Monday, December 3, 2012

KBoP Part 10

Previously on Klingon Bird of Prey...

Here's a bit of progress since last week. I put the landing gear bay back in with a lighting module. You can't really see it in this picture, so I'll discuss it in a future post. The lighting uses LEDs and fiber optic to make a console next to the door have blinking lights.

What you see at right is the band around the engine recess, which is like that going around the outer part of the hull. I settled on making it from Evergreeen styrene shapes.
Here is the lower glowing engine part, made from the bottom of the clear kit part, plexiglas, and styrene strips. I keep some of that Plastruct cement with the orange label that works on any combination of styrene, ABS, and acrylic. It barely attacks acrylic compared to styrene, but it does the job.

Friday, November 23, 2012

KBoP Part 9

Previously on Klingon Bird of Prey...

Here's a little update since I got back to work after a couple weeks away from it. The glowing engine part will have the separation between the upper and lower halves, so here it's being cut in half using a razor saw.
Here's a view of into the engine area on the studio model. (For a higher resolution version of this and other pictures of the KBoP studio model, check out Modelers Miniatures and Magic  and enter "Klingon Bird of Prey studio model" in the search box.) As you can see, the band of dentil molding (what else should I call it?) between the upper and lower hull also extends into the engine area. Notice too, this determines the vertical positions of the glowing engine parts.
Here's the band of dentil molding I made to fit into the engine recess. It's Evergreen styrene: 3/16" channel with strips of corrugated siding.* Not a perfect match but close. To create the opening for the band, I cut the part flush using a router. This separation band will create a bit of a problem: modelers who modify the clear part to add the separation invariably end up with the separation too high and the gap too narrow. My modification will have to compromise elsewhere so the gap comes out in the right place. Part of the problem is the lower hull on the kit isn't deep enough in the first place.

*I had tried to cast a copy of the kit detail by pressing part 3 or 4 into modeling clay and pouring polyurethane resin in there, but it came out foamy and was thus unusable. Maybe my resin is past its shelf life.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cthulhu Bas Relief in Soapstone

Not my usual thing, but I've had a hankering to carve a Cthulhu figure in soapstone ever since I found myself with some extra bits of soapstone. I needed a birthday present for my friend Brian Seidel, which gave me the impetus to carve it. Actual size is about 6.5" X 5". It's loosely based on the clay tablet included in "The Angell  Box," a set of prop replicas from The Call of Cthulhu available from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. Aside from the general layout (bordered rectangle with profile of Cthulhu occupying the right half looking to the left at waves and the sunken city of R'lyeh, rising again) the two are not terribly alike except for the border inscription. I reversed the direction of the waves, thinking Cthulhu might drive the waves before him. R'lyeh's horrifyingly non-Euclidean geometry is represented differently, too. (Why Lovecraft found non-Euclidean geometry so horrifying is anyone's guess. Most math students are plenty horrified by Euclidean geometry.) The big guy's appearance bears little resemblance to the horror in the clay, in large part due to the medium. About which, since it's soapstone, it stands to reason that it was carved by Esquimaux Cthulhu worshippers.

Bandai 1:1000 Combined Cosmo Fleet from Space Battleship Yamato 2199

Here's a video peek in the box of the new Bandai 1:1000 Combined Cosmo Fleet. It's a kit of the Earth ships in the first episode of Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199), from the scene showing the Battle of Pluto where Mamoru Kodai loses his life fighting the Gamilas, along with Yukikaze and every other ship in the fleet but Kirishima.

I preordered this as soon as it was available. I bought it from AmiAmi (they had the best price--about 10% less than HLJ) and since I knew I'd have other irons in the fire, I elected to save money with the slow shipping via SAL. It took exactly 3 weeks from the date it was shipped until it arrived.

This kit is fantastic! The detail is really crisp, and you get all sorts of extras. For one thing, they included decals not included with their 1:1000 Yamato kit released earlier this year. There's also a Type 100 Scout Plane of the sort flown by Susumu Kodai, and a docking port for it on Kirishima. (Sorry, no skis on the scout plane.) Another extra is a tree of purple parts, which took me a while to identify. It doesn't show up anywhere in the instructions, but what it is, is Kit No. 18 from the Mini Mecha collection, the triple-deck Gamilas carrier. The molding on this is excellent as well. I don't have this particular mini, but judging by the molding it appears to be a refinement of the original. Another clue: the tree could be broken down into three parts, but only 2 of the 3 would fit in the box used for the mini mecha collection. The molding is really crisp, though: better than those minis from 30+ years ago, not that they weren't good. Those were excellent, but this is up to today's standards. Unfortunately, there are no instructions to go with it, so much test fitting is in order. Correction: I do have Mini Mecha Collection No. 18 in my stash, and this is the same. (The part of the tree that looks too big to fit in the mini box will just barely fit.) I took a look at it and the mold is showing its age. However, on the kit included in the Combined Cosmo Fleet, the mold has been cleaned up, so surfaces that should be smooth are really smooth, and panel lines are sharper.

Friday, October 26, 2012

KBoP, Part 8

Okay, last time I said there would be lighting in my next post. As Kirk told Maltz, "I lied."

Actually, I've been designing and testing lighting, as you might guess from the breadboard visible in this picture, but this post is about exterior improvements to the upper hull. At right you see where the old detail is removed and partly replaced. I forgot to take a "before" picture, so the next picture shows the same area on my old AMT KBoP.
I built when it first came out in the '90s. The engine deck has this raised structure with a trapezoidal recess in it that looks like a docking port. Maybe it's a port for transferring power or fuel. If it's for transferring power, it'd be like the PTO on a farm tractor, and the KBoP does have some similarity to a farm tractor. But I digress...

One thing that bugs me about the AMT kit is the molded in tubing detail on either side of the raised structure. If the tubing were tight against the hull, it wouldn't matter, but it isn't, as you can see in this studio model photo. It's minor perhaps, but it bugs me, so I'm fixing it. About an hour to remove the old detail and putty and sand, and about an hour to add new detail.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Klingon Bird of Prey, continued (Part 7)

Since last time... This scratchbuilt stuff needed a coat of paint to pull it together, so here's a look at it. The main interior color is Polly Scale Panzer Red-Brown with a wash of Grimy Black and dry brushed with their Panzer Dark Yellow mixed with white. Of all the paints I've used, Polly Scale acrylics are about my favorite for brushing. This dull brick red fits into the Klingon palette of colors, and it contrasts with the green that will be the predominant exterior color. The warp core is Testors Gunmetal acrylic.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Klingon Bird of Prey, continued (Part 6)

It's been a while since the last post, but I've been a-workin' on it.

Let's back up a bit. Here's how it looked earlier this evening.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Klingon Bird of Prey Revisited (Part 5)

Since last time I've been adding detail to the whole area of the boarding ramp and lnading gear. Here's a view of the underside showing the new ramp.

Another view of the ramp. Maybe you can see the cool tread pattern. No?

How about now?
Okay, you can definitely see the tread pattern here! I did it by cutting Evergreen scribed sheet. Some has grooves with .025" spacing and some .020" spacing. The finer spaced sheet I cut on an angle so the ends of the grooves would line up with the wider spaced grooves of the center strip.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Klingon Bird of Prey Revisited (Part 4)

Just cleared the decks to get back to this project: the Round 2 reissue of the AMT Klingon Bird of Prey. It's optional, but there was no question about displaying this baby in the landed configuration. It's too cool! I had one bit of cleanup that had to get done first: I got carried away cutting one of the windows open and had to fix it. Just a bit of sheet styrene. Yikes, it's been a while since I worked on this. Last post was May 5--that was four months ago!

I'd been thinking about what to do with this kit--it needs a bit of extra detailing. One thing I'm sure ought to be in the area where that ramp comes down is the warp core. I'd expect it could be jettisoned through the bottom of the hull, and for that matter, out the opening where the ramp is. If there was an imminent warp core breech, they'd open the ramp or just jettison it and then blow that sucker before the matter and antimatter meet. The passageway where the ramp comes down is almost exactly 1/2 inch wide (14 feet in 1:350 scale). So if the warp core is there, it's probably about 14 feet wide. Sounds like a good size. Also, Klingon stuff is very angular with lots of triangles and hexagons. The base of the warp core is a hexagonal piece of Sculpey I formed inside a 15/32" socket. Makes a nice neat shape.

It needed some kind of dome, so I scavenged a piece off some old blinds. It's clear, so I can add lighting effects inside it. I also added Evergreen channel to the sides. It looks like rails that the warp core would slide in and out on for installation and removal. (Or emergency jettisoning! Whee!) There's a beveled edge in the passageway so I cut a little off the warp core so it can sit in place. I also cut slots in the side walls for the channel on the sides of the core to fit in. I forgot to take a picture of the warp core installed. Well, it fits and next time there will be a pic of that. Plus cleanup of the slots and a whole lot of detailing. Klingon warp cores must have enough plumbing all over them that they look like a plate of spaghetti. And the whole interior of the landing gear bay and entryway needs gobs of detail, too. Some of this will come next time.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Father-Daughter 1/24 TARDIS Scratchbuild, Part 3

Here's my daughter Sylvia and her friend Makenna (who is even more of a Whovian than Sylvia, if that is possible) painting Tardis parts. They finished up adding the trim molding to the walls and doors (strips of balsa attached with white glue) and proceeded to paint them with craft paint. Sylvia was also cutting some of the parts for the stepped boxes that form the top, and since last time, she and I had made a sort of paper model template of the hip roof top (a hip roof is like a pyramid, only in the case of a police box, it's a vertically challenged pyramid).

And here are the walls, doors, and cornerposts all painted up, ready for assembly, signage, windows, door hardware, and weathering, not all in that order. We have yet to build the roof of the Tardis, so that will have to wait till next time.

SRS Prototyping Ta-Opet Figure

I had the pleasure of meeting Scott Spicer of SRS Prototyping four weeks ago at JerseyFest, where he was one of the vendors as well as a contest judge. One of the items he had for sale was a 3 inch figure "Ta-Opet," which stuck me as very reminiscent of Frank Frazetta's "Egyptian Queen," one of my favorite paintings by one of my favorite artists. Figures are not my usual thing, but I couldn't resist buying one.

Here you see the finished figure at left, and a poor quality jpeg of the painting, in case you don't know what I'm referring to. The figure isn't directly sculpted from the painting--the pose isn't quite the same because the figure isn't leaning against a pillar--but the similarities are obvious, notably the shape of the metal brassiere thing.

In fact, I love this painting so much I once painted a copy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Father-Daughter 1/24 TARDIS Scratchbuild, Part 2

Last time, all that was complete was the floor/base. Next came the corner posts, also built out of popsicle sticks. Here is Sylvia cutting the popsicle sticks to width using a razor saw.

"Hey, Sylvia, don't look at me when you're sawing!"

"Hey, Daddy, don't take my picture when I'm sawing!"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Father-Daughter 1/24 TARDIS Scratchbuild

My 13 year old daughter Sylvia isn't too much into model building. Or at all. But she is into Doctor Who, and (everyone get ready to say, "Awww!") spending time doing stuff with her daddy. I'd mentioned to her we could build a model of the Tardis out of popsicle sticks, based on drawings from the internet, and she was into it. In fact, she built her own Tardis out of Legos. Here it is, along with a figure of the 11th Doctor she made from a clothes pin. Adorable, huh?

The first step was research, and we found a suitable drawing of the Tardis from 2005 onwards. (The 10th Doctor is her first Doctor, so this Tardis looks right to her. Besides, it looks better to me, too, and more like a real police box than any since the original.) Here's the link. There's a side view, too, but it only differs in the lack of door detail. We printed it out full size, and it was 10 inches tall, representing the 10-foot Tardis at 1/12 scale. We decided to cut the size in half because of the length of a popsicle stick. Printing the drawing at exactly one-half normal size involved experimenting with the printer setup until we tricked the printer into doing what we wanted.

Once we had the drawing, we had to figure out what part to make first and how to do it, and take measurements from the drawing. It seemed logical to build from the bottom up, so we measured the width and thickness of the base in the drawing. We also measured the popicle sticks. Sylvia measured with an engineer's scale ruled in tenths of an inch, a machinist's pocket rule with 1/32nds and 1/64ths, and a digital caliper. She had used ordinary rulers of course, but none of these. She also ended up getting a refresher on fractions and decimals and long division, and an introduction to tolerances. It turns out that the dimensions of popsicle sticks vary rather more than you might expect, and Sylvia figured out why: tighter tolerances mean higher cost, and popsicle sticks must be cheap to make! The base was two and a fraction popsicle sticks thick, so as a compromise solution, we decided to make the base two sticks thick, with the sticks laid crosswise. The width of the base was 6-2/3 times the width of an average stick, and we didn't compromise here: a popsicle stick had to be cut lengthwise
Sylvia marked the pieces and I cut them for her. Then she glued them with Elmer's glue and used a triangle to make sure the corners were square. Below she's showing off the result.

There's more, but it'll have to wait till the next post.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

JerseyFest 2012

I'm not posting about it here, just a link to my other blog with a brief report on the show and a picture gallery. When you see what the picture gallery looks like in a post on you will see why I'm not posting it on Blogger. Here's the link:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tetryon Parts Upgrade for Enterprise-D

If you followed the discussion on SSM forum about this, you know this has been a long time in the works. Pat Suwalski of Tetryon Parts shared his progress as he worked to accurize the back side of the neck (aka battlehead) of the AMT 1:1400 Enterprise D, now re-released in clear styrene. He pointed out what was wrong with it and showed how he was fixing it to match the real thing--the large filming miniature. One problem was that the impulse engine was in the wrong place. However, this is not just about his correcting other people's mistakes, something everyone wants to do, but correcting his own, which few people want to do.
Old upgrade part test-fit.

Finally, June 29 he offered the piece for sale. I ordered one immediately, in clear resin with matching decals (it's available in opaque resin as well, and decals are optional). I've got the clear kit, and plan to use the kit's aztec decals. The kit decals (art by Jim Small of EIMB) are made to fit the kit, so if you correct an inaccuracy, you'll need a corrected decal as well!

It arrived in the mail July 17. I got out the 1701D kit and assembled the sides of the neck (parts 5 & 6) to test fit the replacement part. (Note: the part replaces the back of part 3, which is the back of the neck and top of the battle head, or the mating surface to the saucer section.) Pat had been candid in his posts on SSM forum (here's the thread) about the fact that his part was thin and might warp. Well, it did. Mostly I think the part was squashed flat in the mail, since it was shipped in a padded envelope. The part has a boxlike structure on the inside of the impulse engine, and that was crushed, though it could be rebuilt easily with sheet styrene. The worst problem, though it was the most subtle, was a wavy distortion of the area where the neck blends to match the curve of the saucer, most pronounced above shuttlebay 2. I wasn't sure I could fix that as easily.

Old (top) and improved upgrade parts.
New upgrade part test-fit.
I emailed Pat immediately and he said he'd send a replacement part. Actually, I hadn't even asked for one, just asked about softening it in hot water to make it plastic enough to form back into shape. The new part arrived today (July 30), and comparing them side by side, you can see the new part has a deep curve to it and the old part is pretty flat. It's also twice as thick: according to my digital caliper, about .110-.120", as opposed to .550-.650" on the old one. The impulse engine box came through the mail okay, and I could see no wavy distortion in the part.I test fit the new part to the back of the neck, and found it was slightly flattened by its trip through the mail (it also came in a padded envelope), but to a much lesser degree, and that it conforms to the shape of the neck with a little finger pressure. I will put this part in hot water anyway, simply to soften it up so it won't want to spring back when bent. I more than suspect that Pat is working on this part or the packaging to eliminate even this little problem.

New upgrade part test-fit.
So much for this peek at Tetryon Parts Enterprise D Upgrade. Sorry if you were expecting to see a build this time, but I look forward to building the clear Enterprise D in the near future, lit of course, and putting this part to good use, and there will be a series of WIP posts then.

And I can definitely recommend Tetryon Parts after this experience.

PS: July 31, 2012. Now my part is perfect!

I dipped the part in boiling hot water for a minute, draped it over the other neck parts holding it in place with my fingers, then dipped the whole assembly into icewater. The clear resin is floppy like a sheet of rubber at 212 F. I'd recommend not getting the water that hot--maybe just the temperature of hot bathwater.

The flattening of the part wasn't too bad in the first place--it would have stayed in place with CA or epoxy--I just wanted to assemble it without putting any stress on it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

One Day Build: Star Blazers Mini No. 10--Finished on Time!

Okay, here it is with three minutes to spare as you can see by the time on my cellphone in this first photo. I'll add the usual blather about what I did after announcing it on SSM forum.

One Day Build: Star Blazers Mini No. 10

Last time I tried to do the one-day build (here's a link to the contest at SSM forum), I made like the hare in Aesop's fable and goofed off when I should have been modeling. Also, I don't know whether the hare had a wife and a daughter who wanted him to come to the pool with them.

Anyway, it was a bust from the one-day standpoint, but the model came out looking okay. Eventually.

Here's the victim for my current attempt: Bandai Star Blazers Mini No. 10, a Comet Empire missile ship. This sucker is just bristling with weaponry. I guess the Comet Empire is into massive overkill.

This time I've got it planned better and I only need to be done by 1:49 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday, July 28, 2011, or in about 13 hours. And I've already got it completely assembled, primered with Tamiya grey sanding primer, puttied, sanded, puttied, sanded, etc.There was some flash, which surprised me--I don't recall ever seeing any flash on a Bandai kit, even ones this old.

I'm keeping modifications to a bare minimum. I hollowed out a couple of what appear to be gun barrels (2 parts no. 12), using a carbide bit in my Dremel tool, and scraped the guns on the 12 parts no. 6 (double-mount gun turrets) with an x-acto knife  to give the gun barrels a more cylindrical shape, where they had been flat-bottomed. Using AutoCAD, I designed decals for those compound eye scanner things on the front of the ship and printed them out on my Alps printer, and they came out looking good on the first try. Yay!

Tomorrow, I'll paint this ship, add the decals, weather it a bit, and write another post.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tiny Enterprise Bridge Finished, or PGMS Cutaway Starship Photoetch Set, Part 7

Superdetailed bridge from AMT Cutaway Enterprise with coins for size reference. Yes, it's small.
Since last time...

Finished, as in I've had enough frustration and I've got other modeling projects I am impatient to get back to. That sounds disgruntled, but actually this was a pretty good learning experience. It was an impulsive mistake to paint the figures before bending them, and some of the paint came off. I had a little trouble bending the figures into the desired poses. In particular, the bend at the hips for a seated figure tended to come out too low. As a result, I have a better idea of how to get the bend to come out where I want it. Holding the figures with tweezers and dipping their feet in superglue worked pretty well, but I needed to be more patient about placing them. Amazingly, none of the ten figures were eaten by the carpet monster!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Eentsy Weentsy People for the Enterprise Bridge , or PGMS Cutaway Starship Photo-etch Set, Part 6

Finally, I've gotten back to the tiny Enterprise bridge I was detailing with parts from the PGMS Cutaway Starship photo-etch set. Last time, I'd painted it. I've been painting it some more, for the most part clumsily attempting to fix my sloppy work.

Soon, it'll be time to populate the bridge. I've been painting some Gold Medal Models 1/700 photoetch sailors in Starfleet uniforms, and they'll be about the perfect size. I painted them on the fret, since it'll be impossible to paint them after they're removed. Some of the figures will need to be bent, as well, since i intend for Kirk, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura to be seated. I made sure to take photos of the painted figures before removing them from the fret--I'll take every precaution, but the carpet monster is voracious!