It’s All in the Details
Model kits are just a conglomeration of plastic, glue, and paint without the addition of small, but important, details. One of the ways you can add detail to a kit is through decals. The BSG Viper kit came with a full set of decals for either a Galactica Viper or a Pegasus Viper, and your choice of pilot placards. As a loyal supporter of the Adama family, and thus Galactica all the way (watch the show, if that made no sense to you), I chose the Galactica decals along with the Starbuck pilot placard to match my female pilot.
The decals in this kit were minimal, but they do a fine job of adding character. This Viper is no longer a generic ship off of the assembly line; it now has a serial number, a Battlestar designation, and its own named pilot. Also, if you look closely just below the cockpit, there is a line of black marks, which are little pictures of Cylon Raiders to represent the kill count!
The other way that details make or break a kit is in the process of making it look realistic. One of the best first steps to making a kit look real is the use of a wash. I combined some dark grey and black acrylic paint and then watered it down; then, I coated the entire model with the wash. The effect of a wash is that the darker paint will set into the grooves on the kit, which would get dirty first on a real vehicle, and the rest of the surfaces achieve a simulated dirty look. You can see the result of my wash coat here. I have found that a wash is a fantastic way to get instant results for a more realistic looking kit. The wash also begins the process of defining what kind of story to tell with the final details on the kit. That final step, however, will have to wait until next week!