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Darth Vader Figure by AMT/ERTL

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This is my very first WIP post I've ever attempted so please forgive any and all errors. Also I can't seem to get Flickr working here so I've opened a photobucket account as the instructions are very clear (they need to be for me!) in the FAQ section.

I've had this vinyl figure sitting in its box for ages but as I've just seen Ep VII and I don't have any of the nice shiny new Bandai kits I thought I give him a go.


Now I've never worked with vinyl before but I jumped straight in and after a bath (for him) I started trimming the excess away.


Using heat (a hair dryer) really softens the material and speeds up the cutting, in fact there is so little resistance when its hot I found I had to be ever so careful so I didn't go crazy and chop the entire arm off!

Here he is taped together (without the capes) just to see how he looks


The level of detail has really blown me away.

The only blemish in the entire kit is that the cape chain and lightsaber have done a runner :weep:

Now the chain should be a straight forward replacement but it looks like I may have to scratch build the lightsaber and I've never done anything like that before. The idea is a bit intimidating but I am looking forward to the challenge :thumbsup:

That's all for this evening, I hope you all had a splendid Christmas

Davros aka Mechanised Dwarf

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I built one of these a long time ago, it's an excellent figure.

A suggestion is to fill the legs with plaster to give it a bit of weight and to help keep it upright.

Another thing to be aware of is if you are going to use enamel paint, the figure will need a primer cote as enamels can react with the plastic.

Have fun with the model, looking forward to seeing your progress :)

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Looking great so far. Those old AMT vinyl figures can look fantastic. I never had Vader, but, back in the '90's, I picked up Quark from Deep Space 9 and was amazed at the quality of the sculpting (especially as he only cost about £3 from one of those bargain book stores)


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Looks like a cool kit.

As you've found heat helps, but can be a problem too. If you fill the legs with plaster of paris, which will help with balance, be aware that as the plaster sets it gets rather warm. Might be worth standing the legs in cold water whilst the plaster sets, to keep the heat down and prevent distortion.

Also as mentioned if you put enamel straight onto the vinyl, it will never dry, and stay forever tacky.

Superglue is best, or epoxy to glue the parts together.

Have fun. Vinyl can be a great medium to work in.

When he's finished, don't display him in a warm spot, keep him out of direct sunlight, as the heat will soften the vinyl and make him sag.

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thanks for the encouragement guys!

The feet, legs, torso, arms, hands and head only needed the barest sand after trimming the excess away. The capes are a completely different story!

There were so many lumps and bumps at both ends of both capes (well one cape and one surcoat so for brevity's sake its going to be capes!)

after cutting and sanding this is what was left


The question now is do I fill with normal putty or is there some super secret special filler for vinyl?

I think this is the ideal time to offer a caution to anyone else in a similar, vinyl, boat. Be careful with a dremel!

Just the barest pressure with a sanding drum at the slowest setting had my legs looking like this!


I think that is it for now

Davros aka Mechanised Dwarf

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I keep wondering about 2 things: the numbers above your post and whether or not you actually are a dwarf :P Liking your model and it looka like it's going to be a nice one when it's finished!

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Have the Luke figure in the stash somewhere it`s a shame they did`t work on the likeness on some of

the figures they produced.

The Mister Spock kit is very nice.

Vinyl can be strange ,I have a Sevans Captain Scarlet figure which was built and primed using my normal

car primer.

Enamel top coat till tacky after 25 years.

I fill legs with stone cast plaster makes them nice and heavy and although i have never had any heat distortion

i would still take preventative measures as noted in previous posts.

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Thanks for the warning about enamel paint but I only use acrylic paint over a gesso primer.
@TGA I have no idea what the numbers might be, if anyone does please illuminate me! As for the dwarf thing, when I first came out of hospital a friend said all I needed to be a D&D dwarf was an axe as I had a beard and now that I'm in a chair I am actually only 4 foot high! :-)

Back to Darth - I've got some herculite 2 mixed and sitting in the boots



Now onto painting this beastie.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a good airbrush ready acrylic high gloss black?

The only one I've got is "Vallejo Model Color Glossy Black" which I tried to use this evening, but when I mixed in a little Tamyia thinner the paint congealed in the airbrush which took ages to clean out :-(

Thanks again folks

Davros aka Mechanised Dwarf

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Darth is coming on well - looking forward to seeing him completed

PS - Dwarves are cool - Snow White had 7 of them (lucky her) and Tyrion Lannister has got to be the coolest and wittiest geezer ever since the beginning of time. And he "always pays his debts" so watch out anyone taking the micky out of dwarves or you may just end up meeting a nastier end than an audience with Darth Vader !

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Just a warning never use tamiya thinner with vallejo paint, it makes it go gloopy.

I learnt that the hard way! In all honesty for laying down the basic black on him i think I'd rattle can him with high gloss then mask off the glossy bits and spray some matte varnish.

Just a thought

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Thanks chaps.

I've been using the tamiya thinner for a few months now with Vallejo, Revell, Mig Ammo and GW paints both old (very!) and new and this was the first time I've made paint jelly, it looks like I have been very lucky :-( I've been very trigger shy with the X-20A since then and have only been using distilled water. I had a quick read about using car screen wash + distilled water for almost all acrylics and I will grab some from tescos next time I'm in town.

As for rattle cans I've never been a fan of them at the best of times, I've got some Revell gloss black due tomorrow so I'll give that a try if that looks doggy I'll have to go down to halfords.

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Well after a little break I've managed to lay down some gloss black (from Revell) followed by two coats of Vallejo gloss varnish



as you can see it went down a treat but when I got to the helmet I ran off the rails a bit. The paint sprayed perfectly fine but after the gloss went down I found there was a texture all over:


Is this the dreaded orange peel effect I have read about? If so is there anything I can do? If its not the orange peel does anyone know what it is and offer any recommendations as to a cure?

Any and all help will be gratefully received


Davros aka Mechanised Dwarf

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  • 2 weeks later...

So while the lid was sitting in Fairy Power Spray I decided to get started on the actual head.
I started by laying down some Revell black gloss #07 over a gesso primer.
After that had dried I started doing some silver detailing on the exposed circuitry.


I then painted the exposed flesh on the back with Pallid Wych Flesh from Games Workshop.


On the prop the lenses of Darth’s helmet are tinted very dark red but when I tried a red ink wash over the gloss black it looked really wrong. I wanted to do something to make the lenses look different to the rest of the black so I tried crystal black blue Ammo by Mig and I think they look rather good, what do you think?



In the centre of the scars I put a very dark purple (Hexed Lichen Game Air by Vallejo) and then started layering up through Warlord Purple into Squid Pink (both Game Air by Vallejo) then blended into Pallid Wych Flesh. I think I need a pale grey wash over the whole area to bring it closer to screen accurate.


Now a side view


And finally after I had re-primed the lid with a Halfords rattle-can primer I did a couple coats with Rust-Oleum’s Painters Touch Craft Enamel Gloss Black I plonked a rather dusty looking lid on top just to see what it looked like. I need to gloss coat the entire head and I will do quite a few layers on the lid to try to get as shiny as possible :D



Davros aka Mechanised Dwarf

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  • 2 weeks later...

Its looking really good so far !

I got half way threw building this model about 10 years ago. Stopped n put it back in my stash of W I Ps because i couldnt get the cape to shape how i wanted or stay attatched properly. Might have to dig it out n see if iv learned anything i can apply to it now.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry for the delay in updating chaps real life and my inability to paint that bloody dome (oh and a certain small 'falcon) are to blame!

So update time:

First up are the feet/lower leg sections, the screws were “supposed” to be straight but well as you can see things did not go quite to plan


I mixed up some milliput and wrapped it around the screw in each foot then (after cutting screw head sized holes in the bottom of the legs) pushed the upper leg section down and then cleaned up any milliput that squeezed out.


After that had cured I mixed up another batch of herculite 2 and carefully poured it into the leg section



While that was curing I attacked the torso. The neck/collar/shoulder bits were painted in Revell gloss black and the new mig ammo gun metal (a seriously nice gunmetal!) At the beginning I had decided to use the Empire Strikes Back version of Vader so the chest box was coloured accordingly in Revell gloss black, Vallejo air chrome, mig matt white, Vallejo basalt grey, Vallejo deep red and Citadel forest green. The belt buckle was Vallejo air chrome and Revell gloss black and the boxes were Revell gloss black, Vallejo deep red and Citadel forest green the red and green were covered in Tamiya clear red and green to give them a glassy switch-loke look and the silver was done with a pilot silver marker as it was brighter than the chrome.


Originally I was going to leave the plaster setting over-night but it ended up being about a week. I then went about connecting the torso to the legs.

As can been seen below there was a huge gap at each side.


So I layered cardboard strips until I got a good solid line around the entire waist.


At this point I turned my attention back to the head.

I wanted to be able to display him with the dome either on or off (to show off the lovely looking scar!) but I didn’t want the dome to just sit atop the head so I drilled a small indentation in the centre of the underside of the dome and glued in a 3mm neodymium magnet.


After that set I put the dome on the head and flipped it over and dropped another magnet into the head, when I was sure of the placement I dripped on some glue


And that, more or less, is were it stands at the moment. Just like "68 Squadron" said above the capes are really very poor in vinyl, they do not keep their shape at all so I have decided to ditch them completely and will be fabra-cobbling some fabric capes from actual fabric! Who'd of thunk it ;-)

Wish me luck chaps...

till next time

Davros aka Mechanised Dwarf

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