Saturday, February 3, 2018

Fantastic Plastic Con-Am Shuttle from Outland (Part 2)

Resuming from my last post, which had a really high resolution photograph of the Con-Am shuttle from Outland taken about the time it was used in the movie...

Here's the box art. The kit can be purchased from Fantastic Plastic. Below are more photographs of the original filming miniature. I could not have designed this kit without them, since supposedly there were never any drawings made. The lack of any drawings made it very challenging to design an accurate kit. Working from photos, I drew 3D shapes that I revised repeatedly until perspective views of them matched all the photos perfectly (or close enough that I was no longer able to spot the differences).
Here's another photo of the miniature at the time the effects shots were being filmed, in this case with the late John Stears demonstrating the docking gantry.
This is the "right" side of the shuttle (I call the end with the antennas the "front"). I think this was taken just after Martin Bower finished restoring the model in 2000. The next image shows the model in the condition he found it at Pinetree Studios.

Just above is a beauty shot of the restored model after Arnaud Grunberg bought it from Martin Bower for his Science Fiction Archive. It's currently in a warehouse in France but could go on display any time Grunberg decides to show it or someone contracts to put it on display. Notice the dish antenna is missing from the top in this picture.
Above and below are some images of the shuttle during construction. You may recognize some of the greeblies, and maybe spot some things that changed before the model was completed. For instance, the next picture shows a grey dome that was later removed and replaced with a laser turret from the MPC Millennium Falcon. Bill Pearson (with the moustache) and Martin Bower show up in these pictures quite a lot.

Notice in the next photo of Bill and Martin with the shuttle, that the dish antenna (modified from the MPC Millennium Falcon part) isn't on top of the shuttle. Instead, there's a mast with a bunch of antennas on top of the small rectangular superstructure. Later, this mast is removed. The dome that was replaced by the MPC Millennium Falcon laser turret is still on the model at this point, too.

Next is the photo that was in Martin Bower's article in Starlog 47 about the special effects in Outland. As in a lot of photos of the model, the engine pods are missing, probably because they needed to be separate for the plumbing for the CO2 system used to create the rocket exhaust effect in the movie.
 Speaking of which, here's a beauty shot of the CO2 system in operation. You can also see the undersides of the landing feet have rollers. The struts are 10 degrees from vertical, causing the feet move inward as the struts compress, so without the rollers the feet would drag across the landing pad.
Here are a bunch more shots of the model without its engines, taken before the model was used for the effects shots. Aside from the missing engines, the changes noted above, and markings that were added, the model is substantially the same as in the movie.

 Here's Martin Bower in 2000 looking justifiably proud of his restoration work.
And here are some screencaps from the movie.


Sorry I couldn't share all my photos with you, but some are marked "Copyright Martin Bower" and others he shared with me on the condition I wouldn't share them. You can access his copyrighted photos at the Wayback Machine:

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Fantastic Plastic Con-Am Shuttle from Outland (Part 1)

The Con-Am shuttle from Outland is soon to be released as a kit by Fantastic Plastic, and here's the best photo of the miniature at the time the movie was being filmed. I decided to upload this, since modelers will need photographic references, and I'm the guy who did the CAD design of the model kit. I'll post the rest of my pics later, excepting some that Martin Bower shared with me on the condition I don't share them with others. (Sorry about that, but what I hope this means is that he's planning to use them in a book. That would be so cool.)

Anyway, the above image is really large. Just click on it to see how large, and feel free to download it.

Monday, September 5, 2016

My first blog, of the same name but without the Roman numeral, was at but the blog host,, seemed to have, er, issues. Those issues seem to have been terminal. One thing I used that blog for was to keep track of neat links I found. Here's the list of links I had last time I saved that blog to my harddrive (and some added later).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

RSO Part 4

Just a short update. I finished cleanup of the new vent holes to make them neatly geometrical, so they look like they were made by Germans (or Austrians, rather) and not cavemen. Then a shot of primer, and I added metal screen. The problem is that the cab is about a scale inch thick, but softskin vehicles like the RSO are made of sheet metal. The screen in the real thing is fastened over the opening from the inside and has no problem lying flat and nearly flush with the back of the cab. I couldn't come up with any better alternative than pressing the screen in from the inside, and the results aren't as good as I'd like. To really get the right look, one would need photoetched parts for the openings. Some plastic would have to be shaved off, the PE parts put in flush with the surrounding surface, then puttied smooth so it's impossible to tell where the PE starts. The screen would be attached to the PE from the inside, and would be nearly flush with the outside since the PE is so thin.

Although these screens don't satisfy me in this case, it was good experience and would look right for some applications. I'm leaving them be since there will be a canvas top, which will make them very hard to see. The duct inside the cab has several similar screens that will be more visible, so I will have to consider how to make those.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

RSO Part 3

I noticed that while the vents on the rear of the model's cab are centered, the cooling air duct that fits in the cab is off-center. Aside from the fact the duct wouldn't line up with the vents, the vents are supposed to be off-center, as you can see in the picture. I forget where I found this picture, but apparently someone found this RSO cab somewhere in Poland.

In the next picture, you see the relocated openings superimposed over the old vents, which are just surface detail. The lower opening shouldn't be as tall as the upper, so I corrected that, too. I have since started puttying over the old vent detail and mesh will go in the openings to complete the vents.

Aside from this, I've been puttying and sanding ad infinitum, primering, and opening the vent holes in the front of the cab. I found out those two rectangular covers with rounded corners that you see in the top picture are dampers for vents. Expecting the RSO to have headlights other than just the Notek blackout light, I had thought they were headlight covers. I even found a wartime photo of an RSO with what appeared to be light shining out one of those openings, but vents they are, and for a good reason. It could get hot in the cab sitting next to the air-cooled V8 engine. Wartime photos often show just one of the vents open, usually the driver's vent.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

RSO Part 2

Friul should consider branching out. Check out the what a fine bracelet these RSO tracks make, modeled here by my lovely wife Ilene.

Closer inspection reveals why some of the pins broke after I assembled the first run of track. The nub you see in the photo at right is enough to wedge the adjoining link causing it to pull on the pin, shearing it off. Before assembling the second run I filed any nubs off.

The shapes stamped into the back of the cab should also show on the inside, as in this close up from a walkaround at the Military Models website in New Zealand. I edited the picture to indicate the stamped shapes. This particular walkaround is great because the vehicle is painted white and partially disassembled, making details more visible.

I made the matching raised areas in the back of the cab by fitting sheet styrene into the depressions. First I taped a piece of strip styrene into the depression running around the lower part. I bent the strip to get it to go around the corners.

Once I had the styrene shape formed, I simply peeled off the tape and the styrene with it.

Next I put it into the cab and cemented it in place, carefully peeling off the tape.

The rectangular depressions on either side of the rear window have sheet styrene cut to fit...

...which is then transferred to the inside to form the raised areas, then cemented in place.

I found in period pictures and modern day walkarounds that the main bolt holding each roadwheel on is often secured with a strap held on by two opposing lug nuts. The RSO probably came from the factory this way. I decided my RSO should have this feature.

I wanted to simply put a strip of brass with two holes over the lug nuts, but this wasn't practical. My only other choice was to remove two lug nuts, superglue a strip of brass on, and reattach the lug nuts with superglue. To this end I sliced two lug nuts off each roadwheel with a fresh #11 blade (with tape over the nuts to keep them away from the carpet monster).

Then I pulled off the tape taking the two nuts with it. I shaved off the remaining plastic left behind so the brass strip would be tight against the wheel. Not shown is how I cut a strip of brass, pressed it over the hub of the wheel, and cut it to length. Some of the wheels got scored in the process, so a bit of putty was required to cover up the damage.

And here are all eight roadwheels modified with the brass strip and the lug nuts reattached. Comparing my work to photos of the RSO, I made the strips a little too wide, but I'm just glad the carpet monster didn't get any of the lug nuts. They are practically microscopic!