BanDai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build

Here is the new project.  The Millennium Falcon in 1/72 scale by BanDai.  The kit is beautifully detailed and very closely matches the studio model.  If you check out the parts closely, you can see the parts that came from other plastic models of the day.  For example, I’ve found a transmission case and under chassis from car models, suspension parts from cars and tanks and other tiny bits that the ILM modelers used to create the Falcon.  It is a very cool kit.  It also includes a lighting kit so I won’t have to try and add those components.  The parts are all very crisply molded and no signs of flash anywhere.  Most mold lines and ejector pin marks are in hidden areas so they don’t mar the finish or require much cleaning.  On the other hand, with the hundreds of small parts and sub assemblies this model will take a bit of time to complete.  This build series will probably have some long gaps between posts since it will take time to find breaking points.

Anyway, it’s time to start.  I’ll be starting with the cockpit.  I don’t do figures or cockpits very often so they are not one of my strong points.  I hope I can do the model justice.

I started by spraying primer on the cockpit seats and the figures.  I then gathered the colors I needed for the figures, Flesh, Aged White, White Gray, Red Brown, Black, Blue, White, Light Brown, Gold, Sand Yellow, Transparent Yellow and Silver.  I used a small fine brush to get the faces and hands, then started on the clothes with the varying shades of white, gray and brown.

C3-PO and Chewbacca got and undercoat of black.  Then C3-PO got painted Gold and then that was overcoated with the transparent yellow which really gave him a nice gold look.  Chewbacca got an overall coat of red brown.  His belt, face and legs got a drybrush of black to darken those areas. Then a drybrush of light brown.  The boxes on his belt were painted silver and his face got a light drybrush of black to bring out some details and highlight his nose.  The figures aren’t perfect but for me they turned out well.  Meanwhile the padding on the seats got a coat of sand yellow.

Next I started on the cockpit control panels.  BanDai includes a some nice decals for the instrument panels.  I have heard from many sources that the decals don’t lay down well over the control panels and decal solvents don’t  help much.  So in light of that, I made a set of custom decals using my decal paper and my ALPS printer.  The decals turned out well.  After clear coating the front control panel I applied the first two decals.  After several applications of Micro Sol the decals finally laid down pretty well over the raised details.  It was good that my custom decals are so thin, otherwise I don’t think they would have worked at all.  The control panel between the two main panels had some LARGE raised areas and when I tried to apply a decal to that area, the decal just would not conform well at all.  I ended up taking a fine brush and hand painting the area.

It looks like, from that experience that the panels on the side walls will have to be hand painted.  I’m still holding out some hope that the decal for the back wall will work.  The raised areas on that panel are not that large.  We shall see.

More to come.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Final Update

I’ve been working on this model for a while since the last update.  After the primer went on, many flaws showed up that I couldn’t see on the bare resin.  Fixing these required many iterations of putty, sand, primer, and inspect.  Sometimes I thought I was getting close only to find some new pinholes show up due to sanding the surface of the resin.  Martin really needs to invest in some vacuum casting tools.  Anyway I finally got through that stage and was able to start painting.  I started out by painting the engine nozzles and turbo pump exhausts with Tamyia bright silver paint.  Then I painted the inside of the nozzles and the holes I drilled in the turbo pump exhausts with clear smoke.  I then gave the model a coat of gloss white.

After letting the gloss white cure for a couple of days I started masking for the black areas on the first stage boat tail.  The rest of the rocket is white.  The boat tail was a challenge to mask due to all the compound curves.  I finally got it masked satisfactorily, including the heat shield area on the base.

Next I sprayed gloss black on the base of the rocket.  I let the paint dry for a few hours before removing the masking tape.  The black areas turned out fine.  The black tanks will have some custom decals applied rather than trying to mask them off.  The area between the tanks is still a bit rough, but it is MUCH better than it was out of the box.

To create the custom decals I started out with a scan of the decals that came in the kit and then photos of the actual vehicle.  I resized and modified them to be more accurate.  I added stripes that go halfway around the dummy third stage just below the nosecone and at the third stage/transition junction centered on Position I.  I also added some inverted “T” shapes that appear on the dummy second stage at the interstage junction.  The checkerboard roll pattern that appears around the top of the first stage was not correct at all in the kit decal.  I measured the circumference of the area and then using photos counted the number of checkers and drew a new decal.  Also there is a slightly larger block that appears at 8 places around the roll pattern and I added those as well.  I double printed the white areas of the vehicle number and position number decals to help avoid the black from showing through.

I knew I was in for a challenge in applying the fuel tank decals.  There are a number of raised areas that are hard to account for when making the decal.  I had to cut the decals in places and use some black paint to touch up a few spots.  Micro Set and Micro Sol were used quite a bit in getting the decals to settle over the added details.  I also had to double layer the decals that were put on over the black.  Even double printing the white while printing the decals was not enough to keep the black from showing through.  Applying the second decal over the first eliminated the black showing through.  In the end the model looks pretty good.

With the decals in place, I let the model dry completely overnight and then sprayed a gloss coat over them to protect them and prepare them for an overall clear flat coat.  After the clear coats dried overnight I then added the engine nozzles and turbo pump exhausts with some CA.  Finally, the model is done.  It looks nice sitting on its stand.

The stand should be temporary since I plan on adding SA-5 and SA-10 to the collection to show the Saturn I progression.  However those will have to wait a bit.  I need to take a break from the resin before tackling those kits.  Thanks for following along.  I hope to start the next build shortly, probably a sci-fi subject.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Update 3

More progress has been made on the SA-1 model.  The final detail bits have been added.  After going through more photos of the SA-1 vehicle, I noticed that the fuel tank on quadrant 1 does not have the same valve detail as on the other tanks.  Instead of a recessed valve there is a raised detail where the on pad fuel fill and drain line attaches.  I made this part with a stack of styrene strips with each strip getting smaller as they go up.  This helped in shaping the part since it has tapers on both ends.  The top appears to have a round shape so I sanded that in.  The part then got attached over the original tank valve recess.

Next I moved on to the air scoops on the outboard engine fairings.  I’ve been thinking of how I would model these parts since I began the build.  I finally came up with an acceptable solution.  I pulled out the Walthers piping sprue that I used earlier to create the turbo pump exhausts.  I looked carefully at the ends of the runners that lead to some of the parts on the sprue.  Some of the ends had a rounded profile and were close to the right diameter.  I used a sharp #11 blade and cut off the hemispherical ends of the runners and then cut those in half.  This left me with some 1/4 sphere shapes that were close the size needed.  I then glued them in place on the fairings and used the #11 blade to shape them to more closely match the correct profile.  They may still be slightly oversized but they look close, so I’m going to leave them at that.

Next I noticed that there were vent openings at the top of some of the fuel and LOX tanks.  Not all of them just some of them.  I found some drawings online that showed the plumbing of those vents.  The drawing along with some photos allowed me to determine which tanks had the vent holes.  I used a small drill bit in my pin vice and made the vents.

I then primed the upper dummy stages and the first stage.  I’m sure it won’t be the last time I prime these parts.  It seem that every time I think I’m done, I find some more pin holes that need to be filled.  I also attached the engines and turbo pump exhausts to a paint stir stick and primed them as well.

The next thing will be to glue the upper stages to the first stage.  Some more sanding and filling will be required at the join.  But that is for next time.  Thanks for looking.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Update 2

I’ve had other things going on, so it has taken me longer than I planned to get back to the build.  But I now have made some progress.  First I trimmed the outboard engine fairings.  They have an angled edge rather than straight.  The angle needs to somewhat match the subtle angle on the boat tail.  The next thing to do was to complete the turbo pump exhausts. I cut out some brackets from 0.010 styrene sheet and attached them to the pipes.

I then drilled some small holes in the first stage boattail to accept the exhaust pipes.  I’ll attach them later in the build.  I also drilled holes at the base of the fuel and LOX tanks to match photos of SA-1.

Finally, for this post are a couple of pictures of the continuing filling and sanding of the model to cover some of the blemishes in the castings.  You can also see that I’ve added some tunnel covers to the fuel tanks and a vent pipe on the fuel tank of Position 4.

That’s it for now.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Update 1

I finally made some new progress on the SA-1 model.  I glued the top section of the first stage in place.  I then also glued the second and third stages plus the nose cone together.  The first stage needs more clean up and filling.  I started where the tanks meet the boat tail.  I thought about using my Dremel to get rid of some of the junk in between the tanks on the first stage, but it is such a confined area that I’m afraid that I’ll mess up the tanks on either side.  I think I’ll be adding filler between the tanks to cover up the lumps an bumps there. The dummy upper stage assembly also requires some filling and sanding.

While waiting for some filler to dry I started scribing the panel lines into the base of the boat tail.  I also drilled some holes to insert locator pins for the engine bells to be added later.  Next I drilled a hole in the base of each engine bell.  I also glued some 3/64 inch styrene rod into each of the locator holes in the boat tail.

The outboard engine fairings that come in the kit are too small and do not fit well on the boat tail.  I instead used some 0.010 inch sheet styrene to make some replacements.  I glued them on with Plasti-Zap CA glue.  Since each curve on the boat tail is a bit different on this kit I numbered the edges of each fairing so I could get them in the right place.  Plus I continue to add filler to the tanks on the first stage.

I also started making the inboard engine turbopump exhaust ports.  I’m not that great at bending styrene rod, so when I can, I adapt other parts.  I had some piping left from a Walthers Piping kit that I used on a steampunk rocket a while back.  I pulled out the runners to see if there were some parts there that I could use as a turbopump exhaust.  Sure enough I found some.  I only had four pieces that I could use, so I had to make sure not to mess them up.  After cutting them from the runner I carefully trimmed off the ends that I didn’t need.  I then drilled out the ends that will be seen so they look more like pipes instead of rods.

That’s it for now.  I have to make some brackets for the turbopump exhausts before they can be attached.  I also have some more detail items that need to go on the first stage tanks, but first I have to finish the filling and sanding.

More to come.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build

I’m starting a new build.  This will be the first for the year.  Last year I completed three models.  That is a record for me.  I’ll see if I can do better this year.

First on the table this year is an all resin kit of the Saturn I Block I (SA-1) from Martin’s Models.  I purchased this kit directly from Martin in the UK at least 4 years ago.  Some people say that the castings are pretty good.  I’m not quite in that camp.  Maybe over the years his casting process has gotten better.  The castings in my kit are not quite up there with New-Ware or RealSpace Models.  There are some casting flaws and some parts are a bit out of round, but it should still build up to a nice model.  I’ll just have to do more cleaning than usual and do a little scratch building.

First thing I did was to gather everything together to see what I had to work with.  A number of the parts will require some clean up and filling.  On some of the parts it is hard to tell where the the pour plug ends and the part itself begins.  I also don’t think I’ll be using the included display base.  I’ll display it like I’ve been doing with my 1/144 manned launchers.  The included decals are not bad, but I might be doing some custom ones before it’s all over.

I cleaned up the parts and removed the pour plugs as best I could tell.  Many of the parts will require more work to look good.

I sanded the bases of the major sections and then started stacking them to see how far off from square I was.  It is really difficult to sand them exactly square, so I rotated the parts until I got what looked like a straight rocket from the bottom to the top.  I also made some alignment marks so that as I stack them later for gluing I can be sure that the alignment remains in the original orientation.

Next, I made some marks on the first stage boat tail.  This will allow me to drill a hole in the center for the rod that will hold the model in place on the base.  I also made a diagram to assist me when I scribe the lines on the base heat shield.

Then I glued the first stage tanks to the boat tail.  I had to use a couple of shims to get a vertical stage.  I attached them with CA.  Then I started the process of filling the areas where the tanks meet the boat tail.  This is still a work in progress.  You can also see from the pictures that there is some clean up to be done between the tanks as well.  I also filled  a major divot on the boilerplate second stage.

That’s all for now.

2001 Discovery XD-1 Build Complete

Well construction is done on the Discovery XD-1.  I made my goal of finishing it before Christmas (if you don’t count the stand).  I’m still working on how I want to display it.  I don’t know if I’ll use the stands that are included in the in kit or if I’ll try to find something else.  It is quite a long model and takes up a fair amount of space.  I may try to find a solution that allows me to hang it from the wall.  Anyway, when I come up with something I’ll probably post an epilogue on it.

I glued the forward neck sections together and added the spine connecting piece to the reactor section.

With painting complete I removed the remaining masking and started installing the interior of the command sphere.  I first installed the window shelf before using CA glue to place the cockpit in the upper half of the sphere.  I then applied some JB Weld epoxy around the edges as an additional light blocking and to permanently attach the cockpit.

Next came the pod bay installation into the lower sphere half.  Here I needed to make an adjustment.  If i tried to place the pod bay in where it fit then the extended pod platform wouldn’t fit since I had included the door frame.  If I had left off the door frame then it would have been fine.  To fix it. I installed the pod bay just a bit higher in the sphere half.  This meant that the bottom of the interior would not rest in the bottom of the sphere.  This would lead to a very weak attachment at just a couple of points at the top of the pod bay.  To sturdy it up, I added some styrene extensions to the bottom of the pod bay.  They were at first attached with CA then after the pod bay was properly glued in, I used some JB Weld to more permanently attach them.  It is now installed very firmly to the sphere.

Next I glued the two sphere halves together with some Tenax.  With the sphere together I, soldered the cockpit and pod bay wires together and then added the long wires that will travel the length of the spine back to the batteries in the reactor section.  I then threaded that wire through the command sphere back plate and glued it to the command sphere.

I then turned my attention to the steel rod that went into the reactor section.  I needed to create an opening in it to allow the wires to exit the spine and get attached to the battery switch.  I used my Dremel tool to grind of a section and then used a file to remove the sharp bits.

Now I could start building the spine to put the rest of the model together.  I used a bit of JB Weld epoxy in the back of the command sphere where the forward rod was to go.  Then I threaded the wire through the rod and put the rod in the command sphere back.  Next I glued the neck section to the command sphere back.  This would also help center the rod in the command sphere back since there was a bit of play at that joint.

I was then able to start adding the spine sections with CA.  The forward section was finished with the addition of the antenna complex.  The antenna complex also contains the rod connecting sleeve.  I glued the sleeve to the forward rod with a bit of CA trying my best to get the antenna section lined up properly with the command sphere.

Then I moved on to the the rear section of the spine.  First was to thread the wire through the rear rod.  I had to slide on the spine sections and reactor section even though I would not be gluing them at this time.  This was necessary to make it easier to get the wire through the small hole in the rod.  I then applied CA to the rod and sleeve in the antenna array.  Now I could start gluing the spine sections as earlier for the forward section.  Finally the reactor section was glued in place.

Next came adding the containers.  This required special attention to the instructions to be sure that they were glued on in the proper order  Some of the sections were a bit trickier that others since they had only one attachment point and a large over hang on one side.  But it all went well and surprisingly enough I didn’t have to redo any containers.

Once the containers were on I used some black wash on the engine exhausts, glued then in place in the engine stalks and then glued the completed engines to the reactor section.  Unfortunately the engines do not touch each other as they do in the film.  I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory fix so I just left them with a small gap between each other.  I also soldered the wires together in the reactor section which completed the wiring process.  The pictures show the lighting bluer than it actually looks.

I epoxied the stand sections to their steel rods and sprayed them with primer.  I believe I will paint base and rod matte black and the top piece I’ll paint with the base color of the model.  Like I said at the beginning I’m still not sure exactly how I will finally mount it.

That was a fun build and I really like the final product.  Thanks for following along.