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!