to the incredibly detailed blueprints created by Chris Perrotta, it is noted I referred to his drawings and computer images throughout the build process taking as much care as possible that components were lined up.

February 20th. All that remains now is to attach the disc and apply a final light coat of spray sealant. It is noted that upon completing each component (first the chair, then the base, then the control panel and finally the rear mechanisms were each pre-coated with sealant prior to assembly. Most of the components were coated with clear satin finish. For the chair cushions I used a flat matt finish. Only the light bulbs and control handle were coated in gloss finish.

Concluding Comments

For all practical purposes, the Time Machine model is finished as of 8PM, February 20th, 2010. It took a little over one week to prep and build. I worked on it intently every evening, for at least 2 to 5 hours. Although I did not keep exact track, I'm going to estimate it took between 20 and 30 hours of hands on time to build. Tonight I will let the machine set and thoroughly dry. I will deem it complete on February 21st, 2010. This is the date I set on the control panel. I believe I am the first to complete the comet model as I am certain I am one of the first who received it. I could be wrong, and if so, would love to know who did it before me, and even more so would love to see his or her final work. I admit I am not a master model builder. My machine is not perfect by any means, but I am nevertheless proud of it. As I sit here looking at the finished build, I conclude that the Ian (Stargazer) Walsh/Comet 1:12 scale model is a fine small replica of the incredible movie prop that "is" the real TIME MACHINE ...

—Pete Jacelone 2/20/2010

Additional notes: Today I contacted Ian Walsh, "the" master model builder of this replica and showed him my finished build up. He informed me that to his knowledge I am indeed the first person to have completed his model and he seemed happy to see it for the first time assembled and painted with decals. He informed me, and I am very thrilled to announce that this "first build-up" of the Comet Time Machine will be featured as the new box art for the model !!! - PJ 2/21/2010

2/23/2010 New box art showing the completed model built by Pete Jacelone




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