In 1974, a company by the name of The ADDAR Plastics Co managed to
snag the license for a series of plastic model kits based upon the
Planet of the Apes franchise. I haven't managed to find out
very much about the Addar Company itself, other than it was the
short-lived brainchild of an ex-Aurora employee by the name of Abe
They produced kits including Evel Knievel, Jaws, and the Scene
in a Bottle line, but today ADDAR are mostly remembered for their
Apes kit line, in which they emulated the style of the AURORA
figure kits with character sculpts on dioramic bases. Sadly, Addar
never enjoyed true success and soon went into liquidation.
To help preserve their memory, here is a detailed look at part of their legacy
The Planet of the Apes kits.
The first wave featured six models: Dr. Zaius, Cornelius, Zira,
Caesar, General Ursus, and General Aldo. Riding on the crest of the
Apemania wave, all six found their way across the pond and for a short
while were readily available. Hell, I bought mine at a local
newsagent! The kits were something of a hit-and-miss affair, combining
both surprisingly accurate touches and equally surprising
inaccuracies. The poses all suffered from being somewhat static and
unnatural, no doubt due to the moulding technology of the time, and
the facial sculpts vary wildly from the excellent to the truly awful.
Where they really scored were the well thought-out diorama bases that
added a certain something to each and every figure, though they too
were sometimes odd choices. The suggested paint schemes, reflected in
the box cover art, were often way off!
What follows is a mini out-of-the-box review of each one highlighting the good,
the bad, and sometimes the downright ugly.
This first kit perfectly sums up all the typical pros and cons of the
Addar range. The facial sculpt is excellent. You can't see Roddy
McDowall, but as a generic chimpanzee, even by today's standards, it's
top notch. Costume details are accurate, with the bizarre inclusion of
open-toed sandals (complete with hairy feet!). The pose is awkward,
stiff, and unnatural, while the diorama base is a nice little
representation of the subterranean remains of New York City (from
Beneath the POTA). An odd choice, because the Cornelius
character never went there. (Perhaps its a mutant illusion!)
The facial sculpt on this one is poor, which is a shame, because the
costume details (this time with proper footwear) and pose are good.
The diorama base is an excellent representation of the inside of Zira
and Cornelius's love nest. (A sentence I never thought I'd write!)
It's a shame, though, no one thought to give Cornelius a similar
interlocking base as an extension of the house, which would have
worked better than the ruins of New York.
Some pre-production designs show an alternate version was once considered with
Zira standing in front of a lectern and microphone, probably inspired by the
Presidential commission inquiry scenes from Escape from the
Perhaps the most successful of the Addar kits, Zaius boasts a quite
respectable facial sculpt, a decent pose, and accurate costume details
(right down to his wearing his expedition suit) The diorama base is an
excellent representation of the doomsday bomb trigger device from
Beneath the POTA that lends itself to some customisation. The only
letdown on this kit was a wildly inaccurate painting guide!
A bit of a mixed-bag this one. The facial sculpt is excellent. Costume
details are accurate, with the odd exception of the omission of the
self-styled General's studded collar (the only thing that set his
costume apart from those of his soldiers). The pose is pretty decent,
and the diorama base accurately depicts some of the hasty
fortification from the climax of Battle for the POTA. An odd glitch on
this kit is the rifle, as Aldo holds a 40th-century design rifle.
Battle took place much earlier in ape history, and in the
movie, Aldo favoured a 20th-century Thompson machine gun—remember
this glitch, because I'll be coming back to it in a moment.
Like Aldo, this too is something of a mixed-bag. The facial sculpt is
excellent, and costume details are, for the most part, accurate. The
character wears the studded collar (omitted from the Aldo sculpt),
along with a General's helmet and armoured gloves, but entirely missing
are the distinctive carved pistol and the armour plated battle jacket
that, had it been included, would have elevated this sculpt into a
mini-masterpiece. Out of the box, the pose is a little awkward, what
with it being hard to tell what the right arm/hand are supposed to be
doing. (I re-posed mine.) The diorama base is nicely done, but the house
ruins don't seem to represent anything ever seen in an Apes movie. A
somewhat ironic glitch is again the choice of weaponry.
The character is holding a 20th-century Garand style of rifle, which
would have looked more at home in Aldo's hands. General Ursus should
be holding either the 40th-century rifle (that Aldo is holding) or a
40th-century carved sub machine gun. (An easy swap and fix, of course,
but these are out of the box reviews)
Rejected pre-production concepts show an alternate version of Ursus in one of
the subterranean subway tunnels—that would have been cool!
Another near miss. Costume details are accurate, complete with chimp-style
finger boots. The pose, based upon a well-used production still, is
pretty good, and the diorama base is a lovely representation of the
character's treehouse home. The big letdown is a pedestrian facial
sculpt that does the kit no favours at all.
WAVE 2: SUPER SCENES
ADDAR's second wave of Apes kits featured three kit-in-a-bottle
dioramas, which appear to have reached the stores both home and
abroad, but in far fewer numbers. Even back in the '70s, these three kits would
have been hard to find. Each of the dioramas (Cornfield Round up, Jail
Wagon, and Tree house) featured a small 1/32nd-scale plastic kit of the
main focus of attention, along with a number of cardboard cut-out
figures that were all, once assembled and painted, housed inside a
plastic bottle. It was an interesting idea, but executed in a somewhat
underwhelming and lacklustre manner, but they remain fun items
nonetheless. These days, they still turn up occasionally on the auction
sites, with prices ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Which brings us to the last of the ADDAR ape kits, and if you thought the bottle
kits were hard to find, I challenge you to find the Stallion and Soldier. This
kit is ultra-rare I've never even seen one for sale on these shores and
only occasionally on the US eBay, where it inevitably goes for silly money
to someone who will no doubt never build it.
Everything comes to him who waits, and I have managed to obtain one, but that
will be the subject of a separate article. Again, what follows is a
simple out-of-the-box review.
The head for the gorilla rider uses exactly the same parts as the Aldo
kit, but it isn't marketed as Aldo on Horseback, so I'll work on the
basis that the character is a generic gorilla. Costume details are
accurate, and the pose is a nice representation of the iconic
Ape-holding-a-rifle-above-his-head stance. The base is untypical in
that it is purely functional and not really dioramic. The horse is
caught in a nice, fluid, mid-gallop pose.
Each of these kits is clearly a product of its time, and so shouldn't be judged
too harshly or by today's standards. They—glitches and
all—build into nice little displays.
A few years back, Polar lights re-issued four of the original six ADDAR kits
(Cornelius, Zira, Zaius, and Ursus), but all the other kits remain hard to find.
If you do find them at a reasonable price, they can be a lot of fun.