Gremlins in the Garage!

Chiller Theatre '97

Review by:
Michael Oprean (

Layout by:
Laura Ochiltree (


October, that month of the year that signals the arrival of fall more than any other month. The leaves will start to fall from the trees, the thermometer will not rise above the 60 degree mark for a good 7 months, and the skies will be grey more often than blue. Halloween is circled on my calendar, once upon a time as a fun "sort-of " holiday, now days as the weekend that the Chiller Theatre will hold it's annual fall show in Secaucus, N.J. My room has been reserved for months, my airline ticket likewise. I'm anxious to go, this is the show that I've been waiting for ever since I got back from Louisville in April.

Chiller Theatre isn't iust a model show, although there will be lots of models, model builders, model companies, and Garage Kit producers there. It's more of a Horror/Science Fiction media celebration. There will be actors and actresses from both genres there signing autographs. Tables of video cassetes movie posters and still photographs, toys and action figures and even some movie prop reproductions will all be for sale.

Being a model builder, this is as close to Mecca as I will ever get. Many of the major kit producers are on hand. New Garage Kit companies will debute their offerings. The feeling of many like minded people converging in one Hotel over a 3 day weekend is almost Palitable. Almost everyone in attendence will go home with something to do during the winter months, and a little lighter in the wallet. But things can and will be gotten here that may not be available anywhere else until Spring, so I'll bring along an extra bag to carry some of them home in.

The show opens at 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening. Due to the efforts of Ed Bowkley, Kevin Clement, and Denis Bohm the members of "Gremlins in the Garage" will receive early admission. The line starts to form at 4:30 p.m., promply at 5:00p.m. the early admission crowd is hearded into the show. Some of the dealers are not even set up yet, but the early hour does give us a chance to see things before the crowds fill the rooms up. The oportunity to get some great photos is in this time frame too.

We head into the large dealer room first, a hugh room filled to capasity with tables, shelves, and the people that make this show so popular, the dealers. Some tables are still covered with sheets, some are still in the process of setting up and some are open for business. A quick tour around the room, then down the hall and into the other dealer room. Not as large as the main room, but just as full of the things we are all here for. Some nice photo opportunities are taken advantage of on this first "go-around". Then it's time to start the selection process. A quick calculation of funds that are available, an estimate of what this will allow me to purchase, an a memory scan of all the things that I've already decided that I want. Unfortunately the wallet and the wants do not coincide, some choices will have to be made. What is in short supply, I'll get that first. What do I want the most, I'll get that first. What is close at hand, I'll get that first.

Another "go-around" of both dealer rooms is called for. The mental process of selection and elimination must be made on this trip. If only I had a fist full of solid Gold bars and a semitrailer parked outside, this process would be so much simpler. Since that is not the case, and I'm in a quandry over what to buy first, I'll go with "what's the closest". After looking right, then left, it's decided that Cellar Cast is near by. Their resin kit called "Centerfold" will be the one to "draw first blood". Once this is done the next purchase will be easier. The accounts will be kept track of and by closing time on Friday night I'll have tapped my wallet dry and at the same time Wed in a good supply of kits to build during the long cold Wisconsin winter.

A few pieces are set aside by dealers for pick up the next day. Basically I've done my thing. I'm poor but happy, and there are 2 days of the show left. On Saturday I'll pick up the kit that was still out in one dealers car the night before. I'll make a decision on one of two kits that equally appealed to me and the bulk of the day will be spent chatting with dealers, comparing notes with my good friend Jean Elliott, and trying not to get out the plastic. I'll loose the battle with the plastic, because I'll run into something that I'd not seen the night before. I will keep this to a minimum though. After all, the Spring shows are only 8 months away, by then the plastic will be all better. More pictures are taken, the Model Contest is viewed on several occasions, breaks are taken for lunch and conversations are held with Gremlins, kit-builders, producers, garage kit companies, models, actors and actresses. By dinner time we've logged many miles touring the show, buying things, making mental notes of kits that have to be added to the ever long "want" list, and comparing notes on what we liked or didn't like during our travels.

Due to some sort of communication breakdown, we managed to miss out on the planned Gremlins Dinner. We elected to eat in the Hotel, the Buffet meals served during the entire weekend were a nice idea. After dinner, it's up to our rooms to more closely examine all the goodies purchased during the day. Though is given to building, painting, and such. Then it's time to head down to the Costume Party in the lobby and adjoining rooms.

The Costume Party is another success. There are several lovely Elvira's in attendance. A great looking Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy from last year has returned, Countess Valdimira, in a very revealing "Vampirella" outfit is sitting nearby. "Biograde" makes an impressive entrance, as does a "Spawn" costume. The "Dead Elvi'' play Rock'N'Roll I and all in attendence have a good time. I don't know who won the "best dressed" contest, but there were many great contenders.

Sunday, after breakfast, it's time to get everything packed up. This kit will fit in here, this one goes in here and this one will have to be carried on. Another trip from begining to end and back again is required, just might have missed something, or found enough spare change to pick something else up.

It's raining out, has been since early Sat. Extra time will be needed to get to the airport so I'll be leaving soon. In my bags will be enough stuff to keep me busy until Spring. The talk of the day has turned to Spring, to Wonderfest. Because as certain as day turns to night, fall turns to winter, and winter turns to Spring. Plans are already in the making for the next trip to the next show. Before to long the Hotel rooms will be reserved, the airline tickets will be purchased, and the saving account will be added to, all in the name of the "Rites of Spring". Next fall? Haven't discused it yet, but sure that the subject will be a topic of concern during our visit to Louisville.

All photos included were taken by myself, any corrections that are deemed necessary are welcome as my memory isn't what it used to be. I'll do my best, but any help would be appreciated. Thanks for bearing with this rather long winded review, I was trying to give an impression along with the facts to the kit builders who have never attended a show of this nature. Being a model fan, I'm sure that I left out a lot of the things that were also at the show. Also doing reviews of some of the products offered was not my intention, if I build it I'll review it and the reviews will appear on these pages. I hope this review gets some of the people involved in the model community that have never been to a show of this nature to go to one, anyone, which ever is closest, or which ever is the most timely. Because it's such a great experience.

There are so many great pictures from the show that we put together a photo index below with links to all the pictures.

Note: We did our best to identify the kits in the pictures, but please let us know if we made any mistakes so we can correct them. Also, if we missed getting a picture of your kit please send us one so we can add it to this review. Thanks!

The Dealers Room

Buildups For Sale "in case you didn't want to build it yourself"

"The Contest" I've only listed the producers of the kits entered in the contest as I don't know who the artists that did them are.


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