Friday, March 23, 2012

Pegasus 1/48 Martian War Machine--WIP Part 1

I started this kit about two years ago, and the project got stalled. It's the Martian War Machine from the 1953 classic War of the Worlds. Pegasus released this kit in 2009 and I had to have it right away. Unfortunately, I didn't seem to need to finish it right away. It's kind of an odd kit: their styrene is different from other manufacturers' and true to the subject it's lacking in detail, but the fit is amazingly precise. It does seem to be about spot-on perfect as far as accuracy is concerned.

Now I've got room on my workbench and I'm going full-steam with it till it's done. Posts of this work in progress will appear every day that there is something to post about it. Due to what I'm planning, some posts will include video embeds. The photos below aren't really that small; click to view them larger.

Here's a summary of what I've done so far. Since this kit will be lighted, the inside is completely lined with aluminum foil as a light block. Not just ordinary foil, it's the heavy kind used to seal nut containers.

Did I say lighted? I'm not just putting in LEDs. I want this thing to light up like it's going to zap you with its skeleton ray! To that end, I installed a pair of green 4" CCFLs. These have bulky clear resin mounting blocks at each end of the protective plastic tube that contains the bulb, and there was no way the lamp would fit inside other than to grind down the mounting block down to fit. Here at left is a shot with the CCFLs lit. Bright! The ballast won't be inside the MWM, so I'm running color coded wires out and down to the base. Incidentally, since I needed such fine wire (the CCFLs draw very little current, so it's okay to use fine wire. Besides, I experimented) I stripped it out of old phone wire. It's even color-coded.

The heat ray projector also needs to be lit, and the picture at right shows the cobra head open with the bright amber LED in it. I had to hack away a bunch of plastic from inside the kit parts and also shave down the 3mm LED to get it to fit. Amber is just the right color. When it shines through the red lens supplied in the kit, the effect is just like the real thing in the movie. The wires lead down the stalk and will pass through to the base.

Next, I just had to see it lit up! I connected the LED to a 9V battery with a resistor in series (I don't know how many ohms. I figure out what I need and forget it till next time). The result is pretty satisfying. Also, I can include circuitry in the base to control the LED: it should exhibit a low pulsing glow then become very bright when firing.

Here are shots from a variety of angles to show how the glow looks.

Naturally, I had to test fit the whole thing together, with the heat ray lit, so there it is at left.

One problem I noticed when I test fit the MWM with the green CCFLs lit was that the light didn't show very strongly through the green lenses at the front and wingtips. The reason was these parts of the body are closed up, so I cut away the plastic and opened them up to let more light get to the lenses. Unfortunately, it also meant you could see through the large front lens into the interior. Here's my fix for that problem. At left I am gluing the front lens to a piece of clear plastic. Next, the clear plastic is trimmed to fit and sanded to make it lose its transparency. Now more light can get through, but you can't see in.

This is where I'd left off a long time ago. Well, I had been working on motorizing it, but that amounted to getting gears, test fitting a small electric motor in the body, and checking motor RPM at different voltages. I also figured out a combination of gears that would, through a linkage, turn the heat ray projector at a convinvingly slow speed. I also worked on the base--more about that in a future post. But none of this do I have pictures of.

Another thing I tried out was copper spray paint. I did a test, and wasn't too excited about how it looked, so I hit on the idea of copper leafing the MWM. That's what I was working on this evening. The heat ray projector and neck needed lots of filling and sanding. Then the adhesive is applied, allowed to dry, and copper leaf is laid over it, sticking immediately. It then has to be rubbed to get it on good and tight, and to flake off the excess. The resulting flakes of leaf make quite a mess. As you can see, the freshly copper leafed parts are quite shiny, but I've got plans for that. More about that as well in a future post.

1 comment:

  1. I also have one of these, so nice to see what you're doing with this. I had thought of lighting mine, but it seemed such a chore - I may have to rethink that ^^