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.
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 briefly waffled on what to build after my Bandai Resistance X-Wing, but looking back it should have been a no-brainer. How can you follow up an X-Wing build with anything other than a TIE? I had both the standard First Order TIE and the Special Forces TIE in my stash, but I decided to start basic and come back to the Special Forces at a later date.
I really like the inverted color scheme of the new TIEs in The Force Awakens, and after spending some time with the ship, they look sturdier in comparison to the original TIEs. I still remember that first brief glimpse of the new TIEs in the original teaser as they were chasing the Millenium Falcon. I knew there was something different about them, but the shot was so fast it was too difficult to catch. Six months later, I am now considerably more familiar with the look.
This model kit from Bandai was a fast and easy build. The parts are molded in a pretty decent color scheme, but most advanced modellers will want to add their own touches with preferred paints. I used a combo of sky grey and white for the wing panels and metallic black for the TIE frame and body. A couple of gloss coats, minimal weathering, and the desired pose on the base made for a nice finished product.
Finally, I decided to use the laser blasts provided by Bandai in order to display the TIE in pursuit of my T-70 X-wing. I intend to have some fun photographing these two kits together!
I have fond memories of the TIE Intercepor from the first time it appeared in Return of the Jedi to spending hours playing Lucasarts’ TIE Fighter on my parents’ old PC. I even had the original Kenner TIE Interceptor, and it was one of my only Star Wars toys that still had a working noise maker. Something about the shape of the wings looked sleeker and better than the standard TIE Fighter.
So I bring all of that wonderful nostalgia into building this TIE Interceptor kit from the late Star Wars line of model kits from FineMolds. So far, no surprises. The basic ball cockpit assembly is exactly like the TIE Fighter. FineMolds usually does a pretty good job of covering up seams, but there are a couple I will have to fill.
I did change the color for the Interceptor because all of the resources I have and my memory from the movies skews to a bluer tint than the original TIE. I did a little experimenting with mixing Intermediate Blue and Flat White and finally got a mixture that I like. The pictures below show the first steps with this kit. I look forward to setting this TIE next to my other on the shelf.
I have reached the end of the TIE Fighter kit, so I have several photos to share of the final build. First, however, I want to mention that I did not do a lot of weathering on this kit. In keeping with the spirit from my last post about the expendable nature of TIEs, I wanted to keep the final result looking fairly new and out of the shipyards. With no shields, there is very little chance for these ships to get much battle damage, so all I did was give the model a dark gray wash. This mainly helped bring out the details and shows that maybe this particular TIE saw a few more battles than his wingman.
On to the X-Wing next!
One of the many benefits of building model kits based on movie props is the chance to get into the brain of the movie’s creator and special effects guru. The TIE Fighter kit I am working on has been an excellent example of this. In the original Star Wars trilogy, TIE Fighters were a cheap way to churn out spaceships with little regard for quality or safety. The TIEs had no shields, which made them, and their pilots, expendable. Because they were cheap and easy to produce, the Empire could just continuously build more and more with little to no negative effect.
This creative idea from George Lucas and his team played out well as I was building this TIE model kit. The simple design and ease of construction mirrored the “real” TIEs, and as a result I felt a greater appreciation for the Lucasarts special effects team and for the physical way George Lucas’ ideas manifest.
With that little bit of philosophizing, here are some photos of the final stages of construction on the 1/72 TIE Fighter.
It has been a while since I last updated because I have been out of the country for the last 2 weeks. I did a little work on the TIE kit before vacation but did not get a chance to update before we left. I was able to make some good process on the kit, so here are some highlights of what I have finished.
First, I spray painted almost the entire kit with a coat of flat gull gray, which is the same base I have used for several other Star Wars kits.
Once I finished that coat, I started working on the cockpit. The pilot just needed areas of flat black with gloss black details, and the detail of the inside of the cockpit was all decals. The scissors in the second photo show how small the scale is.
After the cockpit was finished, I started work on the mainframe. The frame was simple to construct, with two large pieces and a few small details to add on.
Finally, I had to paint the clear pieces without getting paint on the windows. Fortunately, the kit provided masks to fit the clear sections, but I was not able to get a tight seal on the edges and some of the paint bled onto the window panes. For now, here is a photo of the clear pieces with the masks.
I do not yet have a picture of the completed body, but now that I am back from vacation, I can get back to work in full force.