Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Star Wars Snowspeeder [WIP - Cockpit Interior]

From inside to out is how the Snowspeeder is most likely going to be painted. That means starting from the inside the cockpit interior to the pilots, then the canopy together with the main upper/lower hulls, followed by the back engines, laser system, repulsors and ending with a general weathering process. Some decals will be used but it'll generally be a spray-can and hand-brush painting effort.

Bandai Star Wars 1/48 scale Snowspeeder - work-in-progress on the cockpit interior

Inspiration for the snowspeeder cockpit interior's colour scheme was twofold. Firstly, a DK reference book titled Star Wars: Complete Vehicles.  That's when the possibility of an interior with warmer hues first occurred to me. Secondly, The Empire Strikes Back showed the snowspeeder interior - what can be seen anyway as its lower sections weren't visible in the film frames - in a cooler colour scheme. That made sense as a form of counterbalance to the pilots warmer colours i.e. skin tones and orange flight suits. In the end, I combined both colour concepts for my own version of the interior.

Snowspeeder cockpit interior's main colour scheme - a mixture of cool and warm hues
Snowspeeder cross-section and interior, source: Star Wars: Complete Vehicles

One key thing I did was to lighten the cockpit interior's warm hues on the padding-like texture from a dark yellow as seen in the DK reference material to a lighter hue of creamy white (cremeweiß in German or spelt cremeweiss in English). Then to add a some 'pop' into a generally dull grey/metallic look of the cockpit interior, I used neutral greys in conjunction with greenish and bluish greys. These came in the form of Vallejo Model Color acrylic paints (see second photo above).

Snowspeeder's cockpit interior stretched out in a line sans the seats

To create extra detail in the snowspeeder cockpit interior, I did the best I could at this scale to paint some screen displays on both the pilot and tail gunner's instrumentation panels. This translated into a radar ping on the gunner's left most display and lines of computer text on the pilot's main screen.

Instrumentation panels for the snowspeeder's gunner (left) and pilot (right)
Cremeweiss hue on interior's padding was inspired by a DK book titled Star Wars: Complete Vehicles  

That I'm okay with the fact that results aren't anywhere near how I envisioned them is a testament to my newfound hobby-related trait of letting go at the right time. So instead of unnecessarily spending  precious time to enhance a paint job, I am slowly learning to step back and stop when such an effort is pointless (beyond fulfilling one's obsessive-compulsive tendencies). Once the pilots are glued onto their seats, most of the cockpit interior will be hidden from view. Focus will also shift towards the more brightly coloured pilots. Hence more paint-hours will, alternatively, be spent on the pilots.    

Pilot instrumentation panel - text lines on the display screen up the realism factor
Tail gunner instrumentation panel - main details added include the radar ping display and a big red button
Pale greyish blue/green hues were balanced by the cremeweiss (creamy white) hue
Quick trivia - cremeweiss hue on interior padding could also be found in interiors of German WW2 tanks
Seat colours were based on what I could make out in the Empire Strikes Back Hoth battle scenes

Now if this project was about a grounded snowspeeder under repairs in a rebel base then it would've been a different story entirely. In such a scenario, focus would be on the cockpit interior. And with it the need for more paint hours to be invested in the said area. But this isn't my intention for this build so what you see here is about as far as I'm willing to go for the cockpit interior. 

Snowspeeder cockpit interior as compared to a paperclip and a five sen coin for scale

My hopes are on the snowspeeder pilots being the 'wow' factor of the cockpit area. To me, that means painting the pilots in such a way that they are discernible as Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson. At this scale, I'm under no illusions as to how tough this is going to be. More so when I don't have any helmet decals to assist me in creating Wedge and Wes lookalikes. But if my enthusiasm for painting miniature figures again is any indication (especially after weeks of pure vehicle work) then I might just pull it off. Leia's last words to the snowspeeder pilots were good luck ... I'll need that for sure.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Tamiya 35257 - Russian Medium Tank T-55A [Unboxing and Pre-Assembly Review]

I guess it was just a matter of time before I caught the AFV (armoured fighting vehicle) bug. And the T-55A medium tank is as good a starting point as any, with it being a part of a series of tanks (the T-54/55) that is the most-produced in military history. They are said to be in use by up to over 50 armies worldwide which gives the tank a lot of potential in terms of colour scheme variations. However, I’ll be keeping it simple for this build by putting together a Czechoslovakian Army T-55A medium tank which has a monotone colour sans any complicated camouflage schemes.

Tamiya 35257 - Russian Medium Tank T-55A
Tamiya Russian Medium Tank T-55A side box art

Tamiya's accompanying manual is multi-lingual with fairly detailed instructions. One thing is for sure,  this build will be far more complex than Bandai's beginner friendly snap-fit parts found in their Star Wars line. That being said, Tamiya scale model kits are generally well known for their well-engineered parts that not only have excellent fit but are also easy to put together.

A brief history of the ubiquitous T-55A medium tank
Instructions are multi-lingual and easy to follow

Tamiya's design philosophy is seemingly to have a lower part count without sacrificing details. For example, this model kit has nearly 300 parts versus the 1000+ parts found in some other brands.

Sprue A (x2): Wheels, hooks fuel drums, etc.
Sprue B:Main turret and accessories
Closeup of the turret showing off its cast metal surface texture

Details on the T-55A parts are reasonably good especially on the turret which has a subtle surface texture resembling cast iron as well as weld lines/seams. Another notable textured part is the wooden grains of the T-55A's rear log beam. While the other parts do not have much texture, they do still possess fine details moulded on them. Even the tank commander figurine included in the model kit has impressive details ranging from the folds on his uniform to discernible facial features.

Sprue C: Ammo boxes, gun barrel, rear log beam, machine gun, snorkel, etc.
Sprue D: Fender fuel tanks, tank commander, rear inner grilles, etc.
Upper and lower hull - main sections

While the T-55A's vinyl tracks look fairly detailed, they could provide some challenge when trying to make them sag on the wheels for a more realistic look. Included in this kit are also a fine mesh and a string to simulate metal grilles and tow cables respectively. Decal options are minimal but enough for my purpose to build a Czechoslovakian Army T-55A medium tank, designated turret number 421.

Vinyl tracks are detailed enough but may prove to be a challenge when going for a realistic sag-on-wheels look
Decals, mesh to simulate grille texture, strings as a substitute for tow cables and polycaps for the wheels

As promised, I'm alternating between two main projects for the coming weeks on a more consistent basis. So it'll be a the Star Wars Snowspeeder on one post and the T-55A medium tank on the next for the foreseeable future until either one or the other is finished. The only thing that could break up this double act is perhaps the final completed photos of Bronn the sellsword but that's only if I can sort out the skin contrast on his forehead. As such I certainly won't be abandoning my miniature figurines as I work on the AFVs (which have mini figures of their own). So let's get started already!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Star Wars Snowspeeder - Bandai 1/48 Scale Model Kit [Unboxing and Pre-Assembly Review]

To date, Bandai has produced two versions of the Star Wars Snowspeeder at 1/48 scale, namely the Luke Skywalker/Dak Ralter and Wedge Antilles/Wes Janson versions - both with their own hull and pilot decals. I had actually gotten two sets of the former way before the latter was released with the intention of freehand painting one of the sets to mimic Wedge's snowspeeder. That is, in essence,  what my Star Wars project will be all about. Having to proceed without the proper decals, I'll have to brush paint hull colours as well as pilot suit/helmet markings using freehand.   

Bandai Star Wars 1/48 scale Snowspeeder (Modified Incom T-47 Airspeeder)
Side boxart of the Bandai Star Wars Snowspeeder scale model kit

Bandai's diagram-based instructions have a reputation of being straightforward and easy to follow. Being of the snap-fit variety, assembly of the snowspeeder should be hassle-free and user friendly especially to beginners. Based on past experience and a cursory glance of the snowspeeder instructions, I expect this to be the case again and look forward to an easy build. 

Snowspeeder instructions was a combination of colour depicting decal markings and ...
... black and white diagrammatic pictures for the assembly instructions

Sprues contain parts which are highly detailed. As a Star Wars fan, I'm delighted at the near- to spot on- movie accurateness of the various parts making up the whole. From the cockpit interior to the outer hull, this model kit has the potential to be a fantastic build thus providing a solid base for paint. To name just a few examples: the cockpit interior on Sprue A, the hull grooves and lining on Sprue B, the repulsor innards on Sprue C1, the pilots on Sprue C2, etc. all have fantastic details at this scale. 

Sprue A: Cockpit canopy (clear) and interior, power generator, cooling fins, tow cable, etc.
Sprue B: Upper and lower hull, landing gear, etc.
Sprue C1: Repulsors, cockpit canopy, etc.
Sprue C2: Base, pilots, etc.
Sprue SWB1: Laser shots in transparent plastic

Decals provided with this set are meant for a Luke Skywalker/Dak Ralter snowspeeder build. For this particular project I'm undertaking they are almost completely useless to me. Except for a few decal markings such as the small ZZ symbols and a few others, the rest won't be used. Instead I'll be freehand painting the cockpit interior, hull markings and pilots. It'll be good to flex those small scale painting muscles again as it has been some time since I really used them.

Bandai water decals for a Luke Skywalker version of the Snowspeeder
Sticker equivalents for a Luke Skywalker version of the Snowspeeder

So another Star Wars project looks set to take off, pun unintended. In addition to allowing me the pleasure of painting miniature figures again (specifically 1/48 scale Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson), this sci-fi vehicle undertaking will also allow me to practice yet more weathering effects albeit a few steps back in terms of level of decay. For the modified Incom T-47 Airspeeder, the weathering effects will be more of the operational wear-and-tear variety. Much to do I have, and I can't wait to get going.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Nurgle Rhino APC [Completed]

During this long and fairly arduous weathering project, what essentially kept me going was that it afforded me the chance to expand my painting/modelling skill set. Sadly, it has been a while since I felt any enthusiasm painting W40K stuff. On the bright side what I've left in my collection are Orks and Chaos armies so that means plenty of weathering practice opportunities. So here's the completed Nurgle Rhino transport or armoured personnel carrier (APC) in all its weathered glory. 

Nurgle Rhino Armoured Personnel Carrier [Completed]

While the Nurgle Rhino might not be a masterpiece, I've learned a lot from completing it. Sometimes it's necessary to call a project done before you can start analyzing how things could've been done better. Parts of the APC definitely has an unfinished look to it. For example the open hatch on the upper hull (the searchlight wasn't a good fit ... more on that later), the two tiny headlights on the upper left/right corners of the front hull, and the general lack of Nurgle pus and gore all over the vehicle. All of which had good reasons, chief among them is that it was time to move on and let go.  

Weathering effects on the Nurgle Rhino include chipped paint ...
... rust stains, streaks and pools; rusted metal parts as well as some dirt/dust deposits

Weathering on this project was more of a traditional military armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) wear-and-tear style rather than the W40K sci-fi blood-and-gore. That explains the lack of pus and gore usually associated with Nurgle vehicles. On a personal note, I felt that if I were to include pus and gore into the weathering process the whole thing might've been a bit much akin to adding sugar to a regular Coke drink. Not your regular hobby-related analogy but I'm sure you catch my drift.

Weathering style was a more traditional AFV wear-and-tear rather than W40K Sci-Fi blood-and-gore
My favourite weathering effect was the rust streaks-chipped paint combo
The umber-like rusted tracks and metal parts provided a welcome contrast to the greyish-green hull

In addition, there are two small headlights on the upper left and right corners of the front hull which remain in greyish-green tones except for the rusted metal-wire-cage encasing them. I had left them in similar hues to the hull as is the case for some real-life tanks with a monochromatic colour palette i.e. the headlights/searchlight painted in similar hues to the hull. A real world example of this would be the Russian T-90A Main Battle Tank (please click here for a scale model representation).  

In the end, I never bothered with any blood-and-gore effects around Lucy's head
Could the Nurgle Rhino have used more weathering? Debatable but I was happy with the results as is

If you've been following my past posts you might be wondering what happened to the searchlight. Well, as you can see from the photos below, the searchlight had two strikes against it which caused me to leave it out in the final completed shots above. One, the searchlight was just too big and felt wrong in terms of scale size. And two, the bright yellow lights I painted in seemed out of sorts with the rest of the colour scheme. Both are sore points and enough to tip the scale against including it.

Nurgle Rhino Armoured Personnel Carrier with a searchlight added to its upper hull
Personally I found the searchlight to be too big in terms of scale ...
...  and its bright yellow hue makes the Rhino look goofy which is why I prefer to leave it out in a display

Going forward, I'll be working on two scale model kit projects at the same time while hopefully finishing a long neglected Game of Thrones proxy miniature painting project. The former involves Bandai Star Wars Snowspeeder (painted up as a Wedge Antilles/Wes Janson version) alternating with an old Tamiya AFV model kit i.e. a Russian T-55A Medium Tank. Meanwhile, the latter will involve finishing a proxy for Bronn the sellsword using a Nocturna Models miniature. But for now though, I'll just wallow in the satisfaction of being able to finish the Nurgle Rhino. Just for this week anyway.

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