I’m not too big on reality. I get quite enough of it on a daily basis, so I get very few urges to build kits of “real” things. Robots and spaceships are more my domain than, say, planes and autos. The only times I have any desire to make something “real” is when it has some tie to a fictitious universe, like Lupin’s Fiat from The Castle of Cogliostro, or… well I’m sure something will come to me before I publish this.
You can see it doesn’t come up very often.
As a result it came as a surprise to everyone, myself included, when I decided I wanted to buy a Revell Corsair kit on my birthday. Part of this desire was born from watching a good YouTube build of a 1/48 Tamiya Corsair; another part was having a 50% off coupon for Michael’s. $8.99 for a 1/48 scale aircraft? Sure.
The post-kit-purchase elation went down several notches when I noticed some differences between the lovely Tamiya version and the [antonym-for-lovely-here] Revell kit. Some of this you can see at a glance; other things didn’t become apparent until doing a dry fit:
- It has raised panel lines
- The engine and the cowl are a single piece:
- Flash and mold lines are everywhere.
- The plastic is Spongy — it feels very soft compared to Bandai, Hasegawa, or Kotobukiya styrene.
- NOTHING fits:
The first and the last are my biggest issues — it’s a putty nightmare, and rescribing the entire kit for recessed panels is probably not an option when I can pick up the vastly superior Tamiya Corsair for only $20.
But in a way, that’s good. That means I won’t have any compunctions about potentially ruining the kit when I try to make this:
into one of these:
I won’t bore you with the details of what a “vanship” is, or how I fell in love with Last Exile. I’m going to bore you with completely different things!
To really make this look like a legitimate vanship, and not just a half-built Corsair*, I’ve got a lot of work ahead.
This (above) is the antenna/resonator/propulsion thingy. I bent styrene rod around the lid of a large container of Tamiya acrylic, and passed the ends through a closed binder clip to give it some concavity. I connected it to the resonator mount (I am making this up as I go) by drilling holes through the rod and mount, then passing a leftover antenna through all three. These were fixed in place with some plastic cement, and then sanded down to remove the ends of the antenna.
Even fixed in place, the rod has a lot of tension, which makes me nervous. I tried immersing it in hot water and then letting it cool down, but it didn’t seem to have much effect — it’s still springy. Any scratchbuilders out there with suggestions for how I should have done this? I’m thinking if I ever need a shape like this in the future I’m better off using brass wire or the like. This was no fun, and not as accurate as I wanted it to be.
The claudia drive is going to be a combination of styrene strip, pen parts, leftover ordnance from the Corsair, and the front wheels of a Rodimus Prime wrapped in styrene sheet. Do not weep for Rodimus. He had Dutch Elm Disease.
I need to fabricate some fairings for the landing gear. Every vanship in memory has the landing gear permanently in the ‘down’ position. The Corsair’s wheels and sparse gear details are perfect for this. I should be able to create the fairings from styrene sheet, seal up the gear doors, and just slide the enclosure on top of what’s left. I need to remember to paint the exposed area of the wheels beforehand.
Other, less pleasant things still await. I need to remove the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The latter is easy: it’s just a patch job over where the part would normally go. The former requires some sawing — the vertical stabilizer is built in to the fuselage. Not too concerned about the cutting, but not thrilled about the repair work. I anticipate scribing some additional details later so I don’t end up with a big, blank slab where the stabilizer used to be.
I also need to make a decision about the cockpit. There’s supposed to be a seat for the navigator as well as the pilot, so if I’m going to embark on that path, I’ll need to fabricate a second chair and a second set of controls. It’s probably easiest to just make a mold of the existing cockpit and make a resin one. That this is the “easy” way terrifies me, since I’ve done neither mold-making nor casting before, but I think it’s still a better option than attempting to scratchbuild a cockpit from styrene sheet (BLEH).
Speaking of which, I also have to remove the canopy (which is also built-in to the fuselage. God, I hate this kit) and make some little windscreens. TOTALLY looking forward to that.
The last big part is attaching the whole propulsion assembly. I’ll have to mount the tailwheel somewhere on that as well and somehow manage to keep the whole thing level. The military-grade vanships in Last Exile have this blade-like prow integrated into the propulsion system. I’ll probably do something similar. It’ll help prevent it from looking like the engine is an afterthought.
The rest is just detail work. I’ll probably scribe some hatches and panel lines. I was thinking of adding some ribbing to the side of the ship a la corrugated aluminum, but I may be satisfied without.
I kinda regret picking the Corsair in some ways — the wings and the intakes are very distinctive, so even if I kick ass all over the place, there’s bound to be someone who will look at it and say, “OMG WHAT DID HE DO TO THAT CORSAIR?!”
And then I’ll have to explain that it’s the Revell, and they’ll say, “OKAY. WHEW. NOW THAT WE’RE PAST THAT CAN YOU HELP ME TURN OFF CAPS LOCK?” and by then it’s become a whole thing and my afternoon is wasted.
*which is technically done already.