Friday, September 18, 2009

It's been a while part one: The Egg and I

I may not have been posting, but I've been doing stuff. My local modeling club (the No Website Club, it seems) is having a contest. Back in May, one of the guys bought a bunch of ostrich-sized plastic eggs. Split longitudinally, half the egg is clear and half is opaque. Anyone who wanted to enter took an egg. There are only two rules:

1) if you take an egg, you have to make something.
2) a significant portion of the clear part must be left clear.

I took the challenge, but when I got home I realized that, since I have only been modeling again for less than a year, I have no stash of leftover parts. This meant that I would be having to scratchbuild the entire thing. Talk about biting off more than you could chew.

I dug and dug into my brain and came up with the idea of this thing. I've been into Forties and Fifties radio Sci-Fi for a while and thought about making some sort of exploration vehicle that an Golden Age-style exploration ship would drop onto a planet. Not having any wheels, I decided on an exploration vehicle for arctic-climate worlds and that meant skis:

the Heiden-Brinker SS-3b "Snowflea" is based on the Lotus Ice Vehicle a real vehicle made by the luxury car company.

A bit ambitious, but I pressed on. I drew some nearly-scale (1/48) plans (floor plan, furnishings and structure) and started in. My first test was to make a leg out of sheet styrene. It worked so well, I made all three.

Then I actually began working on the interior of the hull and the cockpit floor, but I have no images of that in progress. It was really hard for two reasons. First, constructing vertical bulkheads to fit the curve of the egg was nearly impossible (as I can't really get a good cross-section of it without cutting it apart). Secondly, the plastic of the egg is awful. It is very soft and no adhesive I have works, not model glue, not CA glue, not white glue; I don't want to try anything harder as it might melt the whole thing into a pile of slag. So, I'm doing a lot of wedging. to keep it structurally sound.

I then made four seats. This was extra-tough. Making one of something is easy, making four is hard. If I do something like this again, I'm going to make one and cast the rest in resin. As it is, each chair is more similar than identical. Ah, well. This wasn't going to win any contests anyway. Here's the cockpit:

And the cockpit next to the hull with the hull interior. You can see the beam that crosses the entire hull. This is the main support for the left and right main skis. Since I couldn't glue hinges to the side, I had to make it structurally sound by putting the solid beam through:

And the cockpit installed on the hull:

The engine is proving difficult. I tried cutting a smaller plastic egg, but cutting a perfectly circular hole for the inlet was impossible (and with the crappy egg plastic, I couldn't keep anything glued in anyway). I happened to find some cheapo wooden eggs with a flat bottom at a craft store. Sweet enemy's father drilled a hole in the bottom for me and I was on my way:

One part I'm proud of is the 'ice brake'. The Lotus has this and I replicated it as simply as I could:

I've begun painting it, but ran into a snag that is a lack of water trap for my compressor. Nothing like having your airbrush spitting water all over your work to slow down the process.

Well, the sun just came out, so I'm going outside, darn it!

listening to while posting: "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" by The Postal Service