We're not building an Episode 1 style racer. I like those, but they simply don't match the aesthetic of the original trilogy. They look more like Harley-Davidsons. I don't want curves and chrome. I want matte, grey angles.
I was inspired by this build from Adam Savage at Tested. I'd never heard of styrene sheets before, but the whole process is laid out in this video.
Step 1: Mark Out Your Basic Shape
This plastic is sold as Styrene or Plasticard. I got it in A4 sheets. 1mm thick is good for structural stuff, and 0.5mm for the detail.
It's going to be a long thin vehicle, much like the shape of a WipeOut racer, so almost the entire body is defined by its profile. You can work directly to the plastic with a ballpoint pen, then lick your thumb and rub it out if it's wrong.
That little fella on a member of Red Venom of Manta Force fame. He's about 1:40 or 1:50 scale, so if I want similar scale bits for kit bashing, that's what I'm aiming for. My kids have trashed the Manta Force, so I doubt they'll miss this guy.
You cut styrene by scoring it with a craft knife along a metal ruler. You bend it away, then towards, then it cracks and falls apart.
Step 2: Welding the Walls
I bought a tub of plastic cement, but I'm pretty sure I was ripped off! It's clear once it's open, that it's exactly the same chemical as nail varnish remover. Just go to a discount pharmasist and get the cheap stuff.
It works by dissolving the plastic. It's very slow. You put a bit of plastic cement on, hold it against another piece of plastic, and it sticks. You get time to move it before it sets. It holds well enough to work after about 10 seconds, then continues to get stronger over minutes.
Dispense a little of it into something it won't melt. I use a glass ramekin - glass cleans easily. Metal or glazed ceramic would work. Use a pain brush to paint some along both edge you want to stick, then hold them together.
Very simple; very quick.
Step 3: Tidy Up the Edges
This is model filler. I applied it with toothpicks, as suggested by Humbrol, until I decided that was too slow. Then I used my finger.
I got that emery board free with a keyboard. No idea why. It's got just the right grit and has the correct amount of give to tidy up around the edges though. You can get these for next to nothing - again, back to the pharmacist with you.
Step 4: Kit Bashing Begins
I wanted military stuff which was the same scale as my little guy. 1:48 is a pretty common scale, and I knew planes would have some useful parts other kits wouldn't. These two were going cheap because they're old stock in wrecked boxes - that'll do nicely.
Oddly, only one of the planes has a seat which fits. The other's idea of 1:48 is a little little. I checked; it wasn't my mistake. But I can't remember which one was good. Sorry. Regardless, I actually used the oddly small kit.
The seat is the cockpit below the seat, with a piece of thruster as a back rest. I cut the top down so it would sit more flush with the top of the model and found an instrument panel for over his legs.
Step 5: Grabbing the Parts I Can't Build
At this point, the wings are 1mm thick with no shape to them. I didn't fancy building them up with filler or adding a second face, so that's why I needed plane kits. These wing tips fit quite well, and the rest can be filled.
I'm also using a thruster from one of the kids. I've added a cone to make it longer, then sanded it down on some wet and dry until it fit snug. I have no idea what the cone was supposed to be.
You'll want needle files to sand awkward bits like these.
Step 6: Putting the Cockpit In
I made a draft hole from some off-cuts, so I could use it as a stencil. We're about to cut into a model I'm growing fond of, so it's best to get it right.
The seat slides in so the front and back under the top panels, so that's where we weld to. I then dropped a couple of sheets down the side to make the inner walls, cut them flush, and let filler and elbow grease correct my mistakes.
Step 7: Inlets
I really didn't like the idea of having a propulsion system that looks like it chucks out hot gas, without having an inlet for air. I'm not going for real, but realistic would be nice.
I really wanted NACA ducts, but couldn't find anything that quite fit. I was certain I would run out of skill before I managed to make one from scratch, so had to come up with a simpler design.
In thinner sheet, the inlets are made of little strips. Three strips which you can see on the outside of the model - with the middle cut so it can push in - and two more underneath to maintain the structure. Once the holes were cut and the inlets welded in place, I added another short strip at the back for aesthetics.
(actually, this is all for aesthetics! I fastened loads of plastic together for aesthetics)
Step 8: Lots More Kit Bashing
My strategy is to look for the most barren piece of surface, then add something which looks like it belongs there. Then repeat, until done.
The first step is to identify a load of potential parts, cut them out, and sand off the nasty bits. That means you can keep taking from the pile, so you don't lose flow.
This is the best bit. It completely transforms the model.
Because the final cockpit position is tilted slightly forwards, my tiny chap slides forwards a bit. The gap behind him is just right for a backpack, so that's what he got - including aerial.
Step 9: And Paint
...or Done. Because that's where I'm going to leave this Instructable.
I will paint it, but that comes later. If I'm happy with the result, I'll post it here.
And yes, that's a tester pot of Farrow and Ball. It's awful paint, but from a really lovely colour range. I can't recommend getting their tester pots then paying someone to mix your chosen colour in something you'd be happy to put on your walls enough! This particular example is also very pale, which is useful because the undercoat I chose is way too dark for me to want to paint over.