First of all, the Millennium Falcon is still sitting on the bench and still getting some love now and then, but life has most definitely slowed a lot of hobby time to a major halt. So, five months after my first build diary entry, here is the second part, which focuses on the smaller sub-assemblies that come together to make the big ship seen above.
Up first, the cockpit attaches to a sub-assembly of the hallway to the rest of the ship. The first set of lights attaches through here and then threads through the ship to the light control box at the back.
The next part of the build was the front mandibles and their corresponding side walls. There were so many tiny parts to add on the sidewalls and in the exposed holes on the top and bottom side.
There was a small amount of gapping when the two halves were combined, but a little glue and clamping helped solve that problem.
tAfter the mandibles came the bottom and top hull parts with all of the exposed inner parts as well. The mandibles fit well onto the bottom hull, and the fit between the top and bottom hull was surprisingly good.
Finally, all the sub-assemblies came together to create a pretty good picture of the final size and look of the model. I decided to assemble most of the kit and then start the painting instead of painting each sub-assembly and work from there, but everyone prefers different methods, so a different choice might work better for someone else.
Most of the assembly was fairly straightforward, but because of the level of detail on many of the sidewals and exposed hull parts, some of the tiniest parts definitely required a good pair of tweezers. I think I only broke two pieces total, and I was able to glue them back together once they were in place.
For part III, coming sometime in the future, I will move onto priming and basecoating. Thanks for reading and following along!
Over the summer, I began work on my biggest model project yet, the Perfect Grade Millennium Falcon made by Bandai. This kit is what those of us in the hobby call a "Grail" kit, as in the big, most desired kit of the most popular subject. Obviously, the Millennium Falcon is a character in itself and has countless model kits based on all the different versions from the different movies. This one, however, is the most detailed and biggest mass-produced kit you can buy of the Falcon. Based on the filming model from the original Star Wars, there are an insane amount of parts on this kit and the box is huge!
After I got this kit, it sat in my garage for a long time. I had many excuses to not get it out: too time-consuming, other kits I wanted to do first, and any other excuse you can name. In reality, I was scared. I wanted this to be perfect, and I was scared that I would mess it up and irreparably ruin the final product. Thanks to the pandemic this year and the shutdown of much of our economy, I decided I did not really have an excuse to put this off anymore. I was most of the way through my stash of kits, and the time seemed right.
Because of the size and length of this build, I will be posting build diaries through each of the major steps. Today's focus is the cockpit and the figures that go in the cockpit.
I was not totally satisfied with how the lighting in the cockpit turned out, but I am happy enough to let it go. For me, the focus is on the rest of the ship, and I probably will not have the cockpit light unit turned on a lot of the time. There are a lot of really excellent builders out there who turn their cockpits into an incredible labor of love and skill. I am not one of those builders, but I am glad I put the time into improving it just a little.
Next up: Starting the Sub-Assemblies.
I finished off a very productive summer last year with this tiny little Jedi Starfighter from Attack of the Clones. The scale is 1/144 so it is quite small, but as usual with Bandai kits, the detail is still incredible. Several years ago I built the 1/72 version of this ship when it was made by FineMolds, and I remember having a terrible time with the decals and all around frustration with the small size. For a kit that is half the size, I found this one twice as easy to assemble.
The assembly took almost no time, as I believe there were about two sprues in a tiny box. I primed everything and gave it a white base coat, and everything else was done with decals. If I had used the Bandai decals from the box I probably would have pulled my hair out because they were stickers and not slide-on decals, but fortunately, one of my favorite decal makers on ebay (yogurt80) had a set designed specifically for this kit, and they worked beautifully. I think there is a lot of room for building a fleet of unique Jedi Starfighters, but I do not have the money nor the painting skills to try it. Plus, I love Obi-Wan.
The ship slides in and out of the Hyperspace ring well, and the base attaches only to the starfighter for display purposes. I am definitely considering an asteroid field diorama with Jango Fett's Slave I in the same scale, but display space may play a role in whether that ever happens.
The only weathering I did was a dark gray wash and some oil streaking, which gave it a weathered but not overdone look. Jedi do not seem the type to keep their ships too dirty. If you can still find this kit I would recommend picking it up. It is cheap, has great detail, and many possibilities for customizing to your Jedi of preference. Make sure, however, that you either find good decals or have fantastic painting skills.
Solo will likely never be remembered as the best Star Wars movie for a variety of reasons, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, not least because it gave us a new version of the Millennium Falcon. The number of Millennium Falcon kits on the market is vast, and there are many versions in many different scales from the tiny Bandai 1/350 version up to the amazing Perfect Grade 1/72 scale version from A New Hope. I have the big box Bandai Perfect Grade version sitting in my stash, but I cannot quite bring myself to build it yet out of some elusive idea of needing it to be perfect. One thing the other models of the Falcon do not have is the unique coloring and style of Lando's version. This difference and the smaller size drew me to this kit as a potential stepping stone to the big one in the future.
This 1/144 scale kit was a pretty standard build from Bandai. Easy snapfit parts and great engineering make all of their kits fun to build. As I think I have written before, the decals are one aspect of Bandai kits that I am less impressed with so I found a great set on eBay from user yogurt80. I do not believe he has any Lando's Falcon sets available right now, but he makes a lot of great sci-fi decals.
One of the fun parts of this kit was the small inside portion of the ship. I ended up painting a lot of this because even high quality decals had a hard time with all of the crevices. Ultimately, this part is not visible in the final display of the model, but I had fun with it.
Another challenge for painting was the tiny cockpit figures, which include Han, Chewie, and Lando. In this picture you can just barely see Lando sitting in the back behind Han. Figures in 1/144 scale are difficult to paint well! At least any imperfections are hidden by the cockpit! On the subject of the cockpit, this kit does not come with any clear window parts, but a few of them would have been so small, I can see why the open cockpit makes sense.
I did not do a large amount of weathering because Lando likes to keep his stuff in top shape, so I did a basic oil wash and then used some oil brushers for the engine exhaust. The final look gives it the just barely used and kept in decent shape look. I was pretty happy with the final results.
Finally, I bought one of the basic lighting units from Bandai for the iconic blue engines. There is an access panel on the bottom of the Falcon, and I love the look with the engines turned on. It is easy to install, and while definitely not the highest quality lighting unit, it does the job well enough for me.
Quick note for those interested in building this kit. There is no landing gear included, so you will have to scour the internet to find a set. I know there are several out there, but I tend to prefere in flight displays on my models.
The first half of this year was busy in life but not on the workbench. I went on some great trips to Italy and Star Wars Celebration, but went on very few trips to the model workbench. Part of the problem was that I was dragging my feet on the Scarif diorama pictured above. I had completed the ship builds for all three ships, but I did not have a great plan on how to make a beach scene. I did a lot of research about what products to buy and watched a variety of Youtube videos and finally started to figure something out at the beginning of the summer. I am going to share a little more of my process than usual because I took a few twists and turns during this build.
I started by using AK Interactive's acrylic sand material as the base on top of some plaster strips shaped for an undulating surface. Then, I used AK Interactive's water gel for the small portion of ocean and absolutely hated how it looked. After the picture above, I re-coated everything with the sand material and decided to try a different method.
Because of the disastrous first attempt, I turned to a method I was previously avoiding out of fear: resin pouring. I watched a few more Youtube videos, bought the supplies and went after it. Fortunately, the whole process of pouring and dyeing the resin was easy and gave a much better result. I would definitely use resin for water again.
The other important step of the diorama was deciding the layout of the ships. I knew I wanted to show the U-Wing in the process of landing, but I was undecided on the X-Wing and TIE Striker configuration. The hardest part of setting the layout was how high the two smaller ships needed to be in relation to the U-Wing.
I finally settled on the two smaller ships raised quite a bit and slightly angled off the base. I only have a small amount of space to work with, and I probably would have benefited from a larger diorama base, but I did not have the luxury of that much display area. I am fairly happy with the result. It has a relatively small base footprint and still manages to include all three small ships.
One of the last bits of the diorama was the wave effects on the water. I used a different water effects product from AK Interactive, which worked much better than the previously mentioned one. By combining a little white paint with the water effects gel, I was able to give the waves some white caps.
Overall, I am happy with this diorama, but I will probably avoid them for a while because of the amount of display space they require, as well as the amount of additional products needed. I will definitely take the experience from this and the Hoth diorama into potential future projects, however.
This past winter I got brave. I branched out and decided to build my first diorama. I had purchased the AT-AT model kit a while back and then found out that the Snowspeeder and AT-ST mini kits came in the same 1/144 scale. It was clearly a match made in heaven. I knew it was time to experiment with diorama building.
Part of the reason I started with Hoth as a diorama subject was because of the straightforward appearance of snow. I knew I could get away with buying minimal new product and have to do little shaping for a decent result. I used Tamiya's Snow Effects products, which I would highly recommend. I used a bottle and a half of Snow Effects and about one bottle of the Powder
Effects for the top layer. The surface of the diorama is about 12in x 18in. At the time I did not own any small spatulas, so I just used craft sticks. I would recommend the spatulas for easier application.
I based my diorama on the scene in Empire Strikes Back when the walker stops, sticks its back leg out, and shoots down a passing snowspeeder. I remember being surprised and impressed with that shot when I first saw the movie many years ago, and I thought it would make a great diorama scene. Thankfully the AT-AT model kit has great pose-ability, and I was able to stage a decent reproduction.
The model kits themselves were all great builds. The small Vehicle Model line of kits from Bandai make great diorama models, with an extra quick assembly time. I was most impressed with the ability to pose the walker in a variety of positions, including crashed. I have seen plenty of great builds with downed walkers from various other scale modellers. If I had an unlimited budget and space, I could see a nice Battle of Hoth diorama with multiple walkers and snowspeeders all over. No worries, however, because I am very happy with the results for this diorama. Check out the slideshow below for a few more pictures.
So, perhaps it is a small shock that I sometimes build non-Star Wars kits. Or, you noticed the header image on this page and have been wondering why I have a picture of a kit I have never written about. Or, you do not really pay that much attention and are wondering why I am even bothering writing an introduction like this.
Wherever you stand, I cannot pass up the opportunity to talk about this fantastic Nautilus model kit from Pegasus Models. I have been a fan of Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea since I read an abridged version as a young kid. I was equally fascinated and terrified by the giant squid and the underwater adventures of Captain Nemo. I received this kit a couple years ago as a Christmas gift and was putting it off for a while because I did not have a plan for the paint job. I started it last summer and finished it in the fall.
I normally do not share work in progress photos on here, but I like this shot because it provides a good view of the different parts of the kit. The base is resin and the kit comes packaged with photoetch parts for the handrails, ladders, and lines. More on the photoetch later.
The most important part of this build in my mind was the paint job. I spent some time researching other people's builds and saw that no two were the same, which gave me some freedom to play a little. For the base I did some airbrushing with stone gray and dark earth to create the mottled sea floor. The squid is a mixture of pink and red with a dark brown wash. Finally, I started the ship itself with some pre-shading, then covered the whole thing with various light coats of metallic copper and burnt umber. I then went back and further darkened some of the spots with more burnt umber. I was very happy with the final result, as it has a steam punk, Victorian aesthetic that works well with the original novel.
The two most annoying parts of the kit were the windows and the photoetch parts. The windows are tiny, and the included masks work decently well, but some of the window parts are too small to really fit any mask. Then, you have the issue of residue from the tape left on the clear parts. I imagine there are some aftermarket masks that might work better than the provided ones. As for the photoetch, I think I mostly need more practice. The railing is super thin and easily bent, and I had several moments of frustration trying to position them correctly. I was able to rehab one of the bent rails to fit with the squid tentacle crushing the ship, so my frustrations ultimately worked out.
This is a must-buy kit for all the detail, the unique stand, and the bonus photoetch and masks included in the box. In addition, Captain Nemo's salon is included for painting, although it is barely visible through the windows. Pick one up wherever you can find it!
As I continue to play catch up with completed builds, the next one up is the Bandai 1/72 X-Wing kit. As I was scrolling through my past pictures I noticed that I took these photos almost exactly one year ago, so it seemed only appropriate to relive it now.
I bought this X-Wing kit as part of a two-pack box in conjunction with Rogue One, which included a 1/72 scale X-Wing and a 1/144 scale X-Wing. You will see the 1/144 X-Wing pop up later, but for now I want to spend some time on the 1/72 kit. The provided livery and decals were for Red Leader from the assault on Scarif, but I have always been a Wedge Antilles fan so I really wanted to build his X-Wing. Thankfully, there are a lot of great custom decal makers in the world of the internet, and I found a good set of Red 2 decals from Cosmos Models (he makes a lot of really great decal sets for many different Star Wars ships. I will plug him all day long; his Instagram handle is @nicholas_sagan).
Outside of hunting for reference photos, this kit was fun and easy to build. I used a slightly gray tinted white for the base color, custom decals for Wedge's colors, and an oil wash with Starship Filth for the panel lines and dirty look. I am very happy with the final result on this kit, so much so that the old one got bumped to the land of storage.
Stay tuned for more on that other tiny little X-Wing that came in the box with this one!
After my last Battle Droid build, I kept the prequel bug going and picked up this amazing General Grievous figure kit. I had seen many people build this on YouTube and Instagram and heard many good things about it. In addition, there was at that time a distinct lack of Grievous action figures on the market in this scale. Since then, several more have been released, but based on what I have seen, this figure beats them all by a mile.
My favorite display option, however, which you can probably tell from the number of pictures, is all four arms out, a lightsaber in each hand. This is Grievous' most intimidating and iconic pose in my opinion, plus it gives a great chance to showcase all four lightsabers that come with the kit. Be prepared to do a little paint work on the lightsabers if you want them to look authentic.
For weathering I used a combination of Gundam markers for the narrow cracks and an overall dark grey wash to dirty him up a bit. In addition I did some gunmetal drybrushing on the darker under parts. I was pretty happy with the results. Enjoy the slideshow of the rest of my pictures below! This has definitely been my favorite figure kit from Bandai so far!
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.
Model builder, board gamer, and all around lover of small scale stuff.