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Volvo Man
Chaz Gordon (Volvo Man)


Thunderbirds Pilot Set

My first large (4 inch) Figure project.

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Albums: 1 with 65 images
In progress
No Pilot Set (Imai B-2083)


18. April, 17:11
Show 27 previous comments
Chaz Gordon I'm in two minds about working with these older kits with mould flash and fit issues.

On the one hand, build is slow and a lot of work. Inevitably, along the way you have to make decisions whether or not to keep some of the smaller details, based on how much work it is to restore them.

On the other hand, it's very satisfying when all of that work pays off, and you've made a low quality kit look good. Particularly as most of these older kits have no modern made equivalent, or at least not an affordable one.
25. April, 14:37
Chaz Gordon Thanks John. Fortunately, this little kit doesn't frustrate too much. There's a lot to be said for making a model of a puppet, total realism isn't what is called for fortunately. For inspiration and "research", I have Thunderbirds playing in the background while I am working on this one. This is also a good test run for the larger kits, I have TBs 1,2,3 & 4 in larger IMAI kits to do at some point, so I am carefully recording my colour choices here to go back to later.
3. May, 12:10
Chaz Gordon Too small for that John, I'm going to paint them. Unfortunately, the kit does not come with Decals for the IR badges on the Sash & Cap, I'm trying to think how I will deal with that, I could print the black part, but trying to cut out a white background decal that small could be a bit of a challenge.. As for the decals for the Vehicles, some will be covered by a raid on my old decals box.
9. May, 09:36
Chris Greathouse Awesome! Have you seen any of the WETA Workshop videos about Thunderbirds? They were the set and model creators for the newer 2015 show (puppet/CG). You can see alot of the work. Youtube Video

13. May, 01:22
Chaz Gordon Very. Cool, thanks Chris
13. May, 01:50
Chaz Gordon Really pleased with progress this week on the vehicles. My old decal box yielded up everything I needed, except for white 2s for TB2. All the decals used have been in my decal stash since the 1970s, so I'm quite impressed that they didn't disintegrate.
17. May, 04:49
JD I have been secretly following this all along...F-A-B !
17. May, 05:42
Chaz Gordon Glad you stopped by JD, only the Hood secretly watches International Rescue
17. May, 13:03
Chris Greathouse I love how FAB means nothing as an abbreviation. (although it was used to hype missions... good to go, let's rock, orders understood, etc...)

Not to threadjack but one of my favorite acronyms is from Stargate... The device the team uses to open the stargate from offworld is called a GDO... it literally means Garage Door Opener as said by the producers and the acronym was created as a joke, but it stuck around in the script, and became official Stargate lingo. :D
17. May, 18:59
Chaz Gordon I believe that GDO was explained in-show at one point. Don't sweat the thread jacking, I doubt we'll see much SG-1 Discussion on an SG-1 thread here any time soon, as far as I can see there are no officially licenced kits, and just a handful of Resin & 3D Print offerings around. It's a shame, some Sci-Fi series get hardly anything, some get offerings like the Imai kits here, then others are bombarded with choice like Trek & Wars. Sadly not much affordable out there for Andromeda, Babylon 5, Firefly, Lexx, Red Dwarf, and even Dr Who is pretty limited. Sadly it looks like the BBC isn't one for licensing plastic Kits, there was the Comet Miniatures Blakes 7 (I have one) and Dr Who tie ups, and a couple of Airfix Dr Who, but not much else Mainstream.
17. May, 23:44
JD What can you say about Gerry and Sylvia Anderson? They're the main reason I love models and miniatures and sci-fi and other cool kid stuff..watching Space 1999 back in the 70's with my Dad before Star Wars was even a thing...Stand by for Action!
18. May, 01:07
Chris Greathouse You guys are so old. :P
18. May, 02:23
Chaz Gordon Thanks Chris, so kind of you to point it out.
18. May, 22:58
JD Hah, we're old but you knew what F-A-B meant! Nerd! :P
18. May, 23:59
Chaz Gordon Or didn't mean, as it goes.
19. May, 00:17
19. May, 00:48
Chaz Gordon A lot more progress, pilots are near ready for facework and details. Just having trouble with the orange on Gordon's sash, tried some tamiya gloss, may go back and flat and repaint
21. May, 01:27
JD Any ideas on how you will display the IR team?
21. May, 05:05
Chaz Gordon As they are self contained with their own display bases, I will initially display in my cabinet on those bases. When I have more space, I may put them on a plinth with the Pilot pictures from the show on a background
21. May, 07:30
21. May, 08:32
Chaz Gordon No Pics yet, but I've been experimenting with a couple of different techniques with this model/game air paint. I am now applying from the brush as a kind of controlled transfer of liquid rather than brushing on the paint. This allows the paint to self level for a good coverage and lack of brush marks. It's tricky, because if you get it in the wrong place, it will flow where it shouldn't be, and it takes ages to dry, but the results are great.
I am finding that some colours in the range are quite transparent and difficult to get coverage with a brush. I was surprised to find this with the Dark Blue that I used on the Base for TB5. I ended up flowing the paint onto the model directly from the eyedropper bottle, allowing the dropper tip to contact the plastic in front of the paint edge, letting the paint flow out instead of dropping out. This gave a good finish, but I was concerned about runs.
I'm working on details at the moment, and the Communicators (I think that's what they are) that they carry on their belts should be orange and blue. Both colours with high transparency, but in places that will flow the paint where you don't want it. Probably touch up over the excess later. Fortunately the Electric Blue on their uniforms is highly opaque.
22. May, 10:41
Chaz Gordon I have some micromask from microscale, and some vallejo liquid mask, the vallejo comes off easiest in one piece, but it's no good if you need to cut it if you get some where you don't want it, and the surface tension is too high (or is it too low?) it'll climb raised edges and pool in corners. The Micromask goes on much better and doesn't climb, plus it doesn't tear when cut, but when painted, comes off in crumbs. both clean off brushes fairly well with water.

But I'm always open to try other products, I've just had so many bad experiences with Humbrol products, the acrylic clear sprays are excessively high in solvent, and dry white. I used to use the enamels, but found white spirit clean up a real pain.
23. May, 11:22
Torsten Wendt How can I miss this, 8) project
23. May, 12:35
JD Hey Chaz, ever tried Silly Putty? It's super fun to use, and you can get sharp or feathered lines, plus it's re-useable, and can be found at the dollar store World war toons | Album by Mythrindar (1:Egg)
World war toons | Album by Mythrindar (1:Egg)
23. May, 21:03
Chaz Gordon Thanks for the Tip JD, I've seen this used on Aircraft cammo, worth a thought. It's different stuff here - Playdoh, not sure if it's got the same properties, but worth a try when I can find some. Welcome aboard Torsten
23. May, 21:41
Bill Newcomer Have you ever tried Parafilm? It lays down tight. It can be pushed around with a toothpick. It does not affect the gloss of whatever it has been applied to and generally can be pulled off in one piece. The best parts is there is no bleed under between colors. Layered applications seal great whether you use more parafilm or masking tape. You can also leave it on for months with no ill effects.
24. May, 07:23
Chaz Gordon Bill, As in the Lab tape? I get pretty good results with the 2 & 6 mm tapes I use, and on the odd occasion I get bleed, it's usually me not pressing the edge of the tape down, and I just go back and fix those with a brush later. The pain with tapes is getting it in tight internal spaces, like under the arms of these pilots. Traditional figure painting, I'd do the fiddly bits of the body before attaching the arms, but these are two piece figures. What's the adhesion level of parafilm? seems it would be quite high and likely to remove the vallejo colours.
24. May, 14:22
Bill Newcomer Adhesion is excellent and paint removal is near non existent. Kind of like heavy duty post-it note adhesive.
24. May, 17:16
Chaz Gordon Thanks Bill, I'll check it out.
25. May, 02:03
Chaz Gordon Thanks John, I was getting a bit frustrated and despondent with them, so I thought, what harm can it do? and put the flecks into the first figure, and it was immediately WOW! I had to go back and second coat the flecks on only one of the five.
Today is the tricky bit, Varnish!
The boots needs to be High gloss, the rest I'm going for Satin first. and see if that works for me, I like a bit of sheen on my models for display. I have some Matt ordered from Amazon should turn up thursday, so if the satin is too much, I'll try the matt. I have found that Tamiya Matt is nasty on metallic finishes, turns them flat colours, so I'm interested to see how the Vallejo works. I have a test piece prepped with plain, metallic and microsol'd decals on it, so just plucking up the courage.
I've had good results with the Vallejo gloss on woodcrafts, so I'm optimistic. I have found the Vallejo Acrylic varnishes hard to get recently in the UK, probably spanish lockdown related. Amazon had the Matt come in stock at £4 above MSRP, so I grabbed up a 500ml bottle, they're sold out already.
25. May, 13:31
Chris Greathouse Your TB vehicles are F-A-B!
25. May, 15:16
Chaz Gordon Thanks Chris, the secret is a 5x magnifier and toothpicks in craft knife handles. Generally, if it looks "Just ok" under the magnifier, it looks good without.

Just completed my first test with the Vallejo satin, the finish is pretty much the slight sheen I'd want on my Matt finishes, so i guess it's going to be my go to. Think I'll have a try with a 50/50 satin gloss mix for a more semi gloss finish at some point.. but the satin should be perfect fot this project.
25. May, 16:44
Chaz Gordon varnishing has gone reasonably well, I tried out the 50/50 and it has definitely improved the metallics, TB 1 & 5 have been recoated and look much more metallic, TB2's launcher looks terrible in satin, so it's going to get the semi gloss treatment tomorrow. Now just have to wait 24 hours before I can think about masking to gloss the boots. I had a try at freehand varnishing them but the gloss is too thick to go through the nozzle on fine setting. I don't want to over thin the gloss too much, the recipe I'm using gives a great gloss.
25. May, 23:33
Chaz Gordon Found out that White Tack is a good UK alternative for Silly Putty, so used that to mask and complete the Gloss Varnish on the boots today. 4 of the 5 are complete for now, just waiting for the cement to dry on TB5 as it is the only one that does not sit naturally on the stand without using cement.
28. May, 03:28
Chaz Gordon So, I'm about done on this set for now. Couple of things I still want to fix:
John's black eye
Missing IR badges on the sashes
Missing IR cap badges
Missing IR lettering on the TB2 Base
Add gloss varnish to the eyeballs

The black eye is easily fixed with some fleshtone mix, the missing badges I'll have to make some decals, but I'm not using up a whole sheet just for those, so I'll print them with the next decal sheet I do. Everything should be well cured and hard by then.

Overall, a fun build, plenty of things learned along the way:
I learned how to Paint EYES! I'm so pleased with that!
IMAI plastic only needs sanding, no filler on the joins if you leave the flash on. But you still need to get rid of the occasional nobbly bit.
I learned how to do detail with a toothpick
Some Vallejo model air colours are best applied only with an airbrush.
In some applications, flowing thick Vallejo air paint onto the model with a brush gives a great and level finish
White tack is a reasonable masking solution, but I wouldn't use it for a hard edge colour change.
It was definitely worth saving all those decals for the last 40 years!
Unused Matchbox Decals can hold up for 40 years, Hasegawa don't.
Cheap kits can be satisfying if you're willing to put in the effort and patience.
Vallejo Acrylic Varnish will gum up a 0.2 airbrush real fast - need to get a 0.5 for clears.
70:30 is a good thinning ratio for Vallejo clears with de-ionised water.
28. May, 04:05
Chris Greathouse Very Very cool set dude!
28. May, 15:41
Dominik Weitzer some interesting things, something special. cool.
28. May, 15:46
Chaz Gordon Thanks Guys
6. June, 05:58
Chaz Gordon Photoshoot done, and that'll do until I have a need for some DIY decals. On to the next project
69 Camaro | Album by Volvo Man (1:25)
14. June, 15:01
JD I need to pick your brain on how you make your own decals...
14. June, 19:19
Chaz Gordon In this case, I'll be printing with a colour laser printer onto Transparent laser decal paper (no coating req as laser is waterproof). As the badges have a need for white background, I'll make a template of the white shape out of paper (painstakingly) then airbrush a white base, then position the transparent decal with the colour and black details over the top.
15. June, 12:33
Chaz Gordon First step is to print a bunch of plain paper versions to get the size right, then I can cut that plain paper version out as the stencil.
15. June, 12:34
Munkyslut Chris said it......... very, very cool 8)
15. June, 12:34
JD Great tip about laser printer ink being waterproof! DIY stencils too? :o wow
15. June, 19:29
Chaz Gordon JD, its a simple choice, either painstakingly cut 10 decals with a knife, or cut 2 paper stencils with a knife.
15. June, 20:20

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