A glimpse into my scale modeling hobby

Posts tagged “model kits

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.

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Anakin’s Podracer

Podracer frontWhatever your opinion of the Star Wars prequels, you probably remember the podrace scene. If you are around my age and had a Nintendo 64, you also probably have fond memories of the Star Wars Podracer game. Besides being ridiculously hard (I recently played the game again at a friend’s house and crashed into the wall repeatedly), I remember all of the cool ship designs for the various alien racers. Some of the racers in the game showed up as fleeting glimpses as the camera panned, while others, like Sebulba’s pod, were featured more prominently in the Phantom Menace. Naturally, if you are going to choose one podracer to make a model version of, the only logical choice is Anakin’s pod, although I think Sebulba’s podracer would make a wicked-looking model. So until FineMolds or Revell comes out with a Sebulba podracer model, I will give you my thoughts on Anakin’s Podracer by AMT/Ertl, hopefully with more poise and skill than I ever demonstrated on the fatal racetracks of Malastare or the renowned canyons of the Boonta Eve Classic.

A great shot of the full build.

A great shot of the full build.

What I Liked

-I loved the size of this kit. The box doesn’t mention a scale, but my guess is somewhere around the 1/32 scale range. It is the perfect scale to show a good amount of detail, particularly on the two engines.

-The final display looks really cool. The metal wire pieces that hold the kit up are very understated and help give the kit a truly floating effect.

-The parts are molded in a pretty good quality plastic.

-If you are patient, you can snag this kit for a pretty decent price on ebay. Keep watching and don’t buy the first one you see. I got mine for about $15.

The pod complete with miniature Anakin.

The pod complete with miniature Anakin.

What I Didn’t Like

-The fit for many of the parts was really bad. Nothing in the cockpit fit well at all, and I had to do some surgery to include everything (part of which was my fault for assembling something the wrong way!). Even if I had assembled everything correctly, I still think the fit would be pretty tight. The engines also had a fat seam right down the middle, which I tried to fill where I could, but the amount of hills, valleys, and crevices on the engine parts made it very difficult to sand down. Fortunately, some of the seams were covered by other parts.

The engines were a great place to add weathering.

The engines were a great place to add weathering.

How Can I Make it Better?

-Weathering is one of the best ways to improve this kit. The engine parts have so many cracks and crevices that a basic black wash does wonders for the overall look. I also used some soot weathering powder around the rear of the engines and the spinning part at the front.

-I love the technique of painting a silver enamel layer and then adding an acrylic topcoat of whatever final color you would like. This allows for some slight chipping of the topcoat to simulate the paint worn down to the original metal. I used this very sparingly on the tips of the podracer’s wings, flaps, whatever you want to call them…

-I also added some weathering to simulate sand-worn spots. Little Ani never left Tatooine, so the only place he ever raced or tried out his pod was in sand. Basically, all I did was use some sand weathering powder to dull the silver on his pod and to lighten up some of the edges on the engines.

Pod with some sand-worn smudges.

Pod with some sand-worn smudges.

-I am sure that there are many other ways you could make this kit even cooler, one being a custom sand display base. Perhaps that’s a project for the future!

Finally, here are a few more pictures of the final build. If you have completed this kit, share some of your experiences or frustrations in the comments!

A nearly full view of Anakin's Podracer. It's hard to get the whole thing in one picture and still show some detail!

A nearly full view of Anakin’s Podracer. It’s hard to get the whole thing in one picture and still show some detail!

The best shot I could get of the whole kit, looking down from the top.

The best shot I could get of the whole kit, looking down from the top.


Scale Modeling: Where do I start?

This is the first of occasional posts on the the scale modeling hobby. I have a lot of thoughts from my own experiences, and I want to share them with anyone interested in getting into the hobby for the first time or in expanding their knowledge base.

Any good discussion of a topic starts with an introduction. Every person who has set foot in a Barnes and Noble and ever picked up a “________ for Dummies” guide knows that in order to start something two things are necessary: motivation and the right tools. With this combination one can accomplish almost anything.

For this post, I am going to focus on the motivation aspect of picking up a new hobby, and in a future post I will talk about the needed tools. My guess is that those who have checked out this blog already have a passing interest in scale models. I also would venture to guess that many have already dabbled in modeling, maybe 15-*mumble, mumble* years ago. I remember a dark corner of my parents’ basement, an old wooden table with four layers of thick, citrus orange paint and layers of newspaper so I would not damage the precious paint job. In the opposite corner of the corner lay remains of Pinewood Derby Cars and Raingutter Regatta boats. In the midst of all the ’80s color and glory, that table was my home base. I went down there with a brush, some paint, a bunch of molded plastic and grand plans for the best-looking kit ever built.

Those who have had similar experiences to mine probably also know that trying to build models with skill and precision as a 10-year-old is nearly impossible. And, anyone who experienced those feelings of failure and disappointment may also have quit the hobby like I did. I never lost interest; I just did not think I had the ability.

Fortunately, what I am here to tell you is that disappointment as a 10-year-old does not equal failure as an adult. Two years ago, I got a Roman warship model as a gift from my wife, and a love was reborn. In short, in order to pick those brushes, tweezers, and paints back up, the most important thing to do is to rekindle the motivation and wonder that originally drew you to the hobby in the first place. The same principle applies to those who want to pick up the brushes for the first time. For me, the magic of Star Wars and its fascinating vehicles compelled me to make my own. Combined with a 10-year-old’s natural desire to build stuff, the amount of Star Wars kits available in the late ’80s and early ’90s were the perfect fuel for my feverish desire to build. Find the passion and interest, and you will find the motivation.

For you, it may not be Star Wars. You may get the shivers when you think about vintage World War II planes and tanks or tall ships and battleships. Maybe you love cars, and building a mini-engine on a scaled down car reminds you of working on your own car. Whatever fills you with wonder, pursue it. Scale modeling is a hobby of passion and patience, and the patience will come naturally if you are working on something you love. You may even find that you start branching out into other subjects after you develop an interest in the hobby!

Scale modeling is for those of us who never cared about the derby cars or the regatta boats that performed well. We cared about making them look cool (teaser: one year I built the Delorean time machine. Yep, I was that kid…). Scale modeling is for those of us who were never satisfied with the plain old Legos. We wanted to build it and make it look authentic at the same time (although I do love Legos!). Scale modeling is for anyone who wants to create something he or she loves for their very own. When you tap into that creative force, your motivation will rarely run dry.

What are your thoughts and experiences with getting into scale modeling? Share your stories and experiences in the comments below.


BSG Viper Mark VII: First Impressions

I just opened my new BSG kit, which is the first kit I will be fully blogging about, and I wanted to give some of my initial impressions. First, I love the box art and design for the Moebius Models kits. The other Moebius kit I have completed, the Battlestar Galactica, had very similar box art, and the MKVII box keeps the look consistent and maintains the color and mood of the BSG universe. The picture on the front of the box is also very large, which helps with referencing more detailed paint work.

Sharp, minimal box art makes for a pleasing initial experience

I also had a chance to read through the instruction manual, and the kit looks like it will be appropriately challenging, but not overly difficult. One of the elements that contributes to the challenge level is the 1/32 scale of the kit. Compared to the 1/72 scale of my previous Jedi Starfighter kit, the 1/32 scale looks to leave room for a high level of detail without as much of the painstaking detail work of the much smaller kits.

Where the smaller kit was lacking in paint requirements, but made up for it in decals, this MKVII kit minimizes the decals in favor of a wide selection of paints. I had to go out and buy several new colors to add to my palate, including a few airbrush-only metallizers. This will be the first time I use a metallizer paint, so I am excited to see how it turns out. As I give progress updates, I will post more about paint colors and how they were used.

Finally, the last part of checking out a new kit is perusing the plastic parts that will come together to make your worthy display piece. I was impressed by the detail level on the parts, and by the generally crisp edges and clean breaks from the sprues that hold the pieces onto the frame. The one thing that impressed me the most, however, was the inclusion of either a male or female Viper pilot. In the picture you can just barely see toward the top right of the photo that you may choose between a male chest for your pilot or a female chest for your pilot. How awesome is that!

One of the little details that makes this kit look so awesome.

I am planning on going with the male pilot chest for this kit and calling it Apollo’s Viper, and then using the female chest for Starbuck on the other Viper MKII kit that I have next in line.

Everything is ready to get started, and I am looking forward to keeping up with progress updates as it comes together. So Say We All!