Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Star Wars Speeder Bike [WIP - Prep Work & Priming the Hull Plating and Steering Vanes]

 Unless you're a scale modeler or miniature painter yourself, it's hard to wrap your head around how time consuming preparatory work is, leading to (and including) the priming stage. Yet it was only after many trials and tribulations that I truly understood the futility of rushing through this initial process. For the longest time, I had impatiently carried out prep work only to rant and rave later on when I hit self-inflicted speed bumps e.g. still visible mold-lines underneath the primer coat, surface areas that weren't sanded down properly before being primed, etc. These issues then in turn adversely affected the painting stage, resulting in subpar paint jobs that were more eyesore than eye candy.           


Individual parts making up the Speeder Bike's Hull Plating and Steering Vanes ...

... were all conveniently located on a single sprue, which is always a time-saver

 While still prone to the occasional lapses of impatience, I have largely been more careful at the prep and priming stages. The trade-off is much slower progress on projects but it's preferable to a botched paint job. So with this in mind, work on the Speeder Bike began on the Hull Plating and Steering Vane pieces. Things got off to a good start with all the parts of the Speeder Bike Hull Plating and Steering Vanes being molded onto a single sprue (see above). A small but convenient blessing that speeds up the initial work process, which began with the Upper Hull assembly (see below).  


Parts making up the Speeder Bike's Upper Hull Plating

Assembly begins with the front and back halves of the Upper Hull being put together ...

... followed by two Side Hull Plating pieces on the mid-section of the bike ...

... and then two small structures (serving to partially support the handle bars) are inserted

 Apart from the Upper Hull section, the other parts of the Speeder Bike comprised mainly of individual pieces such as the Steering Vanes and Bottom Hull piece (see below). There were two other mini sub-assemblies i.e. the Rear Hull though these smaller sections comprised only two parts each (also below). The former didn't require any assembly while the latter needed only minimal assembly.


Pieces of the Steering Vanes as well as Bottom Hull Plating of the Speeder Bike

Assembled Upper Hull Plating of the Speeder Bike as seen in an isometric view

Opposite isometric view of the Speeder Bike's Upper Hull Plating

Individual pieces of the Rear Hull Plating are easily assembled ...

... which brings up the question of why Bandai didn't mold it as single pieces

 Two criteria that concerned me most while preparing the pieces for painting were the need to ensure that (a) the pieces were held securely so that they didn't move too much during painting, and (b) the surface areas to be painted weren't inadvertently covered up in the process. This lead me to use painting clips as well as bamboo sticks/skewers (with adhesive tacks in some cases) to secure the sub-assemblies and individual parts for airbrushing. Of the two, the bamboo implements weren't as effective but formed the only option when the pieces had nothing of note for the clips to hold on to.


Individual parts and sub-assemblies of the Speeder Bike's Upper Hull Plating & Steering Vanes

Hull Plating and Steering Vane parts/sub-assemblies all set up for its primer coat

 Meanwhile the priming process itself went off without a hitch. For once, random dust or foreign particles didn't land on the parts while I was spraying the primer outdoors. As minor a win as that is I'll take it. Also in line with my previous blog post, I plan to airbrush black primer/paint onto the shadow areas of the Hull Plating and Steering Vanes in order to achieve a contrast in shade for the subsequent brown basecoat layer. This I'll do once I determine where to place the shadows. 


Light gray primer was then applied onto the Hull Plating and Steering Vane parts/sub-assemblies

 Nothing sets up my anticipation of things to come like a freshly laid primer coat on parts and sub-assemblies that form the major component of a scale model kit. The next step of placing shadows before a basecoat is even airbrushed will be a first for me. Apart from determining where the shadows should lie, that's another reason why I chose to take a slight breather before making the attempt. I need gather my courage to try something new and overcome the fear of screwing things up. It's only a hobby I know, yet there is still trepidation at the unknown. As so aptly put by Michael Scott from The Office ... “And I knew exactly what to do. But in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do.”


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Friday, 13 November 2020

Star Wars Speeder Bike [WIP - Color for the Hull Plating & Steering Vanes]

 Color accuracy is one of many factors contributing to a realistic rendering of a scale model kit that is intended to closely mimic its "real-life" equivalent as seen on the big screen. For the iconic Speeder Bike that made its box office debut in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, this factor is the brown color on its Hull Plating and Steering Vanes. Getting the right tone requires adding a little gray onto a mixture of mahogany and light wood brown. The recipe for this specific brown hue was provided by the kit's official color guide, which use paints from the Mr.Hobby Mr.Color line. In addition, I also sourced another brown (from Tamiya), which may or may not be used in the final color scheme.


Actual Speeder Bike model that was used in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Color molded parts that'll become the Speeder Bike's hull plating and steering vanes

 In pursing color accuracy for the Speeder Bike, a lot of boring and time consuming behind-the-scenes work take place. It doesn't make for an interesting read to someone who is just interested in looking at the final artwork. But for fellow painters and modelers, such behind-the-scenes looks can shave off precious time in a project by providing shortcuts that eliminate the sometimes lengthy research work. At least it did for me, and I sincerely hope it does for some of you out there. 


Color 1: Grayish brown paint mixture painted over a light gray primer base

Color 2: Grayish brown paint mixture painted over a black primer base

Color 3: Brown shade of linoleum painted over a light gray primer base

 As per the color guide, the Speeder Bike brown was mixed using Mr.Color paints i.e. 60% Wood Brown (C43), 40% Mahogany (C42), and a little Neutral Gray (C13). This mixture was airbrushed onto a light gray primer and then a black primer for comparison purposes. From the results of this little experiment, I plan to use the former as the main basecoat and the latter as the shadowed areas. In more technical terms, this is somewhat akin to the Black and White Technique used by Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) modelers. It's not exactly the same but the concept is roughly similar.


Brown hues being considered for use on the Speeder Bike Hull Plating & Steering Vanes

 In addition to the Mr.Color paints, I also experimented with a brown from a different product line i.e. Tamiya TS-69 Linoleum Deck Brown. Initially I had gotten this Tamiya paint spray can for use on the Speeder Bike. But this was long before I had invested in an airbrush system; at a time when I had no effective way of spraying a custom paint mixture onto parts. Now that I'm able to do so, I don't need to use the spray can anymore. Despite this, I gave the color a shot and tried it anyway. Unfortunately, this brown looks too reddish for the Speeder Bike. In all likelihood, I won't be using this Tamiya brown at all. There is still an extremely small chance I'll use it for miscellaneous parts, so never say never. 


Paint colors compared with the molded color of the plastic parts

 When all that's said and done, I believe I'll go about painting the iconic brown on the Speeder Bike by first priming all the requisite parts in light gray. Next, I'll spray black onto the shadowed areas of the said parts. Finally I'll airbrush the grayish brown paint mixture onto the Hull Plating and Steering Vanes parts in such a way that the difference in contrast can still be seen. As a test, I primed a spoon first in light gray before spraying strips of black on either sides of it. Then I airbrush the grayish brown mixture onto the whole spoon (see below, spoon second from left). The contrast between the shadowed areas and non-shadowed areas are subtle but it's there.


Most likely color combination to be used is the one located second from left

 So the way forward is set. To be fair, getting the right brown for the Speeder Bike is only the beginning. There are other colors to consider such as the right metal colors, the right back pack colors, the right amount of weathering, etc. But the most visible element of the bike is now settled. As a stickler for details, that's a big step in my books. Well, another weekend is soon upon us so it's time to leave you with a quote that us painters and modelers should do well to heed. This one is from Parks and Recreation's Ron Swanson ... "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing".  


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Friday, 6 November 2020

Girl's Rider - Hasegawa 1/12 scale Real Figure Collection No.1 [Unboxing and Dry Fit Review]

 Eager anticipation has always predominated any return I make to projects involving female figurines whatever the scale. So much so that it transcends the severe trepidation I invariably have whenever I take on the challenge of painting realistic skin tone and facial features of said figurines. My ultimate goal is to one day render a paint job so true that it'll be like real life in miniature form. Now this may be a lofty, unattainable goal. But it is one that suggests a long journey ahead, a theme I feel is consistent with this creative hobby. This particular journey will begin with an unboxing and dry fit review of Girl's Rider, a 1/12 scale resin figurine from the Hasegawa Real Figure Collection.          


Hasegawa 1/12 scale Real Figure Collection No.1 - Girl's Rider [Unboxing and Dry Fit Review]

Front and back box art of the 1/12 scale Girl's Rider resin figurine

Side box art of the Girl's Rider resin figurine

 In contrast to scale model kits, the assembly instructions for figurines are generally simple and straightforward. It was no different for the guide included with the Girl's Rider resin figurine kit. The only complication I can foresee is whether the figurine's hair fringes/bangs should be painted first before being glued onto her head or vice versa. Based on preliminary observations, I believe the process to get the fringes/bangs to align properly with the rest of her hair might be a tricky one. Gaps in her head of hair may potentially show up. As such it may become necessary to carry out gap-filling-with-putty work before painting can begin. If this is also true for other parts of the figurine, then the workflow process will likely be assemble all parts, glue, prime, mask appropriately, and paint.   


Hasegawa's instruction booklet for the 1/12 scale Girl's Rider resin figurine

Assembly of the Girl's Rider figurine is fairly straightforward except for the bangs/fringes of her hair

 Upon opening the box, my impressions are that the internal packaging is consistent with Hasegawa's marketing pitch that this figurine is a limited edition premium figurine. First thing that catches the eye is a pinkish red bubble wrap with heart-shaped motifs. This serves to protect the resin parts of the figurine. Comprising two large (head connected to upper torso and one half of the lower torso; other half of the lower torso) and four relatively smaller parts (both arms/hands as well as two hair fringes/bangs), these parts are themselves placed in two separate plastic bags (see below).  


A pinkish red bubble wrap with heart-shaped motifs serves to protect the resin parts

Resin parts themselves are placed inside two small plastic bags

 One undesirable thing of note is that individual resin parts of the figurine will require a fair deal of prep work to ensure the individual parts fit together seamlessly in the future. Because this was a quick dry fit review, the parts you see in the photos below weren't optimally prepped. There is still a ways to go before the parts are fully cleared of mold lines, extraneous resin pieces, etc. As it stands, I'm still not entirely sure if the figurine will exhibit gaps once assembled. Preliminary observations tell me that some minor putty work might be needed though I hope I'm wrong on this. 


Girl's Rider figurine comprises six separate parts - two big with four relatively smaller

 During the dry fit exercise, unsightly seams can be clearly seen from the photos below; reasons of which are partly attributable to factors mentioned in the preceding paragraph. In addition to that, the use of adhesive tacks actually prevents the parts from achieving a seamless fit. Regardless of how thin I try to make the adhesive tacks, they still have a certain volume to them that shouldn't exist when the parts are glued together. For a dry fit, the adhesive tacks serve their purpose adequately enough.


1/12 scale Girl's Rider resin figurine, after being dry-fitted using adhesive tack

Resin figurine's facial features are clear and well molded

For now there is an unsightly seam running down the center of her groin area ...

... but it's more due to the thick adhesive tack used rather than any inherent design flaw

Incredible detail can be seen in the long, individual strands of her hair

In hindsight, adhesive tapes would've probably worked better than adhesive tacks

Front and back view of the dry-fitted Girl's Rider resin figurine

 In addition to the post you see here, I have actually taken a series of videos of the unboxing and dry-fitting process. All of it will be combined into one long video. And once it has been edited, the video will be uploaded to YouTube and the corresponding blog post published. This video should be far more informative and instructive than the post you see here, so it should be worth a look once it's done. Until then I leave you with a quote from my favorite character from Downton Abbey namely Dowager Countess Violet Crawley ... My dear, all life is a series of problems which we must try and solve, first one and then the next and then the next, until at last we die.  


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Friday, 30 October 2020

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - 1/12 scale Scout Trooper [Completed sans Speeder Bike]

 Unlike its more famous cousin the Stormtrooper, the Scout Trooper isn't as well known to modelers apart from those who are fans of the Star Wars universe or science fiction in general. More so when the Scout Trooper is taken in isolation sans the iconic Speeder Bike as seen in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. But now that I've spend so much time building and painting this figurine, it has grown on me considerably, so much so that I think it has better proportions when compared with the original trilogy Stormtrooper and the First Order Stormtrooper. See below for your own conclusions.  


Bandai 1/12 scale Star Wars Scout Trooper [Completed]

Scout Trooper both halves plus the blaster pistol prior to final assembly

 At the previous stage of the project I had finished painting the Blaster Pistol. And here, the weapon was finally placed into the holster on the right boot. And that's where it'll stay because I don't intend to do any poses of the Scout Trooper wielding the pistol in his hand. To do this I would've to build and paint a different set of hands and snap-fit it onto the pistol. Once that's done, it'll be very difficult to remove the weapon from the hand without causing paint to chip. To me that's not worth the trouble.


Blaster Pistol holstered onto the Scout Trooper's right boot

Because the Blaster Pistol has not been glued into the said holster ...

... the option to place the weapon into the Scout Trooper's hand remains open

 In posing the Scout Trooper I opted for a relatively staid, unfancy standing posture. This I did just to showcase the details inherent in the painted figurine. The heavyweight poses will only come when the Speeder Bike and the "Endor Moon Forest Floor" base have been completed.


Scout Trooper posing against a dark sky blue background ...

... nothing fancy though, just a simple standing posture ...

... mainly because I felt that the more unique or dynamic poses ...

... should be reserved for when the Scout Trooper has proper props to pose with ...

... such as the yet-to-be-worked-on Aratech 74-Z Military Speeder Bike ...

... as well as the "Endor Moon Forest Floor" base (both not shown here) ...

... which also doubles up as a stable structure for the bike to attach to ...

... long story short, here is the Scout Trooper in a simple standing posture.

 In keeping with what I usually do when photographing scale model kits, the Scout Trooper was first posed against a dark sky blue/azure background before being subsequently posed against a black one. Personally I prefer posing scale model kits and miniatures against a black background. In this case especially, I feel it made the Scout Trooper look more realistic and less like an action figure.


Scout Trooper shown here posing against a black background ...

... which in my opinion better accentuates the white/off-white details ...

... but the trade-off is seeing the black/dark colored sections of the Scout Trooper ...

... somewhat blend into the background thus losing detail visibility ...

... though I expect this little hitch should sort itself out and ...

... be largely mitigated when the Scout Trooper is posed seated ...

... on the lighter colored Speeder Bike and base ...

... so black essentially remains my background color of choice going forward.

 While it can't be denied that finishing the 1/12 scale Scout Trooper figurine is a significant milestone, it is still only about one third of the progress for this Star Wars kit i.e. taking into account the bike and base. And when you consider the Scout Trooper/Speeder Bike project is actually part of a bigger Star Wars: Join the Empire Mini-Vignette 02 project, then the project has in fact barely begun. So ahead lie a lot of hard work. Or in the words of Dunder Mifflin's Michael Scott ... that's what she said.   


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