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1:144 T-16 Skyhopper Scratch Build

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So I was wondering what to do with the second diorama base I made while making my Hoth box diorama. I'm planning a different construction technique for the tile-able dioramas I want to make, so I knew this would be another one-off. Figuring I'd made a snow scene already, the obvious choice should be a desert scene. Maybe something Tatooine-ish, and get another Snowspeeder and paint it in desert colors? That would be pretty cool, but maybe a bit repetitive...OH, of course! Beggar's Canyon!


Wait, there's no 1:144th scale T-16. Well, it's mostly straight slabs...how hard can it be?



("how hard can it be" is how I end up neck deep in most of my hobbies....)



I've never scratch-built a complete ship before, so this should be interesting! I started with a SketchUp model -- there are several decent ones in the SketchUp 3D Warehouse.  I started with this one (although in retrospect, this one and this one might be more accurate. There may be a revision two down the line....). I'd actually already taken that model and scaled it to the canonical size listed in the starwars.com databank a while back. I took the model, broke it apart, added dimensions, and scaled it down by 0.007 (1/144). 




Bust out the styrene sheets, pencil, steel ruler, and hobby knife. 


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Check it next to a Bandai X-Wing - scale looks reasonable. 




One thing I learned very quickly, for next time - scribe the panel lines *BEFORE* you assemble the parts!


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I think it's starting to look pretty skyhopper-ish!


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After getting the front canopy pieces scribed (messy) and installed (tricky), I started on the fun bit - greeblification of the rear engine area and the underside. 


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I used this hilarious little $1.50 desktop mini-vise I got from Daiso Japan to hold the thing upside-down while I glued on the underside greeblies. 








And that's where it's at so far. I'm feeling pretty chuffed for one evening's work.  I actually have an improvised laser cannon already - the engine from an F-toys X-wing and the broken laser cannon from my first Bandai X-wing actually work pretty damn well. I remade the lower wings in thinner styrene, which looks a lot better at the scale, but I scribed the panel lines too deep and the wings snapped along them. So new lower wings with some reinforcement are up next, followed by figuring out where to put the mounting hole, and more greeblies and then paint! Once the ship is done I'm going to start on Beggar's Canyon for it to fly down....

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Tonight's progress - I made new lower wings, with a center rib for reinforcement, then attached them with some mitered square tubing to act as a support/wing mechanism. I may regret putting the wings on before finishing the underside, but I couldn't wait to see it with wings. I hear patience is a virtue, it's just rarely one of mine.....


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Edited by monsterpartyhat
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That's a great idea for a project, and the results are looking fantastic.


If Bandai stop making the box scale kits, it looks like we can turn to you to pick up where they left off.

How about a 1/144 blockade runner next :D



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Morning update, mounting the under-belly cannon. This is made from an X-wing engine and laser cannon. Before I started building the Bandai vehicle model kits, I got a few F-Toys 1:144th scale toys. They're all slightly larger than they're Bandai counterparts, and I (of course) lost one of the engines as soon as I took it apart, so now it's kit-bash fodder. 




I'll be adding some more detail to it before the build is done. A test press-fit of the tab into a slot on the underside of the ship:




Looks OK, but it's riding too high up. There's also a problem in that if I mount it permanently like that, the Skyhopper won't fit in a vehicle model box anymore.




So....time to modify!


I took a piece of sprue, threw it in my cheapo plastic mini-vise, and very carefully drilled out one end using a pin vise, then inserted one of the magnets I've been using my dioramas. The sprue is 3mm, and the magnet is 3/32", so with a little care you can cleanly embed a magnet in the end of the sprue. 


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Next up, on the Skyhopper side - I drilled a 3mm hole, then in the bottom of that hole I drilled a further 3/32" hole to put the other magnet in. If you look closely you can see the magnet embedded at the bottom of the peg-hole. 


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More time with the pin vise (which is now one of my favorite tools) to attach the magentized sprue to the cannon:




And voila!






The cannon now holds securely, can swivel, and is removable for storage. Which is also useful as I can re-use the cannon for another Skyhopper build, should I decide in the future that I want a more accurate one. 




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Stopped at the art supply store to pick up some styrene on my way home today, so I could add on some of the antenna-ish bits & bobs, and that central cylindrical (instrument cluster? secret nuclear missile? enormous cigar rolled from illegal outer rim territories tobacco?) thing. 


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Also added a solid block to the rear bottom that I could drill out for a mounting point. 

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Last night I put more greebles on the rear and the sensor bits, and smoothed out the bottom with some Milliput. I also had to build a new front end for the cannon, as I accidentally snapped the shaft off. 


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Then this morning I hit it all with primer and started in on the painting. Masked off the entire top area after covering it in light gray, to spray the underside white - then when that was done, I masked off a few stripes and the main canopy windows. I hand painted a few details in black in places that will be metallic - black is a much better base for the most of the Vallejo metallics than white is. 


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The rear main engine gets a couple of coats of duraluminum, with a transparent pearl blue in the center for the engine exhaust color. 






Now that I've done it, I'm not so sure about my decision to paint the cannon in duraluminum and gun metal. We'll see after it's weathered and those are dulled down a bit, but I might strip it (or just scratch build a new one - interchangeable cannons!) . The row of black panels underneath the canopy window is also too tall. I may paint out half of the height with grey. If I make another I'm not going to attempt to scribe those panels, just mask them. 


As ever, even more photos are in the flickr album.


On to weathering next!

Edited by monsterpartyhat
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The old gun was fine, but the new one does look a lot better.

As for the window scribing, if you make another you could use very thin plasticard for the panel, and cut the apertures out and stick some clear sheet behind.

Then, you know...scratch build a full interior :coolio:



Edited by AndyRM101
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On to decals and paint-chipping. I've got a set of Nicholas Sagan's excellent Rogue One Blue Squadron 1:144th scale decal set - I've added a few of the general signage ("EXIT RELEASE", obvious blocks of red warning text, etc...) decals in places to up the general level of detailing. I've also completed most of the paint-chipping phase of weathering. 




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There's two techniques at play here - the chipping on the red stripe was done with a 20/0 brush, very lightly loaded and lightly dabbed. The dark gray chipping on the gray wing surface is done with a sponge. I bought a 25-pack of makeup sponges from Daiso Japan (notice a theme? There's one down the block from my office, and everything in it is $1.50...) which will probably last me for years. It gives a much finer scale of chipping than using a kitchen sponge. 


Interestingly, while the chipping looks much more in-scale close up, as soon as I pull back to look at the model from 2 feet away or more, most of it disappears and I'm left just seeing the larger chips...similar in size to the brush-painted ones. So, six of one, half a dozen of the other in final effect, I think, when you consider viewing distance....

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Well, I think I'm ready to call this one done. Paint chipping, dirt washing, and some streaking and additional wear using various Tamiya weathering masters. On to Beggar's Canyon next! Here's a couple of quick iPhone snaps - proper photos when I have time. 


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One other observation - this is one model that I really liked completely clean as well. Maybe because the original studio model was clean, and was used as a toy model in the movie, rather than weathered to be shot as a proper vehicle. I'll probably build a more accurate one eventually, and likely leave that one un-weathered, or just very lightly weathered. 

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I've really enjoyed seeing this take shape on Flickr, it's a lovely little thing. Are you going to make a womp rat, or even a womp rat splat?




"The only thing round here on which I'm kee-een,

is bulls-eyeing womp rats in my tee sixtee-een."





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Welp, I've been sick for most of this week, and feeling too clumsy and befuddled to actually work on models (I spilled 3 paint jars last weekend :think:), so I've been fiddling around digitally, and made plans for a more accurate 1:144th T-16. 


I started with this model - T-16 Skyhopper (Photomatch) and did lots of editing to extract the major pieces, get them all in the same plane, scaled down, and annotated with dimensions. This is a more thorough job of which I did initially, with what looks to be a much more accurate model. I've been checking it against Jason Eaton's studio scale model and it looks generally pretty good. 


So....T-16 #2 is probably on already :)



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  • 1 year later...

So, more than a year later.....my wife got me a Cricut Maker cutting machine for my birthday, and I quickly re-drafted the above plans in SVG and started playing with the machine. 


Started out with a test cut in printer paper to get used to the software. 




That worked pretty well, so I moved on to a test cut in .020" styrene sheet. 






I was able to assemble that quite quickly with a little square styrene rod for bracing. 








So, thanks to the work I did over a year ago to convert the accurate 3D model to a 2D pattern, I was able to go from unboxing the machine to a credible 1:144 scale T-16 in just a few hours:






The machine can hold 2 tools at once, raising the possibility of doing cuts and panel lines without having to stop and change tools, but the scoring stylus doesn't really make deep enough marks. I have a scoring wheel that makes deeper marks on order, but it has to be swapped out with the knife blade I'm using for the cuts, but it should still be a completely automated process other than a tool swap in the middle. 


Because the canonical T16 panel lines didn't work out on this test run, I experimented with Corellian-style plating, cutting some pieces out of .005" styrene, the thinnest I can find. 




Notches as small as 0.5mm by 1.0mm actually cut out cleanly! Making clean notched plating for scratch builds a reality, since I can't cut that cleanly by hand (I've tried, many times). 






I'm now working on refining the pattern to make it even easier to assemble, as some of the parts can slide together with mating slots for precise alignment. 

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