Thursday, July 21

Build Review Pt III: Bandai’s 72nd scale A-Wing Starfighter

Andy has already shown us what was in his box and the build of the Bandai A-Wing Starfighter in 72nd scale, but now he returns with a third part showing just how he improved the kit by painting it up to what we think is a very had to beat model – they challenge is out! Let’s have a look at how it turned out…

Build Review Pt III: A-Wing Starfighter
Manufacturer - Bandai
Kit Number #0206320
Scale - 1/72nd
Availability - “Officially” only available in Japan (can be acquired via eBay, Amazon etc.)– look for distributors on the Bandai Website

In Episode II of the A-Wing saga we left the model fully built and ready for paint. Now in Episode III, it's time to wrap up the trilogy with the paint and weathering, and get this A-Wing ready to take on the might of the Imperial Fleet. May the Force be with us.

OK, I may have got slightly carried away there. Probably best to fire up the airbrush and get on with it before I get a call from one of Disney's lawyers. Before I got down to the job at hand, I broke the model down into individual sub-assemblies (one of the benefits of the push-fit construction of the model) which will mean far less masking and easier access to areas that would have been hard to reach if I'd left it fully assembled. Those areas that had already been painted were masked with tape and, in the case of the nozzle interiors, rolled up post-it notes.

First up were the white areas on the main fuselage and the nozzle/fin assemblies. Bandai's paint codes are for Gunze Aqueous colours, and they recommend a mix of 70% H21 Off White and 30% H11 Flat White. Gunze's Off White has a noticeable green tint to it but I was looking for a warmer tone for the A-Wing, so I used a revised mix with a little H85 Sail added. I didn't bother to mask off the red areas, as the white provided a neutral undercoat for the subsequent dark red paint.

To add a bit of natural variation to the white finish, I masked off a few random panels and gave them a light coat of Vallejo Model Air Aged White. These panels became less noticeable after the weathering, but they help break up the finish, and provide a more natural, realistic look.

More variation was added to the surface by post shading around the panel lines with heavily thinned Tamiya Sky Grey. The paint was thinned to a ratio of around 70% thinner to 30% paint, and it's important to turn the air pressure down when spraying paints this thin, as it would be easy to flood the surface otherwise. If you do get too strong a build-up of paint, a thin mist of the original base colour will tone down the effect.

The original studio model had a few panels sprayed in darker grey tones to represent replacements. The kit supplies these as decals. The decals aren't the best quality, having a rather pixilated finish, but could be used if you don't fancy masking and painting the panels.

I chose to paint the panels on mine, which involved three rounds of masking and spraying, as there are three distinct shades used on the panels. The first two were painted with a mix of Tamiya Light Blue and Gunze Flat White.

The second shade is a lighter grey and I used a mix of Tamiya Sky Grey and Gunze White for these.

The last panels are only on the stabiliser fins and need a darker grey shade. Strait Tamiya Medium Grey was used for these. Of course, you only need to add these panels if you're recreating the studio model scheme. These models are a great canvas for trying different approaches to painting and weathering, and you could go with anything from a factory fresh finish to an A-Wing that's ready for the junk yard.

Time for the red areas now, and that took quite a bit of masking. It would be quite reasonable to paint all the parts individually before assembly, which will avoid the need for masking, although you will need to be careful to avoid too much paint build-up on the mating surfaces, as that will compromise the fit of the parts.

I initially gave the red areas a pre-shade with a dark red mixed from Tamiya Hull Red and Gunze Russet. If anything, this mix could have been a little darker, but it was sufficient to add some tonal shading to the red.

Now for the main red coat. Bandai's recommended mix uses Gunze Cocoa Brown (90%), Red Madder (5%) and White (5%) but, as I didn't have these in stock (apart from the white), I used my own interpretation. This consisted of Tamiya Flat Red and Gunze Russet with a little Tamiya Buff added to tone down the vibrancy of the mix. This was sprayed in a fairly even coat, while allowing some of the pre-shade to show through.

I felt that the result was still a little too vibrant, and I also wanted to introduce a more rust red tone to better match the studio model. A second mix using Tamiya Red, Gunze Orange and Tamiya Buff was sprayed patchily over the model, with more coverage over some areas than others. This all helps to give a more natural finish than a single overall colour would.

With the masking removed, a couple of the red panels were painted in a more distinct rust colour, using Lifecolor Light Rust Shadow. Again, this matches the studio original and is something you could vary in position and colour/tone to make a more unique example.

That finished the main painting so, before getting started on the weathering, the handful of small decals were added. These are mainly stencils and match those applied to the studio model well. The areas where the decals would go were given a gloss coat first, to lessen the chance of the decals silvering, followed by a second gloss coat to seal the decals once they'd fully dried.

There was a little bit of detail painting still to do, mainly the landing gear bays. These are never shown in the film as the A-Wing only appears in flight, so it's entirely up to the individual modeller as to what colour to use. I went with a pale grey/green as I thought it would contrast nicely with the main red/white paint scheme. The landing gear was painted in the same colour, with the hydraulic sections picked out in silver. The gear was given a dark grey wash to dirty them up a bit.

I started the weathering with a panel line wash. I didn't want to use anything too dark, especially on the white parts, so for those areas, I used a mid-grey wash by AK Interactive. This was loaded onto a brush which was then touched against the panel lines, allowing the wash to flow along them by capillary action.

The wash was left for about 20 minutes to dry, then a make-up applicator (not mine), which had been dampened with enamel thinner, was used to clean off the excess wash. The applicator was wiped in a linear direction with the fuselage, which left a subtle, streaked effect to add to the weathering.

For the panel lines on the red areas a rust wash was used, not to represent rust but simply because it tonally matched the paint colour. It's worth remembering that you don't just have to use weathering products for the purpose they're labelled for.

Some paint chipping was applied to the fuselage, paying attention to those areas that would naturally get more wear, such as the edges of panels, and cut-outs in the body. Different shades were used for the chipping on the red areas to those on the white, with a darker shade used over the white to give better definition. Technically this would be inaccurate, as the underlying colour would theoretically be the same across the whole ship. Sometimes though a little artistic license can give a more aesthetically pleasing, if slightly less accurate, finish.

To add a little more contrast to the model, a thicker wash, in this case AMMO Engine Grime, was painted around some of the raised panels and other details. 

While the wash was still wet it was blended and softened with a soft, dry brush.

Further rendering was added with oil paints. These were used both neat, from the tube to add more shading and highlights, as well as heavily thinned to tint some of the panels, adding more variety to the finish. A piece of cardboard was used as a palette for the oils, which soaked up some of the linseed oil in the paint, making them dry faster and with a more matt finish.

At this point I was ready to call the A-Wing done, but after taking and evaluating a few photos (which I find is a good way of seeing how a model is coming along), I decided to add a little more rendering, this time with acrylic paint, to increase the worn look to the finish. A dark red (Vallejo Cavalry Brown in this case) was brush painted around some details and panels, leaving a ragged, chipped edge to the paint. With that done I was finally happy to set the A-Wing aside and move on top the other two elements of the build: the flight stand and the Turbolaser turret.

The Turbolaser was first primed with AMMO black primer. This was left for 24 hours to fully dry, then a pale grey base coat was sprayed on, leaving some of the black in the recesses. A few individual panels were picked out in different shades of grey, then the whole thing was given a panel wash using the same mid grey used on the white areas of the A-Wing. Darker washes were then used to add more contrast to the surface, and also for some streaking and staining effects.

The flight stand was painted in a similar way to the Turbolaser, but also had a light dry brush with a pale grey to help bring out that incredible moulded detail.

...And with the Turbolaser and flight stand painted and weathered, the build was complete. This has been such a fun project to work on, and Bandai need to be commended for their skill in producing a kit which, on the one hand, is incredibly simple and quick to construct, yet also results in a near perfect scale replica. The design and engineering of this and Bandai's other Star Wars releases is second to none, and the results speak for themselves.

Bandai already has a large range of models featuring subjects from the Original Trilogy as well as the latest instalment The Force Awakens, and their releases show no sign of slowing down. The fact that these kits are 'officially' unavailable outside of Japan is a problem, but with the inclusion of English text in the instructions, there are signs at least that this may change in the future.

The finished kit...

If you have any interest in Star Wars or science fiction in general, you need to get yourself one of these kits.

Very highly recommended

For more on Bandai's kits - take a look at their Website