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Model Work

September 16, 1997|GREG SANDOVAL | Times Staff Writer

Van Nuys — Workers here make big toys but their work is hardly child's play.

At Production WKR, a special effects company, employees build models warships and aircraft for film directors to blow up.

The company has built scale models of 747s, passenger trains and a full-scale mock-up of an F-16 fighter for such films as "Independence Day, " "Under Siege 2," "The Rock," "Crimson Tide" and "Hunt for Red October."

Workers use steel or wood and plastic compounds, glue and paint-some of the same materials they used to slap together models when they were kids.

Regardless how expensive the materials, how much work goes into the smallest details of how much time is spent making the models, workers toil in the knowledge their work will eventually be blown to bits, riddled with bullets or zapped by lasers.

Workers at the company, which is situated in an industrial strip, are now working on a British missile frigate for a James Bond film.

The 55-foot boat's hull is fiberglass and will be armed. When the guns are fired, the gun turrets will swivel and recoil, powered by remote-controlled motors.

In the end, the boat is scheduled to be torpedoed.

Robert Wilcox,co-owner of the company, says most employees are model-airplane enthusiasts who look at the job as "a dream come true."

But to work at WKR, employees need more than technical skill, Wilcox said.

"Really, you gotta have a little imagination."

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