Thursday, August 9, 2012

Star Trek III Amt Enterprise Build 2

Well, I found a pocket of time, and finally proceeded with a task that honestly I was dreading: carving out the arboretum windows.  You know the ones, they're the six rectangular windows that are in a straight tight row on both sides of the engineering hull (the ones that appear blue in the films).

Once I started, it turned out to not be that big of a deal.  I just used my Dremel and carefully drilled a tiny hole into each corner of each window, to plot their placement, and then proceeded to drill additional holes until they were all connected and began to fall through.  Afterward, I used a thin file to flatten out the edges as best as I could.

The 1/8" strips of tape that covered the windows
while I applied red putty to uniform the windows.
Then I took some painters tape that I'd cut into 1/8" strips and placed them on the exterior of the hull, neat and parallel with the adjacent panel lines.  Then, if I saw any window opening peeking over the top/bottom of the tape strip, I applied some glazing putty across the top/bottom of the tape, then removed the tape.  What I was left with was a pretty solid bottom/top line for the windows, and they look uniform.

After removing the tape, and sanding the putty.
I sanded it again, primed it again, and then repainted the hull flat white.  Once it's white again, I can see that perhaps I would've been better off had I just knocked out the "panes" that separate each window, and then re-added them later after filling the holes with Envirotex.  Still, I think it turned out a lot better than I'd thought it was going to.

Still not perfect, but additional preening will be
done after the windows are filled.
Next up, filling all of the windows with Envirotex, then waiting a day, and then cleaning up any rough edges before proceeding to detail painting of the hull/nacelles/strongback!

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Star Trek III 1:537 Scale Enterprise model build!

Well, I've had the big Polar Lights/Round 2 Refit Enterprise sitting in my room, unbuilt, for over two years now, and so I figured to myself, "Jeff, what would be the most logical thing to do now?"  Of course! Go out and find the smaller, less accurate AMT/ERTL kit from the "old days" and build it instead!

So after some lurking around Ebay, and I mean for a LONG TIME, I finally found a reasonably-priced refit kit from the time of the release of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.  Though the box was a bit smashed, which I didn't remotely care about, it was still sealed in the plastic, which was pretty amazing.
All the way from '84, still sealed.  I half expected, when I cut the plastic off, that there would be a quick sucking in of the air, like that scene from "Raiders" when Indy opened the Well of the Souls.

Shatner's smug expression is this model's seal of approval! Oh, and check out the pics of the ship-- they're blatantly NOT of the model inside, but of the 8-foot studio model!

"Display on stand" or.... "suspend in space"! Anyways, check out those funkalicious rainbow striped warp grids! It's a holdover image from the initial 1979 "smoothie" kit, which came with those decals for the nacelles! OUTTA SIGHT!
 This kit has been much maligned over the years, because of its inaccuracies and its inexplicable panel lines.  I've seen other builds of this kit where the modeller actually filled in the panel lines with putty, sanded them, and then re-scribed the main lines in order to rid them of the tiny panels.  I do not feel in the least bit inclined to do so, and I also will not be going to great lengths to "accurize" this kit.  The way I see it, the way this model was manufactured is a sort of time capsule, a snapshot of the way the Enterprise was available back then.  I'm willing to work with its shortcomings, instead of taking a knife and dremel to every single part, in pursuit of a screen-accurate ship.

I'm utilizing this kit as a guinea pig of sorts for my building of the Round 2 kit.  What works for this one will hopefully work the big sister.  The two big challenges of the kit will be: 1.) the paintjob, and 2.) the lighting.  Yes, that's right, I'm going to light this bad boy.  This is something I've never done before, and so hopefully when it's done, I'll be confident enough to light all future models.

I've already begun painting the dish sections, with a very loose pattern in place.  Since this kit is not a "smoothie," and comes with a surface that's pre-etched with what appears to be rather random panelling (a source of anguish for many modellers), I've decided not to fight it but instead to work with it, painting each panel a slight variation of just a few colors:
1. Krylon flat white (for the base color)
2. 1/2 steel grey 1/2 white
3. 1/2 white 1/2 pearlescent metallic white
4. Pearlescent metallic white

Working with these variations, and being patient, the results so far have been pretty good.  The pics don't quite show the neat effect that light has on the surface; as you move around the kit, panels will shimmer or darken.
Just getting underway.  I sprayed the inside of the model with thick automotive primer and followed with some thick gloss white to totally light-block the pieces.

This pic is particularly deceptive, as it appears to have a "speckled" look.  The grey panels are not this dark.

This is more like it.  All of those tiny panels give the dish a sense of scale.

This photo shows how the pearlescent metallic white panels react to light.

Finally, appearing balanced.
Since this kit wasn't really made with the idea that anyone would light it, there are many obstacles to overcome.  First, I had to drill all of the windows, which went surprisingly well.  Next, there's the issue with parts that are not transparent but need to be: the warp chillers, the deflector "dish", and that tiny dome above and forward of the impulse engines.  I'm still experimenting with how to make a clear-cast resin duplicate, and I'm getting close.  I also must create windows for the holes I've drilled.  I've had some successful tests with Envirotex Lite, and will be doing that next.  The stuff cures to a super-shiny crystal clear surface.

I'm a total newbie to lighting and working with LEDs, so I'm hoping to find enough good info to steer me along while I work this out.  It's actually something that I dread, and I'm just pushing forward telling myself that I'll deal with it when I get there.

In between work and kids, it's tough to eek out the time to work on it, but I know that when it's done, it will be beautiful AND I will go forth with a sense of confidence that the larger "E" will not be too much to bear.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Batmobile's New Parking Space

So I got bored the other day and went down to my local hobby store to purchase a more spartan model car display case than the one I had picked up recently at Hobby Lobby (it's big enough probably for me to put a semi-truck model in it!).  Turns out that there was indeed a compact display case by Lindberg, which was PERFECT for my Tim Burton Batmobile model that I'd built about four years ago.

By placing this kit inside this smaller display case, I am finally able to put my 1950s Johnny Lightning Batmobile in the larger case that had held the Burton-mobile.  In other words, all is well.

I went ahead and created a backdrop for the car, taking a still frame from the 1989 film that featured the front exterior of the Gotham Art Museum with staircase, and then used a pop-up effect to place images above the surface of the background.  Of course, at center is the famous '89 bat logo, coming forward in 3-D!

This is what happens when I get BORED!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Loyd Ferrell's "Tag Doodles"

Who's Loyd Ferrell? Well, basically, he's like my other brother. Our families were very close, and though he's older than me, we all grew up around each other and share many of the same interests-- many of them. Loyd used to have a blog, but like me, he shut it down long ago. We're always in touch, even though we now live many states apart, always keeping each other on top of what we're doing with our hobbies/obsessions!

Today, Loyd sent me a series of "tag doodles," small quickie cartoons he doodles on these tags that are lying around at his job which, like my own, is a often BORING factory kind! I'm posting these because, upon looking at them, I laughed out loud for the first time in a LONG TIME. These may seem simple, but as a guy who also draws cartoons every now and then, I can appreciate how good they are-- and they're slap-dash doodles, not even anything he slaved over. His cartoon work has a "kick" that mine doesn't; before you even finish reading the text, you're already laughing. He's always had this ability, and it's something that I've rarely ever been able to touch-- my stuff is often very "controlled."

I remember being a preteen, MANY YEARS AGO, and Loyd was visiting me and my brother, and all of the sudden I hear laughter coming from my brother's room. I carry my doofy pre-pubescent frame into the room, and there's Loyd with scissors and scrap cardboard, creating two cardboard-figured superheroes, Cardboard Man and his sidekick, Skippy. I remember the duct-tape cape, the drawn-on goggles, and the husky Skippy's spit curl, drawn down the dead center of his forehead. They were each made out of a single piece of brown cardboard, and Loyd took a marker and drew their costumes on. And I remember the hilarity that ensued, when he then began construction on the "Cardboardmobile." I wish so badly that we'd saved them. Then there was the afternoon playing with the church Play-Doh, and some Mego figures that met their doom, but that was from TOO long ago for me to remember it all! Enjoy these, as if you have a choice!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Galileo Restoration Team WON!

UPDATE: HOORAY! The Galileo Restoration team has won the auction, and will be restoring the shuttle prop to its original glory AND will find a way so that all of us fans will have a chance to see it in time for Star Trek's 50th anniverary. This is great news. Congrats, Trekkies. Check out their website:

Will the Galileo Shuttle Fly Again?!

Ever watch an episode of your favorite old TV show, see a vehicle/prop, and wonder to yourself, "I wonder if that thing is still out there, and if so, where is it, and who has it?"

The other day I was watching for the umteenth time the Star Trek episode "The Galileo Seven."  I won't bore you with a synopsis, since most of you know the episode.  But even if you don't remember it, chances are you DO recall the shuttlecraft from the original series of Star Trek.  It was a life-size prop, and was made by the folks at AMT-- that's right, the model company-- who in turn created a tiny plastic model kit of it for sale to all of us.

Though the Galileo shuttlecraft was destroyed in "The Galileo Seven," the full-size prop was reused for any moments when they needed actors to interract with a different shuttle ("Metamorphosis," "Journey to Babylon," etc).  And like everything else in Hollywood, when it wasn't needed anymore, they didn't want it.  Sooner or later, it ended up in Lynn Miller's hands, where it unfortunately sat OUTSIDE in the bitter elements for decades, in Ohio. Yikes.

Well, it's still mostly intact, and is currently being auctioned to whomever might decide to take it on-- it's not only big, but is going to need a LOT of love and money to get it back to where it needs to be.  Today is the last day of the auction, so if you're grotesquely wealthy and industrious, and a big-time Trekkie, this is your golden moment.

There's an organization that's been formed to try to win the auction, restore it, and then make sure that the public will have access to view it-- something that mostly doesn't happen when big-money people finally get their toys ("MY toys, you can't see it, WAAAAHHH!").  I would love to see this thing in person, be able to walk inside of it.  Hopefully they'll be able to acquire it and get it back to ship-shape.

Here's a link to an article for more info, including some amazing (and sad) pics of the shuttle in its current state.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Next Project on the Table

Well, for Father's Day, I utilized a coupon I had for Hobby Lobby and picked up this kit that I'd eyeballed the last time I visited.  It's been about 17 years since I've built an aircraft model, so it will be interesting to see just how my intervening years of experience will result in an improved final ship.

The one other WW2 plane I have is a P51 Mustang, which looks pretty cool even now, but the decals suffer badly from silvering, something I now know how to avoid.  Speaking of silver...

I also recently bought a 1:48 scale Revell B-29 Superfortress that I'll be putting together soon.  This thing is BIG, with a wingspan of almost three feet!  I've already begun harvesting tons of images of the planes so that I can get as accurate as possible (but still have fun).

I've also finally acquired a real airbrush!  All of those years of using cans, and wasting paint, can come to an end.  I'm really glad I have it now as it will come in handy in the near future when I get around to building my 1:350 Refit Enterprise.  Of course, I'll be updating as I go along!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Little Backtrack Attack...

For anyone who's been along for the ride from back in the old "Fortress of Solitude West Coast" days, please forgive this foray into stale bread.

So a co-worker at that job where I'm wasting my life away was interested in seeing some of my stuff, so I've decided to compile some re-treads, some of them oldies, a few of them goodies, a lot of them head-scratchers.

Much like the old days, on my last crummy job, even now in my current job I find the need to daydream every now and then.  The human brain is NOT intended to do the same lame things over and over again.  Anyways, in my old job, I'd get bored and grab a company memo and start doodling on the back.  These drawings would be the size of a potato chip, and inked with whatever pen was nearby.  The subject matter might not have survived so well.

I've always been a fan of movie music.  My all-time favorite film composer is John Williams (duh).  My second favorite was the late Jerry Goldsmith.  Their styles differed, their looks differed, and I imagined that if they were put together in an ongoing social set-up, you'd see that their approaches to life differed as well.  I gave them personalities that they probably never had, created a rivalry for them that probably was never there, and had them do things that their elderly bodies could probably not do.  In other words, they became cartoons.

The humor in these most likely won't work for most people.  There was a forum that was devoted to (believe it or not) John Williams and his music, and naturally I'd post these cartoons there.  Within that context, they were enjoyed by the forum members.  I've long since abandoned the forum, along with these little doodles that became comics.  As you can tell, the latter ones were more than just memo doodles.


Aside from these doodles, there were also some little things I did that defy sense; they're head-scratchers.  Oddball moments when I was watching TV, and (surprise, surprise) TV stank and was boring, and so I grabbed a sheet of paper and started to draw, without worrying about where it would take me.  Whatever.
A gaphic design project-- parody of an ad.

A danger eliminated by the iPod.

A spoof of the old Fantasia shot.

Until my mid-20s, I didn't think much of my drawing skills.  I didn't have many examples of my work because I'd just give it away... or throw it away.  Once you've created something, usually who gives a crap about it anymore?  Besides, I just thought that anyone could do it, that people were just too lazy to practice.  Now, that might be a bit true, but I thought-- erroneously, I might add-- that hey, maybe I could get some more art training, and then utilize my skills to make a living.  Well, that all turned out to be a waste of time and money, and now I rot in a factory.  A lesson in there, kids.
But at least I have some remnants from some of my classes.  These projects feature crap that I'd never have had the patience to complete UNLESS it was homework, and required to pass the class.  I look at it now and feel bummed, knowing that in the end it would amount to nothing.  It reminds me of that SNL skit, when William Shatner told a group of Trekkies, "You all have turned an old TV show into a collossal waste of time."
The drawings below were from a beginner's drawing class.  We weren't trying to produce works of art; this class was about one thing: define by value, not by line.  The whole object of the class was to break us from the habit of delineating everything, doing everything like a cartoon.  We could only work in varying shades of graphite, and we had to utilize photographs.  We were like slow-motion, grayscale, human copy machines.  What a lousy experience.

But when that borefest was over, the semester arrived when I was finally allowed to mess with paint.  At first, it was really depressing; handling paint is a whole other ball game, especially after spending your life being comfortable with the control of a pencil.  But then I realized that painting was the opposite of the obsessive, high-detail nature of drawing:  you could fudge stuff.  Actually, you were EXPECTED to fudge stuff!
Painting class was one of those magic times, those rare moments when I felt like there was hope yet, that the future might be okay.  I look back and see it all with a glow.  If I'd known how things would end up, and where I'd be today, I would've (as my good friend Loyd once said) told somebody to take me out to a vacant lot somewhere and shoot me in the head.
But aside from the misery of the mediocrity and monotony of these times, I at least have two paintings that I display in my dining room.  One is of composer (who else) John Williams, conducting the main theme from Star Wars (the sheet music is actually an arrangement of the theme).  On a whim, I entered this painting into the Cal Art Expo in 2006, and it ended up being accepted and received some kind of award, whose title I can't remember.  It was a surreal experience, a.) taking the painting to Sacramento and leaving it there, and b.) going to the exhibit and seeing strangers walk up to it and stare at it.  Strange.

I got quite a lot of "mileage" from this painting.  It ended up being used for the Austin Wind Symphony's advertisements for their John Williams concert, and I even saw a photo online of a group of guys attending a music festival in Spain, all wearing t-shirts with this painting on its front.  Talk about surreal.
The other painting, the same size as the Williams portrait (24" by 36"), was of my wife Shannon.  The painting was created at the same time as the Williams one, and again, I have happy memories of sitting in my Springtime garage, listening to my music and knowing that I was on to something.

These days, I don't get the chance to do much painting, or even drawing.  As I chugged along to pursue my art degree, the real world stepped in and I lost my job.  I had to quit school and ended up doing what I do now, which pays the bills.  It's not a happy story, and to tell you the truth, I don't care to talk about it anymore, or I might go outside and stand in the middle of the road, waiting for some reckless pick-up driver to come by.
I can remember clearly, during those positive times, thinking, "This is just too good.  It can't last much longer."  Well, often we doubt ourselves, but that was one time when I could've taken it to the bank.  Life does indeed suck.
These days, I spend pockets of time working on models, as most visitors to my blog know.  They don't take as long to complete as drawings, and don't have to be built in the garage, like my paintings.
This completes my demonstration.  Now back to lousy, exhausting, unfulfilling life as I know it. Y'all take care now.