I 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.One 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…Painting 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.With 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.It 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.Finally, 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.
The 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.
The 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.
For 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.
For 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!
Overall, 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.
If 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.
This 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.
I 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.
I 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.
When 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.
Because 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.
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.
…and hello, blogging, my old friend. It seems I am in the “complete a model every 3-4 months” phase of my life right now. The great thing about hobbies is how relaxing and rewarding they are, but with young children in your life, hobbies become a commodity. Still, a glorious, glorious commodity I relish whenever I have the chance.
If you follow my Instagram account, @lifetoscale, you will have seen a couple WIP pictures of the above Naboo Starfighter. Finally, the finished product gets its 15 minutes of fame. This kit has been sitting on my shelf for a couple years, but it has taken a back seat to many of the newer Bandai kits. But, Bandai had to take a break for a bit and give way to my 0ld favorite, the now discontinued line of FineMolds Star Wars models. The Naboo Starfighter is easily the most iconic ship of the Star Wars prequels, elegant in its simplicity and curved lines. Here are a few of my thoughts about the kit, in no particular order:
- This is a tiny ship. Next to my other ships in the 1/72 scale, it is quite a bit smaller and looks much more cramped for the pilot.
- Very simple assembly with few parts. Most of the seams were hidden, as FineMolds was pretty good at, but I needed to do a little filling on the front engines.
- There were two pilot/droid options-Anakin and R2 or a Naboo pilot/generic R-series droid. I went with the Naboo pilot because the normal guy never gets much love.
- I struggled with how much I wanted to weather this ship. In the movie, the ships looked very shiny and well-kept, but I can’t leave a Star Wars ship with no scratches or dings. I suppose that was one of the big critiques of the prequels. As a result, I used a little Tamiya panel line wash and added a few smudges here and there but tried to avoid getting too excessive.
- Some of the waterslide decals were tiny! It took some deft fingers to get those in place.
- I finished the kit with a couple coats of gloss varnish to maintain the shiny look seen in the movie.
- I really liked the base for this kit. It is not the standard landing gear or in-flight display; rather, it accentuates some of the cool factor of how this fighter was docked in the movie.
If you can find one of these lurking around ebay, pick it up! It is a fast build (assuming you don’t have two small children and too many hobbies) and looks great next to the plethora of Star Wars ships in this scale. I imagine there are a lot of ways you could kit-bash or light the engines on this kit, but that is not for me right now. Maybe when the kids are in college…
I have been sitting on this finished Y-Wing for a while and have not had time to post. Baseball playoffs, grading, and general exhaustion after a long day of teaching have kept me from sitting down to write. Now, I finally have a few spare minutes to recap the Y-Wing build.
This is a great kit, as you would expect from FineMolds. I love that most of the greeblies are separate parts and not molded directly to the base. This provides a more detailed look to the finished build.
Most of my final thoughts center on my first time using an oil paint gunk wash. In my last post I mentioned that I wanted to try the gunk wash out, and overall I love the final look. I would not, however, suggest the Y-Wing as a great first kit to try this type of wash on. It took me hours with cotton swabs to wipe off the excess oil paint from all of the cracks and crevices. Even with all that work, the final result ended up a little darker than I intended. Despite a moderately difficult first experience, I am undoubtedly a convert to this type of wash. The details pop more than any other wash I have used.
I love trying new things out and learning more about the hobby to improve my final builds, and the gunk wash was another great tool to add to my repertoire. I was recently looking at my model display case and imagining what some of my early models would look like, if I knew then what I know now. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the hobby.
I would be curious to hear how this kit compares to the Bandai Y-Wing. I did not get a chance to pick that one up, and now it will be much harder (and more expensive) to find. Maybe it would make a good option to round out Gold Squadron. If not, this build looks great next to my FineMolds X-Wing, and I look forward to many more opportunities to try new things and build better models.