One thing nice about the re- issues of the Revell kit is that they did well providing us with a cockpit and a Colonial Pilot, but that's about it. The instrumentation on the cockpit tub is outright horrible, simplistic, and they don't even look anything like what's in the TV series. I was hoping to get the panel light set from Outer Space Outfitters but even that is getting to be too long.
Frustration city until a knight in shining armour came along - in the form of Rod Lowe, or better known as Hotrodnz from Starship Modeller, who encouraged me with his Private Message. He was willing to share some very interesting tips based on what he did for his Viper build up. Let me show you what he did first .. its really, really AWESOME!!
Want to see and know more? Hehe ...
Impressive isn't it, and so very neat. And the funny thing is that Rod is the first and only person I know that actually used the reference materials provided by Joel Owens who studied the cockpit instrument configuration by watching the old series over and over again. I had highlighted this earlier HERE but never expected to see anyone emulate the panels so beautifully.
And you can too. Here are the cockpit panel designs you can use for your own Viper's construction - courtesy of Rod Lowe. Be sure to showcase your build and thank him at the Starship Modeller forum when you have completed your own Mark I Viper using these:
So exactly how did he do it? Here's the step by step guide Rod provided which I plan to emulate. I had to edit the instructions a little so they sound more like ..... instructions, and not so a much a WIP build report. And believe me, these instructions do help.
- Begin by making up some cardboard templates based on the cockpit interior graphics from Joel Owen's website.
- After test-fitting the cardboard templates, cut out the interior panels from styrene sheet following the template's shape, and begin drilling holes where LEDs and fibre optics would be inserted later.
- You can print out the cockpit graphics on good photo quality paper, glue them to the cockpit interior walls. Rod actually duplicated some of the graphics and layered them to give the panels a slight 3-D effect.
- Use some plastic strips and glue them around the under side of the panels of each of the cut-out holes. This is to prevent lights from the LEDs bleeding out through the cockpit interior panels, which are supposed to be opaque.
- Before gluing the LEDs, carefully file the LED down to almost the diode itself. Remember to wear a good face mask and goggles as the LED glass dust IS toxic. And remember to wash your hands. This is to help reduce the size profile of the LEDs so they can fit into the cockpit tub and still fit nicely inside the Viper's fuselage with all the wirings.
- Glue the LEDs and fibre optics in place using 5 minute epoxy, As a preventive measure, cover the back of the LEDs with blu-tack to ensure no lights will bleed out.
- Even without lighting, the cockpit panels by themselves already looks very good. Its a vast improvement from what that was originally there. And if you put in lights, it will definitely bring life to the Viper's cockpit, making your build more interesting.
And here's something else Rod did. He decided to change the pilot with one that is more fluid and better looking. He used a 1/35 scale Soviet Tank crewman, modified the parts using putty and Whalla!! See for yourself what a little creativity and ingenuity can do. This is definitely 1,000% better than that odd looking figure provide by Revell - yeah, that's him on the right.
Of course after viewing all these images, you know what this means, right? I'm off looking for a few Soviet Tank Crewman in 1/35 scale now. These are invaluable tips on how you can further improve on the stock parts, and you can also use this same concept not only for the Mark I Viper, but also on any other kit. This is what makes scale modelling fun.
And a special thanks to Rod Lowe aka Hotrodnz, for sharing his build strategy and his cockpit's instrument panel designs with the rest of us. I already know of a few people who are going to be grateful for these tips.