Model Kit Reviews:
AMT/Ertl’s Star Wars Episode 1 Naboo Fighter and
Trade Federation Droid Fighters
Several weeks before George Lucas released his long awaited and greatly anticipated “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” Movie, I stumbled upon models of the Naboo Fighter, the Trade Federation Droid Fighter and Anakin’s Pod Racer at a local hobby store. At first glance, I was not at all impressed with the way they looked. However, after seeing the Star Wars Movie (five times to date), the Naboo and Droid Fighters started looking better and better. I finally broke down and purchased one Naboo fighter and two Droid fighter kits.
AMT/Ertl’s Star Wars Episode 1 Naboo Fighter
1:48 scale (Kit # 30117)
This kit is a “Snaptite” one, containing 20 parts. Two are clear, (the spacecraft’s canopy and the display post). Six are chrome plated, (the two halves of R2D2’s head and the front and lower sections of the fighter), with the remaining 12 being molded in yellow, (including an Anakin pilot figure, the display base, and the remainder of the spacecraft). This fighter, when assembled, measures approximately 9 inches in length.
All parts are pretty “clean.” I detected no pin ejection marks on the outer surfaces along with very little flash. There were some barely detectable sink marks in some areas. However, they were minor and easily removed with just a bit of light sanding. The chrome parts also looked pretty good.
(Construction and Painting)
I decided to build this space ship straight out of the box. I initially toyed with the idea of removing the chrome plating from the chrome parts and either repainting them or possibly using some Bare Metal Foil to cover them. However, I decided to leave the chrome parts as they were. Even though the chrome may give the fighter a slightly toy-like appearance, when viewing the Star Wars movie a second and third time I noticed that these surface areas are indeed highly polished and mirror-like.
As previously mentioned, this is a snapfast (snaptite) kit. In many cases, with other snapfast kits it is better to remove the alignment tabs from the parts, gluing them together without this guidance. With this kit, the alignment tabs and holes actually helped the alignment of the parts. So, they (most of them at least) remained.
I decided to deviate a bit from the instruction steps. They had the yellow and chrome parts being attached together during various construction phases. Since I intended to paint the yellow portions of the space fighter yellow and wanted to do away with the need for masking the chrome parts, all yellow parts were attached first. This included the upper spacecraft piece, the forward engine/wing portions, and the bottom and rear engine assemblies. All 10 pieces were glued together and left to set.
I used Testors Liquid Cement to do all my gluing. It ended up working like a charm. When dry, all seams were cleaned up. The fit that resulted was so good that in most cases the remaining gaps were just sanded smooth. In addition, several sink marks were sanded away. Filler was only added to two or three areas, and cleaned up when cured.
When finished, the sub-assembly was airbrushed Model Master Yellow. Testor’s Model Master (M.M.) paints were used for most of the painting.
The main sub-assembly was set aside to dry and work continued with the Anakin figure. The suggested colors were painted on by brush. His clothes were painted Tan, his boots and hat painted Brown, his face and hands painted Radome Tan, (deviating away from the suggested flesh color), along with his hat’s ear flaps painted Flat Black, and his goggles painted Tamiya Silver (another deviation, from the suggested Black color). Anakin was set aside to dry.
The two R2D2 halves were then worked on. The chrome on the edges were sanded away and the parts glued together, with an “ok” fit resulting. R2D2’s head was then airbrushed with M.M. Silver. When dry, the various required areas were carefully painted by hand.
Construction then progressed back to the fighter. The chrome plating on the adjoining areas of the chrome parts were then scraped away and carefully glued to the now dry yellow spacecraft subassembly. Again, the fit turned out to be pretty good. However, seams were still detectable.
Since I wanted to limit the amount of clean up on these chrome parts, (due to the impossibility of replicating chrome plating), I ended up not filling in the gaps existing around these areas. However, some touch ups still needed to be done. A fine tip Silver Marker (by Pilot) was used for this. I then meticulously masked off the yellow rings found on the front of the engines and carefully airbrushed M. M. Yellow on.
The cockpit colors were then hand painted. M. M. Gunship Gray was painted on the sides and front of the interior, with M. M. Olive Drab painted over the seat. When dry, Anakin and R2D2 were glued in place. The clear canopy was then dry fitted on. Since it appeared that the front alignment tab caused a not-so-good-fit to result, I ended up breaking it off. I then applied a small bit of Elmers white glue onto the lower and rear edges of the canopy and carefully positioned it onto the top of the fighter. A piece of scotch tape was used to apply pressure, keeping the part in place while it dried.
When the glue was dry, the various decals were cut out and attached to the fighter, (without using a decal-setting solution). They came out good pretty good! Finally, Tamiya Acrylic Clear Blue was carefully airbrushed onto the back of the engines.
Riddle me this…what do you get when you paint Blue over Yellow? GREEN! To prevent this from happening, what I should have done was base coat this area white or silver first. Then the air brushed Blue would have appeared….BLUE. Yellow could then have been carefully airbrushed over the remaining white or silver areas. Oh well…
Moving to the kits display base, I followed the instructions and painted it (by airbrush) M.M. Flat Black. When dry, the words on it were carefully hand painted with Tamiya Silver. Finally, the clear display post was attached to the base and glued in place from below and the Naboo Fighter was attached to the post. Whaalaaa! I was done!
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