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The black Lord of the Sith

I will keep it in short on this assembly which is not very complicated. The four kits I used here are all from Bandai. These are figurines designed like models. Two models in this diorama : Darth Vader and 3 stormtroopers.

The concept is very interesting : the figurines’ assembly is very like a model kit one. Many parts to assemble together, a large scale allowing a model kit paintjob. I’m not really a good fig-artist like philigore. Therefore I really liked this idea consisting of assembling a figurine like a model kit. Finally, I can insert quality figurines in my dioramas.

Here are the two boxarts of those models :

Stormtroopers assembly

The building is quite long, there are really a lots of parts for a model of this size. Bandai arrange this very well, the fig is fully articulated : elbow, wrist, knees, neck… Everything can be oriented where you want.

Here ares the parts :

Diorama le seigneur noir des Sith : grappes des modèles bandai de stormtrooper.
Many small parts allow to articulate the entire figurine

The challenge is to choose a pose for the figurine and then I immobilise it. Why immobilising, you’d say ? First, know that I don’t really like people asking tactless questions like that. Who do you think you are, mmmhh ?

Well, where was I before I got interrupted so roughly by myself ? Ah, yes, why immobilising the figurine. Note that it is not unavoidable but if you don’t do it, the joints will remain noticeable and unrealistic. Therefore, I had to drown the joints into a sculpt putty, the Magic Scult. It is a 2 components putty, a resin and a catalyst. You may find it at the excellent adress : Green Stuff World.

You must first mix the two components by beating them during quite a moment.

The result is a easy-to-sculpt putty. It can also be smoothed using water. I have this putty for years now and except the yellowing of the catalyst, it’s in perfect shape.

The main difficulty consists of grouting the joint and the rest of the arm or leg.

The stromtroopers have 3 different poses :

  • A dead, deceased, lifeless, liquidated, perished, defunct one
  • A stormtrooper in firing position to bring cover to the dark lord of the Sith. No danger at all for anybody.
  • The third is walking to reach his firing position behind Vader

Assembly of Darth Vader, the dark lord of the Sith

If this is a consular ship, where is the ambassador ?

Darth Vader

Well 30 years after seeing the movie for the forst time, I still don’t know what “consular” means. But I could assemble this Vader model anyway. The most difficult part was to thread the electrical wires to enlight the two small green LEDs in the belt :

Darth Vader, le seigneur noir des Sith, ceinture éclairée

Surprisingly, the wires don’t go threw the legs as you could think at first but in the thickness of the cape.

I had to rework the cape itself with wet glued paper to get a fabric effect. Unfortunaltely I couldn’t make it look slimmer. I’ll do better next time.

Darth VAder : jointures des coudes

The work on the joints was more complicated since I had to recreate the bumpy leather texture. the result is satisfying.

I used Magic sculptu again with a sort of rubber paintbrush like these.

The decor

Nothing complicated here, just a wooden structure and a plastic casing. The main tint is a white lightly colored in purple.

Conclusion

A nice little diorama I exposed 2 or 3 times in Migennes and Cusset. It made me want to try others figurines in this serie since they are a very interesting concept.

Posted on 21 November 2021 by petersteven in

Mars attacks diorama

Mars attacks : diorama complet

I got the holly Graal in 2019. Two kits from the former company Screamin specialized in vinyl kits : horror, fantastic and SF characters. But I had a real problem : I had no time to make any new diorama for years, where could I find the time to ?

As if by chance, a new phenomenon occured and allowed me to spend two months between March and May 2020. Things aren’t going well ? Let’s g for a Mars attacks diorama.

Presentation of the kit

kit mars attacks no place to hide

The first part of this kit is called “No place to hide”. it features un young woman hiding from a martian while her friend is dying on the ground, partially squashed.

kit mars attacks slaughter in the street

The second part intitled “Slaughter in the streets” (a very full agenda) featuring a flying martian, a cop and a dog. the dog is cut in the half and both have guts spread on the floor. Look at the details on the cop hanging on the mailbox while the rest of his body is spreading on the ground.

Vinyl kits : the modelist’s nightmare

Teenage girl afraid

Very well-known during the 80’s, vinyl kits were not made of LP discs recycled and melted as conventional wisdom suggests. Vinyl is a pretty flexible matter requiring a very specific work. I invite you to watch my friend’s video featuring a vinyl kit.

With those kits, things got even funnier because we can find both vinyl and low-quality resin parts.

Diorama Mars Attacks : assemblage du décor

After cleaning the kit with hot water and soap, the different parts are glued together on big wooden board. The diorama is 60cm width.

The vinyl can be softened using hot water or an hair dryer. Then you can give it the wanted shape. The ground of the diorama is strongly attached on the board so the small parts can keep their shape. With bigger parts (the Star Wars Rancor for example), you’ll have to use a metallic structure and a polyurethan foam. It is a great deal to use thie foam because it’s light and hard at the same time so the model can keep its shape easily.

le kit assemblé

Martian pieces

on perce, on assemble

As I said before, martian are made od different matters. Members are resin made but a single spot of cyano glue is not enough. They must be reinforced with metal rods to be sure the character stands correctly and don’t fall appart later. Every member is drilled at the edge and a rod is sot into the hole to assemble and stiffen the pieces.

un martien pré-assemblé

And that’s it, the body newly assembled. The head is phosphorescent but once painted, this is completely useless. The bust is made in the same matter. Only the legs are resin made and must be sanded and retouched because the draws isn’t totaly flawless.

The martian stands well as you can see on the picture. The kit designers can be congratulated as they thought to equip him with kneecaps. So we can choose how to place him without endless modifications.

We come in peace

Mars attacks : le dioramadans son ensemble

So, first encounter between martains and humans. A grey underlayer have ben sprayed on the decor far a better readability. The second reason is that the acrylic paint I use is incompatible with vinyl.

Martians are in place. The one flying doesn’t stand still. He is too far from the ground and the rod curves. He tilts like a big sea lion beer-drunk (french expression, untranslatable). As for his fellow, I wanted him to snake behing the wall. Well, the easiest part is now done.

No arms, no chocolate (another french expression…)

Mars attacks : de la sculpture numérique à l'impression 3D

Well. i forgat this detail. The girl’s arm half melted on the floor is hugly. As if by chance, resin made.

Digital sculpture and 3D printing to the rescue. They are the new modelist’s friends.

First step, sculpting under Zbrush, 3D printing and let’s go, a brand new harm.

Paintbrushes will be hot…

Mars attacks : head paint

Last step wich is going to bring the diorama to life, the paintjob is an essential part of a diorama. You may have the most astonashing decor, if your little nephew Kevin, 2 years old do the paintjob, everything is good for garbage.

On this diorama, we may have a lot of fun :

  • Human and extraterrestrial characters
  • Different matters (wood, stones, blood, guts, bricks, concrete etc.)
  • Animals (dead dog, rats)
  • different metals

As for painting technics, nothing very original. Acrlic paints I use for decades now : Liquitex and paintbrushes. the only issue were the encrusted characters. usually, we can turn the piece in your hand but this time, I had to turn around the decor.

Finitions et détails du diorama Mars Attacks

Mars attacks : détail du diorama

The Mars attacks diorama is coming to an end (so is the first confinement). But there is still many work to do. Additional details must be added. Bricks here and there, grass, stones, ruins, magazines and 50’s papers…

Many little things that brings the decor to life. I also decided to add a background featuring an illustration of a ruin on fire. This background fills the void in this section of the diorama and allows to use a shorter rod to sustain the flying martian.

For conclusion, I’d say I spent a huge amont of time on this diorama. Good thing, I had plenty of time. Despite the few flaws of these kits, their nostalgic look and their oringinality are no longer seen nowdays. It’s a shame that a brand like Screamin non longer exists. It was the perfect mix between the garage kit and the licenced one.

Tnaks to internet and the abundant e-commerce websites, we can easily get those collector kits. The only cloud in the horizon is the price wich became unfortunately totally crazy for some of those kits.

Posted on 18 October 2021 by petersteven in

Battle of Naboo

The first movie in chronoligical order, “The Phantom Menace” is certainly the less appreciated in the all saga. Well, “The Last Jedi” is also on the podium but for completely different reasons. However, even if the film directing and the acting performence of the main actors isn’t flawless (well, I guess that’s a lot for one single movie), I think the universe works well. The costumes, the decors and the vehicules are just perfect, especially during the final scene : the battle of Naboo. For this reason, I wanted to pay tribute to this movie despite its flaws.

During the battle of Naboo, the action is divided in four parts :

  • The ground assault between the gungans and the tanks droids
  • The royal guards and queen Amidal’s commando action inside the main palace
  • The “threesome” Gui-Gon JinnObi Wan Kenobi Darth Maul
  • The space battle

This splitting may be damagable to the dynamic of the film end : too less screen time for each. And it’s a shame for the space one because it shows very interesting models.

The main protagonist of the battle of Naboo : the Naboo N-1 fighter

The making of this model was pretty harsh. The choice of the kit was obvious. Only two AMT kits existed by this time : one plastic made, the other metal made. I chose the plastic one for practical reasons :

This is a very simplistic model as they were made at this time : no glue, no painting, less than a dozen parts to snap together. Of course I strongly improved it. Lets’ see how I did.

The assembly

First I had to design the light up. Not easy, the current has to go through the very thin wings of the ship. I used two small brass rods swamped into the thickness of the wings. As we can see on the picture, I dug a trench with my Dremel, put the rods and re-filled it with putty.

Second problem, only a thin circular border of light is visible at the rear of the thrusters. First, I closed the thruster with a piece of tracing paper.

Then, the “rats tails” so distinctive were glued directly on the tracing paper. And here is the result :

Maquette de chasseur Naboo N1 éclairé

I will not dwell on the paintjob and the cockpit detailing, very classical. Just one originality, the painting finish is gloss contrary to the usual Star Wars models.

The paintjob

Oddly, the gloss paintings must not be used. Too thick, they swamp details, stopper airbrushes and it is very hard to make a good weathering on them. Moreover, the tiniest sanding mistake is seen like a democrat militant in a NRA convention. So, mat painting covered with a lot of gloss varnish “klir“.

The chromed part is made with an Alclad slilver-chrom painting sprayed in several layers, more or less intense, depending on the area :

It seems that I haven’t talked about Alclad painting yet. They are very quality paintings used to obtain truly amazing metallic renderings.

You must absolutely use an airbrush, they are very fluid and very delicate once dry. For example, if you put yout finger on it, you can get a very nice fingerprint. Si if you do’nt want to get a “CSI : Miami” diorama, handle your models with gloves.

The Alcald paintings must be srpayed on a gloss black primer in very thin coatings. Just see here to get more details on the technics.

Now, this is podracing !

Anakin Skywalker

The pursuers : droid fighters

The droid fighters are very small, very simple to assemble (only 4 parts) but hard to light up. Indeed, I had to insert two LED’s, one for each eye. There is not much room to do that in the droid head and I had to spray many silver and black layers to hold back the light leaks.

Cuting the eyes was a delicate operation, the plastic is very thick here. The final reslut is satisfying :

The decor of the battle of Naboo

I chose for decor a section of the Lucrehulk cruiser of the Trade Federation. They are the huge ring-shaped ships used by the trade federation to lead the blocus of Naboo :

Not easy to identify a huge ship only by seeing a small section. So i chose two distincive elements : a parabolic antenna and a quadlaser battery.

I’ll only talk about the quadlaser, which was very fun to make. Indeed, it’s a nasty scratchbuil/kitbash with tank and various salvage parts, plastic card.

The two big “ears” of the gun ars two bottle caps.

The base of the guns themselves are simply Pilot pens’ tubes. The spear is made from the guns of a Jedi fighter Actis Eta-2 model by Revell.

And the final result, after paintjob :

Conclusion

Finally, a comprehensie diorama, not really dealt with on the web. It allowed me to approach the prelogy which is still interesting to represent in modelism despite its cinematrographic flaws.

By the way, I got a third price in a Starship Modelers contest with this diorama. If I don’t congratulate myself, who will ?

Posted on 24 March 2021 by petersteven in

Battle of Hoth

Well we must face reality, I filed this project into the “diorama” category but it is mainly one model : the imperial AT-AT. If you want to highlight an AT-AT using a Star Wars movie scene, there is less choice than for a X-Wing or a Y-Wing : there is the battle of Hoth or the platform on Endor. By the way this one on my mind but that’s another story.

So I chose the battle of Hoth, one of the finest moments of the all saga.

That lefts two possibilities :

  • snowspeeder tying up the AT-AT’s legs
  • snowspeeder being crushed by an AT-AT

And you must think a lot because the scale won’t be the same. Let me explain…

What is the height of an imperial AT-AT used during the battle of Hoth ?

Differing opinions exist. Since a fee years it is recongnised that an AT-AT is 22,50 m in height (sorry I don’t know how many feet it is, and I don’t want to know, please my US friends, use the metric system, it is so useful !). But for many years, this height was given 15,50 m. Why such a difference ? It depends on the scene we’re watching.

When Wedges Antilles’ snowspeeder T-47 hobbles the legs of the AT-AT, it semmes very tiny but when the same snowspeeder is being crushed, the foot gives aniother idea of the scale, the snowspeeder seems bigger. We can figure out on the screenshots below :

So it may be acceptable to choose one or another scale depending on what we want to show. I chose the first scene because it fitted better with the Finemolds snowspeeder and the revell AT-AT I had. The scale is 1:48 and the height of the AT-AT is 15,50 m.

Detailing the Revell AT-AT

When I made this model, more than ten years ago, Bandaï hadn’t bought the Star Wars license and Fine Molds hardly produced one kit every two years. I had only two choices to get an AT-AT model :

  • the old AMT kit, no scale pointed out, too small and panel lines embossed
  • the new Revell kit, brand-new and awful and far far away from the original model in details but big enough to consider a nice detailing work.

Of course I chose the second one but the detailing work promised to be huge. i won’t show averything in this article but at least the three major modifications.

Engraving

I already reviewed this technic in the A-Wing post. First, you have to sand the all surface :

then engrave to get realistic manel-lines :

The technic is explained here.

2. The gribblies : kitbash

What we call “gribblies” are small model parts we use without purpose other than detailing. ILM modelers practically invented the concept. the models used in the Star Wars movies were usually big metallic or wooden structures covered with gribblies got from real model kits.

Here is an example of what we can do with a little bit of patience. The underside of the AT-AT was almost without details on the original kit.

I gathered teh parts from tanks, planes or whatever kits, as long as it “works”.

Hard to say when it “works”, that’s a mater of feeling. Movie screenshots can help but we can not find always the exact same part.

Here is below a picture of the rear. It is interesting because for once, I was able to find the exact part used by ILM, the shield of a WW2 american artillery gun :

The picture is blurred, sorry about that, I can’ do anything about it, the picture is old.

At last, a picture fo the hankle of the machine. I had to dig and recreate the cog that alows the hankle to slide.

Cheville du quadripode impérial

3. Full scratch

When the global shape is acurate, gribblies detailing is enough. That was the case with the AT-AT’s body but not the head. it was irrestrievable, I had to re-make almost the all thing. Inclufing the neck :

The “ears” of the machine ar well-known lego parts : radar dishes. I only sanded and filled them with putty.

Luke’s T-47 snowspeeder

Luke Skywalker's T-47 snowspeeder durant la bataille de Hoth

The snowspeeder was properly assembled “out of the box” and then meticulously destroyed to simulate the crash consequences.

The snow is made from bicarbonate of soda as on the rest of the diorama. By the way, that’s exactly what did the guys from ILM when the shot the scene.

The decor

At last, a little word about the decor. Quite simple , the snow is made from bicarbonate of soda, sold almost everywhere. You must think of stabilize it. The easiest way to do that is to spray a white glue dilution with a random vaporizer. Two or three days of drying and it’s done.

Battle of Hoth exhibitions

Tgis was on my first “serious” diorama. it is ten years old now. i exposed it two times :

Posted on 9 February 2021 by petersteven in