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Posts Tagged ‘polar lights’

Star Trek Model Kits: U.S.S. Defiant update

posted by JamieH 12:16 PM
Friday, December 1, 2017

When we offered a re-issue of the AMT U.S.S. Defiant from STAR TREK: Deep Space Nine a few years ago it turned out to be a nice solid seller for us. It offered a substantially-sized kit at the odd scale of 1:420. However, the sweet success was short lived. After just a few production orders for us, the tooling was catastrophically broken. It was going to cost us the price of a new kit to fix it. So we decided to do just that!

It took us a while to get to it, but when it came to deciding on our next 1:1000 release, the Defiant seemed to be the perfect choice. As a kit, the subject is simple from the tooling standpoint. We aren’t just making a smaller version of the old AMT kit though. We are making sure that this one is nicely accurate even if it is smaller. 1:1000 puts the overall length at about 6 5/8” long based on an established length of 170 meters. (Yeah, I know the ship was infamous for changing size to meet the need of the shot.) We had Angelo Bastianelli draw up the CAD model which was based on the filming miniature.

The mockup looks great. It features some pretty fine engraved panel lines which the factory states they can match in production. We’ll see how it looks when we see test shots. They captured some nice greebly detail in just the right spots. The kit will include clear parts as needed unlike the older kit where things like Bussard collectors were merged into opaque bulkhead parts. The forward-facing weapons on the nacelle cowls, front “mouth” (did they refer to is as a deflector? It obviously isn’t a “dish”) and round exhaust vents on the back are also clear.

I have to admit I like most of ST:DS9 less than other incarnations of Star Trek. I was one of the viewers the show lost by the time the stakes were raised around the Dominion War. But I have to admit the more I look at this mockup the more I appreciate this ship. If the details translate into the test shots, this will be a great looking little kit!

Star Trek Models: 1:350 scale developments

posted by JamieH 2:44 PM
Thursday, May 26, 2016

UPDATE: It now looks like a strong possibility we will have test shots of the new saucer parts at Wonderfest. See you there…

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It has been a while since we’ve talked about upcoming sci-fi releases. I’ll spill the beans on a few things, but focus on what we have in the works for our 1:350 scale kits that should arrive later this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of STAR TREK: The Original Series.

Part of the fun of fandom is holding the great debates… DC or Marvel…? Star Wars or Star Trek…? Chicken or egg…? When developing our 1:350 TOS Enterprise kit, it was “engraved panel lines or no engraved panel lines…?” In order to serve what we considered to be the widest range of modelers, we opted to engrave the panel lines on the upper and lower saucer. We did so knowing that it might upset some, but would satisfy others that didn’t have the skill or tools to install them in pencil like the filming miniature had. We have decided it is time to reverse course and offer the saucer without the panel lines. We will be releasing the saucer as an accessory piece so everyone that already has untouched kits can supplement them with these replacements and save the time and effort from filling and sanding them. Along with that change, we have corrected the position of two sets of windows that were off by a few degrees, but got by us. The “toothy” surface texture will also be removed so the saucer should now be as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

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Some may say “Well, if you are doing that, you may as well include them in the kit that way now.” To which we say “Yes, indeed.” And while we are at it, we will be updating the color reference to reflect new-found information gleaned by the team of experts that are restoring the Enterprise filming miniature. Our go-to Star Trek guy, Gary Kerr, has played a key role in the restoration and is dutifully documenting the untouched/unseen areas of the miniature to determine the exact paint colors that were used. We’ll finish off the offering with an updated 50th anniversary scheme on the packaging. We plan on giving the Pilot parts accessory pack the same treatment and everything should be out by the end of the year. Additionally, we’ve heard the demand for more light kits and a new batch is on a boat as I write this. Expect them on store shelves within a month. If you have been on the lookout for a set, let your retailer know you want a copy (item number is MKA007).

There is a slim chance that we may have a test shot of the saucer on display at Wonderfest. We should have a preliminary look at the 50th anniversary packaging at the show as well. As usual, we look forward to seeing everyone at the show. It is a personal highlight of mine every year to get a chance to meet the builders that enjoy our products so well. We will once again be sponsoring two prizes in the model competition. We will present awards for what we deem to be the best use of a Round 2 model (any brand or subject) in the junior/teen and adult categories. The junior/teen winner gets a selection of kits from all of our brands. The adult winner will receive a gift certificate to autoworldstore.com which despite the name does deal in sci-fi kits as well. Good luck to all who enter. see you at the show!

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I was actually going to make this a lead in to a longer Star Trek models post that also included an update on the U.S.S. Excelsior since I’ve received the first set of test shots. My point in doing that was to deliver positive news along with what will be a disappointment to some of you. Instead I’m just going to rip off the band-aid lay out the situation with the Galileo Shuttle.  No forward progress is being made to engineer the kit. I doubt this will come as a huge shock to anyone. I hope my directness and openness on the subject is appreciated. It pains me more than anyone to make a statement like this.

I won’t drop that bomb without giving some kind of reason. Basically it comes down to timing and the budgetary limits of a company our size that offers such a wide range of products that we do. Sci-fi model kits take up a relatively slim slice of the pie when considering our automotive and military kits, die cast cars in several scales (including the recently re-acquired Johnny Lightning brand) along with other endeavors. Priorities have to shift when opportunities arise and for now we aren’t in a place where we can commit to the kit. Sometime we can invest in something grand, and sometimes other lines get to do something else instead.

You may ask why we’ve steered away from this one while producing others instead. That’s a fair question and this is where timing kind of comes into play. Initially, there was a bit of a delay in getting completed plans of the ship. Gary Kerr is our most trusted consultant on all things Star Trek, but when we first dug into the project, his plans were very preliminary and just captured the basic shape which we used for the basis of the shuttle in our 1:350 kit. By the time he turned them in, they consisted of over a hundred pages of crystal clear information. That took some time to do and while he was hard at work drawing up the plans we did other kits. Keep in mind it is easy to think about the old AMT kit and imagine that we could just do an improved version of that, but you know our reputation of doing a new kit right when we do one. At scale, the ship measures 11” long and over 7” wide. In that old kit one wall provided the interior and exterior. That won’t work for a kit that is intended to be accurate. it requires separate interior and exterior walls, floor, ceiling, roof, etc. So once parts get laid out on a tool, it essentially becomes the equivalent of two kits! I studied ways to cut back or compromise, but ultimately they would have seemed like a shortcut or cheat. The savings in doing so were negligible. One factor that actually worked in our favor was that when combined the 1:1000 Romulan BoP and U.S.S. Reliant were more manageable financially and they gave us more marketable kits at a lower price point. They also tied directly to other kits of the same scale. If we had done the Galileo those kits may never have come to market.

Why do the Eagle and not the Galileo? That qualifies as a textbook “tough decision”. Ultimately we decided that the Eagle gave us the basis for three variations along with many potential add-ons and accessories while the Galileo could pretty much only exist as itself and therefore limited us with what could be done with the tooling. On top of that, sales on the Space:1999 license proved that the market was hungry for a new kit and that seems to indeed be the case. That isn’t to say one license won over the other. We still have a lot we can and want to do with the Star Trek license!

So why say this now? I could have said something a few months ago, but I was knee deep in other matters. Plus, I still have hope and an idea to be able to do the kit sooner than later. I just wanted to clear the air with everyone that really wanted a straight answer on it. So the straight answer is we aren’t doing it right now, and they way things look we won’t be considering it for a while. I DO want the kit to happen and like I said, I have schemes and ideas, but it is time to move on for a bit with the intention to work back around to it. So what will we do? We’ll see. I’ll show you when I have something to show. Onward…

 

Polar Lights Model Kits: U.S.S. Reliant Aztec decals

posted by JamieH 9:17 AM
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hi guys-

I promised this post a while back. I know we are running behind on getting the U.S.S. Reliant decals out to market, but they should be here by the end of August.

The images below show you what to expect so you can plan ahead so you can start building while waiting for the decals. as expected, it s a our usual aztec wrap and we’ve added in several alternative names and registries as well. A preview of the instructions gives you a better idea of how they are broken up and placed on the model. I’ve pumped up the contrast of everything I am previewing here so you can see it at the relatively low resolution that our blog system restricts me to.

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Polar Lights models: Wonderfest is right around the corner

posted by RJ 4:56 PM
Friday, May 10, 2013

 

One of my personal highlights each year continues to be the annual Wonderfest show in Louisville, KY. This year’s show is coming up the weekend of May 18 & 19 and it seems to be shaping up to be another great one. Seeing all of the great product available and seeing the work of all of the great modelers out there is a rare treat. Most of all though, I look forward to seeing all of the familiar faces and the chance we get to have to talk about our kits, the hobby and what you guys think.

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Even though we won’t be unveiling big news like the 1:350 TOS Enterprise, there will still be tons to talk about. We look forward to showing off our brand new buildups of our 1:144 C-57D, Robby & Altaira, Wolverine, the U.S.S. Enterprise bridge set and plenty more. We’ll give some info on development of the Galileo, Superman and all of the other all-new model kits we have brewing. We’ll have some surprising licensing announcements including hints at our plans for the ALIEN license. As always, we’ll have our annual survey ready to fill out to supply us with your feedback. We’ll be sure to fill in everyone that misses the show with our usual follow up youtube video of our booth and announcements.

 

We look forward to seeing everyone at the show!

 

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http://www.autoworldstore.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=wolverine&Submit=Search

Polar Lights Model Kits- Robby the Robot Returns

posted by RJ 9:05 AM
Thursday, April 18, 2013

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We announced our intention at Wonderfest last year to do give our Robby the Robot model kit a fresh spin to give a 3D representation of the iconic Forbidden Planet movie poster. So this June Robby the Robot returns as the Robby the Robot Movie Poster Edition. It seemed simple enough to take our existing Robby kit, add on a few new parts and boom; we would be off to the races. As usual, there really is no such thing as an “easy” task.

We knew we would need work with the parts we already have, so we knew we couldn’t work digitally in this case. We started out by hiring Tim Bruckner to tackle the sculpting duties. Tim has sculpted many licensed collectible statues and action figures. The difficulty before him was to use hard parts that we wanted to avoid retooling like Robby’s head and body and sculpt the needed Altaira figure along with new arms, legs and base for Robby. On top of that, he needed to stay as close as possible to the main reference, the movie poster, and translate a 2D painting into 3D that keeps all of the human body parts in proper proportion and get it to seat correctly on Robby. Our licensing agreement does not include likeness rights so we knew we needed to make sure the face stuck closely to the poster, and looked nothing like the actress. The Robby you see on the poster also strays a bit from the look of the real character. Ultimately we found that we needed to find that elusive sweet spot between the poster and what the “real” thing should look like in 3D. So with the parameters of our mission set before us, Tim began sculpting.

The first hurdle that was encountered was the fact that the movie poster shows no trace of Altaira’s right arm. It really isn’t something you notice when you look at it, because the mass of Robby’s body lends enough cover to make us assume that it must be there somewhere. Robby’s shoulder dome restricts the notion that the arm could drop straight down like the left one does. That left two possibilities. A) Her arm was tucked in between Altaira’s and Robby’s bodies, but her right hand could not land in her lap which would have been the natural position for it. B) Her arm had somehow landed up resting back over Robby’s shoulder. (Think it through, if Robby was lifting her unconscious body, how could her shoulder have ended up there?) We decided to proceed with notion A and see where that would lead us.

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While we were figuring that out, creating Robby’s new wide stance was a simpler proposition. Old kit parts were utilized to create a mockup of the new part. They were cast up into solid resin soon enough.

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With the legs in hand, the base was begun. We wanted the new base to represent the rocky alien ground that he was standing on in the poster. We also wanted to finish off the full poster effect by including a cardboard backdrop that supplies the background. So a channel was implemented to situate the backdrop. We left it to the factory to supply some gravel/soil texture to the piece after tooling was cut.

 

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Getting back to the figure, another problem that arose during the process is that in the illustration, Altaira isn’t really resting on Robby’s arm. The right side of her torso is raised so that we can see it, but she is clearly being held up by Robby’s hand on her left side. This left a gaping hole in the model. We played with the idea that her right arm had been caught up under her and that was what was holding her up.

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Polar Lights Model Kits: Back to Back to the Future

posted by RJ 9:42 AM
Wednesday, April 3, 2013

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Polar Light recently decided it was time to get back to Back to the Future and bring back the 1:25 scale Time Machine this summer. We recently inspected a copy of the previous release examine the faux “stainless steel” finish was already present on the model’s body. After discussing with the factory about the possibility of repeating this finish on the new release, we were offered a slew of options to explore. (Be sure to click on the pics for close-up views)

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The original kit had what would looks to be a standard chromed body that had been sanded with steel wool before it had been gloss coated. While the look was a valiant and notable effort, it looked very toy-like. The sanded lines were too big and noticeable to be considered true to the scale and the gloss coat was excessive.

 

Our factory offered a few alternatives from various sources that used a couple different techniques for applying the chrome and sanding.

 

Example A looked the best. I had a nice fine and evenly distributed sanded finish, but the color was a bit dark more like pewter than silver. A couple of the highest details also had a bit of a bronze color showing through. This was the base color of the plastic. I assume this example had been used on another faux-pewter looking product as the crevasses looked darker as if it was antiqued.

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Example B looked similar to A, but it lacked the sanded lines. The finish was easy to mar and discolor with fingerprints. A significant amount of rubbing removed them, but the finish maintained a blotchy look overall.

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Example C looked like B, but had sanded lines added back in. They weren’t as evenly applied or as apparent as A. Some areas were missed and some were a bit heavy-handed.

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Example D looked like a departure form the first three. It looked like it went back to the chrome/silver look of the old one. In this case, the gloss level wasn’t as high, but the sand lines looked like they had been applied with coarser grit. There weren’t as many lines, but the ones that were there were too prominent.

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Example E also looked similar to the old kit, but didn’t have as high of a gloss level finish. The example came with a note saying “process warps body. Advise not to use.” And the body was warped (wider than it should have been) so we won’t be using this one.

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This left us with a quandary. All told the quality and finish of example A was by far the best looking, but it was too dark. So we asked if it could be lightened to look more like silver. The result looked perfect… well, as perfect as we could expect for a 1:25 scale kit. The color is pretty spot on and the sanded lines are nice and even and aren’t too deep. It doesn’t use a heavy clear coat so all of the details show up nicely too.

We think this change is a significant improvement over the last release. Keep an eye out for the kit coming in June.

 

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GLUING A SNAP KIT IS A SNAP! …Part 3

posted by RJ 8:59 AM
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Continued…

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Puny Human Pin Hulk?

Whether you use the base that comes with the Hulk or you’re planning to use something different, I suggest you plan on pinning the big guy.  Pinning isn’t difficult and will make your model more stable on its feet.  It starts by filling the hollow foot assemblies with a solid material that will hold the mounting pins.  I used epoxy putty that I pushed into the foot halves before I assembled them.  The assembled feet could be filled with plaster of Paris just as well, but make sure all the water in the plaster has time to evaporate before you close up your model.

 

It hadn’t occurred to me to include pinning in this article when I was building my Hulk, so I will illustrate the procedure for pinning with another MPC snap-fit kit, the Vampire Glo-Head, Fig. 5.  Round 2 has taken pains to make the model more stable than it was when originally issued, but I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t fall over at model contests.  After the hand halves were joined, I filled the hollow interior with epoxy putty and sanded the bottom smooth.

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Then I needed to locate the hole in the resin and wood bases on which I would mount the model.  This hole also had to line up with the epoxy plug in the base of the hand so it would sit in the proper position on the resin base.  While I held the hand in position, I penciled four alignment marks around it, extending the marks onto the resin base.  Then I connected the marks with the aid of a straightedge, locating the centers of the holes, Fig. 6.  They were drilled into the hand and base; for this model, I used a big screw for the pin, Fig. 7.  A section of sprue or a dowel would work also.  I used this technique to pin Spider-man to his base as well.

If you’re reading this article in the first place, I presume you probably weren’t going to leave your Hulk unpainted.  His upper body and feet assemblies were designed to be trapped by the trouser halves.  It’s easy to paint the trouser parts and Hulk assemblies separately and then join them together.

 

The fit of the Hulk’s upper body to the top of his trousers isn’t the greatest, and the seams along the trouser halves are prominent.  However, they appear where seams on real trousers do, so they don’t have to be eliminated for a realistic appearance.  The pieces of the test shot I assembled had to be glued and clamped carefully to prevent them from coming apart.  The gap between the Hulk’s torso and his trousers can be filled fairly easily (I brushed several layers of white glue in there) and the paint on the trousers touched up.

 

A Model of a Different Color

Everything I’ve had to say about gluing the snap-fit Incredible Hulk applies to the Amazing Spider-man – and all other snap-fit models, for that matter.  Spidey was designed so the red and blue parts of his costume could be snapped together unpainted.  The design itself is ingenious, but it makes life harder for the modeler who wants to assemble the model with glue.

 

I tried and failed to remove the mounting tabs from the hands and feet assemblies, thinking I could paint them separately from the body and attach them after painting.  It would have been much easier to simply assemble Spider-man entirely (which I eventually did) and then paint him.  This required a lot of masking, but the results were well worth the effort.

 

The hardest part was to get the red and blue sections to fit smoothly.  I sort of cherry picked the areas where one section would have prominence over the other.  And the usual seams reared their ugly heads under a coat of primer, Fig.8.  I had to be careful not to fill the incised web pattern when filling gaps.  Where I did fill the webbing, I tried to resculpt it with hobby knives and even a fine routing bit in a rotary tool – that proved unnecessary as we’ll see.

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Painting the web pattern may seem daunting, but I found a few ways to make it easier.  Over a good base of white primer, I painted the red areas of Spidey’s costume with an airbrush, using Testors Model Master Guard Red.  This is a very bright red and dries to a gloss finish.  To paint the webbing, I mixed a bit of liquid detergent with some Hunt’s black ink in a small cup.  The soap broke the surface tension of the water-based ink so it wouldn’t puddle on the gloss red paint.  Using a fine, pointed sable brush made it fairly easy to apply the ink into the incised webbing.

 

I found it best to plan ahead when applying the ink so that I could avoid grabbing a wet spot while holding the model.  I began painting the back of Spidey’s boots – these were areas where I could practice painting the webbing without my mistakes being too noticeable (rubbing alcohol cleaned stray ink marks off the gloss red paint).  I tended to hold the figure around the waist, so the next areas I painted were the arms, then the head, and finally the torso.

 

The ink dried rapidly; to prevent my finger oils from marring it or the red paint, I wore rubber gloves while I worked.  I saw that the intensely black ink looked the same in the molded webbing as it did on any parts of it I had inscribed.  Even flat surfaces where the webbing got filled looked okay; on its own the ink reinstated the detail very well.

 

Time to Celebrate!

– Because I’m done with this article and a couple of fine models.  I was very impressed with the final appearance of these snap-fit kits.  Their engineering made me take some different approaches to those I’d have made with glue kits, but the results were otherwise the same.  I hope you enjoy building your models as much as I did mine.

ROUND 2, LLC, ACQUIRES LINDBERG & HAWK MODEL KIT BRANDS

posted by RJ 3:21 PM
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Round 2 to Produce Popular Land, Air, Sea & Space Models – Adding to AMT, MPC & Polar Lights

For Immediate Release

SOUTH BEND, Indiana – 03/18/2013 – Round 2, LLC, is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Lindberg and Hawk Models brands and assets from J. Lloyd International. With the transaction, Round 2 adds these two well-recognized and historic plastic model kit names to their existing trio of AMT, MPC and Polar Lights mode kit lines, licensed from Learning Curve Brands, Inc. in 2008 and purchased outright in 2012.

Consumer trust and excitement has been building over Round 2’s efforts with the initial three brands since 2008. Now, with the assets of five major model companies in its stable, Round 2 solidifies its position as a top producer and fierce competitor in the plastic kit sector of the hobby industry. Thomas Lowe, President and CEO of Round 2 states, “The addition of Lindberg and Hawk results in a combined product catalog for Round 2 that is so diverse, it will include virtually every type of model kit genre imaginable and in a wide range of scales. Whether you’re looking for cars, trucks, aircraft, ships, sci-fi, space exploration, anatomy and figures or even crazy monsters, we now have it all! We’ve made plans to hit the ground running with these brands and are ready to go. As we progress into the future, we will be working with the vintage Hawk and Lindberg tooling to resurrect more exciting kits that haven’t seen the light of day in decades, just like we have with AMT and MPC. We’ll also be happy to put the 1934 Ford Pickup tooling back under the original AMT brand, from where it originated.”

Lowe continues, “Like our customers, we love model building. Lindberg and Hawk models are sure to excite modelers of all ages. From the connection with history to a hunger for an understanding of how various machines, both human and mechanical function, the kits created by the original brands have always offered a wide variety of subject matter for model makers, and we plan on continuing that long standing tradition.
About Round 2

Round 2, LLC is an innovative collectibles company located in South Bend, IN.  The team at Round 2 is dedicated to producing detailed, high quality collectible and playable items appealing to the young and young at heart.  Round 2 brands include Polar Lights®, AMT® and MPC® model kits, Auto World® slot cars, Forever Fun™ seasonal products and the licensed brands American Muscle®, Ertl Collectibles® and Vintage Fuel™ die cast.
For more details on all the product lines produced by Round 2, visit our website at: www.round2corp.com
AMT, Polar Lights, MPC and Round 2 and design are trademarks of Round 2, LLC. ©2011 Round 2, LLC, South Bend, IN 46628. All rights reserved. ###
-END-

GLUING A SNAP KIT IS A SNAP! …Part 2

posted by RJ 8:56 AM
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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You can turn a snap-fit kit into a competition quality model if you know a few tricks.

By Mark McGovern

Continued…

 

Keeping a Model in Trim

 

After cleaning the flash off the halves of one of the Incredible Hulk’s hands, I snapped them together, as you can see in Figure 1 (this was a test shot, which is why the plastic is white).  You can see quite a seam showing between the parts.  My aim when I build a model is to create the appearance of the subject in miniature.  Since no Hulk in his comic book, television, or movie incarnations has ever been shown with seams running around his body, I did everything I could to eliminate them.

 

With most glue kits, and certainly snap-fits, the parts can be made to fit better simply by removing the locators molded into them.  I used sprue cutters for this job because the snap-fit locators were so large, Fig. 2.  A curved #10 hobby knife blade was helpful for cutting in tight places.

 

If you hold your kit part up to a strong light so you can look along its edges, you’ll see that they’re not flat.  The may be rounded or have lots of irregularities, where what’s needed are flat surfaces that will be fused together by the plastic cement you’ll use.  Sanding the part edges flat is the first step in assuring a good fit; I used 150-grit sandpaper to do this.

 

The best fit comes with a little more work.  I held the hand halves together in front of the light and checked for gaps.  The light showed them clearly; by sanding the point where the parts were touching, I was able to close most of the gaps.  At some points, I penciled arrows on the outsides of the parts to show me just where to sand.  When I felt I had the best fit I could get, I glued the parts and clamped them.  By the way, sanding the mating surfaces has the additional benefit of adding “tooth” to the edges, which gives the cement more surface area to grip; this ensures a stronger bond between the parts.

 

Stuck on Modeling

 

There’s really no single material that’s best for every plastic modeling job, so I keep a variety of paints, glues, etc. on my workbench to fill various needs.  I used liquid cement for this assembly and tube glue for the larger ones, like the upper body.  After the liquid cement had fused the hand halves, a thin line of melted plastic was left in the seam.  A little scraping and sanding (with progressively finer grades of wet-or-dry sandpaper, ending with 400-grit) pretty well removed the melted plastic and the seam, Fig.3.

 

With the exception of the Hulk’s trousers, I followed these procedures for the entire model.  Round 2 wanted the fists used only so those assemblies, along with the head, were cemented to the upper body and arms with tube glue.  The gaps between these assemblies were filled with two-part epoxy putty because it sets slowly enough to be blended and sculpted.  This made it possible to blend the hands into the wrists and head into the neck for a natural (?) appearance.  A little more sanding with the 400-grit wet-or-dry sandpaper completed the job.  Fig. 4 shows the results under paint.

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To be continued….

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