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Building the Bandai 1/48 Snowspeeder

I took this project on as part of my friend Scott Taylor’s #smschallenge2 on The Scale Modeller’s Supply Facebook group. Scott is the proprietor of The Scale Modellers Supply (SMS), purveyor of the fantastic SMS paints range, among other useful modelling tools and supplies. The challenge was to build a Star Wars kit—any Star Wars kit, and kicked off, appropriately enough, on May the Fourth.

Here’s the kit in question:

If you’ve never seen one of these Bandai Star Wars kits in the flesh, you’re in for a treat the first time that you do. They’re really quite amazing, and can literally be built without any glue. The level of detail, quality of moulding, and overall execution of the package is second to none. There are three runners of light grey plastic, one in black, one in translucent red, and a runner for the clear parts that has been stunningly moulded with the black runner!

Despite being essentially a “snap-together” kit, it features some amazing detail and engineering.
Markings are provided as either standard waterslide decals, or child-friendly self-adhesive stickers.
The instructions are in Japanese for the most part, but an English translation is available.

Getting to first base with this kit is a doddle, though there are traps for the unwary—I did manage to screw up the orientation of a couple of parts, however, which is pretty true to form for me!

Note that I raced ahead and glued the rear cockpit cowl in place too early, which would later cause me a bit of an issue!

One of the more challenging aspects of the build is painting the nicely detailed cockpit. If you’re not feeling up to it, decals (and stickers) are included in the kit to provide console details, but I of course chose the hard way!

I used MRP RLM 66 (MRP-59) as a scale black for the base colour, followed by careful brush painting with various Vallejo Model Color acrylics.
The cockpit side consoles were a real challenge to paint, but turned out OK I think. Thankfully, washes and dry-brushing help enormously!
The cockpit seats were painted with Tamiya Deck Tan, and given a heavy wash with Burnt Umber oil paint.
After painting all those small details, I realised I needed better detailing brushes!
The rear cockpit console. Some of the smallest details were actually painted with a toothpick.
The front cockpit console (left) and rear cockpit screen (right). The latter was first painted silver (Mr. Metal Color MC218 Aluminium), followed by a couple of heavy coats of Tamiya X-23 Clear Blue.

While I had the detail brushes out, I also painted the interior of these equipment bays on what I presume are cannon mounts:

MRP RLM 66 for the base colour, and Vallejo acrylics for the details.

Such is the beautiful simplicity of this kit, that once the cockpit was fully painted, the main fuselage (hull?) parts could be assembled:

The rear cockpit hood being clamped back into position after emergency removal!

Of course, this is where my too-early installation of the rear cockpit hood came back to haunt me, as it blocked the rear console assembly from being slid into place! I ended up having to saw the hood off with a razor saw, insert the rear console assembly, reattach the hood (seen clamped after gluing in the photo above), and then blend in the join with Mr. Surfacer 500. Even Bandai kits aren’t safe from my ham fists!

With careful painting, the cockpit really comes to life.

I took a lot of my cues for this build from a 3-part video series by Jon Bius on YouTube, and he suggests leaving the rear section off the model until the very end, whereas Bandai would have you enclose it between the fuselage halves while joining them.

I had a bit of trouble getting it fully inserted properly at the end, so I’m not sure if I would do it that way again.

Another tip I got from Jon’s build is to use the 2-piece canopy solution (rather than the 2-piece all clear alternative), mask the inner clear piece, and then assemble them temporarily for painting and weathering:

Here are all the major assemblies after a couple of light coats of Mr. Finishing Surfacer 1500:

I added little tabs from Tamiya tape to the equipment bay covers, so I could use them a masks while painting, but easily pull them off when I was done.

The black areas were painted first with Tamiya Rubber Black. I decided to keep the Mr. Surfacer as the base colour, as it’s pretty close to what I was aiming for anyway, and will make a good base for the subsequent weathering. I also decided to try the kit decals for all the panel variations, rather than mask and paint them.

Kit decals being applied over a coat of Tamiya X-22 Clear Gloss.
I elected to use the kit panel decals, rather than mask and paint them, just to see how they would work out.

While the kit decals were OK, I’d definitely mask and paint them next time. For starters, the printing is surprisingly coarse, with the dot pattern quite visible close up. They’re also quite thick, and I had to deal with some residual tenting issues around raised details. And the last issue, one of my own making, is that I misplaced some of the underside panels, creating gaps and misalignments along the way. I decided not to apply two of them at all in the end, as there was no way they were going down over the raised details in those areas (I did try with one of them).

Now I could start in on the weathering, which started with a panel line wash.

This was actually the second attempt at the panel line wash, as my first attempt with oils (my usual approach) all but wiped right off completely during clean up. I had to fall back to some AK Interactive Panel Liner, and even then, it’s still pretty patchy. Ultimately I deepened some of the panel lines around the nose that weren’t holding on to the wash, and reapplied it with more success.

While I waited for those initial weathering passes to dry off, I decided to start painting the two pilot figures, base-coating with Fire Orange from the new Infinite Colour range from SMS:

This was followed by a heavy wash of Burnt Umber oil paint, and then a couple of hours of detail painting and decalling, to arrive at the result below:

Putting the ‘pain’ back into painting. The cockpit figures don’t look great in close up, but at normal viewing distances, they seem to do the job.

And back to the final phases of the weathering process, rendered mostly with filters of oil paint and some chipping with acrylics:

The cannon assemblies just click into place, but I chose to glue them down for a better overall fit.

With the weathering complete, final assembly could begin. I elected to use the kit’s display stand for simplicity’s sake, so it was painted up in off-white and black, ready for duty:

Time to install the crew figures:

The final tasks were to paint the inside of the plastic canopy part, along with the rear gun, and then assemble and install both. The gun was painted with RLM 66, given a flat coat, and I mounted the finished model on the display stand at a suitably dynamic angle.

I enjoyed this build tremendously, and am already struggling to resist the urge to crack open another Bandai Star Wars kit immediately! If you haven’t built one, I recommend you do so, and as soon as possible!

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v1.9 of “Building the Revell P-51D” Now Available!

Hot on the heels of last month’s v1.8 update, Jan Gabauer’s Building the Revell P-51D-5NA Mustang in 1/32 Scale now gets updated to v1.9!

This update—like most of our updates—is merely the result of some more tweaking and fine-tuning of the text layout, and is therefore in no way an urgent one.

This is a free update for all existing purchasers of the book, while new purchasers will of course always receive the very latest version.

If you purchased this book while logged in to your account, simply re-download it from the Downloads section of your profile on the KLP website. The original download link in your order confirmation email should also work. If you don’t have an account and haven’t kept the original email, create an account and then contact me, and we’ll get it sorted out.

To stay tuned for further news and updates, simply subscribe to our blog via email, and you’ll get all the latest in your in-box as it happens.

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v1.3 of “Building the Wingnut Wings AEG G.IV Late” Now Available!

I’m pleased to announced that the very first title in our Build Guide Series, Building the Wingnut Wings AEG G.IV Late in 1/32 Scale by Karim Bibi, has now been updated to version 1.3!

This update sees a number of annoying hyphenation issues resolved, some new product images added to the text, and the restoration of a lost paragraph! This is a free update for all existing purchasers of the book, while new purchasers will of course always receive the very latest version.

If you purchased this book while logged in to your account, simply re-download it from the Downloads section of your profile on the KLP website. The original download link in your order confirmation email should also work. If you don’t have an account and haven’t kept the original email, create an account and then contact me, and we’ll get it sorted out.

To stay tuned for further news and updates, simply subscribe to our blog via email, and you’ll get all the latest in your in-box as it happens.

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Announcing “Building the Kitty Hawk HH-60G Pavehawk in 1/35 Scale”!

I’m pleased to announce that our next title will be Building the Kitty Hawk HH-60G Pavehawk in 1/35 Scale, by Pete Fleischmann. This will be No. 13 in our Build Guide Series, and as the title suggests, will feature Pete’s amazing build of the Kitty Hawk 1/35 HH-60G Pavehawk kit, in a vignette with a complement of equally amazing figures from Live Resin.

Work has begun, and we’re hoping to nail down the first draft by the end of the month. Stay tuned for updates and more information as it comes to hand!

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Fixing a Broken Enterprise

While it’s true that I’m primarily an aircraft modeller, I do like to dabble in sci-fi and fantasy subjects from time to time, and back in 2015, I found myself building the Polar Lights 1/1000 NCC-1701 Enterprise kit from Star Trek. I was never particularly happy with the supplied plastic stand however, and I can remember it breaking off from the kit at least once.

Fast forward to early this year, and I find myself preparing for a major house move, and scratching my chin over how to move all my built models. In checking my little Enterprise build, I noticed that the join of the stand into the hull was once again very tenuous, and definitely would not survive the move. I decided to take pre-emptive action, and carefully severed it from its base, with the idea of remounting it on a new one afterwards.

Here’s the damage after my emergency intervention:

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The two plastic pins from the top of the kit’s stand have snapped off and become embedded in their mounting holes. The damage to the finish is from my previous attempt at a repair. Here’s the top of the kit stand:

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It’s small and not particularly strong, and the model has been wobbly upon it since the day I finished it. Originally I was going to toss this away and just mount the kit on a new wooden base or plinth, but I didn’t have any nice ones to hand. Instead, the most suitable thing I had in stock was this cheap and slightly nasty MDF craft wood plaque:

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I’ve used these things before, and they’re quite a bit of work to make look decent; the routed edges in particular are a super-absorbent PITA. However, I didn’t want this project to be long or complicated, and I was aiming for function over form, so I elected to make do. You can see that I’d already drilled a central mounting hole for the brass tubing I chose as the mounting pole.

The reason the plastic stand came in handy is because I decided to dress up the plain wooden base by mounting said plastic stand atop it. More of that later.

In keeping with my desire to keep things simple, I decided that the whole thing – wooden base, plastic adornment, and brass mounting pole – was going to be painted gloss black (in hindsight I should have chosen satin or even mat, but there you go). So I started with several coats of Rustoleum grey primer straight out of the rattle can, sanding between coats, eventually ending up with this:

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Even now you can see that the routed edge is still a little rough, but I didn’t want to spend any longer on it. And I probably won’t be buying any more of this kind base again! (I do have a couple more in my stash, though.)

Setting the base aside, I started working on modifying the plastic stand, firstly by removing the upright section. This left an ugly mess that was going to be nearly impossible to clean up nicely, so I cloned the shape of the central cut-out with Tamiya tape, transferred it to some styrene sheet, cut it out, and glued it over the top of the mess:

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In truth it took quite a bit of fettling with some sanding sticks to get the shape to fit properly, and I stopped well short of perfect. I also drilled a hole through it to accept the brass rod, which will obviously be aligned with the hole on the wooden base.

Speaking of the wooden base, I started applying coats of gloss black acrylic lacquer to it:

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Looks OK from that angle, but unfortunately after a couple of passes, I started having a lot of trouble with spitting out of the rattle can, which in less favourable light looked like this:

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So a couple of rounds of sanding and spraying later, I was able to put the pieces together and get this:

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The plastic part was actually a little warped (exacerbating its wobbliness, no doubt), so I used JB Kwik Weld to secure it into position, with some 2KG dumbbells holding it down. Of course, the dumbbells marked the finish, so I had to give it another quick spray of the black!

My final task before mounting the model as to add some felt to the underside of the base, just so it wouldn’t mar any surface it was placed on:

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Spray adhesive, press into place, trim with a blade. Pretty simple. The final job was to clean up the old mounting holes in the model, and drill a new one to accept the brass pole:

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After taking that photo, I touched up the darker grey, added some JB Kwik Weld to the top of the brass pole, and slid the model into place:

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This turned out to be a lot more work than I had planned on, but the result is certainly much more stable than it was before. The shiny black takes fingerprints like nobody’s business, and makes things a bit hard to see, but overall, I’m still pretty happy at having been able to save this model from certain destruction.

And here it is in place on the “sci-fi shelf” of my new display cabinet:

tQeZJJ.jpg

And that’s it! I think from now on I’m just going to replace this type of kit stand as a matter of course. I’ve made a few bases like this in the past, and they always look better than what you get in the kit, as well as being much more sturdy.

Now it’s back to the Mustang

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“Building the Italeri CF-104 Starfighter in 1/32 Scale” is Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce that our latest title, Building the Italeri CF-104 Starfighter in 1/32 Scale by Chuck Sawyer, is now available!

In this 326-page eBook, Chuck Sawyer builds the Italeri 1/32 F-104G Starfighter kit as a Canadian CF-104, combining it with a modest selection of aftermarket products to produce a stunning model. Along the way, Chuck treats us to tutorials on obtaining a flawless gloss finish, getting the best out of the Alclad range of metallic paints, and how to apply HGW’s tricky Wet Transfer decals.

Along with kit reviews by Dave Williams and our usual array of Appendices, we’ve also included a 65-page walkaround by Gord McTaggart, of the CF-104 that currently resides at The Military Museum in Calgary Alberta, Canada.

Chuck’s build is highly instructive, and will be invaluable to anybody wishing to build the Italeri Starfighter, irrespective of the particular variant they’re building.

And as with all our books, should any updates be required, anyone who purchased a prior version gets lifetime free access to all subsequent updated versions! All new purchasers will of course receive the updated version automatically.

Note: all our prices are in Australian dollars.

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v1.8 of “Building the Revell P-51D-5NA” Now Available!

One of the cornerstones of the KLP Publishing business model is lifetime free updates on all of our titles. And it’s not an empty promise, as anyone who has been following us for any length of time can attest. Our books get updated on an as-needs basis, and these updates can range from something as small as fixing a typo, all the way up to adding entire new sections to the book.

The fourth title in our Build Guide Series, Building the Revell P-51D-5NA Mustang in 1/32 Scale, was updated only a month ago, but here we are again, updating it to v1.8! There’s always been this one product image in this book that I’ve never been happy with, and I’ve finally been able to replace it with a slightly better version. And you can bet that if I find an even better version, I’ll be updating the book again!

As always, this update is free for existing purchasers, and new purchasers will always get the very latest version. If you purchased this book while logged in to your account, simply re-download it from the Downloads section of your profile on the KLP website. The original download link in your order confirmation email should also work. If you don’t have an account and haven’t kept the original email, create an account and then contact me, and we’ll get it sorted out.

To stay tuned for further news and updates, simply subscribe to our blog via email, and you’ll get all the latest in your in-box as it happens.

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Building the Hasegawa P-51D in 1/32 Scale: Part 4

We ended Part 3 with with the fuselage finally joined, but some nasty gaps and misalignments to deal with. The one that had me most concerned was the mismatched exhaust openings on the port side, but after considering my options for a while, I decided to try the simplest solution, and carve away the excess material at each end:

It’s not perfect, but certainly much improved.

The gap to the rear of the upper engine cowling was easily fixed with some styrene strip and copious amounts of Tamiya Extra Thin liquid cement:

A little bit of Mr. Surfacer 500 and some more sanding, and this nasty gap is gone.

The gaps on either side of the cockpit sidewalls took a bit more effort, but finally yielded to some CA glue and clamping. They look much better now:

I decided that this was a good time to assemble the wings and tailplanes:

I was a little concerned that squeezing the cockpit sides in to fix those nasty sidewall gaps might have had an adverse effect on the wing root joins, but a quick test fit allayed my fears:

Before joining the two sub-assemblies together, however, I decided it would be easier to deal with their respective seams while they were still separate, so I spent some time filling and sanding until I thought they were ready.

I also took the opportunity to attend to the every-so-slightly oval gun ports. They weren’t so bad that they needed to be replaced, but were noticeably out of round, so I grabbed this handy reamer tool by Ustar:

This made short work of the problem, and made the gun ports at least acceptable:

I also managed to join the spinner cone to its base plate:

At this point, I could join the wings to the fuselage!

And true to the test-fitting I did, the resultant gaps were only minor, and while I was happy enough with how the wings and fuselage came together, the small gaps at the wing roots revealed during the test-fitting required just a little bit of extra attention, so I stretched some kit sprue, and forced it into the those gaps with copious amounts of liquid cement:

This is done not so much for gap-filling purposes, but to ensure that there’s sufficient plastic joining the wings to the fuselage in this important area, and this something that styrene does better than pretty much every other choice available to modellers.

And this brings us to the end of Part 4! Wing root seams await, but we’re getting close to final assembly now. Stay tuned!

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Building the Hasegawa P-51D in 1/32 Scale: Part 3

The end of Part 2 saw us come up with a solution for securely installing Hasegawa’s wobbly engine into the fuselage. This meant that I could get on with the task of fitting all the requisite internal assemblies into the fuselage and close it up! Always a landmark moment in any aircraft build, but particularly so in this larger scale.

So, in goes the resin cockpit, along with the radiator exit ramp:

Of course, I mis-located the cockpit the first time around, and had to rip it out and reposition it about a millimetre aft.

The cockpit was secured with CA glue, while Tamiya Extra Thin cement did the trick with the radiator exit ramp. You can see in the photo above, however, that I’ve used some styrene strip to help reinforce the join across the top, along with a combination of black kit sprue and black CA to help block the otherwise see-through gaps at the back.

Time to pop the engine in and test fit the fuselage halves!

And with the upper cowl in place:

Now it was time to start the laborious task of joining the fuselage halves. I had to do this in sections, waiting for each section to ‘grip’ before moving on to the next one, and employing all manner of clamps to keep the two halves together:

Despite all this effort, I still managed to induce some fuselage slippage, which didn’t become evident until I glued the upper cowl in place:

That gap is a non-issue, and easily dealt with. The misalignment of the exhaust opening, however, is a different challenge altogether:

It’s fixable, and I’ll be dealing with it in the next update. This is disappointing after all the work I put into trying to avoid this kind of thing, but that’s modelling sometimes!

I’ve also still got some major gaps inside the cockpit to deal with:

Those two little construction conundrums bring us to the end of this update, so stay tuned for Part 4 to see how I deal with them!

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Building the Hasegawa P-51D in 1/32 Scale: Part 2

In Part 1, we got as far as test-fitting the finished Grand Phoenix resin cockpit into the fuselage, with some pretty nasty gaps to be addressed at some point. There are a few other tasks that need to be done prior to joining the fuselage, however, and I’ll need to attend to those first.

One of the issues that plagues a lot of older Mustang kits (in all scales), is the nasty seam line on this exit ramp (I’m not sure what it is, actually) underneath the fuselage:

The common way to fix this is to cut it out and replace it with a single piece of styrene sheet, which is what I’ll be doing:

I also created a small set of shelves out of styrene strip for the new panel to rest on, and will be installing it once the fuselage halves are joined:

My next challenge was dealing with the tail wheel. Hasegawa would have you trap the part inside the fuselage at this stage, and I really can’t stand that approach, so I tried to engineer a solution that would allow me to install the tail wheel at the end. My first approach was a bust, but I eventually settled on gluing a segment of styrene tubing to one of the mounting points in the fuselage:

The attachment lug for the tail wheel, moulded into the starboard fuselage half. I destroyed the one on the port side during my first attempt to solve this problem!

The next step was to modify the tail wheel to suit this new approach, which entailed removing the cross beam meant to seat into the kit mounting points:

I had to drill out the styrene tubing slightly to get a nice fit, but I have no doubt this will work out fine, as long as the tubing holds.

In the end, I had concerns about the overall strength of the tubing’s bond to the fuselage, so later on I added another section to replace the kit lug I destroyed. This should brace against the inside of the fuselage on that side, and provide extra strength and stability. I hope!

The white-on-white is a bit difficult to see, but there’s now a new section of tubing on the port side of the upright piece.

Prior to that, however, there’s still a bit of work to do before I can join the fuselage together, so I started working on the radiator intake and outlet parts. I found among the box of aftermarket products a small, nondescript sheet of photo-etch parts, and it took me ages to work out that it was from the Dragon P-51 kit. It contained some seat belts and a pair of grilles for the radiator duct, so I set about adapting the latter to fit the Hasegawa parts:

And the finished radiator air exit ramp:

The ramp panel was airbrush with Tamiya AS-12, decanted from the spray can. The radiator face was airbrush with Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black, and then dry-brushed with Mr. Color MC-218 Aluminium. It’s not perfect, but perfectly in keeping with the goals of this build, and certainly much better than what Hasegawa gives you in the box!

I also fitted the kit firewall, mainly in the hopes that it would help support the engine (I don’t think it will), but also to generally stabilise this area of the fuselage when the two halves are joined:

This of course leads to the engine itself. Even though I intend to build this model all closed up (with the possible exception of the sliding canopy), I figured I would need to assemble and install the engine, as it’s required to hold the propeller in place. So I assembled the basic components, trimmed away the mounts for the kit exhausts, and butt-joined the exquisite Moskit units with flexible black CA (AK’s Black Widow product):

The Moskit exhausts are absolutely exquisite, and terrifyingly fragile! Check out those openings…

I wasn’t done the engine yet, however, as test-fitting showed that there was absolutely no positive points of location for the completed assembly with the fuselage itself; it seems that it’s meant to simply hang off the exhaust stacks and prop shaft. I suspect the kit exhaust parts are meant to assist with these, but since I wasn’t using them, it seemed I would have a difficult time locating the engine properly and closing the fuselage around it. After mulling it over for a while, I came up with a solution:

Basically, I found some aluminium tubing that matched the diameter of the prop shaft (2mm OD – I would have preferred brass for strength, but didn’t have any in this size), snipped off the kit part, drilled suitable holes front and back, inserted the tubing right down the guts, and then trimmed it to length. It’s secured with brushable CA at each end. I also drilled a hole into the tank (oil?) in front of the firewall, to accept the tubing out of the rear of the engine, and support that end:

And here’s the obligatory test fit:

It’s still pretty loose in there, and will still require the prop assembly to lock it in place properly. But at least the rear end is taken care of, and it should make joining the fuselage halves much less ambiguous.

But we’ll have to wait until Part 3 to see how I get on with that.

Stay tuned!