“Spider-Head, Spider-Head…” – Repainting “The Thing”

Hey, gang-

I had my horror fiend, uh- I mean ‘friend’, Eric Crimmins (AKA “Skinny Pimp”) give me a shout and ask if I could do him a favor by doing a bit of a repaint on his spider-head statue from “The Thing” (1982).  It was produced by State of the Art Toys (SOTA Toys) and was part of the Now Playing line.

If you haven’t seen that movie and you like sci-fi/horror and/or are a Kurt Russell or John Carpenter fan I highly recommend it.

It’s a remake of the 1951 B/W movie “The Thing From Another World” (starring James Arness) which is based on the novella “Who Goes There?“. There is also a 2011 remake called “The Thing“, and another movie in 1972– “Horror Express” (basically sounds like The Thing on a train and stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing).

I dig the original ’50s one and the ’80s film, but haven’t seen the 70’s one or the latest one from 2011. I plan on doing a movie marathon on all of them and the special features soon. Oh, I also recommend checking out “The Thing” artbook produced by Printed In Blood.

If you haven’t seen the ’80s movie, you can see the iconic spider-head transformation scene here, and here plus more behind the scenes and  THING SPFX by Rob Bottin (pronounced “bah-teen”) here and here on YouTube. There are a couple more clips on the SPFX- click here and/or here. Honestly, after watching and reading some about the making of the movie I’m amazed no one actually died on set!

Rob was in his early 20’s when working on “The Thing“, had previously worked on “The Fog” with Carpenter, worked with Roger Corman and became an apprentice of Rick Baker while still in high school.

(I wonder if Rick, Rob, and Kurt all had the same barber back in the ’80s..?) Oh, you can read a bit about one of Rick’s make-up and monkey mentors Bob Burns here in one of my previous posts.

Eric is a long-time friend and toy dealer (Eric’s Secret Stash). I’ve sold off some parts of my collections to him in the past, as well as traded some of my art with him. Eric got a good deal on the SOTA Toys statue, but before Eric got the spider-head it had been primed by someone who thought the head looked a bit too pink. So, luckily for me that was one thing I didn’t have to do! I started off mixing up some acrylic paint an brushing on the flesh mixture.

Normally I would airbrush the majority of something like this, but I don’t like airbrushing in the house (Nicki doesn’t like me to, either), so I just did it by hand. Hopefully I can get the garage squared away to where I can paint out there again.

After the flesh had dried I sprayed a light coat of workable fixative. Did some washes after that dried. Sprayed the fixative between layers. I use the fixative on my sketchcards and sketchcovers, too.

Oh, if you’re drinking coffee or other beverages, be sure not to mix them up with the water you clean your brushes with. I didn’t get them mixed up, but almost did a couple times..!

I started dry-brushing some pinks/reds, and some flesh highlights. Painted the hair and inside of the mouth and wound recesses.

I painted some off-white on the teeth and eyes. Did some washes and dry-brushing on the hair. Washes are just thinned down paint that get down in the crevasses to bring out the detail. I wipe off the excess with a paper towel or rag. There are other similar techniques. For dry-brushing I don’t load a lot of paint on the brush, and wipe/brush off a lot of what is there, then lightly work it across the raised areas to bring out highlights. Pretty simple! If you’d like more info I definitely recommend checking out Amazing Figure Modeler– lots of great advice and how-to articles there.


When I started to add details and color to the eyes it was pretty tricky trying to keep them round and symmetrical..! I tried not to make it a solid color and made it a bit lighter in the middle. Didn’t go too crazy with the eye detail- didn’t think it was necessary and my eyes just aren’t what they used to be!


I put some black in the pupils, and a bit more pink/red to the corners of the eyes. Did some light veining by dry-brushing, too. Did a bit more shading in the folds of the skin, and a bit of light blood splatter here and there. When I was all done with that, the eyes, and all the mouth detail I then did a final protective spray. I advise taking it outside for that..!


Once that was dry I used a gloss acrylic varnish to add a bit of wetness to it. I didn’t add any highlights to the eyes, since one of the theories in the movie was the infected characters had “dead eyes” with no highlights. The varnish gives it a more natural look anyway. 

The statue came with six spider/crab-like legs. I only had to do a small touch-up to one leg. They were a bit tricky to figure out how to get them on.

I managed to get them all in place, but I wish they had made the wire running through them a bit longer. There’s not a lot to stick in the head to hold them into place and a bit more of a pin would have helped a lot. Honestly, I would probably put a drop of Superglue or Elmer’s just to get them to stay better if I was going to display it.


The black base came in two parts, and I had to gently bore the connecting holes out just a bit. There are two wooden dowels holding it together and since the ends were painted black they didn’t want to fit. I just took a drill bit and worked it inside the holes a little and did test fittings as I went along so I didn’t over do it. That worked great!


It’s all packed up now and I need to drop it back off to the comic shop for Eric to pick it up on his way home from work. I had fun working on this, and now want to watch the movie again.

Funny thing my wife and I actually got into a bit of an Abbott and Costello routine one morning when she asked me what my plans were for the day…

Me: “I’m gonna work on The Thing.”
Her: “What thing..?”
Me: “The Thing I’ve been working on.”
Her: What thing..?”
Me: “The Thing for Eric.”
Her: “Oh, THAT thing..!”

To be fair, she’s not a horror fan and hasn’t seen the movie.

SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: If you like colleting toys, statues, or horror memorabilia be sure to check out Eric’s Secret Stash on Facebook. He does weekly online Facebook auctions, and has been known to set up at most local Memphis toy/comic/sci-fi/fantasy cons and many toy and horror shows in places like Nashville, Texas, and Kentucky. He’s not hard to spot!

Oh, speaking of plugs- I’ve got some new Drawing Funny podcast episodes available. Will be working on another this week and hope to have that one up by the weekend. Waiting to hear back from some potential guests…

Stay safe, stay tooned, and stay human..!


PS- if you’d like to see another SOTA Toys statue I fixed for Eric check out my Legend/Darkness blog–  “The Devil Is In The Details” – My Repair Job On “Darkness”.

“Spider-Head, Spider-Head…” – Repainting “The Thing”
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