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Roktman

Avatar's AT-99 Scorpion

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These helicopters drew my attention right away while watching Avatar. There was two types, the Scorpion and the Samson.   The Scorpion is shown below. The Samson has a V shaped rear stabilizer.

Avatar%2BScorpion.jpg


Fantastic Plastic really got into the movie and produced a number of kits based on the movie. I wanted the one Trudi flew for a vignette, but picked the wrong one. No matter the vignette will continue without Trudi.

Avatar_Trudi.jpg


At a recent local model club meeting, one of the guys there said that he had this model and it was so difficult that it stopped him dead.  Having the same model, I was interested in seeing what was going on with this kit, so I took it out of the stash. 

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 Upon opening it I saw immediately what he was talking about. What a mess! There is flash everywhere - not including the flash that keeps small parts together, which I think is good. But the other stuff. Every part is going to need attention.  Then there are these big blobs where the mold had previously been ripped away, so the next pour fills these voids with resin. One such piece is shown - 

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Even the flat pieces have this odd wrinkled look to them - 

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This was really disappointing. I really like FP, but this has to be the worst kit I got from him. But having gotten in to garage kits in the mid 90's I am familiar with kits that were basically lumps of resin. Starting with the hull, which had that odd wrinkles what should be smooth parts  there was a lot of shaving, dremeling, and sanding to be done. Then some of the panel lines were incomplete, and bubbles in some of the smaller protuberances.  Additionally of of the boxy pieces that were molded on to the hull were very soft or misshapen. I cut them off and will replace them later on.   This caster, MMI, has some nerve giving these parts to FP as "professional" work. 

After four hours of work I had 4 parts together - 

IMG_2839.jpg

More soon. Stay tuned.

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Work moves slowly with this kit. So slowly that I'm just taking pics at the end of a session to record what was done. This entry is the result of 3 sessions.

In this session I cut off what was a pour plug on the tail. Because the kit is rough, I don't want to cut off anything that should remain.  Next was to clean the horizontal tail plane and then the two vertical stabilizers.  What I also did was to again take out the rivet maker for 1/72 and drew rivets all over.
 

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The next day I was back and the next step was to add the forward winglets to the front of the craft. On it are two gatling guns. The flash etc... for the winglets were *bad*. Looking at the guns, one of them had the mold slip and left a step. Repairing the barrels were just too difficult so I cut them off and added new barrels out of 1.2mm styrene rods. 
 

IMG_2848.jpg

After cleaning them up, they looked rather weak so I decided that I would add them later to the craft to avoid them being constantly knocked off.

For day 3, I turned to the large wings and also the rocket canisters. There are two different kinds. One set with a long "handle", and one with short ones. I should have 6 long ones, and 4 short. But no matter how I counted, I was one short of the long and one extra on the short. They were so badly cast, that there may have been a long one where and thought it short and cut what I thought was the pour plug ...

But first the wings seemed fairly easy to clean up. After the cleanup I decided to add the rivets. I rolled along nicely until PLOP! I fell in a hole. It was a bubble just under the surface. OK, I'll have to fix that. Then a few minutes later - PLOP again. Another hole! 
I hold the piece up to the light, and there were 3 of them. One, luckily I missed. The other two got the Aves treatment. 
 

IMG_2852.jpg


Now came the canisters. Most of them were bad.

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The rest of the session was taken up by cleaning these canisters.  Even more time was spent drilling the small holes at the back of the canisters. There's nothing I can do about the little nubs in the front. 
 

IMG_2857.jpg
 
More coming soon. Thanks for looking.

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Part 3

The torment continues. Moving on, I was up to tackling the missiles and their racks.  Once again I had to dig the missiles and racks out of a lot of flash - 

IMG_2860.jpg

 

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 I cleaned two of them, and noticed that, once again, the mold had slipped or something - the missiles had this wide seam down the side and was also twice as wide as it should have been.  Ok, I'll have to make my own. I cut the tip off one of the missiles and took my trusty 1.2mm rod to make up the length of the missile. With the vanes were equally wonky, I took some flat styrene stock and cut out a rectangle. gluing it to the rod, it became quickly apparent this wasn't going to work. I had 8 missiles to do.   Nope I was going to buy some aftermarket missiles. 
Heading to eBay I quickly found quite a few missile sets. The one I chose was this one - 

avatar_missiles.jpg

 I noticed that while I needed 8 missiles - on the model they were all the same type - none of the aftermarket ones had 8 missiles. This meant that I would have to buy two boxes of them. Am I out of my mind?! I'm not paying an extra $10 for 2 missiles from the second box. So this AT-99 will have 4 of one kind and 4 of another.  There was no way to pay for shipping (it was free) to get them here faster, so I'll have to wait for the 1st week of Sept. - when they arrive - to continue the missile part.

Then I actually caught a break. I was watching the Sunday marathon of military aircraft on the Smithsonian Channel. One show was the story of the Apache helicopter. Then it hit me where the design for the Scorpion came from. It was so obvious, I don't know why I didn't see it right away. It also solved 2 problems I had. On the kit there was these 3 protuberances. I couldn't tell what they were as each of them had a big bubble hole on the side. The instruction images were also useless (more on that later).  But seeing the show helped immensely. They ended up being two transmission gear boxes, and a light - 

avatar_intakes.jpg

 

avatar_light.jpg

Once again I cut the nubs off and for the gearboxes I found a styrene tubes of similar diameter, glued them on and then shaped it as close as I could get it to whats in the picture.  For the light I took a .5mm (?) clear rod and matched it to the size of the nub. I left a little of the nub to act as a seat for the light.  How could I make it a light? what I did was take out a micro drill bit and drilled out a hole as close to center as I could. Inside it looked a little rough, so having just Futured my canopy, I dipped the light into Future and it got rid of all the drill marks. 🙂 Images showed both a red light and a yellow light.  I took some Vallejo transparent red and a tiny brush and put some red into the hole. I'll install this after the painting and weathering is complete.

Enough for one day. More soon. Thanks for looking. 

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Wow, this is truly magnificent! You are handling the issues exceptionally well Kevin, I commend you. I also love the look of the Avatar helicopter.

 

Is this a resin kit? It would be thrilling having a plastic kit of one of these.

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Thanks Mark. Yes, it's all resin.  A styrene one would be nice and a conversion would be fairly labor intensive. The hardest part would be converting a 2 seater Apache to the one seat Scorpion. You would also prolly have to get a Hind copter for the angled armament wings. Wouldn't have a clue about the rotors and rings. There are two rotors per assembly.

Moving on with part 4

I needed to take a break from cleaning the bad castings and started to paint the few parts that I thought was ready to go. First up was the rotor blades, and ring assembly - 

IMG_2867.jpg


Then moved on the to fuselage - 

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The final for the day is I took one of the pilots from the 1/72 scale pilot and crew set and painted him up. The Avatar pilots had just a typical green jumpsuit. The main characters had helmets with no visors, but mine did so I just painted it gloss black.  His shoes were left unpainted. In trying him out in the seat, he was too big. It was either dremel out under the cockpit or cut off with the feet...  Bye bye feet - you don't really see them under the canopy anyway. 😉

IMG_2875.jpg

Thanks for looking. Part 5 coming next.

 

Edited by Roktman

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Looking great so far. I like the pilot, that is a great addition.

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Hi, Kevin,

I fully appreciate your frustration with resin castings that come from worn out molds that are missing some of the rubber.  If you were picking out pieces or chunks of the rubber mold as you cleaned up your pieces, that means the next person who got a piece from that mold got one that was worse than the one you received.

I was sorely disappointed after buying some interior wall kits for the 1/48 B-17.  The parts were warped way out of shape to fit the fuselage interior.  Flash was everywhere, and it was hard to differentiate between flash and part.  Short shots and misaligned mold halves made some pieces worthless.  The molds had been damaged, but the company simply used tape to cover over some of the holes in the mold in order to keep using them; the tape showed on the resin pieces.  Just because it is resin does not mean it is better.  Some problems can be corrected; some can not.

Best of luck in completing your AT-99 Scorpion.

Ed

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7 hours ago, ewahl said:

Hi, Kevin,

I fully appreciate your frustration with resin castings that come from worn out molds that are missing some of the rubber.  If you were picking out pieces or chunks of the rubber mold as you cleaned up your pieces, that means the next person who got a piece from that mold got one that was worse than the one you received.

I was sorely disappointed after buying some interior wall kits for the 1/48 B-17.  The parts were warped way out of shape to fit the fuselage interior.  Flash was everywhere, and it was hard to differentiate between flash and part.  Short shots and misaligned mold halves made some pieces worthless.  The molds had been damaged, but the company simply used tape to cover over some of the holes in the mold in order to keep using them; the tape showed on the resin pieces.  Just because it is resin does not mean it is better.  Some problems can be corrected; some can not.

Best of luck in completing your AT-99 Scorpion.

Ed

Agreed. It's a shame  they they sell stuff like that. But to give Fantastic Plastic a fair shot, they do say if you don't like a kit, for any reason, it can be returned for a full refund. I just wanted to see if I could muscle thru it.

Warped parts I can handle, but short shots etc and even bubbles are a foul. With today's methods of degassing and pressure casting there's no need for any of that. Just tells me they guy is taking the cheap way out just for the $$ and NOT for the love of the hobby - cause none of these guys are sending kids to college on garage kit sales...

Anyway, Part 5

I thought this session I would be done with the copter, and would start on the base/vignette. Nope, not to be.

First thing I did was paint the gray stripe a light blue so at least you can see the guy in the cockpit. what I also did was the figure is made for a plane with both hands on controls. Since no one can really see in anyway, I took two pieces of stretched sprue and made two sticks - yep, I know that isn't accurate - just so the pilot is flying it with *some* controls. 😉

IMG_2876.jpg

Then having glued the front and back of the canopy to hold it in place the other day, I did the sides today.  Then I puttied and even painted it. But looking at the pic, it's really uneven and need to get in there with more putty. Even with the bright blue stripe and a few coats of Future, the vac form canopy isn't that clear... 😞

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While I was waiting for the canopy to dry, I did a little more weathering. All of the vehicles in the movie were well looked after, so while I want them to looked used, I didn't want them all beat up.

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One last thing for the day is I got out the missiles from the 1/72 set, and SOB $#$&*@#   they are gigantic compared to the missiles in the kit. All I can guess it that they used 1/144 scale missiles. From the looks of them they are sidewinders. So I found 1/144 Sidewinders on ebay.  we'll see, if they don't fit, I guess I WILL have to make my own. But I'll be mad about it.

Thanks for looking. I should really finish up next time.

Edited by Roktman

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Congrats on muscling through this so well. Everything is looking great so far. Sorry about the missiles. Hopefully the next ones will look better.

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AT-99 Scorpion part 6

 
Only a small update since the 1/144 Sidewinders came in from eBay. But as it turns out it's one step ahead, one step back. Putting the decals on last time, and after multiple coats of Micro Sol, it's obvious they they are not going to settle in. I guess I put too much of the decal film over the top of them. Dang it!
So I scraped the decals off and will look for generic numbers from my spare decals. 

The missiles look great, and the perfect size. As can be seen in the pics, they are from OzMods. The arrow points to one that came with the kit. You can see how distorted it is compared to OzMods'.
 
IMG_2895.jpg
Arrow points to the one that came with the kit.

There is a very fine bit of flash between the pour stub and the missile on each one plus an attachment point mid missile that needs to be removed. The other connection point is one of the tail fins. Once the stub mid missile is cut, the other breaks away cleanly by just rolling the missile over.

Once cleaned, they were primed and then painted with V's Zinc Chromate. To add a little color I wanted to add yellow to the tips. V's yellow is pretty weak, so first I had to add white. Each one was a quick dip.
IMG_2897.jpg
Even tho the flash was minimal,  because they are so thin, it takes time to cleanup. Leaving them to dry, they will be added next session. 
Thanks for looking.

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Most impressive! That comparison shot of the two missiles sure does explain why you went with the aftermarket ones. Good call! Everything is looking great!

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  Thanks Mark!!

This session I started out by cleaning up the yellow tips of the rockets, and then went crazy for a few moments and painted green stripes around the yellow. 

You'd think at this point, the model would just let me finish, but no. The rockets went on the pylons well enough, but the pylons just wouldn't go on straight. Then it gets to the point where I touched the ca, and then the part sticks to your finger with the tiny molecule of ca more than where it's supposed to go with a full coating of ca.  UGH. Eventually they did go on. 

Then I rethought the base I was considering. The copter would have been flying. It also meant that I would have to dismantle the rotor rings and replace the static rotors with circles of acetate mimicking spinning. I wasn't about to do that!!!

Finally I remembered that I only put decal film on the decals I was going to use. Coincidentally, on the latest Lou Dalmasso show on You Tube, he tests decals on an extra piece of styrene to see what happens if not using Decal Film.  So I did the same thing. Nothing bad happened, so I took the extra numbers and added them to the tail, making sure I cut all the extras from around the printed parts. There was also two rescue in the arrow markers that I added near the cockpit.

So here we have it done.

Thanks for looking. 
 

IMG_2907.jpg

 

IMG_2908.jpg

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Wow! You made nice work out of a brutal kit. Kudos to you for seeing it through.

I'm so surprised as to what passes for acceptable from US domestic garage kit suppliers. I have a friend that builds Studio Scale Star Wars and Star Trek kits. You should see the crappy quality he pays $800 to several grand for.

 

 

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Kevin that is sensational! Man, you really knocked that out of the park. Way to go!

 

Bryan, I do slightly better than crappy work; how can I get a piece of that pie?

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Thanks guys! I am SO ready to move on to the next kit. I found a nice one that I got way back in '04. LOL And it's only 4 parts. 😉  Stay tuned...

Having been a buyer from FP for a while, I've noticed that he has a number of casters that he relies on. Being the guys that do excellent work are busy, I guess he has to reply on second stringers some times.  There was a recent  video review by UK group, International Scale Modelers,  of  their model The Milano from Guardian of the Galaxy. He points out a number of things wrong with the kit - I can agree as I also have it - and it was casted by the same guy(s) that did this Avatar copter...  Thankfully, FP puts down who the kit was mastered and cast by and from these two kits no matter how "once in a lifetime chance" to get a kit of "X" I will avoid any  more kits cast by MMI.

But to answer your question I think it's the "buy it or do without forever" scenario, that guys, like me, buy these less than average kits. But as I have a stash that most likely still be here after I've gone room temperature, I'm a bit more selective. I have to really want it, and it has to be from certain producers/sculptors/casters. Otherwise I'm out. 😉

I think there's an added little something to these Studio Scale (SS) guys and I don't have. First I wouldn't have the room, but secondly I don't see the big whoop about an SS kit vs. a similar kit in a manageable size where I can also prolly buy another 3 or 4 kits in addition...  But hey, it's big. Guys over at SSM constantly drool over the thoughts of the next newest one (whether or not they actually buy it is up for debate) and IIRC the RPF has a separate section dedicated to SS.

Mark,  producing a SS kit is big doings. You better be ready to have each greeblie exactly as the original.  There are entire websites dedicate to figuring out which kit supplied which greeblie.  WAY to much trouble in my book - even if I can charge $800 for a crappy casting.  😉

Edited by Roktman

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Good to know Kevin. Thanks.

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