I had intended upon writing a monthly blog on the DeAgostini Millennium Falcon part-build… But look how time flies! Three months whipped by and I hardly noticed. So, time for a catch-up. At the end of January we had assembled everything from the first five issues but had started no customisations. The degree to which we upgraded the Falcon was driven purely by three things: references, what others had done and what aftermarket came available. To this end I signed up to several different emerging Facebook forums and quickly plugged into the online community engaged in building the DeAgostini Falcon. This furnished a lot of references and inspiration.
One thing we have discovered in this project is the spreading use of 3D printing, not only by hobbyists at home but also professionally via online places like Shapeways where anyone can load a CAD file to be printed. The many flaws and compromises in the DeAgostini Falcon became quickly obvious. The rear seats in the cockpit were all wrong. Items for the main hall are inaccurately shaped or missing entirely. So we turned to 308 Bits (TonyRR) initially on Shapeways to supply additional items and replacements to start the improvements. As we quickly found this pushed the project in a direction that had not originally been envisaged. Originally all I wanted was to do a little painting, weathering and dry brushing to enhance the look. But once the many inadequacies became apparent it was clear that so much more was possible.
From Shapeways we ended up procuring the following items:
- 3 new Nav Seats
- “Hall Bits” (internal storage containers) sets 1, 2 and 3
- A Belly gun
- New hall floor grills
- Hall Nav console
- Cockpit overhead console
- Cabin Cone
- Hall Bunk & end panel
- Hall front wall pillars & part-roof-joists
Work started with painting the cockpit. This I had always intended upon doing. I removed the stickers or masked them before airbrushing on a new coat of Humbrol Enamel 67. This gave a good surface on which to add weathering with pastel dust. This was sealed in with a coat of Klear before a wash of Black Oil Paint diluted with white spirit went on. When dry I dry-brushed on various shades of grey and white to pluck out all the details. Then everything was assembled again. The control columns were added before they were washed with Tamiya Smoke. The front seats were painted and weathered.
DeAgostini have the cockpit door deeply inset into the rear bulkhead in order to support the rear LED panel. I cut out a new door panel and mounted the sticker on that before adding plasticard supports underneath in order to bring the new door forward and flush with the bulkhead. 308 Bits do print an entirely new rear bulkhead & door that is a vast improvement over the DeAgostini items. However to light it would require a new lighting kit with LEDs which would have added time & expense to the project. The improvements would hardly be seen so I stuck with the DeAgostini bulkhead & stickers.
Next we added the new floor to the hall by cutting out the existing floor grill and putting a plasticard backing sheet in the gap. This will support the new floor. I then filled the old DeAgostini floor panel lines with filler and smoothed down. I lined up the new 308 Bits 3D printed floor panels and cut the holes for the “pits”. Under the floor I added the “I” beams with Plastruct extrusions. After a coat of black paint on the floor the floor grates were airbrushed a scale black before all being superglued into position. There followed some modifications to the hall seating.
I had bought a new cockpit cone from 308 Bits to overcome the shape problems on the standard cone, but Shapeways sent the wrong item. It had the side consoles moulded on. However I found that the DeAgostini cockpit still fitted inside. All I had to do was to snip of the rearward projecting foot shelves (what else do you call them?) and everything fitted. It did mean I had to abandon the DeAgostini consoles but this was no great loss. The DeAgostini cockpit looks a little small in the new cone so I fitted a new bulkhead underfloor to improve the look. Here we see a picture of the new cone and new Nav station.
Everything got a good dose of paint before I started work on assembling and detailing the hall walls, bunk and seating. The walls have a number of cut-out sections around the entrance doorway and Nav station that DeAgostini chose to ignore completely. These were marked onto the walls and cut out. I backed them with plasticard and filled them out with greeblie from the spares box and lots of copper wiring. I added Plastruct extrusion surrounds to match the photos. I fixed the back wall in place with the vertical pillars before adding further spares box greeblie to match the photos. Not too well as it turned out. Later references showed I got it wrong.
On the opposite wall I test fitted the new Bunk and Wall items I got from Envisaged_Image on Shapeways. Although looking good the wall item need to be further forward by about a cm so as to be correctly positioned relative to the Bunk end wall. I took the opportunity to drop the floor level as well to match the real Falcon studio set. I mounted the 3D printed wall piece of Plastruct extrusions to bring it up to the right height. A new thin floor was constructed that simply fixed under the DeAgostini floor panel. The wall was cut in two and new side panel added. Everything is left unglued allowing us to move items around later in the build.
This is necessary as we do not know what DeAgostini will do with the space behind that wall. This factor remains true to other modifications where we may need to use space behind a wall. On the right we have a shot of the new bunk and end panel. I further modified and detailed the end panel as well as adding a few details to the DeAgostini item underneath. You have to carefully cut the DeAgostini bunk off the base unit to fit the 3D printed item on top. Just visible to the right on the back of the grey seat unit as a bunch of scratchbuilt breathing units that references show hanging down.
Returning to the Hall floor I spent some time constructing the underfloor “I” beam structure inside the pits. Once again I did not construct the pits themselves as we do not know how deep they will go. Only when they can be mated to the fuselage will we know how much space there is. Then they can be boxed in. One of the pits will be closed anyway but has been left open for now to allow painting at a later stage before adding the pit covering grate. Note in the background of this picture you can see the floor-level air vents replicated with a photo-etch grill. This was from a set I originally intended to use for the floor grates.
Next we started work on the side wall opposite the entrance. This was extended at the thin end to cover the space left by the extension of the front wall (on the right). Next we drilled through and opened up the med-bay door that is seen blocked off by two barrels in ESB. We have 308 Bits “hall bits” with barrels perfect for this. The rest is all scratchbuilt. Here we see more inset panels in which greeblie and copper wiring will be added later. Overhead wiring is also due to be added at this stage. The med-bay floor will need to be extended rearwards depending upon how much space DeAgostini will give us behind that wall.
Returning to the back of the Hall we had a look at the support beams in this area. They terminate at a ‘head’ height for no apparent reason. At that level a beam should extend to the rear bulkhead. The top of upper pipe should touch that beam. This reveals the pipes to be grossly undersized. Their diameter is 9.1mm but I estimated they should be about 13 to 14mm diameter if they are to match the size seen in the movies. I will look out for some cheap plastic rod to replace the two DeAgostini items. As I write this the folks in the world of 3D printing are planning the new beams so we may procure a set to rework this area.
So that is almost exactly where we are today Tuesday 28th April 2015. Of course there have been other small jobs to be done. One of these is the on-going assembly of the outer hull. This continues on the kitchen table week-in/week-out and is a relief from the intensity of the butchery needed around 3D printed parts. You just screw it together and follow the instructions. I have done a little surgery on the 3D printed seats. I will use the lugs moulded on the DeAgostini cockpit floor to mount two of them hence I cut off the moulded-on bases to two of the seats. The base scale-grey has been painted on these and they are ready to have the seat colours hand-painted on.
I leave you with another glance at the part-assembled hall to talk about those seats under the bunk. DeAgostini had the seat backs follow the full semi-circle but this was obviously wrong. The excess seat backs were cut off. At their base there is a control panel which I creates with plasticard and filler. This was detailed with photo-etch control panel greeblie before everything was painted. I have also painted (by hand) the interior of the bunk with its distinctive cushion colour. Next I need to add the scale-black panels see inside the bunk enclave. After that a couple of more pipes need adding there too.
So that’s a wrap for now. In the next instalment we hope to have the hall and nose cone all painted and assembled. Sounds easy when you say it but that will end up being quite a bit of detail painting. I do hope that most of the hard work is behind us and that assembling the connecting corridor tubes requires a lower standard of detail and that things can start to revert back to a standard build-out-of-the-box. Then maybe life can return to normal and we can crack on with the two Sukhoi cold war jets.