*Subtle slips through an inconspicuous side door and quickly locks it behind him. The sound ofÖ something
can be heard behind the thresholdÖ banging, scratching, thumping, clawing, and poundingÖ trying to gain entry. Subtle moves slowly away from the door, hoping itíll hold*
Not yet you donít! I still have one last chapter, damnit! This
, wonít be complete, the voices from the warp wonít shut the fuck up, until Iíve finished ĎThe Uglyí!
As promised, one final insomnia fueled installment in my Tales of Interest!
(Damn I miss Futurama) So, lets step right in it; the Fire Raptor. This Ďuglyí little modelÖ ok, so itís not so little, and when itís finally built itís not so ugly, but you get what I mean. This collection of styrene and resin has a bit of a reputation; a model that induces both lust and loathing. I know
I want one, but do I have
to build it myself?!
Put simply, yeah, itís a bit of a pain to assemble, to say the least. I know how to build things, and it drove me nuts at times; inducing such moods swings in fact, I chose to add emoticons to this write up to show how I was feeling during different stages of this build. ďEnter at your own risk ~ This is a Dark rideĒ The Fire Raptor is an amazing
modelÖ that requires serious consideration and work to build because of some strange fit issues and missed opportunities to add some simple features to the parts to aid in construction; getting the entire hull straight and true is just maddening.
I really like what Forge World makes, so it can be hard to be harsh towards them because I really like the style, but I just donít understand the logic of how this assembles in places, and some of the very strange fit and alignment issues that crop up in this premium kit. I could write an article in itself about how Iíd do things differently to create a model that fits and locks together better during assembly, but Iíll save that for when I do my own Storm Raven conversion kits in future. I have the test prototypes, Iíve perfected the casting process, I know I can do it, in due timeÖ I promise.
So, we all know that Polyurethane plastic (Aka: Resin) is a toxic if inhaled; resin dust is bad for you, míkay?!
Big kit means lots of pour gates and vents, many of them very large. Credit has to be given to some of the large slabs of resin that make the Raptorís hull. So, that means lots of sawing and lots of dust. Use a respirator to avoid it as you free the many parts from their captive sprews. Unless the gates are quite small, and even then, I usually prefer to use a saw on resin to remove sprew. Iíve had clippers cause the sprew to pop free and take a chunk of the model with it (requiring later repair) too many times. The saw slices/cuts through the material, avoiding that.
Expect to give many parts of the kit hot water dunks so they can be bent back into alignment.
Itís almost unavoidable. Just packaging something securely for shipping will slowly warp parts over the days it takes for a kit to get from point A to point B. To their credit, FW did secure the large hull components to cardboard to provide them some extra support. Resin is also usually just a bit soft when itís de-moulded, adding to the chances of a bit of warping as itís tugged from the mould. Itís usually a rather easy fix to hot water dunk the part and coax it back to correct form. No complaints here.
This is where we get deep and technical; the real key to no losing your mind if you try to build this model.
*In a booming monotone voice* You will Pin EVERYTHING!
Ö That is all! *Click*
While you can expect to do some pinning on a large resin model, with the Fire Raptor it becomes the only way to can really hold it together and stay aligned; the parts match up (mostly) but they can shift and slide making it very tricky to get it together for a proper test fit. This is where I start to wonder why there arenít a few more simple interlocking components to help form the structure, and make it a bit easier to build. But, so far itís starting to look like something.
The struggle continues as I try to piece it together and to a dry fit to test alignments and if parts have been properly straightened.
Doing some test fitting is to be expected with a large kit, but this one really was a struggle to keep it together so you could really check the fit and alignment. It seemed a bit warped, but not enough that I didnít think I could force it into shape. Again, some simple tongue in groove details and/or a few locking/fitting components wouldnít be amiss to help the build. Itís mostly just a flat slabs of resin meeting flat slabs of resin, with one or two small details to help with alignment.
So I relented, and placed some nice large pins front and back on both sides to lock the walls of the hull in place.
I drilled the holes with just a little play, front to back, so I could adjust the parts a little bit as I assembled the resin components of the main hull. It took a little bit twisting to get a reasonably clean alignment on both sides, and you can just
make it out a bit of it in the length of the hull. I took my time and carefully added lots of Super glue to the length of the hull to really lock it in to place. It was starting to look good and feel solid.
Except yeah, that Ďlittle twistí? WellÖ it was not so little after all.
It might not look like much, but this is the wing section of the hull, and I suspect that this little twist in the hull would have made the wings a bit warped across their span, drooping down on the left, if not corrected. With everything locked together I had no choice but to hot water dunk the entire assembly.
Iím lucky to have a small portable electric cooking range that I can use for large dunk jobs like this; I wanted really hot water considering the thick nature of the parts. With an old pot it wasnít that hard to fix the twist. And, I must have used enough glue, because the hot water didnít loosen it at all.
*Subtle stops, noticing that it has become quiet. The Ďthingí lurking outside having stopped its assault on the door.*
This is one of those little parts that illustrated some of the fit issues in a nut shell.
Itís not glued together at this point, so it is a bit loose. However,
Front left corner, that looks good, once itís glued up it will be tight and clean with a bit of a seam.
Front right corner, well thatís not as clean as it could be, but itís not the worst.
But the bottomÖ *Gets angry, grunting and yelling* why for big silly gap in bottom?!
*Sigh* To the best of my ability the hull is assembled how it should be, Iím not sure why this gap is like this. Not a huge deal I guess, but not that hard to fix before mass production too. If you want to make the parts seamless, the rivets are going to make it a real pain to sand it smooth.
Remember, the resin parts of the hull are assembled, from what I can tell, straight and symmetrical, and stillÖ
Ö The left corner of the hull aligns perfectly with the styrene component. *Ding!* Excellent!
But the right corner of the hull is out by more than just a little bit! *Buzzer!* So sorry!
There was simply no way to get both sides to alight cleanly, so I was forced to use a small sanding block and carefully remove some material to lower the resin surface enough to get the corner to align correctly.
For better or worse, the main hull came together and was glued firm.
Despite all my efforts to assemble the hull straight and true there is a subtle but noticeable bend to the left. The Ďhobby OCD meí hates it, but I chose to ignore it because of how subtle it is.
Itís also a bit annoying that the top panel for the hull also doesnít line up as neatly as Iíd like; the right side looks good, but the left just doesnít line up quite right and ruins what should be nice and symmetrical details. At this point there is no flex or give in the hull, and I donít want to even consider another dunk, so Iím willing to accept these final small, but annoying, flaws. Once you step back and look the whole, you canít help but like it, even with the odd little wart.
The wings assembled easily but a few parts could have been a bit cleaner in the fit.
I also managed to forget to photograph assembling the engine housings, rear landing gear compartments, and rear components. In an effort to actually make progress, not worry, and overthink it, I just plowed through and realized at the end I forgot.
Being beyond the point of no return, all that really matters of that process is that I pinned the heck out of it all; the engines especially received three large deep pins each to properly secure the large chunks of resin to the hull. The double pinned wings are not fragile in the slightest. In fact, the entire build is remarkably solid, thanks to the extensive pinning; itís a quite literally brick, with no flex in the hull or the wing connections, and it simply feels solid
right out to the wing tips.
Even the small parts, like the front vector engines got securely pinned in place so nothing will fall off this glorious chunk of plastic.
As mentioned, I managed to clean up the top right corner alignment with some careful sanding of the resin surface and a bit of brute force when finally gluing it in place. The bottom right corner did end up with a rather noticeable seam line that will need a bit of fixing, as expected.
But ultimately, the small flaws just donít matter.
If you can take the time to pin the heck out of the Fire Raptor as you construct it, it becomes less daunting to assemble then the reputation its gained, but
still a bit of an Ďuglyí challenging build to get it nice clean and straight, and it has a few small but Ďuglyí flaws that seem out of place for such a wonderful final model; however, they become very easy to ignore when theyíre overwhelmed by all the awesome present in the rest of this kit. But, the build does make you work for that awesome, with a challenging build. You have been warned.
I will follow up with further articles showing the assembly of the smaller components of the Raptor and Spartan when I can get to finishing those final bit of the builds. But even with a few things left to complete in these builds, Iím quite happy to have several key models assembled to a point that they are ready to go when Iím ready to start my planned studio kits. Tackling all of the builds I did this summer has really encouraged me to be more confident in just getting down to work and getting progress done, instead of overthinking and hesitating when Iím having a bit of doubt. Definitely a good thing.
In closing, a few images to show off a few other little things Iíve been up to as the summer ends.
I finally got a chance to get the Signum Stone markers properly painted and based to match my army. Big surprise, I went with a Black Marble look (using my black highlight greys) for the actual stone artifact shards, so they can stand out a bit from the common ground stone, but still feel cohesive. Even with a single battery (they can take one or two) pictured here, the lighting effect is very pronounced, and they produce a wonderful hypnotic glowing effect as they shift through the spectrum.
At some point someone had asked me if the small dishes in my Shield Generator touched the plasma globe and if the effect was drawn to them.
Well, that got me thinking, and it really didnít seem that hard to add some metal pins to the center of the internal dishes that could reach the globe and touch it; the lower electrical resistance of the metal should draw the plasma effect towards it, just like touching it with a finger, only on a smaller scale. It was a little fiddly to get all of the pins the correct length on each dish, since the gap isnít quite consistent all around the globe. But after a bit of tweaking and adjustment, it actually wasnít too
hard to achieve contact on all the points. Sure enough, the metal draws the plasma streams quite well, and it adds nicely to the Ďpulling power to energize the shieldí effect that I was aiming for with the model. Working so well, naturally Iím going to keep the modification on this studio model. Iím quite pleasedÖ with how itÖ givesÖ
*Subtleís voice trails off. Caught up in his wall-oí-text, he suddenly notices that he has carelessly wandered too close to a window!*
Aww crap! *Subtleís face goes pale* Too lateÖ
*The glass shatters, as the window explodes inward; a throng of appendages, each branded with the words ďHigher LearningĒ, thrusting through the new found opening and quickly grab and grapple the aspiring designer, dragging him back into the gloom. The sounds of his desperate struggle to fight off and defeat the menace fade as he is dragged away. Faint words tumble back from The DarkÖ*
MuchÖ moreÖ toÖ come!