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Build Log - ERTL Millennium Falcon

Update 5/25/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Finally received the Falcon model we ordered for my nephew Jack's Birthday. Jack is turning 5 on June 14th, and I have to slap this falcon together for him with a fairly decent paint job before that day.

Because this model is going to be played with, and will probably be in pieces within a month, I'm not focusing too hard on the inaccuracies of the kit, but because everyone's going to see it before it gets destroyed, I want it to look as good as possible. I don't mind putting effort into something that's going to get smashed, as long as it's the coolest thing that kid has ever had in his life. I know he's going to love it, because although he's still a little guy, he's the biggest Star Wars fan I've ever known.

An added plus is that this will be a great test-run before I build up a falcon model for myself, which will be highly accurized and lit. I definitely want to work out the painting techniques before I dig into that project.

As soon as it arrived, I began cleaning up the parts, scraping off flash and seam lines.

Update 5/28 through 5/30/07: Went to Portland

Spent a few days down in Portland at the Vintage Plaza Hotel eating lavishly, drinking heavily and soaking in a hot tub. I don't advise that anyone else unaccustomed to such a lifestyle attempt to do all three at once. Portland is quite a lovely town, and I enjoyed hanging around in the warm weather, taking in the local cuisine and curios like Powell's Book Store.

Fortunately for me, we took a wrong turn looking for the Bridgetown Hobby store. Fortunate, because I found the last Authorized International Harvester franchise in the NATION that's still around. Ernie Bisio's IH dealership has been around since 1948! He had about thirty older model Scout and Scout II's around the lot, and a couple of beautiful late-60s model 800s in the service bay. Ernie was a real hoot too, and we hung around and yacked with him for a while before we had to hit the trail. He was a real character! For those of you who know me, you know I've got a real passion for classic American steel, and the Internationals are the last of the indestructible vehicles.

Anyway, after we left Ernie's place, we found the Bridgetown hobbies, and I picked up a few supplies for the Falcon, including one of Tamiya's Weathering Master kits. I've never used one before, so we'll see how well they work.

Update 5/31/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

I applied the primer coat of german grey and spent the evening detailing the cockpit interior and the seats for the gun wells. When the primer coat dried, I began applying detailing mask stickers. I use foil-backed address labels which I have a few sheets of, and I just cut them to shape and size with scissors.

Update 6/5/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Sticker masking madness completed today! There's somewhere around 1200 little stickers applied. I'm a little concerned that there will be too much German Gray showing with all these masks, but hopefully, the washes should dampen the effect a bit. I spent the evening applying the first layer of salt crust. The salt is for a chipped-paint effect, so as to make the top coats of paint look old and worn away.

Update 6/6/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

The salt crusting I applied last night has dried nicely. Today, I put down the second paint layer, Light Neutral Gray.

Update 6/7/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

More salt crusting, and then it's ready for the top coat of Flat White. I accidentally left a small part (the boarding ramp) outside in my overspray box last night, and this morning, the salt had absorbed massive amounts of moisture right out of the morning air, so a word of caution against using the salt crust technique in humid areas.

I then primered the interior of the mech bays with some flat aluminum, and dirtied them up with some very thin flat black.


Update 6/8/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Argh, I ran out of flat white, so the bottom half has to wait until I can get across town to pick up another pot. In the meantime, I tested out the rust color from the Weathering Masters kit...I think the results look really good!

I then picked off some of the stickers and salt crust from the top half, and started masking off the colored panels.

6/9/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Painted up the red panels on top, masked off the grey panels, then spent some time adding a grime wash and drippy greasy marks to panels to darken them up before more successive washes.

6/10/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Discovered that Jack's birthday party is going to be held next Sunday, so I have a time extension of a few days. Of course, more time means spending it doing more detail!

I'm concerned about the fit of the landing gear boxes not holding up, so I reinforced them with some strip styrene.

Assembled the landing gear, flat blacked the gear feet and the boarding ramp box, and painted the frames of the gunwell windows with light blue. Then I decrusted the cockpit and pulled the stickers.

6/11/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Grimed up the equipment bays with rust and masked off the radome, then spent more time removing mask stickers and salt crust.

6/12/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Finished the panel washes on the top, and began adding the rust. RUST! I think I'm using too much, but I kind of want that "Hauling-Van-That's-Been-Used-For-A-Decade" look.

6/13/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Zapped the radome with the two grey spots and scraped off the salt.

Painted Han and Chewie, and installed the cockpit interior so I could attach the front housing. Then removed the salt crust from the bottom and finished the colored panels and the washes.

After the washes and rust dried, I spent most of the day going around all the details and panels with a small bead of dark grimy wash to bring out the panel details.

6/14/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Rocked out today and cranked out the final details...unfortunately, I was so busy, I didn't get many process photos today. I dirtied up the radome, and reenforced it with some metal pins drilled through the mounting. I also added some strip styrene around the tabs on the equipment bays so they won't be easy to break if accidentally pushed on. With all the extra reinforcement, this should be a tough little falcon.

Finished the grime and rust on the bottom half, and painted the gunner figures and gun turret seats and assembled the gun turrets.

Hit the engines and scorch marks with the airbrush for the sooty burns and miscellaneous grime. Put in the gun turrets, dirtied them up with washes and rust and painted the guns.

Finally, I glued the two halves together and clamped them to dry overnight.

6/15/07: ERTL Millenium Falcon

Put a little extra elmer's glue on the gun turret pegs and let it dry before installing the guns, so they wouldn't flop around and...

The Falcon is complete! Blasted the model with dull cote and it's ready for giftwrap!

Conclusion: 6/18/07

As I thought, this was a great test run on painting the Falcon. It was a very educational build, and seeing Jack's face light up when he opened the box was worth every second of effort, although I must admit that I almost burst a button swelling with pride at the compliments I received from the adults at the party. For the junky ERTL model, with all its inaccuracies and warped parts, it came together. It looks like the Falcon.

I've built him an A-wing and the smaller-scale X-wing that have come back to the repair yard for broken guns and landing gear, so he's figured out the difference between a toy and a model (in his words: "Models are for looking at!"). This is his most prized possession now, so although I'm sure those landing gear are going to snap off at some point, the Falcon will handle more of a beating.

I'll definitely use a lot of the same techniques on the Finemolds Falcon, but next time I'll use less salt crust and rust, and try to be more accurate with panel colors and wash colors. I'll also use something other than the soldering iron for the blast hits, since they turned out too large and blobby. There's a few other things I'll do differently, but all-in-all, I think that's a fine Falcon that Jedi Jack's flying through the galaxy. Now he needs some Tie fighters to blast!

MMVII Guy Garrison - All rights reserved. Use without authorization is prohibited.