INTERPLANETARY BUS STOP - Mars 1997
Bashing a Bus!
Having been involved in model making for quite a few years and not being particularly gifted in the actual modelling processes, I've compensated somewhat with being at least imaginative and creative in what I do - Science Fiction modelling certainly allows the individual to "let fly" with the old creative juices! My friends in our local modelling club are always staring dumbfounded at my latest endeavour, wondering:
a) How did he do that?
b) Why did he do that?
c) What gave him the right to butcher that YF 22 jet? and
d) What the Hell is that?
"Kitbashing", a mainstay of the SF film & TV industry in making models before CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) took over, could create an unlimited range of miniatures; a rocketship from two toilet rolls and a biro, a futuristic battletank from a toy car and plastic plumbing and a time machine from two plastic eggs, an umbrella and a smattering of plastic model kit parts.
Okay, so now I had an old Glencoe kit of a Marsliner/Moonliner, partially assembled, in a plastic bag. What to do with it? How to confound my modelling friends with yet another seemingly miraculous creation? First of all, I put the rocket together as this seemed to be the logical thing to do. Apart from a pair of interior 12 volt light bulbs and a small selection of tiny kit parts on the landing leg recesses, the model was assembled as per instructions. The cockpit canopy was airbrushed in Tamiya Clear Red, while the 'portholes' around the passenger section were done in Clear Blue. Numerous layers of putty later, along with many hours of sanding, the completed kit was painted with Tamiya acrylics and weathered with same. Some of the decals self-destructed in water due to their age, so masking and airbrushing made up for that little miscalculation. Tamiya Clear sprayed over the remaining decals was very successful in keeping them together.
The lighting wires were originally going to be placed within the solid landing legs, however I wanted to stay with an "out-of-box" version of the rocket and drilling through the legs was deemed as being too difficult and I didn't want to replace them with brass tubing. (Did I mention that I was also a very lazy modeller?) The wires exited the rocket halfway along the hull, awaiting further inspiration (and perspiration) over the next few hours.
Re-reading the 'blurb' in the assembly instructions provided me with the inspiration I needed. It was 1997 and this rocket was going to Mars to deliver passengers. What better way to show it off than to have it landed at a Martian 'bus stop' and being re-fuelled for the return journey to Mother Earth. The base was an old picture frame that I had bought many months ago for about $2.50. Plaster of Paris over some pieces of polystyrene foam became the Martian surface. For the 'bus stop' itself I resorted to sorting through a fairly extensive collection of plastic containers, lids, bric-a-brac, in fact just about anything you could imagine one can collect over twenty years!
I began with a landing pad made from the display base of the "Star Wars" DEATHSTAR model kit. A few kit parts, along with some strips of styrene plastic completed this "Space: 1999"-like landing pad. The main building itself was a combination of a number of parts - the lower levels were two record player needle containers joined back to back, the centre cylindrical section was a clear plastic button container with added styrene strips and kit parts, while the square tower atop all of this started out its life as a toothbrush holder of all things! The passenger walkway was a section of Plastruct tubing with solder wrapped around it. After much frenzied and, sometimes annoying, setbacks, the lighting wires ran along this tubing and down into the 'building'. The 'windows/viewports' consisted of strips of Tamiya masking tape, applied before airbrushing and weathering took place and removed later. I 'frosted' the clear window sections on the inside with sandpaper so as to make the internal light bulbs themselves less obvious.
Creating the 'building' and surrounding Martian surface took far longer than putting the actual kit together! In all, about two weeks of spare time was spent just in detailing, painting and weathering the building complex. The interior lighting consisted of three more 12 volt light bulbs anchored inside the sections of the 'building'. The wires from the rocket were joined up with the wires of the building, where they exited under the Plaster of Paris to the outer edge of the picture frame. A 'female' plug socket, available at any electronics shop, was glued and puttied into position.
In contrast to the sleek and clean lines of the Marsliner, I made the building complex quite dirty and dusty through a series of weathering patterns and masking using my airbrush. About fifty or sixty miscellaneous decals were applied to the complex, a necessary addition to kitbashing endeavours in order to make them appear more realistic and functional. Fuel lines made from solder were superglued into the desired positions, while three astronauts, in 1:96 scale, from another Glencoe kit, completed the scene.