Saturday, November 25

Andy's Guide: JPG's Resin C1-10P 'Chopper' 'Droid 1/12th scale kit finished with lots of upgrades & a killer paint job...

JPG Productions new C1-10P 'Chopper' Astromech Droid is selling through Tirydium Models, ever the Star Wars and even more so an Astromech 'Droid fan, Andy shows us how to upgrade & finish it like a show winner in today's article.

Painting & Finishing Guide: C1-10P 'Chopper' Astromech Droid
Manufacturer – JPG Productions
Original Master- Stephen Husser
Type – Resin Casting
Scale - 1/12
Price - £25 plus Shipping from Tirydium Models

Build Review Guide: JPG's C1-10P 'Chopper' 'Droid Resin 1/12th scale kit

Today: Andy paints & Finishes  JPG's C1-10P 'Chopper' 'Droid Resin 1/12th scale kit
It's been quite a while since we looked at Chopper, the cranky droid from Star Wars Rebels, in the in-box review, and his beeps and whistles of complaint at being ignored are getting irritating, so it's high time we got him built up and painted. First though, a little re-cap.
If you've never heard of Chopper before, then think of R2-D2 but slightly more anarchic and cheeky. He's a C1 Astromech, which is an older model (in the Star Wars universe) than R2 and the other droids we see in the movies. He's one of the principal cast in the animated 'Rebels' TV show, but has recently broken free of his small screen origins to make his live-action debut in Rogue One.
Chopper is JPG Productions second foray into Star Wars droid modelling, following on from their earlier Gonk and Mouse Droid set. He's a resin casting made up of just a few parts, so from a construction point of view, he's relatively straightforward, and he's scaled to fit in perfectly with the 1/12 droid models produced by Bandai. For the in-box review here on TMN, I did a quick dry-fit construction of the parts to see how he looked and, although a little rough around the edges in places, he certainly looked like the droid you're looking for (see what I did there?).
To bring the best out of him though, he's going to need a little refinement, so lets pull him back apart and see if we can give him a bit of an upgrade. First up I had a look at his head. From the box, there were a few poorly finished areas from the master model that needed to be addressed, such as the deep groove running around the top. In addition, the raised lip around the upper edge needed removing, and a panel line scribing in its place. Some of the other panel lines needed refining, and some were in the wrong place, so needed filling and re-scribing in the correct location.
To begin with, the grooves and other imperfections on the top of the head were filled with Cataloy car body filler, then wet sanded until smooth. It's always a good idea to wet sand when working with resin, as the dust isn't pleasant. Wet sanding will also leave a much better finish.
Although the raised rim around the top of the head needed to go, it did come in handy as a guide for scribing the panel line that would replace it. I simply ran the scribing tool around the bottom of the rim, slowly building up the depth of the groove over several passes. Once the new panel line was done, the rim could be carefully sliced away and sanded flush. In fact, the whole head was sanded, as the finish on the resin was quite rough in places.
With the head sanded and re-scribed, it was looking a lot better. Not perfect, but to get it any better I would have needed to fill and re-scribe every panel on the head. At this point I'd also removed the eyes and the mount for the scanner dish, as doing so made the sanding process much easier. That of course would mean that both would need replacing.
To make the replacement eyes, I sanded the end of a piece of 1mm diameter styrene rod to a rounded profile, and that was then slid into a short length of styrene tube, leaving the rounded end of the rod set back slightly from the end of the tube. Two of these were made, and then glued into holes I'd already drilled into the head where the original eyes had been.
The third eye sensor, on the right-hand side, was created with a short length of brass tube glued into the existing hole, which needed to be drilled a little deeper to accommodate the tube. The new circular base for the sensor dish was a part taken from the spares box, and while not entirely accurate to the original, was slightly better than the kit's sensor base, which was a little misshapen.
The post for the sensor dish was made from a couple of sizes of styrene tube. The antenna on the dish was a length of brass rod, and the dish itself was another part from the spares box. Again, the kit part was a bit misshapen, and the post was very fragile. Mine had already snapped in two. You'll probably also notice that I scribed a round panel on top of Chop's head. This should actually be above the right-hand inset eye, rather than above the middle one. My mistake for not checking the references properly, but I left it as it was, since I didn't want to do any more filling and sanding now that the sensor base was in place.
I thought that would be enough remedial work for the head, but I still needed to refine the manipulator arms. The kits parts are quite rough, with a lot of tooling marks on the tapered forearm sections. At first, I thought I'd be able to get away with just sanding down the roughest areas, and leave it at that, but the more I looked at close-ups of the animation model, the more I realised that the arms were not really very accurate. In the end I decided that, to get anything close to the original, I'd have to remake them from scratch.
Most of the construction for the new arms was relatively simple. Just a matter of sliding various diameters of brass and styrene tube together. The tapered sections needed a little more work though. On the anime model, these sections have a straight taper from the elbow to the wrist with a panel line at either end.
If you've got a mini lathe, this would be a simple thing to make, but I don't have one. Instead I made do with the chuck of a mini drill to hold a short length of sprue, then used a craft knife blade to shave down the plastic to the correct taper. For the panels, I held the tip of the blade against the spinning sprue, and gently scored a groove at each end. It goes without saying that this is a slightly precarious procedure, so if you're going to try it, make sure to wear some eye protection, and don't use a piece of sprue longer than about 1½  inches, or the end will oscillate too much. Of course, if you do have a mini lathe, all this will be a lot simpler.
To finish off the arm I made a replacement elbow from a short length of sprue, and pinned the two arm sections to it with brass rod. Although an improvement, the new tapered sections aren't entirely accurate, as the elbow end should be wider. I was restricted here by the size of sprue I could fit in the chuck of the drill. For the hands, I decided it was simpler to use the kit parts, as they were fairly accurate, although I opened up the gap between the tips of the pincers. Making replacement arms had one further benefit, as it allowed each arm to be posed differently, which added a lot to the character of the finished model.
Moving on to the body now, and this also needed some sanding to remove the texture from the casting, along with more work to tidy up the panel lines. For most of the panel lines I used a very thin photo etched razor saw to deepen the lines, gently running it along the grooves to remove just a small amount of resin with each pass.
The main area on the body that required some attention were the open panels on Chopper's chest. On the anime model these contain various detail components, but on the kit, they look quite simplified, and a little crude, by comparison.
To begin with, I had to remove the existing detail, preferably without damaging the surrounding body. The easiest way to do that was with a Trumpeter micro chisel, which I used to carefully slice away the resin. This is something that needs to be done slowly, trying not to remove too much material in one go.
With the excess detail removed, the openings were scraped and sanded until smooth. The circular panel in the centre of the chest was drilled out, as this area should be recessed rather than proud, as it had been on the unmodified kit.
After that, it was simply a matter of rebuilding the details using bits of styrene sheet and tube. The wiring was secured into holes drilled in the sidewalls of the cutout, with the other end of the wires hidden behind the small square panel with the corner chopped off. One extra addition here is the square patch panel in the centre of the chest. JPG only supply this as a decal, but it looks much better cut from styrene sheet.
The legs also had some work done, as the two round struts had some heavy, and hard to reach, mould lines, and in any case, weren't quite right in shape. They were cut away from the main legs, and replaced with more styrene tube (I get through a lot of this stuff).
The last thing to deal with was the wheel that Chopper uses instead of a third leg. The wheel itself needed quite a bit of clean-up, after which I needed to find a way to attach it to the strut. The simplest method was to drill out the hub of the wheel, drill corresponding holes in each side of the strut, then use some brass tube as an axle.
With the axle cut flush to the strut, I covered the ends with a couple of bolt heads, and also added a couple of strips of styrene to further detail the strut. Chopper uses this wheel to steer, and I wanted to attach it with some turn on it. To do that I cut the strut away from its circular base, glued the base into the recess on the bottom of his body, then drilled a hole to take a brass rod. Another hole in the top of the strut meant I could easily attach the strut, and turn it in any orientation I wanted.
That finished off the build side of the project, and left him looking a little sharper than he did at the beginning. The extra work here is all pretty straight forward. Just sanding, filling, and chopping up a few bits of plastic. There's certainly more you could do, if you really wanted to super-detail him, but this seemed a reasonable place to call a halt to the work, and see about getting some paint on him.
By contrast to the build stage, the painting was a breeze. Resin needs a good primer coat, and Alclad white microfiller was used here, as this is a very resilient primer. This had the side benefit of providing the perfect base colour, since Chopper is predominantly white, albeit very, very dirty.
The other colours were then laid down using an airbrush for the larger areas like the head, while the smaller panels were brush painted. This was done with a mix of Tamiya, Gunze, AMMO and Vallejo. Basically, whatever looked to be about the right colour. The only decals used were the red-light strip on his head, and the yellow and black triangle on the lower body. That one had to be over-painted though, as the yellow printing on the decal was almost transparent.
Weathering time now, and the bulk of the grime on the body was achieved by over-spraying with a very thin mix of black and brown Tamiya acrylics, having first masked off the white stripes and triangle on his chest. When the paint was dry, I wet a brush with acrylic thinner, and began to scrub off the paint, leaving a worn appearance.
There's a small grill on the green panel on Chopper's chest, and that's supplied on the decal sheet, but only as part of the panel decal. Since I'd painted the panel, I had to find another way to represent the grill. The most strait forward method was just to mask off and spray the grill.
The rest of the weathering consisted of various applications of acrylics, enamels and oils, slowly building up the layers of grime and dirt until he looked close to the way he appears on screen.
The only thing remaining was to piece him together and he was ready to join the other droids on the Star Wars shelf in my display cabinet. It took a bit of effort to get him to this point, but I think the end result was worth it. If you've never tackled a garage kit of this sort before, then it might come as a bit of a shock as to how much work you'll need to put in compared to the state-of-the-art models we're used to from the big manufacturers. Non of that work is particularly hard though, and you'll certainly get a sense of accomplishment when you're done. Best of all, you'll end up with one of the most unique droids in the Star Wars universe.

I'll leave you with a walkaround of Chopper in all his grubby glory
And finally, a shot of Chop with some of his stalemates from JPG Productions, and some old friends from a Galaxy Far, Far Away...
Andy Moore

You can purchase this kit from the Tirydium Models Webstore Directly