A glimpse into my scale modeling hobby

Figures

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.


Phantastic Phasma

History may remember Captain Phasma as the cool-looking trooper who was a bit of a dud in her on-screen role (I’m still waiting for Episode 8 to change that), but hey, she is pretty darn good looking. This figure kit from Bandai is a good reminder of how great she looks.

The figure comes molded in bright, shiny chrome, which as you might guess is a fingerprint magnet. I kept having to wipe off my grimy fingerprints after working on the kit, but I did not see any other figures on the market that quite matched the chrome look of the Bandai kit. Just a few thoughts on the build and paint process, and I will let the pictures speak for themselves:

  • No problems with assembly. The parts fit just like all of the Bandai figure kits. The cape options were the only main downside. The box has either a hard plastic cape in two parts or a see-through fabric-y cape. I ultimately chose the fabric because I really did not like the rigidity of the plastic cape nor the two parts. I think there are other options out there for nicer fabric capes, but I don’t have the budget to buy another one when there are already two options in the box.
  • I decided to take a bit of the chrome bite away by giving the whole kit a gloss varnish. This helped facilitate a little bit of wash weathering but still maintained a lot of the cool chrome look.
  • Speaking of weathering, I did only a little. I did some panel line washing throughout the kit and gave her a few smudges here and there. I gave her blaster the most wash treatment.

I really love this figure kit from Bandai. Cape issues aside, Phasma looks awesome and everything looks well-proportioned, scaled, and colored compared to some of the other options out there in the same scale. This Captain looks great up on my shelf next to her buddies Kylo Ren and the First Order Stormtrooper. I cannot wait to see how they might utilize her in the next movies, because when a character looks this awesome, she needs an awesome role.


First Order of Business

IMG_0440Everything is looking rather Imperial-y on my workbench, as I just recently finished Bandai’s First Order stormtrooper and have started on the First Order TIE.

The First Order trooper looks great, as I expected. I did very little painting on the figure itself, just a couple coats of gloss and one dull so that he had a little shine but not too much. The troopers in the movies all have good looking armor, at least until they are blown up.

IMG_0443Most of the paint work came on the accessories. All the hands needed white on the palms, which I never noticed while watching the movie. The weapon accessories all came molded in black, and the new blaster design is black, white, and silver. I found it easier to paint the whole thing white and then add in the black and silver highlights. The melee weapon was a similar story.

IMG_0441I chose the now iconic TRAITOR!! look for my trooper for now since it is so different from any trooper look we have seen before. He looks great, with the only minor complaint the blobby looking fist hand.

Up next, the First Order TIE. Here is a little preview.IMG_0445


This is the Kit You’re Looking For

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I finally got around to finishing the 1/12 Sandtrooper kit from Bandai, and it looks great! The steps of the build were very similar to the standard stormtrooper kit, but the extra weapons, the pauldron, and the backpack added enough of a different touch to make the build a unique experience.

IMG_0162Here are a couple thoughts on my finishing choices:

-I used Pledge wax for a gloss finish over the decals and to give the base shiny trooper look. This is where I stopped with the standard trooper.

-I did not want to over weather the armor because I thought that the Sandtroopers would still try to keep their armor as clean as possible in a harsh environment. I could not, however, resist giving this guy a dirty look so I used some weathering powders sparingly to give the appearance of dirt and sand. This gave just the right amount of wear that couldn’t be polished out no matter how hard he tried.

-Finally, I finished the whole piece with a clear dull coat. This was my attempt to simulate years in an environment not conducive to anything looking good.

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These Bandai kits are too fun, and I fortunately have been able to grab some on eBay for very reasonable prices. I guess that whole embargo thing didn’t really work out, Disney and Revell…

Next time you hear from me, I will have pictures from a new workspace! We rearranged our whole basement to make room for a new baby in April, so my workbench moved. I should have some good updates on the Tri-Motor soon.


Harsh Reality

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The two projects sitting on my workbench, seriously neglected.

I need to just own up to the fact that I am in a season of my life where hobbies are a mere fleeting dream.  My almost two-year-old occupies most of my waking hours, and my wife and I are expecting another one in April! Yet, I still cling to every minute snatched here or hour stolen there.

The haphazard hours and minutes of late have been dedicated to the Ford Tri-Motor and Bandai’s Sandtrooper. I was able to snap one picture of my current progress, and it sums up my progress on both kits. The Ford Tri-Motor has been assembled, primed, and windows masked. The next step is to give the whole thing a coat of aluminum.

The Sandtrooper is completely assembled without decals. I am still trying to decide how I want to weather it after the decals are applied.

I will post again sometime, maybe over the holidays when I don’t have to worry about students and grading papers in addition to my own little one running around!


Gold Fever

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A full workbench!

My workbench has been a little full lately. I have been working on the FineMolds Y-Wing with most of my free time. There were a ton of small bits and pieces to attach to the main body, and the best part is that they wonderfully covered up almost all of the seams. I only had to fill two small seams where the top met the bottom in the front. All that is left to assemble is the landing gear.

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Starting on decals and small details.

I have been holding off on painting the cockpit so I can match the color to the decals because it is a unique shade of blue. I plan to paint the ship up in the guise of Gold Leader.

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Notice the silver leg!

My other project has been one of Bandai’s great little 1/12 figure kits, C-3P0. He will look great next to my astromech droids. I have come to think of these figure kits as a great diversion while I wait for paint to dry or don’t have a lot of time to work. So far, Threepio looks great, and I have only done a little bit of extra painting. Some of the wiring on his stomach needed to be a different color, but everything else has been molded to look great. I should be done with this guy soon and have all of my thoughts posted. Until then, summer is quickly coming to an end, and I am running out of valuable work time. Off to the workbench!


A Brief Interlude

Typically, I will start thinking about my next project as I finish up the current one. I have a couple cubbies full of kits on my to-build list, and I always debate about what to do next. As I finished up the Republic Cruiser, I concocted a plan to start working on the remaining FineMolds Star Wars kits in numerical production order. With this plan in mind, my next project would be the FineMolds TIE Interceptor, definitely one of my favorite Imperial ships from the movies.

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My current selection of FineMolds kit's.

Then something happened: The combination of birthday gift money and Bandai Star Wars kits.

Through many of the various Twitter and Facebook accounts I follow I learned of the new Star Wars license at Bandai and the new model kits they would be producing. At first, I wasn’t entirely sold. They are all snap fit kits, and the current offerings included an X-wing and Vader’s TIE in 1/72 scale and Vader and stormtrooper figures in 1/12 scale. I already have Finemolds kits of the ships, and I didn’t know what to expect with the figures.

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I succumbed to the siren song!

With my new influx of money, however, I started checking out a few websites that sold the figure kits. There were two major selling points: The scale is the same as the Hasbro Black Series and the price was about the same as buying the already produced Hasbro figure. As a modeller, the allure of building my own made the purchase a no-brainer.

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It wasn't long before I was off and running on this kit.

I was only really interested in the Stormtrooper because I already have Hasbro’s 6-inch Vader figure. He needed some military backup. So, I ordered the kit and impatiently waited for the shipment to arrive from Japan. As soon as I opened the box, I was already impressed. Lots of little detail parts, the option of sticker or waterslide decals, and very detailed visual instructions all made for a great first impression.

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Standard stormtrooper pose.

It was not long before I was snapping parts together and witnessing the birth of my own mini-stormtrooper. I can sum up my feelings about this kit in a very few words: Impressive, most impressive. The final figure looks great, everything fit together extremely well, and the only painting I did was a gloss clear coat to help seal the decals. I could have done some weathering on this kit, but I wanted to keep him shiny and save the weathering for the inevitable sandtrooper kit.

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Stormie is fully poseable and comes with several weapons and hand options.

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My favorite part is that he looks great with my Hasbro 6-inch figures!

I was so impressed with this kit that I already preordered some upcoming sets, a droid 2-pack with R2 and R5 and a C-3P0. I loved this kit and it was a great, easy little diversion before jumping back into the more difficult FineMolds kits. I am very excited for this line to continue!