One of my favorite things about the scale model hobby is the opportunity to constantly learn new skills. On the Revell Ford Tri-Motor kit I learned how to make my own decals and tried to advance my seam filling skills. The former was really easy, the latter is still a work in progress.
This kit from Revell is not high quality. The parts did not fit well at all, and it lacks in detail. In other words, the perfect kit to customize for this Indiana Jones lover. I used the ILM model and props book for visual reference and did my best with what the kit had to offer.I did a minimal amount of weathering with a dark gray wash and some soot streaks, but the biggest addition was my custom decal of the Lao Che Freight logo. Easy to make and full of the extra character the kit needed, it was a worthwhile diversion with minimal research. Check out this previous post for more details about the decal-making process.
I probably spent far more time on this kit than I needed to, but it was a nice change of pace from the usual Star Wars lineup. Plus, I learned some new skills in the process. As someone who loves to learn, I am always appreciative of new challenges. Heading on to another Bandai Star Wars kit next!
I have moved to a new workspace in my house, after we rearranged our rooms to make room for a new baby to arrive at the end of March! My desk is now right by the window with lots of great natural light to work during the day. It is also more open with lots of great space to display my stuff (for now, at least…).
With everything moved, it was time to lay down the gauntlet on whether to make my own decal for the Ford Tri-Motor. I had been waffling for quite a while about the merit of making my own decal, and I was actually leaning toward not until I did some research and discovered that it is not a difficult process if you have the right materials.
I started by finding a good screen shot of the plane door from the scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Then, I imported the image into a photo editor and erased all of the background except for the red font. The result left the edges a bit pixelated and fuzzy, but it worked out decently for the small scale.
Once I was down to just the font, I brought the image back into Google Drawings and created several different sizes to check what fit best with the scale. Then I ordered decal paper and an acrylic coating spray, printed a few different sizes, and checked for the best size fit.
With a size picked out, it was as simple as any other waterslide decal. Cut it out, put it in water, apply it to the model, use some micro set to help it stay, and then put on some protective clear coats. I am glad I decided to go through the process because it adds extra nerdy flair and helps the model feel more authentic to the original from the movie.
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!
A couple of disclaimers before I post my thoughts:
-There are a lot of difficult things happening in the world right now and the topic in the following post is not even close to the most important one. The issue, however, does hit close to home for a lot of hobbyists and directly relates to the topic of this blog.
-I have never purchased or assembled a Revell Star Wars model kit because not even the picture on the box can make them look appealing to a serious modeller.
-I have assembled several of the 1/12 Bandai Star Wars figure kits and have found them incredibly awesome.
So, if you keep up with the small community of scale modellers on the internet and the even smaller community of Star Wars scale modellers, you probably know that a major licensing storm was brewing this week. Many of the online retailers in the US and Europe started reporting that Bandai Star Wars model kits were no longer going to be available because of a licensing crackdown. Bandai has the Star Wars license for only Japan, while Revell gets the rest of the world. Rumors flew that Revell asked Disney to crack down on the license, but no one really knows for sure whether it was Disney or Revell who laid the smack down. Either way, the implications for Star Wars scale modellers in the US and Europe are significant.
When I first heard the news, I was very disappointed to put it mildly. Over the past year, my enjoyment of the Bandai kits has only increased, and the announcement of the new The Force Awakens kits on Force Friday got me even more excited. We were going to get an awesome, detailed, to-scale kit for the new X-Wing? The new TIE? Let me go change my pants quickly! I was eagerly checking Hobbylink Japan for the preorders to go up, so I could snag them right away. And then all this news hit, and I was faced with the prospect of never finding a quality Star Wars model kit in the US at a reasonable cost again. In other words, this decision could all but kill the serious scale modelling hobby in the US. I admit, I fired off some angry tweets and Facebook posts to Revell, knowing that sometimes these companies will really take feedback to heart. I read the statement from Revell today, and I didn’t feel much better about the whole thing, whether or not it is their fault.
I hesitate to spew out further negativity. Believe me, I am upset. Building Star Wars scale models is one of my passions. I have read posts, watched Youtube videos, and heard the cries of my community, and I am right there with them. Revell might be more willing to listen (maybe…), however, if we tell them what we want. With that said, here are some of my suggestions for the future of Star Wars models in the US and Europe, if we are stuck with Revell.
-Continue to produce the Star Wars kits that are out there. They are a great introduction to the hobby for kids.
-For the more serious model builders, these snap kits will not cut it. They are complete and utter garbage for someone who is serious about the hobby. So, why not produce higher-end Star Wars model kits alongside the snap kits? I know Revell acquired the Finemolds kits and is repackaging those, but what about The Force Awakens? Where are serious Star Wars modellers supposed to get new, not repurposed, kits that are up to our passionate standards? I guarantee that people will buy quality new product if you put it out there. That was the main reason people were buying Bandai Star Wars kits. They were a quality product up to our high standards.
-Really, all we ask is that the company that produces our model kits has the same level of passion about producing them as we do about building them. We want an awesome, detailed version of Poe Dameron’s X-Wing that is worthy of lifetime display because it was made with attention to detail and proper scale. I can think of plenty of other model companies that could do an awesome job with the Star Wars license for serious modellers. What could a company like Moebius Models do with the Star Wars license?
Disney and Revell, please do something to win back the community of Star Wars model builders in the US and Europe! As it stands now, we have very little hope of our hobby surviving much longer, which makes me incredibly sad. I got into building models because of Star Wars, and now it seems that this fight over the Star Wars license might kill the hobby for me. I am not willing to pay more than twice the amount of retail value for Japanese kits on eBay. If you really want Bandai Star Wars kits to be a “complement” to what you offer, as you said in your statement today, why should it be so hard to get them? I hope you realize that whoever made this decision is losing you a huge chunk of your customers.
My hope is that next year I can look back at this post, and reminisce about how silly this all was, when we have fantastic new Star Wars kits from Revell or Bandai or whomever, but that has to happen or the Star Wars modelling hobby will die. Please do something before we get to that point. I want to spend my money on a Star Wars kit that is high quality, and right now the only options for that came from Bandai.
Not much news on the FineMolds Y-Wing right now. You can see it in the background of the above picture, waiting for weathering effects. I tried Pledge floor wax as a clear coat this time in prep for an oil gunk wash. This will be the first time I try an oil gunk wash, but I am still waiting to get some oil paint thinner. Thanks to @modelmakingguru on Twitter for the video on doing an oil gunk wash! Check out his webpage.
The next adventure on my shelf will be quite the foray into customizing. I found an old Revell Ford Tri-Motor kit on eBay a while back and nabbed it on the cheap when I realized it was the same plane as appears in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Thanks to my great book resource on the Lucasfilm archives, From Star Wars to Indiana Jones, there is a great pic of the plane for reference. I am not worried about the special paint job, but I plan on trying to make my own decals for the Lao Che Freight logo around the door. This will be a new adventure for me, so if anyone has any suggestions or tips on making decals, let me know. I would appreciate the help! Fortunately, the kit looks like it will be an easy build. Hopefully I will get an update out soon! (that goes for the Y-Wing too…)
I finished it! This kit, including lights, required the biggest time investment of anything I have built yet. Several times throughout the process of building I wondered whether the finished product would be worth it, and the results have indeed been impressive.
When I first entertained the idea of lighting the kit, I had no idea what to expect. The instructions seemed easy enough for a beginner, but I had no idea what I was getting into. Seven months, several broken micro drill bits, LED connections that did not work initially, and a few cramped drilling fingers later, I checked off one of my bucket list items and successfully lit a model kit.
A few thoughts on the finished kit:
-This was a great kit to try out lighting. The scale was large enough that even the smallest holes did not cause too much frustration. The instructions from Mad Man Lighting were really excellent and helped this beginner a ton! One tip if you buy the lighting kit: buy some extra red hookup wire. I ran out pretty quickly.
-The out-of-the-box kit from Revell did not come with a display stand. I found this odd, considering there is no landing gear or any other way to display it. As a result, I bought the large display base made by Polar Lights. Once I found the balance point on the underside, it was easy to drill a hole and install the ball joint base attachment. I also tried to turn the all black base into an attempt at a starfield. It did not move much past the attempt phase. Maybe someday I will come back to it.
-For finishing touches, I added a light wash with some weathering marks on various small parts of the ship. I typically do not weather my Imperial/Republic ships too excessively in order to reinforce the idea that everything is mass-produced and could be churned out in a short time.
Overall, this is a fun and straightforward model kit. It’s simplicity allows for a lot of experimenting with lighting, and I am glad I took that plunge. Despite my success with this kit, I don’t plan on doing more lighting for a while. It was a lot of work that I don’t have a lot of time for in this stage of life. I can, however, foresee some potentially great kits to light in the future. But that is for another post, some other day…
Today I finally threaded the last fiber on the Republic Cruiser! There is still a lot of work to do, but it feels good to not have to drill anymore tiny holes or thread fiber through them. I also recently checked some of my LED connections and got the first glimpse of the lighted engines. Actually seeing some of the fruit of my work was encouraging and gave me hope that the final project will look really great. I can see the end of the project drawing near. Maybe I will at least finish within a year of starting it…