Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 7

Decaling is finally finished.  Over 82 tiny decals beside the 112 panel decals.  Yes they are thick. Yes they are difficult to get to conform to the fine details on the model.  It does take a lot of Solvaset.  It does take using a needle and #11 knife blade and a small bit of paint touch up.  But, yes in the end they do look good.

As the underside decals were going on I looked ahead and found three places on the side walls where Bandai provided a decal to cover a section.  Those sections have too many fine raised details to attempt to get the decal to conform.  For those areas, I mixed up some paint (a mix of Desert Sand and Aged White) that to my eye was a close match for the decal color instead of using the decal.

The left side might be workable, but why bother when I already have to paint two other sections.

Here are some photos of the lower side completed.  The second photo below shows one of the side panels that was painted instead of decals.

Now for the top side decals.

In some areas, especially where the decal needs to cover some small complicated details, it help to apply Solvaset to the area and then apply the decal.  When doing this you need to be particularly careful to not work the decal too much since the Solvaset will soften the decal quickly.  There is at least one of the panel decals (#94) that was a bit easier to apply by cutting it into separate parts.  Decal #94 is the decal that covers the panels next to the antenna mount.

When the decaling was finished, I went back through each call out in the instructions and compared that to the position on the model to be sure that I applied all the decals.  One reason I did this was because when I finished I had some extra decals.  I wanted to be sure that the extra decals were true extras and not something that I missed.  I did find two decals that I had missed in the call outs.

One other thing to note is the antenna decals.  I applied them as Bandai specified in the instructions.

Antenna decals applied per Bandai.

But then I noticed that the photos I have of the 5-foot filming miniature didn’t match.  It seemed backwards.  I then went to a copy of the Episode IV movie and looked for views of the back of the antenna in the film.  When I found one it matched the Bandai instructions.  Looking carefully it appears that the newer photos of the 5-foot version have the antenna mounted backwards and flipped 180 degrees.  I positioned the antenna that way and it did look like the photos of the 5-footer.  (Of course you can’t put it on the model that way since the parts are keyed to only fit one way.)  So I’d say go ahead and trust Bandai and their research of the ANH Falcon.

Anyway, I’m finally done with the decals and will be moving on to weathering the Falcon.  Wish me luck.

Thanks for looking.

Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 6

Back to the Millennium Falcon.  I got the Vallejo gloss and dull coat and started out by testing it on a wall of the boarding ramp.  It went on fine, maybe a little thick but it did not react with the underlying paint as expected.

I then took the boarding ramp part and applied the decals after giving it a clear coat.  The decals are rather thick as has been mentioned in many places by others.  There were some fine details that the decals needed to conform to on the boarding ramp.  This required several applications of Solvaset.  It really is much stronger that Micro Scale MicroSol.  You do not have much time after applying Solvaset to work with the decal before it becomes too soft to touch.  I let the Solvaset dry completely between applications and with each application I carefully eased the decal into the details.  Even so, some details were just a bit tall or complicated to really get it to snuggle down.  For those areas I either made a small slice with a sharp #11 blade or pricked it with a straight pin.  Then applied more Solvaset.  This seemed to work pretty well and the decals settled in nicely.  After they were dry I sprayed them lightly with the Vallejo dull coat.  It did not attack the decal.  When that had dried I then applied a bit heavier coat to get the flat surface I wanted.

Boarding ramp after clear/decal/dull procedure

With these tests behind me I moved on to the rest of the model.  I took the engine cover and gave it a clear coat and after that had cured I started adding the decals that would go under the engine flaps at the back.  While those were being snuggled down with Solvaset, I started adding the decals to the engine flaps.  When those were complete I finished the assembly of the engine cover by installing the engine flaps. Then I finished adding decals to the engine cover.  It looks good and is just waiting for its dull coat.  I’ll do that when I dull coat the rest of the upper hull.

Engine cover complete and decaled

I then put the two hull halves together.  I got some foam padding and placed the Falcon upside down on the foam to begin adding decals to the lower hull.  When applying the larger decals that color some of the panels, I made sure to trim closely to decal and remove as much of the clear part as possible.  Some of the decals were stubborn with the raised details as expected and required some knife work to get settled down properly.  In some instances this resulted in some of the base coat showing through the cut.  I found that for the yellowish decals a mix of Vallejo Aged White and Desert Armour matched very well.  Dark Ghost Gray worked well with the dark gray panels.  A mix of German Red Brown and Red was a good match for the red panels.

In the process of finding the colors to match the decals, I first tried some Tamiya medium gray.  The color matched fairly well but it did not react well with the clear coat on the test piece at all.  My advice is if you start with Vallejo stick with it and don’t use them with any other brand of paint.  Better safe than sorry.

I know this might seem like a lot of work rather than just painting the individual panels and then chipping the paint.  That is probably true.  The only problem here is that I have zero experience with paint chipping and I didn’t think that this would be the right model to learn on.  I will take on the chipping process in a future build, but for now the decals are working well even if it is a bit slow.

While working on the decals I did notice that the details I had added to the Turbo Laser stations were more visible than I thought they would be.  Hopefully it will still be that way after the Turbo Lasers are added.

That is it for now.  Half of the lower hull is done, maybe in the next week I can finish the decals and can move on to staining/weathering the Falcon.

Thanks for looking.

Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 5

I felt a bit better about the damage to the paint job after calming down and looking it all over.  The alligator skin was not all over the model.  It appeared to be mostly in areas where I had laid down a heavier layer of clear coat.  So now I feel a bit better about being able to remedy this situation.

I finally received my bottle of Tamiya Lacquer thinner that I had order last week.  Others had advised that the lacquer thinner would be able to remove the crinkled finish so I ordered some.  I got out some cotton buds and started removing the damaged finish.  I started with the back end of the engine cover since it had some of the worst crinkling and it had an area with a smooth surface without much detail.  I dipped a cotton bud in some of the lacquer thinner and started rubbing the surface.  With very little effort the rough surface came off, but so did all the paint and primer.  It took it down to the bare plastic.

This shows the area where I removed the damaged paint with lacquer thinner.

The problem was that in the process of removing the paint it created clumps of paint that could get lodged in some of the fine details.  If I used this process on the whole model, it would take a lot of clean up to get all the clumps out of the details.  It got me to thinking about some alternatives.  I had some 90% isopropyl alcohol.  I used it to clean brushes after painting, and I wondered if it might work here.  The main concern was whether it would do any good against the lacquer clear coat.  I gave it a shot anyway.  It worked!  I was able to remove the alligator skin and keep much of the paint/primer in place.  The new surface was smooth and looked like it would be able to be re-sprayed and still look good.  In the photo above, you can see in the areas above and to the right of the bare plastic where I used the alcohol and was able to preserve the primer but also smooth the paint.  It also didn’t create balls of paint that could gunk up the fine details.

After going over the whole model and removing the alligator skin, I let it dry for a couple of days to let the paint firm back up before re-spraying the white-gray base coat again.

Repainted areas

It now looks good again and I’ll let the paint cure for a few days.  This will give me a chance to get some Vallejo clear coat and matt coat.  I’ll use those since they should be more compatible with the Vallejo paint that was used for the base coat.  I’ll still test it on a test part first to be sure there isn’t some other problem that could crop up.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for looking.

Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 4

While waiting for the paint to cure on the rest of the Falcon, I started painting the turbo laser cockpits. I added some black to the barrels of the turbo lasers themselves.  It helps give them some depth.  Then I painted and assembled the cockpit seats.  They were pretty simple, the only colors needed were flat black and some silver.  There are supposed to be some lights on the targeting computer boxes but I couldn’t find a proper place to put them and the details don’t lend themselves to lights either.  They look pretty good nonetheless.

Next I started on the cockpit interiors.  Lots of panels, some gray, some light gray, some black and a couple red.  Then a bunch of silver for the ribbed hoses and lots of lights.  On some of the lights I over coated with transparent red or yellow.  The effect came out nice.  Some of my panel borders are not the straightest, but they are not too bad.  When you look at them from the angle of the front windows they look much better.

It took a few days to finish the cockpits, so by this time the base coat on the rest of the Falcon was cured.  I got out my spray can of Tamiya TS-13 Clear to provide a smooth base to start applying the decals.  I needed to apply a few of the decals before I could finish the assembly.  Then I can finish applying decals and then start the weathering process.

I used the Tamiya TS-13 Clear spray on my 2001 Discovery One model recently and the base coat on it was also Vallejo paint.  In that case it was Model Color White Gray.  This time I had used Vallejo Model Air White Gray for the base coat.  After spraying the sections I went back to inspect them in case there were some places I had missed.  That was when I noticed that many areas now had alligator skin where the paint looked cracked and the surface was slightly rough.

Cracking paint after applying clear coat.

I’ve never had a problem with paint cracking like this before.  I checked online and sure enough, many others reported a similar thing happening when applying spray can Tamiya TS-13 Clear over Vallejo Model Air.  Well that was just great!  It will take me a while to figure out how to remedy this situation, so the next post may be a bit delayed.  Lesson learned.

I do have some Tamiya X-22 Clear Gloss that I can try.  It may work out better, since it is an acrylic.  My big mistake apparently is that the spray can clear is a lacquer that can have that type of effect on some acrylic paints.  Since X-22 is acrylic it might work better.  I’ll try it on a test piece first so I don’t end up with another disaster on my hands.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for looking.

Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 3

Time for an update.  I moved on to the upper hull.  I primed and installed the maintenance bays and the antenna mount.  After some study I decided that I could go ahead and install turbo laser stations and mask off the open windows without having to remove them to install the cockpits.  The laser cannon cockpits can be installed from the inside so I will work on them later.  I placed, but did not push down, the laser cannon backplates.  That way I can paint the whole hull with the base coat without the cannons installed and then put the cannons on after primer and paint.  If I put the cannons in first, it would have been difficult to get paint under the cannon and onto the window frames.

I was then able to add most of the external piping to the upper hull.  Some of the piping will have to wait since it runs over some of the panels that haven’t had their decals added yet.  I also added detail parts to the covers leading to the docking ports and installed the PE grills in them.  I’ll install them onto the hull after the two hull halves go together.

I then moved on to the lower hull and installed the landing gear doors and turbo cannon stations.  Just like with the upper hull, I partially installed the laser cannon backplates.  I then started adding as much of the external piping to the lower hull as possible without having both halves put together.

There were a few parts that I could not install until I get some of the decals placed.  Those parts, some from the upper hull and some from the lower hull, were primed and painted separately.  I also sprayed a black grey pre-shade on the docking ports.

From there I moved to the engine cover.  I started with the PE grills.  They are very nicely etched.  They have a small flat spot on opposite edges that matches a flat spot in the cover.  That makes sure that the grills are attached at the proper angle.  I glued them in with CA glue.  I then started adding the detail parts.  Lots of detail parts.  A few needed to be glued in place to make sure they stayed in place, but most fit very well without glue.  I dry brushed some silver on the turbine blades that go behind the grills.  I’ll install that part after I prime and paint the engine cover.

At this point I decided to check the fit of the engine cover on the upper hull.  It does not snap in quite as tightly as some of the other parts since it needs to be removed to turn the lights on or off.  It is good that I did a check first.  I discovered a slight warp in the engine cover.  I will need to get most if not all the warp out to make the cover fit well and look good.  I laid the part on a corner of the workbench and then placed a wooden block on the part and then put a heavy bottle on top to provide the weight required to flatten the curve.  I’ll leave the weight on a few days to see if the curve flattens.

While waiting on that, I moved on to painting the base color on the upper and lower hull halves.  I started by adding the mandibles to the lower hull half.  I am using Vallejo Model Air 70.119 White Gray.  It sprayed on fairly well.  I did have a bit of a problem with paint building up on the edges of my airbrush nozzle.  I’ll have to look into that to see what I’m doing wrong.  I haven’t had that problem when spraying Tamiya paints.  I also sprayed the parts that can’t go on until some of the decals go on first.  Some of those are still attached to their trees.  Note the black spots on the upper hull.  They correspond with the grills in the hallway covers.  Hopefully they will give some depth behind the grills.

It looks like the White Gray paint is going to take a while to fully dry, so in the meantime I’ll start working on the turbo laser cockpits.

More to come…