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Thunderbirds Mole


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#1 Will Vale

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 04:05 AM

Well having just finished something it seems appropriate to start something else rather than consolidate my small army of works-in-progress. So here's the Aoshima/IMAI motorised Mole in 1/72. The box art is lovely!

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The contents are pretty promising too - lots of worky bits make me think this might be reminiscent of the lovely Mini-4WD kits I used to build when I was little.

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I thought this might be a good Movie + TV group build contender, but someone else is already doing it. As ever, I'm hoping it'll be a quick, fun project. Step 1 is to assemble the tracks, which means Step 1.1 is probably to put Thunderbirds on and see how they might best be painted :D

Cheers,

Will

Edited by Will Vale, 06 May 2012 - 07:06 AM.


#2 Will Vale

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:20 AM

I put the mole internals together on Sunday, it was (as predicted) fun but the bearings leave something to be desired, in that they're absent. I think a few top-hat bearings and a proper motor clamp would really help.

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I ended up securing the motor with CA, and using a bit of Tamiya grease on the gears, which reduced the noise level a bit. It's still pretty loud, but that's part of the fun really. The additional friction of the cam for the flashing light causes the worm shaft to hunt back and forth rhythmically so the tone changes in time with the light :)

Looking at the Mole in the relevant episodes I think the side tracks fill up their spaces a bit better, so I made some styrene baffles and primed them and the internal faces of the track fairings black to create a deep shadow. I think this will work OK and look better than seeing yellow around the tracks.

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They aren't glued in place yet, but the dry fit looks OK and they definitely hide most of the innards:

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Annoyingly, the masking tape I used to prevent overspray pulled some of the fragile red glaze off the bulb, so I think I'll have to remove all of it and then repaint it with Tamiya clear red or similar? Any tips for that would be appreciated though - are there other ways?

Cheers,

Will

#3 Mark M

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:49 AM

looking good, for the bulb just dip it on the pot of tamiya red clear then leave it to dry thats all

#4 Will Vale

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:55 AM

Ah, cunning stuff. I wonder if I can get enough of it free to avoid dipping the rest of the model - will try and report back.

Also I keep forgetting to add thanks to Paul (who built the Jigabachi in the TV + Movie GB) for pointing me at Kallan Partners where I found this discontinued kit! Thanks Paul!

Will

#5 Will Vale

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:02 AM

The dipping worked perfectly, thanks Mark!

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I think the mechanicals are done now, I've fitted the baffles, idlers and tracks. The latter rub gently against the baffles on the inside but it's not causing enough friction to be a bother.

What was a bother was that both the motors I bought appear to be duff - they have a lot of end float and when held in certain (most) positions they squeal and overheat. I thought initially I'd managed to damage the motor by pressing on the body while fitting the pinion, but I don't recall doing that, and the one I haven't touched is just as bad. For now, I've replaced the one I fitted with something salvaged from a mini-4WD belonging to my wife + daughter, much better. I also added a simple bearing (the fish-hook thing in the picture) to hold the weight of the drive axle and stop the gearbox rattling so much.

The whole mechanism is still pretty rough but the bits work and will hopefully stand up to 5 minutes playtime now and again.

Off to close it up now, if it fails after this it'll be a static display model :(

Will

#6 avro683

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:28 AM

Nice work Will. I have one of these but I don't think it has the motor in it. Looking forward to seeing more. In case you haven't done it already, "Pit of Peril" and "city of Fire" contain some very useful shots of the Mole, especially if you have a big telly!

Tony :clif:

Edited by avro683, 23 April 2012 - 11:31 AM.


#7 Will Vale

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:10 AM

Thanks Tony! I've just been watching those episodes, I think I'll go with the "City of Fire" version despite my daughter's love of "Pit of Peril" because it has a yellow end-cap, whereas from what I can make out in the earlier episode the entire end-cap is silver. It's a pity I can't take screencaps from the Blu-ray :(

There seem to be quite a few different versions of this kit - if yours has all the gear + shaft bags and things, but no motors, then it only needs a couple of 130-type motors to make it run. But there might be an entirely-static version too?

I've got some primer onto the Mole itself, and primer and paint on the base components:

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I'm going to attempt a pre-shade on the mole (my first one!) and see how that goes. The base is painted in Gunship Grey 2, which isn't blue enough but the shops are shut today (ANZAC day) so I'm going to try and change the tone with a blue filter and see what happens.

Perhaps more interestingly, I assembled one of the tracks. This requires cutting out and cleaning up 40-odd track links and supergluing them to the supplied rubber band. I think this one took a couple of hours, and there may still be loose links. I think the next one might go a bit faster.

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I'm going to wait until I've run the base and attached any detached links before giving the ends a final spray of black where I clipped them from the sprue, and painting them properly.

One interesting question is going to be how to weather it - the originals appear to have had some black wash and dirt added, but it's a bit non-scale looking, and I think doing a "modern AFV" weathering job might be more fun. There's also the question of yellow - the studio models are a lemony yellow, but I despise lemon yellow so I think I'll have to go with something warmer.

Sacrilege!

Will

#8 Niall

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 03:30 PM

The models used in the TV series were painted with gloss paints and weathered by rubbing unmixed powder paint over the model, dusting off the excess and fixing with varnish.

#9 Will Vale

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:52 PM

Interesting, thanks for that. I really like the finish on most of the hero models (you can see just how nice it is in the zooms during the opening sequence) but the Mole always seemed a bit slapdash by comparison. Too much black paint, or the contrast with yellow?

#10 Kallisti

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 12:36 AM

Very nice - I've got the Bandai Mole model which has some mechanisms for motorisation but ut isn't complete. Well they also use the side tracks as the "on/off" switch for the motor so thats a bit naff!

So if you are doing the Mole from City of Fire, we should try to team it up with my Firefly from the same episode...

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#11 Will Vale

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 12:10 PM

That would be cool - and your Firefly is great, the diorama looks just like the episode set - but there's quite a large geographical separation to overcome :( I must confess I haven't had to suffer with my kit nearly as much as you did - a bit of filler was the worst of it after getting the mechanicals working smoothly.

I cooled down the grey with Tamiya mid blue applied with brush and sponge (and retarder) in the manner of a filter. I think this worked reasonably well, and against the very warm yellow it hits the right cool blue notes. I also applied a few coats of Tamiya Camel Yellow and polished it ready for the decals.

They aren't my favourite modelling chore - I think it took me four sessions overall since I can only do so many before my hands shake. But the Aoshima decals were really well-behaved - thin, strong, sticky, and barring a few tiny wrinkles they settled down nicely under the Micro-Sol.

I did manage to lose the NITROGEN lettering after realising too late that it didn't fit in it's allotted space too well and trying to move it with a cocktail stick. I also dislodged one of the "LIQ OXY VENT" decals after applying the solvent, at which point it rolled it up into a 4mm ball. But five minutes of teasing with a paintbrush and I got it back! We'll see if it sticks after the Micro-Sol evaporates...

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Several of the decals are still wet in this picture, so (going by the others) I think they'll settle down OK when it dries properly.

The next question is what top-coat to use. I'll use Klear over the decals, but I think I need a satin finish on the mole, to contrast with Dullcote over the tank and gantry. I don't have any satin varnish so recommendations for something reliable I can brush on or get in a spraycan would be much appreciated. Hopefully I can finish this over the weekend.

Cheers!

Will

#12 Will Vale

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:19 AM

And a bit more. I've painted various details and added a scruffy pin wash to the entire thing and rubbed it out with a rag. I think this works better on the matt crawler than the glossy Mole.

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I couldn't resist unmasking it, which is probably stupid because I'll have to mask it up again. I'm thinking that a very gentle waft of Dullcote is what the Mole needs - that will kill the gloss and key the surface so I can paint the silver bits properly - but still retain some sheen. The crawler will get a proper go of Dullcote which will keep the contrast, though I might mask off the silver rails the Mole sits on. The rest of the metal will get a bit of shine back when drybrushed.

Things to do:

Sand and repaint drill
Paint the fences silver (or not - they seem to change between shots)
Lots of weathering.
Make the other track.
Tone down the panel lines?
Paint and fit the detail parts.
Various touch-ups and fixes.

Thankfully the mechanism still works after the painting and sealing up :D

Will

#13 GordonD

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:46 AM

That would be cool - and your Firefly is great, the diorama looks just like the episode set - but there's quite a large geographical separation to overcome :(

That wouldn't be a problem if your Mole was 1:1 scale...

#14 Kallisti

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 12:09 PM

Bloody hell that looks rather tasty! That yellow looks spot on and the drill looks brilliantly shiny - thats looking excellent on, nicely done!

I used Klear over the Firefly but didbn't have any decals for it. I ought to sort osome out at some point really! Then used matt spray and lots of pigments to muck it up and that gave it a nice dirty appearance.

#15 Smiffy

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 10:59 PM

That looks superb. I love it. :thumbsup:

I have the old Imai Mole, but it's :puke: (not as bad as the Firefly though, which is :repuke:). I might have to hunt one of these down now.

#16 Mark M

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:43 PM

glad i could help with the light


ive been away for a few days i come back and shes nearty done!!!!

cracking build mate

#17 Will Vale

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 05:37 AM

Thanks folks! I got quite a bit done this weekend - made the second track, primed all the little metal bits, and Dullcote-ed the mole and crawler. Then this afternoon I spent a couple of hours sanding down the seams and pin-marks on the drill, and have just primed and silvered it. Tamiya's silver leaf rattle can is really nice! Sorry Kallisti, it's not as shiny as it was, but I'm hoping to add some little highlights on the drill flutes and maybe some bluing as well?

I also took the time to take a proper photograph in daylight:

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I must confess there's been a fair bit of running it up and down going on too - the tracks and drive are excellent, albeit noisy. Brum brum!

Unfortunately I picked up the little propeller/cutting tip while the paint was moist, and went right through to the plastic. I'll have to sand that down and redo it later on.

That wouldn't be a problem if your Mole was 1:1 scale...

Hehehe.

#18 Will Vale

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 05:43 AM

I have the old Imai Mole, but it's :puke: (not as bad as the Firefly though, which is :repuke:). I might have to hunt one of these down now.

This site has the best emoticons!

If it helps, HLJ have this kit down as being re-released later this year, or you can follow Paul - Brazil's recommendation and try here:

Mole at Kallan Partners

Seems like a good price, they were very efficient at getting it to me, and they have some other goodies too. No connection other than satisfied customer etc.

Will

#19 marty_hopkirk

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 07:38 AM

Neat build. It is interesting watching this how one notices the kit parts that GA's model makers used - for example Aurora Atlas just screams out.

Marty...

#20 Will Vale

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 10:21 AM

I wasn't clued-up enough to recognise a lot of the parts myself, but from looking on specialist forums and at pictures of the old kits mentioned, I'm starting to see where they come from. It must be odd designing a kit like that, where your kit parts are copies of someone else's kit parts.

Will