Friday, May 8, 2009

Project Thunderbolt

I got a decent tax return this year. After paying off some credit card debt, I had enough left over for something frivolous and expensive. I ordered a Thunderbolt from Forgeworld.

It just came in the mail, so now I can finally start playing with it. My aim is to document the process of building it as part of on ongoing series called, imaginatively, Project Thunderbolt.

Que Top Gun theme.

I'm incredibly excited about this project. I get an excuse to use my airbrush, I get to apply some new techniques I read about and I get to work with a large resin model kit for the first time. I also get a totally rad airplane out of the deal. Fun.

The resin kit part is something still new to me. I've never worked with resin on this scale before. I've bought some upgrade packs and the like, but never a whole model. A lot of interesting things to take in to account with this project.

Before I even got the kit, I did some research. I needed to review some of the extra steps I would need to take in order to complete this project. Forgeworld has a pretty solid primer on the subject. It can be found here.

I also stumbled across a GW article that details the actual assembly of the kit. This was extremely handy as the directions included by Forgeworld are of dubious quality. This extemely handy article can be found here.

Once the kit arrived, the first thing I did was inventory the parts. The Thunderbolt kit has a fairly large number of parts. Most of them neccesary for construction. Due to the nature of the resin model making process, it is much easier to misplace a piece or two when packing it up. Forgeworld included a parts list and I found that nothing was missing.

It is also a good idea to inspect the various parts for damage or miscasting defects at this time. Keep an eye out for bubble holes, damaged detail and warping. The kit I got seems to be of high quality and all I had was the odd warped piece. Warpage is pretty much par for the course with resin kits and extremely easy to fix.

Here are a few shots of the parts:

...and some parts I won't be using. Specifically, the landing gear, some stowage details and a flying base (it's too short for a totally sweet airplane).

Preparation: Washing
Resin parts will probably need to be washed for the same reasons as metal parts: to get rid of mold release agent. If present, the stuff the use to keep the parts from sticking to the mold will play hell with your paint. While this step is not necessary, it is best practice and I did just spend 125 bucks on a model.

Washing is easy. Dilute simple green with warm water in a container large enough for your parts. Soak parts for a few minutes. Scrub with a toothbrush. Rinse. Dry.

At this point it's also expedient to begin bending your warped parts (see details in the forgeworld link). Keep in mind that bigger pieces may need multiple warm water soaks.

Note 1: be careful when bending your pieces. Try not to bend the parts without first softening them up. The smaller ones may snap. This is the voice of experience.

Note 2: Resin gets pretty malleable when hot, so it is very easy to bend. Be careful when bending larger pieces that you don't bend something that you didn't want to. If possible, only soak the area of the piece that you need to bend.

Note 3: Luckily, resin is forgiving. You can always re-soak and try again if your bending doesn't turn out. In addition, you wont have to worry about fingerprints.

Moving Forward
At this point, my parts are clean and bent into shape. Its not time to start removing all of the mould lines, gate, vents and flash. I'll update as I make progress

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