Tuesday, 10 July 2012



This is my very first attempt to create a Blog which showcases the SF model making I've been doing over the past twenty or so years. When I actually know what I'm doing with this Blog and how to navigate around the different areas correctly, I'll put up more photos and how-it-was-made articles.
It is now midday on Wednesday 11 July and just yesterday I completed and photographed the first out-of-box kit that I have done in quite a long time. It was Cassini Design's SKY 1 from the 1969 TV series called, "UFO", created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson of "Thunderbirds" fame.
The kit itself is absolutely beautiful and, while quite expensive ($195 AUD.), is definitely one of the best resin kits that I've ever seen. It went together like a breeze and at the original studio scale of 1/48, it's quite big and very accurately detailed. The full kit review that I have just written for "ModelArt Australia" magazine is detailed below. I'll even attempt to add some photos as well!
One show that screened on our television sets during late 1969/early 1970 was “UFO”. Dying aliens from a distant, beleaguered planet were visiting earth in the unending search for human body organs to transplant into themselves. You don’t see today’s children watching something this gruesome! (Then again, there is the Internet.) Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson of “Thunderbirds” and “Captain Scarlet” fame, “UFO” was a bleak and realistic portrayal of people fighting invading aliens. Using real actors rather than marionettes, plotlines presented mind control, hypnotism, drug taking, bloody violence, blackmail, murder and fear with state-of-the-art special effects to produce a show that would never pass the censors today as family entertainment. Set in the near future of 1980, the show did have its drawbacks – purple wigs,  grating music at times, stilted acting, cringe-worthy sexism, pop dancing and a seemingly endless array of huge, false eyelashes on the ladies. SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation) battles the alien invaders with Moonbase Interceptors, Skydiver submarines, Moonhoppers, Lunar Tanks and groundbased Mobiles – all handsomely and realistically produced under the watchful eye of Derek Meddings who oversaw the FX sequences. And they are still impressive too, considering that they’re only models hung on wires and moved in front of a painted cyclorama.
Here’s a totally bizarre concept – let’s launch a fighter jet from the front of a futuristic submarine while it’s submerged and have the aircraft travel up through the depths to burst through the surface of the water and rocket across the sky to shoot down flying saucers! It’s even weirder than it sounds! Yet, it actually works, thanks to meticulous design, detailing and daring model sequences that present such an unfeasible idea as virtually “real”. There have been many model kits of the SKYDIVER and it’s offspring, SKY 1 over the years, by companies such as; Bandai, Imai and Wave Models, none being particularly accurate or large enough to be impressive. That’s all changed for the better now with the release of a studio scale kit of the SKYDIVER combination, one of the most popular designs from the mind of Derek Meddings. Built in two scales for the TV series, 1/48 and 1/24, the SKYDIVER models were approximately 31 inches and 62 inches in length – two and a half feet and five feet. Cassini Models have released the pair as separate resin kits to the smaller of the two sizes - 1/48 scale. This review concerns the SKY 1 kit and, by the time you read this, I will have completed the DIVER section to have an accurate model of this intriguing design.

Photo 1: The kit parts laid out.

Photo 2: The wings and tailplane glued into position.

Comprising a total of eighteen, virtually bubble-free cast pieces – fuselage, rear plate, wings, tailplane, cockpit canopy, transparent plastic, canopy insert, engine/weapons pods, engine/weapons pod exhausts, pilot bust, headrest, control panel and four gun nozzles – the quality of these pieces, barring a few minor pin holes, is outstanding. Also included is a comprehensive set of pre-cut vinyl decals in black, white and red, as well as yellow ‘Rescue’ flashes, red warning triangles and white lettering for the various wording on the aircraft. Add a small section of fine mesh for the pair of intakes and you have all the necessary parts to make up a SKY 1 model. A styrene plastic paint sample is provided to enable a good colour match with the original model.

Photo 3: The fully painted pilot.

Photo 4: The rear plate painted and detailed.

Photo 5: Minor parts waiting to be glued into place.

Photo 6: The fuselage and engine/weaponpods have been sprayed in the gold.
began by washing the resin parts in a solution of warm, soapy water and thoroughly drying them off. Some minor sanding of a couple of mould lines and the separation of the tailplane from its resin ‘tree’ produced the parts ready to be joined. Two-part Araldite glue was used to attach the wings and tailplane to the fuselage. Pinning the parts together with short lengths of brass tube has been suggested, however there is more than enough surface area on the pieces to make this unnecessary. The instructions are clear and precise and I managed to trace around the pattern provided onto the wire mesh to produce the pair of intakes quite successfully. A little Tamiya putty was added to the wing and tailplane roots to hide the resulting narrow gaps and that was it. I was ready to prime after some minor sanding of the putty. Since I was going to use a can of automobile paint to spray the model, I purchased a primer that was fully compatible. My local Autobarn shop provided me with the primer as well as two spray cans of a match for the Ford Oyster Gold used on the original models in the series. A bit of Internet hunting had given me a number of different codes for the exact colour, however only one, Ford 1203B, came up on the computer at Autobarn, so I opted to go for that one. At $35 a can, they’re not cheap, but they turned out beautifully. (Thanks to Zane at Autobarn.) Liquid Silver, Polar White and Dark Gunmetal were the other three colours I bought and, after mortgaging my house to pay for the paint, I was ready to attack the model with some colour.

Photo 7: Masking off the model to spray additional colours
Photo 8: Panel lines being added to the basic paintjob.
  After priming all the resin pieces a couple of times and waiting a full day for them to thoroughly dry, I set to work on the pilot bust and interior cabin pieces, leaving the headrest and control in the grey primer and handpainting the clothing of the pilot bust in Tamiya Gold Leaf. Flat white was carefully painted onto his helmet, black for the seatbelts and a blue-grey colour for the helmet details. The pilot’s lower face, the rest being obscured by his helmet was carefully picked out in Tamiya Matt Flesh and a fine pen outlined his mouth. Tamiya Clear Orange was added to his visor. The rear plate of SKY 1, which joins to an identical forward plate on the DIVER section in the show, was sprayed in the Liquid Silver and detailed with red and dark grey areas as per the reference photos included with the instructions. Also sprayed silver at this time were the pair of engine/weapons pod nozzles. The gold colour was sprayed over the entire fuselage and engine/weapons pods and allowed to fully harden over a couple of days. So far, so good. Using 6mm and 10mm wide Tamiya masking tape, I very carefully masked off the nosecone, gun areas, leading edges of the wings, wingtips and tailplane, sections of the engine/weapons pods and the rear section of the fuselage and then covered the remainder of the model in wide strips of low-tac masking tape in order to spray the Liquid Silver. After removing the tape, I again masked up the front of the nosecone for the Dark Gunmetal colour, however this time I enveloped the rest of the model in clear newsprint paper to avoid masking in the tape all over again. The paint sprayed on easily and only while removing some of the masking tape did small sections lift from the fuselage. A little touchup was eventually necessary. The points of the engine/weapon pods were then masked off and sprayed with the Polar White, as were the wing and tailplane tips. I masked off the anti-glare panel on the fuselage but, rather than spraying it, I handpainted it with Tamiya Matt Black.

Photo 10: The completed model awaiting the weathering stage.

Photo 9: Adding the vinyl decals and extra details to the model.
Recessed panel lines adorn the kit, making it relatively easy to add the various panel lines in a very fine, permanent black marking pen. For a straightedge I used a strip of thin styrene plastic. Another wider marking pen was used to colour the seventeen missile ports at the front of the engine/weapon pods. The vinyl decals went on the model easily, aided in adhesion by tiny dabs of Superglue. Constant referral to the reference photos is necessary in order to place all the various sections accurately. The ‘exhaust’, ‘danger’ and ‘intake’ wording comes in the form of individual letters, so care and patience must be taken in applying them in straight lines. The wire mesh was Superglued into the two areas and then I turned my attention to the cabin/canopy, the very last section to attach. After trimming the clear plastic canopy insert to size, I Araldited it to the cabin interior, Superglued the pilot bust, headrest and control panel into their positions and waited another day before adding the cabin to the top of the fuselage in order to avoid fogging up the canopy because of the Superglue. While waiting, I drew on more panel lines and used an Eduard stencil of squares and rectangles to add more detail to the model, after which I began to rub 2B graphite powder from a lead pencil scraped on sandpaper to the various areas on the fuselage and wings. This is one of the ways the original model makers weathered the models for filming and it produces quite a pleasing result if applied correctly. When photographing the model under bright lights, most of the weathering should virtually vanish and an overall ‘used’ look can be achieved.

The completed model was hung from a clamped piece of board using invisible thread coloured blue in front of my sky background and various shots were taken of it with the camera set on Automatic minus the flash. Yes, I did have to drill three small holes into the resin to hang the model, however they can easily be filled with Bluetac and painted over at a later date. The support thread was then removed in the computer using the clone brush in Microsoft Digital Image Pro 7. I also added a couple of jet exhausts to some of the shots to simulate SKY 1’s launch from the ocean.

Would I recommend this resin kit to anyone? You bet! Not only is it in a studio scale, making it quite large, it is incredibly accurate to boot. I personally know Jim Millett, the maker of this kit and I’m well aware of how pedantic he is when it comes to getting it correct, right down to using the exact same kit parts used on the filming models in 1969. If you’re interested in SKY 1, you won’t find a better or more accurate kit. At $195.00(Aud), plus shipping, it isn’t cheap, however I can’t recommend it highly enough. At just over ten inches (273mm) in length, it’s a great model and certainly one-of-kind. 
Now to start work on the DIVER section of this amazing and imaginative craft!

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