Earth vs. the Flying Saucers

One of my favorite 50’s Science fiction movies is 1956’s “Earth vs. The Flying Saucers”, with effects by Ray Harryhausen.

Skyhook Models sells a series of small and simple resin models of spacecraft from classic 1950s SF movies. They have several kits from “Earth vs. The Flying Saucers”, including a small diorama depicting a saucer crashing into the Washington Monument.

This min-diorama consists of three parts (Washington Monument, saucer and a base). Based on the height of the Washington Monument, the kit scale is about 1/1525.

Like their other kits, the parts are well cast, with only minor flash and pinholes. The Washington monument had some pinholes along its length and at the base, but some putty took care of them. The saucer has a couple of pour spouts that are easy to remove. It fits in a grove on the side of the monument.

The Monument was painted in white primer with few drops of gray. The saucer was painted in Testors aluminum metalizer followed by a thin coating of clear blue acrylic paint. After this was dry, I put some Rub N’ Buff silver on the saucer and rubbed most of it off; in just the right light, you can see a blue sheen to the saucer, which is close to the colors in the Harryhausen supervised, colorized version of the movie.

The hardest part was painting the grass on the base; I just couldn’t get a shade that I was happy with. I ended up painting a green base color, followed by some clear green. When this dried, I used pastels to lighten or darken the green. It looks a little dark in spots in the pictures, but it looks OK in person. The concrete walkway was painted using a 50% gray marker. The edge of the base is painted with Tamiya gunmetal acrylic.

Finally, to give a sense of scale, I added a few 1/1400 scale photoetched figures that I made a few years ago. I cut the legs short, just to keep them closer to scale. They were “painted” with a black marker.

This was a quick, fun model to put together.

I used to work at the UCLA Center for Health Sciences so it only took me a few minutes to find one of the locations used in the opening sequences of the movie. It was filmed in what is now the UCLA Medical School store, looking out into the courtyard. The large plants were there when I took the picture in 2008. What was a tiny bush in 1955 when the movie was made (shortly after the hospital opened) was a fairly large tree in 2008.

This courtyard has since been remodeled and the large potted plants are gone. The building entrance shown in the film was replaced by the School of Dentistry and the School of Nursing. At least one of the other filming locations on campus has long been replaced by other construction. UCLA is always under construction or remodeling..

updated February 17 2020