Building AMT/Ertl Darth Vader's Tie Fighter
I began as I
always do by degreasing all the parts and putting them in a dish rack to air dry. I then removed all the parts and
did necessary clean-up work (remove flash, fill mold knock-out impressions, etc.).
I glued the Darth Vader halves together, the inner solar panels to the main panels and joined the cockpit instrument
panel. I then sprayed all the cockpit pieces with light-gray Tamiya acrylic.
Darth was sprayed with flat black that was lightened slightly with some flat white. I brushed his helmet,
gloves and boots with lightened gloss black.
The solar panels were sprayed with gloss black Tamiya acrylic that had some gloss dark blue added. The blue
gives the panels a sort of iridescent look in certain light.
I sprayed the inner portion of each hull half with flat black. I wasn't sure what would be visible when the
model was assembled so I made sure to spray more than what I thought was really necessary. The flat black looked
like it might be too stark so I went back and sprayed a light mist coat of steel.
I added various touches of color inside the cockpit using Testor's Model Master colors intended for auto brake lights
and turn signals. These are tinted clears with a little metallic thrown in to make orange, red and similar colors.
I also used small amounts of silver on some of the conduit and a touch of brass here and there. Basically I just
fabricated colors to break up the monotony.
The cockpit was assembled and glued in the lower hull half. There are a few other pieces that are glued inside
the hull halves before the hull is joined. These parts didn't fit well. The hull halves were a horrible fit
and required a lot of repeated sanding and filling to get rid of seams. In one case I had to glue a thin piece of
styrene on the hull to bring a part flush with it's mating part. When the hull was ready for paint I sprayed just
the seams to ensure no more filling was needed. Of course there were some defects so I filled and sanded some
more. When the hull was actually ready for paint I put it aside and went back to the solar panels.
I masked the
black portions of the solar panels to prepare them for painting the framing light gray. As you can see in the
photo it's not particularly difficult to mask these areas but it is very time-consuming. Be sure to use low-tack
masking tape so the black doesn't come up with the tape and also be sure the edges of the tape are burnished well.
The hull, upper hatch and solar panels were sprayed with light gray acrylic. I allowed the paint to dry 24
hours and then sprayed them with gloss clear. I applied a heavy dark gray oil wash to everything except the black
frame for the front cockpit window. I gave the wash an hour to set up and then used a cloth moistened with
turpentine to remove the excess.
The wash was given a week to dry and then given a coat of flat acrylic clear. Finally I dry-brushed using light
grays and white.
The masking was left in place on the solar panels throughout this process. The masking tape was carefully
removed using a toothpick to lift a corner and a sharp tweezer to peel the tape off.
At this point I did my random contrived colors thing. Mostly I used silver on some conduit outside the hull and
on the laser guns in front of the fighter below the cockpit. I painted over the dry silver paint with turn-signal
red. The red is translucent so a silver base gives a nice effect.
I allowed the paint several days to fully harden before I moved along to final assembly. The upper hatch is
meant to open but that means adding it before the hull is joined which makes it a painting nightmare. Because of
that and the awful rendition of Lord Vader I chose to glue the hatch shut.
There is an option to either display the model on its landing gear or put it on the clear display base. I chose
to use the base and put the landing gear in my spares box. I've never seen a clear display base that I liked so I
painted it flat black. The lettering is carefully brushed using Testor's gold paint. When the paint was dry
I gave it a heavy coat of flat clear acrylic.
The base isn't very sturdy so I suggest if you use it that you pick
the model up by the hull and not by the base. The model isn't very light when it's complete and I can see it
easily breaking off the base if it's tilted when you lift it.
The end product is nice but it's a lot of tedious work getting there. This model wasn't much fun to build but
it's about the only game in town. I don't keep up with what's offered by various plastic kit manufacturers but it
appears that AMT/Ertl has a lock on Star Wars models. I think MRC makes some as well.
If you're really interested in this genre of model then it is a good idea to check out various sci-fi model forums to
learn more about building these type models and maybe finding other manufacturers who kit them or make after-market