Building Nik Jardine’s Armored Crab,
(Crab #1, Phase One)



Thursday, March 30, 2017

(Introduction & Background)

Back in 2008 or 2007, I first became aware of this very kewl, unique looking model when surfing on a modeling bulletin board – (Starship Modeler, I think). I really liked the originality of its design.

Later, in 2009 at a Wonderfest Show, I had an opportunity to purchase one for myself. I quickly scarfed it up.

Although its design (naturally) lends itself to some sort of underwater or beach battle scene, a discussion with a fellow Sci-Fi Modeler - (Terry Miesle) - reminded me that with the general nature of Science Fiction modeling subjects, it's figuratively (and literally) "The Skies, The Limits!"

Ter's suggestion was to create some sort of mechanical attack drone - one which could be deployed from an attacking spaceship, securing itself onto the hull of an enemy space vessel, before puncturing through the hull, causing an explosive decompression. - (Pretty imaginative and dramatic, huh)?

Anyway, to add some flexibility to the design and use of the crab, it is listed to be displayed as either a 1:20 scale droid, or a 1:48 scale manned mechanized machine. (The 1:20 scale option probably has much to due with the ongoing popularity of the S.F.3.D/Mak resurgence).


(Parts List Breakdown)
The model is composed of an incredible 61 finely detailed parts!


The main hull unit is composed of three main parts, with it measuring just over 3 inches in length and 4 inches in width.

There are 2 claws and 6 legs attached to the crab.

Each of the 6 legs is composed of an impressive 7 parts each. The claws are made up of 4 parts, the main body of the crab is composed of an upper caparace part, along with two lower sections, and two rear-facing doors/hatches, a forward “faceplate” and 2 forward-facing tubes/guns. Completing the parts list is a section of wire attached to the very front of the crab, (which requires bending to form the depicted "U" shape).


The parts are very, very detailed, (down to attaching pistons and individual nuts and bolts galore; there are even lengths of coiled wire embedded in the crab’s lower region, simulating some sort of hydraulic lines). The type of resin the parts were cast from has a very smooth, light, plastic/styrene feel to it. (That’s the good part).

The bad part is just about every part either had pin-holes, or small casting voids, all of which would need to be filled.

Due to my ultra-picky modeling nature, this task ultimately took me much longer to complete than it should have…(I’ll expand on that a bit later).

(Where to begin? – How about the parts cleanup)?


(Parts Cleanup)
As I mentioned, just about every one of the parts had some sort of deformity which needed to be addressed. These flaws ranged from minor (but nevertheless detectable) pin holes, all the way up to very noticeable voids. Generally, these deformities occur when air bubbles are trapped in curing resin; the larger the bubble, the more curing resin is displaced, which causes the flaw.

I ended up carefully applying small drops of the (thick) Zapp-A-Gap Cyanoacrylate (super) glue to the pin holes. For the larger voids, I mixed some two-part Epoxy Aves putty and applied it into the void. When dry, the CA Glue and Epoxy putty were sanded down, cleaning up the repaired regions to a seamless, transitional finish.


One of the reasons this ended up taking longer than it should have is because some of the bubbles ultimately would be covered by outer attached parts later in the assembly. (It really DOES help to dry-fit a model's parts, when initially figuring things out, I guess).

Ultimately my Advanced Modeling Syndrome kicked in, forcing me to address each and every flaw I ran into with the crab.

(Ok, back to our show...) One of the crab's claws had a tip which was completely missing. (I ended up repairing it by first drilling a hole into the offending area, gluing a small section of wire into it, adding Aves, and sculpting a replacement tip over the wire. The epoxy putty was liberally applied, and very generally sculpted to shape. When cured, the Aves was then whittled and sanded down to shape. Once finished, the refurbished claw tip very closely resembled its undamaged twin).


Another offending area was the wire/tubing sandwiched down below between the crab's main circular body parts. Even though ultimately very little of this area would be viewable when the crab was assembled, I nevertheless decided to correct this problem area.

There ended up being so many pin holes on this wire/tubing that I ultimately decided to just remove the entire wire section area. I chiseled and carved it away with my trusty X-acto blade. Afterwards, I would replace it with some guitar wire; (which turned out to be the original thing used in creating this tubing in the master copy).

A fourth area which needed my attention were the two flat, ribbed sections, also found down below, in between the main body of the crab. While working with them I accidentally broke off sections. (They turned out to be quite thin, and not all that strong).

I ultimately opted to just remove both areas, followed by later inserting a thin section of sheet-styrene, which had been cut to shape and glued in place.




Following these improvements I moved onto the next phase - pinning.


(Pinning? What's that about?)
When working with resin model kits, a process called "pinning" is often used. What this entails is drilling holes into the two attachment areas of two parts being connected together. Some sort of rigid wire is inserted into both holes, cut down in size so a flush fit results. (This is often a paper clip or nail of some sort). The wire is removed and your glue-of-choice is then squeezed into both holes, along with being applied liberally to the surrounding areas of the attaching regions. The wire is then reinserted and the attachment is clamped together, allowing the glue to cure.

This procedure gives the attachment much more strength than it would otherwise have if just the glue had been used.

This technique is more frequently desired (and necessary) with larger scaled resin figures and mecha, due to the additional size and weight of the associated parts.

Even though the crab is a bit on the small size, along with being kind of a light-weight, I still opted to pin each-and-every-attaching part. With the 60-some-odd parts composing the crab, this process quickly become an exercise in futility. However, persevere I did.

Another potential advantage I hoped for was to have the ability to reposition (ever so slightly) the attached legs. (As it turned out, the paper clips I used proved to be to strong for a casual repositioning).

These wire attachments ended up serving a second purpose: it allowed me to handle the parts without touching them.

I used small brass paper clips, opened up and flattened out.


Holes were drilled into the center of the attaching areas of each part, a bit of Zap-A-Gap was squeezed in followed by inserting my brass paper clips.

When the glue cured I had a way to handle the parts without touching them.


I then came up with another novel idea for holding these parts: A Styrofoam "Christmas Tree".


(My Styrofoam "Christmas Tree - Parts-Holder")
When visiting a local Michael's Craft store, I came up with a pretty ingenious way to hold my newly pinned parts. In the Floral section I ran across some Styrofoam circular discs and cones. I picked some up, along with their associated Styrofoam glue, and when I got home I glued a disc onto the bottom of a cone. The disc added some additional stability to the cone.


The wire-end of all of my wired-up parts were then inserted into the cone. This enabled my parts, when painted, to dry without coming in contact with any type of surface. (Kind of ingenious, huh?)

For my flat parts, I just used the old, tried-n-true method for holding them. They were pressed down on small sections of blue masking tape, which had been "doubled over" and attached to a small section of plastic.



(A Bit of Crab Re-Engineering)
Before I got too deep into working on my subassemblies I decided to make a few minor enhancements to my crab.

The first "re-engineering" step was to change it to allow the top hull sections to rotate around the bottom. The top two hull sections are attached together and then fitted into the lower halve via a protruding circular tab, which fits into a lower hole.

I decided to drill a small hole through the center of this attachment area. All three hull sections were attached together, the center of the attachment tab/hole was located, and a hole drilled up from the bottom through the attachment region. A small nail was then pushed up through the hole, which became the center of my pivot point. This effectively enabled the upper hull assembly to rotate around 360 degrees.


The second major upgrade I made to the crab was the addition of "jump-jets", attached to the lower ends of each of the six legs. My logic here was that with this mechanized beastie, more than likely it would be a bit slow with respect to its mobility. It would be nice for it to be able to "jump" up into the air, being propelled forward (or in retreat) in a more rapid fashion.

My "jump-jets" started out as plastic costume pearls and wire nuts.


I drilled a hole through the small end of the wire nut and inserted a short length of rigid wire - (I think, once again a section of my small brass paper clips).

The other end of the wire was then inserted into one of the holes in the pearl. The other hole of the pearl was then filled in.

I finished my construction by drilling a second perpendicular hole up into the pearl. A second section of a paperclip was inserted into it, with it being attached to (yet another) hole which had been drilled into a lower region of my crab's leg. (See the associated pictures)



A final change I made to my crab was the carefully removal of all of the upper, protruding "bumps". I had decided to somehow enhance these areas, (although initially, I wasn't quite sure what I'd be doing to these areas).

All nine upper protruding bumps were carefully sliced away (once again using my trusty X-acto knife).


All enhancement were accomplished surprisingly easy - (this isn't the norm for me - I usually have some sort of mini disaster to recover from when I go off the beaten path with my modeling...Oh well, maybe I'm getting better at it?)

After completing my enhancements I moved on to the prime painting phase of my crab.


(FINALLY! Time to Prime!)
After all construction changes were made to my crab's parts, it was time to prime everything.

I had decided to attach the major 4 parts of all leg subassemblies together before priming.


(The remaining outer 2 parts would be attached later).

I actually should have also left the "foot-tips/pads" off as well, since I would end up painting them a flat black color, which required masking - (it would have been easier to just paint them separately, prior to their final assembly - Oh Well...)

Because I planned to do some extensive pre-painting, along with planning on going with a two (or three or four-tone) paint scheme, leaving the remaining 2 leg parts off still ended up making my final painting easier.

I opted to use Tamiya’s (White Canned Spray) Fine Surface Primer Paint. I wanted to stay away from an enamel primer - although it probably would not have had any negative effect on the resin, I wanted to make sure my primer coat wouldn't later cause any type of negative reaction with either the resin, or with the outer painting layers to be applied).

In addition, I didn’t want to use any sort of Acrylic paint for my primer coat. I wanted to go with a primer which had "some teeth to it" - something that would give my outer base-coats something substantial to hold onto.

All parts were primed with the Tamiya Spray paint, and then reinserted into my Styrofoam Christmas Tree - Parts Holder for drying.

A bit of cleanup was then necessary, followed by re-priming. Finally, I was ready to progress to the next phase.

(...Click on the link below for the Second Phase of this Armored Crab Build).




(Onto Phase Two)
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