Monday, January 31, 2011

Finally I Have All Three of the New Galactica's Raptor Resin Kits ....

Since the day I saw this little ship in the new Galactica series and fell in love with her, I have noticed that I am not the only one looking for a good model kit of her. Unfortunately there are no plastic model kit made available as yet, and we are hoping Moebius would undertake this project and produce/distribute one in 1/32 scale, in tandem with their Mark IIs and coming Mark VIIs. But that is another story.

I had highlighted the Raptor previously over HERE and the Combat Variant over HERE. Anyone still looking for these would have to settle for Resin Kits, just about the only medium that had them produced.

Unfortunately all these were long way out of production, and you'd need to regularly scope around eBay or scale modeling forums to see if anyone was willing to part with theirs. And I'm not surprised there are still people looking for these. I had observed that whenever one is offered at the "market place" (a section of the forum where members buy, sell or trade their kits), the Raptor is always the first to be sold off. There was even an incident when a member at Starship Modeler forum had asked about the specs for his JTMeyers' kit. He had stored her for so long, and when he found her again, he had forgotten who produced her and what scale she was in. He had to retort back later that he wasn't selling her after getting swarmed with request.

I was fortunate, and then I got lucky. Fortunate in the sense that I had bought my 1/48 and 1/72 scale Raptors from Starship Modeler when they were still in production. They were available under the Black Sun Model's banner. I wasn't ready to assemble and paint them then (good thing too otherwise this posting wouldn't be possible) because I wasn't sure exactly how you work on the vacuformed canopies. They're really fragile pieces. I sort of figured when I have better confidence, I'd make an attempt at these.

And then I got lucky. I had been hunting for JTMeyers' 1/24 scale Raptor for close to two years, and I literally gave up on her when one day out of the blue, I received an email from Jeffrey Waclawski aka JTGraphics. He had one he was willing to let go, I made him an offer and last Friday, I finally have her  ... muahahahahaaa .. yes, she's mine ..... muahahahaaa ........... ahem, sorry, couldn't resist that. I'm still reeling from the feel good feeling on this one, afterall, she's among a few that I consider my optimum grail kits.

As such, I really want to thank Jeff again. He has made it possible for me to have all the available kits under one roof. And because of him, I can now do an in depth review of each of the kits here.

On the left, JTMeyers 1/24 scale, Black Sun Models 1/72 scale at the centre, and the 1/48 scale casted in blue on the right

From the image above, you can clearly see the size comparison between each of the kits. The 1/72 scale is clearly dwarfed by the 1/24 scale. The level of details for each of them were beautifully crafted unto their molds, and my initial test fit revealed very little misalignment. The 1/48 scale, though beautifully casted, remains wanting, and on the 1/24 scale, some parts do require a bit of sanding as there were some air bubbles that needs to be sand off and remove.

Shoe Polish Weathering Technique - Or How Cylon75 Did It

I've been asked again about this technique employed superbly by Cylon75 (also known as galactica0008) on some of his builds (BSG Kits mainly) and seriously, words alone won't be enough to explain how he did it. So he was actually nice enough to share the technique via YouTube.

Watch and learn guys. Of course he makes it look really simple. But he also have a very good advise in case you mess up ... just wash your kit with detergent and water.

The famous Shoe Polish Weathering Technique ... or how to make full use of your Shoe Polish. Pretty neat idea if you ask me.

QMx's USS Reliant - the epitome of all USS Reliant Kits Out There

For those still looking for good images of the USS Reliant, I can find no better samples that those provided by the FX Company QMx. Based on the DeBoers/Northstar kit, they have virtually turned their kit to look almost exactly like the studio prop model during filming of the second Star Trek movie. The commissioned work done is equal to none, and the quality alone speaks of exclusivity.

Measuring 36 inches long and she comes lighted up, the precision detailing work is out of this world, and its the only one I know of that features a working lighted shuttle hangar bay.

Studio Model Reference of the Miranda Class Starship

Since Round 2 has reissued the USS Reliant, I'm sure many of you would be looking for reference images of this Starship, or its variant. Hopefully the images below would prove useful to those who needs them.

Detailing your AMT 1/537 scale USS Reliant

The USS Reliant was officially the first deviant starship from the United Federation of Planets which did not conform to the requirements of having 3 cylinder and a one saucer pattern design. I say official because we had never seen any other starship designs (besides fans based) that made it into TV or film prior to her existence. And what was really odd about this ship was when her design was approved, Gene Roddenberry was looking at her upside down.

Nevertheless, this ship made quite an impact on me. I remembered watching Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan and thought both the Enterprise and the Reliant were beautifully designed. Of course then there was no plastic model kit of her made available until after Star Trek The Next Generation came about.

I got mine back around 1998, and never really got around to building her. Yeah, at that time, I was sidetracked dating my wife with the hope that she would be my wife later on, so my priorities were a little off for the hobby. But at least I made the smart move of purchasing her just in case. 11 years later I am glad I have her.

However, this post isn't about a review for this old kit. In fact, Round 2 has recently released a new issue of the Reliant, and she now comes with corrected saucer thickness (the earlier issue was just too thin). This topic will actually touch on detailing and correcting the earlier issue of the AMT USS Reliant.

To achieve this, you're going to need the following:

Miranda Class Saucer Correction Kit
Miranda Class Shuttle bay (which also comes with the saucer correction kit)
Some new decals
All of these are actually still available at Federation Models under Products - Federation Models

Since I was getting a detailed hangar bay set, I figured to have a couple of 1/537 scale shuttles inside would definitely look awesome since they could provide a sense of depth to the kit. And oh yeah, a friend told me to get the saucer sensor replacement kit as well since the current one on the kit was a little "short". I didn't understood what he meant until I got one to compare. Anyways, there are still a few accurate parts I want to get later, but first, here's what's in hand, and next, what else you need.

Received Larson's Designs Viper Launch Tube Diorama Resin Set

Do you still remember my previous highlight on a fantastic diorama set depicting a Mark II Viper launching from the Galactica? Well, its HERE in case you don't recall. Its awesome in the sense that you can now pose your Moebius Mark II Vipers in a launching stance.

To recap, here are the images of how the Launch Tunes look like.

Here's how the diorama set will look like once assembled. There are potentials to add in more details later on and weathering the base is going to be a challenge ... for me anyway. It needs to look used and rusty ... do metal rust in space? Oh wait, this is Sci Fi, anything goes.

And here's what I received recently. I got two sets for a massive diorama I'm planning to make and am currently gathering as much of any available accessories I can find. When I opened the package, I was literally blown away. There were a lot of resin parts included, plus a few PVC pipes cut to size. The castings was very well done and I didn't see any air bubbles on any of the parts that need sanding off.

I had to lay the pieces each as I remove their plastic wraps one by one to see what I was going to be working with. The final tally - about 115 parts and 14 PVC tubes. The set didn't come with an instruction sheet, but then again I had rushed Chris for the set so I am guessing he haven't had a chance to complete his instructions yet ... ooops. The kit is quite straight forward and looking at his build images, shouldn't be a problem test fitting the parts together.

Announcement on Paragrafix's Moebius Galactica Set

In case some of you are not aware, Paragrafix have actually come out with a summarized version of his PE set for those who wish to just build the Galactica (and not keen on the Landing Bay's detail set). Its actually not a new set since it will have what the complete set already has, the Museum windows and the etched ship's insignia. You can get this HERE

What's new and coming will be another set (lets call it Set 2) whereby the Garage or Flight Pod Recess will be addressed. For those who had build their Galactica ... oh boy. But for those who hasn't or currently in the midst, you'd want to get this as the current recess area is merely a smooth area with no details whatsoever on them. Acreation decals will be working out a new decal set to compliment the PE set and those that had purchased directly from him could be getting a replace set (subject to last minute change yar. Its too early to commit anything yet)

So .. wait for it guys. Its going to be sooo worth it

Sunday, January 30, 2011

More New Detailed Parts for Your TOS Revell Mark I Viper

The Revell Kit may be out of production, but I do know of quite a few people who are still keeping their kits in their stash waiting to be build. Well, if you happen to fall into this category, then you would probably want to consider adding details on your kit to make her more "realistic", or different. Whatever the reasons are, there are 2 new accessories you can have to add to whatever else that was available.

From Federation Models comes these nifty grill inserts, perfect if you want your Mark I Viper lighted up. 6 simple to insert but yet highly detailed resin replacement parts that were designed to fit into the last Revell re-issue of the kit. I'm not sure if these will work if you have an earlier issue but from my comparison, probably not.

You'll need to cut off the existing parts within the engine nozzles which is actually quite easy seeing that they are mainly just thin plastic "spruces", trim the surrounding areas, and fit in the replacement grills.

Another thing you may want to do is to cut out the inside of the triangular frills from the guns. These are suppose to be hollow but the plastic piece was molded filled. What  did was to use a motor drill to drill out the centre and file away the remaining piece to achieve this. Its a lot of work - trust me. I may need to later fill in the centre rod to give her a fuller shape.

Not up to this? Well, you could consider getting a set that's ready made. Available from Fireball Modelworks, the 4 piece resin set perfectly replaces the guns, and they do come with some detailed panel lines. Just trim off the resin stubs and flashes, wash the pieces in mild warm water with some dish detergent, and they're good to go.

Its currently out of stock but will be available again at Starship Modeller. Regularly check the site there or you're going to miss them. That's what happen to me and I now have to wait for the next batch.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Closer look at Round2's 1/1400 scale Clear USS Enterprise D

This iconic ship was made famous in The Next Generation Series, encompassing 7 seasons and 1 movie where she was ultimately destroyed in favour of the Enterprise E. This ship is massive compared to the classic series and has over a thousand crew members. That's a hint there if you decide on building this ship. She is suppose to look massive and superior.

I did an initial review HERE where knowing that this kit now comes in transparent plastic means it was going to be tough working on her. Its a material I'm not particularly fond of when it comes to sanding, drilling and puttying. The potential of cracking the clear plastic parts is very high. I did mention that this was going to be the one kit I was going to pass, but after seeing her in person, I may actually decide to change my mind later.

You see, a very good friend had asked me for help to get him one, so I placed an order with Starship Modeller, and took the opportunity to have a quick look over when it arrived - with his permission of course. I'll admit I was very surprised when I looked at it. The kit itself is actually quite impressive.

First thing that caught my attention was the packaging. The box art was alright and I have to admit Round2 did a nice job with this kit's packaging, almost like they gave her some extra loving attention. 

Top Box Art
Bottom Box Art with highlights on their other Star Trek product range
 Another thing that caught my eyes was the box itself, sturdy and strong unlike its' predecessor's (earlier version had the box soft and flimsy). I am guessing it needs to be so, since it had to protect all those fragile transparent parts. Or it could also be that the box itself is now much smaller and compressed, making her sturdier. The earlier issues were quite long and broad. All the parts with their spruce trees and decals were wrapped within their own individual plastic bags, and they actually fitted quite well inside eliminating any redundant space. 

Though I had permission to remove the parts from their plastic bags to do this review, I decided against it as my earlier highlight already had images of the parts with their spruce tree. I'll give that honour to my friend, after all, it is his kit now. But believe me, I was tempted.

The decals are actually fascinating. They looked so much better than their earlier issues, and now contain the dreaded Aztec patterns. What I particularly liked about it was its presentation. The decals were neatly arranged, and were protected with wax papers sealed within their own plastic wrapping - nice touch since we know how these decals can easily get damaged when kept too long in their boxes. Round2 actually provided 4 A4 size wax papers, each fitting the individual decal sheets - nice touch.

Another thing about the decals, they look comprehensive enough and the grey shades tell me they're designed more toward the movie version. One thing's for sure, it sure beats masking the whole ship when it comes to painting her. That just saved a lot of modelers about one week's worth of work and masking tapes.

Here are better images of them in all their glory

The one thing I didn't notice until my friend took possession of her and showed me, was the molding on the kit itself. Holy cow ... I'm not sure how but I believe this kit was actually molded using the original molds, making it a "smoothie" version, as in when she was first launched by AMT. Later versions had all those incorrect fancy panel lines incorporated unto their surfaces that required major sanding off. This means you'll only need to sand off the life boat panels to get her to look more like the actual studio model kit (you have the decals so you don't need those panel lines there anyway). Its definitely a plus point there.


Ooops ... my bad. Teach me to review stuff without removing the packaging. The panel lines on this kit is apparently there. They're fine panel lines and I wasn't able to see them through the plastic wrappers. The changed area on this kit was on the phaser banks. They're lower and smoother. Sorry about that

OK, back to the regular program .....
However, the original mold did have inconsistent parts which this kit now inherits. You'll need to rework those areas, such as the bridge, and the bottom saucer windows for Ten Forward. One GK that supplies such parts is Don Light and Magic. You can browse his site to see what you need there.

In conclusion, this kit may not be that bad after all. Its definitely something different to work on except that she's a little pricey for a plastic kit.

Whooops .... I just hit my 1GB limit with Blogger ... Hello AdSense.

I was warned about this by friends who blog regularly. Funny thing was I wasn't able to find the usage warning anywhere whenever I posted a new blog, so I really had no idea how much space I've used up. And only just now I found out. There I was waiting patiently for a whole bunch of new images to upload when suddenly I got a notice "You have exceeded your free 1GB limit" ... ooops.

Looking at the situation here, I now have 3 choices:

1. I could create another Blogger Account, and call it "Bruce's Domain 2" ... but Naw, that would really sound like a cheesy movie sequel, and I'm just too lazy to keep track of multiple blog accounts. In fact, I already have 2 accounts. The other is a WIP which I am planning to revamp, and I need to do that soon too. Its been around for like a few months and there are only a total of 111 page views ... (blush). That's what happen when blogs gets neglected. Hence I'm planning to transfer the two contents (blush again) into this main blog, and dedicate that other one into perhaps a "How to ...." blog for scale modelers. Well, that's the plan anyway.

2. I could go back and delete off some of my earlier images ... but checking through the Stats, I have noticed a lot of scale modelers do depend on many of these images for their builds, or to help them make decisions to buy. Doing that would not only create inconveniences and disfavour, it would also defeat the very purpose why I set up this blog in the first place. So I think its better to just keep everything status quo.

3. OR .... I can subscribe for more space from Blogger.

Guess which one I chose.

Hence AdSense has made its presence here. Well, I do need to recover back some of the cost, or at least try to. I doubt I can make much with this having never tried it before, and its not something that's going to replace my present career anytime soon either. I do know some of you really abhor advertisements in blogs and with that respect, all I ask is that you bear it with me. Looking at the Ads ... well, its not really that big and irritating, and the one at the bottom of the first post really do look out of place. I'll see if I can have that moved further down the page later - no promises. Right now I'm not even sure how it works. Here's having a go at it.

Reviewing the 1/48 Scale Cylon Raiders Resin Kits

Alright, you have seen those awesome 1/24 scale Cylon Raider kits. Now let's touch on the 1/48 scale version. As far as I know, there are only 2 available source for these, and one of them unfortunately is already out of production (unless a decision is made later on to reissue her).

Yup, I'm referring to Bad Azz's version of the Advance Raider, and Fantastic Plastic's version (which was sculpted by Alfred Wong). One of the reason why 1/48 scale kits are more popular with most modelers is because of price - they are indeed more affordable. But you have to take note that the problem with a smaller scale version is that the level of details you often find on larger models are sacrificed. This is why I was very impressed with Bad Azz's kit. It was literally an exact duplicate with its 1/24 scale cousin.

Lets take a look at what these two has to offer:

Fantastic Plastic Advance Cylon Raider (Left) compared against Bad Azz's Advanced Raider (Right)

The retired kit here refers to Fantastic Plastic's version. The wings are casted in one piece requiring very simply assembly of the main fuselage. There are quite a few resin stubs to trim off on the kit, and the panel details are nicely embedded unto the kit. 11 resin parts are included.

Bad Azz version on the other hand is an exact miniature of its 1/24 scale variant. The curves are more pronounced and minute details are visible even though they are very small. Casting is very well done using high quality resin and the kit comes with 22 resin parts. Some minor sanding is required just to clean of some resin flashes and I didn't see any stubs on the kit

Closer look at the 1/48 scale Bad Azz Raider - check out the detailed panel lines on this kit
Fantastic Plastic's kit on the other hand offers an easier assembly mode and retained some of the details. You can see the resin stubs clearly which require some careful trimmings
Side profile of the Bad Azz kit revealing more of the details casted on the kit
Side profile look on Fantastic Plastic's kit

And for those who are wondering how big the 1/24 and 1/48 scale kits are, here's literally an apple to apple comparison - Bad Azz's versions for both kits since they are exactly similar except in size. You can see how much a mere half difference make when the 1/24 scale kit literally dwarfs the 1/48 kit. You can even use the images below to see how every single details are captured from the bigger version to the smaller kit.

Another thing I wish to note. When I handled Fantastic Plastic's kit, there was a smooth oily feel to her texture. I'm guessing that's the mold release agent used to prevent the resin from bonding with the mold. Bad Azz's kits had no such sensation. Nevertheless you will need to wash ALL resin kits thoroughly before starting work on them. These release agents will prevent anything, primer, paint and glue, from sticking to the resin surface. A hastily washed kit may result in disaster, so be warned.