Model Kit Review: Lindberg’s 1:72 scale Captured Alien Attacker, (Kit #77311)
Deciding to take a break from my usual 1:72 and 1:48 scale modern fighter aircraft, I zeroed in (get it?) on Lindberg’s Captured Alien Attacker aircraft, from the blockbuster movie “Independence Day 4”. After seeing the movie, I rushed out to order several kits of the Alien Attacker from a hobby mail-order store. I received them about two weeks later. I promptly opened one of the boxes, cut the pieces of the kit out, dry fitted it together, washed it, and put it into a plastic container (to keep it dust-free). Then, I forgot about it for almost a whole year.
There were several goals I wanted to accomplish with this kit, (other than the obvious one of building and completing a model). First, I wanted to try to “get back to some modeling basics” by getting away from airbrushing (as much as possible), and re-visiting both the paint brush and canned spray. I wanted to stick pretty much to the “out-of-the-box” theme. I wanted to complete the model as quickly as possible, (for my quick gratification). I wanted to "play around" with different types of metallic and metalizer paints. Finally, I wanted to have some fun!
(Construction and Painting)
The “Captured Alien Attacker” model kit comes in a total of 14 pieces, (10 for the aircraft itself, along with a 4 piece stand). It is molded in medium gray, with a clear dark windshield, (to hide the fact that there is no interior detail). The hull is divided into upper and lower halves, along with the weapons pod (found on top), and two sets of “engines”, (found below), all of which were divided into left and right halves. Rounding out the contents of the kit is a “protective cage”, and the aforementioned clear dark windshield.
Instead of taking the traditional approach to model construction, (i.e., putting it together first, followed by filling in the seams, sanding, and painting it), I decided to be a little unorthodox. I wanted to do the majority of the painting before gluing the two main pieces together. I first used as a primer a coat of Model Master Gunmetal, (from a spray can).
A secret I discovered with respect to using spray paint from a can is that if you warm up the can before spraying the paint, the paint will flow out much smoother and more evenly. (This is why they suggest that you shake the can vigorously, before using). Heating up the can be done by various means. Two methods are either to use a container of warm water, or to use a small electric “space heater”, (which is the method I use). Be careful, though. As our physics teaches us, as a gas and liquid are heated up, they will expand. If heated up too much, they will EXPLODE out of the confinement of the spray can. I have never experienced this, however. The can, when ready, should be warm to the touch, NOT HOT!
Anyway, after allowing a day for the paint to dry, I decided to seal it with a couple coats of clear semi-gloss Crystal Cote, (by Floquil). The reason I decided to use this in place of my usual Model Master Gloss-Coating was that I have discovered that as the Gloss-Coat (or Dull-Coat) ages, it sometimes starts to yellow – the Crystal Cote does not.
The Crystal Cote was diluted with Floquil’s thinner (Dio-Sol), and airbrushed on. This was done to add a protective barrier, since I was planning to add washes to the entire surface.
After the clear coats dried, I diluted Model Master’s Pontiac Engine BlueMetallic with Model Master Air Brush thinner, and proceeded to apply the wash. Unfortunately, due to the dark color of the Gunmetal prime coat, this lighter bluish wash did not show up very well. Because of this, I decided to just go ahead, and airbrush it on also.
I set up my paint/thinner mixture, (roughly 60/40), and proceeded to spray the paint on. I had originally purchased the Pontiac Engine Blue in an attempt to match the photographs of the built aircraft located on the box top. After the Blue metallic paint was air brushed on, however, the finish ended up silverish, and not bluish. Evidently, the darkness of the Gunmetal was still having an effect. Oh well…I decided to leave it alone, (after all, who really knows what the color of an Alien Attacker craft would be, anyway)?
Back to the model. After the last coat of paint on both hull sections was dry, I went about
installing the only internal piece – the dark windshield. I had just purchased some cement from Testor’s made exclusively for clear parts, and decided to give it a try. I positioned the windshield in place, applied the glue (sparingly) around its perimeter, and taped it in place, to give the glue a chance to set.
At this point, I decided to “attack” – (another good pun, huh?) - the 4-piece aircraft stand. The three pylons had numerous ejection pin marks, sink holes, and seams that needed fixing. I went about puttying, (using Squadron white putty), and sanding both the puttied areas, along with the seams. In actuality, I spent more time “cleaning up” imperfections on the stand, than imperfections on the actual aircraft. Anyway, after spending some time on the filling/sanding/washing/priming/filling/sanding/washing/priming process, it was finally presentable.
In between working on the stand, I had gone back to the aircraft. The windscreen was firmly glued in place, with the glue drying nice and strong, leaving a slight whitish look to it when viewed directly. I then proceeded to glue both the top and bottom halves of the aircraft together, using Testors plastic cement - (“Precision Cement Applicator”, found in that strange looking black container). I used masking tape to allow the glued pieces to set in place.
The way Lindberg designed this model was pretty good, with respect to the joining of these two halves. What they did was create a “lip” on the bottom of the top half, with a recessed “groove” inside of it. The edge of the lower hull section fits up into this groove, flush with the inner edge of the lip. This, in effect, just about completely hides any gap resulting when the two pieces are connected.
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