Classic Jonny Quest
Jonny Quest Models from Mark Klingerman

I got in contact with Mark Klingerman after having seen his Jonny Quest Robot Spy spider model up for auction on eBay. In the course of several e-mails, Mark told me his story, which he has graciously allow me to publish here.

I am 41 years old and an avid Jonny Quest fan since it's inception, watching from the very first episode, "Mystery of the Lizard Men." I watched them all straight through in order of broadcast as a child in the middle 1960s. This story is a long one but you asked for it.

I also grew up during the AURORA figure kit years, so building kits was a priority for me in the '60s and '70s. In the late 1980s I started collecting Aurora kits again, I built up a large collection and decided to start producing my own kits. My first interest was Jonny Quest. I have a friend who is a talented artist and wanted to do the sculpting for me. I wanted to do the following Quest figures: Jonny, Hadji, Dr. Quest, & Race. I would follow that up with a villian, Dr. Zin, and then some of the monsters Sumi and the 2 Komodo dragons, the Mummy, the Invisible monster, the werewolf, the robot spy, the Yeti, I had them all penciled in. This whole idea surfaced in the year 1990.

My sculpting friend and I decided we would start with a Monster, so I asked him to begin sculpting the Amphibious Monster from the episode "The Sea Haunt." He would sculpt the creature and I would make the base and barrel (that the creature would be throwing). We decided to take our creation to the midwest's premium modeling event, WONDERFEST held in Louisville, Kentucky in the spring of 1991. As we had already made molds to cast our resin model we were going to give away a free model at our dealers table if passerbys would stop and fill out a questionaire. We had a huge response!

But anyway getting back to one of your questions, the night before we left for the model show I made my first Robot Spy Spider. It took me about an hour to complete. There are 2 tricks to making one. First is finding a plastic ball the right size to make the eyeball (it's about 2-1/2 inches in diameter). Second, I use a small freeze plug to braze the spiders legs too, this must have the right radius to fit the contour of the plastic ball. The rest is easy. We took the robot spy with us and everybody that passed our table knew what it was and loved it. Unfortunately, the amphibious creature wasn't so well recognized. My sculpting buddy, talented as he is, had departed from the original look of the amphibious monster, in an effort to make it look more ominous and scary; he changed its look enough that people had trouble recognizing it.

Still our experience at the show had built our confidence and we were ready to take the next step. But before I get ahead of myself, at this show my friend and I met Matt Whirt, of "Shape of Things" (this was before their company even got started) We discussed with him what we were trying to do. When we got home I immediately started looking into licensing rights. I contacted Hanna-Barbera who informed me that I would have to obtain rights from Ted Turner. This I attempted to do but immediately ran into a brick wall. They wanted many thousands of dollars before they would even let me start. I didn't have the kind of money they wanted, so our whole idea skidded to a halt.

Should I be an outlaw and do it without the rights? No, I'm not that kind of person. So we put the idea on hold. Well next year guess who had Jonny Quest kits at the model show? Matt Whirt of "Shape of Things." We were bummed out, too little too late. Was I upset? A little. But what could I say? I tried to get the rights; he went out and got them! I must have not been too upset because eventually I went out and bought all 4 of his kits. Anyway, I decided to make a Robot Spy and see if it would sell on eBay. It sold for $39! I would like to make more and sell them for a modest price but I don't want to get in trouble with the copyrights. So that's where I'm at. As preposterous as this story sounds it can be substantiated by looking at the magazine KIT BUILDERS and GLUE SNIFFERS issue #6 dated December 2, 1992. It shows a picture of my collection on page 59."

Thanks, Mark, for that interesting (albeit frustrating) story! We look forward to seeing more from you in the near future! (He is thinking about possibly tackling the energy monster from the episode "The Invisible Monster" -- sounds intriguing!)

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