A glimpse into my scale modeling hobby

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I have you now

IMG_2473I am moving along at a decent rate building models, but I am abysmal at keeping up with posting about them. I have found it far easier to regularly post on Instagram among the great modelling community there than keep up with this blog. Sometimes, however, the nature of Instagram prevents longer form thoughts, so I keep coming back here to share and write. I think there is some part of me that never got tired of writing class, and this is a great outlet for that urge.IMG_2474One of the kits I finished in the past few months is the Bandai version of Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter. I originally had the FineMolds version on my shelf, but after working with so many great Bandai kits I sold my FineMolds kit on ebay and grabbed the Bandai version. As expected, this is a great kit with one glaring exception. More on that later…IMG_2475Painting TIE fighters is not a difficult task, so I used Vallejo Light Grey as a base coat and neutral grey for the cockpit frame and highlights on the top hatch. The wings came molded in a standard flat black, but I painted them to remove some of the plastic-y toy look. Here was my main issue with the kit, however. Both wings came molded as all one part, solar panels and frame all together. The colors were correct, except for a little black strip on the frame where the black panels connected to the sprue. I wish I had thought to take a picture at the time for reference, but unfortunately I was just too frustrated to think about it. On previous TIE fighter kits I have built, the frame and solar panels always came separately to make painting easy. This kit, however, was a masking nightmare just to cover all of the bumps and greeblies to prevent any paint bleeding. I survived and I still like the end result, but it could have been a lot easier. The kit came with decals to cover the little black strips on the frames, which would also have been a nightmare to use.IMG_2476With that complaint out of the way, everything else went very smoothly. I did not want to over weather the TIE based on research from how it looks in the movie, so I just used a couple layers of dark wash to make the panel lines and details pop a little more.IMG_2478It is also fun to paint tiny little Darth Vaders, and my four-year-old son especially got a kick out of playing with dad’s miniature Vader.IMG_2436Finally, I have started trying out a brief video review when I finish a model kit and sharing to a Youtube channel with the same name as this blog, Life to Scale. The quality and lighting of this video is pretty terrible, but I received a mini photo studio over the holidays and hope to start upping the quality a little more. Forgive the clear first-timer quality of this video, but I figured I would share it anyway.

Vader’s TIE review video

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The Captain Said I Had To

IMG_2408.jpgI was pretty pumped about building this K2-S0 kit from Bandai because he was an instant fan favorite and a classic contribution to the Star Wars universe. As usual with the Bandai kits, everything fit well and hid big seams. I was a little worried about K2’s stability because, as you can see in the pictures, his legs are pretty thin, but the joints are pretty solid and the variety of poses allow for flexible display options.

IMG_2409.jpgAs I am finding more and more, these kits require a good paint job combined with some of the provided decals to look their best. The molded colors are often decent, but in the case of K2, I went with a full paint job for the weathering features I wanted to use. I started everything in a base coat of chrome silver enamel paint and then used a primarily flat black acrylic coat on top. The black acrylic was really easy to chip and reveal the silver underneath for a scratched look.

I used the decals on a few spots, namely the Imperial logo on the shoulder, the small details on the back, and the arm joints with the yellow band. The most difficult paint area was in the silver arm joints. The kit comes with a clear part to keep the thin arms and legs stable, so I had to do some tricky masking to keep all of those parts from being covered with the black top coat.

IMG_2411.jpgI love how lightweight this figure is, and I think it looks great compared to what you could get from the Hasbro Black Series line. The lightweight plastic allows K2 to be easily manipulated into many different display positions. My only complaint is that the neck has fairly limited movement, but overall that is a minor issue. If you can still find this kit lurking around the internet somewhere, get it! It was a blast to build and looks great!


Fast and Nimble

IMG_2372.jpgThe second project I finished this summer was the 1/72 A-Wing from Bandai Models. As with many of the Bandai model kits this was fun and easy to build, with plenty of time to paint, weather, and customize as desired. If not for the ease of build I probably would not have finished it this summer.

IMG_2379.jpgThe kit comes molded in the off-white and reddish colors you associate with A-Wings. I am not a stickler for exact reproductions of studio models, so I was really pleased with the mold colors. I knew some various clear coats and weathering could take away the plastic-y look so I did not mess with the molded colors. If you wanted to go a little more hardcore, it would not be hard. There are lots of straight lines which would make masking fairly easy.

IMG_2376.jpgFor the weathering, I used an oil paint wash as I have become accustomed to doing on spaceships lately. This method helped give the whole ship a dirty look as well as nicely fill in the panel lines. The oil wash also nicely grimes up all the small engine details on the back. I then topped off the wash with some rust and soot pastels in key spots.

IMG_2374.jpgFor the base (the coolest base Bandai has produced so far!), I just used Tamiya panel line accent wash to highlight all the recessed parts. I would love to see more bases like this in the future!

IMG_2378.jpgOverall, I really enjoyed making this kit, and it was a great distraction while I work on a majorly difficult build of the Swedish Warship Vasa. If you are into LED lighting (something I have limited practice with, limited funds for, and limited time to do effectively), I think the A-Wing would be really easy and fun to light. The rear engine parts are clear allowing for just such a task.

One thing that surprised me about the A-Wing was how big it is next to the X-Wing. I always thought of A-Wings as much smaller for the purposes of speed and maneuverability, but next to my X-Wing in the same scale, it looks bigger than I expected. Granted, the X-Wing is still the bigger ship. I will be excited to see what the new A-Wings look like in December when The Last Jedi hits theaters.


Fun with Troopers

15BCCEDE-4AC4-4845-A760-0FB109D88124I have sorely neglected an update on this blog for a variety of reasons, but the primary reason is the model community on Instagram. Instagram provides a great platform to share photos of projects and connect with other model builders. I have found it to be a good way to micro blog much of the progress I make on the various builds I have going, as well as a quick and easy tool to see what others are doing and perhaps get some inspiration. If you are at all into models, and why wouldn’t you be if you happen to be reading this, start searching out some of the scale model hobbyists on Instagram and enjoy all of their fantastic pictures.

The allure of recording longer form thoughts, however, still calls me, so I cannot avoid coming back here to share some thoughts about my favorite hobby. I have two completed builds to share on here in the next couple of weeks, as well as some thoughts about a pretty hefty project I am working on, so there is plenty to keep this page busy for a while. For now, I want to stick with a Bandai figure model I finished a few months ago: Rogue One’s iconic Death Trooper.

1A916C05-9688-43FB-ACE1-638AF9201D65This kit, along with the Captain Phasma kit, are my two favorites produced by Bandai up to this point (I’m still eyeing the General Grievous kit that just came out as a likely usurper). The kit comes with two different build schemes, a standard trooper or a specialist trooper. I decided to go with the Specialist because he is equipped with more cool-looking gear.

BB7939F6-D9D3-472A-B42D-2253CA201998The cool factor is what makes this figure stand out. The Death Trooper is loaded with weaponry and gadgets, which all enhance an already creepy/cool design. I had to do very little paint work other than coats of gloss and flat clear to give it a slightly more realistic and less plastic look. I did a little dry brushing on the weapons, but besides that, this was a fun and quick project.

FADE9558-8A86-474D-88A1-1A7017669AE0If I had to make one complaint about this kit, it is the fact that the eyes and mouth pieces are molded in a clear green but that gets completely lost in all the black of the figure. You could probably rig up some lighting to accentuate those more, but lighting does not typically fit my financial or time budgets.

67FE6E8F-B60C-48CE-9E58-48DE639BF90DNext up, I will take a look at my recently finished Bandai A-wing model. So, while you are waiting, grab the Death Trooper kit and have some fun!


A Bit of Backdraft

5C6CF448-B1BA-497A-8EB3-C06937F98494If you have ever played as the First Order in Fantasy Flight Games X-Wing Miniatures tabletop game, you are probably familiar with the pilot named “Backdraft.” On a couple occasions, Backdraft has been the bane of my pilots’ existence with his rear turret. I regularly had him on my mind as I was building the Special Forces First Order TIE from Bandai.

A665E1E9-90EE-4E29-B8F9-C001EBB4A8ADThis is a great kit, in line with the standard First Order TIE Fighter. The main differences were the bigger cockpit for two pilots, the red armor plating, and the rear turret. I really like the design choice of the splash of red on the Special Forces TIE.

I do not really have much to say about the process of building this kit because it was straightforward and problem-free. This time around, I painted the wing parts separately to avoid hours of annoying masking. A lesson learned from the previous First Order TIE I built. For weathering, I did a little bit of panel line washing as well as some light color pastels to highlight some of the corners, edges, and details.

8BC86BED-793D-4C17-8624-EA7D0B757A84I have been surprisingly prolific recently, probably because there are no papers to grade or lessons to plan for the next couple months. Thus, there will be more regular posts coming out over the summer. As always, I keep my Instagram account up to date on what I am currently working on, so check it out and follow @lifetoscale.05758599-BFB1-4037-BDAA-D46205B429B8


Customizable Clones

IMG_1941I keep coming back to these Bandai figure kits because they are just awesome. They are quick and make a great side project during a more prolonged or difficult model project.

One of the fun things about the Clone Trooper kit was that there were so many options for how to paint and weather this guy. Stormtroopers are fairly uniform, but thanks to the Clone Wars TV series and even some brief glimpses in the prequels, clone troopers had a lot of different markings, not to mention they weathered a lot more and their armor showed it.

IMG_1940When I first started assembling the clone trooper I was undecided about what sort of paint scheme I wanted to use, if any at all. Over the course of the build, I settled on the 212th Battalion color scheme because I have always loved Obi-Wan Kenobi and these were his troops on Utapau. I did a little googling to find a quality picture of the paint scheme and then jumped right in.

Two regrets about the way I went about painting this kit, which will influence future projects. First, I had already assembled the trooper so I had to do some difficult masking in hard to access places, which could have been eased by masking before I assembled. Second, because I did not want to mask the entire trooper, I hand painted the spots that needed markings. Both of these regrets left me wishing I had masked and airbrushed all the markings before assembling the parts. Lesson learned for next time.

IMG_1942Because I painted directly on the plastic, I was able to easily do some chipping with a toothpick and xacto knife. These gave a nice worn effect to the battalion markings. Then, to top the painting off, I did some panel line washing in a few spots and added some weathering pastels also. I finished the kit with a semi-gloss lacquer because the clone troopers were never quite as shiny as the stormtroopers.

Overall, I am pretty proud of my first real customized paint job, notwithstanding the usual weathering effects. I really like the result, and if I had endless supplies of money (haha!) I would probably try to customize several different clone varieties. Lessons learned and a good-looking figure make a great success. As a bonus, you can switch out the heads to be either a Phase 1 or Phase 2 trooper. As you can see from the photos, I preferred the Phase 2.

This is a great kit that will look even better when displayed next to my eventual Battle Droid and STAP kit.


Beastly Battlestar

IMG_1924Hey, I actually finished a model kit! That feels like such a rare statement these days other than the Bandai figure kits. Even those can be few and far between. We will just say that I really like to take my time to finish a kit. That sounds like a job interview answer, “I take so long to finish things because I am such a perfectionist.” Something like that…

Down to business. I just finished another great kit from Moebius Models. The massive Battlestar Pegasus from the 2000s BSG TV show. Much of the same praise I have given Moebius before applies here, but I have to admit that after spending plenty of time with the meticulously engineered Bandai kits, it is hard for anyone else to live up to that standard. Fortunately, there were no glaring seams and any smaller ones are fairly camouflaged. Thankfully, because I hate filling seams.IMG_1928I had a few firsts on this kit. This was my first go with photo-etched parts. I bought one of Paragrafix’s photo-etch sets for the landing bay arms and the inside panels on the front piece. I like the little bits of detail they add, but I definitely can’t afford photo-etch kits every time I build a model. Second, I used a Vallejo wash for the first time with the Pegasus. I found it really easy to use, and it gave the kit a great finish. I did not really do much other weathering on this kit, because the wash gave a nice grimier look while making the details pop a bit more.

IMG_1932This model kit is BIG! The picture above shows the Pegasus compared to the TV show’s namesake, the Galactica, and you can see how much bigger the Pegasus is. I still think I like the design of the Galactica better, however. I definitely had to do some shelf reorganizing to display this beast.

IMG_1925Overall, a great kit and a worthy addition to my collection. It was not overly challenging and looks really nice. So say we all!