AMT/Ertl’s Star Wars Episode 1 Trade Federation Droid Fighters
1:48 scale (Kit # 30118)
This kit is a “Snaptite” one. It is surprisingly sparse. It comes with three Droid fighter spacecraft per kit. Each fighter is made up of only 4 parts, (an upper and lower main center piece along with a left and right wing/gun unit).
They are approximately three inches in length, molded in medium gray. Initially, I thought that these fighters were waaaaaay too small, (especially with the kit being listed at 1:48 scale). However after picking up The Star Wars Episode 1 Incredible Cross-Sections book, I discovered that the “actual” length of these Droids are 12 feet. This, when compared with the 9 inch Naboo fighter (listed also in the book as “actually” being 36 feet in length) puts the 3 inch Droid fighters right on target scale wise. (By the way, if only for its fascinating reading, I highly recommend getting your hands on one of these very interesting books).
The kit also contains a circular display base with three posts. These parts are molded in black. After picking up and analyzing one kit, I ended up going back and purchasing a second one. I had gotten an inspiring idea of displaying all six of these diminutive fighters together on one stand .
(Construction and Painting)
Well, as is probably obvious, there wasn’t much to the construction phase. The top and bottom center parts were glued together. Again, Testors Liquid Cement ended up being my weapon of choice. When set, I was very surprised with the excellent fit that resulted. No putty was needed to clean up the sub-assemblies! Only a bit of light sanding in a couple of areas was necessary, to clean off the plastic nubs from the sprue.
Next, the left and right wing/gun units were glued in place. One nice feature I noticed with these parts was that notches and tabs existed at the connecting areas. They insure a correct connection. (It would actually be otherwise possible to glue them together backwards, with the mistake probably not being detected until afterwards, when it would be too late to fix).
With the attachment of the left and right wings, I was again pleasantly surprised to discover that no seams needed to be cleaned up. (The resulting seams correspond to natural panel lines). Minor pin ejection marks were found on the outer areas of the front four tips of the wing/guns. They were carefully sanded away. In addition, two other minor pin ejection marks found on the inner regions of these parts were sanded smooth, along with the removal of some minor flash found on the guns themselves.
A problem with the kit’s instruction was the lack of a painting guide. Using the picture of the Droid fighter found on the box top as a guide, initially I decided to base coat them Model Master Light Sea Gray. However, when the paint dried, I discovered that these Droid Fighters had a Khaki/Green tint to them.
To add more Green color I started out with M. M. Ral Afrika Khaki Braun. This color was airbrushed on. Then, I added a touch of M. M. Olive Drab to the Ral Afrika Khaki Braun and lightly dusted this mixture on. When dry, the necessary upper center areas of the Droids were painted Olive Drab by hand. The outer tips of the wings were then very meticulously masked off and the remaining areas air brushed Olive Drab. Since the original coat of O. D. painted on the center areas didn’t cover so well, they were touched up with a light coat of airbrushed O. D.
When the paint had dried, all tape was removed. Tamiya Silver was carefully hand painted onto the inner and outer center “gun” areas. A fine tip, permanent red marker was used to color in the rear thrust exhaust nozzles, along with a fine tip permanent pink marker used to color in the optical visors.
(Display Stand Enhancements)
Ok! All but my customized stand remained. First, I cleaned the mold lines off all six display posts and glued the first three in place as per the instructions.
Then, after finally figuring out optimum locations for the additional three posts, I used an X-acto knife to slice these locations into the base. (Kids, don’t try this at home!) I did this very carefully, trimming the unneeded plastic away until three new locations existed for the additional posts. The posts were then glued into place with small Plastruct wedges cut out and attached to the bottom of the base. This was done to give the posts additional support, (even though they probably did not need it, with the Droid Fighters being so small and light).
This whole contraption was cleaned up and airbrushed M.M. Flat Black. I decided not to paint the words on this base. The six Trade Federation Droid Fighters were then attached to their posts.
These were really enjoyable kits to build. Even though they are snaptite kits being composed of a small number of parts, the parts are well molded and fit surprisingly well. Also, most of the detail found on the “real thing” was also represented on these miniature versions.
With the kit being available at some retail stores for $9.00 apiece, the price can’t be beat! These models gave me a nice change of pace from my other (numerous) on-going, under-construction modeling projects that seem to be getting harder and harder to complete. (Now with this newfound enthusiasm, maybe I’ll get one or two of them done).
I was disappointed with how the Chrome finish turned out on the Naboo Fighter. The untouched seam areas are glaringly obvious when viewed up close. In addition, the very sparse interior leaves much to be desired for the detailed modeler. I ended up picking up two more Naboo Fighters, with the intentions of removing the Chrome plating, doing a good job with the associated seams, and masking and painting Silver on instead. (In addition, maybe someone will come out with an interior detail set for this fighter ).
If you are looking for a break from your usual modeling realms, or would like to have your own personal piece of the Star Wars Episode 1 Universe, pick up a Droid Fighter kit (or two) and have some modeling fun!
In closing, I really hope AMT/Ertl and George Lucas will be pleased enough with the sales of these kits to release more sophisticated kits from the movie. A nice, large scaled kit of the Naboo Queen’s Royal Starship would be excellent! (…subtle hint!) A Gungan Sub would also be well received! Large scaled versions of some of the robots found in the movie (such as a large, detailed Droid Fighter in walking mode) would also be great! (…hint, hint!) Finally, vinyl kits of some of those nasty looking Naboo water creatures, along with large 1:6 scaled vinyl versions of the main characters found in the movie would be a very nice addition indeed! (…hint, hint, HINT! …Hey George, are you out there? Did you get all of that?)
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony I. Wootson. No material may be reproduced without permission. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.