Twenty years ago (crazy!) The Phantom Menace marketing machine was hitting pop culture like a tsunami. The first piece of merchandise I remember associated with the movie was the release of the Battle Droid and STAP action figure. I was so excited to go to the store to buy a new Star Wars toy in conjunction with a new Star Wars movie release for the first time in my life. Regardless of opinions about The Phantom Menace, I still have a strong nostalgic connection to this original toy. I think I still even have it in storage somewhere.
Needless to say, when Bandai made a model kit of the Battle Droid figure and it came with the STAP bike, I was very excited. Nostalgia and model building all in one! Plus, the Bandai model figures are the best way to build and collect action figures.
For the Battle Droid figure I tried a method I have used before in which I painted a silver enamel base with a layer of acrylic on top so I could add some chipping. For this kit, I probably should have just left the molded color and added some silver chipping effects with paint. I had a lot of issues with the various layers thinning and discoloring more than I would have liked (probably because I got impatient), but I was able to salvage it as an extra battle-worn droid.
After finishing the droid and experiencing some of the difficulties, I kept the molded color for the STAP and weathered it with small silver scratch marks and Tamiya weathering powder. A couple of flat clear coats and it was done.
This Battle Droid can also be posed separately and in its collapsed form, but I have such a strong connection to the STAP combo that I probably won't ever change it up. This was an absolutely amazing model kit.
A ship load of frustration
I wish I could say that every time I build a model kit, everything is joyous, fun, easy, and super rewarding. Usually it is. Last year, however, I finished a model kit that had occupied almost a year of my life and left me feeling extreme amounts of frustration. That kit was the Swedish Vasa made by Revell.
Occasionally, I branch out from Star Wars, and when I do, it usually is because of some personal connection to the build. Many years ago, my family visited Stockholm and the museum that houses the Vasa, a doomed and ill-constructed Swedish warship that sank in the harbor on its maiden voyage. In person, the ship is absolutely incredible. Preservationists were able to salvage almost the entire ship, and it is housed in its entirety in a beautiful museum in Stockholm.
With that personal experience in mind, I was excited about building my own version of the infamous ship and adding it to my collection. I should have recognized some warning signs. I have previously built two naval ship models, a Roman warship and a Viking longship. Both times after finishing those I vowed never to build a naval ship again. Rigging with tiny thread is a nightmare. Apparently, I am a glutton for punishment.
To make a long story short, I had so many issues with building this model kit. There were a lot of issues with parts not fitting well, and all of the tiny human figurine details that make up the elaborately carved decorations around the ship looked like a bunch of mushy blobs with legs. Needless to say, this made detail painting difficult.
For long stretches of time, I would just let this model sit because I had no desire to bang my head in frustration. Finally, however, I determined to finish it and put the specter of frustration to the side. I did minimal rigging so that I would not lose my mind over the extensive network of tiny threads, finished off the paint job, and dirtied up the sails a bit. The result is not terrible. Check out the slideshow and make a judgment for yourself, while I say good riddance to this model kit.
Poe Dameron's X-Wing is definitely a unique take on the classic X-Wing design. The kit pictured above is the first version of the ship made by Bandai from the release of The Force Awakens in theaters. For the release of The Last Jedi, Bandai rereleased the kit with a small engine part on the back.
As with most Bandai model kits, the assembly is very straightforward and well-designed. The biggest issue I had was with the decals for the wing, which I had on the previous Blue Squadron X-Wing also. I could not use enough decal set to make them lay well, and I know a lot of other builders who have expressed similar issues. I ended up masking and painting the orange with much trial and error to get the correct color. Without going into all the frustrations, I had a lot of issues with the wrong color mix or an incorrect thinner ratio until I finally found a mix that worked and laid well on the plastic.
I also made the call to go with landing gear out for this build because I have done several X-Wings in flight mode. I imagine Poe has just hopped into the cockpit and is ready to head out to take on the First Order.
Model builder, board gamer, and all around lover of small scale stuff.